Carson Wentz fantasy

Fantasy football injury: Carson Wentz tears ACL

We have seen many big names in the NFL go down with injuries this year, and Carson Wentz could be the biggest one at this point of the season. On Monday, the Philadelphia Eagles confimed that their quarterback tore his ACL in Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams.

Late in the third quarter, Wentz dove for a touchdown and came up limping after getting hit by multiple Rams defenders that was later negated by a holding penalty. He finished the drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery that broke the season record for touchdown passes in a season in Eagles history. He went to the locker room and remained out for the game and was replaced by Nick Foles.

Foles will now take over as the starting quarterback. Many people think that the players around him will now struggle with Foles. But fantasy players shouldn’t worry with Foles now as quarterback. For owners looking for a replacement, they should look to Foles as the replacement.

Why Nick Foles is the best choice to replace Carson wentz

Carson Wentz fantasy

Nick Foles (Photo from nbcsports.com)

In relief, Foles was solid with 6-of-10 passing for 42 yards and rushed once for nine yards.

I know a lot of people say he isn’t a regular starter, and backups aren’t the best for fantasy. Granted there are guys like Case Keenum and Blake Bortles out there, but what Foles has around him makes him a top candidate to replace Wentz in fantasy.

Foles is capable of putting up solid numbers.  This is a guy that had a year with 27 touchdowns and two interceptions in 13 games in 2013. Since then, he hasn’t posted numbers like that, but none of that is his fault. He could’ve easily still been the guy in Philadelphia if he was able to prove himself. Even though Eagle fans are crushed, they shouldn’t be thinking their season is over.

Besides what Foles has done, they aren’t as different as you think. Comparing Foles’ 2013 season to Wentz’s season this year according to Pro Football Focus, the Eagles shouldn’t struggle with Foles.

Carson Wentz fantasy

Chart of Nick Foles and Carson Wentz by Pro Football Focus (Photo from ftw.usatoday.com)

Foles has seen time this season mostly late in the game because the Eagles had a big lead. He has played in three games and had completed all of pass attempts in that three-game span for 56 yards. Some can say Foles will be more of a caretaker and playing it safe with the Eagles clinching their division on Sunday. But knowing Eagles’ style, they won’t shy from playing aggressively.

The next two games for the Eagles are against the New York Giants and Oakland Raiders. Both defenses are at the bottom of the league against the quarterback in fantasy.

Players around Him

As for the players around Foles, they may take a slight drop in production, but not too much. As a whole, there shouldn’t be much change in the offense. First, running backs LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi should see an increase in production.

Carson Wentz fantasy

Carson Wentz, Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Nelson Agholor (Photo from nj.com)

As for the receivers, it looks like the Eagles will limit the amount of big passes for less mistakes, especially since they are trying to clinch home-field advantage. So receivers like Jeffery, Nelson Agholor and Torrey Smith might see less targets. Zach Ertz, if he’s clear from his concussion, could be in the same situation as the receivers. But the bigger discussion is the top two receivers Jeffery and Agholor.

Jeffery looks to still have some upside compared to Agholor. Still look for Jeffery to post WR2 numbers, but be prepared for some bust weeks with Wentz out.

As for Agholor, he did have a nice catch from Foles to put the game away. But Agholor’s problem is consistency. Even though he has turned it around, he still hasn’t shown himself as a high-volume receiver. Agholor becomes a low flex option in the remaining weeks.

With the matchup this week against the Giants, this could be a surprise week where the offense can prove they are still dominant. Start Jefferey and also consider starting Agholor as well as Ertz if he’s ready.

Wentz in the long run, Foles against the Giants

For Wentz, this is a big blow, especially with the season he is having. With the tear at this point of the season, the likelihood is that he would return somewhere in the beginning of next season. He would miss training camp and preseason and could cut it close to being on the field just before the start of next season.

It’s a pain to guess the health of a top quarterback for fantasy early on. Just look at Andrew Luck this year. His draft stock could take a hit, but there are enough passers to get a quality starter and have Wentz as a backup until he returns.

As for Foles against the Giants, I rank him a low-end QB1 mostly because of the matchup and with the day Dak Prescott had throwing for 332 yards and three touchdowns. The last time Foles played the Giants was in 2014 as a starter in Philadelphia where they won 27-0 behind his 248 yards and two touchdowns.

 

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Carson Wentz

Flying high: The overachieving Eagles and Jets

The NFL is always good for a few surprises each year. 2017 has been no different. Two present surprises so far during the young season have been the Eagles and Jets, but are they true contenders? Here is a closer look at each.

New York Jets: 3-3

What they do well: The numbers with this team are not going to blow you away. However, they were a top ten  rushing offense prior to the last two weeks, Jermaine Kearse is averaging ten yards a catch, and Josh McCown has more touchdown passes than interceptions. No, the Jets do not have their quarterback of the future, but the guys they have right now are doing just fine.

Jermaine Kearse

Photo: sbnation.com

Reasons to worry: They rank 25th in total defense. The offense will have to do more as the opponents get better. It is hard to imagine the offense being able to keep pace with teams like Kansas City, Atlanta, and New Orleans. The Jets will face all these teams in the coming weeks.

However, New York managed to hang tough in their first meeting with the Patriots Sunday. A controversial call prevented the game from going to overtime. Moral victories do not exist in NFL.

The average of 18 points a game needs to go up. Until it does, the concerns will remain Even so, the Jets proving they are at least capable of scoring enough to make a high power offensive team sweat is a good sign.

What the experts say: More than a few analysts had the Jets going winless this year. Even after their solid start, people still are not buying in. As reported by mytopsportsbooks.com, the Jets are still a 150/1 Super Bowl longshot, barely ahead of the one win team they share a stadium with.

Philadelphia Eagles: 5-1

What they do well: The Eagles did what every team with a young quarterback should do. They went out and got Carson Wentz some weapons. Adding receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith is always going to be a huge help to any quarterback.

