What We Learned: 2021 Preseason
Check back here every week to listen to Tim: analyze what we saw, discuss who's trending up or down, and jump to some wild conclusions.
1. Russell Wilson and Seahawks topple undefeated 49ers
What. A. Game. After an overtime victory in what could go down as the game of the year, the accolades are flying in Seattle. Russell Wilson was already a frontrunner for league MVP, and now, after a huge division win, Pete Carroll is a front runner for coach of the year. Some are so amazed by the resolve and championship mentality of the Seahawks, they've taken to social media.
"If you give @PeteCarroll a glass of water he turns it into a lake and goes skiing on it," tweeted Matthew McConaughey.
I can't say I fully understand what you mean, but I'm with you Matthew. Year in and year out the Seahawks find a way to electrify fans in a legendary manner. If you give them an inch of hope, they'll turn it into a mile... Oh, okay Matthew, now we're on the same page.
Even Wilson, who has been to two SuperBowls and has won some insane games in his career said this may be the craziest game he's ever played in. Seahawks DE Jadeveon Clowney said the same.
Despite trailing the 49ers the entire first half, Seattle rallied to send the game in to overtime and eventually emerged victorious against the only undefeated team that remained in the NFL. But it definitely wasn't pretty.
The game featured seven total turnovers, and two defensive TD's, one for each team.
Unless you own Chris Carson or the 49ers defense, fantasy points were hard to come by in this one. Star receivers Tyler Lockett and Emmanuel Sanders both suffered injuries that kept them from completing the game. DK Metcalf had a respectable game which would have been better if not for a costly fumble. Tevin Coleman failed to deliver an RB1, or even RB2 for that matter, performance for the second week in a row. Wilson, despite playing a hell of a game in real life, fell short of 17 fantasy points for (surprisingly) the third time in his last four games. Instead it was Deebo Samuel (eight catches, 112 yards) and Jacob Hollister (eight catches, 62 yards and one TD) who led the way in fantasy points. Just like we drew it up, right?
Side note: Jacob Hollister may be a thing, by the way. Considering Wilson's history of favoring his tight ends (see Jimmy Graham, Will Dissly) and Hollister's obvious athleticism, he looks like he can fill the role of a fantasy TE1. He's now scored two weeks in a row, and has drawn multiple red-zone targets in each of those games. He's big, fast, he can catch and Russell Wilson is his QB... What more could you ask for?
Back to the point: this was a huge win for the Seahawks, and a self-described "reality check" loss for the 49ers. Of course, their defense played at the elite level many expected them to, but it was their offense that seemed to drag them down.
Jimmy Garoppolo was 3-18 on passes that went 10 or more yards downfield, which, by those metrics, is the worst single game performance by a QB this season.
ESPN analyst and media personality Stephen A. Smith went as far as to call Garoppolo the weak link of this San Francisco team, and I can't say I disagree.
For now, It'd be safe to consider his 300+ yard, four TD performance against the (very bad at defense) Arizona Cardinals as an outlier. Jimmy G has thrown just one TD or less in five of his nine games this season. He has throw for 175 yards or less in four of those nine games. Due to the elite level the defense has been playing at, and the effectiveness of the run game, his sub-par play had not come back to bite them. Until now. Against a Seattle defense that had most recently allowed a combined 795 passing yards to Jameis Winston and Matt Schaub, Garoppolo just couldn't seem to get it done. He was responsible for all three of the 49ers turnovers and completed just 52 percent of his passes.
The Seahawks will have time to sit on this impressive victory as they head in to their week 11 bye. The 49ers, on the other hand, will have an interesting matchup on the road versus a Cardinals team they narrowly edged out just two weeks ago (28-25). And if they lose two division games in a row... Then things have really gotten interesting.
Russell Wilson escapes Deforest Buckner and scrambles for a first down - photo courtesy of Aol.com
2. Ryan Tannehill... Franchise QB?
Derrick Henry led the way for the Titans offensively in week ten with a monstrous game on the ground (26 touches, 191 total yards, two TD's). But if you ask me it was Ryan Tannehill who got them the win.
The former college wide receiver made several key plays late in the game to keep Tennessee alive against the Chiefs. In the fourth quarter, he led a last minute scoring drive, at one point converting with his legs on a 3rd and 17. He capped it off with a 23-yard strike to Adam Humphries for the go-ahead TD (32-33). Not only did Tannehill lead his team to a score, he proceeded to put his head down and plow his way in to the end-zone on a two-point conversion that put his team up by one field goal... A field goal that Harrison Butker could not convert.
