This article is part of our East Coast Offense series.
The Team I Wish I Had Drafted
Now that my NFFC playoff team is drawing dead, and my other playoff squad lost in the semis, I'd like to focus on what might have been. If I only knew on draft day what I know now, here's the team I would have assembled:
Round 1 - Michael Thomas
Even at 1.1, this is my pick. Sure, take Saquon Barkley if you like, but this is a PPR league, last I checked, and Thomas for all we know could break the all-time record for catches. Sure, I'll side-bet any of you, even the guy who got Christian McCaffrey.
Round 2 - Lamar Jackson
I like a dual threat at QB, and you never know, he could improve as a passer. Plus Greg Roman is designing the offense around him this year. Yeah, I know I could just wait four rounds and take Baker Mayfield, but I'll let someone else gamble that the Cleveland Browns will suddenly be a competitive NFL team. What's that, the guy who took Patrick Mahomes one pick earlier wants a side bet? Done.
Round 3 - Derrick Henry
I know it's PPR, but I'm pretty sure touchdowns are still worth six points. The Damien Williams owner wants a side bet? Done.
Round 4 - Patriots Defense
Sure, knock yourself out waiting on defenses until the end of the draft. I'm getting this TD machine with the easiest schedule of all time. Side bets from everyone? Done.
Round 5 - Austin Ekeler
Who knows when Melvin Gordon will report, and besides this is PPR, so Ekeler is probably fine even if Gordon does return.
Round 6 - Kenyan Drake
If this guy ever got out of Miami, he could be a monster. Plus, he'd have awfully fresh legs for playoff matchups in December.
Round 7 - John Brown
This guy's been injured a lot, but he'll be money in the bank attached to an improving Buffalo team.
Round 8 - D.J. Chark
I love pedigreed second-year wideouts to break out, and Chark is much better than Dede Westbrook.
Round 9 - DeVante Parker
I've been drafting Parker every year. All he needs is a chance.
Round 10 - Mark Andrews
I love stacking him with Lamar Jackson – I want a piece of this Ravens passing game!
Round 11 - Austin Hooper
Not sure he'll hold up all year, but I like his early-season schedule.
Round 12 - Raheem Mostert
I need some running back depth, especially for the stretch run, and Mostert is more than just a special teams guy. Plus, the other Niners running backs aren't very durable.
Round 13 - Darren Waller
The Raiders have to throw to someone, and I'll probably need extra depth at tight end since the position is so unreliable this year.
Round 14 - Terry McLaurin
Scary Terry should have been the top receiver in the 2019 draft, but clueless teams like the Patriots passed him over.
Round 15 - A.J. Brown
Round 16 - Ryan Tannehill
One of the most underrated quarterbacks in the league. The numbers he put up in a disastrous situation were borderline spectacular. It's not if but when he takes over the job in Tennessee.
Round 17 - Matt Gay
Round 18 - Ravens defense
I always want a good second defense. Probably should have taken them five rounds earlier.
Round 19 - Zane Gonzalez
Never go into the season with only one kicker. I like Gonzalez in a favorable climate this year.
Round 20 - Breshad Perriman
No one has his size-speed combo. The key with a player like Perriman is patience. Patience that he breaks out in Year 4, and patience that he produces in your fantasy playoffs.
This obviously isn't the best possible team I could have drafted, but I'm positive it would have made the playoffs and crushed in the semifinals. And the sidebet revenue would probably exceed whatever the league prize is.
Week 16 Trivia
Apropos of Drew Brees breaking Peyton Manning's all-time TD pass record, can you name the top-25 career TD passers in NFL history?