Add in the 5th ranked rushing offense and it makes it pretty easy for Wentz to throw for 1600+ yards and 10 touchdowns so far this year. Wentz himself also deserves a ton of credit. Even last year when he had far less talent around him, he accounted for more touchdowns than turnovers. He is poised to lead this franchise for years to come.

Reasons to worry: The Eagles are 19th in total defense. That is not great. However, the offense can carry this team. Ranking in the bottom half of the league in sacks allowed is far more troubling Wentz staying upright is the only way this team plays in January.

What the experts say: Unlike the Jets, some of Philadelphia’s numbers do jump out.  Their Super Bowl odds have shot past division rival Dallas and now sit at 12/1.

Only time will tell what kind of staying power these two teams have. The Eagles appear far more equipped for playoff football, but the NFL never stops surprising us.

 

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week five DFS don'ts

Week five DFS don’ts: Wide receiver

Last week was the first time I hit on all three of my DFS don’ts at the wide receiver position. It’s nothing groundbreaking, it’s just proof that this position is all about the week-to-week matchup.

We know there are defenses that take away a team’s number one wide receiver. That would include teams like the Vikings, Lions and Cardinals. All of those teams have a great cover corner that shadows the opposition’s best receiver. So, let’s go beyond the obvious plays to avoid in the wide receiver edition of week five DFS don’ts.

Odell Beckham Jr: FanDuel Price $8,900

I’m sure you’ve heard the cliche “the best ability is availability”. I hate it too, but most cliches have elements of truth. Odell Beckham Jr. entered this season with an ankle injury. Now, he’s dealing with an injured finger on his right hand. Normally, this wouldn’t bother me. However, I saw that this injury caused him to miss multiple goal line snaps against Tampa Bay.

For any receiver, goal line targets are DFS gold. It’s the only reason I’m willing to pay up for Jordy Nelson each week. Since the Giants have one of the worst running games in the NFL, Odell is the primary target on every down, especially near the goal line. But, if he’s not healthy, I want very little exposure given his gaudy price tag.

Injury circumstances aside, the Chargers have Casey Hayward, who is an above average corner. The Chargers also have an elite pass rush with Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. More importantly, Hayward played shadow coverage for the first time since week one last week. According to Pro Football Focus, on the 74 percent of routes that Hayward shadowed Alshon Jeffery, Jeffery had one catch on four targets for 13 yards. If you want to take the risk on Odell this weekend, be my guest. I’ll happily take your money.

Antonio brown: FanDuel Price $8,800

week five DFS don'ts: wide receiver

Antonio Brown is one of the few players to appear twice on my DFS don’ts list (Courtesy of; The Source Magazine).

What? How is Antonio Brown on my DFS don’ts list for the second time this season? I’m glad you asked. It’s all about the matchup.

Last Sunday, the Jaguars deployed shadow coverage for the first time all season. According to Pro Football Focus, Ramsey shadowed Jermaine Kearse on 64 percent of the snaps. During that time, Ramsey allowed two catches on four targets for 14 yards.

Now, the Jets are by no means the Steelers. However, it’s important to take this trend into consideration. On the other 36 percent of the snaps, Brown will likely see A.J. Bouye, who has played very well since becoming a Jaguar. Overall, you need to consider fading Brown this week.

If you want to pay up, consider cheaper options like Jordy Nelson, Dez Bryant or DeAndre Hopkins. Those players are in great matchups and will allow you to fit in at least one of this week’s elite running backs.

Devin Funchess: FanDuel Price $6,300

Every week I have to include a player who had a breakout game on this list. Devin Funchess, like Bengals tight end Tyler Kroft, had a great situation on Sunday. Like Kroft, great opportunity and great matchup aligned.

Please don’t chase the points here. The Patriots have solidified themselves as the worst defense in the NFL. They are actually on pace to be worse than the 2012 Saints, who are statistically considered to be the worst defense in NFL history.

Let’s just use common sense. Funchess has never been a consistent fantasy producer. Yes, you may have watched every snap of that game. Yes, he was impressive. But guess what? The Detroit Lions are watching that same game film and see Funchess destroying the Patriots. They will no doubt have a strategy to contain the Panthers’ passing game.

Also, if you take Funchess, you’re betting on Cam Newton to come through again. Funchess is the classic example of point chasing, thus, he’s joins Beckham and Brown on my week five DFS don’ts list.

 

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Fantasy football week three: Five players to avoid

Week two was a little more interesting than week one of the NFL, but we’re still waiting for the breakout week with multiple big games from different players. Every week there’s boom and bust players and I’m here to tell you about five players to avoid for week three.

5. Jameis Winston (Tampa bay buccaneers)

The Bucs got the season off to a great start with a a very one-sided victory against the Chicago Bears. We didn’t get to see just how well Winston will do because of how well the defense played. It caused Tampa Bay to turn to more of a run game to chew the clock.

Now Winston and the Buccaneers travel to Minnesota to face a stout Vikings defense. Minnesota’s secondary has fared well against Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger in the first two weeks only allowing 15 and 17 fantasy points.

For the third time in as many weeks the Vikings defense faces a high powered offense but the difference is in the run game. The Tampa run game is sub par which will cause Winston will have to throw the ball much more. I would definitely stream a different quarterback in week three.

4. Lesean McCoy (Buffalo Bills)

Shady McCoy and the Bills offense had a rough time in week two against the Carolina Panthers. They held him to nine yards on 12 rushes and a mere three fantasy points. Now the Broncos are traveling to Buffalo and LeSean McCoy has to play against the toughest defense in the NFL.

The Broncos faced Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys last week and shut down that run game. They held last year’s rushing leader to 16 yards on 11 attempts. The Bills are centered around their run game so the volume will definitely be there for Shady, I’m just worried about his production.

