Welcome to Black Monday. Err. Cyber Monday. For everyone coming off a long holiday weekend, and for Frank Reich, it is definitely a Monday.
I had planned to do a coach-firing power poll this week, largely because I am a petty Buffalo Bills fan angry about the team's performance. But Carolina owner David Tepper is pettier than I. Maybe it was the public rumors the coaching staff wanted C.J. Stroud over Bryce Young, but Tepper chose the opposite. Maybe it was continued losing. Whatever the reason, Frank Reich does not work there anymore.
That firing has given opportunity for a very timely Power Poll.
Tier A: Got Your Guy
Self-explanatory. These teams will not make a change without a coach deciding.
- San Francisco
- Kansas City
- LA Rams
Most of these teams are headed for the playoffs or have experienced real and sustained success with their coach.
Tier B: Bill Belichick
Bill Belichick. The season has turned sideways in New England, but Belichick should still have the opportunity to decide his future. According to speculation, there are rumors that he is already looking to move on and that the Patriots would likely hire Jerod Mayo. It is hard to suggest Belichick deserves fired, even as things spiral in New England. But it is fair to wonder if Belichick is winding down in the Immaculate Grid portion of his career.
Tier C: On The Fence
Mike McCarthy lives in speculation about his job, but the Cowboys are currently rolling as one of the best teams in the league. For the rest of this group, there is little indication their jobs are actually in trouble, but this is the wildcard tier. A big name like Jim Harbaugh could be available in the cycle. Teams have been aggressive in those types of situations in the past. Mainly, this group is positioned to move in either direction.
Tier D: Just Got Here
I like Antonio Pierce. The team followed his lead early, and he seemed to understand the proverb “what it means to be a Raider.” But interim coaches are interim coaches. For Jonathan Gannon and Shane Steichen, the teams must be pleased with what they have shown.
Tier E: Getting Late Early
Dennis Allen has not been mentioned as a hot-seat candidate from what I have seen. The Saints are still in first place, but that feels similar to saying, “Louisville is in their conference championship game.” Before Allen took over, the team had not lost ten games since 2005. If you extrapolate out the team's current 5-6 record, you get 7.7-9.3. The team has winnable games left, and a division championship would go a long way. But a situation to monitor.
Tier F: You're Fired
Carolina is here already. These other four look likely to join them at some point. The Commanders division championship in 2020 feels a decade away as they have settled into the NFC East basement. Rumors broke over Thanksgiving weekend that Bears president Kevin Warren would look to replace both the coach and GM, taking a more active role in football operations. The Chargers season looks on the brink after yet another close loss, this time to the Ravens.
And that brings up the Bills.
I am a fan. I am biased. I try my best to remove that. This team has no business at 6-6. The advanced stats indicate that this is one of the best teams to miss the playoffs. The season is ongoing, so they could run the table or get close to it and still get a spot. But they would earn that with games against Kansas City, Dallas, and Miami still left.
On Sean McDermott. McDermott is one of the 32 best candidates to be an NFL head coach. But sometimes, the voice has to change. The analogy I have used is Tony Dungy in Tampa Bay. Dungy did a fantastic job of turning around a team that had spent years as a laughing stock. But a 2-4 playoff record and back-to-back opening-round losses to the Eagles showed it was time for a change. Jon Gruden came in and won the first Super Bowl in franchise history, and Dungy led the Colts to a Super Bowl of his own.
McDermott's playoff record stands at 4-5. He has raised the Bills to levels only dreamed about when taking the job. But between a playoff collapse against Houston, the infamous 13-second game against Kansas City, and two other non-competitive losses to end the 2020 and 2022 seasons, it is time.
The Bills championship window may have closed. That may be on the players or McDermott. But ownership owes it to the fans to determine if that is true. As the saying goes, “You can't fire the players.”
It is time for the Roundup.
High-volume receivers. Kind of. Several players recorded or threatened season highs in receiving volume. Can you place this production?
Deep Dynasty Watch List
Identifying players rostered in less than 50% of Sleeper dynasty leagues (give or take).
