Hagan's Haus 2017 NFL picks week 9

Hagan’s Haus 2017 NFL picks Week 9

Welcome to Hagan’s Haus, where football is the only thing that matters. You won’t find me in a church on Sunday because football is my religion and the number one priority in my life. I am so excited that the NFL season is finally back in action! I pride myself on studying the game of football. We can’t get all our picks or predictions right, but I am going to leave it here in the open every week for everyone to see. In Hagan’s Haus, it’s all about bragging rights. 

Who is the best? Because winning is the only thing that matters. We don’t get points for second place. I challenge you to post comments on your weekly picks and compare them to mine. This isn’t about point spreads. I will give a score prediction, but winning is winning. Doesn’t matter if it is by an inch or a mile. So try and beat me in picking NFL games. I promise you it won’t be easy, but it will be fun. Here are Hagan’s Haus 2017 Week 9 NFL picks.

Last week: 10-3

Overall: 66-52

Teams on byes: Cleveland, Minnesota, New England, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Los Angeles Chargers

Thursday Night

Buffalo Bills (5-2) 45 @ New York Jets (3-5) 14: Nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills, as Chris Berman would say. This team is marching toward the playoffs behind a great defense. Buffalo is only allowing teams to score 16.4 points per game.

This week, they are going to suffocate New York’s offense. The bold prediction is that LeSean McCoy is going to go over 150 yards, and the Bills rout the Jets by more than four scores.

Sunday Morning

Hagan's Haus 2017 NFL picks week 9

(Photo by Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports)

Baltimore Ravens (4-4) 20 @ Tennessee Titans (4-3) 34: Baltimore is coming off a huge 40-0 win over Miami. Tennessee is not Miami. It is going to take more than good defense to win this game.

Tennessee is coming off a bye week, which gives them an advantage. The Titans will look to run the ball down the throat of the Ravens. Tennessee has the ninth-ranked rushing attack, while the Ravens can’t stop the run, giving up 132.8 yards per game.

The Titans will run the ball and open up the pass so that Marcus Mariota has a huge day with four total touchdowns.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-5) 34 @ New Orleans Saints (5-2) 37: These teams are trending in opposite directions. Both were expected to be in the other’s shoes.

Drew Brees has had some big games against the Bucs over the years, and this will be another. Tampa Bay is ranked 30th in pass defense.

New Orleans will put up a lot of points and push the Bucs to the depths of the sea. Okay, maybe not the sea, but definitely the depths of the NFC South.

Los Angeles Rams (5-2) 31 @ New York Giants (1-6) 27: New York should just throw in the towel on the season. They should have also sent away Eli Manning so that he doesn’t have to end his career on a rebuilding team.

The Giants have failed to live up to expectations and are going to lose their seventh game in eight tries. Los Angeles had a week off and will be looking to get back to having the No. 1 scoring offense in the NFL. Houston has surpassed them by 0.4 points. Todd Gurley will have 200 all-purpose yards to send the Rams to 6-2.

Denver Broncos (3-4) 16 @ Philadelphia Eagles (7-1) 24: Denver has no help at quarterback, and it is holding the entire team back. Philly can stack the box with seven, eight or even nine defenders, and they know that Trevor Siemian will not be able to beat them. Denver’s defense can only do so much to stop the bleeding this season.

The Eagles, on the other hand, are flying high behind Carson Wentz. The addition of Jay Ajayi is going to help this offense even more, even if it isn’t right away. Philly wins this one at home fairly easily.

Atlanta Falcons (4-3) 24 @ Carolina Panthers (5-3) 27: In what most would consider a head-scratching move, Carolina shipped out Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo minutes before the trade deadline ended. This could be the move that actually improves Cam Newton’s play.

Before you go crazy, think about this. Cam Newton won league MVP when Kelvin Benjamin missed the entire season.

Cam will have a huge game this week. Atlanta snuck by the Jets and still do not look like a Super Bowl contender. This week they will lose ground when they go into Carolina.

Cincinnati Bengals (3-4) 20 @ Jacksonville Jaguars (4-3) 24: Sacksonville is hosting the Cincinnati Bengals this week, and it could mean another 10 sack performance by this great defense. This is the type of game the Jaguars must win if they are serious about making the playoffs.

The Bengals must also win this game to get back into the thick of things. Cincinnati can win this game, but it will come down to who can get to 20 points first, and the Jaguars will do so thanks to their rushing attack.

Indianapolis Colts (2-6) 21 @ Houston Texans (3-4) 34: Houston has found something special in Deshaun Watson, who is tied for first in the NFL in touchdown passes with 19. This man has also pushed the Texans to the No. 1 scoring team in the NFL. He is doing wonders, and once this team becomes fully healthy, they will be dangerous.

This week they get to take on the dreadful Indianapolis Colts. Houston should roll at home to get back to .500 on the season.

Sunday Afternoon

Hagan's Haus 2017 NFL picks week 9

(Photo by Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports)

Arizona Cardinals (3-4) 17 @ San Francisco 49ers (0-8) 20: San Francisco made a blockbuster trade to acquire coveted backup Jimmy Garoppolo from the Patriots. He won’t be ready this week, but will be the future of this franchise at quarterback.

This week, they host the Cardinals in a game they can steal. If they contain the Cardinals offense, which is missing Carson Palmer and David Johnson, then the offense can ride Carlos Hyde to a win. With the moment from the big trade, the 49ers will do both of these to get their first win of the season.

Washington Redskins (3-4) 19 @ Seattle Seahawks (5-2) 27: Seattle is the NFC’s version of the Patriots. No matter their flaws, or what is going on in the rest of the league, they pile up wins.

Russell Wilson isn’t getting the national recognition he is used to, but is still having an excellent season. Wilson has 15 touchdowns and just four interceptions through the air. He will be a handful for the Redskins this week.

Washington lost what was somewhat of a playoff game last week. The Redskins are not going to win this game on the road, and they will miss the playoffs again with Kirk Cousins.

Kansas City Chiefs (6-2) 30 @ Dallas Cowboys (4-3) 27: Dallas has gotten back to the formula that made them successful last season, which is running the ball effectively. In the last two games, the Cowboys are averaging 217 yards on the ground.

To have a shot in this game, they must run the ball to control the clock and keep Kansas City’s offense off the field. They won’t be able to stop this offense for four quarters and ultimately will lose.

Sunday Night

Oakland Raiders (3-5) 34 @ Miami Dolphins (4-3) 20: Oakland has been very underwhelming. This is a must win, or they can kiss the playoffs goodbye.

Miami has officially thrown in the towel on the season by trading Jay Ajayi. Jay Cutler came out of retirement to collect millions and has averaged just over 150 yards passing per game.

Miami has nothing going for them anymore, and this shouldn’t be a contest. Derek Carr will have a big day to keep Oakland’s season alive.

Monday Night

Detroit Lions (3-4) 31 @ Green Bay Packers (4-3) 27: In the beginning of the season, this game had the possibility of being a great primetime game. But the Packers have lost Aaron Rodgers, and the Lions have lost three straight and do not look like a playoff team.

Neither team can run the ball effectively. This could be an all out aerial attack, and Matthew Stafford is better than Brett Hundley. The Lions will win in Green Bay to push both teams to 4-4.

 

Featured image from http://turnonthejets.com

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Jimmy Garappolo trade: 49ers absolutely win deal

On Monday night, the 49ers stole Jimmy Garappolo from the New England Patriots. The Patriots received a second round pick from San Francisco, but most believed Garappolo was worth a first. A second round pick for a possible franchise quarterback is an absolute steal. By the way, to put this pick into perspective, three recent second round quarterbacks have been Geno Smith, Christian Hackenberg and DeShone Kizer.