After coming off of a wrist and groin injury, all signs point to sitting McCoy this week.

3. Demarco Murray (Tennessee Titans)

Fantasy football week three: Five players avoid

DeMarco Murray (George Walker IV/The Tennessean)

DeMarco Murray is having a rough start to the NFL season. He’s facing the injury bug already and is being outplayed by second year running back Derrick Henry. Now Murray has to play the Seattle defense which has held the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers in check through the first two weeks.

Yes Carlos Hyde did have 124 rushing yards last week, but he broke off a 61-yard run late in the game. Without that one run, he didn’t do anything special. The front seven of Seattle got more impressive this offseason with the addition of Sheldon Richardson.

Now DeMarco Murray is nursing a hamstring injury and the volume in games just isn’t there for him with only 21 carries in the first two weeks of the season. I would sit Murray and even play Derrick Henry over him this week.

2. Brandin Cooks (New England Patriots)

Brandin Cooks hasn’t had the most ideal start to the season. With Julian Edelman going down with a torn ACL, it caused everyone to turn to Brandin Cooks to replace him. But the cost that comes with that is now Cooks is getting more double teams and tougher matchups, and can’t line up in the slot as often.

Tom Brady also has a tendency of not choosing to rely on one receiver. Now him and Julian Edelman had played together for a long time so they developed great chemistry. But Brandin Cooks has to face the Houston defense who has only given up an average of ten fantasy points to wide receivers this season.

Cooks is a flex play this week and should be sat with Chris Hogan this week.

1. Alshon Jeffery (Philadelphia eagles)

Alshon Jeffery finally clicked with Carson Wentz last week against the Kansas City Chiefs. He had seven receptions for 92 yards and one touchdown. This could be the start of something big for the Eagles and Jeffery but I think that this connection they have will come to a halt in week three.

The fierce Giants secondary is looking to prove something after the team started 0-2 and the best way to do that would be to revert back to their ways of defeating teams with their defense. The two players that will be targeted with the Eagles are Alshon Jeffery and Zach Ertz. Ertz will mainly be targeted by Landon Collins and the Giants safeties and linebackers while Alshon will be one on one with shut down corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

Sit Alshon this week but be ready to insert him back into your lineup in week four.

 

Feature Image courtesy of (Photo: Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)

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week three DFS Dont's

NFL Week two DFS don’ts: Report card

Week two turned out to be more predictable than week one. But that doesn’t mean that no one disappointed their seasonal or DFS owners. While my winning percentage wasn’t as good as week one, my volume of winnings was much better. So, let’s close up week two DFS don’ts with my report card.

Quarterback: 5/5

On the Suck My DFS Podcast, the three quarterbacks I liked were Drew Brees, Carson Palmer and Phillip Rivers. I’m counting all three of these guys as wins since they produced just more than double their value. Palmer was the lowest with 16.88 points, then Rivers with 17.24 and then Brees with 22.24 points.

On the other hand, I nailed my quarterbacks on the week two DFS don’ts list. Kirk Cousins and Jay Cutler failed to produce given their value. Washington established the run which negated the Rams’ consistent pass rush and also limited his ability to throw the ball. Cutler looked good in his debut, and I’ll definitely consider him moving forward. But, I’m thankful I left him off my lineup this week.

Running Back: 2/6

I should do myself a favor and never talk about running backs who I think won’t succeed because inevitably they will. Todd Gurley, C.J. Andersen and Carlos freaking Hyde all had productive showings. I’ll leave it at that.

I also sadly loved Ezekiel Elliott against Denver. That was awful. Thankfully, my picks of Melvin Gordon and Ty Montgomery paid off as they scored 17.3 and 26 points respectively. So, if you’re following my articles and the podcast, just ignore who I pick at running back for the most part.

Wide Receiver: 2/6

It was rough predicting this position. I was right on with Antonio Brown, but was so wrong about Brandin Cooks. Similarly, I was right about DeVante Parker, but wrong about Adam Thielen.

The late Sam Bradford just crushed Thielen and Diggs’ values. I was totally wrong about Alshon Jefferey, and sadly, Kelvin Benjamin couldn’t find a way to get into the end zone.

Tight End: 2/4

I’m actually happy I was wrong about Jack Doyle this week. I drafted him everywhere in my seasonal fantasy leagues, so I don’t mind taking the loss this week. I’m also very happy to have picked Austin Hooper to bust completely, and he did.

Zach Ertz produced as usual. No real surprise there. Unfortunately, Jared Cook didn’t find a way to get into the end zone. Cook met everything we want from a tight end in a matchup. His team was a large home favorite, with a big implied team total, and he saw between 8-15 percent target market share in week one.

Kicker: 1/2

Pretty straight forward here. Adam Vinaetieri put up a whopping four points. And please, don’t tell me I shouldn’t have bothered to write about him this week because it was so obvious. Well, I saw him 9 percent ownership in one of my 50/50 leagues this weekend so clearly it wasn’t as obvious as you think. Blair Walsh, and Seattle in general, were bad, as Walsh only scored six points.

Defense: 2/3

The Rams were an easy pick to regress back towards the mean this week. I guess that’s what happens when you play a legitimate NFL quarterback as opposed to Scott Tolzien. Hopefully you listened and didn’t get stuck with a putrid two points.

I’m torn about Arizona. They only scored 10 points against the Colts. However, they were the one of eight defenses to score in double digits. So, I’m counting that as a win. Denver tied for the third highest scoring defense on Sunday, so that’s a loss for me.

Overall Score: 14/26

I’m not happy with 54 percent, but it’s much better than my week one score. Like most things, you get better the more you do it.

You can check out all of my week two DFS dont’s articles here. We’ll start with week three tomorrow as we break down what kicker and defenses you should avoid.

 

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week 2 DFS don'ts

Week 2 DFS don’ts: wide receiver

Week 1 was tough for everyone, but it was especially tough for wide receivers. Players like Julio Jones, A.J. Green and Doug Baldwin no doubt disappointed their DFS owners.

