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Fantasy-Dynasty Game Recap 2016 Week 17: Bills v. Jets

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Re-watching this game several weeks later, the first thing that jumped out to me was the fact that there were actual human beings in the stands. People actually went to this game on purpose – I suspect some of them actually paid money to attend. Nothing like watching a meaningless game in freezing cold temperatures with a flat $9 beer and $7 hot dog! Who wouldn’t want a chance to see an epic Ryan Fitzpatrick v. E.J. Manuel battle for the ages?

I’m sitting here re-watching this game and got caught in a debate in my head of wondering which of these two teams was actually the most pathetic. Which one was the furthest away from real success in the future? I also thought – another blessing from God for the Patriots… He put them in the division with these two sad sacks —with a continued blessing that they’re getting worse every year. If I know God, He will go for the full comedic route just to mess with all of us — Rex Ryan to coach the Miami Dolphins soon. Only the Patriots could be blessed enough to see Rex Ryan coaching multiple teams within their division year after year.

I suspect the New York Jets might be the worst of these two teams going forward. For the simple fact that the Jets do not have anything close to resembling a starting quarterback. No respectable free agent will want to sign there – so there’s no chance Tony Romo walks through that door. Maybe Mike Glennon could save them…but I doubt it. If you’re counting on the Jets coming through with the smart draft pick – don’t count on it. This is the group that overpaid Ryan Fitzpatrick, drafted and then continued to roster Geno Smith on purpose, drafted and continued to roster Bryce Petty on purpose, and if that wasn’t bad enough they inexplicably drafted Christian Hackenberg in the second round and made him a fourth quarterback on the roster! The Jets general manager is making a strong case for being the worst GM in the NFL. The good news for him is that there is between 20–30 other contenders for that label.

Nothing but dark days ahead for these two franchises. The sad part is that there each have some nice young talent – I just wonder if either franchise would get its head out of its own ass long enough to properly utilize it?

Here are the player notes I took on we watching this week 17 game…

 

E.J. Manuel (9-20 for 86 yards, 0 TD/0 INT) started for reasons I cannot understand. It was an ownership decision. They deactivated Tyrod Taylor to save contract clause money, which makes a ton of sense…but starting Manuel and not Cardale Jones (6-11 for 96 yards, 0 TD/1 INT) seemed silly. Manuel responded by looking as awful as ever. His NFL days are quickly coming to an end. Another quarterback who faked out every scout, GM, and head coach by looking good in shorts and a T-shirt throwing and running in workouts. It happens every year.

After three quarters, the Bills had their fill of Manuel and finally turned the offense over to Cardale Jones to start the fourth quarter. You could tell in an instant that Jones was far superior to Manuel in every way. It’s not even debatable. Jones moves around much better in the pocket. He has a much stronger arm with a nice release – and throws with some purpose. And he’s a big guy like EJM, but plays with more physicality…where as Manuel is more finesse/timid.

Jones made some nice throws in his appearance, but also some blind ones into coverage. His interception was off at tipped ball off a receiver’s hands right up into the air and into Darrelle Revis’s hands. Not Jones’s fault. He later connected on the 64-yard bomb with Justin Hunter – falling one yard short of a score. It wasn’t a bad debut for Jones, but it was also in a meaningless fourth quarter of a blowout in a meaningless Week 17 game between two meaningless teams.

If the Bills would embrace Jones as their starter and groomed him as such – I think the Bills might actually have something on their hands. Jones is a physically big/sturdy and tough quarterback with a rocket arm and he can run. He’s built for the Buffalo conditions. Considering Tyrod Taylor will probably not return to Buffalo and E.J. Manuel is the worst – it could be/should be Cardale’s team. No free agent is going to Buffalo. Tony Romo is not going to Buffalo – he’d retire first. Even a guy like Mike Glennon would choose the Jets or some other team besides Buffalo. The Bills are probably the single worst franchise to attract free agents. It’s expensive to live in New York from a tax perspective, and no one with options wants to move to Buffalo. If the team was historic like the Patriots it would be one thing – but this is the Bills. They need to rebuild with youth. Cardale Jones has a really good shot to come out of this as the starter for 2017…but knowing the Bills they’ll probably throw money at Jay Cutler as sure as I’m sitting here, further wasting the franchise’s time and resources.

