Fantasy football waiver wire week 14

Waiver wire pickups for Week 14 and the playoffs

Congratulations! If you are taking interest to this article, that means you most likely made your leagues’ playoffs.

It was an interesting fantasy season. We’ve seen unlikely fantasy stars such as Alex Smith of the Kansas City Chiefs emerge as a weekly starter as the top quarterback for the first eight weeks. We also saw Ezekiel Elliott get suspended at the stretch of the season. Even the last week of the season, we saw a crazy end with Smith, Josh McCown and Blake Bortles as top finishers at quarterback while Tom Brady and Matt Ryan delivered single-digit numbers.

The biggest headline in fantasy was injuries. Big names like Aaron Rodgers, Odell Beckham Jr., David Johnson, Andrew Luck, Julian Edelman and others suffered injuries either before the season or midway through.

The big storylines go on and on, but there are more important things to cover as it is playoff time. The purpose of this article is to start the playoffs right by making decisions to advance to the next week, even if you earned a first-round bye. Here are the top waiver wire pickups for the start of the playoffs.

Running Back Peyton Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Fantasy football waiver wire week 14

Peyton Barber (Photo from NFL.com)

With Doug Martin missing time due to a concussion, many expected Jacquizz Rodgers to be the main back. However, it was Peyton Barber who led the way with 23 carries for 102 yards with a team-high 41 receiving yards on four catches. He racked up the first 100-yard rushing game for the Bucs this season. No one expected that.

If Martin is not available, Barber should continue to get carries and take over as the top dog in the Bucs’ backfield. If Martin does make a return, expect Barber to be the second back after his performance against the Packers.

He is set to be a RB2 as they play the Lions, who rank 28th against running backs.

Running Backs Theo Riddick and Tion Green, Detroit Lions

Ameer Abdullah’s neck injury opened things up in the Lions’ backfield as both running backs found the end zone. Theo Riddick gained 62 total yards on nine carries and five catches while Green had 51 yards on 11 carries.

As for which back to have, there is no wrong way to go depending on the league. Riddick is a better pick for PPR leagues and Green is better for standard leagues. Either way, both should have a solid day splitting reps against the Buccaneers run defense, which has yielded high rushing averages and lots of touchdowns over its last three games.

Look for Riddick to have more upside in fantasy especially with many banged-up backs and receivers. He has flex value in standard leagues. For Green, he should continue to be the preferred option around the goal line.

Wide Receiver Marquise Goodwin, San Francisco 49ers

Fantasy football waiver wire week 14

Marquise Goodwin (Photo from ninersnation.com)

With Pierre Garcon out for the year, Marquise Goodwin in the last four games has gained 68, 83, 78 and 99 yards, good for an average of 82 yards per game. Even with the switch at quarterback, Goodwin remained the top target for Jimmy Garoppolo. Along with that 99-yard outing against the Chicago Bears, he caught all of his eight targets. It seems Garoppolo has possibly found his No. 1 target for next year, and this is a good way to the end the year for Goodwin.

He has great matchups in the next two weeks against the Houston Texans, who rank 27th against receivers, and the Tennessee Titans, who are right in front of the Texans against receivers. This makes him a viable WR3/flex start the next two weeks.

Wide Receiver Jermaine Kearse, New York Jets

This could go either way, but Jermaine Kearse is worth a look for depth. He has at least eight targets in each of his last three, and at least 15 fantasy points in each of his last two. Against the Chiefs, he caught nine of his 10 targets for 157 yards. Its evident that Robby Anderson is the top target, which make defenses try to limit him and put softer coverage on Kearse. Josh McCown has no problem leaning on Kearse in their pass-heavy offense.

He has three tough games ahead of him against the Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints and the Los Angeles Chargers, all ranked 12th or higher against receivers. The matchup next week against Denver isn’t the worst matchup as the Miami Dolphins torched them with 35 points. Dolphin receivers caught 11 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown.

Quarterback Josh McCown, New York Jets

My dark horse pickup, especially with the injuries to Tyrod Taylor and Matthew Stafford, is Josh McCown of the New York Jets. He had another solid fantasy day with multiple touchdowns in a high-scoring game against the Chiefs.

In his last eight he has posted double-digit points with over 20 points in his last two. He ranks as the 14th quarterback in fantasy this week according to Fantasy Pros, which is better than Alex Smith, Derek Carr and Jameis Winston, who are all on fantasy teams. Now he mostly picks that up with some garbage time, but the Jets have been a solid team all season at 5-7 within playoff contention. McCown continues to defy the odds and gets better as the season progresses.

McCown should be a QB2 on fantasy teams just in case, especially if you have Taylor and/or Stafford. Like Kearse, he isn’t a bad matchup against Denver.

 

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Fantasy Football Week 9 winners

Top five fantasy stars of Week 9

Week 9 of the NFL season has come and gone. As we have passed the halfway point of the season, we had some big fantasy performances this week. If you had these players (or if you got lucky) you feel pretty good about your team this week. Here are the top five fantasy stars of Week 9.

Carson Wentz, Quarterback, Philadelphia Eagles

Wentz had a day against the Denver Broncos, throwing four touchdowns in a 51-23 blowout.

Fantasy Football Week 9 winners

Carson Wentz (Photo from grandforksherald.com)

The Broncos defense hasn’t allowed 18 or more fantasy points to any quarterback in their first seven games of the season. However, Wentz steamrolled one of the top defenses in the league.

For Wentz, it’s all about consistency, and we have seen that in his last five games. He has tossed 17 touchdowns and just three picks in the last five.

In seven of the nine games he has played, he has been a top eight quarterback. His elusiveness as a passer and a runner has made him a high-end QB1 with his consistent play.

Wentz now has a league-leading 23 touchdown passes and is continuing to have what looks like an MVP season. After a bye in Week 10, he will face the Dallas Cowboys the following week.

I expect him to have another good day with Dallas’ defense being in the lower tier against the quarterback this season.

T.Y. Hilton, Wide Receiver, Indianapolis Colts

Many of us had given up hope on Indianapolis Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton, but he finally broke through. It looks as if there is some chemistry developing between him and his quarterback Jacoby Brissett as well.

Fantasy Football Week 9 winners

T.Y. Hilton (Photo from tvasports.ca)

Hilton has been struggling all season, with some of it being due to not having his quarterback Andrew Luck. For the first eight weeks, he only averaged 66 yards and had only one touchdown.

But he was a beast on Sunday with 175 yards and two touchdowns, with one being 45 yards and the other was a 80-yard score. His 34 points in PPR and 29 in non-PPR gives some life to fantasy owners as there seems to have been a jumpstart in the Colts offense at least throwing the ball. Hilton has a trio of long touchdowns, but other than that, he has been kept out of the end zone.

It’s encouraging to see Hilton finally have a good game, but he will continue to be a boom or bust player for the rest of the season.

Quarterback Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams

The first two quarterbacks picked last season had stellar performances. Jared Goff had a similar day to Wentz as he torched the New York Giants defense.

Goff had a career day, throwing for 311 yards and four touchdowns while completing 14 of his 22 passes in a 51-17 blowout. The highest scoring offense has continued its dominance, and part of it is Goff playing well.

This is a guy that started his career with an 0-7 record as starter heading into 2017 with a 63.6 passer rating. Now he looks like the first overall pick the Rams were hoping for.

He has now scored at least 16 points five times in the last eight games, including 28 on Sunday. Goff averaged an outstanding 14.1 yards per attempt thanks to a pair of long touchdown passes, one a 52-yard strike to Robert Woods on a third and 33 and then a 67-yard deep ball to Sammy Watkins just over two minutes later. It’s just one of those feel-good stories when it comes to Goff.