How can we avoid busts at this position in week 2? For one, we’ll have more teams on the Sunday main slate, and more teams means more options. Let’s examine which options we should stay away from in the wide receiver edition of week 2 DFS don’ts.

Antonio Brown: FanDuel Price $9,400

Antonio Brown might be the only wide receiver in the NFL that is matchup proof. Brown is so talented and skilled that no scheme or player can fully contain him.

However, the same sentiment was being echoed for players like David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell, and they went bust in week 1. There are two things that scare me away from Brown: Xavier Rhodes and his staggering price tag.

If you don’t follow the NFL closely, you may not know how good Xavier Rhodes is. His 2016 season has catapulted him into the elite group of cornerbacks. Rhodes saw 79 targets last year. Of those 79 targets, he allowed a catch on 41.8 percent of those targets, which was the best. Rhodes’ impact even extends to the opposing team’s quarterback, as they averaged a 39.2 passer rating when targeting him. You can find the full report here, but this raises some serious concerns for Brown.

I’d say Brown is usually worth every penny of his DFS salary, but Brown is too expensive. His status of the most expensive receiver by $600 is absurd. Brown will not catch 100 percent of his targets like he did last week.

Let’s say he gets the same number of targets and Rhodes has a down game and allows a 65 percent catch rate. That means Brown only gets seven catches on 11 targets. He would have to average 26 yards per catch to equal last week’s production without getting in the end zone.

As great as Antonio Brown is, he’s not worth the price. If he was $9,000 or $8,900, I would have no problem keeping him off my week 2 DFS don’ts list.

Alshon Jeffery: Fanduel price $6,900

You’ll start to notice a theme this week. Everyone on this list has a challenging matchup. Alshon Jeffery is no different, as he’ll likely see a heavy dose of Marcus Peters.

Since Peters entered the NFL, no player has more interceptions. In 2016, he was able to limit the number of big plays he gave up, while still being one of the best ball hawks in the NFL.

However, Peters ins’t a typical “shutdown” corner. He does not travel with a player across the field. He plays the left corner position. Jeffery spends almost all of his time on the outside and can bounce between the left and right side of the field. We saw Nelson Agholor as the primary slot receiver for the Eagles, so Jeffery won’t avoid Peters completely.

I don’t believe in Jeffery’s volume yet. Drawing Josh Norman in week 1 was tough. Jeffery did catch a two-point conversion, so maybe he will get an increase in red zone targets if the situation presents itself this Sunday.

Overall, I have faith that Jeffery will emerge and start producing as a WR1, just not this week. Jeffery is firmly on my week 2 DFS don’ts.

DeVante Parker: FanDuel Price $6,400

week 2 DFS don'ts

The arrival of Jay Cutler has placed some lofty expectations on the talented DeVante Parker (Photo Courtesy of; Fantasy Alarm).

I was incredibly excited about DeVante Parker’s prospects in week 1 vs. Tampa Bay. I’m not so excited about him this week, as he’ll face one of the best cornerback tandems in the NFL in Jason Verrett and Casey Hayward.

On Monday night, the Chargers’ secondary held Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders to eight catches on 14 targets for a total of 93 yards. Also, neither player saw a target inside the red zone.

In the aforementioned report about the best cornerbacks of 2016, Hayward was third. Like Rhodes, he only allowed a 51 percent catch rate out of the 100 times he as targeted.

Hayward was the highest targeted corner on that list, which may have been why he lead the NFL with seven interceptions. He has a track record of succeeding against great players like Mike Evans and Amari Cooper.

From a physical standpoint, Parker is more like Thomas than Sanders. Both players have unique speed and athleticism for their size. Thomas is superior in terms of run-after-the-catch ability. This is mostly because we haven’t seen that much of Parker thus far. Jay Cutler has openly said he likes targeting him, and Parker only needs one play to pay off his $6,400 price tag.

Sadly, I don’t see it happening this week. Thus, he’s on my week 2 DFS don’ts list.

 

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2017 AFC East division preview

2017 AFC East division preview

The NFL regular season is fast approaching. The Chiefs and Patriots will be kicking off the 2017-2018 NFL season this week. In the meantime, Hagan’s Haus will be bringing you the divisional previews and predictions of how teams will finish in their respective divisions. Without further ado, here is the 2017 AFC East division preview.

4: New York Jets

2017 AFC East division preview

(Photo Credit: JULIO CORTEZ/AP)

Last season: 5-11

Strength of schedule: 8

Is it worth it to do a preview on the Jets? Let’s just stick a fork in them right now and put them on the clock. New York had an underwhelming season last year and seemed to completely blow up the roster and start a rebuild. There is little to look forward to this season so Jet fans start watching college football and look for your next quarterback.

Josh McCown will be under center for an offense who will have two really solid running backs, Matt Forte and Bilal Powell. This duo combined to lead the Jets to 112.6 rush yards per game. That was the only true positive from the offense as they ranked 30th in points. This season they won’t have Eric Decker or Brandon Marshall and their starting receivers will be Jalin Marshall and Robby Anderson. There won’t be much of a passing attack, making the Jets one dimensional and predictable.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Jets have plenty of talent to be a good unit. The issue is that the offense is going to hurt them by keeping them on the field often. Up front, Leonard Williams and Muhammad Wilkerson will be a handful for any offensive line. The two combined for 126 tackles and 11.5 sacks.

The play of the defensive line should make life easy for the linebackers. With a good defensive front, linebackers Daren Lee, Demario Davis and Jordan Jenkins should be free to fly around and make plays.

Cornerback play will be suspect with Buster Skrine and Morris Claiborne but the secondary will be led by a fantastic safety duo. Marcus Maye and rookie Jamal Adams, the fantastic duo, have turned heads in both practices and in the preseason. These two will be feared and are the future of the New York Jets’ defense.

