Fantasy News & Analysis

Ian Hartitz’s Week 10 fantasy football fallouts: Nullified touchdowns, missed big plays and more

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; New Orleans Saints linebacker Kaden Elliss (55) defends a pass intended for Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris (22) during the third quarter at Acrisure Stadium. The Steelers won 20-10. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

  • San Francisco 49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk had the biggest sheesh of Week 10 thanks to dropping what should have been a stylish eight-yard touchdown.
  • Las Vegas Raiders WR Mack Hollins led the week in unrealized air yards.
  • Ten different players were downed at the 1-yard line and wound up not scoring a touchdown on the same drive.
Estimated reading time: 12 minutes


Week 10 has come and gone. 14 NFL games brought joy, laughs and tears; today we’ll focus on the latter sadness and break down just how close some came to achieving fantasy football glory.

What follows is a breakdown on all the “Sheesh” moments from Week 10. I’ve watched every game and used PFF’s backend tools to help determine instances when:

  • Pass-catchers could have scored or picked up big yardage with a more accurate pass
  • Pass-catchers did receive an accurate pass that should have resulted in a score or big gain, but the ball was dropped
  • Ball carriers managed to get all the way to the one-yard line, but didn’t score
  • Players scored or picked up big yardage, but the play was nullified by penalty
  • Other random shit happened that tilted fantasy football managers of all shapes and sizes

But first, the single sheeshiest play of Week 10 goes to …

49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk

The 49ers’ overqualified No. 2 wide receiver has gained at least 80 receiving yards in four consecutive games. Aiyuk’s blend of great route-running and after-the-catch goodness makes him a tough cover for anybody; too bad the talented third-year receiver failed to put a cherry on top of his performance when he dropped what would have been an eight-yard touchdown.

Why is a dropped eight-yard touchdown the sheesh of the week? Because Aiyuk put stud Chargers CB Asante Samuel Jr. in an absolute blender with one of the prettier routes you’ll ever see.

 

Alas, Aiyuk pulled off the football equivalent of James Harden crossing up a defender, only to absolutely brick the three. Sheesh.

More dropped touchdowns

There were two other plays that featured a registered drop on what would have otherwise been a touchdown:

  1. Lost in the madness of the Vikings’ Week 10 win over the Bills was QB Kirk Cousins throwing behind a wide-open Dalvin Cook in the flat for what could have been a 1-yard go-ahead score. Instead, Cook dropped the poor throw, but the Vikings got another chance anyway when an offsides penalty was called.
  2. Steelers RB Najee Harris received a pretty great throw from Kenny Pickett from 21 yards out. Harris was between two defenders at the catch point after failing to get too much separation on his wheel route; he just couldn’t quite come down with the well-thrown ball.

Pass-catchers who could have scored with a more accurate pass

The following players should have had a much bigger day at the office, but unfortunately their respective quarterbacks weren’t quite up to the task for at least a moment. The following handful of players had to deal with some subjectively shitty near misses:

Steelers WR Diontae Johnson has been featured in this article all season thanks to his ability to consistently generate separation inside of this inconsistent (to put it nicely) passing game. This week’s sheesh featured Johnson gain a step of separation courtesy of a rather lovely double-move, only for rookie QB Kenny Pickett to sail the pass long and out of bounds. Nobody in the NFL has more targets than Johnson (81) without a touchdown this season.

Broncos TE Greg Dulcich finally produced a dud in his fourth career NFL game; just realize he was a more accurate Russell Wilson moonball away from at least adding 40 yards to his 1-11-0 total. An optimist could even imagine a tackle getting broken, leading to the rookie scoring a 67-yard touchdown on the play.

Chargers WR Josh Palmer got a step of separation from 29 yards out, but Justin Herbert couldn’t quite complete what would have needed to be a pinpoint pass. Not a gimme by any stretch, although it undoubtedly would have been a lot cooler if Herbert could have made a perfect throw.