Goff has gained some attention across fantasy as he was the 13th most started quarterback according to ESPN. He will continue his good play against a struggling Houston Texans defense.

Running back Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints

What a season rookie Alvin Kamara is having, both as a runner and a pass catcher. Even though this is his eighth game, he had a career day in fantasy with 25 points and 31 points in PPR.

Fantasy Football Week 9 winners

Alvin Kamara (Photo from buffalonews.com)

The Saints back contributed 152 total yards against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Kamara rushed 10 times for 68 yards and a touchdown and hauled in six of seven targets for 84 yards and another score.

The versatile rookie made his presence felt again, leading the Saints in receiving yardage while posting his best reception total since Week 4. He also posted his second straight week scoring a rushing touchdown for the first time in his career. Kamara also for the first time scored a receiving and a rushing score in the same game. The Saints seem to have found their pairing with Kamara and Mark Ingram.

He continues to be one the best pass catching backs in the league as he and rookie Christian McCaffrey are the only backs with at least three receptions in every game this season. They play the Bills next week and could have a solid day as a pass catcher.

TIght End Evan Engram, New York Giants

While the Giants struggled, Evan Engram had a solid day against the Rams. Engram had four catches for 70 yards and a score.

This may not seem like a star to most, but Engram has been lights out the last three games, scoring over 15 in three straight. He has established himself as the first target in a struggling Giant offense. He led the team in targets and tied for the most yards. Engram found the end zone in the fourth on a 10-yard pass from Eli Manning. He has posted at least 60 receiving yards in four of his last five games while reaching the end zone in each of his last three.

Engram has had a solid season even with the Giants woes on offense and should be considered a viable TE1 option. Expect Engram to have another solid outing next week against the winless San Francisco 49ers.

 

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Top rookie quarterback seasons

Top rookie quarterback seasons of the 2000s

Although Deshaun Watson lost in a shootout to Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks, the rookie quarterback from Clemson has been nothing short of spectacular for the Houston Texans. After a four-touchdown performance on Sunday, Watson now has the record for most touchdown passes in a player’s first seven NFL games with 19. We are only halfway through the season, and Watson already has the rookie record for most three-passing touchdown games in a season with four.

How was this man the third quarterback taken in the draft? How did the Browns not grab him first overall? More importantly, how was Tom Savage the original starter for the Texans? Nonetheless, Watson looks like a franchise quarterback, something that Houston has never seen before.

Will Watson finish his rookie season better than these standouts? Here, we have developed a list of rookie quarterbacks from the 2000s, who had stellar first seasons.

Ben Roethlisberger (2004)

13 starts: 13-0, 18 total TDs, 11 INTs, 66.4 comp. pct., 2,621 yards

It would be almost impossible for anyone to top what Big Ben did to start his professional career. Originally, Roethlisberger was the third quarterback on the depth chart, but the backup, Charlie Batch, went down with an injury in the preseason. Then Tommy Maddox suffered an injury in Week 2, giving the 11th overall pick from Miami (OH) a shot earlier than expected. After almost bringing the Steelers back in their Week 2 loss to Baltimore, Roethlisberger remained the starter for the rest of the season.

Big Ben wound up finishing the regular season with a 13-0 record as a starter. He helped end the New England Patriots record 21-game winning streak by throwing a pair of touchdowns and no turnovers in a 34-20 victory. The following game, Roethlisberger and the Steelers defeated the Philadelphia Eagles, who were 7-0 at the time. At the end of the season, Roethlisberger was unanimously selected as the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Pittsburgh ended up losing to the Patriots, 41-27 in the AFC Championship Game. While Roethlisberger struggled and threw three interceptions, the Steelers had found their quarterback for years to come.

Vince Young (2006)

13 starts: 8-5, 19 total TDs, 13 INTs, 552 rushing yards, 2,199 passing yards

Top rookie quarterback seasons

The comeback kid, Vince Young (Photo from NYDailyNews)

Unlike Roethlisberger, who played with an all-time great defense, Young joined a four-win Titans team after being selected third overall in the 2006 NFL Draft. After Kerry Collins was benched because of an 0-3 start, Young took over and excelled.

He went on to win eight of his thirteen games. Four of those eight wins were fourth-quarter comebacks, including the Titans 24-21 victory over Eli Manning and the Giants. After being down 21-0, Young rallied the troops and statistically had the best game of his career. He finished with 249 passing yards, two touchdowns, 69 rushing yards, and a passer rating of 107.9.

The following week against Eli’s brother Peyton, who had his Colts sitting at 10-1, Young led another come-from-behind win over Indianapolis. This was the first time in NFL history that a rookie quarterback led two 14-point or more comeback wins in the same season.

Due to a Philip Rivers injury, Young was named to the 2007 Pro Bowl. He would also go on to win the NFL Rookie of the Year.

Matt Ryan (2008) 

16 starts: 11-5, 17 total TDs, 11 INTs, 61.1 comp. pct., 3,440 passing yards

The year before Ryan was selected, Atlanta finished 4-12. As a rookie, Ryan led the Falcons to an 11-5 record, which was good enough for a spot in the playoffs.

His first NFL pass resulted in a 62-yard touchdown to Michael Jenkins. He went on to become the first Falcons rookie quarterback to throw for over 3,000 yards in a season. In the history of the NFL, only 12 quarterbacks have thrown for over 3,000 yards in their rookie season.

In his first playoff start, Ryan was up against Kurt Warner, who is 15 years older than Ryan. While Ryan threw a pair of touchdowns, the Falcons ultimately fell to Warner’s Cardinals 30-24. For his stellar regular season, Ryan was named AP NFL Rookie of the Year.

Cam Newton (2011)

16 starts: 6-10, 35 total TDs, 17 INTs, 60.0 comp. pct., 4,051 passing yards

Top rookie quarterback seasons

Super-Cam (Photo from IMG Academy)

Although Newton and the Carolina Panthers only managed to win six games, the Auburn star showed the world why he was the first overall pick in his draft class.

Right off the bat, he became the first rookie to throw for over 400 yards in his first career game. Newton also became the first rookie quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards.

“Superman” Cam was named the NFL Rookie of the Year, and was also an alternate, and later a member of the NFC Pro Bowl team.

 

 

Andrew Luck (2012)

16 starts: 11-5, 28 total TDs, 18 INTs, 4,374 passing yards

Just like Newton, Luck was selected first overall, and was immediately called on to start. The successor to Peyton Manning led the Colts into a Wild Card game, which they ended up losing to the Ravens.

During the season, Luck and the Colts upset Aaron Rodgers’ Packers on a game-winning touchdown pass, in which Luck found Reggie Wayne with 35 seconds left. In Week 9 against Miami, Luck threw for 433 yards, which became the new record for most yards in a game by a rookie quarterback. In a late December game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Luck broke the record for most passing yards in a season.

Russell Wilson (2012)

16 starts: 11-5, 30 total TDs, 10 INTs, 64.1 comp. pct., 3,118 passing yards, 489 rushing yards

Even after the addition of Matt Flynn, Russell Wilson was named the starting quarterback in August. Wilson helped the Seahawks reach 11 regular-season wins and earned his first playoff victory by defeating the Redskins 24-14 in come-from-behind fashion. In the divisional round, Wilson threw for 385 yards, but Seattle fell to Atlanta, 30-28.

Wilson finished the regular season with a passer rating of 100.0, which was good for fourth in the league. His 26 passing touchdowns tied Peyton Manning’s record for most touchdowns thrown by a rookie.

