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Truths and Lies - Week 2



By Steve Schwarz | 9/16/20

I’m impressed by the NFL players. No, not in their truly amazing abilities on the field, but their ability to avoid contracting Covid-19. Two thousand plus young men and their coaches have survived training camp so far. Because of their will power, we get to enjoy fantasy football. So a big Thank You! And please don’t let down your guard.

Truths

“There are only two ways of telling the complete truth – anonymously and posthumously.” - Thomas Sowelll

Austin Ekeler

1) Of the 32 current starting quarterbacks, Patrick Mahomes owns the highest percentage of 400 and 300-yard passing games over his career.

No surprise there. Mahomes has thrown for 400-yards or more three times (9.4%) or over 300-yards 17 times (53.1%) in 32 starts. The more interesting numbers come from No.3 and No.5 on the list Ė Daniel Jones (5-of-14 for 35.7% over 300) and Kirk Cousins (32-of-94 for 34%), respectively. Iíll bet those statistics do surprise you. Donít be dissuaded from starting or trading for Jones due to the game against Pittsburgh - the Steelers defense is really, really good.

Quarterback Games 400+ Yds 300+ Yds 300+ %
P. Mahomes 32 3 17 53.1
D. Brees 276 16 120 43.5
D. Jones 14 0 5 35.7
M. Ryan 190 6 65 34.2
K. Cousins 94 5 32 34.0
J. Goff 56 4 19 33.9
A. Rodgers 182 9 61 33.5
T. Brady 286 10 92 32.2
C. Wentz 57 0 18 31.6
P. Rivers 229 11 71 31.0
M. Stafford 150 9 46 30.7
K. Murray 17 0 5 29.4
B. Roethlisberger 218 12 61 28.0
D. Watson 39 2 10 25.6
D. Carr 95 3 19 20.0
D. Lock 5 0 1 20.0
B. Mayfield 31 0 6 19.4
R. Tannehill 100 1 19 19.0
D. Prescott 65 4 12 18.5
M. Trubisky 42 0 7 16.7
C. Newton 126 2 20 15.9
S. Darnold 27 0 4 14.8
R. Fitzpatrick 157 6 21 13.4
T. Bridgewater 45 0 6 13.3
G. Minshew 15 0 2 13.3
R. Wilson 129 2 16 12.4
J. Garoppolo 43 1 5 11.6
J. Allen 29 0 1 3.4
L. Jackson 32 0 1 3.1
T. Taylor 71 0 1 1.4
J. Burrows 1 0 0 0.0
D. Haskins 10 0 0 0.0

2) If you “own” Austin Ekeler you should be worried.

True. Ekelerís best attribute is his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and make chunk plays. In the opener, however, he was targeted just one time for three yards. Rushing 19 times is good, but getting Ekeler in space is more important. Unfortunately, itís just not Tyrod Taylorís style to throw to running backs, even great receiving ones. In three years as a starter in Buffalo, with LeSean McCoy in the backfield, Taylor threw to all his running backs just 21.5% of the time. Also, Joshua Kelly, the rookie from UCLA, looked good getting plenty of opportunities and rushing for 60 yards and a score on 12 carries.

3) It doesnít matter who the starting running back is for New England.

Fact. This time itís not because head coach Bill Belichick will use different RB strategies every game as in the past. In 2020, the cause of the failure of all Patriots running backs will be Cam Newton. The quarterback will vulture a large number of red zone rushing attempts and touchdowns. Heís at his most dangerous when near the goal line so why wouldnít the smartest coach in the league use him there? Trading away Sony Michel or James White should be a priority if you can still get anything close to their value.

4) Despite running in three touchdowns on 25 carries, the most important fact of the day surrounding Josh Jacobs is he was targeted six times in the passing game.

True. We know he can run. What we were concerned about was Jacobsí lack of usage in the passing game last season (27 targets and 20 receptions in 13 games). His six targets and four receptions were a career high (college and pro). Proceed with caution, however, the Panthers defense was horrible on Sunday and this from a team who finished dead last in RB fantasy points allowed in 2019 (26.3 FPts/G). If he produces similar results in Week 2 against a much tougher New Orleans team then Iíll be ready to move Jacobs up a tier in value.

5) James Conner is injured again.

What else is new? He injured an ankle early on in the game against the Giants and was MIA in the second half. What is more important to fantasy owners is how well his replacement, Benny Snell, ran. Nineteen carries for 113 yards. Although heís a ďmust claimĒ for all Conner owners, unlike the starter, Snell does not get involved in the passing game. They brought in Jaylen Samuels for most passing downs which would limit Snellís upside.

Lies

“Any fool can tell the truth, but it requires a man of some sense to know how to lie well.” – Samuel Butler

1) Matt Ryan is on pace to throw for 7,200 yards.

While the numbers are true (450 x 16), itís obviously not going to happen. Just use it as an example for not going overboard by first weekend statistics. By the way, heís still a pretty good fantasy option considering heís posted 65 300-yard passing days in 190 career starts (34.2%).

2) Despite an MVP award and the highest quarterback ADP in 2020, Lamar Jackson has thrown for 300-yards or more just once in the regular season.

It was Opening Day in 2019 against Miami in a 59-10 win. Irrelevant. Jackson has also run for 100 yards or more six times, including 12 rushing touchdowns, which in fantasy is far more valuable than simple passing yards. If you subtract out the first nine games in 2018 when Jackson didnít start, but was used as a ďweapon,Ē heís given fantasy owners a yardage bonus in seven of 23 quarterback starts (30.4%). That one 300-yard passing day doesnít look so bad now does it? Sometimes numbers lie.

3) All the media hype about Washington rookie Antonio Gibson was warranted.

False. It turns out the Washington Football Team used Gibson between the 20s and Peyton Barber in the red zone. Gibson had one goal line try, was stuffed, and the team used Barber in all the other red zone carries for the remainder of the game. Barber is likely the better option of the two going forward, though he will be extremely touchdown dependent. Cam Akersí fantasy value was overrated too. It appears Malcolm Brown is the man to have, at least early in the season. The carries were split pretty evenly (18-14), but Brown was the much better producer. Donít give Akers away, however, as it seems Sean McVay wants to dominate on the ground and use Jared Goff far less than the league-leading 626 times he threw the ball in 2019.

4) Russell Gage (9-114-0) is now a viable every week fantasy option.

Ryan threw the ball 54 times for his 450 yards and two scores, but thatís not going to happen every week. Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage each saw 12 targets, but Gage should still be thought of as the third option among the Falcons wideouts. And eventually Ryan will rediscover his fondness for his tight ends, in this case, the newly acquired Hayden Hurst. Seattle had no pass rush to speak of, next week in Dallas, that wonít be the same. The Cowboys issue is stopping the run.

5) The return of Ben Roethlisberger made JuJu Smith-Schuster the happiest man in Pittsburgh.

Maybe. Iíd put him just behind head coach Mike Tomlin, OC Randy Fichtner and Kim Miale (Smith-Schusterís agent as heís a UFA in 2021), but they all have to be smiling Tuesday. Along with a defense who no longer has to shut out its opponent to win a football game and 1.7 million people in the Pittsburgh metro area, the Steelers saw Big Benís worth starting late in the second quarter. After knocking off the early rust early, the final three quarters were vintage Roethlisberger. Do not trade JuJu, or for that matter Diontae Johnson (10 targets), unless you are vastly overpaid.