Texans WR Chris Moore got open late on what could have been a 16-yard touchdown; too bad Davis Mills sailed the ball out of the end zone. Again — this would have needed to be a fairly perfect throw in order to be a score — but it goes in the record books as a sheesh considering Mills didn’t even give the man a chance.


Touchdown! Wait, why is everyone walking back to the line of scrimmage

Penalties are obviously called for a reason, but there isn’t a more chaotic few seconds in the minds of fantasy managers between their player scoring a touchdown on a play with a penalty and the foul being announced.

This week featured a pair of scores nullified by (rightful) penalties. First, Texans WR Brandin Cooks had a 19-yard touchdown reception taken off the board due to a holding penalty.

 

Additionally, Jaguars TE Evan Engram (a regular in this column) had a short goal line score nullified due to an ineligible man downfield penalty; the left tackle seemed to think it was a run play and was well into the end zone himself by the time Engram caught the pass.


Seriously: Penalties are annoying, man

Sometimes the defense commits a foul that technically benefits the offense, but unfortunately the penalty also prevented a potential big play from happening and producing fantasy points.

Two potential chunk touchdowns instead went into the books as nothing more than a five-yard defensive holding penalty:

  1. Cowboys WR Michael Gallup displayed a b-e-a-utiful double-move that forced his defender to literally tackle him to prevent the potential 73-yard touchdown. There was a safety in the middle of the field that could have saved the score eventually; either way the five-yard penalty prevented what sure looked like an assured monster gain.
  2. Steelers WR Diontae Johnson had a nice move off the line of scrimmage that not only drew a holding penalty, but also caused his defender to fall down. Too bad the penalty held back Johnson just enough so that Kenny Pickett’s pass went wide and fell incomplete. There was no safety deep; Johnson would have taken this 74 yards to the house without the penalty had the corner still fallen down.

So close, yet so far away

Five plays featured at least one player who did enough to score a touchdown, but the play wound up not resulting in six points because a sheesh of some shape or form occurred.

Buccaneers WR Scotty Miller was featured in last week’s column for his brutal touchdown drop; this week Miller makes an appearance for making a 22-yard catch on a play that should have been a 27-yard touchdown. Tom Brady made a good enough throw for Miller to waltz into the end zone; too bad he rather needlessly jumped into the air and fell to the ground.

Packers WR Christian Watson obviously made more than enough great plays to make up for the mishaps; just realize he almost had a four-touchdown day. Aaron Rodgers lofted one of his patented deep balls down the sidelined that sure looked to be catchable enough for an open Watson; too bad the rookie appears to lose the ball in the lights and could only get one hand on the potential 42-yard touchdown.

Vikings TE T.J. Hockenson had an end zone target that wound up hitting both hands from nine yards out. The problem: Hockenson couldn’t hang on to the pass, mostly because his defender was all over him and clearly held him back. Alas, no flag, and the Vikings had to settle for a field goal.

Still, it’s tough to find a sheeshier close call than the near touchdown that Cardinals DL J.J. Watt nearly had. Cardinals QB John Wolford was drilled while throwing and lost the fumble, leading to Watt scooping and scoring with ease. Unfortunately, the officials originally ruled the pass to be incomplete, meaning the Cardinals were only rewarded the ball — not the touchdown — after further review.

 

One unfortunate bettor wound up missing out on a +3630 parlay due to the defensive score not counting. All-time cool guy move from Watt for seemingly paying the dude’s slip anyway after conversing on Twitter. What a time to be alive.


Unrealized air yards are a helluva drug

PFF’s Josh Hermsmeyer breaks down the week’s top buy-low candidates with his handy-dandy air yards model; don’t be surprised if certain pass-catchers from the Raiders and Bills are featured ahead of Week 11. The following six players had more than 60 unrealized air yards in Week 10, meaning they had a ton of downfield opportunities, but failed to capitalize on them for one reason or another:

Pitts (422) ranks third on the season-long unrealized air yards leaderboard behind only Diontae Johnson (445) and Chris Olave (475). Sheesh.