Robert Griffin III (2012)

15 starts: 9-6, 27 total TDs, 5 INTs, 65.6 comp. pct., 3,200 passing yards, 815 rushing yards

Top rookie quarterback seasons

RG3 had a miraculous rookie season. (Photo fromBleacher Report)

As a rookie, RG3 looked like the real deal. In his starting debut, Griffin threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns in a victory over the New Orleans Saints. He became the first rookie quarterback to be named NFC Offensive Player of the Week in a debut game. Griffin was also named September’s Offensive Rookie of the Month.

Following a bye week in November, the Redskins voted RG3 an offensive co-captain. After the nomination, in a game against the Eagles, Griffin became the first rookie in NFL history to throw for 200 yards, pass for four touchdowns, and rush for over 75 yards in a single game.

A lingering knee injury caused Griffin to slow down, and ultimately led to the end of the Redskins season, as Washington was defeated by Seattle in a Wild Card game. He would undergo surgery, and as we know, nothing was the same.

Still, Griffin was selected to the Pro Bowl, and also won the 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

Dak Prescott (2016)

16 starts: 13-3, 29 total TDs, 4 INTs, 67.8 comp. pct, 3,667 passing yards, 104.9 quarterback rating

Tony Romo’s preseason injury changed Dallas forever. Romo now works for CBS, and Prescott is busy leading America’s team.

Last year, Prescott set the records for highest passer rating by a rookie quarterback (104.9) and highest touchdown to interception ratio (5.75:1). His 67.8 completion percentage was good for fourth in the league. Prescott was a major contributor to Dallas’ 11-game winning streak, spanning from Week 2-13.

The Cowboys won the NFC East, but were defeated by the Packers in the divisional round. In that loss to Green Bay, Prescott threw for 302 yards and had a quarterback rating of 103.2. His incredible season made him the obvious choice for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. He edged out his teammate, Ezekiel Elliott, by seven votes.

 

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Andrew Luck fantasy outlook

Is Andrew out of fantasy Luck?

On Wednesday, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck hit another setback. Colts General Manager Chris Ballard said that Luck is suffering from soreness in his surgically repaired shoulder. The soreness is so bad that he is receiving a cortisone shot.

“It’s natural, there’s going to be some pain and soreness when you’re rehabbing an injury,” Ballard said in a press conference on Wednesday. “And it’s been kinda coming along the whole time. It’s just one thing that hasn’t gone away. We’re going to shut it down and calm it down for now.”

He also did deny that they will put him on injured reserve but didn’t answer if he would return this season.

In fantasy, many who picked him hoped he could be part of the second half of the year. Now with the possibility of missing 2017, for those who haven’t cut Luck yet, it is time to do so now. And going forward, Luck should be no longer viewed as a must starter in fantasy.

Andrew Luck going forward

Andrew Luck hasn’t been all that lucky dealing with injuries. He has dealt with them since 2015 which started with a sprained shoulder. He suffered multiple injuries after the sprained shoulder including a lacerated kidney plus multiple muscle pulls in his abdomen in 2015, a frayed labrum in the preseason in 2016 and shoulder surgery in 2017.

Luck also suffered a concussion in 2016 in which he missed only one game. But the injuries since 2015 have been too many. And now with this setback, it’s hard to trust him going forward as your main quarterback in fantasy. However, he’s still Andrew Luck and we have seen what he’s done in the past.

Andrew Luck fantasy outlook

Andrew Luck (Photo by: colts.com)

Since his rookie season in 2012, Luck has ranked in the top 10 of quarterbacks four times out of six seasons and in the top five twice. He has been in the top 10 in passing yards three times and has been in the top five in passing touchdowns twice including the league leader in 2014 with 40.

He has proven consistent in fantasy but the injury problems have always been cause for concern. There’s no question he still can play through injuries as he has done before, but this injury has been nagging him since his surgery and has now suffered a serious setback.

Now I’m not saying he still isn’t a QB1 because he is. But he shouldn’t be an automatic QB1. With multiple injuries, he has been bitten with being injury prone. Now granted he played 15 games in 2016, but he has had some type of injury the past three years. There has to be some caution thinking about his health. But the talent level of Luck shouldn’t keep you away too much.

Jacoby Brissett Outlook

From this point on, Jacoby Brissett will remain the starter and will likely finish barring any injuries.

Andrew Luck fantasy outlook

Jacoby Brissett (Photo by sbnation.com)

Brissett has had a average 2017 season throwing for 1,209 passing yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. He has also run for three touchdowns.

Since week 3, he has scored over 12 fantasy points. His best came in week 3 against the Browns with 29. This is in part to some success is his ability to run the ball himself. But we are now in the stretch and the three of the four defenses against the Colts are ranked in the top 10 against the quarterback.

Two of them are the best two in the league which are this week’s opponent the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Colts after that stretch still face some tough defenses including the Denver Broncos, the Buffalo Bills who rank third against quarterbacks and the Baltimore Ravens who are right behind him.

Brissett remains a low-end QB2 or likely remain in the wavier wire.

2018 outlook

Now it’s bad to think ahead at this point but, depending how he heals in the offseason, there should be caution when it comes to Luck. As mentioned he will probably not play in 2017 and will heal the shoulder for the 2018 season. He should remain a QB1 but have a quality backup depending how well his recovery is.

 

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2017 Fantasy football season

Halfway point in fantasy season

We are about the halfway point of the fantasy season. We have seen it all this season, from rookie success to injured superstars and everything in between. Here are the big headlines at the halfway point of the fantasy season.

Ezekiel Elliott may not be available down the stretch

Ouch! The first big headline we have to get out of the way here. On Thursday, a federal appeals court overturned a district court’s decision in the Ezekiel Elliott case. This means the Dallas Cowboys running back’s six-game suspension has been reinstated.

The worse part is it happened on the bye week, which means his suspension will start next week and he will miss weeks 7-12. This a big blow to fantasy owners of Elliott because he may not be available down the stretch to the playoffs especially with how many running backs are out there. This opens the door for Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden.

The top two quarterbacks are Alex Smith and Deshaun Watson

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith and Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson are the top two quarterbacks in fantasy. What’s even more surprising is both of them are the top players in fantasy. Both were on fire against each other last week, combining for eight passing touchdowns and 62.4 fantasy points.

2017 Fantasy football season

Alex Smith (Photo by: profootballweekly.com)

Not to say Smith is a bad quarterback because he isn’t, but he’s not been known to be a reliable fantasy quarterback. Last year he finished as the 22nd best quarterback in fantasy.

This year he and the Chiefs have turned it around. He’s averaging 23.3 fantasy points per game, which is best in 2017. He is also playing at a MVP caliber and is leading the NFL in both passer rating and completion percentage. Smith has proven to be a legitimate QB1 at this point of the season.

Watson on the other hand has surprised a lot of people. It wasn’t surprising he would be taking over the Texans at quarterback, but not at this level.

After his week 5 performance against the Chiefs, he has proven he can play in this league. He threw for five touchdowns and had a 35 point performance. Through four weeks plus a half of a game in week 1, he’s taken over. He’s has 1,072 passing yards, 7.39 yards per attempt, 12 touchdowns, 179 rushing yards and two scores on the ground. He still may be a QB2, but like Smith, he has proven he can be relied on in good matchups.

The top defense is the JAcksonville JagUars

Jacksonville Jaguars fans finally have something they can cheer for. Their defense is leading all defenses in fantasy points with 82. They have finally had some luck with good draft picks, good free agents signings and a good coaching staff.

2017 Fantasy football season

(Photo by: sports.yahoo.com)

Last week against the Steelers they picked off Ben Roethlisberger five times and returned two of them for touchdowns. That doesn’t happen very often.

