Taking Inventory of 2022 Pre-Season Predictions
Everyone loves a good receipt pull. When you’re in the business of predicting sports there are always going to be hits and misses. Thankfully, these guys hit more often than they miss. Matt Harmon and James Koh take inventory of their 2022 pre-season takes in this week’s episode of Reception Perception: The Show.
Before the guys look back through weeks 1-18, they spend some time looking toward the NFL Playoffs. There are some great stories wrapped up in this season’s postseason teams.
Justin Herbert finally gets to the playoffs in this third year. Mr. Irrelevant, Brock Purdy, went 5-0 in his first five starts, will his hot streak continue in the playoffs or will he turn back into a pumpkin? Geno Smith and Pete Carroll proved everyone wrong by making it to the postseason.
And that’s just a few of the quarterback storylines. We’ve also got a Bills team playing hard for Damar Hamlin and a Jaguars team that completely turned it around after Urban Meyer tried to burn it to the ground in 2021. Plus, we don’t have to watch Aaron Rodgers, everyone wins. (Well, except Aaron Rodgers.)
This year’s playoffs are destined to be a firework show, whether you’re cheering for an underdog or a powerhouse.
Correct Take: The Broncos Offense Would Sputter
Both Matt and James called this out of the gate last season. I, for one, should have listened. The mass exposure to Courtland Sutton beat up a lot of my fantasy teams in 2022. The guys acknowledge that the Denver offense was even worse than they could have predicted though.
Matt points to the Reception Perception data on both Sutton and Jerry Jeudy. Neither guy charts as a superstar wideout. They’re both good, not great. Matt also teases some potential updates to Reception Perception that involve how poor quarterback play could negatively affect wide receivers.
Both guys got a lot of crap on Twitter when they doubted the new Broncos, you can tell they felt extra good about this victory lap. And who can blame them?
I don’t usually go out of order from the episode, but I’m going to mix it up a little bit today so I can group hits, misses, and lessons learned. The segments will be linked so you don’t miss a thing!
James starts with who he has as his biggest miss: Allen Robinson. I’m going to be honest, it was kind of a shock to hear Robinson’s name. I don’t know if I just blacked out drafting him as my WR2-3 everywhere or the season has just been incredibly busy but I had completely forgotten about this man.
Matt makes it clear that he doesn’t think that Robinson is washed. These two just think that the pairing wasn’t great with the Rams.
Matt says his biggest miss was the DJ Moore and Baker Mayfield duo. While DJ Moore finished the season strong, he was looking like an atrocious draft pick to start the season. As it turns out, Moore is not quarterback-proof and Baker Mayfield was not the “best quarterback of DJ Moore’s career.”
That’s where Matt says he missed. Mayfield and HC Matt Rhule were terrible for Moore to open the season. Moore produced with PJ Walker and Sam Darnold at the helm. Credit to Matt for taking this L, because he could have ignored half his take and enjoyed a DJ Moore victory lap.
Matt and James both had Michael Pittman Jr. as a top-10 fantasy wideout for 2022. They agree that while Pittman probably didn’t tank any of your teams, you were likely expecting more production from him.
Matt still believes that Pittman is a fringe No. 1 wide receiver, but the Colts have been a mess. The offense line was expected to be good heading into this season but they flatlined. As a bonus, Matt Ryan was a sitting duck behind the horrendous O-line play.
Carson Wentz threw Pittman prayer balls and Matt Ryan just threw him a ton of short stuff. “Can we get someone to meet Michael Pittman in the middle?” – Matt.
James starts with an easy one here. He called CeeDee Lamb being a top-5 wideout, he finished top-6 in half PPR. Where he missed was saying that Lamb would be better than Tyreek Hill and Davante Adams.
Gabe Davis was the talk of the off-season. A truly polarizing player that people seemed to feel strongly about on either end of the spectrum. Matt says he was a Gabe Davis Centrist.
In 14 games Davis finished the season as the WR35 in half PPR. Everyone hates to be that guy that’s like “well if you take away this and that play…”, including Matt but it’s hard to ignore some of Davis’ performance this season.
Reception Perception data doesn’t indicate that Davis sucks, but he’s a limited player who can win deep. He struggles to separate and had a 51% catch rate on the season. He finished 2022 with seven touchdowns that should have been eight, but he brick-handed a dime from Josh Allen in Week 18.
Speaking of Week 18, Davis went 3-for-10 on targets. In Matt’s opinion, Gabe Davis is not a legit No. 2 wide receiver. James asked if some more layup passes would benefit Davis in the drop department. To that, Matt says: “Well it would be good if he got open on the layup routes.”
If you follow Matt on Twitter or are a regular listener, you know he’s always been staunchly in the Diontae Johnson camp. Johnson closed the regular season without scoring a single touchdown. Even when he was getting wide open, Kenny Pickett struggled to get him the ball.
Both Matt and James will be back in on Johnson in 2023. Both promise positive regression is in store. But the Steelers need to move away from OC Matt Canada this offseason.
On Sunday, Chris Collinsworth said on the broadcast that Amon-Ra St. Brown was “Cooper Kupp-ish” if you’ve listened to Reception Perception: The Show this season you’ve already heard that from Matt.
I was admittedly one of the people saying that St. Brown benefited from injuries on the Lions in 2021. Matt calls me (and several other analysts) out in this segment. I took the Amon-Ra St. Brown L in like Week 5 of this season, I’m a quick learner.
St. Brown’s Reception Perception data shows his route-running ability and his ability to beat zone coverage. And targets are earned.
Reception Perception nailed this rookie wideout class. Matt speaks to Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, Drake London, and Jahan Dotson. The top-tier wide receivers of the class popped in the Reception Perception data. Matt’s excited to see if it can hammer out the next level of rookie receivers.
The guy’s bigest rookie miss of the offseason was Jalen Tolbert. The Cowboys lacked depth at the wide receiver position this season and Tolbert still only garnered three targets on the season. THREE. TARGETS. By the end of the year, he was losing playing time to TY Hilton.
While they were on the subject of rookies George Pickens came up. Matt and James think Pickens could be overrated in 2023 fantasy drafts. A disclaimer from Matt that this isn’t an official take, not until he gets the full Reception Perception chart done for Pickens’ 2022 season. (And, again, the Steelers have got to fire Matt Canada.)
What Did We Learn?
So, what did the 2022 season teach us? Matt and James boil it down to this: at the wide receiver position bet on talent, over the situation. This feels like a lesson I learn every season and then every draft season I go right back to narrative street.
Tyreek Hill switched teams, we worry about his production without Patrick Mahomes and he set personal records. Hill’s Reception Perception data shows how efficient he is at getting open. AJ Brown? We worried about the Eagles’ offense. Brown’s Reception Perception data shows how efficient he is at getting open. Davante Adams left his back-to-back MVP quarterback, it didn’t matter. Adams’ Reception Perception data shows how efficient he is at getting open.
Did you guys sense a pattern there? James did. His advice for Matt? “Follow your own data”.