The Deep Route Fantasy Notebook features recaps and thoughts about the recent action in the NFL, along with weekly awards, draft spotlights, fantasy updates, and more. Unless stated otherwise, all stats are accumulated using Pro Football Reference, ESPN, or 4for4.com.
If you missed the action from Week 13 of the NFL season, I’m sorry. It was one heck of a roller coaster ride. There were improbable comebacks, stunning upsets, miraculous plays, and everything in between.
Luckily, I’ll fill you in on all that’s happened, including the Kareem Hunt incident, whether the Packers made the right choice canning Mike McCarthy, the hottest team in football, a recap of my first live radio appearance, Week 13 Awards, and so much more…
THINGS I KNOW
I know the Kareem Hunt saga is tragic. There is a lot to say about what happened with Hunt, who looked like the Chiefs’ franchise running back for years to come. However, I’m more concerned about what didn’t happen. The NFL admitted they knew about the incident and investigated it. They also claimed they have never seen that horrific tape of Hunt assaulting that woman. I’m not going to provide a link to it but you can Google it if you wish.
I find it completely ridiculous that the same organization that gathered so much information on deflated footballs couldn’t get their hands on a security tape. This begs multiple questions, like did the NFL try hard enough to get the video? Did they actually get it but chose to ignore it? Were the Chiefs aware of it, too? Where does the NFL, and Hunt, go from here? So many questions, so little answers, for now. I had a little more to say about it during my radio appearance. Keep reading for the link so you can check out the whole conversation.
I know the Texans are looking dangerous. On September 23rd, the Texans lost their third straight game, setting their record to a mediocre 0-3 to begin the season. They haven’t lost since. After beating the red-hot Browns by 16 on Sunday, the 9-3 Texans are officially the hottest team in football. On top of that, their remaining schedule features zero teams with a winning record. It’s not like the rest of the AFC has done anything to cool Houston’s hype either.
The 10-2 Chiefs allowed the 2-10 Raiders to score 33 points and who knows how the sudden loss of Kareem Hunt will affect them (more on that later). The 7-4-1 Steelers looked dysfunctional in their come-from-behind defeat at home while the team that beat them, the 9-3 Chargers, lost to the 6-6 Broncos at home last week. Amidst all the uncertainty in the conference, only the Texans have remained on top. Oh yeah, and there’s the 9-3 Patriots, who’s comfortable place on top of the AFC might be getting a little more crowded very soon. Don’t be surprised if it’s the Texans who face the Patriots in the conference championship.
I know Steve Wilks cooled his seat, for now. He shouldn’t get too comfortable because it’s likely a temporary feeling. The Cardinals have drastically underperformed this year. The only thing they’re contending for is the number one draft pick. I’ve been vocal with my disdain for Arizona’s struggles, which stem from an ineffectiveness to use their star player, David Johnson, and an inability to support rookie quarterback Josh Rosen. I’m sure Cardinals’ fans must’ve enjoyed a victory on Sunday, especially since the Cardinals haven’t beaten the Packers on the road since 1949.
However, some part of me wonders whether this was the best thing going forward for the franchise. I’ll never openly advocate for rooting for your own team to lose, but the Cardinals entered Green Bay in a nice situation. If they lose, they likely retain a higher draft pick in what has been a lost season. If they win, well, they win. Again, I don’t think Wilks has inspired any future hope for Arizona and if the rumors are true, GM Steve Keim might join Wilks on the open job market.
I know the NFL got another thing right. Last week, I explained why the NFL’s recent leniency on celebrations was a massive win-win for everyone. This week, another one of the league’s fantastic decisions played out beautifully. It was the NFL’s second annual ‘My Cause My Cleats’ campaign that allowed players to don customized cleats with designs of charities on them. The cleats then go up for auction and the money raised for them go directly towards the charities the player’s chose. From a charitable standpoint, this is obviously an amazing look for the NFL. From an aesthetic standpoint, some of those cleats are simply stunning. It was cool seeing Deshaun Watson wearing baby blue cleats, among others. Another good job by the NFL here, though the Hunt incident overshadows the charitable event.