What this means for the 49ers

At 0-8, it appeared the 49ers would wait this season out and go for Kirk Cousins, or draft a young quarterback. San Francisco had no idea what the Redskins were going to do with Cousins, and going into the season, the 49ers were one of the 10 youngest teams in the league. With the average age of a 49er being around 25 years old, it makes complete sense to go after a 26-year-old.

Jimmy Garappolo trade

While only starting two games, Jimmy G looked like the real deal (SBNation)

Additionally, coach Kyle Shanahan really likes Garappolo. Prior to the 2014 NFL Draft, Shanahan ranked Derek Carr and Garappolo as the best quarterbacks in the draft. However, don’t expect him to play right away. San Francisco is without both of their tackles on the offensive line, and it is going to take time to learn the playbook. Realistically, Garappolo could play following their bye, which would give him three weeks to prepare.

In 17 career games, and two starts, Garappolo has been essentially flawless. He has thrown five touchdowns, zero interceptions, completing passes at 67 percent and a passer rating of 106.2.

Last season, Garappolo’s yards per attempt was 8.0, which would be good for fifth in the league in 2017. His 113.3 passer rating would be second behind Alex Smith. Obviously, it is an incredibly small sample size, but 49ers fan should feel ecstatic.

Future of San Francisco

As far as the future of this team, don’t let their winless record fool you. The 49ers are a young defense who can turn out to be very special. Solomon Thomas, who is battling an MCL sprain, has looked like the real deal in his rookie season. DeForest Buckner is arguably the 49ers best defensive player, and he is just 23 years of age. Former first round pick Arik Armstead had 16 tackles and 1.5 sacks before injuring his hand against the Washington Redskins. Don’t forget about Reuben Foster, who has also been battling injuries all year.

The offense has enough weapons for Garappolo to find early success. Carlos Hyde has been extremely effective as both a runner and pass catcher in the offense, while Pierre Garcon is up to 500 yards receiving through their first eight games. Speedster Marquise Goodwin is a perfect deep ball threat for Garappolo.

In his press conference, Garappolo exclaimed how he is “thrilled to be here” and “eager to get out there and show what I can do on a Sunday.” Garappolo also touched on how he could not be happier to be a member of this team.

As far as future schedule looks, it won’t get any easier next season for San Francisco. They will be facing, on the road, Green Bay, Kansas City, Seattle, Minnesota and the LA Rams. While it may take some time, Jimmy G and the 49ers could be a perfect fit. The best part is that San Francisco will still have a top five pick in this year’s draft, and might have found their quarterback for the next ten years.

What this means for New England

To be honest, this move is quite the head scratcher. It would be one thing if the Patriots did not like Garappolo and thought he wouldn’t pan out, but that is just not the case. The Patriots loved this kid, and viewed him as the Aaron Rodgers to Brett Favre. If Brady goes down, their season is over.

An important message to note is that Bill Belichick would have absolutely considered trading Tom Brady after this season. However, Brady and owner Bob Kraft are extremely close, and Albert Breer, reporter for the MMQB.com, claims that Belichick “probably knew the Kraft family was not going to allow him to trade Tom Brady.”

Jimmy Garappolo trade

Were Kraft and Belichick on the same page for this move? (Boston Herald)

Whatever the case may be, Tom Brady is 40 years old. Although he looks good, it just doesn’t make sense to trade the future away, especially when the franchise believed he has serious potential. Joe Montana, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre, one way or another, were all forced to cut ties with their original teams and play somewhere else.

New England is usually ahead of the curve when it comes to trading players away at the right time, but I guess when you are dealing with the GOAT, things get complicated. Something tells me Kraft’s relationship with Brady got in the way of how Belichick wanted to do business.

Boston sports fans are extremely blessed, but also might not be ready for life after Brady. Keep in mind that from 1989-1993, the Patriots never won more than six games in a season. The Celtics did something similar to New England, when they held onto Bird, Parish and McHale too long. After their success, the players aged, and Boston went 22 years without winning a title. They were unable to reach the playoffs from 1995-2001. Letting past success get in the way of the future leads to situations like the Celtics.

To remind Patriots fans, and NFL fans, how hard it is to find a franchise quarterback, I have constructed a list of all the quarterbacks who have won at least nine games in three different seasons. All of course, part of the same franchise. As you’ll see, it could take years before New England gets back on track once Brady is gone.

Players with at least three 9-Win Seasons with Franchise (# of seasons)

Arizona/St Louis Cardinals

Jim Hart 1974-76 (3)

Atlanta Falcons

Matt Ryan 2008- (6)

Baltimore Ravens

Joe Flacco 2008- (6)

Buffalo Bills

Jack Kemp 1964-1966 (3)

Joe Ferguson 1973-1981 (4)

Jim Kelly 1988-1995 (6)

Carolina Panthers

Jake Delhomme 2003-2008 (3)

Chicago Bears

NONE

Cincinnati Bengals

Ken Anderson 1973-1981 (4)

Boomer Esiason 1986-1990 (3)

Andy Dalton 2011-2015 (5)

Cleveland Browns

Otto Graham 1950-1955 (5)

Frank Ryan 1963-1967 (5)

Bill Nelsen 1968-1971 (3)

Dallas Cowboys

Roger Staubach 1971-1979 (7)

Danny White 1980-1985 (4)

Troy Aikman 1992-1996 (5)

Tony Romo 2007-2014 (3)

Denver Broncos

John Elway 1984-1998 (9)

Jake Plummer 2003-2005 (3)

Peyton Manning 2012-2014 (3)

Detroit Lions

Bobby Layne 1952-1956 (3)

Matthew Stafford 2011- (3)

Green Bay Packers

Bart Starr 1961-1966 (4)

Brett Favre 1993-2007 (12)

Aaron Rodgers 2009- (7)

Houston Texans

NONE

Indianapolis Colts

Johnny Unitas 1959-1970 (5)

Bert Jones 1975-1977 (3)

Peyton Manning (11)

Andrew Luck 2012- (3)

Jacksonville Jaguars

Mark Brunell 1996-1999 (4)

Kansas City Chiefs

Len Dawson 1962-1971 (5)

Alex Smith 2013- (3)

LA/San Diego Chargers

Dan Fouts 1978-1981 (4)

Stan Humphires 1992-1995 (3)

Philip Rivers 2006- (6)

LA/STL Rams

Roman Gabriel 1967-1970 (4)

Kurt Warner 1999-2001* (2 (Went 8-3 in 2000) )

Miami Dolphins

Bob Griese 1970-1977 (5)

Dan Marino 1984-1998 (8)

Minnesota Vikings

Fran Tarkenton 1973-1976 (4)

New England Patriots

Steve Grogan 1976-1979 (4)

Drew Bledsoe 1994-1997 (3)

Tom Brady 2001- (15)

New Orleans Saints

Bobby Herbert 1987-1992 (3)

Drew Brees 2006- (5)

New York Giants

Phil Simms 1984-1993 (7)

Eli Manning 2005- (7)

New York Jets

Joe Namath 1967-1969* (2 (Three winning seasons when regular season=14 games) )

Vinny Testaverde 1998

Oakland/LA Raiders

Daryle Lamonica 1967-1972 (4)

Ken Stabler 1974-1979 (6)

Rich Gannon 2000-2002 (3)

Philadelphia Eagles

Ron Jaworski 1978-1981 (4)

Randall Cunningham 1988-1992 (4)

Donovan McNabb 2000-2009 (6)

Pittsburgh Steelers

Terry Bradshaw 1972-1980 (6)

Neil O’Donnell 1992-1995 (4)

Ben Roethlisberger 2004- (9)

San Francisco 49ers

Joe Montana 1981-1990 (7)

Steve Young 1992-1998 (6)

Seattle Seahawks

Dave Krieg 1984-1990 (3)

Matt Hasselbeck 2003-2007 (3)

Russell Wilson 2012- (5)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NONE

Tennessee Titans/Houston Oilers

Dan Pastorini 1975-1979 (3)

Warren Moon 1989-1993 (3)

Steve McNair 1999-2003 (4)

Washington Redskins

Joe Theismann 1979-1984 (3)

Mark Rypien 1989-1992 (3)

 

Featured image by Boston Herald 

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College football week 10 picks

Joe DiTullio and Rob Doerger make their college football picks for week 10 including all games that include FBS teams.