- RB D'Ernest Johnson, Jacksonville (29% Sleeper rostered) - Johnson has moved ahead of Tank Bigsby in the Jacksonville backfield. He has outsnapped Bigsby in the last three weeks and averaged 51.67 scrimmage yards. Bigsby lost a fumble against Pittsburgh, a problem that plagued him in the offseason. Johnson looks to have the coaching staff's trust and would be the biggest beneficiary if Travis Etienne missed time.
- WR Cedric Tillman, Cleveland (73% Sleeper rostered) - Tillman led all Browns receivers in snaps and was second in routes run. His playing time has increased dramatically with the trade of Donovan Peoples-Jones to Detroit, trending to above 85% of snaps as the clear third receiver in Cleveland. That usage had not become production until this week, with 55 yards topping his previous high of 5. Amari Cooper picked up an injury in this game, and Tillman would be the primary beneficiary via increased targets.
- WR Greg Dortch, Arizona (39% Sleeper rostered) - Dortch has a connection with Kyler Murray. He drew two targets all year long until he spiked to 17 in Weeks 11 and 12. It could be due to Michael Wilson missing time, but as the situation stands, it is difficult to ignore a player who has averaged 12.65 PPR points over the last two weeks coming from nowhere.
- TE Brevin Jordan, Houston (12% Sleeper rostered) - Jordan continues the theme of fantasy zombies. Jordan did not play from Weeks 8-10 but played a season-high in snaps in Week 12 and, as a result, gave Dalton Schultz a season-low in snaps and targets. This mention is less to put Jordan on the radar as an addition and more to say this tight end situation needs monitoring. Schultz had been a reliable producer, ranking as TE8 on the season, but the bottom completely fell out of him in Week 12.
- WR Jalen Tolbert, Dallas (36% Sleeper rostered) - Tolbert has quietly out-snapped Michael Gallup in the last three weeks. A buzzy player in the summer of 2022, Tolbert fell flat in his rookie season. Topping out at 49 receiving yards in two of the last four weeks, Tolbert has a ways to go for fantasy utility. Still, he has positioned himself as a primary beneficiary if CeeDee Lamb or Brandin Cooks leaves the lineup. This usage speaks more to Michael Gallup's future with the team. The Cowboys built an out into his contract, and they will likely exercise it, given the cap outlay to the receiver position. Tolbert can gain a lot of value over this upcoming offseason.
- WR / RB Lynn Bowden Jr, New Orleans (0% Sleeper rostered) - The Saints are potentially without Chris Olave, Rashid Shaheed, and Michael Thomas. Bowden flashed as a rookie in Miami in 2020 but has struggled to stick on any roster or to see game action since. He made an impact in this game, totaling 40 rushing yards off two attempts. The Saints have utilized some creative offensive packages for Saheed; if he is forced to miss time, Bowden can be added in the deepest leagues.
- WR Nelson Agholor, Baltimore (27% Sleeper rostered) - Odell Beckham carried an injury designation into Sunday night football and disappeared after a very productive first quarter. Agholor has outsnapped Beckham in each of the last four weeks. It is unlikely anyone outside of Zay Flowers will see reliable volume in the Baltimore passing attack; Agholor is a strong end-of-bench addition in best ball formats.
Stats Of The Week
- RB Kyren Williams, Los Angeles Rams - 143 rushing yards, 61 receiving yards - This game was the 62nd in NFL history with a player exceeding 140 rushing yards and 60 receiving yards. Josh Jacobs was the last to accomplish it in 2022. It should be called the Preist Holmes special. No NFL player has done it more than twice, except Holmes, who did it five times.
- WR Mike Evans, Tampa Bay - 90 receiving touchdowns - Evans scored twice, moving into sole possession of 15th place all-time with 90 career receiving touchdowns. He stands one behind Davante Adams and Isaac Bruce and two behind Rob Gronkowski. Hat tip to Joey Wright!
- QB Josh Allen, Buffalo - 339 passing yards, 81 rushing yards - Allen recorded the eighth game in NFL history over 330 passing yards and 80 rushing yards. It was the second time he had accomplished it. The others on the list are Russell Wilson (twice), Justin Herbert, Cam Newton, Michael Vick, and Mitchell Trubisky.