Thanks to Tannehill, the Titans pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the season in Kansas City. He has now thrown for 300+ yards or scored multiple TD's in every game as a starter for the Titans. Some have even used the word "revelation" to describe what he has done for this Tennessee team. It will be exciting to see how he continues this success, and what he can do for the fantasy prospects of his offense. All I know is, compared to Marcus Mariota, things can only improve.
3. Christian Kirk has career day against Bucs
In week ten, Christian Kirk played the best game of his young career. He took his six receptions for 138 yards and scored three crazy TD's. He finished with a career-high 37.8 fantasy points.
Considering Kirk had not found the end-zone at all in 2019 prior to this week, his three TD performance was especially surprising. It was also just the second 100+ yard game of his career.
Of course, it all came against a Tampa Bay defense that Tyler Lockett lit up for 40+ PPR points in week nine, the same team that for as long as I can remember has been notorious for having a lackluster secondary. In fact, they just waived their former first round CB Vernon Hargreaves on Tuesday. Nonetheless, it was an encouraging performance from Kirk who was already a target machine. He is clearly Kyler Murray's favorite target, especially since he doesn't seem to be interested in throwing Larry Fitzgerald the ball.
If you don't count the week four Seattle game where he was injured, or the week nine matchup against the exceptionally stout 49ers, Kirk has finished with double-digit PPR points in every game this season.
Kirk always had the potential for a game like this but the real question is, what took so long?
4. Saquon Barkley, David Johnson, Cooper Kupp among big name players who put up duds in week 10
Saquon Barkley... 13 carries for one yard ?!?! Against the Jets ?!?!?! What the @#$% just happened? Reports are surfacing now that Barkley is still a little bit banged up or at least "not 100 percent". So, I suppose he can be somewhat forgiven. His five catches for 30 yards were the only thing that kept him afloat in fantasy. Which is more than you can say for...
David Johnson: the only cardinals RB that can't seem to be effective on the ground. Coming off an injury, he was expected to split carries with Kenyan Drake, but was benched by Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury after a third quarter fumble. DJ finished with six touches for 10 total yards and zero fantasy points. He was out-snapped by Drake 64 percent to 43 percent in week ten. Confidence in the former 2,000 yard 20 TD RB has officially reached an all time low. But at least he accumulated some yards and touches unlike...
Cooper Kupp, who was held without a catch for the first time this season. Zero catches for zero yards. I had Jared Goff as the sit of the week, and last week called the Steelers defense elite, but this is some next level stuff.
Kupp is the one I'm worried about the least as I'm sure he'll bounce back, but he had, by far, the worst game of these three stars in week ten... Imagine playing all three this week...
5. Mixon finally goes over 100 yards
Joe Mixon touched the ball 32 times for 151 total yards in week ten. It was a season-high for Mixon, who had yet to eclipse the 100-yard mark on the ground this year. He put up 17.1 PPR points against a Ravens defense that was previously giving up the eighth-least points to RB's this season.
It was not surprising to see the Bengals lean on the run game considering rookie QB Ryan Finley was making his first start, but then again, down as many points as they were, you might expect them to throw a little more. Either way, Mixon owners should be excited. He now has 17+ PPR points in back to back games, and should be utilized much more with Finley on the field. Next up is a matchup with the Raiders who are allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to RB's over the past four weeks.
6. Cardinals defense, the gift that keeps on giving
In week ten, not only did the Cardinals have Ronald Jones looking like a feature back (22.6 PPR points), but they kept their horrible record of guarding TE's alive by allowing OJ Howard to score his first TD of the season. Of course, it likely came too late for many fantasy owners as Howard has been dropped in over 55 percent of ESPN leagues. He finished with four catches for 47 yards and a TD in this one. He looked impressive, making a few nice grabs, but I wouldn't buy too much into it. Howard has been bad all season. If anything I'm chalking it up to the fact that the Cardinals forgot how to play defense this season.
They've allowed a season-high fantasy totals to Jimmy Garoppolo, Latavius Murray, Drew Brees, and now Ronald Jones/OJ Howard all in the past three weeks. They really are the gift that, every week, just keeps on giving.
7. Lamar Jackson may be the best football player I've ever seen
I'm going to have to stop calling this blog 'What we learned' if I keep talking about how good Lamar Jackson is, because it's literally every week with this guy. In week ten, he finished with a perfect passer rating of 158.3, for the second time this season. But that wasn't even the most impressive part. He also delivered a career-long run (47 yards) on a TD that brought back memories of Michael Vick's legendary fake slide.