Away Home Location Rob Joe
Bowling Green Kent State Dix Stadium, Kent, OH Kent St Kent St
Miami (OH) Ohio Peden Stadium, Athens, OH Ohio Ohio
Central Michigan Western Michigan Waldo Stadium, Kalamazoo, MI WMU WMU
Northern Illinois Toledo Glass Bowl, Toledo, OH Toledo Toledo
Ball State Eastern Michigan Rynearson Stadium, Ypsilanti, MI EMU EMU
Navy Temple Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia, PA Navy Navy
Idaho Troy Veterans Memorial Stadium , Troy, AL Troy Troy
Marshall Florida Atlantic FAU Football Stadium, Boca Raton, FL FAU Marshall
#22 Memphis Tulsa Chapman Stadium, Tulsa, OK Memphis Memphis
UCLA Utah Rice-Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City, UT Utah Utah
#4 Wisconsin Indiana Memorial Stadium , Bloomington, IN Wisconsin Wisconsin
#7 Penn State #24 Michigan State Spartan Stadium , East Lansing, MI Penn St PSU
#16 Auburn Texas A&M Kyle Field, College Station, TX Auburn Auburn
UMass #21 Mississippi State Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, MS Miss State Miss St
Margin of victory 28 33
Florida Missouri Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field, Columbia, MO Mizzou Florida
Kansas State Texas Tech Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, TX Texas Tech TT
Western Kentucky Vanderbilt Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville, TN Vandy Vandy
Baylor Kansas Memorial Stadium , Lawrence, KS Kansas? Baylor
Illinois Purdue Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, IN Purdue Purdue
East Carolina Houston TDECU Stadium, Houston, TX Houston Houston
Syracuse Florida State Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, FL Syracuse Cuse
Georgia Tech Virginia Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, VA GT GT
Appalachian State Louisiana Monroe Malone Stadium, Monroe, LA App St App St
Georgia State Georgia Southern Allen E. Paulson Stadium, Statesboro, GA Georgia St Ga State
Rice UAB Legion Field , Birmingham, AL UAB UAB
New Mexico State Texas State Bobcat Stadium , San Marcos, TX New Mex St NMSU
South Carolina #1 Georgia Sanford Stadium, Athens, GA Georgia UGA
#3 Ohio State Iowa Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA OSU OSU
Wake Forest #5 Notre Dame Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, IN ND ND
#6 Clemson #20 NC State Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, NC Clemson Clemson
#14 Iowa State West Virginia Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, WV WVU WVU
#18 Stanford #25 Washington State Martin Stadium, Pullman, WA Wash St Wazzu
South Florida Connecticut Rentschler Field, East Hartford, CT USF USF
Maryland Rutgers High Point Solutions Stadium, Piscataway, NJ Maryland Maryland
Charlotte Old Dominion S.B. Ballard Stadium, Norfolk, VA Old Dom ODU
North Texas Louisiana Tech Joe Aillet Stadium, Ruston, LA UNT La Tech
Northwestern Nebraska Memorial Stadium , Lincoln, NE Nebraska NW
Army Air Force Falcon Stadium, Usaf Academy, CO Air Force AF
#8 Oklahoma #11 Oklahoma State Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, OK Oklahoma Oklahoma
Ole Miss Kentucky Commonwealth Stadium, Lexington, KY Kentucky Kentucky
Coastal Carolina Arkansas Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville, AR Arkansas Arkansas
Cincinnati Tulane Yulman Stadium, New Orleans, LA Tulane Tulane
Louisiana South Alabama Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, AL USA USA
Oregon State California Memorial Stadium , Berkeley, CA Cal Cal
Utah State New Mexico Dreamstyle Stadium, Albuquerque, NM New Mexico NM
Hawai’i UNLV Sam Boyd Stadium, Las Vegas, NV Hawai’i Hawai’i
Nevada Boise State Albertsons Stadium, Boise, ID Boise Boise
Colorado State Wyoming War Memorial Stadium , Laramie, WY Col St Colorado St
UT San Antonio Florida Intl FIU Stadium, Miami, FL FIU UTSA
Texas #10 TCU Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, TX TCU TCU
#15 UCF SMU Gerald J. Ford Stadium, Dallas, TX UCF UCF
Southern Mississippi Tennessee Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, TN So Miss So Miss
UTEP Middle Tennessee Floyd Stadium, Murfreesboro, TN MTSU MTSU
Minnesota Michigan Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, MI Michigan Michigan
#19 LSU #1 Alabama Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, AL Alabama Alabama
#13 Virginia Tech #9 Miami Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, FL Va Tech Va Tech
Colorado Arizona State Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, AZ Arizona St ASU
Oregon #12 Washington Husky Stadium, Seattle, WA Washington Washington
San Diego State San Jose State CEFCU Stadium – Home of the Spartans, San Jose, CA SDSU SDSU
#23 Arizona #17 USC Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA Arizona Zona
BYU Fresno State Bulldog Stadium , Fresno, CA Fresno Fresno
Gameday Guest Picker (Stillwater) Big Country Reeves Barry Sanders

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J.T. Barrett Heisman

A look into J.T. Barrett’s comeback season

Last year on New Year’s Eve, Ohio State got embarrassed in the postseason by the eventual National Champion Clemson Tigers. Embarrassed might be an understatement, as the Buckeyes were shutout 31-0.

The offense could get absolutely nothing going offensively. They had 215 total yards, three turnovers, just nine first downs and had the ball for about 12 less minutes than Clemson.

A big part of the struggle was quarterback J.T. Barrett. Barrett had been inconsistent all season long and laid an egg in one of the most important games of the season. Barrett finished the night with 127 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions.

Barrett finished the season with 2,555 yards, 24 touchdowns, seven interceptions, a 135.3 rating and a 61.5 completion rate. Barrett also had five games where he completed less than 60 percent of his passes, including three where he didn’t even complete half of them. It was definitely nothing like his freshman year when he helped lead the Buckeyes to the playoffs.

This season

It appeared that some of that inconsistency came into this season as well when Barrett and the Buckeyes struggled early in their season opener against Indiana and then in their loss to Oklahoma in the following week. Fans and analysts were writing off Ohio State already, mostly due to Barrett’s play.

Whatever the reason was for Barrett’s forgettable junior season or his slow start to this season, all of those bad memories have been erased from his brain apparently. Barrett has been performing like his old self this season.

In his next five games after the Oklahoma loss, Barrett began to take off. Yes, those games were against Army, UNLV, Rutgers, Maryland and Nebraska, who all have a combined record of 20-20. But Ohio State took advantage of the opportunity, winning all five games by a combined score of 266-56.

J.T. Barrett heisman

J.T. Barrett played one of his best games ever against Penn State last week. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Then came a test for the Buckeyes with their matchup against Penn State. It was also a test for the Nittany Lions, as the only rated team they had played all season up to that point was Michigan, who is not even ranked in the AP Poll anymore. Penn State got off to a great lead and appeared to have another win over the Buckeyes like they did last season.

Ohio State wasn’t finished though. They scored 19 points in the fourth quarter to beat Penn State 39-38. Barrett played arguably his best game ever. He finished with 328 yards, four touchdowns, zero interceptions, completed 84.6 percent of his passes and also ran for another 95 yards. This game put Barrett in talks for the Heisman Trophy by some analysts.

