Fantasy risers, fallers: Championship round takes on Jalen Hurts, Joe Mixon and more

Fantasy risers, fallers: Championship round takes on Jalen Hurts, Joe Mixon and more
Fantasy risers, fallers: Championship round takes on Jalen Hurts, Joe Mixon and more

I guess a good game of two isn’t bad, but the injuries in the NFC Championship game to the quarterbacks were bad for football. Teams must have an emergency QB for these games. What happened to the 49ers was ridiculous and very unenjoyable from a spectator perspective.

The Niners need to do something about how they coach their QBs with all these injuries… just kidding! Relax. I’m just trying to point out how stupid this “you make your own injury luck / blame the training staff” analysis is. God may not play dice with the universe, but he does with NFL injuries.

The Brock Purdy The injury, which appears to be a torn elbow given how he couldn’t even attempt a pass when he was forced to return, really opens up the Niners next season now for either a trade, a possible Tom Brady signing (a kind of homecoming) or the return of Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo. Who knows? It’s a total wild card now. While I don’t want to jump the gun, realizing that a torn elbow for a QB is a 6-8 month injury, not 15 months like with a pitcher, how can the Niners go into training camp with this kind of health uncertainty. Purdy’s arm wasn’t NFL caliber to begin with. An MRI is scheduled for Monday.

This is big for offseason drafting, of course, mainly best ball. Not knowing who the QB will be for the Niners, or that it could be Purdy, who is kind of the worst case scenario, will severely limit the upside of any of the 49ers’ skill players. Again, if Purdy’s injury is minor and a six-week deal, we’re set back to where we were, but since he didn’t even try to throw, I’d be surprised if this isn’t the serious type of elbow injury.

Let’s look at the other losers before we go to the winners. The Bengals are going to have the rough play live in notoriety. It’s their (Mark) “Gastineau Roughing” now. Even worse because it came one round later in the postseason. Jets fans old enough to remember the Gastineau game still get sick of it.

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If you’re not familiar with it, check it out on YouTube.

My take on the Bengals trash talking is that the Bengals needed to send a message internally that they are not intimidated by Patrick Mahomes, like 95% of the league, and they did. They were there to win that game. Things didn’t work out, but the Bengals ruckus had nothing to do with it.

Obviously, the Bengals offensive line was a problem in this game and needs to be upgraded. I would just keep drafting the OL if I was the Bengals until I had eight guys I felt really good about. We must anchor this in the imagination.

Loser Tyler Boyd was a big hit as he was clearly an important part of the game plan. But remember, the Chiefs lost slot L’Jarius Sneed as well.

The Bengals needed something out of Joe Mixon and got nothing. Mixon is 27 and probably on his last legs. The lack of a running game is the weakness of this offense and it was crippling on Sunday when the Bengals needed a way to slow the KC pass rush or at least give them a break. But it was not to be. Aside from Mixon, who I don’t want to draft even in the second round in 2023, it’s all systems go for the Bengals’ skill players in fantasy. Remember, Hayden Hurst is a free agent, but I suspect he’ll come back in a modest deal (although Cincy is super cheap).

Now for the winners, starting with the Eagles. It’s hard to take anything away from this game because the Eagles played not to lose from the first quarter. But Regret hurts threw the ball poorly all day. I don’t remember a solid pass, although there must have been a couple.

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I’m not surprised Hurts didn’t run well because Hurts is more of a Josh Allen/Cam Newton type runner. He’s not that fast. He is very strong. He was simply blown away by the speed of the Niners in the read-option running game and even when scrambling. There are four or five teams that are fast enough to close this. The Chiefs are not one of those teams. So Hurts should have a big day running and a decent day in the Super Bowl. He is QB1 in 2023.

AJ Brown didn’t get a chance for a breakout game. He acted like a diva all week when he complained about a lack of activity in the divisional round win. It is fine by me. This is what WRs do, the best. He should have a big Super Bowl. The Chiefs gave up 33 passing TDs in the regular season, though they have tightened up so far in the playoffs.

We’re going to hear about the Eagles beating no QBs and now staring down the barrel at Mahomes. It is fair. They need to get a chip on their shoulder now and find the perfect Yerkes-Dodson medium between fear and excitement, where athletic performance peaks (that’s the scientific explanation for “the zone”).

What can you say about Mahomes? Plays on the bump, of course, but then loses three wide receivers. The rest of this Chiefs team is pretty good. If they only had an average QB, they’re a borderline playoff team, if we’re being generous. But Mahomes is just dragging them now. He threw to Travis Kelce and Pips initially.

But his ankle isn’t going to get much better. And now he’s facing a really serious pass rush that had 70 sacks and just knocked out two QBs in about a quarter.

The Chiefs are going to need to run, but how can you trust Isiah Pacheco to win a championship? At least Pacheco did something as a receiver (someone had to).

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I may have been the biggest (only?) Marquez Valdes-Scantling fan for years. But he was shockingly good given how he seemed like a total waste of cap space all season. He had 116 yards and a TD on eight carries. You could say that MVS, more than anyone other than Mahomes (and Chris Jones on defense), won this game for the Chiefs. But this is such a thin offense if JuJu Smith-Schuster (knee) can’t walk. Not that JJSS is anything special, but at least he’s a professional player.

I didn’t like what I saw with Mahomes’ mobility. I think the Eagles will be able to get to Mahomes with four rushers and the starters all have at least 11 sacks. The Eagles are very good at defending the pass, period, though of course they’ve had a relatively easy schedule. Still, they are No. 1 by far in the NFL in yards per passing game (including sacks) minus NY/A allowed. This is the most important winning stat in the NFL – since the merger, win that stat by any margin and you win 75% of the games.

I didn’t like what I saw from Hurts, but I can forgive a game where he had to be a little limited. Maybe he just lost his mojo out there. I’d put more weight on the full season and assume he runs well and passes well to his trio of All-Pro level targets. Plus, I really like this Eagles defense to make a big play or two.

SB LVII Prediction: Eagles 31, Chiefs 27

(Top photo: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

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