 

— Regardless of the starting quarterback for the Bills next season, I suspect Sammy Watkins (4-31-0/9 targets) will have a good 2017 nonetheless. He’s coming up on a contract option season. He’s obviously their best receiver. He’s going to put up the biggest numbers he can and then bolt the hell out of there. If the Bills want to keep Watkins long-term it’s going to take a ridiculous contract or a franchise tag.

For fantasy 2017, I’d be more of a believer in Watkins – just because of the pending contract squabbles and looming free agency.

 

Brandon Marshall did not play in this game, which made Quincy Enunwa (5-81-0/8 targets) and Robby Anderson (4-43-0/7 targets) the starters. If the Jets had any sense about them, that would be the starting duo next season. However, I suspect the Jets will throw money at veterans because one more bad season and you can probably kiss the Jets general manager and for sure Todd Bowles goodbye. It’s already a dire situation because the Jets are in such a bad way and plummeting. It’s a shame because with a little patience you’re talking about one of the best young tandems at wide receiver in all of football with Enunwa and Anderson.

I’m not sure a wide receiver has surprised and delighted me so much from one season to the next as Enunwa has. Our computer scouting models rated him pretty well coming out of Nebraska in 2014. However, I did not see a path for Enunwa to matter given Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall already on the team. Enunwa did not help himself by looking lost and dropping passes his first two seasons. However, he was working his way up the ladder for the Jets for a reason I couldn’t understand before – but I totally get it now. He’s obviously a fantastic receiving prospect, and the Jets saw that in practices. In 2016, Enunwa started showing that he’s a dominant receiving prospect. I’m not sure there’s a more physical wide receiver in the NFL. Enunwa is like a tight end playing wide receiver. He can catch tough passes in traffic over the middle. He can block like no other wide receiver in the NFL. However, he is not slow afoot like a tight end – Enunwa has legit 4.4+ speed as a wide receiver. He can move after the catch unlike any tight end could even think about. He moves like a high-end wide receiver after the catch – only with the physical toughness of a tight end. Enunwa, to some degree, is an absolute freak. You saw glimpses of it in 2016, and there’s a lot of hope for his fantasy 2017 – but who’s the quarterback going to be?

Robby Anderson was one of our better scouting finds of 2016. We had him rated as one of the better wide receiver prospects from the 2016 NFL Draft class – with notations that he might be one of the 2–3 best from a technical standpoint but with red flags to do his thin frame and some minor off-field oddities early in his college career. It didn’t take long for everyone to discover what our computer models and what I saw scouting his tape before the draft – Anderson is one of the best technical WRs to hit the league in the past few years. He runs meticulous routes and gets himself open more than most rookie wide receivers are able to. He has incredible hands and concentration to catch balls under duress and especially great when leaping up over defenders to make plays. He’s a legit starting NFL wide receiver that the Jets stole as a UDFA. He went from questionable to make the team this past summer to a full-fledged starter…to guy Ryan Fitzpatrick was leaning on in this game anytime he could. Anderson has drawn that kind of respect from his quarterbacks already. What an incredible rookie season — and if you subscribed to College Football Metrics.com last year in preparation for your dynasty rookie draft and fantasy drafts — you were in on Anderson early.

We’ll see if the Jets bring back Brandon Marshall and how/if Eric Decker bounces back. If the Jets pull the veteran WRs back into the fray then Enunwa and Anderson are hard pressed to be WR3/WR4 outlooks for fantasy 2017. However, if the Jets push Marshall aside, as they should, and Decker can’t get back to 100% – one or both of Enunwa and Anderson could have a shocking fantasy 2017. Again, questions remain on who the quarterback is. If it’s Mike Glennon – that’s a huge bump for Robby Anderson because Glennon loves to throw the deep ball and Anderson is one of the best deep ball receivers already in the league.