Is this an overreaction to one good game? Think again.

Barrett’s numbers on the season have been spectacular. He has completed 69.5 percent of his passes, which is seventh in the NCAA. He has thrown for 2,166 yards, 25 touchdown passes (third), one interception (lowest for players with at least 70 attempts), and a 176.2 rating (third).

He also leads the Big Ten Conference in all of those categories, which is arguably the best conference in college football. Not too much of an overreaction after all.

Barrett now finds himself in the Heisman race with Penn State running back and Heisman frontrunner Saquon Barkley, Stanford running back Bryce Love, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph.

Barrett’s case for the Heisman

It seems that it is Barkley’s award to lose. The guy has been doing it all for the Nittany Lions all season long.

Love has also had an amazing year, but has played a bunch of average teams. However, he is averaging over 10 yards per carry and has 1,387 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. That is impressive regardless of which power five conference you play in. But let me explain Barrett’s case.

J.T. Barrett Heisman

Could Barrett actually win the Heisman this season? (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

First off, the numbers don’t lie. Don’t let the yards by Rudolph and Mayfield fool you. Yes, they may have more passing yards than Barrett, but look at their strength of schedule.

Rudolph has played just two teams with records over .500. They beat West Virginia, but lost to TCU. Mayfield has played just two as well, losing to Iowa State, but beating Ohio State. Barrett’s yards would probably be through the roof too if he was playing teams like Baylor and UTEP.

Barrett has played three teams over .500, including Oklahoma, Army and Penn State. The worst team he has played has a 3-5 record. Rudolph has played four teams with losing records, including 0-8 Baylor and 2-7 Tulsa. Mayfield has also 0-8 UTEP and 0-8 Baylor.

Despite Barrett’s schedule, he still has more touchdowns and less interceptions than both Rudolph and Mayfield. Not to mention he has more rushing yards than them and also a higher completion rate and rating than Rudolph.

The rest of the season

Barrett is going to have a few more tests before the season is all said and done. They will play at Iowa this week, who has always been a competitor in the Big Ten. Then they will host No. 24 Michigan State, who have been surprisingly successful so far this season. They will also end the season against their big rival Michigan at The Big House.

Barrett will get the chance to prove himself worthy of the Heisman against some of the best competition in the Big Ten. If you ask me, I think he can handle it and will prove to the doubters that he is legit.

If Ohio State wins out, they will be back in the playoffs, looking for redemption after their loss last season. You can bet these Buckeyes want nothing more than a shot at the National Title to make everybody forget about last season. It is going to be an exciting finish.

 

 

Featured image by USA TODAY Sports

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2017 NFL power rankings Week 9

2017 NFL power rankings: Week 9

There were not a lot of changes to the power rankings after a pretty predictable week of football. Most the teams that were expected to win did their job and won the game. The playoff picture is starting to form and the races will begin to heat up as the weather around the country gets colder. Here are the 2017 NFL power rankings for Week 9.

32. Cleveland Browns (0-8)

2017 NFL power rankings Week 9

(Photo by Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)

Last week: 32 (no change)

Next game: Bye

Cleveland had the world stunned after the first half of their game in London. They were up on the Vikings 13-12 at the half.

The Browns went out in the second half and got outscored 21-3. This proves that the Browns have talent and they are still learning how to win.

They get a week to regroup with a bye and will be looking to find a win in the second half of the season so that they won’t become the second team to finish a season 0-16.

31. San Francisco 49ers (0-8)

Last week: 31 (no change)

Next game: home vs. Arizona

The 49ers got manhandled against the Eagles, but it was pretty expected. Philly is the best team in the NFL, and San Francisco doesn’t even have a win.

The 49ers will continue to struggle. Unless the Browns find a way to get a win, they won’t move much in these rankings. With time and patience though, John Lynch will rebuild the 49ers into winners. That much shows with their draft trades and their recent trade for Jimmy Garoppolo.

30. New York Giants (1-6)

Last week: 30 (no change)

Next game: home vs. Los Angeles Rams

The Giants are coming off of a bye, but it won’t do much to help their season. At 1-6, there is little to no chance that they can make the playoffs. The offense only puts up 16 points per game, which ranks 30th in the league.

The entire offense needs to be rebuilt from the offensive line up. This week won’t get any easier either as they take on the Rams.

29. Indianapolis Colts (2-6)

Last week: 29 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Houston

The Colts almost beat the Bengals, but almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

Indianapolis hasn’t had a good defense in a very long time. Even when they won the Super Bowl, the defense was only good in the postseason. They are giving up over 400 yards and 30 points per game. With Houston up next, they will likely add another loss to their miserable season.

28. Arizona Cardinals (3-4)

Last week: 27 (-1)

Next game: away vs. San Francisco

Arizona had a bye week last week, but the rest of the season still looks dreadful. After losing David Johnson early in the season, the Cardinals have also lost Carson Palmer. Arizona’s offense is going to struggle to put up points even though they still have Larry Fitzgerald and Adrian Peterson.

The defense can’t lead this team as they are giving up the third most points in the NFL at 27.3 per game. Arizona needs to tank the rest of the season to get a good pick that can help this team compete in a tough division.

27. Miami Dolphins (4-3)

Last week: 20 (-7)

Next game: home vs. Oakland

The Dolphins were utterly and completely embarrassed against Baltimore. They looked more like a 2-4 team rather than a 4-2 team.

All season I have been saying this team isn’t as good as their record. They won’t win more than six games this season, and last week’s performance against the Ravens shows why. Miami has nothing to go to on offense, and it will be even worse with the trade of Jay Ajayi. The Dolphins only average 13.1 points per game, fewest in the NFL.

This team is going to stink and may even fall into the bottom three by the time the season ends.

26. New York Jets (3-5)

Last week: 26 (no change)

Next game: home vs. Buffalo

The Jets had a shot to beat Atlanta, but were outscored 9-3 in the fourth quarter. New York is having a great season considering that nobody expected them to have three wins after eight games. They won’t win more than five games total, but they aren’t as far away from being a playoff team as we all expected.

This week they get a divisional rival that is on a roll and will likely lose their fourth straight game.

25. Baltimore Ravens (4-4)

Last week: 28 (+3)

Next game: away vs. Tennessee

Despite losing Joe Flacco during their last contest, Baltimore smacked the Dolphins 40-0. The Ravens scored two touchdowns off of interceptions, one by C.J. Mosley and the second by Jimmy Smith.

Going forward, this team will need these type of performances to win games. Baltimore may also be without Flacco for an extended amount of time.

Either way, this team may be competitive, but won’t be a playoff contender.

24. Chicago Bears (3-5)

Last week: 25 (+1)

Next game: Bye

The Bears defense is keeping this team competitive. Chicago played the Saints tough, but ultimately fell short 20-12.

Not many people talk about it, but the Bears do have a very stingy defense. In their last three games, teams are only scoring an average of 15.7 points per game on them.

If Chicago can continue to run the ball effectively as Mitch Trubisky grows as a quarterback, then this team can pull off some upsets. In the end, the future looks bright in Chicago.

23. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-5)

Last week: 24 (+1)

Next game: away vs. New Orleans

It is hard to condone the Bucs moving up a spot in these rankings, but the Dolphins getting annihilated forced a few teams to move up.

Just like the Dolphins are not as good as their record, the Bucs aren’t as bad as their record. Tampa has lost three of their five games by five points or less. This team is on the verge of being good. Once they learn how to win close games, they will be dangerous.

22. Denver Broncos (3-4)

2017 NFL power rankings Week 9

(Photo by Jack Dempsey / AP)

Last week: 19 (-3)

Next game: away vs. Philadelphia

It is so obvious that Denver needs help at quarterback. Trevor Siemian is incapable of being a starting quarterback in the NFL. He would make an excellent backup though.

