The Deep Route Fantasy Notebook features recaps and thoughts about the recent action in the NFL and its implications in fantasy football, along with weekly awards, draft spotlights and other random tidbits. Unless stated otherwise, all stats are accumulated using Pro Football Reference, ESPN or 4for4.com.
THINGS I KNOW
I know Mark Ingram is a sleeper MVP candidate. In the past eleven years, only two running backs (LaDanian Tomlinson in 2006 and Adrian Peterson in 2012) have won the MVP award. In 2006 Tomlinson led the league in rushing touchdowns. In 2012 Peterson led the league in rushing yards. As of now, Ingram is tied for first in rushing touchdowns and is only 80 rushing yards behind the current rushing leader, Le’Veon Bell. While Ingram was capped by Peterson’s presence early in the season and now loses touches to rookie Alvin Kamara, his impact is too profound to go unnoticed. The first two games of the season were the only two games that Ingram did not get double-digit carries. Since then, Ingram has averaged 18.6 carries a game amidst the Saints’ dominant eight-game win streak. Still not convinced of how well Ingram has been playing? Check out this touchdown run. (Someone call an ambulance for all those broken ankles.) While quarterbacks get all the MVP love, Ingram’s impact should not be overlooked.
I know Mitchell Trubisky looked good. Of course, his play was shattered by a botched, out-of-this-world (literally kicked out of this world) field goal, but Trubisky still needs to be praised. Facing a Detroit defense that is third in takeaways, Trubisky did not give up the ball while tossing a touchdown on 297 yards through the air. Not that it should matter much in the NFL, but the rookie did all that in freezing Chicago temperatures. The second overall pick showed Bears fans that he is comfortable leading a team in close game. Trubisky also showed off his wheels by scrambling for a first down on a crucial fourth-and-long near the end of the game. Mobility? Check. Poise? Check. Accuracy? Well, it’s coming. Despite the gut-wrenching loss, Bears fans have something they haven’t had in a while: hope.
I know Jarvis Landry is vastly underrated. Landry is a fantasy machine. He has failed to score double digits (PPR) in only one week, when he accumulated 8.3 points in week eight. Even more fascinating is how often Landry gets thrown to. He averages 10.8 targets a game, which is the third-highest rate in the league. It’s not like Landry hasn’t experienced this type of success before; his 2017 numbers so far are on pace with his previous three seasons. Not to mention that Landry holds the NFL record for the most receptions in a player’s first two seasons. Looking at his stats, Landry deserves to be spoken in the same breath as the other great NFL receivers. After all, Landry’s versatility allows him to line up out wide, in the slot and sometimes in the backfield. His blend of quickness and power combines for a dominant player who deserves to be acknowledged as one of the league’s best.
THINGS I DON’T KNOW
I don’t know where the Chiefs went on Sunday. I would like to file a missing person’s report for the entire Kansas City roster. I assumed that the Chiefs would demolish the ten-point spread, but they didn’t even score ten points. Who saw this coming? Kasas City has four turnovers all season, yet Alex Smith threw three picks against the Giants. The Chiefs failed to score two or more touchdowns only once this season — all their points on Sunday were from field goals. Not to mention that Andy Reid is 16-2 after bye weeks, with those two losses coming to teams with a winning record. I could go on, but the clear point is that the Chiefs were uncharacteristically bad. On the other side, though, congrats to Ben McAdoo for (maybe) temporarily saving his job. More on that later…
I don’t know why Nathan Peterman was kept in the game. Most people were confused when the Bills benched Tyrod Taylor for rookie Nathan Peterman last week, and the reasons for confusion are pretty obvious. First, the Bills are 5-4 and could very well make the playoffs, and Taylor has helped the team get into that position. Second, Taylor is just better than Peterman. His 47-17 touchdown ratio as the Bills’ starter the past three seasons is pretty good. Most importantly, Taylor is a lethal runner who can extend plays and scamper for big yardage. Obviously, the pro-Taylor argument is easier to make in retrospect after Peterman’s brutal game; anyone could say that starting a quarterback who threw five picks was a terrible decision. What makes this scenario extremely concerning, however, is that Peterman stayed in the game long enough to throw five interceptions. He should have been pulled after tossing three, maybe even two picks. Benching a proven, more skilled quarterback for an inexperienced one was already a questionable call, but sticking with Peterman while he literally threw the game away could tarnish the Bills’ season.
