We’ve concluded the end of the 2019 regular season and there were a few games this year that made you pull your hair out in disbelief. I wanted to highlight ten games this year that did not go as Vegas or fantasy owners likely forecasted. As the betting and fantasy football worlds continue to further overlap, it’s helpful to review some of the lines that did not go according to plan.
This isn’t to throw shade on anyone but simply show that there is an element of volatility every year. I’ve learned that being dogmatic about fantasy football over the years doesn’t pay out as well as it might seem. Having strong opinions about player projections is definitely needed. However, we need to have room in our process of week-to-week predictions for chaos to ensue. I look up every week and there are a handful of outcomes that I just say to myself “Wow, I did not see that coming…”
Here are ten games from the regular season that made you say “what the ****?!?!?!?!?”
Listen to this week’s Fantasy Footballers podcast for the #Footie Award Nominations.
Week 1: Cincinnati Bengals @ Seattle Seahawks (-9.5)
Final Score: SEA 21 CIN 20
Yes, the Seahawks came out victorious but looking back in hindsight, you have to ask yourself what happened? This game was in Seattle and the Bengals with a rookie head coach were 9.5-point road underdogs. Andy Dalton threw for 419 yards and two TDs as John Ross exploded on the scene (7/158/2) in Zac Taylor’s pass-happy offense reminiscent of mentor Sean McVay in Los Angeles. The Bengals were actually leading heading into the 4th quarter until Russell Wilson found Tyler Lockett on a 44-yard strike on the first play of the quarter. Cincinnati had 1st-and-goal from the 4-yard line with a little less than nine minutes remaining but had to settle for a Randy Bullock field goal. Cincinnati, of course, went on to go 2-14 and this game was a distant memory in our minds.
Week 2: San Francisco 49ers @ Cincinnati Bengals (-1)
Final Score: SF 41 CIN 17
The final score isn’t the shocking part; it’s the fact that Cincy was a 1-point favorite at the time! Wow… what we did not know in Week 2: that the worst team in the league would be facing arguably the league’s top defense and future No. 1 seed in the NFC. The 49ers racked up 571 total yards of offense as Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 296 yards and three TDs. While Tyler Boyd went ham (10-for-122 on 10 targets), Joe Mixon was abysmal totaling 26 yards on 14 touches. What were we thinking???
Week 4: Cleveland Browns @ Baltimore Ravens (-7)
Final Score: CLE 40 BAL 25
The Ravens came into this one off a hard-fought loss in Kansas City to Patrick Mahomes and company but Lamar Jackson had established himself as a fantasy cheat code. While Jackson threw for three TDs, he also had two INTs and was sacked four times. Cleveland, on the other hand, rode Nick Chubb all day long for 165 rushing yards and three TDs. He was an absolute wrecking ball. The odd thing about this score is that the Ravens haven’t lost since racking up 12 wins in a row to secure the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
Week 5: Indianapolis Colts @ Kansas City Chiefs (-11)
Final Score: IND 19 KC 13
Remember this Sunday night game? This game sported the highest over/under (56.5) of the year as the Chiefs came in averaging a league-best 3.21 points per drive. The Colts figured out a template to stifle the Chiefs at home and control the clock with Marlon Mack on the ground. Mack ended with 132 rushing yards as the Colts had the ball for over 37 minutes of the game. Mahomes didn’t have enough possessions and with Tyreek Hill out, it was clear the Colts pressed up and forced Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson, and Byron Pringle to try to beat them. Mahomes was sacked four times and the ageless one, Adam Vinatieri, had four FGs. Harrison Butker kicked a field-goal with 1:19 left but a last-ditch, on-side kick fell into the babyiest of hands, Jack Doyle. Playoff teams have to have this game film on hand to prepare for the Chiefs.
Week 9: Green Bay Packers @ Los Angeles Chargers (+3)
Final Score: LAC 26 GB 11
The Chargers were home underdogs facing a Packers squad who was 7-1 at the time. The offensive ineptitude put on display by Aaron Rodgers and the Packers was downright… offensive. They were shutout going into half-time and didn’t put up points until a Mason Crosby field goal with 50 seconds left in the 3rd quarter. Rodgers had 161 passing yards and Aaron Jones finished with 29 total yards. It was rough sledding against a Chargers team that basically asked Philip Rivers not to screw things up. The Packers are now 13-3, NFC North champs and secured a 1st-round bye week.