The entire defense should be very improved and part of the reason is the only way to go is up from a defense that gave up 25.6 points per game. They also ranked 29th in interceptions (8), 29th in sacks (27) and 17th in passing yards allowed per game (243.6). Todd Bowles is known for his defense but left it in Arizona.

With a rebuild going on in New York, the Jets will be difficult to watch. The defense will be talented but an offense with no playmakers and no big play ability will bring the team down. It doesn’t help that they have the eighth toughest schedule. J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets, are now on the clock.

Prediction: 1-15 (0-6), miss the playoffs

win: Jax

3: Miami Dolphins

2017 AFC East division preview

(Photo Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)

Last season: 10-6

Strength of schedule: 6

Miami lost their quarterback for the season so they went to the broadcast booth and pulled out Jay Cutler. Cutler is no franchise savior. He wasn’t even in shape because according to him, quarterbacks don’t need to be in great cardiovascular shape. With that being said, his best season came under Adam Gase so this move is intriguing. In that season, Cutler had 3,659 yards 21 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a career high 92.3 quarterback rating.

The Dolphins offensive line is one of the worst in the league according to Pro Football Focus. In the past, bad offensive lines have brought out the worst in Cutler. Aside from the offensive line, Cutler will have some really solid weapons around him. At running back, Jay Ajaya is poised to have another big season. Ajaya rushed for 1,272 yards and eight touchdowns to lead the Dolphins on the ground.

The receiving corp is one of the most talented in the league. Jarvis Landry is the headliner with 288 receptions, 3,051 yards and 13 touchdowns in his first three seasons. Alongside the stud Landry, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills create mismatches while teams focus on the running game and Landry. Parker and Stills combined for 98 receptions, 1,470 yards and 13 touchdowns. These weapons should make life easy for Cutler but he has had many weapons in the past and still found ways to mess up.

Cutler used to have Matt Forte in the backfield. He also has had receivers Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall but still had rough seasons. Cutler may make some great throws over the course of the season but when push comes to shove he will also do something boneheaded and cost his team dearly.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Dolphins are going to struggle. Last season they gave up 23.8 points per game, ranking 18th. The defensive line couldn’t stop the run, giving up 140.4 yards per game nor could they get pressure on the quarterback accumulating just 33 sacks. Cameron Wake is 35 years old and has lost a step over the past few seasons.

With an at best average defensive line, the linebacking corps and defensive backs will struggle to succeed. This defense was ranked at the bottom of the league last season and are in a worse position this season. As Jay Cutler begins to turn the ball over, the defense will be in bad situations making the numbers worse. Miami is in for a rough season.

Prediction: 4-12 (2-4), miss the playoffs

losses: TB, @LAC, NO, Ten, @ATL, Oak, @Car, @NE, Den, NE, @Buf, @KC

2: Buffalo Bills

2017 AFC East division preview

(Photo Credit:http://www.buffalobills.com)

Last season: 7-9

Strength of schedule: 5

Buffalo is under a new regime and fans are hoping this group of coaches will finally end the playoff drought which has lasted since 1999. Sean McDermott was hired to improve the defense and get the Bills back to the promised land.

In order for the Bills to have a good season, and make the playoffs, they must ride LeSean McCoy there. Buffalo led the NFL in rushing yards last season at 164.4 yards per game. Their fantastic ground game led the Bills to the 10th best scoring offense, averaging 24.9 points per game. The rushing attack will still be one of the leagues best behind a top 10 offensive line.

The big improvement the Bills will see this season will be in the passing game. Buffalo averaged a dreadful 189.8 passing yards last season. They drafted Zay Jones and traded for Jordan Matthews to give Tyrod Taylor more reliable weapons. Sammy Watkins was shipped out because of his inability to stay healthy. Jones and Matthews will be a solid duo barring any injuries.

As mentioned, McDermott was hired to fix a defense that allowed 23.6 points per game and a rush defense that gave up 133.1 yards per game. The defensive line is very talented and will improve the rush defense under the tutelage of McDermott. His defenses have had a reputation for doing so while in Carolina. In his last four seasons as defensive coordinator, McDermotts’ defenses ranked second, 16th, fourth and sixth in rush defense.

Buffalo will be an improved football team and will fight for a wild card spot but the tough schedule will make it difficult. The Bills may not end the drought this season but are heading in the right direction.

Prediction: 8-8 (4-2), wildcard candidate

losses: @Car, Den, @Cin, TB, @KC, NE, Ind, @NE

1: New England Patriots

2017 AFC East division preview

(Photo Credit: https://www.usatoday.com)

Last season: 14-2

Strength of schedule: 12

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are the best quarterback and head coach duo of all-time. Both are the G.O.A.T’s and as long as these two are around, the Patriots will be in contention. New England has won eight straight division titles and 14 of the last 17. Blah blah blah, we know all this already and we know that the Patriots are going to be damn good this season. This preview is a typical preview of the Patriots.

The Patriots’ offseason was the rich just getting richer. New England acquired Brandin Cooks, Dwayne Allen and Stephon Gillmore. Rob Gronkowski and Dion Lewis will also be returning from their injuries. Brady will have plenty of weapons to have another legendary season.

There is nothing to worry about with the offense and as long as father time doesn’t sack Tom Brady, the Patriots will have one of the best offenses in the NFL.

What will really make the Patriots great again is their defense. Last season New England ranked first in points allowed at 15.6 per game. The front four of Lawerence Guy, Alan Branch, Malcolm Brown and Trey Flowers aren’t superstars but will do their job sufficiently enough that the rest of the defense will be able to make plays.

The Patriots’ secondary is going to be close to unstoppable. It may even be the best secondary in the NFL. Stephon Gillmore and Malcolm Butler are going to lock down both sides of the field. Safeties Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty will patrol the middle of the field against the run and the pass. It is scary that Belichick will have this much talent to work with.

