This game was tied 17-17 going into the 4th-quarter...the Bucs hanging right in there with the Lions, but it just felt like the Lions were the better team and were gonna pull it out all along...and then they did extend the lead to 14 in the 4th-quarter, but the Bucs cut it to 8 points and got the ball back for a 1+ minute drive at the end hope to tie it...but Baker threw a pick before the drive could even get going and it was over.
Detroit moves on to the NFL Final Four to face the 49ers. It’s probably too soon for the Lions to get over on the 49ers at San Fran to make a magical run at the Super Bowl...but the Lions have a shot. The 49ers are not unbeatable...and are lucky to even be in the playoffs still...but they are the prohibitive favorites.
The Bucs’ season ends...and for as good as this season with a playoff win feels, the nice finish may work against the Bucs ahead. Now, with this solid finish, the Buccaneers are compelled to retain Todd Bowles (not good) and they will have to give Baker Mayfield a giant contract, and I like Baker and all...so happy he got a chance to shine...but they are going to have to push a lot of money his way, and he’s not a top tier QB talent in this new era. The Tampa 2023 season overperformance may really come back to bite them...
*Note any fractional numbers in parentheses (4/2) or (2/3), etc., are a 'split' stat on our definition of a 'quality start' (or not) marker on a player -- using 14 PPR points in a game for RB-WR-TE and 21 for a QB ...point levels that are good/productive/well above average starts for a Fantasy week. Trying to identify trends, consistency (or not) in players we might not normally realize.
A (3/2), for example, means: 3 times the player hit at/above the QUALITY mark, and 2 times they did not (this current season).
Player Dynasty/Fantasy Notes...
-- Baker Mayfield (26-41 for 349 yards, 3 TDs/2 INTs) will be back in 2024...and much richer than he is today. They could try to franchise tag him, but I think they will ‘put a ring on it’ and give him a 3–4-year deal for being a solid QB, but as much for being the leader he has become. They got a bargain in 2023...time to pay the piper.
-- Baker will be back, but will his #1 WR Mike Evans (8-147-1/12) be back? Not so sure about that. If TB can make a reasonable deal with Evans, he’ll be back. Evans is hitting his final year of relevancy, maybe two if he’s lucky...but the window is probably one more season from Evans. If Baker is back, Evans should wanna go back and end his career in the place where it started and where he has a great connection with the QB.
If he’s looking for a Super Bowl instead, then he’ll chase a lesser deal with KC or whoever.
I would bet that Evans will be back, but management really ticked him off this past offseason by not putting a new deal forward...and for all Evans’s nice output this year, he is dropping a lot of passes lately...with smatterings of an issues all season but more glaring the past 4-6 weeks or so. He’ll be 31.5 next season. He has some bargaining chips (his career, his nice 2023) but also some drawbacks (age, hands, cost/pay he’s gonna want).
-- Jared Goff (30-43 for 287 yards, 2 TDs/0 INTs) is completing over 70% of his passes and had 3 TD passes and no picks so far in the playoffs. He’s playing winning NFL football. He faces his toughest defense of the playoffs, but not a scary defense, in the 49ers.
Can we declare the Lions the winner of the Stafford-Goff and picks deal...or does the Stafford Super Bowl title trump everything, until/unless Goff wins a Super Bowl? If you wanna talking ‘winning’ (since the deal happened) and what the future looks like...Goff is arguably now the better QB to have possessed AND if or whatever shortfall you assign to Goff in the Stafford v. Goff debate, you also have to consider all the 1st-round draft picks and other picks the Lions got in the deal.
-- I didn’t think the Lions would really use Jahmyr Gibbs (9-74-1, 4-40-0/4) as an all-around weapon like they have. NFL teams talk a big game about that kind of stuff then do little with it in reality. Credit to the Lions – they try to use Gibbs in the passing game on purpose and it works. On the other side of the field is the more talented all-around RB, Rachaad White (9-55-0, 4-36-1/5), the more talented receiving RB too...but his team has the worst run blocking O-Line in the NFL outside of the Titans and the team still doesn’t get him the ball on purpose nearly enough in the passing game.
Gibbs defeated Rachaad in FF PPG in 2023...and it should’ve never been.
The good news is...this should be the worst ‘treatment’ and surroundings White will see over the next few years, and he was a strong RB overall this season and top level RB1 the 2nd-half of the season...so he can only improve in PPR from here...and they started using him more, on purpose, in the passing game 2nd-half of the season and you have to think they’ll keep growing that (at a snail’s pace) but you also have to think they’ll get some O-Linemen in there eventually/ASAP.
In 2023, Gibbs worked in the best of conditions...White worked in the worst...and they were pretty close in PPR PPG. If/as Rachaad’s surroundings improve, he can be a consistent top PPR RB1.
A huge change, for the worse, for Gibbs in 2024, will likely be...when they lose O-C Ben Johnson...will the offense fall apart some? Ben Johnson is one of those rare O-C’s that really make a difference...the kind when you lose them, teams usually get unlucky with their replacement...like Philly last year, for an example.
-- Sam LaPorta (9-65-0/11) is tracking as the early #1 ADP TE for 2024 in best ball drafts and national rankings. I get that, but I don’t know that he’ll be our #1 TE for 2024. All that study is happening now for our debut Dynasty rankings top 600 release mid-February...and they update weekly all offseason.
This year’s Dynasty rankings and valuations top 600 is getting turned on it’s head with the change of things in the NFL...and we have a ton of coaching changes pending to interpret. Football never sleeps.
-- IDP notes...
K.J. Britt (12 tackles, 1 TFL) has fully displaced Devin White (1 tackle) in the Bucs starting lineup. That’s a former 1st-round pick (Devin White) going down the tubes before the end of his rookie contract. Britt is playing great as a run stopper, but there’s issues in coverage...see: the Sam LaPorta output in this game.
Ifeatu Melifonwu (9 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 TFLs) continues to produce for Detroit. His last 6 games, the safety has 4.5 sacks and 7 PDs...with 5.7 tackles per game in that span. Melifonwu is grasping an/his opportunity now...and for the future, it appears.
I have more IDP faith in Melifonwu than I do Britt...but both have come out of somewhat nowhere (they were written off for dead it seemed) to be IDP relevant now and into 2024.
Snap Counts of Interest:
69 = ARSB
57 = JReyn
42 = Jameson
41 = Montgomery
26 = Gibbs
64 = Otton
58 = Godwin
55 = MK Evans
38 = Palmer
15 = Thompkins
14 = D Moore