The Broncos will be held back by their inability to pass. Teams can stack the box and stop the run, forcing them to throw the ball. That is exactly what the Eagles will do to send Denver to another loss.

21. Cincinnati Bengals (3-4)

Last week: 23 (+2)

Next game: away vs. Jacksonville

The Bengals were extremely close to having their season end. A loss to the Colts would have been a new low. Cincinnati managed to win the game 24-23 in the end.

The Bengals are clawing their way back into the playoff race. The task will remain difficult this week as they travel to Jacksonville to take on the toughest defense in the league. A win puts them back in the thick of the playoff race while a loss makes their task almost impossible.

20. Green Bay Packers (4-3)

Last week: 21 (+1)

Next game: home vs. Detroit

The Packers had a bye week to try and figure how they are going to ride Brett Hundley to some wins. The problem is the defense and the run game. Neither will take enough pressure off of Hundley to win enough games to catch the Vikings or earn a wildcard berth.

The Packers should tank the rest of the season and get a good draft pick to help out Aaron Rodgers. This week they take on the Lions, and there is a good chance they find a way to win.

19. Oakland Raiders (3-5)

Last week: 19 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Miami

In order for the Raiders to make the playoffs, they can only lose one more game the rest of the season. Having more than six losses will eliminate any team contending for the Wild Card.

To get their season on track, they have to travel to Miami to take on a bad Dolphins team. If Oakland losses this game, their season is over. If they win, it will likely be the confidence booster they need to revive their playoff hopes.

18. Los Angeles Chargers (3-5)

Last week: 17 (-1)

Next game: Bye

Los Angeles’ three-game win streak came to a halt, but nobody expected it to continue in New England. They did keep it close, losing by just eight points.

Heading into the bye, Los Angeles is 3-5, but are better than their record indicates. They could get hot and make a run for the playoffs, but it is unlikely.

The Chargers must continue to build their defense and tailor the offense around Melvin Gordon. Once they find the replacement to Philip Rivers, the Chargers can truly become contenders.

17. Washington Redskins (3-4)

Last week: 16 (-1)

Next game: away vs. Seattle

Washington was basically in a playoff game against Dallas and lost. They couldn’t stop the run at all as Ezekiel Elliott ran for 150 yards. The Redskins were also unable to run the ball themselves.

Washington doesn’t have a team talented enough to make the playoffs. To even have a chance to win games, they must protect the ball, and the Redskins have a minus turnover ratio. Moving forward, Washington will finish somewhere around six or seven wins.

16. Detroit Lions (3-4)

Last week: 14 (-1)

Next game: away vs. Green Bay

The Lions have stumbled to a 3-4 record. They can’t bring it together at the same time. One week the offense plays amazing. The next week, the defense does.

Matthew Stafford is doing his thing on offense, but the Lions still don’t run the ball well enough consistently. The Lions only average 82.1 rush yards per game. Until they balance their offense, this team will not find success.

15. Atlanta Falcons (4-3)

Last week: 18 (+3)

Next game: away vs. Carolina

The defending NFC Champions struggled against the Jets, but still found a way to win. Offensively, Atlanta is not clicking the way they were last season, and Matt Ryan is struggling. He has only thrown nine touchdowns in seven games.

If the Falcons are to become a contender again he must get this offense rolling. Until then the Super Bowl hangover will continue and the Falcons will be in danger of missing the playoffs.

14. Houston Texans (3-4)

Last week: 11 (-3)

Next game: home vs. Indianapolis

Houston put up a valiant fight against the Seahawks in Seattle, mostly because Deshaun Watson is a stud who nobody should have passed on.

Watson is giving the Houston fanbase something to look forward to. As he develops, he will have the Texans as Super Bowl contenders for the next ten years.

Right now, they are going to play .500 ball with all the injuries on defense and the lack of an offensive line. This week they should pull back to .500 with the Colts coming to town.

13. Carolina Panthers (5-3)

Last week: 14 (+1)

Next game: home vs. Atlanta

Carolina got back in the win column after a disappointing loss to the Bears. The defense stepped up by shutting out the Buccaneers.

Cam Newton is still struggling this season, and it is causing the up and down season from the Panthers. If Cam can start playing at the level he is capable of, then this team will become extremely dangerous.

This week they have a tough game against their rival Falcons. A win would help the Panthers stay on the heels of New Orleans for first in the NFC South.

12. Tennessee Titans (4-3)

Last week: 13 (+1)

Next game: home vs. Baltimore

Just like Jacksonville, Tennessee jumped up a spot while on a bye due to Houston’s loss. Tennessee is a roller coaster right now. They have had great highs and bigger lows.

Coming off their bye, they have a two-game winning streak and are fortunate enough to face Baltimore next, a team they are better than and should beat.

Tennessee has the ninth-ranked rushing attack, averaging 124.6 yards per game. They must continue running the ball to stack wins and fight for a playoff berth.

11. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-3)

2017 NFL power rankings: week 9

(Photo from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qPdIb6uKkBI0)

Last week: 12 (+1)

Next game: home vs. Cincinnati

Thanks to a loss by the Texans, Jacksonville jumped up a spot while on a bye. The Jaguars are 4-3 but are still poised for a playoff appearance due to their historically great defense. Jacksonville ranks sixth in total defense (300.3 yards per game), first in pass defense (161.7) and is giving up just 15.7 points per game. The Jaguars have 33 sacks in just seven games and have also forced 16 turnovers this season. If they protect the ball they will continue to win games.

10. Dallas Cowboys (4-3)

Last week: 10 (no change)

Next game: home vs. Kansas City

Dallas’ game against Washington felt like a playoff game. Both teams were 3-3 and trying to keep their season afloat with a win. Dallas won the game 33-19 to keep their season alive.

The Cowboys have won two straight games because they are finally running the ball successfully. In those two games, Dallas has averaged 217 yards per game on the ground. They must keep that up if they want to find themselves in the playoffs.

9. New Orleans Saints (5-2)

Last week: 9 (no change)

Next game: home vs. Tampa Bay

The Saints are on a five-game winning streak and in control of the NFC South. Most predicted it would be the Falcons, while others were split between the Bucs and Panthers. Few expected it to be the Saints.

As usual, the Saints are doing it with their offense behind future Hall of Famer Drew Brees. New Orleans’ 27.3 points per game is sixth in the NFL.

The defense has stepped up lately, allowing just 344.7 yards per game in their last three games. That is why they have won five straight.

8. Seattle Seahawks (5-2)

Last week: 8 (no change)

Next game: home vs. Washington

Seattle was in a shootout against the Houston Texans. Fortunately for them, Russell Wilson threw for a career-high 452 yards and four touchdowns to lead them to a win. The lack of a strong offensive line has yet to hurt the Seahawks. Defensively, Seattle had a bad week, but is still the strength of this team.

They should get another win this week against the Redskins. The road to the Super Bowl in the NFC will require a path through Seattle if they keep this up.

7. Buffalo Bills (5-2)

Last week: 7 (no change)

Next game: away vs. New York Jets

Buffalo had their most convincing win of the season, beating Oakland 34-14. The Bills are for real and can truly challenge the Patriots for the top spot in the AFC East.

Buffalo, like many of the top teams in the NFL this season, is doing it with defense. Buffalo is tied for second in points allowed with 16.4 points per game.

The Bills don’t need to do much offensively to win games, and that is why the Bills are seeing success.

6. Los Angeles Rams (5-2)

Last week: 6 (no change)

Next game: away vs. New York Giants

The Rams are coming off a bye and are now in second place in both scoring offense and in their division. They have the same record as the Seahawks, but Seattle beat them once this season.

This week, they get to face the Giants, who only have one win this year. Los Angeles is going to run the ball and play solid defense to get another win. If they lose, they could see a significant drop in the rankings.