The Jags are built around their defense. They have one of the best cornerback tandems in the league with A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey combining for four interceptions. With that in their defensive backfield, along with safeties Barry Church and Tashaun Gipson, they rank fourth in passing yards allowed. They also lead the league in interceptions and total turnovers and are third in fumbles.

The Jags may have some flaws in the run game, but their defensive line sure does get to the quarterbacks. They lead the league in sacks with 20, led by newcomer Calais Campbell along with Malik Jackson, Dante Fowler Jr. and Yannick Ngakoue. They really don’t have a weak spot in that defense. Expect them to continue to play well.

Two rookie running backs are top three in points at the position

Through five weeks, we have seen a couple of rookie running backs playing at a high level. Jacksonville Jaguar Leonard Fournette’s success may not surprise you especially with his role. But the big name leading all running backs is third-round pick Kareem Hunt. The Chiefs’ back has dominated since the opening week.

Let’s start with Hunt, who has dominated at the point of attack. He is in the top three in fantasy points overall and No. 1 among running backs. Hunt has rushed over 100 yards in four of the five games and is averaging 121.8 yards per game. He also leads running backs in yards and runs over 20 yards.

He’s averaging 22.3 fantasy points per game. The Chiefs overall are playing as the best team in the league and expect Hunt to still be the emphasis of their offense both running and passing.

Fournette is a big back and the staple of the Jaguars’ offense. He ranks third among running backs in fantasy and 10th in overall players. Fournette leads the league in touchdowns and rushing attempts. He also has the longest run this year by a running back. Fournette is in the top two in rushing yards and yards per game as well.

It may not be surprising that he’s doing this well, but in the Jag uniform, it surprises a lot of people that a player on that team is finding this much success. Fournette continues to be a top RB option in fantasy. That won’t change going forward.

Key Player Injuries

Some other big headlines this year are big names that have been injured. David Johnson, Odell Beckham Jr., J.J. Watt, Andrew Luck, Derek Carr and Allen Robinson are all hurt. Luck hasn’t played yet and Johnson has been hurt since week 1. Carr could come back this week, but could miss more time. Beckham, Watt and Robinson are all out for the year.

2017 Fantasy football season

David Johnson (Photo by: azcentral.com)

Beckham and Johnson were the top players in fantasy at the start of the season. They were the key part of every team. Now fantasy owners are scrambling each week to find replacements.

Owners of Luck are also trying to find patience for his return after he was rumored to possibly start week 1. The Watt injury is a reflection of last year when the Texans were the No. 1 defense. It’s definitely a big injury, but the Texans have proved they can play without him.

Carr is risky to the end of the season with the possibility of coming back or possibly missing a few more weeks. Robinson has been a big injury as the Jags’ passing game has struggled since his injury.

Conclusion

It’s been an interesting first five weeks of the season. Key players haven’t been relied on and the lower tier players have made an impact. We’ve seen surprising players reach top fantasy status and rookies continuing to pound the running game. We still have six to seven weeks left in the regular season, and it shouldn’t disappoint.

 

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Deshaun Watson fantasy

Don’t believe the Deshaun Watson fantasy hype

The name Deshaun Watson related to fantasy has been synonymous. After nearly pulling off an upset victory in week 3 against the New England Patriots with 301 passing yards, 41 rush yards and a couple touchdowns, he did even more in week 4.

Watson threw four touchdown passes and ran for another against the Tennessee Titans. He had over 300 total yards for the second consecutive week. He is now ranked fifth among fantasy quarterbacks. The impressive thing about this is he didn’t start week 1.

I will say he becomes a top-10 fantasy quarterback from this point on. However, don’t get too comfortable.

The Hype is real

After his decent performance in week 2 against the Cincinnati Bengals, he has followed up with two great performances.

Against Tennessee last week, he was in the driver seat. He hit a 35-yard pass between two defenders to Bruce Ellington after stepping up in the pocket, a play that set up a Lamar Miller read-option rushing touchdown. Then he got his first scoring touchdown on a dart to DeAndre Hopkins, and it didn’t stop there.

Deshaun Watson fantasy

Deshaun Watson (Photo by: chron.com)

He threw to Will Fuller V, who was a second option, for a 16-yard score. Then he had a rushing touchdown and had a 31-14 lead in the first half.

Watson then poured it on in the second half, connecting with Fuller on a fade route from 10 yards out. Then lobbed a red-zone flare pass to Miller for six more. He has done things that rookies usually struggle with. He has had some miscues, but has dominated the past two games.

He had two great weeks in fantasy. Why he has had this hype is because top quarterbacks have struggled. Quarterbacks like Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger and Cam Newton haven’t had the start they were hoping for, and Andrew Luck hasn’t even played yet. This has made fantasy owners desperate, especially those who had Luck and had a struggling backup quarterback.

Watson was a playmaker in college and has adapted to the pros quickly using his arm and his legs. He has also made the Texans one of the most exciting teams to watch.

But heres Why I Don’t believe in the hype

Do I think Watson can be a good NFL quarterback? I do. What he has done on the field early in his career has surprised me, especially against the Patriots. You can’t take that away from him, and I give credit where it’s due.

However, here are the numbers for the defenses he played the last two weeks. They rank 32nd and 28th in terms of yards allowed per game through the air. They are also the only two teams that have already allowed double-digit passing touchdowns.

Deshaun Watson fantasy

Watson (Photo by: si.com)

Again, I’m not taking away what he did or his talent, but Newton struggled the first three weeks and torched the Patriots last week. Alex Smith isn’t known for his fantasy numbers and had a career day against them in week 1. Derek Carr and Russell Wilson had their best fantasy days against the Titans.

Numbers don’t lie. Quarterbacks against these two defenses are must starts every week.

The next test for Watson is next week against the Kansas City Chiefs. Even though they rank near the bottom in passing defense in fantasy, they are right now the best team in the league. They have been know for their defense. If Watson can play like he has against this defense, then my opinion will change.

How to handle Watson this point on

Right now, I don’t view him as a must start every week. As I said, if he plays well against the Chiefs, he could be depending your quarterback options. He’s gonna be a streamable option in the right matchups.

Deshaun Watson fantasy

Watson (Photo by: chron.com)

He has the Chiefs, who are 25th in passing yards per game and the Cleveland Browns (23rd) before his bye. After his bye week, he has some tough matchups. He plays Seattle (fourth), Indianapolis (29th), the Los Angeles Rams (13th), Arizona (12th), Baltimore (16th) and then Tennessee, where he dominated. The problem with some of these games is that two of these eight opponents are in the top-10 in rushing defense.

If these teams stop the run, Watson could be pressured to throw the ball and could make rookie mistakes. Carson Wentz is a good example from last year. He was great in his first three games, but was up and down the rest of the year. That’s how I see Watson from this point.

A lot could change after this week, but play Watson in favorable matchups. He’s home for the Chiefs, which could give him confidence. With how the Chiefs are playing, I might bench him this week. His performance the last two weeks could give you reason to start him.

Do I think Watson could have a good game? I do. I think he could have a solid game. I do think he will have his moments though where he will make mistakes and will continue to throughout the game with the Chiefs pressuring him to throw the ball.

 

Featured image from chron.com.

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NFL week 3 takeaways

NFL week 3: Eight takeaways

1. Is Jared Goff a franchise quarterback? 

A week ago, we watched Goff throw a terrible interception to Mason Foster, which sealed the victory for the Redskins. In one of the best Thursday night football games of recent memory, Goff led the 2-1 Rams past the 49ers, 41-39. Goff went 22-of-28 for 292 yards and three touchdowns. Goff also did not take any sacks and had zero turnovers. The Rams are seeing his confidence grow, and it is showing on the football field.