The Patriots are a world class organization that knows how to win. Until they show signs of falling off the map, they are the prohibitive favorites to not only win the division but the conference as well.

Prediction: 14-2 (6-0), division champion

losses: ATL, @Oak

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Sammy Watkins, Jordan Matthews fantasy value following trade

The Buffalo Bills had a busy Friday after trading their star wide receiver Sammy Watkins to the Los Angeles Rams for cornerback E.J. Gaines and picks. They quickly found their replacement, trading for receiver Jordan Matthews from the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for cornerback Ronald Darby. After these trades, how will Watkins and Matthews fantasy values change with their new teams?

Sammy Watkins to the Rams

The Rams finally get their No.1 wide receiver they have been searching for. While this trade helps the Rams in getting a top target, it may not help Watkins’ fantasy value.

Sammy Watkins, Jordan Matthews Fantasy Value After Trade

Sammy Watkins (Photo by: billswire.usatoday.com)

He goes from catching passes from Tyrod Taylor, an excellent deep-ball thrower, to catching passes from Jared Goff.

While Goff was a rookie last year, he really struggled in the seven games he played. Last year, he completed a miserable 54.5 percent of his passes, had a 5-to-7 TD/INT ratio and averaged 5.3 yards per attempt. Now he is learning a new offense under Sean McVay.

But for fantasy players, they can’t ignore the talent that Watkins has. He has per-16 game averages of 66 receptions, 1,063 yards and seven touchdowns. He can create separation in the middle of the field, but he’s also a truly dangerous deep threat, as evidenced by his career average of 16.1 yards per catch.

Watkins has true talent, but his career has been plagued with injuries. Watkins has missed 11 games over his last two seasons including eight in 2016 because of a foot injury that required multiple surgeries. But this year he is finally healthy.

As mentioned before, he will be the clear first option for the Rams and for that he won’t drop to far in drafts because of his role. But when you combine his injury concerns, with the fact that he’ll be playing with an inexperienced starting quarterback along with a new offense, there is major risk mixed in with that upside.

Watkins becomes a high-end WR3 around the fourth or fifth round rather than a mid-range WR2 in Buffalo.

Jordan Matthews to the Bills

After trading Watkins, the Bills found their replacement in Jordan Matthews from Philadelphia. Matthews would’ve been the second to third option in the slot in Philadelphia, but here in Buffalo he will line up both in slot and the outside as the new No. 1 receiver. This trade should increase his fantasy value.

As mentioned in Philly, he would have seen a decrease in targets. Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith were both brought in during the offseason, Zach Ertz is a steady target at tight end, Nelson Agholor is still hanging on a thread and rookie Mack Hollins looks like a legitimate talent.

Sammy Watkins, Jordan Matthews Fantasy Value After Trade

Jordan Matthews (Photo by: phillysportsnetwork.com)

Even though Buffalo isn’t a pass-heavy offense, Matthews should find increased targets. He will be lining up with veteran Anquan Boldin and rookie Zay Jones who are both slot receivers.

From 2014-16, these are the percentages of routes from the slot: Jones at 68.1 percent at East Carolina, Boldin at 70.4 percent and Matthews at 84.5 percent. Matthews will have a great opportunity to get the ball from Tyrod Taylor. Taylor is an emerging talent at quarterback totaling 37 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and 7.4 yards per attempt over the last two years.

One problem that comes with any trade is how quick he can learn the offense. Like Watkins with the Rams, Matthews is in a new offense and where will he be lined up in the offense. I think he will be all over, especially with the receivers they have in Buffalo.

There is a lot of potential for Matthews. He is an interesting sleeper that will be taken around the eighth or ninth round. He will have a better situation from a fantasy perspective.

Who will do better in 2017?

Watkins is a young talent who was taken with the fourth pick back in 2014. Matthews is entering the prime of his career. With a better situation, Matthews will have the better fantasy season.

Watkins will have his moments, but an inexperienced quarterback and a very new offense for the young quarterback will cause problems. Where Watkins has thrived is catching passes over 20-yards. Goff isn’t known as a terrific deep-ball thrower. Goff completed 8/23 passes which traveled 15+ in the air last season, out of 205 attempts.

Matthews has the same issue with a new offense, but has an established quarterback with experience. This is a player who has per-16 game averages of 78 receptions, 930 yards and seven touchdowns through three seasons. Matthews has had at least 800 receiving yards in all three seasons, and he scored eight touchdowns in his first two campaigns and I expect him now to repeat this in Buffalo.

 

Featured image from wday.com

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2017 NFC East division

2017 NFC East division preview

The NFL regular season is fast approaching. In the blink of an eye, Sep. 7 will arrive and the Chiefs and Patriots will be kicking off. In the meantime, Hagan’s Haus will be bringing you the divisional previews and predictions of how teams will finish in their respective divisions. Without further adu, here is the 2017 NFC East division preview.

4. Washington Redskins

Last season: 8-7-1

Strength of Schedule: 7

Last season was an up and down one for the Redskins. This year the schedule makers didn’t make it any easier on them. Aside from playing in the tough NFC East, Washington must also play the AFC West. The AFC West is arguably the best division in football. As if the tough schedule wasn’t enough to deal with, the Redskins have glaring weaknesses on both sides of the ball.

2017 NFC East division preview

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Offensively, their line is average but consistent. The running back situation is somewhat of a mess. None of Washington’s running backs had more than 750 yards last season.

Rob Kelley, Matt Jones and Chris Thompson all got significant carries and return this season. Washington also drafted Samaje Perine from Oklahoma. Without a clear cut go-to running back, the offense will be one dimensional.

The strength of the offense is the passing attack, but it isn’t even all that great on paper. Kirk Cousins is an average NFL quarterback who will not lead a team to a Super Bowl. In their division, he won’t even be able to get them into the playoffs this season.