I don’t know where Connor Barth thought the goal post was. Forget that Barth had a chance to send the game to overtime. Forget that Trubisky was playing like a franchise quarterback. While Barth has missed three of eight field goals between 40-49 yards this season, there is a difference between missing the uprights and sailing a kick into the opponent’s locker room. Unfortunately for the Bears, Barth perfected the latter. On a side note, that collective sigh of disappointment from Bears fans was golden.
PLAYER TO WATCH FOR: Samaje Perine
Perine was a player I pinpointed as a sleeper before the season, and while he has not done much until now, I expect bigger things now that he is the clear starter. Perine is a tough, strong back who will be the clear goal-line option. However, he is not limited to just the goal-line, as he saw 23 carries for 117 yards on Sunday. This is someone to watch out for.
PLAYER TO IGNORE: Ricky Seals-Jones
The receiver/tight-end hybrid caught two touchdowns on three receptions in a breakout performance on Sunday. Please do not be stupid, Seals-Jones is not the next big Cardinals receiver. Besides, there is never a consistent player on the Cardinals roster that is not named Larry.
Every week I’ll talk a little about a college football player who I think will, or will not, make a great NFL player. This week, I’ll be highlighting Josh Rosen
The hype surrounding Rosen before the season was immense, and it still might be. He has a clean, quick throwing motion with great footwork. His toughness and poise work great with his clutch ability. Aside from his questionable injury and off-field concerns — reports are that he is kind of a jerk — Rosen reminds me of Jared Goff. They are both lean pocket passers who throw with a beautiful touch. Early Projection: Top-five pick
The ‘Hands’ Award: Mike Wallace
There were a few worthy grabs this weekend, but the veteran receiver gets the nod here. Not only did Wallace catch the ball with one arm, but he did so with a defender draped all over him. Bonus points for making the snag while being pushed backwards and holding onto the ball. That was a difficult catch to make and Wallace deserves to be recognized.
Uniform of the Week: Chicago Bears
There were quite a few uniforms I drooled over in week 11, but this Bears throwback is an all-time favorite. Yes, it goes against my anti-gray facemask rule and it mismatches white pants with a colored jersey, but throwbacks are exceptions. The jersey is just too clean as the neon orange letters look phenomenal on the navy background. Someone send me a Jordan Howard throwback jersey ASAP.
Washing Machine Award: Ameer Abdullah
I have been an Abdullah fan for quite some time now, and this soul-shaking move on a poor Bears defensive lineman reminded me why. Abdullah’s spin was so dirty that the lineman doesn’t even deserve to be called by his real name. That is one awesome spin cycle, courtesy of Ameer’s Laundromat.
Ringling Bros Award: Alvin Kamara
Watching this live, there were two instances when I thought the play was dead. The first was when Kamara bobbled the ball (he caught it). The second time was after he caught the ball and a defender was waiting to make the tackle (Kamara broke it). It was a crazy circus play that was pivotal to the Saints’ victory.
Ringling Bros Award Pt. 2: Roger Lewis
Like Kamara’s showing, this was also a ridiculous play that helped secure a win. Lewis was getting dragged down almost 30 yards downfield and still caught the ball to make a sensational catch. That is why youth coaches told you to keep your eye on the ball. The only thing this crazy weekend was missing was a lion jumping through a flaming goal post.
ONE LAST THING
Week 11 was one of the best weekends of football in a while. There were so many great games that featured insane plays and down-to-the-wire sequences. The biggest game was the Giants-Chiefs. Who on this planet (other than the legendary Kay Adams) predicted this would be a close game, let alone a Giants win? Coupled with some amazingly strange and other strangely amazing plays, the game came down to a game-winning field goal in overtime. Still, does it stop the inevitable coaching change coming for the G-Men?
The Redskins-Saints game was also thrilling, with Drew Brees rallying a Saints team down by 15 to a game-winning field goal in overtime. The Bears had a chance at overtime as well, but a miss for the ages overshadowed Trubisky’s stellar performance. Bucs‘ kicker Patrick Murray did not miss his game-winner in a close battle with the Dolphins, who made it a game after Jay Cutler was sidelined with a concussion. The Browns also kept their game surprisingly close, but in typical-Browns fashion they found a way to blow it.
Even the Eagles-Cowboys game was close until reality struck in the second half. Boy, that is one good team in Philly. If the upcoming weeks are anything like Week 11, we better buckle our seat belts, because football will only be getting better.