Week 10: Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints (-13)
Final Score: ATL 26 NO 9
This might be the wildest outcome of the season. The Saints had the highest team implied total (31.8) of the week and the Falcons ranked 31st in pass DVOA at the time. I wrote that week that “Brees at home was a lock button“. No-one, not even me as a Falcons fan, saw this coming. The Falcons came into this one a loser of six straight and essentially all but sealed coach Dan Quinn’s fate out the door and on the street. However, after the bye week, Quinn relieved himself of defensive play-calling duties and the Falcons came out firing on all cylinders. They sacked Drew Brees six times and held the mighty Saints offense to just three Wil Lutz field-goals.
Week 10: Miami Dolphins @ Indianapolis Colts (-10)
Final Score: MIA 16 IND 12
This was supposed to be one of the easy wins of the season especially for those still alive in their survivor pools. The Colts came in 5-3 while the Dolphins just won their first game of the season the previous week against the Jets. Beyond just being a double-digit underdog, rookie head coach Brian Flores was matched up with offensive mastermind Frank Reich. Even with Brian Hoyer taking over for the injured Jacoby Brissett, it seemed like a done deal. I wrote in my QB column that week: “Yes the Dolphins got their first win last week and we feel happy for them in a cute pre-schooler brought home a drawing from class kind of way. But it’s time to take that kid’s lunch money once again…” Heck, Miami won despite only 229 yards of total offense. “Starting RB” Kalen Ballage went 20-for-45 on the ground. Woof.
Week 15: Atlanta Falcons @ San Francisco 49ers (-10.5)
Final Score: ATL 29 SF 22
My Falcons made this list again with another shocking road win over former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and the team that was the No. 1 seed in the NFC at the time. Disregard the final score as Atlanta had a fumble recovery in the end zone on the last play. It was Julio Jones‘ last-second goal-line catch with five seconds remaining that was reviewed and called a score that put the Falcons over the top. Jones went off for 13 catches, 134 yards and two TDs on an unreal 20 targets! George Kittle equaled him with 13 catches and 134 yards of his own on 17 targets. The game was a nail-biter all the way through but not something we saw coming with the 49ers No. 1 ranked pass defense and their elite pass rush.
Week 16: Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks (-9.5)
Final Score: ARI 27 SEA 13
This seemed like a done deal as Seattle had the highest team implied total (29.3) of the week against a historically bad Cardinals secondary. Russell Wilson was the cover boy for my Top-12 QB article and for good reason. The Seahawks had entered the driver’s seat as the No. 1 seed in the NFC (have you noticed a theme in this article with the NFC’s top seed…) and had an easy home matchup against a Cardinals team they throttled 27-10 in Arizona in Week 4. Enter Kenyan Drake. After four TDs the previous week, all the Cardinals RB did was register his career-high in rushing yards (166) and two TDs including an 80-yarder. After scoring first at eight minutes in, Seattle wouldn’t put points up on the scoreboard again until the 4th quarter. With Chris Carson exiting with a season-ending injury, the offense could only muster 169 yards through the air as Wilson was sacked five times. This was an absolute dud at home from a playoff team at the absolute worst time of the season.
Week 17: Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots (-16.5)
Ok, so maybe we should’ve seen this one coming. The Patriots had actually gone 7-5 against their division mates from South Beach since 2014. However, we all remember how the Patriots trounced the Dolphins in Miami earlier in the year 43-0. Bill Belichick and company were also motivated: win and they receive a 1st round bye in the AFC playoffs. This game was in Foxboro so it seemed like a lock but the national treasure that is Ryan Fitzpatrick would have none of it. He threw a game-winning TD to Mike Gesicki with under two minutes and Tom Brady‘s last-ditch effort fell short. The Patriots are just the 2nd team to lose as 16+ point favorites in the last 20 years. Remember, last year when rookie Josh Allen and the Bills rolled into Minnesota and destroyed the Vikings?