5. Minnesota Vikings (6-2)

Last week: 5 (no change)

Next game: Bye

Early on against the Browns, the Vikings looked lackadaisical. They were also in danger of having the worst loss in the NFL this season. At halftime, they were trailing 13-12, but outscored the Browns 21-3 in the second half to pull out a win and stay atop the NFC North division.

Moving forward, the Vikings will continue to rely on their Super Bowl caliber defense to win games and get into the playoffs.

4. New England Patriots (6-2)

Last week: 4 (no change)

Next game: Bye

The Patriots head into the bye on pace for 12 wins, also known as a typical Patriots season. New England has gotten to six wins by improving their defense.

In the first four games of the season, New England was giving up 32 points per game. In the last four games, the Patriots are only giving up 12.8 points per game.

It may sound like a broken record, but the Patriots will continue to win, continue to be a Super Bowl contender and continue to remain in the top five of everyone’s power rankings.

3. Kansas City Chiefs (6-2)

Last week: 3 (no change)

Next game: away vs. Dallas

The current run Alex Smith is on is quite legendary. After half a season, Smith is completing 69.1 percent of his passes with an average of 8.4 yards per attempt, which is a career high. He has also thrown for 2,181 yards 16 touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Yes, you read that correctly. Alex Smith has no interceptions through the first eight games. This offense is clicking on all cylinders and should continue to lead this team to victories.

2. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2)

Last week: 2 (no change)

Next game: Bye

Pittsburgh heads into their bye with a big road win to push their record to a stellar 6-2. They are on pace for 12 wins and a possible first-round bye.

The Steelers are led by a defense that is a nightmare for opponents’ passing attacks. Pittsburgh has the second-best pass defense, allowing just 180 yards per game. The offense is finally getting hot as well, scoring 20 points or more in their last two games.

The Steelers will get some rest before facing a very easy second-half schedule. Their remaining opponents have a combined record of 26-32.

1. Philadelphia Eagles (7-1)

Last week: 1 (no change)

Next game: home vs. Denver

Philly continues to roll through the competition. Their latest victim was the San Francisco 49ers, who they beat down 33-10.

The Eagles are firing on all cylinders. The offense is ranked sixth in total yards (371.8), 11th in passing yards (242.5), fifth in rushing yards (129.2) and fourth in points (29).

Defensively, the Eagles rank 14th in total defense (327.1), first in rush defense (70.4) and 10th in points allowed (19.5). They are a balanced team, and the only thing that can beat the Eagles at this point is themselves.

 

Featured image from SportsFormulator

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Game five

World Series Game 5 perfectly summarizes baseball today

Something special happened on Sunday night in Houston. Game five of the World Series was one of the most memorable sporting events in recent memory. After game two in Los Angeles, many thought that it would be the pinnacle of the series. In the year of the home run though, nothing is safe.

Home runs

World Series Game five

Altuve has been leading the way in power this postseason despite his size (USA Today).

What has been heavily talked about this year is all of the balls that have been leaving the park in 2017. The MLB set the record for most home runs hit in a season this year. They didn’t just break it though, they demolished it.

The previous record for home runs in a year was set in 2000 when there were 5,693 home runs hit. 2000 was also around the time of peak steroid use in baseball, and it was facing an epidemic. Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Alex Rodriguez were all crushing bombs.

What is different about this season is that there were only five players who hit more than 40 home runs. In 2000, there were 16 players who hit more than 40.

What does this mean? Well it shows that there has been a league-wide surge in homers in 2017, rather than a handful of players getting more home runs. We are not here to speculate as to why this is happening though, we are here to talk about the intense fifth game of the World Series.

There were two big records broken in game five. The Dodgers and the Astros already broke the record for most homers hit in a series with 22, and they also broke the record for most hit in a single game with seven.

Second longest game ever

World Series Game five

It will be interesting to see what Manfred will do when it comes to pace of play (CBS Sports)

Game five was the second longest World Series game ever, trailing only game three of the 2005 World Series, which also included the Houston Astros. Game three of the 2005 World Series lasted 14 innings though, while game five this year was only 24 minutes shorter in four less innings. Meaning, game five averaged 31 minutes per inning while the longest World Series game ever averaged 24 minutes per inning. This shows the issue with pace of play facing baseball today.

Personally, I did not want the game on Sunday to be over though. When Brian McCann pulled a ball that looked to have walk-off distance foul, I was almost disappointed to think the game would be over. Alex Bregman ended up finishing the game two at bats later in stellar fashion which was great to see, but I was still hungry for more.

This puts Rob Manfred and the MLB in an awkward position. Manfred has expressed interest in installing new ways to shorten baseball games. However, we are getting some of the most exciting games we have seen in awhile this year thanks to the long ball and surge in offense. This is a classic case of not being able to have your cake and eat it too.

Top dogs battling it out

World Series Game five

This is the first time in a long time we have seen the two best teams from the regular season in the Fall Classic (MLB)

Besides the Minnesota Twins, there were not a whole lot of underdogs this season. Every division winner was the team that most experts picked to win at the beginning of the year, so there were not many surprises.

What this series has shown though is that there is no clear better team between the two best. Houston and Los Angeles cemented their title as the best teams in baseball with 100+ win seasons and making to the Fall Classic. If you were to ask most experts at the halfway point of the season, the most common answer you would get for who would be playing in the World Series would be these two teams.

Game five demonstrated that both teams are fighting tooth and nail for the championship, and that they are very evenly matched. Houston was down 4-0 to Clayton Kershaw in the fourth inning, a pitcher that dominated them in the first game of the series. Things were already starting to look bleak for them.

Yuli Gurriel and the Astros battled back though, tying the game at four in the bottom of the fourth. The fun didn’t last for long though as Cody Bellinger hit a three-run home run of his own in the top of the fifth. The future was looking bleak for the Astros again, but in the bottom of the inning, Altuve smashed another three-run home run. When it was all said and done there were nine lead changes/ties, which made for a heart stopping game.

One for the ages

Fivethirtyeight.com did an article about the most exciting World Series games ever based on change in win probability. The only game that tops this one is game six of the 2011 World Series between the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals. Games like this don’t come around nearly that often though, so don’t expect for your heart to race as much as it did on Sunday for sometime.

 

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week 9 DFS don'ts

Week 9 DFS don’ts: Tight end

In week eight we saw some of the leagues most productive tight ends take a step back. Zach Ertz and Rob Gronkowski managed to score, but only produced 11.4 and 14.2 respectively. While that’s great for seasonal fantasy teams, those point totals don’t get it done in DFS given their high price. Other players like Hunter Henry and Austin Seferian-Jenkins came up short. Let’s figure out which land mines we need to avoid in the tight end edition of week 9 DFS don’ts.

Travis Kelce: FanDuel Price $7,000

Kelce is in a unique position. He plays on a great offense crafted by Andy Reid and executed to near perfection by Alex Smith. This offense features one player at each position that is fantasy relevant; however, that doesn’t always mean they will produce. For example, Kelce had a great game Monday against Denver. For most DFS players, we knew it was a great spot for him. The way to beat Denver is to attack the middle of the field and avoid their corners.

Conversely, Kelce had a great matchup against the Raiders and their weak secondary and did not produce. Instead, it was Tyreek Hill’s turn to produce. Essentially, Reid designs new plays each week for certain players instead of just targeting them in the normal context of their offense. For example, they would continually flex out Kelce and have three wide receivers to the opposite side. This would force a safety to play one-on-one with Kelce and that’s the formation that he was able to score on.