Other sheeshes

There were a number of other near misses throughout Week 10 that were tougher to fully blame one particular party, but that doesn’t make the near-miss result any less sheeshful for the fantasy managers and fans at hand to deal with.

Good ball, no dice: Seahawks QB Geno Smith completed a well-thrown back shoulder fade to TE Noah Fant from 19 yards out; the problem was the ex-Broncos talent only managed to get one foot down inbounds. … Jaguars WR Christian Kirk would have had an even bigger day at the office had he not dropped what would have been a solid 30-yard gain downfield. … Teammate WR Zay Jones also left a bit of meat on the bone when he had a chance for a deep catch but couldn’t quite reel in another well-thrown downfield shot from Trevor Lawrence. Neither reception would have been a touchdown, but still: Sheesh. … Saints WR Chris Olave had a quiet day; just realize he had a potential 25-yard gain knocked out with a vicious hit that was called for a penalty (hitting a defenseless receiver) as well as a 30-yard reception knocked out of his hands at the last second after briefly having possession. … Cowboys WR Noah Brown registered an official drop on what would have been a 20-yard gain into the red zone; good thing the Packers were flagged for having 12 men on the field anyways. … Chargers TE Tre’ McKitty dropped a well-thrown ball down the seam that would have gained 20-plus yards, and maybe just maybe even gone for a 35-yard score if McKitty managed to break a tackle. … Bears QB Justin Fields made many great plays in Week 10; his passing stat line could have been even bigger had TE Cole Kmet managed to come down with a catchable downfield opportunity that would have resulted in about 30 yards. … Broncos WR Courtland Sutton also registered a 20-plus yard missed opportunity on a 50/50 ball that wasn’t necessarily a drop, but it sure would have been a lot cooler if he had managed to make the catch. … Titans QB Ryan Tannehill hit WR Robert Woods in the numbers on what should have been good for at least 20 yards if not a lot more with some YAC goodness; problem was that Woods flat out dropped the ball. … Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa gave WR Tyreek Hill a catchable deep ball opportunity, but Cheetah seemed to somewhat mistime his jump and couldn’t come down with the chunk gain opportunity. TE Mike Gesicki also couldn’t quite come down with a catchable pass from Tua that would have been good for a two-yard score; good thing Hill managed to convert the touchdown himself on the very next play. … Bills QB Josh Allen went to TE Dawson Knox from 20 yards out in overtime and appeared to hit his target in the waist despite the tight coverage. Alas, the pass fell incomplete, and Allen’s next throw sailed into the hands of Vikings CB Patrick Peterson. While Knox wasn’t charged with a drop, WR Stefon Diggs was on what would have been a phenomenal 25-yard gain on 3rd and 15.

Not the worst throw, but also not the best: Four plays stood out that featured an off-target throw, albeit something close to perfection would have been needed to pull off the completion:

  • Buccaneers QB Tom Brady went deep for WR Julio Jones on what could have been a 40-yard gain if the pass had not been overthrown.
  • Bills WR Gabriel Davis was charged with a drop when he went up out-stretched and had a pass go through his outstretched hands at the goal line; just realize it would have been one helluva play, and Davis also had to take a big hit from S Harrison Smith on the potential 20-yard gain.
  • Saints WR Kevin White (!) lost a jump ball chance on the Saints’ final offensive play that was instead intercepted; just realize a longer throw would have given White a far better chance of picking up a chunk gain without the need for a contested catch.
  • Steelers WR George Pickens had a lot of separation for a 20-plus yard catch and run on the game's very first play; too bad Kenny Pickett threw it behind him, incomplete.

Just short. Sheesh: Note that sequences where a player was downed just short of the goal line, but later went on to score the touchdown themself on the same drive, aren’t listed. The following players were tackled at the 1-yard line in Week 10:

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