- TE Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh - nine receptions, 120 yards - Big tight end performances are becoming more commonplace across the league. This game was the sixth performance hitting nine or more receptions and at least 120 yards, the most in a season since 2018. 2018 and 2013 were the only season on record with more. The yards were Freiermuth's career high by 35 and the third most in Steelers' team history, behind only Eric Green (158 in 1991) and Jesse James (138 in 2018). The timing is fascinating since this was the first game following Matt Canada's firing. Freiermuth can affect leagues over the back half of the season.
- QB Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville - 364 passing yards - Lawrence had the second-highest total of his career, trailing a 368-yard performance against Tennessee in Week 14, 2022. The total is the 13th highest in the Jaguars' franchise history.
- CB DaRon Bland, Dallas - Five pick sixes - This is an offensive article, but hat tip to defense where applicable. Bland broke an NFL record by recording his fifth pick-six on the season. With six weeks left in the season, it will be interesting to see how high this can climb.
Splitting backfields into key categories based upon snaps and opportunities (rushes plus targets). While carries may be similar, backfields that fall into a Committee with a Lead over a straight Committee saw wide disparities in snap counts.
- New England (Rhamondre Stevenson 26, Ezekiel Elliott 11)
- LA Rams (Kyren Williams 22, Royce Freeman 13, Zach Evans 3)
- Las Vegas
- LA Chargers
- NY Giants
- NY Jets
- San Francisco
- Tampa Bay
COMMITTEE WITH A LEAD
- Green Bay
- Kansas City
- New Orleans
Cordarrelle Patterson's backfield usage increased dramatically relative to the past weeks. Bijan Robinson still led the way, but Patterson pulled almost even to Tyler Allgeier. Turnovers have been a significant issue, indicating Arthur Smith is exploring alternatives to passing the ball again…As mentioned on the watch list, D'Ernest Johnson is the RB2 in Jacksonville. Travis Etienne was dinged up in this game and missed some time; Johnson filled in. Tank Bigsby has all but fallen out of the rotation…Houston remains in the Bellcow area, with Dameon Pierce returning. Snaps heavily favored Devin Singletary, but opportunities were closer to even. The game script could be a part of it, as the Texans played from behind, and it was Pierce's first game back…Zack Moss still has a pulse. Tampa Bay is noted for their rush defense, and this was the most even usage by the Colts backs in a month. Something to note if the Colts are facing a tough run defense…Welcome to Bellcow status, Rhamondre Stevenson. Ezekiel Elliott managed 11 touches, but snaps were heavily weighted towards Stevenson. The Patriots are trying to make it through the season and featured their running backs heavily in this game. Stevenson is the only player who can hit fantasy lineups currently…Derrick Henry out-snapped Tyjae Spears this week, partially on game script and partially on Spears getting knocked out of the game for a period. These two are almost dead even on the season in snaps…Kyren Williams is back, and with him, bellcow usage. Royce Freeman did see 13 touches, but this game was a runaway. The only question is how high could Williams' totals have finished had the Cardinals pushed the Rams at all…The other side of the Rams' runaway could be a factor, but James Conner and Michael Carter played a near-equal split. Bad for Conner. This offensive ceiling has been low most of the year; if he is the "Nick Chubb" role and Carter is the "Kareem Hunt" role, that does not bode well for a team that could spend large portions of games in passing situations…Things are about to get very interesting in Baltimore. Keaton Mitchell nearly out-snapped Justice Hill and Gus Edwards to a 2 to 1 ratio. Edwards's floor is hazardous; he was not able to score in this game and, as a result, only posted 4.7 PPR points. If this breaks hard in Mitchell's favor, as this trend suggests, he will be the only weekly player in the backfield.
The Target Report
- Watson posted 91 yards in Week 5 against the Raiders on the strength of a 77-yard play. Besides that, his season high was 37 yards, and he never recorded more than three receptions. This game was the breakout dynasty managers needed to keep faith. Watson was quiet to start his career, totaling only 88 yards through the first nine weeks of 2022. He broke through with 523 yards over the final eight games. Hopefully, this was the first move toward a similar second-half breakout.
- Dallas's defense had not allowed a rusher or receiver over 100 yards until Samuel in Week 12. This game was Samuel's first 100-yard performance since Week 17 of 2021, the breakout year that led to Samuel signing a significant deal with Washington in free agency. Samuel was a prominent early season story for Washington, averaging 47.5 receiving yards and scoring twice through the first six weeks. He battled through an injury and was quiet in the subsequent weeks, but he looked great this week.