I know you can listen to my first live radio appearance here. I spent about 20-25 minutes on Silverman on Sports starting around the 1:04:00 mark. I discussed a wide range of topics within the NFL and college football, including the Kareem Hunt incident, the College Football Playoffs, the dumbest play-call in NCAA history, the NFL playoff picture, and more.
THINGS I DON’T KNOW
I don’t know who the Packers will replace Mike McCarthy with. I was all ready to write about why the Packers’ stunning loss to the Cardinals sealed McCarthy’s fate in Green Bay. Fortunately for Packers’ fans, that fate was sealed earlier than expected. The question now remains: who will become Green Bay’s next head coach? They’ll likely need an offensive coach to work with one of the best quarterbacks of this generation.
There have been a few names thrown out here and there, but if I were the Packers’ front office, I’d be going hard for Patriots’ Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels. If I were McDaniels, I’d take this job in a second. Instead of waiting for whenever Belichick retires, he’d be getting a job immediately. He’d also be leaving one elite signal caller for another. It’s clear the Packers need an offensive coach to rejuvenate a once-great offense (and not just because that’s the trend in today’s NFL), so McDaniels should be at the top of that list.
I don’t know how the Giants won. It would’ve been peak Giants’ football had they blown that game, especially after the Bears recovered the onside kick. My feelings about this echo those of the Cardinals in that the Giants didn’t need to win this game; unless they don’t want a shot at the draft’s top quarterback. Since their bye week a month ago, the G-Men are 3-1 after winning one game in the previous eight weeks. Does it mean New York is back? Sorry Giants’ fans, but the win might be more of a mirage than anything else. The first two wins after the bye were against teams with two wins and three wins, respectively. As for this week’s battle with the Bears, not only did they blow a ten-point lead with under two minutes left, but it was against Chicago’s backup quarterback. On the other hand, a win’s still a win, so celebrate while you still can because none of the remaining teams on the Giants’ schedule have a losing record.
I don’t know what’s happened to the the Panthers. Entering Week 10, the Panthers were enjoying a 6-2 season that had the playoffs looking like a legit possibility. After dropping the last four games, Carolina suddenly sits at the middle of the pack with it’s playoff hopes reliant on the team winning out. How did this happen?
It all went down hill after the team was whooped by the Steelers 52-21 on national television. After their defeat to the Buccaneers on Sunday, who produced an astonishing four picks on Cam Newton, Head Coach Ron Rivera made some changes to his coaching staff. I don’t think that’s the issue, but frankly, I couldn’t tell you what is. A possible explanation could be the defense’s abrupt atrocity on third-and-long situations. They’ve allowed teams to convert on third-and-longs more than any other team during their four-game losing streak. If the Panthers are to turn this ship back on course, they’ll need to play better in those situations.
I don’t know how the Redskins bounce back from this. If that sounds familiar, it’s because I wrote the exact same thing two weeks ago when Alex Smith was lost for the season. Now, Washington will have to replace the injured Colt McCoy with… Mark Sanchez. Yes, the same Mark Sanchez who did this. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Redskins lost all their remaining games en route to a top ten draft pick. While there is certainly concern over who the long-term starter in Washington will be, I hear Sam Bradford is still waiting on the couch. Like I said in Week Nine, Bradford is a solid replacement option if he’s healthy, which of course, is a big if. Until then, it looks like the ‘Sanchize’ will be the Redskins’ only hope at playing January football.
TRIVIA OF THE WEEK
Question: Patrick Mahomes has seven games with four or more passing touchdowns. Who is the only other player to do this with nine games?
Check out the ‘Awards’ section for the answer.
As fantasy football season rolls on, I’ll be focusing on a couple fantasy-related issues. This can include Players to Watch, Making the Case, questions from readers, or anything fantasy-related.
Player to Watch: Jeff Wilson
Who? This guy wasn’t even on an active NFL roster until two weeks ago. In only his second game suited up, Wilson came out of nowhere to post 19.4 fantasy points amidst 134 total yards. With the 49ers’ backfield all banged up, Wilson could be a key role on fantasy teams in the playoffs if he stays healthy. The main reason is that he was used equally in the passing game as he was the running game. He saw nine targets and caught all but one for a grand total of 73 yards. Not too shabby for the undrafted rookie. That type of usage is important, especially in PPR leagues.
