2021 Dynasty/Fantasy Game Analysis Week 8: Broncos 17, Football Team 10
I kept pushing this game study to the end all week, choosing other Week 8 games I thought had more FF-relevance…until I was left with one game left watch/study = WSH v DEN. Little did I know I would have more notes here then any other game this week, or in weeks…and that I’d spend more time getting with contacts to try and glean some rumors/insight into things (which we’ll get to in a moment).
As far as this game itself…a slog. Decent defenses suppressing bad offenses. Denver scored late/last. Washington drove to the red zone for a chance to tie with the clock running out, but they failed to punch it in.
Denver is now (4-4)…a really weak team with a bunch of garbage wins, but (4-4) nonetheless. They have a chance to win 9 games, but more likely they’ll wind up around 7-8. When they traded Von Miller, they signaled to this team that ownership quits on them…so, I’m sure the players will reciprocate the ‘quitting’ mentality ahead.
Washington falls to (2-6)…their season was over a long time ago. But if it wasn’t obviously over before, it is now. And that’s going to be important to keep in mind when I get to the first player note below…
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- The next segment/note is not a guarantee, but is me working through a theory that I think is likely to play out or is being positioned to play out (an unexpected injury could change anything) and thus we need to act upon it in some way (if I’m right).
Let’s just start with the headline statement, and then layout a case to support it: I think Washington is looking to shutdown Antonio Gibson (8-34-0, 3-20-0/3) in the next 2-3 weeks, and that they are preparing for Jaret Patterson (11-46-0, 0-0-0/1) to work with J.D. McKissic (3-10-0, 8-83-0/8) to finish out the season.
Because Gibson has multiple injuries he’s been working through (most notably a stress fracture in his shin), so why keep putting him out there taking hits on it and putting pressure on it when they can shut him down and let him heal up for 2022? The best way to deal with a stress fracture of the shin is 4-8+ weeks off.
It’s either that, or Washington is committed to managing Gibson’s reps because of all the injuries…and that means more Patterson then usual and less Gibson than normal.
You need look no further than the start (and all) of this game for clues…
Washington’s first series (in parentheses, which RB was in)
Play 1 = Gibson, McKissic (target)
Play 2 = Gibson (run)
Play 3 = McKissic (target)
Play 4 = Patterson (run)
Play 5 = Patterson
Play 6 = Patterson (run)
Play 7 = Patterson (run)
Play 8 = McKissic (run)
Play 9 = 4th & 1/Gibson (WSH failed to convert)
The first nine offensive plays…
Patterson in 4 times with 3 carries. Gibson in 3 times with one carry. McKissic in three times, touched the ball each time (run/pass).
This is a seismic shift in the Washington backfield. In a key game (Washington trying to cling to NFC East and wild card hopes with a win), and with that Washington thought it the appropriate time to push Patterson in early…and often.
Prior weeks, Gibson ran as a starter and would switch off-and-on with McKissic, usually on 3rd-downs and all hurry-up offenses, and then Patterson would play only a snap or two (or zero) sprinkled in for the whole game. But here, Patterson was the main ball carrier on the first drive…not a guy taking useless carries late, or getting touches because Gibson left with injury – this was a Patterson push.
Perhaps, it was just a surprise attack for Denver? Which makes little sense, given the game and the context…but maybe. What about the 2nd Washington series?
Play 1 = Gibson
Play 2 = Gibson (target)
Play 3 = Gibson (run)
Play 4 = McKissic
Play 5 = Patterson (run)
Play 6 = Patterson (run)
Play 7 = McKissic
Play 8 = Gibson (target)
Play 9 = Gibson (run)
Play 10 = Gibson
Play 11 = McKissic
After two series…
9 snaps, 3 carries, two targets = Gibson
6 snaps, 5 carries, no targets = Patterson
6 snaps, 1 carry, two targets = McKissic
The (close) game would end with final tallies of…
23 snaps, 8 carries, 3 targets = Gibson
16 snaps, 11 carries, no targets = Patterson
32 snaps, 3 carries, 8 targets (team high) = McKissic
Patterson was flowed/thrust right into the offense. It wasn’t forced by in-game injury…Gibson played all game and was in on the last snaps of the game. It wasn’t forced by blowout, and Patterson got late work just because. This was a sustained plan all game.
It’s one of three things…
1) This is the new offense/RB flow because Ron Rivera likes Patterson better than Gibson.
2) This was just a one game blip to help Gibson get to the bye week for extra time off. Why even play him at all, then?
3) This was prepping Patterson for the future and scaling back Gibson for his own health. And if that’s true, I think it might be Washington’s plan to continue to scale back Gibson and in another 1-2 losses, they put him on IR for the rest of the season to heal him up for 2022/keep him safe from 2021.