- Cooks started slow, averaging 2.25 receptions and 18.25 receiving yards over his first four games, a 310-yard season-long pace. Since then, he's averaged four receptions and 63.16 yards, a 1,074-yard pace, and scoring in four of his last six. This breakout has coincided with Michael Gallup's role diminishing and getting replaced with Jalen Tolbert. Gallup has an out built into his contract following the year, and the Cowboys can get out of over $30 million over the next three years. While the team surely would have liked Cooks and Gallup to perform in 2023, there was likely only room for one moving forward. Cooks is that guy.
- Between Weeks 4-10, Samuel was missing from the 49ers passing attack, catching just seven passes for 85 yards over that span. George Kittle used that time to be TE3 through that stretch. He was the big loser, with Samuel taking a more significant role this week, catching three for 19 yards. Other than a one-yard performance against Cleveland, Kittle had hit 67 or more yards weekly. The 49ers' offense can get everyone in the endzone, making all four of their primary skill players weekly starts, but with all four pieces plugged in, the floor for each receiver is in the basement.
- Wilson scored! The touchdown against the Dolphins was his first since Week 2. Given the Jets' quarterback struggles, Wilson has quietly had a remarkable year. He is on pace for 99 receptions and 1,074 yards. He is a priority buy in dynasty leagues; if he can exceed 1,000 yards in this situation, he has the upside to threaten as the overall WR1 with competent quarterback play.
- The Jets have been one of the best defenses, but top receivers have taken advantage of them, with Stefon Diggs, CeeDee Lamb, and A.J. Brown all able to top 100 yards. Add Waddle and Hill to the list. The Dolphins play the Jets in Week 15, at the beginning of the fantasy playoffs. Judging by this performance, it may be the inability of the Jets' offense to continue to push the Dolphins to score that has a more significant impact than Sauce Gardner and the Jets' defense. You are starting Hill and Waddle weekly, but this performance gives some peace of mind to not view it as a matchup to be faded.
- The good news is that London and Robinson recorded their best-receiving games in over a month. They dominated target share, and Arthur Smith allowed the offense to flow through them. The bad? The Falcons attempted 20 passes, and Desmond Ridder still managed to throw two interceptions. Turnovers have been a persistent problem for the Falcons. For most of this season, they looked like they were trying to run a functional offense. The volume, accompanied by the turnovers and, notably, a win, could indicate we are headed back toward the days of the team lingering near the bottom of the league in attempts.
- Unfortunately, this is likely a ceiling performance for Chase. Pittsburgh entered this game 23rd in passing yards per game allowed, allowing the 11th most fantasy points to the wide receiver position. The Bengals had four drives that resulted in negative yardage in Jake Browning's first game, replacing Joe Burrow at quarterback. It is hard to sit Chase, and he squeezed out 12 PPR points, but he was acquired as a league-shifting player. That is unlikely in 2023.
- Mingo has been one of the more disappointing rookies from the 2023 draft. His selection in the second round and pairing with overall number one pick Bryce Young saw him rise into the top half of the second round of many super flex drafts. This outing was his second-best of the year, topped only by a 62-yard performance against Houston. There is still time, but he must start stringing together positive performances in an offense devoid of playmakers.
- If Mingo is not the most disappointing rookie receiver, it is Hyatt. Hyatt entered this game with a 58-yard reception in Week 2 and a 42-yard reception in Week 7, averaging 13 yards per game. He exploded with the Giants' first 100-yard receiving game of the year. His speed is evident, but he was asked to be more of a primary receiver at Tennessee. For the first time, he showcased those skills at the NFL level. The Giants have nothing to lose and need to continue to give him playing time. Performances like this are a double-edged sword. Seeing production makes managers much more comfortable but also raises the acquisition price.
- Collins was one of the biggest storylines early in the season, with huge performances in Weeks 2 and 4. He had cooled off considerably, allowing Noah Brown and Tank Dell to grab the spotlight in subsequent weeks. He has drawn 20 targets over the last two weeks and delivered his first 100-yard game since Week 4.