Every week, I’ll feature a college football player who recently grabbed the spotlight. This week, Armchair Scout Rob Paul subs in and highlights Byron Murphy.
Everybody knows the name Greedy Williams at this point. He’s LSU’s best prospect and the consensus top cornerback prospect in the 2019 NFL Draft, or is he? There’s a cornerback in the Pacific Northwest who’s starting to get the hype he deserves, and that’s Washington’s Byron Murphy. Murphy is coming off his Redshirt Sophomore season, just like Greedy, and it was a damn impressive year.
In a secondary full of future NFL players Byron Murphy was THE guy. In just 19 career games for the Huskies, Murphy has racked up 72 tackles, seven TFLs, six INTs, and 20 PBUs AKA he has similar production to Greedy. Of course, Greedy is one of the most naturally gifted cornerbacks you’ll ever see, but when it comes to technique and instincts Murphy has him beat.
To start, Byron Murphy has rare ability as a zone cornerback. His game from earlier this season against Utah is a thing of beauty. It’s literal teaching tape. Murphy has the perfect combination of instincts and explosion to make a play in zone. His reaction time to see something and act on it is exactly what you want in a cornerback. Murphy also has the ball skills to fight through the ball or make a play on it if it’s there. When he drops in coverage you can see his oily hips in both zone bail out coverage and when doing a man turn. Despite not being the biggest, he’s physical enough in press and when defending the run, he can bring it at times. He might not have the ceiling of Greedy Williams, but he’s certainly got a similar floor. Early Projection: Top Fifteen
The ‘Hands’ Award: Paulson Adebo
Another week, another amazing catch by a college football player. This time, it’s Adebo’s sexy one-handed interception while falling down that caught my eye. What a difficult catch.
Uniform of the Week: Seattle Seahawks
It hurts me to not have the Dolphins’ clean throwbacks or the Texans’ sleek Color Rush uniforms here, but the Seahawks’ all-navy threads are among the best non-alternative uniforms in the NFL. The intricate designs and neon accents go beautifully with the contemporary overall look.
Weekly Warrior: Jeff Wilson
This was too obvious, mainly because I wrote about Wilson’s unexpected emergence earlier.
The Blunder Ball: Pittsburgh Steelers
An offsides penalty on a potentially game-winning kick is bad when the kicker misses. This happened not once, not twice, but three times. It probably would’ve happened again had Michael Badgley not made his third and final try. That absurd sequence looked like it belonged in Groundhog’s Day.
College of the Week: Wakanda Tech
Haven’t heard of it? According to Russell Okung’s Sunday Night Football intro, it’s a real university, and it sounds marvelous. It’s the only place where you can get a PhD in Vibranium-Related Studies.
Trivia Answer: Peyton Manning
Question: Patrick Mahomes has seven games with four or more passing touchdowns. Who is the only other player to do this with nine games?
That’s not bad company to be in. Manning had nine games of four or more passing touchdowns during his record-breaking 2013 run. With four games remaining, Mahomes will not only have a shot at breaking that record but he could also become the all-time leader for most passing touchdowns in a season. That record of 55 scores is also held by Manning.
ONE LAST THING
It has been a crazy week for me. From my first radio appearance to the end of the semester and finally spending some of my birthday finishing most of this column (a little present to me by me), it might go down as my favorite week of all-time, football included. I appreciate every single person who helped make this past week the best ever, and that is especially true to people who listened to me or read this column. With that said, I thought I’d give a quick look ahead for the ‘Deep Route Football Notebook.’ For the remaining weeks of the season, I’ll be dishing out weekly recap columns as per usual. The same can be said during the playoffs all the way through the Super Bowl. At some point, I’ll do my second annual Season Recap and Awards columns like I did last year. They’ll include a look back at my predictions, what I got right and wrong, and analysis of the major awards and storylines of the 2018 season. Until then, enjoy the last few weeks of the regular season and good luck to anyone in the fantasy playoffs!
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