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Thursday Night Observations
I remember about 15 years ago, I came upon the idea of the “king-maker” wide receiver in that he could turn an ordinary quarterback into a good one, and a good one into a king.
We saw this with Terrell Owens. In 2003, Donovan McNabb was a running quarterback with 3,216 passing yards, 16 TD and 11 picks on 6.6 YPA in 16 games. The following year Owens shows up, and McNabb gets 3,875 yards, 31 TD and eight picks on 8.3 YPA in 15 games.
We also saw it with Randy Moss and Tom Brady. In 2006, Brady passed for 3,529 yards, 24 TD and 12 picks on 6.8 YPA, numbers roughly line with what he had done in his career to that point. In 2007, Moss comes along, and Brady gets 4,806 yards, 50 TD, eight picks on 8.3 YPA. Of course Brady kept the party going long after Moss was gone, but one could attribute some of that to one of the few king-making tight ends in history, Rob Gronkowski. If you look at Brady’s splits with and without Gronk, the difference is stark.
That’s not to say Brady isn’t the GOAT in his own right — after all, the prior GOAT, Joe Montana had Jerry Rice, and the prior per-play GOAT, Steve Young, had Rice and Owens! You don’t get into the GOAT conversation at all without being great *and* (usually) having one of these all-time targets.
All that is to say, maybe Tyreek Hill (14-10-160-0) is in that rarefied class with Owens, Moss, Gronk and Rice — maybe he is the kingmaker that makes Tua (before he got bodyslammed) but also Patrick Mahomes capable of huge numbers. As someone who faded Hill on his new team everywhere, and has one share of Waddle, this isn’t something about which I’m happy, but it’s hard to watch peak Antonio Brown, if Brown were only stronger, more physical and had 4.2 speed, and not think virtually any decent QB (not necessarily Teddy Bridgewater-replacement-level ones) could put up huge numbers with Hill and a Pro Bowl level talent like Waddle as targets.
It also makes you wonder whether Mahomes, surely a great talent in his own right, is done with 8.0-plus YPA full seasons until he finds another king-maker. (Travis Kelce, who turns 33 this week, probably isn’t it anymore.)
The Bengals can’t pass protect or run block. It’s almost as if they had to keep forcing the handoffs to Joe Mixon (24-61-1, 4-4-13-0) because if they didn’t keep the defense honest, they’d have gotten Joe Burrow killed.
Mixon strikes me as present-day Zeke Elliott — a hard runner who can catch a pass, but nothing special skill-wise.
Burrow (who I have in a league) salvaged his day with that final TD drive after the Bridgewater INT, when you were sure Cincy would try to run clock. Special thanks to Mixon for getting stuffed so often near the goal line.
Tee Higgins (9-7-124-1) will see a lot of work if teams keep trying to take away Ja’Marr Chase (6-4-81-0.)
Raheem Mostert (15-69-0, 3-2-12) is still really fast, but he’ll never handle the workload you’d need to count on him. I’m just happy to see him cut into Chase Edmonds’ value.
I had the Dolphins +3.5 in my low-stakes picking pool, and it felt like the right side — the Dolphins, even with Bridgewater, moved the ball more efficiently, but were done in by turnovers. But it was the wrong side obviously because turnovers count.
Besides Hill, it was painful to see Evan McPherson kick that 57 yarder. That’s a almost a touchdown for someone in all my NFFC leagues.