He doesn’t have the best of receivers either. His number one receiver is a converted quarterback. Cousins’ other viable offensive weapon is tight end Jordan Reed who has had nagging injuries keeping him out of the lineup.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Redskins are going to struggle. The Redskins gave up 23.9 points per game last season because they couldn’t stop the run. Teams ran for an average of 119.8 yards per game. This problem wasn’t addressed in the draft or in free agency. Washington did draft Jonathan Allen, but are playing him at defensive end and his strength is against the pass.

With the lack of a running game and a defense that can’t stop the run, teams will control the flow of the game and the clock against the Redskins. Washington will be playing from behind and Kirk Cousins will have a higher interception total this season. Their seventh ranked schedule is also a major reason on why they will have a rough year.

Prediction: 5-11 (3-3), miss the playoffs

3. Philadelphia Eagles

Last season: 7-9

Strength of Schedule: (T) 10

The Eagles made a lot of moves in the offseason to help out second-year quarterback Carson Wentz. They made it a point to do so because the second season is the most important in the development of a quarterback.

2017 NFC East division preview

(Photo Credit: http://www.csnphilly.com)

Heading into the season the Eagles have the best ranked offensive line according to Pro Football Focus. That line should pave the way for a solid year by LeGarrette Blount, who led the league in rushing touchdowns last season.

Wentz was also given a new huge weapon at receiver in Alshon Jeffery. Jordan Mathews, who had 73 receptions in 2016, returns to play alongside Jeffery. Carson Wentz is also blessed with a really good tight end, Zach Ertz, who led the team in catches with 78.

The Eagles have a very talented defense that allowed 20.7 points per game last season. The defense hasn’t changed much and should play similar to the way they did last season.

Philly has road games outside the division against the Chiefs, Panthers and Seahawks. They also have home games against the Cardinals, Broncos and Raiders. A tough division and tough schedule are what may hold Philadelphia back this season.

Prediction: 7-9 (3-3), miss the playoffs

2. New York Giants

Last season: 11-5

Strength of Schedule: 8

2017 NFC East division preview

(Photo Credit: https://rukkus.com/)

New York’s season came to an abrupt end in the playoffs against the Packers after a 38-13 thrashing. It was just a bad game for the Giants and not a true indication of how good they really are. In reality, the Giants are a team capable of winning the Super Bowl and it starts with their defense.

Quietly, the Giants had one of the best defenses in the league last season. They gave up just 17.8 points per game, which was second best in the NFL. Their defensive line got lots of pressure and the amazing secondary put fear into opposing quarterbacks.

The weak spot of the defense is the linebacking corp and if they can just be average, then the Giants will have an elite defense yet again.

Offensively, the Giants can sleep easy knowing Eli Manning is still under center. He doesn’t get the shine like most Super Bowl winning quarterbacks, but he hasn’t missed a game since before Nov. 21, 2004. Manning is consistent and the team knows they will be able to get 4,000 yards and 25 or more touchdowns from him.

He has Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram as targets for 2017. This is going to make his job easy.

The only question mark on the offense is at running back. Paul Perkins is the man but can he shoulder the load for an entire season? He only carried the ball 112 times for 456 yards last season and will be taking over for Rashad Jennings. If he can be the workhorse, the Giants will have a dangerous offense that can win them a lot of games.

New York has talent on both sides of the ball. They will continue to build off of last season’s success and have another solid campaign in 2017 but it won’t be good enough to knock off the Cowboys for the division title.

Prediction: 10-6 (3-3), wildcard candidate

1. Dallas

Last season: 13-3

Strength of Schedule: (T) 10

2016 was a great year for Dallas as they ran out to a 13-3 record and a first-round bye. Unfortunately, their defense let them down against one of the game’s best quarterbacks, Aaron Rodgers. Dallas fell to the Packers 34-31 in the divisional round of the playoffs and their surprising season came to end. This year there are Super Bowl expectations for America’s team.

2017 NFC East division preview

(Photo Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)

The entire team is led by their running game. It is no secret how talented the offensive line is in Dallas and the Cowboys used it to their advantage. Rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott led the NFL in rushing yards with 1,631 yards last season. The success of their running game took pressure off rookie quarterback Dak Prescott.

Prescott should take a leap this year as the Cowboys will attempt to open up the playbook. Dak threw for 3,667 yards, 23 touchdowns and four interceptions. The formula for success is still to run the ball, but with a better understanding of the offense and solid weapons around him, Dak could have an even better sophomore season.

The issue with the Cowboys is their defense but more specifically, their pass defense. Dallas addressed their defense by adding Taco Charlton to try and create quick pressure on opposing quarterbacks. They also drafted Jourdan Lewis out of Michigan, who was one of the best corners in the nation. To improve the secondary even further, they signed Nolan Carroll from the division rival Eagles.

All these moves should improve the defense but there is a potential superstar, who isn’t a new acquisition, waiting to be unleashed.

Jaylon Smith was a consensus top five pick last season before he blew his knee out in a bowl game. Smith sat out last season after the Cowboys drafted him in the second round. If Smith can stay healthy, he will be a Pro-Bowl caliber player. Adding him to this defense could be the difference in losing to Green Bay and heading to Minnesota for Super Bowl LII.

With all the talent the Cowboys have on offense, the defense just needs to be average. They will be better than average with the moves they made in the offseason and the Cowboys will be a legitimate Super Bowl contender this season.

Prediction: 12-4, division champion

 

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Super Bowl Series: NFC East

Super Bowl series 2017: NFC East

Football is right around the corner and The Game Haus is going to get you ready for the 2017-18 NFL season. The Super Bowl Series is going to explain how every team in the NFL can win Super Bowl LII. The Super Bowl Series will be divided into eight editions, one for each division. The first edition will be Super Bowl Series: NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

Super Bowl Series: NFC East

(Photo Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports)

It’s not going out on a limb to say the Dallas Cowboys can win the Super Bowl. Last season, Dallas earned the number one seed in the NFC but lost to Green Bay 34-31 in the divisional round. The experience was valuable for a relatively young team.