His unbelievable athleticism was on display as he outran, eluded and spun around the entire Bengals defense. It is a play that will, no doubt, go down as one of the most memorable of his career, and will likely end up in the top-ten plays of 2019. Also, I will guarantee right here and now that Jackson will beat that career-long sooner rather than later. I'm sure a monkey could make that call, but I did it first. It was another flawless game from Jackson who now has more rushing yards through his first 16 starts than Ladanian Tomlinson (nope, not a typo), more wins than Patrick Mahomes, a better passer rating than Tom Brady, more yards per attempt than Aaron Rodgers and a better completion percentage than Drew Brees.
Jackson is a once in a generation-type talent and I am personally glad to have the pleasure of watching him play, and owning him in fantasy.
8. Jarvis Landry is the Browns WR1
Now, hear me out here. I know how it sounds. The great OBJ, how could he not be his teams WR1? Well, we saw it in the last season they played together at LSU. It was close, but Jarvis Landry put up the better numbers. If anything, they were co-WR1's. Although it's pretty close, he's been doing the same this season. Landry has six games with over 60 yards this season, Beckham has four. Landry has scored a TD in back to back weeks. Beckham hasn't scored since week two.
Of course, all it would take is one big game from Odell to retake the lead and who would be surprised? But, at least in recent weeks, it has been the Jarvis Landry show. Beckham's deep play prowess seemed like the perfect match for Baker Mayfield's cannon arm, but so far the big plays have not been there. I expect that will eventually correct itself, but currently, Beckham has been limited to a possession role. That isn't exactly the type of production fantasy managers are used to seeing from him. While he's still a superior option to most, he hasn't been the WR1 many fantasy managers expected him to be when drafting him.
On the season, Landry is WR20 while Beckham is just WR26. Some of it could be the fact Landry has an established chemistry with Baker Mayfield, and Beckham and him are still working on it. Either way, there is still plenty of time to turn it around. But if I'm ranking them at the moment, I'd put Landry above Odell, at least until we see him return to his elite form.
9. Jets/Giants battle for worst New York football team
Daniel Jones threw for 300 yards and four TD's, Darius Slayton had a career game with ten catches for 120 yards and two TD's. Golden Tate had 94 yards and two TD's. It's no wonder I had the Jets defense as the sit of the week... But leave it to the Giants to somehow lose a game like that...
The Jets ended up winning a surprisingly entertaining game, despite playing a less polished game than their opponents offensively. Jamison Crowder had himself another really solid week as the Jets top receiving weapon (five catches, 81 yards, one TD). What ever happened to Robby Anderson? The former Jets WR1 has just three catches for 44 yards in his past two games. Those two games were against the Miami Dolphins and the New York Giants. It's probably safe to drop him. Demaryius Thomas seems to have passed him on the depth chart as well (10.7 or more fantasy points in three of his last five games).
Like I said, I had the Jets D/ST listed as the sit of the week, and I had actually typed "because Jamaal Adams can't play every position on defense", but apparently all you need is one. He snatched the ball from Daniel Jones like it was his to begin with, and proceeded to take it to the house in one of the most authoritative defensive plays I've ever witnessed. Welcome to the league Danny Dimes. The defensive score proved to be the deciding factor as the Jets won 34-27. The presence of Adams makes me think the Jets D/ST might actually be usable against Dwayne Haskins and the Redskins this week, maybe even start of the week worthy...
10. Kareem Hunt proves to be a usable flex
In his first regular season game as a Brown, Hunt carved out a meaningful role for himself without (to the relief of fantasy owners everywhere) really eating into Nick Chubb's workload at all. Chubb finished with exactly 20 carries for the fourth week in a row, while Hunt took his 11 touches for 74 total yards and actually finished with more PPR points than Chubb (14.4) thanks to an impressive seven catches.
Going forward, it's not unreasonable to expect Hunt to play the Austin Ekeler role to Chubb's Melvin Gordon. The best part about it is, the Browns are allowing for both players to be on the field at the same time. Hunt will likely serve as a pass catching flex type back that will, no doubt, vulture a few TD's. I see him as having high-end flex value especially if he continues to receive 10-15 touches per game.
Tim Brosnan, Fantasy Sports Analyst/Freelance Journalist
Tim Brosnan is a college-educated sports journalist from the New Haven, Connecticut area.
Brosnan earned his Bachelor's Degree from Castleton University where he majored in Media & Communication, with a focus in Journalism.
During his tenure as the sports editor of the Castleton Spartan newspaper, Brosnan created the segment 'Tim's Fantasy Tips'. It began as a simple weekly start/sit column, but since then, the idea has grown into so much more.
Brosnan has taken his experience/passion for fantasy football and combined it with his journalistic know-how in order to bring you a completely original, well-informed, multi-layered fantasy football advice experience.
We hope you enjoy.