NFL week 3 takeaways

Is Goff legit? (SI.com)

So what should we expect moving forward? Well, mistakes will happen, but this kid is growing and improving every week. Under Sean McVay, Goff is in a legit system, unlike Jeff Fisher’s high school offense. McVay turned Kirk Cousins into a respectable quarterback, so the sky is the limit for Goff and the Rams.

2. Tom Brady is not human

Father time had been undefeated up until Tom Brady arrived on Earth. In one of the best performances of his career, Brady led the Patriots to a miraculous come-from-behind win against Houston 36-33. He completed 71 percent of his passes, threw for 378 yards and tallied up 5 touchdowns.

Brady was getting lit up all game by the Texans defense, but nothing phases this guy. He currently has the most passing yards, passing touchdowns, passes for more than 20 yards and passes for more than 40 yards. Keep in mind that he has yet to throw an interception.

Yeah, Tom Brady is statistically the best quarterback in the NFL, at 40 years of age.

3. The Jaguars absolutely smacked the Ravens

You know the game is getting out of hand when Ryan Mallett is behind center. In a 44-7 slaughtering, the Jaguars recorded their third consecutive victory in London.

If I’m Tom Coughlin, I’m at least asking Roger Goodell if the Jags can build a home stadium in London. No seriously, Jacksonville has now won as many games in London as they have at EverBank Field since October 2015.

As bizarre as this sounds, the Jaguars are legit contenders for the AFC South. Indy is without Andrew Luck until at least week 6. Deshaun Watson looks like he’ll be just fine, but we still don’t know what to expect from him and the Texans moving forward. The Titans defense is also incredibly suspect.

The Jags currently rank fourth in scoring and fifth in rushing yards. Their passing defense has been tremendous, as they have allowed the fewest passing yards in the entire league, and have already forced eight turnovers.

4. How about the Bills beating Denver!

It appeared the Bills were in full tank mode when they gave away Sammy Watkins and contemplated trading LeSean McCoy. After a 26-16 victory over Denver, the Bills are hungry for a playoff spot.

NFL week 3 takeaways

All smiles for Tyrod Taylor and the 2-1 Bills (Eagles Tribune)

After getting off to a slow start and generating just 10 yards in the first quarter, the Bills came alive, much thanks to Tyrod Taylor. Taylor had the best game of his season as he threw two touchdowns and completed 77 percent of his passes. The Bills struggled to run the ball against Denver’s potent defense, as Buffalo only managed a total of 75 rushing yards on 2.3 yards per carry.

What does this loss mean for the Broncos? No need to worry too much, as Jamaal Charles ran the ball well, and the defense played good enough to win. Trevor Siemian played bad, but that is expected from time to time. Siemian is 3-6 in his career on the road, so that is something to keep an eye on as the season progresses.

5. Was Cam Newton’s 2015 MVP season just a fluke?

The Panthers took their first loss on Sunday to the Saints, and Cam Newton continued to struggle. Newton threw three interceptions and was only able to pass for 167 yards against one of the worst defenses of the past few years.

It’s hard to argue that Newton is a franchise quarterback at this point. Sunday’s 43.8 passer rating was Cam’s third worst of his career. Next week, the Panthers travel to New England, so hopefully Newton can figure it out fast.

Also, the Panthers defense played really bad. After allowing 60 yards per game on the ground in the first two contests, Carolina allowed the Saints to rush for 149 yards. They allowed a total of 362 yards and 21 first downs. You can’t be elite every game, so it will be interesting to see if Carolina is able to bounce back against Tom Brady.

6. The Bengals and Giants’ seasons are most likely over

The Bengals have been in the playoffs in five of the past six seasons, and the Giants went into this season with a Super Bowl in sight. Now with both at 0-3, it is essentially impossible to make the playoffs. Since 1990, only three teams, the 1998 Bills, 1995 Lions and 1992 Chargers, have made the postseason after starting 0-3.

Cincinnati looked like they were going to upset Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, until they absolutely imploded in the second half. The Bengals scored a touchdown on their first possession and even had a pick six against Rodgers, which had only happened one other time in his career. Unfortunately, Cincinnati was 0-5 on third down and did not reach the red zone after halftime.

The Giants lost on a heartbreaking 61-yard field goal by Eagles rookie Jake Elliott. At least Odell Beckham Jr. is dominating again. OBJ has now reached 300 receptions in fewer games than any other player in NFL history. Let’s see if either of these squads can do the impossible and make the postseason.

7. The Seahawks are in trouble

Not only did Seattle fall to 1-2, but their defense played poorly. After carrying this team for years, is this star-studded defense getting tired?

NFL week 3 takeaways

DeMarco Murray scoring with ease against Seattle (The Tennessean)

All of a sudden, teams are running all over Seattle. They currently rank dead last in rushing yards allowed per attempt at 5.3. A week ago it seemed like the 49ers rushing for 159 yards against Seattle was just lucky.

On Sunday, the Titans ran for 195 yards, proving that this Seattle defense has lost a step. This was the most rushing yards allowed by the Seahawks since November 3, 2013. Russell Wilson played well, but the Seahawks now have question marks on both sides of the ball.

8. That Raiders loss was weird

No need to panic if you’re a Raiders fan, but what a weird game. Carr threw a pair of picks and had a quarterback rating of 52.9. The Raiders offense had only 128 yards of total offense. In the first two games, Oakland had 359 and 410. They were also unable to rush the ball against Washington’s defense.

Still, you can’t win all of them. Carr blames himself for the loss and will bounce back. Kudos to the Redskins. Their defense was outstanding, Kirk Cousins looked great and Chris Thompson had a career game. Both teams sit confidently at 2-1 heading into week 4.

 

Featured image by SI.com

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2017 week 3 NFL picks

Hagan’s Haus 2017 week 3 NFL picks

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 in 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’s 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 3 NFL picks.

Last week: 8-8

season: 16-15

Thursday Night

Los Angeles Rams (1-1) 20 @ San Francisco 49ers (0-2) 14: The Rams look like a really good team this year, good enough to possibly win the division over the Seahawks. If they are to take the step towards becoming a playoff team, this is the type of game they must win. San Francisco will be in the lottery.

Jared Goff is still going to go through some growing pains. If they run the ball well enough and continue playing great defense, then they can succeed despite their young quarterback. The 49ers have improved defensively, but can’t make up for the lack of offense. The Rams will win this game, but it will be a defensive dogfight.

Sunday Morning

2017 week 3 NFL picks

(Photo credit: https://www.si.com)

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1) 13 @ Baltimore Ravens (2-0) 16: Something tells me to pick Jacksonville in this game, but then I think about how Blake Bortles has to go against a defense that is destroying quarterbacks. Jacksonville will be in the game because of their stout defense, but will ultimately fall because of Bortles’ turnovers.

Baltimore will start the season 3-0, but still won’t be a contender in the big picture.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0) 20 vs Minnesota Vikings (1-1) 24: This game hinges on the health of Sam Bradford for the Vikings. If Bradford plays, then Minnesota will win this game at home. That is a big if though. With or without Bradford, Minnesota will play stellar defense as usual.

Tampa Bay completely shut down a great Bears rushing attack last week, holding them to 20 yards. Repeating this against Minnesota would guarantee a win. They won’t shut down the Vikings the same way they did the Bears, and Sam Bradford takes the field to lead the Vikings to a big win at home.

Denver Broncos (2-0) 27 @ Buffalo Bills (1-1) 13: Does there have to be actual thought here? Can I just say Broncos will win? No, that is probably not a good idea.

So, the Broncos will win because their defense is going to annihilate the Bills offense. Once the Broncos stop the run, the Bills will have no answer. Tyrod Taylor will look completely lost and inevitably throw a pick-six. Denver’s offense will run up and down all over the Bills for over 200 yards.

Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0) 28 @ Chicago Bears (0-2) 10: This seems like a totally unfair matchup. The Bears resemble a baby cub more than an actual Bear. The defense has played lights out, but can only do so much with turnovers from the offense happening so often. Mike Glennon looks incapable of running an offense.

Pittsburgh, on the other hand, looks like they are in midseason form. The offense is starting to click and the defense looks hungry. This game will be over early and the steel curtain will remain untangled.

Atlanta Falcons (2-0) 34 @ Detroit Lions (2-0) 38: This is one of the most difficult games to pick this week. Both teams have looked shaky at points this season, but in the end have gotten the job done.

Matthew Stafford and Matt Ryan are going to put on a show in Detroit. This game will likely be a shootout that comes down to the wire. The Lions have been known to be the kings of comebacks. Detroit wins this game because of their home-field advantage and a late drive by Stafford.

Cleveland Browns (0-2) 24 @ Indianapolis Colts (0-2) 17: This game could be one of the lowest-rated games in NFL history. What is there to really watch in this game if you aren’t a fan of either team? Yes DeShone Kizer is a rookie that can maybe give some excitement, but the offense still doesn’t look fluid. Defensively, there is nothing eye-popping or exciting either.

The Colts are completely boring without Andrew Luck. So boring I’d rather watch a middle school basketball game. The Browns have looked like the better team of the two, so far so what the heck, go dog pound.

2017 week 3 NFL picks

(Photo credit: http://biginf.com/)

Houston Texans (1-1) 13 @ New England Patriots (1-1) 26: Tom Brady is back! Or he just lit up the worst defense and secondary in the NFL. This week, Brady will get a real test by facing Houston. If Brady looks good this week, then he is a robot who will play in the NFL until he’s 90.

On the other side, rookie Deshaun Watson will have to try and beat a Bill Belichick defense. Good luck with that. That is the sole reason New England wins this game. Watson won’t be ready for the Patriots’ defense.

Miami Dolphins (1-0) 37 @ New York Jets (0-2) 18: Miami escaped with a victory last week. Now they get to face the worst team in the NFL. The Jets don’t do anything well and won’t win more than two games this season.

Jay Cutler is going to look like a prime Brett Favre in this one. Dolphins are going to New York to dominate the Jets.

New York Giants (0-2) 16 @ Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) 19: The Giants are in some serious trouble. Their offense looks pretty horrible with the worst rushing attack in all of football. The offensive line is arguably the worst in the league and the nucleus of their problems offensively. There isn’t much they can do to fix it either.

The Eagles are going to exploit that offensive line to stifle the Giants offense. Carson Wentz is going to have a tough time against the Giants’ defense, but will outperform Eli. That will be the difference in the end.

New Orleans Saints (0-2) 17 @ Carolina Panthers (2-0) 31: The current issue with the Panthers is their offense. Losing Greg Olsen doesn’t help Cam Newton out, but he is still shaking off the rust.

A game against New Orleans is the perfect time to gain confidence offensively. The Saints rank 31st in scoring defense, giving up 32.5 points per game. Drew Brees won’t be able to put up many points against this defense. Newton shakes off the rust and Christian McCaffrey has his coming out party.

Sunday Afternoon

2017 week 3 NFL picks

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Seattle Seahawks (1-1) 20 @ Tennessee Titans (1-1) 24: Seattle has looked average at best thus far, mostly because of their offensive line that can’t block anything. Tennessee has an underrated defense that will take advantage of this weakness.

The Seahawks still have a very good defense, but it won’t stop Marcus Mariota and the rest of the Titan offense.

Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) 10 @ Green Bay Packers (1-1) 20: This could be the game that gets Andy Dalton benched and catches Marvin Lewis’ seat on fire.

The Bengals are playing like crap on offense, but the defense is only giving up 16.5 points per game. They also rank first in pass defense, giving up just 104.5 yards per game through the air. Aaron Rodgers will more than double that while leading the Packers to win.

Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) 24 @ Los Angeles Chargers (0-2) 21: The Chiefs look like the best team in the NFL. Their offense is rolling behind Alex Smith while the defense continues to be a force. The Chargers are two field goals away from possibly being 2-0. The first would have sent them to overtime while the second would have won the game.

Sometimes that is how the cookie crumbles. The cookie will continue to crumble that way for one more week at least. The Chiefs go into L.A. to push themselves to 3-0.

Sunday Night

Oakland Raiders (2-0) 34 @ Washington Redskins (1-1) 24: The Raiders are thriving thus far this season and haven’t even begun to tap into their potential. Their defense still hasn’t faced a quality offense that can make them prove themselves.

This week they get that chance. Washington ranks 15th in total offensive yards per game (324.5). Washington has been running the ball efficiently, but the passing game has been underwhelming. Expectations were high for Kirk Cousins heading into the season. Derek Carr is going to have a huge game in prime time. Oakland keeps up with Denver and Kansas City by getting to 3-0.

Monday Night

Dallas Cowboys (1-1) 27 @ Arizona Cardinals (1-1) 17: Dallas got embarrassed against Denver and will be looking to get that taste out of their mouth. The Cowboys are going to get back to running the ball well. Ezekiel Elliott will have over 20 carries for at least 125 yards.

Arizona won’t be able to keep pace with the Cowboys’ offense. Carson Palmer has lost it and can’t carry the offense without David Johnson. This will be a snoozefest of a Monday Night game.

 

Featured image from Sporting News 

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2017 NFL Power Rankings

2017 NFL power rankings: Week 3

There have been dozens of NFL power rankings released throughout the preseason and after the first week of the season. That is all fine and dandy, but people ranking teams that haven’t played or with one game is kind of silly to me. College football comes out with rankings before the season and they end up completely different at the end.

To truly rank teams, they must have played some games. Last week the Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn’t play due to Hurricane Irma. Therefore, doing a power ranking after week 1 made no sense.

Now that all teams have seen action, it is time for Hagan’s Haus to bring you the first edition of this year’s NFL power rankings.

32. New York Jets (0-2)

2017 NFL Power rankings

(Photo Credit: Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

After two games, the Jets look absolutely awful. The offense is only putting up 16 points per game and the defense is allowing 33. The Jets are going to have a top three pick in the draft this season. The only question is whether or not they win a game all year.

31. Indianapolis Colts (0-2)

The Colts almost won a game, which is why they aren’t as bad as the Jets. Indianapolis has played so poorly that Andrew Luck could be considered for MVP. Jacoby Brissett also looked like an improvement from Scott Tolzien, but it won’t result in wins.

On the other side, the Colts’ defense is horrible, giving up 31 points per game (29th) and 308 passing yards per game (29th). There is little to look forward to with this season for Indianapolis.

30. Chicago Bears (0-2)

In week 1, the Chicago Bears looked like a vastly improved team. They hung with the defending NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons. The Bears could have won that game if there wouldn’t have been three straight drops on the goal line before Mike Glennon was ultimately sacked.

Despite the loss, things were looking up. Then they ran into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who completely dominated them. Glennon looked like a backup, and the Mitch Trubisky era may soon be upon us.

29. Cleveland Browns (0-2)

Cleveland was in a similar situation as the Bears. They almost upset the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers in week 1, but DeShone Kizer took a step back in week 2, throwing three interceptions against Baltimore. There are signs of improvement with the Browns, but they are still a young team.

It will be a typical Browns season of losses, but it is because they are young and growing. Cleveland should be happy because there is some positive direction.

28. San Francisco 49ers (0-2)

Over the first two weeks of the season, the 49ers have shown improvement on defense. The 49ers rank 10th in the NFL in scoring defense, allowing just 17.5 points per game. That is 12.5 points less than last season.