Statistically, Kelce has been inconsistent week to week. He has three single digit point outings, including a 0.6 point game against the Chargers. He’s gotten more consistent since week five; however, he faces a Cowboys secondary that has been stingy against tight ends. Byron Jones, will likely be guarding Kelce this weekend. He’s currently ranked as a top 50 safety overall according to Pro Football Focus, but is a top 25 safety purely in coverage. This is more of a gut feeling than anything else. After quiet games from Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill, I think those players see the majority of the production this weekend. Travis Kelce makes his first appearance in this series on my week 9 DFS don’ts.

Jimmy Graham: FanDuel Price $6,200

week 9 DFS don'ts

Jimmy Graham has been a touchdown machine the last two weeks, but is his success sustainable moving forward with Paul Richardson and Tyler Lockett carving out larger roles? (Courtesy of 247 Sports)

Ughh Jimmy Graham. He was the bane of my DFS existence in week 7. He should have posted a 20 plus point game, but his hands did not allow him to. In week 8, Graham managed to benefit from an awful chop block by Thomas Rawls, which also took away points from my Rusell Wilson to Paul Richardson stack. So, without a fluke penalty, Graham is only targeted four times and loses at least 6.5 points as a result of that one play.

To be fair, Graham is immensely talented as a pass catcher despite his recent woes with drops. And, he plays on an offense with absolutely zero threat of a run game. His placement on the week 9 DFS don’ts list is simply because there are better options in this price range.

Evan Engram is only $100 more expensive and is the number one pass catching threat on his team. You could also pivot down to a Jack Doyle or Jared Cook. It’s evident that Doyle has earned the trust of his quarterback, and Cook has a great matchup Sunday night against the Dolphins.

Ryan Griffin: FanDuel Price $5,200

This pick falls in line with my Cody Parkey reminder in yesterday’s piece. If you are paying down at tight end please don’t waste your time with Ryan Griffin. Deshaun Watson has established that he wants to throw the ball down the field to his wide receivers. Since DeAndre Hopkins see more than 30% of Watson’s targets, there simply isn’t enough opportunity for Griffin at this point. Yes, he has a great matchup against this Colts secondary, but then again, so does every Texans pass catcher. Better options in this price range include Vernon Davis at $5,400 and Ed Dickson at $4,900. Griffin joins Kelce and Graham on my week 9 DFS don’ts list.

 

Featured Image Courtesy of Kansas City Chiefs

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Ty Montgomery fantasy

Is it time to drop Ty Montgomery?

Many fantasy owners who drafted Ty Montgomery were stoked with his output through two weeks of the season. Starting off strong as his first full season as the lead back with the Packers, Montgomery put up 14 and 22 fantasy points respectively.

Since then, he has fallen off quite a bit, leaving owners with one question: Is it time to drop Ty Montgomery?

The case for keeping him

I was on board with drafting the Packers’ swiss army knife at the beginning of the season, but times have changed. Now Montgomery finds himself behind Aaron Jones on the death chart. With Jones’ recent performances, it doesn’t seem like Montgomery will jump back up anytime soon. Montgomery does hold some value though.

With the likely season ending injury to Aaron Rodgers, the Packers turn to Brett Hundley for answers and to try and save their season. Hundley will look to the reliable weapons that are known on Green Bay, and Montgomery falls under that category.

As a pass-catching back on third downs, Montgomery will be used as another option for the young quarterback to look to. Now let’s all understand that Hundley is no Aaron Rodgers, but that only means Montgomery will have to create holes for himself and try and recreate his string start to the season.

There’s also the obvious chance of injury for Jones. If you have the space on your bench and don’t mind stashing away a running back that may become very valuable for the playoffs, by all means keep him on your bench.

If everything stays as is right now, it doesn’t look like keeping Montgomery will be a valuable option to play week after week. But bye weeks and the chance that he bursts back onto the season gives me reason to believe he holds some value.

The case to drop him

Now many of you are probably done waiting for Montgomery to break out, and I understand that. If you don’t think that he’s worth a spot on your roster and you feel more comfortable with him on the waivers and another player in his spot, then stop reading and drop him. However, if you’re still on the fence, continue reading.

Ty Montgomery fantasy

Photo from Getty Images

Like I said earlier, Aaron Rodgers is likely out for the season with a broken collarbone. A big part of Montgomery’s game came from Rodgers. Without him, Montgomery is going to have to make space for himself when he gets the touches. That’s the key part. We need to see Montgomery get more of an opportunity.

As a pass catcher, we’ve seen Montgomery struggle in recent weeks. Over the last four weeks, he’s had a total of four receptions for 12 yards. Those numbers are not like the ones from last year when he was a true dual-threat.

The rushing attempts have been inconsistent as well. From Week 4 to Week 7, Montgomery’s rushing attempts have been five, zero, 10 and four.

We haven’t seen a steady amount of output coming from Montgomery, and unless that changes in this next week or two, he has no place on your team.

 

Featured image by Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

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Brewers prospect Keston Hiura's bright future

Brewers prospect Keston Hiura’s bright future

The Milwaukee Brewers might have struck gold with Keston Hiura, their first-round selection, in 2017’s first year player draft. Let’s talk about Brewers prospect Keston Hiura’s bright future before he’s a star everyone knows.

David Stearns, Milwaukee’s general manager, has done many good things in his first two years at the helm. Perhaps one of Stearns’ best moves though is his selection of sweet-swinging second baseman Keston Hiura with the ninth pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. For Hiura, the best is most certainly yet to come.

Hiura’s Bat

Brewers prospect Keston Hiura's bright future

Keston Hiura was the Division I college batting champion last season at UC Irvine. (Photo courtesy of: Baseball America)

Hiura was billed by many pundits leading up to the draft as the best pure hitter available. It’s not hard to figure out why either. As a junior at the University of California–Irvine, Hiura batted (.442/.567/.693) leading to an astounding OPS of (1.260). As far as college bats go, a scout for any MLB team would be hard pressed to find one better.

Hiura did, after all, lead Division I college hitters in both batting (.442) and OBP (.567).

Hiura’s hitting prowess saw him named as a semi-finalist for the Golden Spikes Award in 2017. Though the UC-Irvine standout didn’t win the honor, it is most certainly high praise to be named to the semi-finalists list.

The hits just kept on coming for Hiura after making the jump to pro-ball as well. In his first 42 games of professional baseball, the first-round pick belted an impressive (.371/.422/.611), split between two levels.

Putting those number into perspective, Hiura spent the majority of his first pro season at Low-A Wisconsin. It was there that Hiura put up an impressive batting line, hitting (.333/.374./.476). As the old turn of phrase goes, “That’s just par for the course.” Well, for Keston Hiura it is anyway.

Hiura, at 21 years of age, still has a long road to travel to get to the big leagues. His bat might be hard to slow, however. He showcases the plate discipline of a player more advanced in years, and that bodes well for Hiura. He could potentially be one of the first hitters from this year’s draft class to step to the plate in the majors.

Hiura’s Injury

As good as Hiura is at the dish, he doesn’t come without a certain amount of risk attached. This is not a unique circumstance though. There is a certain amount of risk with every prospect that makes the jump to pro-ball.

In 2016, as a sophomore at UC-Irvine, Hiura suffered an injury to the elbow of his throwing arm. While playing center field, Hiura unleashed a throw to home resulting in a sprained ulnar collateral ligament. The injury led to many MLB teams wondering if the dreaded Tommy John surgery would be in Hiura’s future.

Hiura has said in an interview with Baseball America that the injury never affected his swing. It did, however, affect his fielding. As a result of the injury, Hiura spent the entirety of his junior season as UC-Irvine’s DH. Hiura’s lack of game film in the field and the threat of a possible surgery on that elbow without doubt caused some of the teams picking ahead of the Brewers to go another direction with their pick.

