The revenge factor in pro sports is commonly overlooked – athletes love nothing more than sticking it to their old teams. Revenge cannot be measured by statistical analysis, but one thing experienced DFS players know – revenge is real! Football and basketball provide the perfect setting for one player to make the ultimate difference in any given game.
Each week this article will explore certain players, coaches, and teams with something extra to play for. I am not necessarily advising everyone to play these guys, but the extra motivation will be there, so these plays are something to consider.
V for Vendetta – Week 6
Kirk Cousins vs San Francisco
In one of the strangest narratives around, Kirk Cousins faces off against his next team, not his former franchise. After turning down a fake $53 million deal from Washington this past offseason, Cousins will certainly hit the free agent market after this season, and Kyle Shanahan’s Niners are prepared to strike.
The Redskins royally screwed this Cousins deal from the beginning, and the worst part is they did it publicly. After failing to reach a contract agreement going into 2016, Cousins received the franchise tag and a guaranteed $19.9 million. The same scenario occurred this offseason, resulting in a double-tag scenario and another $23.9 million guaranteed. Despite setting franchise passing records the last two seasons, coach Jay Gruden clearly never bought into Cousins as a top tier, franchise guy. Management obviously agrees – the team wants Tom Brady, and Cousins will never be him. But he’s a damn good QB whom half the league would take in a heartbeat.
Gruden has criticized Cousins countless times, including last week in KC, after Josh Doctson dropped the game-winning TD pass on a perfectly throw ball. Team president Bruce Allen issued a letter to fans prior to the season explaining the situation and basically trashing “Kurt” Cousins. The contract Allen whined about would have paid Cousins the same amount of guaranteed money over the next 5 years that he just received over the last two. Who the hell would sign that? In order to franchise tag him again next year, it will cost Washington over $30 million guaranteed – for one season. Two years ago they could’ve signed him for $50 million guaranteed over five seasons! Total dysfunction…
And here sits 37 year old Kyle Shanahan, who just took over a storied franchise he grew up watching from the inside (his father Mike was Offensive Coordinator in the early 90s). San Fran purposely saved its massive cap numbers in order to sign Cousins this offseason, and Kirk expressed his desire to play for Shanahan (again) prior to the 2017 NFL Draft. Remember back to the 2012 Draft – Kyle’s dad drafted Cousins in the 4th round after being forced to trade up for RG3 2nd overall. It’s no secret – Mike never wanted RG3 and believed Cousins was the better player. As OC in 2012 and 2013, Kyle’s job was to develop Cousins in order to trade him, but instead he developed a solid NFL signal caller.
Cousins doesn’t deserve Matt Stafford money, but neither does Stafford. It’s a timing issue for these guys, and Cousins will get PAID! Shanahan and John Lynch will back up the truck in order to snag their franchise guy, something Gruden and Snyder refused to do the last two years. I expect Cousins to play great and show off for his future employer, and I expect Shanahan to secretly love what he’s watching.
Rams at Jaguars
Rewind to one year ago – would you have believed in Week 6 of 2017 both LA and Jacksonville would be 3-2 in 1st place? Illogical! These two franchises are looking up, and they have proven to be tough customers each and every week. This game means so much in the standings for both squads, but the real deal here is the constant battle they fight trying to earn respect around the league. Both teams are out to prove each week – they are no longer a laughing stock!
At 32 years old, Sean McVay immediately built the league’s top offense and resurrected Jared Goff’s short career. If not for this week’s loss to Seattle, I would have so many awesome things to say about McVay, but he fell back to earth in that 16-10 loss. LA had everything to gain and prove at home against the Seahawks, but instead of attacking their 31st rank rush defense, McVay chose to let Goff lose the game for him. Instead of feeding Todd Gurley in the red zone, as he’s done in all four previous games, McVay was out to prove his QB is elite, which led to three total points in four red zone trips for LA. More to prove this week (feed Gurley).
Doug Marrone may not be the best coach in the NFL, but he completely understands analytical football and playing to his team’s strengths. QB Blake Bortles is hot garbage, rookie RB Leonard Fournette is incredible, and his pass defense ranks #1 in the league. Marrone has designed this offense around running the ball, thus hiding Bortles and limiting his mistakes. On the other side, his defense is fast and ferocious – they stack the box and dare you to beat them thru the air. He understands and believes his secondary is simply more talented than his opponents’ receiving corps, and thus far he’s been correct.
Once his team gains the lead, Marrone furiously pounds the rock with Fournette, which bleeds the clock, rests his defense, and forces the opponent to pass more (JAC is last against the rush). The Jags force their opponents to play their game, which hides the QB and accents their secondary.
The style of play here on both sides, along with McVay’s (apparent) understanding of offensive strategy, leads me to believe both RBs will see 25-30 touches with some massive fantasy upside in this matchup. Seriously, who would’ve ever thought this game would garner so much real life attention and fantasy impact?
Todd Haley (PIT OC) at Kansas City
Former KC Head Coach Todd Haley brings his struggling offense back into his home from 2009-2012 – a place where he remains highly unwelcome. Haley went 19-26 in KC, and was never able to construct a similar offense to the one he built in Arizona, which ironically lost to Pittsburg in the final seconds of the Super Bowl. KC fans don’t forget Haley’s failures or his poor attitude, and I expect him to hear plenty of boos.
Arrowhead will be hopping Sunday, as KC enters at 5-0, clearly the best team in football. There will be plenty of Steeler fans in the crowd as always, which only fuels the fire and hostility. The Chiefs will be ready to bury the Steelers and put them back into their place and continue to prove they are the league’s top contender.
Haley’s play calling Sunday against Jacksonville might be the worst of all time – over 60 dropbacks and only 15 carries for Le’veon Bell (vs the #1 pass defense and #32 rush defense in the NFL). After Antonio Brown’s breakdown the week before, it was obvious Haley’s only concern was keeping AB happy. This played directly into JAC’s hands – 5 INTs of Big Ben, and two returned for TDs. My personal belief is Haley’s job is on the line now, as is head coach Mike Tomlin’s. Something must change – this talented offense has been nothing short of embarrassing in 2017.
Can Haley take revenge and shut up the insane Arrowhead crowd? Or does KC continue the PIT embarrassment and possibly contribute to Haley losing his job again? We’ll see who wants it more…