Guessing The Lines
|Game||My Line||Guessed Line||Actual Line||ML-AL||O/U||Actual O/U||MO-AO|
|Texans at Buccaneers||2.5||0||-3||5.5||52||51||1|
|Bills at Patriots||3||4||6.5||-3.5||35||38.5||-3.5|
|Rams at 49ers||8||7.5||6.5||1.5||43||45||-2|
|Bengals at Dolphins||3||3||1||2||44||46.5||-2.5|
|Steelers at Jets||0||-2.5||-3||3||40||38.5||1.5|
|Giants at Redskins||1.5||3||2.5||-1||46||42||4|
|Panthers at Colts||5.5||3.5||6.5||-1||44||46.5||-2.5|
|Ravens at Browns||-10.5||-13||-10||-0.5||51||48.5||2.5|
|Jaguars at Falcons||6.5||6.5||7||-0.5||49||45.5||3.5|
|Saints at Titans||-2.5||-3.5||-3||0.5||46||51||-5|
|Raiders at Chargers||6||6.5||6||0||46||46||0|
|Lions at Broncos||8||6.5||6.5||1.5||41||38||3|
|Cardinals at Seahawks||9||10.5||9.5||-0.5||53||50.5||2.5|
|Cowboys at Eagles||-1.5||1.5||-2.5||1||44||46.5||-2.5|
|Chiefs at Bears||-3||-3.5||-5||2||46||45||1|
|Packers at Vikings||3.5||3||4.5||-1||46||45.5||0.5|
At first glance, I'm on the Buccaneers (probably didn't consider the Mike Evans-Chris Godwin injuries enough), the Bills and the Jets. Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind in Beating the Book.
Week 15 Observations
• The Steelers-Bills was a coin flip for me, and had the one-point line at kick-off been there mid-week, I would actually have been on Buffalo. Instead, I watched an over-matched Devlin Hodges toss ducks into the Bills secondary.
• The Steelers are uncannily good at discovering wideouts in the draft – after a terrible rookie year, James Washington looks like a player, Diontae Johnson like a young Antonio Brown, and they've been without Juju Smith-Schuster for much of the year. Before JSS, they found Brown (sixth rounder), Emmanuel Sanders (third), Martavis Bryant (fourth) and Mike Wallace (third) in the last decade. Maybe Bill Belichick should set up cameras in their draft room.
• It boggles the mind a playoff team like the Bills is still giving meaningful carries to the 2019 incarnation of Frank Gore. I realize Devin Singletary fumbled twice, losing one, but ball security is necessary but insufficient for NFL utility. Speaking of whom, is Singletary a top-24 PPR fantasy pick next year?
• So much for my rehabilitation of Sean McVay and Jared Goff. (I foolishly made the Rams my best bet.)
• Todd Gurley's performance illustrated the difference between fantasy and reality about as clearly as possible.
• Kyle Shanahan erred by kicking a field goal up two on fourth-and-two from the 26-yard line with 1:48 left. Yes, he made it so that a field goal didn't beat them, but just win the damn game on one 50/50 play. Even if you fail, Atlanta still has to drive into field-goal range and then make the field goal. If it's 50/50 they get into range, they're down to 25 percent. And if it's 80 percent the FG is good, now it's 20 percent. That's lower than the odds of a drive resulting in a TD. No big deal, though – it might only cost them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
• The Falcons TD on the lateral play probably hurt someone, somewhere.
• Odd fact about this game: Both Julio Jones and George Kittle had exactly 13 catches for 134 yards, and no one else on either team had even 30 receiving yards. Kittle got his on 17 targets, while Jones needed 20, but Jones scored twice including on the game-winning play.
• I wanted to take the Raiders for their last game at the Oakland Coliseum, so I made the line an unreasonably high six. Luckily for me the market wanted it even more, made it 6.5 and pushed me to the Jaguars. Bet the number, not the team. (That comeback was pretty much the only thing that went right for me all day.)
• Kenyan Drake is one of the smoothest, most elusive backs in the league. Odd two different Dolphins coaches didn't see fit to give him more work. Drake almost had a fifth TD, too.
• The Browns laying wood on the road is amusing. Apparently they're the only team this decade not to have a season with a winning record.
• What's the point of benching Melvin Gordon for fumbling twice? As though he'll learn some lesson in Week 15 that the entire team hasn't learned hundreds of times over the last 20 years, something along the lines of: "Lapses in attention cost us games?"
• Certainly Philip Rivers (four turnovers) hasn't learned it. It's time for the Chargers to find his successor.
