It’s Friday and time to put your feet up and talk about what’s interesting.
Shutouts – We were treated to yet another shutout on Thursday Night Football. The Ravens crushed the Dolphins 40-0 in a game that only became worse after Joe Flacco was concussed from a cringe-worthy hit. But it also points at something interesting. Thursday night was the sixth shutout of the year. After only seven weeks (and one game) there have been six shutouts.
For the last five years, here are how many shutouts happened: 2016 (3), 2015 (3), 2014 (7), 2013 (3), and 2014 (6). We’ve already seen double the number of shutouts from the last two years and we are not even to the midpoint of the season. Teams just do not seem as prepared this year.
Thursday Night Games – Their results are often very different than expected. Not just last night. The Raiders defeated the Chiefs. The 49ers scored 39 points (and yet lost). The games are much harder to predict.
There is a report that network executives want to end the oversaturation of football on TV and that one proposed idea was the reduce the number of Thursday night games from 18 down to only eight. I’d be okay with removing them altogether aside from the Thanksgiving Day games (and hey, go back to only two). In the fantasy football world, it is never good that you have to make starting decisions on incomplete information for the bulk of your players. TV ratings have slid and money talks. It is the only way we will see fewer Thursday games.
London Games – We have yet another London game this week – Vikings vs. Browns. There have been three games so far – BAL 7 JAC 44, NO 20 MIA 0, ARI 0 LAR 33. Not one has been remotely competitive. That’s a combined 97-7. One team just doesn’t show up. At all. The game scores are surreal but worse yet is that players perform very differently there and that makes predicting and starting fantasy players much harder. There is a movement to prevent any more of the ridiculously early starts which is a start. But it is not good football we are giving them. Which one of the Vikings or Browns will just roll over and quit? Don’t bet your house on the answer.
Anquan Boldin – The No. 9 all-time leader in receptions (1,076) decided that he was done with football after landing with the Bills and he left training camp. After 14 years, he was done with football. Until now. He wants to return. The Bills hold his rights but have agreed to allow him to seek a trade.
How this plays out will be interesting because the good teams – the playoff-bound teams do not need a 37-year-old wideout. The really bad teams – Jets, Bears, Browns, Giants, and 49ers could likely use him. But at mid-season, what is the point? They are not going to the playoffs anyway and it is already a lost year.
Notable is that Boldin if Boldin catches 20 passes, he would rank No. 7 all-time. With 30 more, he would be No. 5. But he’s not going to end up with a team good enough to get that volume of receptions for him.
DeDe Westbrook – The 4.03 pick by the Jaguars became of interest this week because he was coming off injured reserve. The 6-0, 174-pound ex-Sooner excelled at Blinn Jr. College and then played two years at Oklahoma. His senior year delivered an 80-1,524-17 stat line and a 19.1 yards per catch.
But he fell to the fourth round because of character concerns (domestic violence). That and his thin frame. He ran a 4.34/40 at his Pro-Day and the Jaguars need a deep threat that is lacking since Allen Robinson was injured. But Westbrook had a core injury that required surgery and landed him on IR. He impressed in the preseason but has to get back into shape, learn the offense and, oh yes, play for one of the worst ranked passing offenses.
He is very fast and can be a deep threat. But those are always highly inconsistent and more so as a rookie. He’s worth a dynasty add but limit expectations for this season.
Dontrelle Inman – The fourth-year wideout with the Chargers was traded to the Bears for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2018 NFL draft. Surprisingly, the Chargers have not incurred their annual “wideout drain” that typically propels Inman up the depth chart into playing time. Not so this year. Inman has been as good as 58-810-4 in 2016. Now he goes to a team that just won their game even though their quarterback only completed four passes.
Inman is a undrafted depth player who needs a good situation to be average. That does not exist in Chicago this year. More telling is that Deonte Thompson played for the Bears through Week 5 before being released. He topped out at 57 yards in Week 2. His first week in Buffalo, he gained 107 yards on four catches. Inman is landing on a team run by John Fox and that is never a positive for a receiver. Thompson appears to have boosted his career leaving Chicago and all he did was go to Buffalo where Tyrod Taylor is not considered an elite passer.
Have a great weekend!