Remember a few weeks ago when it was said that Gibson’s shin injury would get worse as the season wore on, and that they needed to manage him and possibly shut him down?
You know what the WFTs were doing a few weeks ago? Trying out running backs. D’Onta Foreman, and the RB they signed a few days ago, a guy who has been with them prior – Wendell Smallwood. The wagons are circling around Gibson, one way or the other.
If I’m reading this situation right, then there is some FF work to do…
1) If you own Antonio Gibson in redraft, you gotta get off of him ASAP – and he has some trade value, especially this bye week where people think he’s resting/healing up. Early in the week, I thought it might be wise to hold too, and see if rest of a bye week would help him, but now I’m seeing and hearing about (from my contacts, not the mainstream) writing on the wall for a shutdown…best case, he’s on managed reps the rest of the way.
2) You will read this, and I know you’re gonna wanna go rush out and grab Jaret Patterson because rookies are magical unicorns but consider that Gibson was doing squat as the lead main back for Washington – it’s a bad offense getting worse with every OL injury, and they just lost their starting center for the season. Patterson will assume a 10-12 carries and 0-2 targets role, projected…and 50 total yards a game with 0-1 catches and no TDs will not be great for FF…unless you’re in a deep league with no RBs left to work with.
You don’t trust, or find boring, Elijah Mitchell…and he’s producing 100+ yard games with a good O-Line…but somehow Patterson seems WAY better in a much worse environment? This is not a call to arms on Patterson.
3) The winner here is J.D. McKissic, in PPR. As Washington’s season and O-Line dies, they will be forced to throw more and more…and that’s JD time.
Weeks 1-5: McKissic has averaged 3.6 targets per game
Weeks 6-8: McKissic has averaged 8.0 targets per game (as Gibson’s play time is being reduced in this stretch)
You can get McKissic for a song/cheap during this bye week, I bet…I know. And you want him in PPR.
Snap count % this season by WSH RB (starting with Week 1)…
36, 44, 46, 40, 41, 61, 64, 46 = McKissic
65, 61, 57, 55, 57, 39, 42, 33 = Gibson
07, 00, 00, 07, 06, 03, 01, 23 = Patterson
-- Speaking of Washington things to panic sell…Terry McLaurin (3-23-0/7), but I’ve been pushing for this sale for weeks, and now my worst fears are happening/locking in the past few weeks.
It’s not his fault, it’s the offense’s. There’s not enough blocking for Heinicke to have time to wait for TML deep patterns to go through.
4-4-7-3 for catches in games in the last four games for McLaurin. Three of the 4 under 50 yards receiving with one TD (and the TDs are almost always strokes of luck/hail mary-ish throws).
I don’t know how this situation improves for Terry with their center now gone and the threat of Gibson being lost in the run game.
-- Courtland Sutton (2-40-0/4) has a similar but not as bad issue with his offense/QB. Sutton is fine, but if you can leverage him hot, I’d do it. He gets Trevon Diggs this week, then Darius Slay, then the shutdown pass D of the Chargers.
-- Albert Okwuegbunam (3-43-0/3) looked like the #1 TE and most desired weapon here…if I didn’t know better. I know Noah Fant (2-8-0/4) is still the main man TE, but Albert O. returning from IR took some touches from Fant.
If Fant is out with COVID this week, Albert O. is a legit sleeper/DFS play. He’s really very promising.
-- No shift in the Gordon v. Javonte sweepstakes. Still a split, with Gordon getting the better activity, slightly.
-- Logan Thomas does not need to be kept with an iron first, but good to hold if you can (if your TE situation is shaky). When he returns, probably Week 10-11…he’s a back-end TE1 hopeful in this messy offense.
-- Washington IDP notes…
Montez Sweat (0 tackles, 2 QB hits) is out for a month+ with injury. James Williams-Smith (3 tackles, 1 sack) will pick up extra snaps, but he’s nowhere near Sweat’s talent.
Landon Collins (8 tackles, 2 TFLs) since moving to linebacker the last three games: 7.3 tackles, 1.33 TFLs per game. He looks quick and energized at linebacker/joker.
-- Denver IDP notes…
Baron Browning (8 tackles, 1 TFL) was pushed into a starting ILB role this game and had a decent output. He may be in that spot for a while. It looks like Justin Strnad (4 tackles) has failed to capture the role. I think Browning is a ‘meh’ talent, but he’s got draft stock…and now playing time.
Malik Reed (3 tackles, 2.0 sacks) will try to be the pass rush force with Von Miller gone. I’ve never been a huge fan, but he gets more opportunities now as well.
Snap Counts of Interest:
41 = Fant
26 = Albert O.
30 = Gordon
23 = Javonte
32 = McKissic
23 = Gibson
16 = Patterson