• The Bengals were taking it to the Patriots in the first half, running the ball effectively with Joe Mixon, and I was getting excited about the possibility that once you took away the spying, New England couldn't even beat the league's worst team. But Alex Erickson muffed a punt at the end of the first half, giving the Patriots a 13-10 lead, and the Bengals, for God knows what reason, decided they had to throw to get back into the game. One Andy Dalton pick later, the Patriots scored a rare offensive TD on a non-trick play, and then the wheels came off with Dalton throwing a cover-sealing pick six. At least they've locked up the No. 1 overall pick.
• Tom Brady managed 4.4. YPA against the Bengals, though Sony Michel had one of his better games of the year. And N'Keal Harry looks like a player to me – he scored for the second straight week (only this one counted) – and had two rushes for 22 yards.
• The verdict is in: I should have paired my Chris Godwin/Mike Evans NFFC team with Jameis Winston in Round 12, rather than getting greedy and taking Alexander Mattison with that pick. Winston is on pace for 5,226 yards, which would be good for fourth all time.
• Breshad Perriman owes me big time for all the years I drafted the 6-2, 212-pound 4.28 40 time physical freak. Unfortunately, I didn't pick him up anywhere for this week.
• I don't have much to say about the Packers-Bears game, except that the Bears tree is exceptionally narrow with Anthony Miller (15 targets), Allen Robinson (14), Tarik Cohen (10, eight carries) and David Montgomery (14, carries, one target.). That's basically it.
• A.J. Brown was on a run-first team, with a bad QB and buried behind Corey Davis, Delanie Walker and Adam Humphries in the passing game. Now he's the clear No. 1 on a decent passing team and probably will be a top-four-round pick next year. Jonnu Smith (who also has a future) did his best Ben Watson impression, running down a defender to the other side of the field on a long interception return.
• The Chiefs beat the Broncos easily in snowy conditions, but I can't take much away from that. I'm still not sure who the Chiefs are for postseason purposes.
• Eli Manning threw three picks, two of which were horrific, got one of his TDs on a 51-yard deflected ball to Golden Tate, but otherwise was decent against the Dolphins. Saquon Barkley had his first monster game in a while – the Giants just need him to come out of the season healthy.
• As I mentioned, I had the Redskins plus 4.5.
• Carson Wentz made some nice throws after escaping the rush, but it's hard to see any upside for this Eagles team even if they somehow beat the Cowboys next week.
• Dwayne Haskins had his best game, though I'm just looking at the numbers and saw the two TD passes, but not much else.
• Terry McLaurin would be a monster in a real passing game. It's amazing how many good rookie receivers came out of this class: McLaurin, A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf, Marquise Brown, Darius Slayton, Diontae Johnson, Deebo Samuel and Mecole Hardman, and we still don't know about Parris Campbell and N'Keal Harry.
• Christian McCaffrey had another 175 yards from scrimmage and is now only 388 away with two games to play from breaking Chris Johnson's all-time record. He also caught eight passes and scored twice. There's nothing left to say about his 2019 season.
• I had the Seahawks minus six, but given the way the game went, I should probably be happy with the backdoor push rather than an outright loss.
• Dink and dunk artist Drew Brees got 10.2 YPA. How? He completed 29 of 30 passes, setting an NFL record in the process. You don't need to throw down the field if you never miss. Brees incidentally broke Peyton Manning's career TD pass record, too, but that was a foregone conclusion. Poor Tom Brady will have to hang around 12 more years to make sure he finishes ahead of Brees in all the key career categories. Brees looked like he was in his prime Monday night, too, moving well in the pocket and having plenty of zip on his throws.
• Michael Thomas went 12-12-128-2, giving him 133 catches on the year with two games to play. It's already the fourth most catches in NFL history, and he'll smash Marvin Harrison's record of 143, possibly with a week to spare. He's also caught 83.6 percent of his targets, by far the all-time catch rate record for 100-target receivers, that is, if you exclude his 85 percent mark from last year.
I know his Twitter handle is @Cantguardmike, but if I were an opposing defensive coordinator, I'd probably make sure to guard him. I'd love to see the Saints play the Patriots, who specialize in taking away the opponent's top option, and see how they defended the Saints.
• Alvin Kamara hasn't been nearly as effective since returning from a mid-season injury, but he looked more spry last night even if he didn't have much fantasy production to show for it.