The problem is the offense can’t get the job done, scoring an average of six points per game. This season will be a rough one for the 49ers, but they will be competitive.

27. Cincinnati Bengals (0-2)

All signs point to the Bengals stinking this year, but they will turn this season around if they hand over the keys to AJ McCarron. The question is are they willing to make the move?

This week they are heading to Green Bay to face off against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. This is a must-win for the Bengals, but they won’t do so. Cincinnati could continue to fall in these rankings if Andy Dalton remains a turnover machine.

26. New Orleans Saints (0-2)

2017 NFL power rankings

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

Will a defense ever arrive in New Orleans? What makes it so bad is that 400-yard passing games are rare, but a certain someone called it in his predictions here.

It will sound like a broken record all season as the defense will continue to let down Drew Brees. The offense will win a few games in a shootout, but not many. The Saints should start preparing for the draft relatively soon this season.

25. Arizona Cardinals (1-1)

Many predicted that the Cardinals would have a playoff-caliber season. Throw that out the window because that will not happen. Yes, the Cardinals are 1-1 and it is extremely early in the season.

The problem is David Johnson’s injury makes the rest of the offense look below average. Carson Palmer is too old and has shown a decline in his play. He can’t carry an offense. The defense is talented, but nothing elite enough to lead this franchise to wins.

24. Buffalo Bills (1-1)

Who could have seen a 12 carry, nine-yard performance from LeSean McCoy? Not many.

The Bills defense kept them in the game, but as a lot of teams low in these rankings, the offense got nothing done. Tyrod Taylor played safe, completing 17 of his 25 passes for just 125 yards. The Bills are an average team, and they will sit somewhere between 16 to 26 in these rankings for the remainder of the season.

23. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1)

It is clear that the Jaguars must run the ball as much as possible to get it out of Blake Bortles’ hands. Bortles threw two interceptions against the Titans. 34 attempts are way too many, but happened because they were playing catch up. Leonard Fournette is a workhorse, who should easily get more than 14 carries no matter how the game is going.

The Jaguars “sacksonville” defense seemed to disappear, only sacking Marcus Mariota once. It remains to be seen how good, or bad, the Jaguars really are.

22. New York Giants (0-2)

The Giants are in danger of having a historically bad season. This team was supposed to have a Super Bowl defense with a high-powered ariel offense. The defense hasn’t lived up to expectations and the offensive line is so bad that Eli Manning can’t air the ball out.

It doesn’t help that the Giants have the worst rush offense in the NFL (48.5 yards per game). The Giants may turn it around, but if they fall to 0-3, they will fall much lower in the power rankings as well.

21. Houston Texans (1-1)

Deshaun Watson turned on the jets in Cincinnati to win his first career NFL start, on his birthday. With a defense as good as Houston’s, Watson needs to just protect the ball. If he can do that, his athleticism will force offenses to compensate for his running. This will open up the passing game.

Watson needs time to develop, but the Texans can still make the playoffs while he does so.

20. Los Angeles Chargers (0-2)

Could you imagine if the Chargers could just kick a field goal? Simply making two field goals could have this team at 2-0. The Chargers defense has played well enough to win games. The offense has been tailored around Melvin Gordon and is looking good.

There isn’t much to say other than make a field goal. If Los Angeles can improve in this area, then the Chargers might put up a fight for a Wild Card spot in the AFC.

19. Miami Dolphins (1-0)

The Miami Dolphins sit alone at the top of the AFC East, but don’t get used to it. Jay Cutler is going to get a bunch of love, but everyone needs to pump the breaks. Most have seen the play where DeVante Parker stole the ball away from Casey Hayward. Cutler made a horrible decision and throw, but was rewarded.

During this season, Cutler will give away a few games, and the Dolphin fans will begin to understand what it meant to be a Bears fan for the past few years.

18. Los Angeles Rams (1-1)

2017 NFL power rankings

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

It would have been fun to see Jared Goff pull of the two-minute offense to tie the game rather than seeing it be intercepted. It’s okay, he is young and will learn from that. Todd Gurley is showing signs of the greatness he displayed in his rookie season. The defense is elite under Wade Phillips and will perform much better the rest of this season.

This team will have a lot to say in the NFC West race. Don’t count them out of it.

17. Washington Redskins (1-1)

It is really hard to decipher what kind of team the Redskins are this year. Philly dominated them in week 1, but their win in week 2 changes every narrative on them. Their next two games are against the Raiders and Chiefs.

If they win either of these games, then the Redskins will earn a ton of respect. Over the course of the next two weeks, we will really find out if the Redskins are contenders or pretenders.

16. Seattle Seahawks (1-1)

There are two games of evidence that say the Seahawks are in some serious trouble. Seattle looked unprepared and overwhelmed against the Packers. Those same Packers got manhandled against the Falcons. That is not a good sign. To make it even worse, the 49ers fought hard and looked like a worthy opponent against Seattle.

The offensive line is a major concern. Seattle can’t run the ball, and Russell Wilson is forced to run for his life. Seattle will float somewhere between 8-11 wins, but a few more performances like their previous two would show that the Seahawks are no longer the cream of the crop.

15. Minnesota Vikings (1-1)

For the third time in the last four seasons, the Vikings have started a second quarterback in the month of September. It is the same sad story, the Vikings can’t get consistency under center. The defense is Super Bowl worthy and has played extremely well against some high-powered offenses.

If the Vikings have Sam Bradford, they are a top 10 team. If Bradford continues to miss time, then the Vikings are average at best and can only go as far as the defense can take them.

14. Green Bay Packers (1-1)

The hype train for Green Bay is always ridiculous, but this year it may be slowing down. Yes, Aaron Rodgers is godly at quarterback, but he can’t make up for the deficiencies the rest of the team has. The Packers won a tough game against the Seahawks, who haven’t looked all that impressive. Then they got run over by the Atlanta Falcons yet again.

With Aaron Rodgers, they will likely make the playoffs. After watching these first two weeks, it is hard to imagine them making a deep run.

13. Baltimore Ravens (2-0)

I see this year’s Raven’s team as last year’s Vikings. They will get off to a hot start, but by the end of the season miss the playoffs.

Baltimore’s defense is doing amazing things, averaging five takeaways per game. They can thank Andy Dalton, who has looked like an amateur this season and rookie DeShone Kizer for their gaudy takeaway numbers. This won’t hold up for the rest of the season.

12. Dallas Cowboys (1-1)

2017 NFL power rankings

(Photo Credit: https://twitter.com/dak)

This game against the Broncos was a huge wakeup call for the Cowboys. They need to get back to becoming a dominant run team and stop trying to prove that Dak Prescott can be a gunslinger.

Ezekiel Elliott will get back into form in week 3. Once that happens, everything else will fall into place. Dak can get back to managing the game and keeping the defense off the field.

11. Tennessee Titans (1-1)

The Titans were many analysts’ pick to win the AFC South. Oakland played so well in week 1 that some were ready to backtrack on them winning the division. Others were willing to stick with them.

Those who stuck with them are the smart ones. Tennessee completely dominated Jacksonville. That amazing defense that shut down Houston seemed to be a product of the offense they were facing. Tennessee put up 37 points behind 179 yards on the ground. This is the Tennessee everyone was expecting this season.

10. Philadelphia Eagles (1-1)

Philadelphia continues to look rather impressive this season. Although they lost, they played a great game against one of the best teams in the NFL. The defense doesn’t get much love, but ranks 12th in total yards (304 yards per game). Philly is also averaging four sacks per game, which is fourth best in the league.