 

— Watching Bills rookie RB Jonathan Williams (4-11-0) work in this game made me know that he’s the guy are scouting models thought he was — a stiff, nondescript NFL running back. Nothing special. Nothing to write home about. Capable of doing ‘OK, but not a future star.

 

— Watching the Jets UDFA rookie RB Brandon Wilds (3-9-0, 2-20-0/2 targets) work in this game reminded me of our original scouting – he has the best hands out of the backfield of any running back in the 2016 NFL Draft class…Wilds might have better hands than David Johnson. I don’t know that the Jets don’t realize what they’re sitting on. I hope they started to figure it out late last season.

I’d be a buyer of Bilal Powell (22-122-0) in the dynasty offseason because I believe Todd Bowles has bought into Powell hook line and sinker. And Powell is a solid NFL running back…and could be getting ready to be a great fantasy producer in 2017 because he gets the push. Matt Forte, obviously, stands in the way – but that’s assuming Forte is back playing in the NFL or playing with the Jets. If the Jets were smart they’d trade Forte to a contender and go through their rebuild. However, I just don’t think the Jets are thinking ‘rebuild’ more than they’re thinking everyone needs to save their ass in the front office.

For Brandon Wilds sake, I kinda hope Forte is back with Powell – and they let Wilds go to find a new home…they Jets would probably just sit on him as a third running back anyway.

 

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— Another solid UDFA RB that the Jets scooped off of waivers played in this game – Brandon Burks (2-(4)-0). He’s an NFL capable third down/passing game RB. He is dreadfully buried on the Jets as the roster is currently constituted.

 

— How good has Mike Gillislee (15-40-0, 1-10-0/1 target) been for the Bills? He had 9 TDs this season…8 rushing. I never would’ve thought him to be this successful in the NFL. He was OK in college. He looked lost with Miami as a rookie…so bad the Dolphins let them go. Now he’s like one of the most productive RBs in the NFL. As long as LeSean McCoy is there…he’ll just be a secondary figure/handcuff. He’s a restricted free agent this year…so maybe someone pays up? I doubt it.

 

— I never would’ve guessed rookie LB Darron Lee (7 tackles) to be such a decent/good ILB right off the bat. When I scouted him coming out of Ohio State, I saw a tentative outside linebacker that looked like he enjoyed coverage more than hitting. When he moved to ILB with the Jets I didn’t think it was a good fit. However, he had a decent rookie season (70 tackles, 2 PDs, 1.0 sacks). I’m still a little skeptical, but with his athleticism — he could be a superstar with more aggression. I just didn’t see a superstar on tape or in the numbers when he was at Ohio State. I saw an underachiever.

 

— Part of the poor passing game issue for Buffalo in this game was how bad E.J. Manuel played, but I also have to give credit to Jets CB Daryl Roberts (2 tackles, 1 PD), among others, for showing pretty good coverage on Sammy Watkins in this game. Roberts was one of our higher rated CB prospects in the 2015 NFL Draft. He tore his ACL his rookie year which really set him back. The Patriots drafted him and held onto him despite the injury, but eventually had to let him go in the numbers game of 2017 – especially when the Eagles handed the Patriots CB Eric Rowe. The Jets scooped up Roberts off waivers and he became a starter down the 2016 season stretch for them. He’s a player. He’s a legit NFL cover corner. We’ll see if he can become a shutdown corner. He’s probably more solid #2 CB rather than a true #1 shutdown guy.

 

— Let me wrap this up by once again thanking the New York Jets for fulfilling my prophecy as a mortal lock to have less than 8.0 this season. It was our best over/under win total bet of the 2016 preseason – the Jets under for 2016, and they didn’t disappoint. Thank you, Fireman Ed and friends!

 

 

 — rc@fantasyfootballmetrics.com

 

 

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About R.C. Fischer

R.C. Fischer is a fantasy football player analyst for Fantasy Football Metrics, and College Football Metrics. His group also provides player projections for Advanced Sports Logic’s football software “The Machine.”

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