By Jared Clifton
Well, here we are. At the playoffs and you’ve found yourself in the unenviable position of outside looking in at your league’s playoff bracket.
“How’d I get here”, is a common thought. “But I planned so well”, is yet another.
But, don’t fret my consolation bound friend, because in despair, comes opportunity…and in opportunity, comes, well, opportunity. They can’t all be poetically sound.
Depending on how your league is structured, you can now spend the next few weeks weeding out all the peripheral pieces of your lineup that just didn’t work. I’m looking at you, Ryquell Armstead and AJ Green. Pack a bag DeSean Jackson and Dwayne Haskins. Kick rocks….you get the point, right?
While your (albeit more immediately accomplished) league mates are turning over rocks in search of playoff gems, you now have the opportunity to quietly and methodically pick up the scraps, in hopes they pay dividends in 2021.
You’ll see a number of usable talent cast aside as teams scurry to pick up one or two weeks fill ins in this crazy season, so let’s go through a number of guys you need to be looking for, because fear not my underachieving friend. Help is on the way.
I feel the collective eye roll, but I remain undeterred. The fact is that once Bruce Arians got the opportunity to not have to rely on a rookie RB (which he historically has been shy to do), there wasn’t much chance for Vaughn to remain relevant. A series of Inactive-Coaches Decision designations, have certainly sent his stock downward and his roster percentage is in the single digits in nearly every platform.
This isn’t a small school dart throw. Vaughn dominated in college. In the SEC. For a 6.4 ypc. And he caught passes.
It’s an oft used excuse this season, but with limited training camps and no OTA’s or exhibition games, it’s a wonder he has received any work this season. He just wasn’t needed in this offense. But, the likelihood of the Buc’ paying Leonard Fournette to stick around is relatively small and even with Ronald Jones III emerging as a dynamic option, I don’t see Arians getting caught in a David Johnson sized sequel, without a suitable replacement behind him.
There is no shine on the Vaughn star right now, but remember names such as James Conner and Chris Carson and how quickly obscurity can become prosperity. Find a spot on those deep benches, if he’s there for the taking and name your first born trophy after me later.
He may be less likely to be available in deep leagues, but quarterbacks do tend to get jetted come playoff time, when teams are stockpiling their neediest of positions. Listen to me, if he’s there, speak gently to him, lead him inside, check his closet for ghosts and tuck him securely into proverbial bad. Darnold has been through a lot in a dysfunctional Jets organization, but there is about to be a Trevor Lawrence sized hole filled in the QB1 spot in Jersey and that bodes well for Sam.
He’s going to have to regain some swagger and have a coaching staff that re-instills some confidence into that Emmet Brickowski head of his, but there are going to be some landing spots that fit his immense skills and potentially rejuvenate his young career.
Let’s say for the sake of argument, that Indianapolis understands that Father Time is undefeated and the buy low window of a former #3 overall pick is rapidly closing. Darnold could conceivably step almost immediately into Philip Rivers dag-blamed-mother-frackin shoes and be behind arguably the best line in football, with actual bonafide skill players surrounding him. Doesn’t take long to exorcise the demons with that improvement in security. His seventh ranked Clean Pocket Completion Percentage could translate into massive efficiency under those circumstances.
The bet is on a new start and talent wins out, when surrounded by other talent. Strike early before the hype hits and maybe you have your next post-Chargers Drew Brees for the next decade.
Out of sight and out of mind is cliché, sure, but all too relevant when looking for that next big thing. Harmon fits that mold, as a guy that has been bit hard by the injury bug, but came into the league hyped as a potential dynamic playmaker. With the emergence of young stars in Antonio Gibson and Terry McLaurin for The Football Team, Washington finds themselves not only contending for the NFC East title in 2020, but just a piece or two away on offense from being fully relevant again in the NFL.
Enter Kelvin Harmon. Although the Sims duo has been efficient enough, Washington does need a true compliment to McLaurin on the outside and Harmon provides a big target to give Alex Smith or Dwayne Haskins or whomever gets the nod at QB1 next year, a big bodied option for downfield 50/50 balls and an alternative to red zone fades to Logan Thomas.
Despite inconsistent and inefficient QB play in the latter half of 2019, he was still emerging as an integral cog to the passing game and now with the team moving in the right direction, it makes too much sense for Washington to not have to spend draft capital on the WR position, until they see what they have in Harmon. Coming off his ACL tear, there is risk that he isn’t as explosive as he was in his NC State days, but there are very few hidden guys on the waivers, that may get the opportunity for such a substantial role in 2021.
Jared Clifton – Host of The Rule of 3 Podcast, Editor, Writer
Ride or Dynasty