Argue With Myself: Josh Allen

The optimistic and pessimistic sides of me debate Josh Allen and what to make of him through 3 weeks of the 2021 NFL season.

Josh Allen came into this season as a top 4 ranked fantasy quarterback. He was up there with Patrick Mahomes, Kyler Murray, and Lamar Jackson due to his incredible season in 2020. Through 3 weeks the Bills and Allen are 2-1 and look to continue their path towards the Superbowl. As a Bills fan I’m beyond excited to have him as our quarterback but as a fantasy manager, I have questions. A deep dive into Allen’s stats does cause some worry and internal debate.

 

Optimistic Me

 

Josh Allen is one of the best passers in the league. He is young and has the skills to be a top NFL star. Last year he put up 37 passing touchdowns, only 10 interceptions, 4544 yards, and added 8 touchdowns and 421 yards on the ground. So far this year he has 807  passing yards, 7 touchdowns. He is on pace for a stat line of 4573 yards and 39 passing touchdowns, and don’t forget it’s a 17 game season so his numbers will go up from last year. He currently ranks top 10 among fantasy quarterbacks and that is with games against the tough Pittsburgh and Washington defenses. And against that Washington defense, he put up 358 yards, 4 passing touchdowns, and a rushing touchdown. How can you have any doubt about Allen’s ability and not want him for your fantasy team?

 

Pessimistic Me

 

Allen has been good this year for the Bills. But for fantasy, there are some red flags. Let’s start with this season so far. They also played the Miami Dolphins who have struggled on defense and had their backup quarterback playing. Miami didn’t score any point so there was no pressure on the offense to keep up. One of the reasons Allen made a big jump from 2019 to 2020 was his completion percentage. Every TV broadcast talked about it. His career completion percentage stats are 52.8, 58.8, 69.2 in 2018, 19, and 20 respectively. What do you think he is at this year so far? 62.2. Yeah, that’s in the 2018 and 2019 range, not the 2020 range. That’s not a good sign. Before the Washington game, he was in the 52% range. Sure it’s only 3 weeks but if he’s not doing it now what points to him doing it in week 4 or more this year? You can capitalize on his name in fantasy and get a king’s ransom for him. Maybe you hold him in dynasty formats but I think in any sort of redraft he will be a huge disappointment this season. Let’s also not anoint the Washington defense as good just yet. They are near the bottom for points against for the season. 

 

Optimistic Me

 

The talent around him will help him. Stefon Diggs is still there. Cole Beasley is still there who is the ultimate security blanket. They brought in Emmanuel Sanders to help take some pressure off Diggs in terms of coverage. Allen and Sanders need time to develop the chemistry, which is coming. Sanders saw 8,6 and then 6 targets through the first 3 weeks. He is getting worked into the offense. He is playing on 84% of the Bills’ Snaps. Diggs is playing 83%. He only trails Diggs in total targets by 11.  Allen also has Dawson Knox who is a big body and seems to be taking the leap in his catching ability. Knox has 2 touchdowns on the season. The Bills only have 3 drops this season. That’s one per game. If that continues things will pick up. They still have Gabriel Davis and Isaiah Mckenzie to stretch the field, and that plays into Allen’s massive arm. The running backs of Devin Singletary and Zack Moss are getting going as well.

 

Pessimistic Me

 

Let’s talk about stretching the field. A tweet from JJ Zachariason before week 3 showed Allen’s deep throws. On throws of 15 -plus air yards. His accuracy this year is 23.5%. Last season it was 48.5 and in 2019 it was 35.3. Which number is he closer to? Now let’s talk rushing. The rushing numbers for the Bills are about the same as last season in terms of yards and percentage of rushing plays vs passing plays. But what is troublesome and not helpful for fantasy is how little Allen is rushing the ball. The Bill’s offensive line has been sub-par so far this season for pass protection but really good for rushing. They were ranked 5th for rushing and 27th for passing according to pro football focus going into week 3.  That just leads me back to the running game which is mainly Devin Singletary and Zack Moss. In 2019 and 2020 Allen accounted for about 24% of the team’s rushes. After week 3 he accounts for only 20%. Yes, he scored a rushing touchdown, which is a great sign. Allen only accounted for 12% of the team’s rushes in week 3. 

 

Optimistic Me

 

Less rushing is great. He is still doing it when he needs to but isn’t taking unnecessary risks. Look at all the injuries around the league especially to quarterbacks. I’ll take Allen rushing less if that means he stays healthy longer. I love Mitch Trubisky but don’t want him starting for an extended period of time if we can avoid it. Allen is still rushing in the red zone, leading the team with 9 red zone rushes compared to 8 for Moss and 7 for Singletary. Sure Moss missed the first game and is getting worked in the offense as a whole and in the red zone. Again that’s a good thing for the team and for Allen. We are Superbowl bound with Josh Allen. Either way, through 3 games he has played 2 really good defenses in Pittsburgh and Washington and one not so great in Miami. Even if you say that it was two bad defenses and one good one. He put up 2 touchdowns on Miami and 5 total on Washington. 

 

Pessimistic Me

 

Again Washington is not a good defense. Now let’s look at his schedule going forward. Week 4 he has the Texans who don’t have a great defense. Much like Miami, it will be against their backup quarterback so I don’t see a ton of pressure on Allen and the coaching staff to put up crazy points. The rest of the season he has games against Tampa, Carolina, and two against the Pats. So those are tough defenses that could expose Allen’s accuracy issues. He also has 2 games against the Jets and one against the Jaguars so you have to hope he can torch those. But he hasn’t been torching every defense so far. Last season he had 10 games of 3 or more touchdowns and 8 games with 300 or more yards. He only had 2 games under two total touchdowns and 3 games under 200 yards. So far this year he already has 1 of each, and those are separate games.  The Bills will be fine. They are going to win games but I just worry about Josh Allen for fantasy. If he can continue what he did against the Washington Football Team then I’m happy to be wrong. Being a top 10 fantasy quarterback when you just had an amazing game is not an accomplishment. He was drafted as a top 3 quarterback. 

 

 

Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire | Design by Michael Packard (@designsbypack on Twitter @ IG)

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