- Brown was ok to start the season, averaging 8.8 targets and 55.6 yards per game over his first six games. He fell off hard over the last five, dropping to 6.6 targets and 30 yards per game. This game was a welcome return and his second-highest yardage of the season. The Cardinals' offense is still struggling with Kyle Murray returning, but Brown needs to be a big part of it.
- Rice's performance is the most exciting in Week 12. The Chiefs have treated him with kids gloves, keeping him in a limited role. But ten targets were his season high, clearing his previous high of seven, and 107 yards topped his previous high of 72. The Chiefs' offense has needed help at receiver all year, and Rice has consistently looked the most capable of providing that help. They need to allow him to produce at this level always.
Revenge! (Not sponsored by Immaculate Grid, but it could be!)
- WR Braxton Berrios, Miami vs. New York Jets, Win 34-13
- WR Robbie Chosen, Miami vs. New York Jets, Win 34-13
- RB Dare Ogunbowale, Houston vs. Jacksonville, Loss 24-21
- RB James Conner, Arizona vs. Pittsburgh
- TE Hunter Henry, New England vs. Los Angeles Chargers
- RB Jamaal Williams, New Orleans vs. Detroit
- QB Baker Mayfield, Tampa Bay vs. Carolina
- WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kansas City vs. Green Bay
- QB Teddy Bridgewater, Detroit vs. New Orleans
Prospects Of The Week
WR Troy Franklin, Oregon
WR Rome Odunze, Washington
The first time Washington played Oregon, this space highlighted the quarterback matchup between Michael Penix and Bo Nix. The two delivered, combining for over 600 passing yards and six touchdowns. The rematch is on tap for championship weekend, and their top targets deserve their moment in the spotlight.
Odunze's career line sits at 195 - 2,958 - 24. Those reception and touchdown totals rank third in school history, while the yardage line is second. Odunze is just eight receptions from passing Jaydon Mickens for second and two touchdowns from passing Mario Bailey for a similar position. He also stands 128 yards from breaking Reggie Williams's single-season receiving yard record. Williams, the former 1st round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars, holds the career lead in all three major receiving categories. Odunze is a highly physical receiver at 6'3"and 216 lbs., showing similarities to a player like DeAndre Hopkins.
Franklin is threatening records on his own. He has a 156 - 2,449 - 25 career line; the receptions and yardage are sixth in school history, while his touchdowns already hold the career lead. He is in the midst of the best season in school history; his 77-1,349-14 numbers are all single-season records. Franklin is in a different mold than Odunze, listed at 6'3" and 187 lbs. His speed is a plus even at the NFL level, and he has shown the ability to win at all levels.
The final Pac-12 title game will lead off conference championship weekend with a Friday night island game. The winner will likely lock up a spot in the college football playoff. If their first matchup is any indication, this is a must-watch.
Blind Resume Answer
Hall set his career high in receptions. Cook, Hubbard, and Williams tied their career highs. Singletary posted the third-highest total of his career. As the weather turns and some questionable quarterback start decisions occur, this is a trend to watch, especially in full PPR leagues. Receiving games like these dramatically raises the point ceiling for running backs in those forms.
Deep Players To Watch On Monday Night Football
RB Ty Chandler, Minnesota - Chandler's talent is evident. His 110 scrimmage yards in Week 11 were more than Alexander Mattison has accumulated in any game except against the Chargers in Week 3. But the Vikings have hesitated to grow Chandler's role despite positive drumbeats dating back to training camp. After removing him from the rotation completely following the trade for Cam Akers, the season-ending injury to Akers makes Chandler a vital component.
Chandler is already forcing a shift in the Vikings' backfield mentality. Kevin O'Connell has rarely split backfield shares in his time as Vikings coach.
Before Week 11, O'Connell only had one game as Vikings' coach with two running backs over double-digit rushing attempts. Week 18, 2022, in a meaningless game against the Bears. Week 11, Chandler (10) and Mattison (18) hit that mark. It's a small thing, but Chandler's role is clearly growing. Chandler is an explosive player who can earn a fantasy start in just one play. As his opportunities continue growing, he enters the flex running back conversation. If Mattison misses time, Chandler has the potential to shift leagues.
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