Brewers prospect Keston Hiura's bright future

Hiura has also played for the U.S. Collegiate National Team. (Photo courtesy of: Orlando Sentinel)

An outfielder by trade, Hiura’s task now is learning how to become a professional second baseman. Not a small task, but if anyone is capable of the transition it would be Hiura. This youngster has drawn rave reviews from his former coach at UC-Irvine, Mike Gillespie, about his work ethic.

Much to the delight of David Stearns and the Brewers organization, Hiura was back in the field by the middle of August while with Low-A Wisconsin. Even better still, Tommy John surgery has been ruled out for Hiura’s elbow.

Hiura did suffer an injury that saw him on the DL toward season’s end, but breathe easy Brewers fans, it was a strained hamstring that kept him out of action. Hiura’s arm is seemingly good to go for 2018 and his first full season of professional baseball.

Playing a full season at second base, the Brewers and Hiura should know very early on in the year if his arm is going to be an issue. At least for the moment though, all signs point to his UCL sprain as being behind him.

Hiura in 2018

Based on the numbers Hiura pounded out in his first taste of professional baseball, Brewers fans might want to see him start 2018 at High-A Carolina. It is very doubtful that he will start there with the work he needs in the field.

It is far more likely that he will be the opening day second baseman for Low-A Wisconsin.

While his bat is ready right now to face tougher competition, his glove invariably needs work. Brewers fans need to remember that Hiura is essentially learning a new position. There will be a learning curve to this process and it will take time.

Hiura won’t be toiling away at Low-A Wisconsin all season though. I fully expect Hiura the climb the prospect ladder at least one level by the end of 2018, if not two levels. It isn’t unreasonable to assume Hiura could hit his way to Double-A by season’s end. Of course, this depends on how Hiura adapts to second base and how that arm holds up.

The good news though, is if a player can play center field he more than likely can handle second base as well. As he logs more innings, he should come to terms with how to play second base fairly quickly.

Another factor that bodes well for Hiura is time. At the tender age of 21 and with a glut of rising prospects at the keystone positions in the Brewers organization, there is no need to fast-track this young man to the big leagues. Time is on Hiura’s side as far as learning how to properly defend second base is concerned.

Hiura’s ETA in Milwaukee

Brewers prospect Keston Hiura's bright future

Keston Hiura signs his autograph for some of the Milwaukee faithful. (Photo courtesy of: The Post-Crescent)

While the fans in Milwaukee will want to see Hiura sporting the ball and glove logo on his hat sooner rather than later, it would be asking too much to see him up with the big club at any point in 2018. He simply has too much glove work to do before making that jump.

Also, there is no question that as the standard of pitching gets better, his bat will have to adjust as well. In this category though, Hiura will most likely do just fine. There is absolutely nothing in his past to suggest that he will suddenly forget how to hit. It is, after all, his best tool.

The future is indeed a bright one for Keston Hiura. He’ll be knocking on the door of the big leagues by mid-2019, and his bat will be the major reason why. But of course, this is all assuming he experiences no further problems with that balky elbow on his throwing arm.

Hiura seems intent on battering minor league pitching. This should leave Brewers fans with those warm and fuzzy feelings inside. With the emergence of Travis Shaw at third base and Orlando Arica at short stop, adding in Keston Hiura could be a watershed moment for the Brewers organization overall.

How quickly Hiura makes the transition to second base will be the difference maker in how quickly he ascends to the big club in Milwaukee. One thing is for certain though, if his glove adapts anywhere near as quickly as his bat has, you will see him in Milwaukee sooner than later.

Hiura has the bat to play beyond the level he is currently at. If he can become just an average defender in short order, he will be forcing the Brewers’ hand very soon.

For Brewers GM David Stearns this is an excellent problem to have. And it’s a far cry from the pile of smoldering, twisted, wreckage that the Brewers’ farm system had become under Stearns’ predecessor, Bob Melvin.

 

(feature photo courtesy of: azcentral.com)

 

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week 9 DFS don'ts

Week 9 DFS don’ts: Kicker and defense

Week 8 was much kinder to my ego and my bank account than Week 6 and 7. I managed profit in my cash games and tournaments without having a top three scoring kicker or defense.

So, it is possible to overcome a missed pick. However, the boost you get by identifying the right player(s) at each position can set you apart from your competition drastically. Let’s dive into who should be left off your lineups with the kicker and defense edition of Week 9 DFS don’ts.

Brandon McManus: FanDuel Price $4,700

As a rule, I don’t pay up for kickers. My lineup construction process doesn’t allow me to pay, at most, more than $4,900 for a kicker. This past week was good for you if you paid up, but I won’t be doing so in Week 9. One player I’ll certainly be avoiding in the mid-price range is Brandon McManus.

Kickers are tied to their offense and the stadium they are kicking in, and McManus is more so than anyone. This week he will not be kicking in the confine of Mile High Stadium. Automatically, we have to discount his upside, as he’s less likely to connect from long distance. His last outing against the Giants was awful. He failed to connect on two of his three attempts.

McManus is also tied to an offense with an identity crisis. When C.J. Anderson has 20 or more rushing attempts, the Broncos are 3-0. Conversely, when Andersen gets fewer than 11 attempts, the Broncos are 0-3. I’m writing this article ahead of the Monday night game against the Chiefs, but I think the trend will continue.

During that stretch when the Broncos committed to running the ball, McManus averaged 7.6 points per game. When they are not running the ball, McManus averages a full point less. In DFS, every point counts, so I will be staying away from McManus this weekend when they visit the Eagles.

Cody Parkey: FanDuel Price $4,500

This is just a reminder that if you’re bargain shopping at the kicker position, please don’t go with Cody Parkey. At this point, accidentally playing Parkey is inexcusable.

Since Week 1, he’s had zero games where he scored double-digit points, including two games where he scored zero points. He’s now tied to an unpredictable offense with a revolving door at quarterback and an offensive line that cannot create room for Jay Ajayi.

Please, avoid Parkey like the plague and pivot to a guy like Adam Vinatieri if you’re playing a minimum priced kicker.

Houston Texans: FanDuel Price $5,200

Week 9 DFS don'ts

Can the Texans bounce back from a completely inept performance in Seattle against the division rival Colts? (Photo from Torro Times)

We talked about this at length last week on the Suck My DFS Podcast. This Houston defense was going into the game with a vastly inflated ranking. Since losing J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus, they played Cleveland and had their bye week.

Even worse, they had extra time to prepare for a Seattle offense that cannot run the football. It doesn’t matter what pitiful running back they play, their offensive line is totally incapable of creating running lanes. Against a one-dimensional offense, the Texans allowed Russell Wilson and company to light them up for more than 40 points.

This defense will now host their division rival, the Indianapolis Colts. This Colts offense just went on the road and put together a decent performance against a good Cincinnati defense.

Even if the Houston offense clicks for 28 or more points, the Colts will still be able to move the ball against this injury-stricken Houston team.

They will not be nearly as bad as they were against Seattle. However, I struggle to see them making value, since Cincinnati only came through on a fluke pick-six by a defensive linemen.

Cincinnati Bengals: FanDuel Price $4,600

Speak of the devil and they shall appear. I love playing defenses who are facing an offense that is in an identity crisis like the Broncos or the Buccaneers. This Sunday, the Bengals will face a team that has gone all in on their current identity. The Jaguars are going to run the ball over 30 times and play suffocating defense.

The Bengals, in a spot in which they were a double-digit home favorite, should have lost to an inferior team. The Bengals themselves are struggling with their identity, since they continue to limit the touches of their best running back and not target one of the leagues premiere receivers.

The Jaguars defense could totally shut down the Bengals offense with their incredible pass rush and corners. Thus, the Bengals defense will eventually break like the Pittsburgh Steelers did and give up long runs.

There are better options in play at this price range, or at the very top of the board. The Bengals join the Texans as two defenses to avoid on my Week 9 DFS don’ts.

 

Featured image from Sporting News

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