What We Saw: Week 13

Diontae Johnson saved the Steelers' season with his two 4th quarter TD receptions

Ravens @ Steelers

Final Score: Steelers 20, Ravens 19 

Writer: Ryan Radel (@RadelFF on Twitter)

 

Boy was this game a treat to watch. The Ravens came into Pittsburgh looking to gain some more breathing room in the division, but a bold decision from the head coach ended up costing them that opportunity. Powered by Diontae Johnson, the Steelers managed to stave off the Ravens and secure a victory in a thriller that went down to the final 12 seconds of the game. Even with recent mumblings of the looming retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers are still a top tier team out with something to prove, lead by their ferocious defense. What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? You get Baltimore vs Pittsburgh in Week 13.

 

Baltimore Ravens

 

Quarterback

 

Lamar Jackson: 23/37, 253 yards, TD, INT, 7 Sacks | 8 carries, 55 yards

 

I’ll get this out of the way early – it’s fun to watch Lamar Jackson play football when it isn’t against your team. The combination of size and athleticism to go along with a high football IQ creates some absolutely brilliant plays that we are all familiar with. But with that athleticism comes some hero ball, which is something that is getting Lamar in trouble. Seven sacks is really, really bad. Not only for your offense but for the health of your quarterback. Lamar continues to fail to impress me with his is accuracy. Last week he threw four interceptions and still managed a victory. This week, Lamar overthrew the final pass to win the game as he was outplayed under center by Big Ben. Thankfully the athleticism we mentioned earlier does benefit Lamar’s fantasy value which is something we have come to expect. While he did extend some plays with his legs today, he continues to make questionable decisions, like this lofted pass off of his back foot running for his life:

 

 

It’s only third down with six yards to go in the first quarter – there’s no reason to take this risk. This needed to be a better read or a better decision. I’m not sure if a single quarterback in the league could reliably make this throw into coverage. The Ravens scored a touchdown on an absurd 99-yard, 16 play drive nearly a quarter later, proving they don’t need to take these types of risky shots.

 

Running Back

 

Devonta Freeman: 14 carries, 52 yards, TD | 8 targets, 5 receptions, 45 yards

Latavius Murray: 2 carries, 1 yard | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 34 yards

Nate McCrary: 1 carry, -1 yard

Patrick Ricard: 1 target, 1 reception, 9 yards

 

Latavius Murray did most of his damage out of the backfield, with both of his receptions going for 15+ yards. Unfortunately, the usage isn’t there to go along with the efficiency. For the time being, this backfield clearly belongs to Devonta Freeman, who is looking a little like his old self lately. His best days are certainly behind him in Atlanta, but Freeman’s current skillset is a great fit for the Ravens offense. 22 total plays were drawn up for Freeman, and he was involved in both the run and the pass game throughout the entire game. For the time being, Freeman looks like he could be an asset if this usage is maintained, especially so if he keeps getting opportunities to score like this:

 

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Marquise Brown: 7 targets, 5 receptions, 55 yards

Mark Andrews: 9 targets, 4 receptions, 50 yards

Sammy Watkins: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 39 yards, TD

Devin Duvernay: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 21 yards

Rashod Bateman: 1 target

 

Marquise Brown continues to be Lamar’s favorite wide receiver and looks to have overcome the dropsies that plagued him earlier this season. We were blessed with a Sammy Watkins touchdown right at the end of the game, setting the Ravens up to potentially tie the game or take the lead, but was otherwise quiet and shouldn’t be considered a reliable fantasy player with his sporadic usage. Both Devin Duvernay and Rashod Bateman got participation trophies. While both are extremely talented players, neither gets enough usage to justify playing them in fantasy this year. In the end, this group will be headlined by Mark Andrews, who was targeted a total of nine times, including the failed two-point conversion attempt at the end of the game. It’s been an up-and-down year for Andrews thus far, but I hope the Ravens force him into their game plan more often to close out the season. When a guy fights like this for extra yards, he deserves some extra targets as well:

 

 

Pittsburgh Steelers

 

Quarterback

 

Ben Roethlisberger: 21/31, 236 yards, 2 TD, Sack | 1 rush, -1 yard

 

The rumors of Ben Roethlisberger‘s retirement started swirling on social media this weekend, but he didn’t let it phase him. The Steelers defense kept them in this game as Ben steps more into his game-manager role. Gone are the days of 400 yard, four-touchdown performances. Some of it is because Ben can’t sling it like he used to. Some of it is also because he doesn’t have to anymore with how the Steelers’ offense is built. Ben has turned into a quick read, quick release quarterback, relying on getting the ball into his playmakers hands quickly rather than stand tall in the pocket. Whether or not he retires after this year, you can’t leave a guy this open against Big Ben. He’s going to make you pay every time:

 

 

Running Back

 

Najee Harris: 21 carries, 71 yards | 5 targets, 5 receptions, 36 yards

Benny Snell Jr.: 2 carries, 13 yards

 

Najee Harris continues to impress me both on the football field and in fantasy football. The volume provided by the Steelers offense combined with Najee’s ability in both the run and pass game have created an incredible opportunity for the young running back out of Alabama. While today wasn’t the most efficient day on the ground for Najee, he’s still a huge part of the Steelers offense, as evident by the 26 designed touches for him on the day. The Steelers offense relies on Najee to be the “glue guy” – I genuinely think this offense would be doomed without him. He was bottled up for most of the day by a tough Ravens front seven, who did not surrender a score on the ground today, but still brought in all five of his targets, salvaging his day in PPR formats. This is what I would consider a “floor” game for Najee. Benny Snell does indeed still play for the Steelers.

 

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Diontae Johnson: 11 targets, 8 receptions, 105 yards, 2 TD

Chase Claypool: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 52 yards | 1 carry, 2 yards

Pat Freiermuth: 4 targets, 3 receptions, 26 yards

Zach Gentry: 2 targets, 2 receptions, 10 yards

Ray-Ray McCloud: 4 targets, 1 reception, 7 yards

James Washington: 1 target

 

Chase Claypool may not be reproducing the numbers from his stellar rookie campaign, but he’s still involved in this offense and will likely put up better numbers against a lesser defense. A lot of Claypool’s 2020 utility came from creative play calling in the red zone specifically for him, but those opportunities are now being provided to players like Najee Harris, thus limiting Claypool’s fantasy ceiling this season.

Pat Freiermuth continues to look like the real deal. While he didn’t have a great statistical day, you can tell Big Ben trusts him in this offense and will continue to look his way in the red zone. Freiermuth hauled in the two-point conversion in the fourth quarter that put the Steelers ahead by enough points to ultimately win the game. Zach Gentry hauled in both of his backup tight end targets to help keep the chains moving. The stud of the day was obviously Diontae Johnson, who hauled in 8-of-11 targets for over 100 yards and two scores for a huge day on the stat sheet. This is now four straight games of double-digit targets for Diontae – he’s only been below 10 targets twice so far this season. You already saw the Ravens leave him open for a score earlier, but DJ didn’t give the Ravens defense much of a choice about the “being open” part for his second score:

 

 

Like, THE filthiest route from Diontae. Great play call by Mike Tomlin.

 

Seeya next week!

 

— Ryan Radel (@RadelFF on Twitter)

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