The Cowboys are a talented offensive team. Dallas’ offensive line ranked second in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. This allowed rookie running back Ezekiel Elliot to lead the league in rushing with 1,631 yards. Fellow rookie Dak Prescott was named Rookie of the Year after throwing for 3,667 yards, 23 touchdowns and just four interceptions.

The second-ranked offensive line paved the way for the NFL’s leading rusher and they only gave up 25 sacks on the season.

To win the Super Bowl, the offense just needs to do what they did last season. If Elliot leads the NFL in rushing and Prescott protects the football, this offense will continue to be one of the best.

Winning the Super Bowl for the Cowboys comes down to their defense. Dallas gave up the fifth-fewest points last year (19.1) but a lot of that is due to a running game that kept them off the field.

Breaking down the Cowboys defense shows that they must improve their passing defense. The Cowboys ranked first in the NFL in rushing defense giving up only 83.5 yards per game. Dallas gave up 260.4 yards passing per game which ranked 26th.

In summary, the Cowboys offense needs to replicate their success from last season. Defensively, the Cowboys must continue to stop the run and bring down the passing yards allowed per game. This is what it will take for the Dallas Cowboys to win their sixth Vince Lombardi Trophy.

New York Giants

Super Bowl Series: NFC East

(Photo Credit: AP / Bill Kostroun)

Similar to the Cowboys, it is not far-fetched to say the New York Giants can win Super Bowl LII. The Giants went 11-5 and earned a wild card berth. New York lost their wild card game to Green Bay 38-13.

Eli Manning is a two-time Super Bowl MVP and champion and the leader of this offense. For the Giants to win the Super Bowl this season, Eli Manning will have to have a minimum of 30 touchdowns and 4,000 yards which he is capable of.

From that 4,000 plus passing yards, Odell Beckham needs at least 1,300. If Odell adds 10 touchdowns as well, then the Giants’ offense will be good enough to make the playoffs and compete for a Super Bowl.

As surprising as it is, the Giants will be led by their very talented defense. The front four is loaded and led by players like Olivier Vernon, Jason Pierre-Paul and Damon Harrison. These guys will need to continue improve their pressure on opposing quarterbacks. New York ranked 14th with 35 sacks and that must improve to take that step towards a Super Bowl victory.

The weakest unit of the defense is the linebacking corp. If the linebackers are average they can still help the Giants have a top 10 defense.

New York’s secondary is one of the best in the league. Janoris Jenkins, Landon Collins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie combined for 14 interceptions. Continuing that kind of success will only help the Giants’ chances.

The Giants strength will be the defense and if the offense can keep up the Giants can win the Super Bowl.

Washington Redskins

Super Bowl Series: NFC East

(Photo Credit: Bleacher Report)

The Washington Redskins finished last season 8-7-1 and missed the playoffs. Making the playoffs is going to be a difficult task considering how good the NFC East is. It is going to take a lot for the Redskins to win the Super Bowl.

Washington will need Kirk Cousins to take the next step as a quarterback. That next step is becoming a Pro-Bowl and MVP-caliber quarterback which is asking too much of him. Last season he had 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Those numbers need to be 30-plus touchdowns and less than 10 interceptions.

Washington also has a running back by committee backfield and that must change. One of these running backs needs to step up and have a 1,200-yard season. There must be that go-to guy in crunch time.

The receiving corp is not going to blow your socks off. These guys will have to play over their head and take some of the pressure off of Jordan Reed to help this offense succeed.

Washington is going to be a project defensively. The Redskins don’t have starters listed on their depth chart at either defensive end spot or at strong safety. Josh Norman and Ryan Kerrigan are going to have to lead by example and carry this defense to a top-five ranking if the Redskins want to win the Super Bowl.

In short, for the Redskins to win Super Bowl LII, Kirk Cousins will need to be in the MVP discussion and the defense needs to play out of their mind as a top-five defense.

Philadelphia Eagles

Super Bowl Series: NFC East

(Photo Credit: http://www.csnphilly.com)

Philly finished fourth in the NFC East with a record of 7-9 last season. Considering the Eagles had a rookie quarterback, it was a pretty good season. Philadelphia made a lot of moves to try and build a playoff team.

The acquisitions of LeGarrette Blount and Alshon Jeffery will go a long way to helping Carson Wentz avoid a sophomore slump. For the Eagles to win the Super Bowl, Wentz must have a huge year. What would that huge year look like? Wentz would have to double his touchdowns from 16 to at least 32 and cut down on his 14 interceptions.

Alshon Jeffery will simply have to stay healthy. Jeffery is elite when healthy but he has missed 11 games over the past two seasons. Torrey Smith will have to turn back the clock and mirror his 2013 season in which he caught 65 balls for 1,128 yards. Jordan Matthews will also have to step up his game.

The running game will need to take some pressure off the passing game. Blount led the NFL in rushing touchdowns last season (18) with the Patriots and repeating that will push the Eagles to a higher plateau. Ryan Mathews needs to stay healthy which may be impossible because he has never played a full season in his seven years in the NFL.

The Eagles defense is full of playmakers and stars like Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Jordan Hicks and Malcolm Jenkins. Last year Philadelphia ranked 12th in points allowed at 20.7 points per game. If the Eagles want to make the playoffs and win Super Bowl LII they must improve on that to alleviate pressure off of Carson Wentz and the rest of the offense.

If the Eagles remain healthy, get a huge jump in play from Carson Wentz and the defense allows fewer points than they did last season then the Philadelphia Eagles can win their first Super Bowl in franchise history.

 

Thank you for checking out the Super Bowl Series: NFC East. Stay tuned the remaining editions of Super Bowl Series.

Super Bowl Series: AFC East

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