Offensively Carson Wentz has taken the next step. The Eagles will be a serious threat in the NFC East race.

9. Detroit Lions (2-0)

Matthew Stafford is doing everything in his power to prove he is worth the big contract he recently signed. This season he has led the Lions to a 2-0 start by defeating the Cardinals and Giants, who are a combined 1-3.

It remains to be seen if these are wins against good teams or wins against teams that actually stink. Before they move up higher on this list, they will have to beat a quality opponent.

8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0)

After everything the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went through in regards to Hurricane Irma, it is more impressive that they came out and dominated the Bears the way they did. Tampa won the game 29-7 and the Bears score came in the fourth quarter. The defense shut down the run game, allowing just 20 yards.

If they continue to play the run this well, they will be playing for the Lombardi Trophy. The offense looked balanced, and Jameis Winston will be in the MVP discussion by the end of the year. Watch out Atlanta, the Bucs are coming for you.

7. Carolina Panthers (2-0)

When speaking of elite defenses, the Carolina Panthers must be mentioned. It doesn’t matter who the opponents are because allowing just three points per game after two weeks in the NFL is unheard of. That obviously ranks first, but Carolina also ranks first in total yards allowed at 196.5 per game.

Cam Newton has looked rusty, and Greg Olson broke his leg. The offense may struggle, but Cam and the running game will still be enough while the defense leads them to wins.

6. Denver Broncos (2-0)

2017 NFL power rankings

(Photo Credit: http://rotoprofessor.com/football/?p=10988)

Denver is playing like they did during their Super Bowl run. During my Super Bowl Series: AFC West I mentioned that the Broncos need to get back to running the ball in order to win another championship. They have done just that, averaging the most yards on the ground per game at 159.

Pairing this with that fast, physical and world-class defense is a recipe for success. It will be fun to see how the Broncos do in their fight with the Raiders and Chiefs.

5. Atlanta Falcons (2-0)

Atlanta is off to a hot start, but a hangover is still coming. They struggled against the woeful Bears, then beat up on the overrated Packers.

Atlanta’s defense still isn’t all it is hyped up to be under Dan Quinn. Right now they have earned a top-five ranking, but in the coming weeks, it will fall as they still have to face Detroit, New England, Carolina, Dallas, Seattle, Tampa Bay and Minnesota.

4. New England Patriots (1-1)

Every time the Patriots have started 0-1 under Bill Belichick, they have won the Super Bowl. Tom Brady threw for the most yards ever by a 40-year-old quarterback. Granted it was the Saints defense, but still impressive. They are easily a top-five team in the NFL and will most likely make it to the Super Bowl.

Until Brady leaves or begins to fall off the cliff as Max Kellerman says, the Patriots will always deserve a high power ranking.

3. Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0)

The killer B’s have led the Steelers to a 2-0 start. It wasn’t an easy outing for Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell against the Vikings defense, but it was enough to get the job done.

The defense is also doing a great job getting to the quarterback, averaging 4.5 sacks per game. T.J. Watt has been a major factor for the Steelers already. If the Steelers play like this the rest of the season, they may end up first in these rankings.

2. Oakland Raiders (2-0)

Marshawn Lynch must be instant energy. He fits with Oakland more than any other player in the history of the NFL on any team. He should have been a Raider for his entire career. Lynch has 121 yards this year while averaging four yards per carry. He creates a balance on the offense that is scaring every defensive coordinator that will face them.

Derek Carr continues to look like a future MVP and has outstanding chemistry with his receivers. The defense is holding up their end of the bargain thus far, but if they begin to falter, then so will the Raiders. Until then, they look like a candidate for the best team in the NFL.

1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-0)

2017 NFL power rankings

(Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Well, Alex Smith must have been absolutely sick of how people treat and talk about him. Through two games, Smith is completing 77.8 percent of his passing, thrown for 619 yards, five touchdowns and zero, I repeat, zero interceptions. He also leads the league in deep passing yards at 257. The next closest is Drew Brees with 216 yards.

Kareem Hunt looks to be the steal of the draft and frontrunner for offensive rookie of the year. The defense is doing what it always has in shutting down opposing offenses. The Chiefs are the clearcut best team in the NFL right now.

 

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2017 AFC South division preview

2017 AFC South division preview

The NFL regular season is fast approaching. The season opener is just one day away and the Chiefs and Patriots will be kicking off the 2017-18 NFL season. 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 South division preview.

4: Jacksonville Jaguars

Last season: 3-13

Strength of schedule: 30

Cleveland is the one organization that gets joked about the most in terms of putrid franchises but Jacksonville is arguably just as pathetic. The Jaguars have picked in the top five of the NFL Draft for six years running, which is an NFL record. It is safe to assume the Jaguars will finish fourth in this division given this tragic recent history.

Jacksonville has not won more than eight games in a season since 2007. Over these past nine seasons, they have averaged just 4.6 wins per year. The prediction will be somewhere right around that number until they can prove to win more or until they find a quarterback that is actually decent.

2017 AFC South division preview

(Photo Credit: Bob Mack/The Florida Times-Union via AP)

The Jaguars offense has been abysmal. Jacksonville only managed to score 19.9 points per game last season. This stems from the lack of a two-dimensional offense. The Jags are always behind the chains, making life much more difficult for Bortles. Jacksonville drafted Leonard Fournette to fix its 22nd ranked rushing attack.

An improved rushing attack could improve their 35.3 percent third down conversion percentage. Running the ball efficiently will lead to shorter third downs which theoretically should lead to more points. This is the formula for success because it takes the ball out of Blake Bortles’ hands.

A better offense can help the Jaguars under the radar defense look even better. Although the Jaguars defense gave up 25 points per game, they ranked sixth in yards allowed at 321.7 per game. The offense kept turning over the ball and putting the Jags’ defense in short fields.

Jacksonville also acquired A.J. Bouye and Barry Church, both are upgrades over the departed defensive backs John Cyprien and Prince Amukamara to improve their defense. Their secondary will likely improve on the 215.2 yards per game they gave up last season due to these additions.

It seems like the Jaguars have made the right moves to be a better team but they do not have history on their side. They also stink at home and defending homefield is crucial. In the past four years, the Jaguars are 9-29 at home. Playing in such a humid and hot climate should provide a better homefield advantage. Because of history, Blake Bortles or Chad Henne, the Titans and Texans, are all reasons the Jaguars draft in the top 10.

Prediction: 5-11 (2-4), miss the playoffs

Losses: @Hou, Ten, @NYJ, @Pit, @Ind, Cin, @Cle, @Ari, Sea, @SF, @Ten

3: Indianapolis Colts

Last season: 8-8

Strength of schedule: 30

The Indianapolis Colts only have one thing going for them and that is Andrew Luck. The problem is he will be out the first week of the season and possibly longer. Without Luck, the Colts are going to struggle and would be bottom feeders over the course of a 16-game season. Andrew Luck has been stellar in his career throwing for 19,078 yards, 132 touchdowns and just 68 interceptions.

2017 AFC South division preview

(Photo Credit: http://rotoprofessor.com/football/?p=9227)

His weapons at receiver are T.Y. Hilton, who had a career high in receptions (91) and yards (1,448) last season and Donte Moncrief. These two receivers have tons of talent but will falter if Luck is unavailable. Aside from the wideouts, Jack Doyle will be the go to tight end. These options are all solid but the Colts must try and run the ball more or these players will be useless.

The Colts are too predictable. They only ran the ball 39 percent of the time for 101.8 yards per game. Frank Gore is 34 years old and his best days are far behind him. Indianapolis is hoping Marlon Mack can become the feature back as this season rolls forward. There are no signs that the Colts will run the ball more or efficiently this season and that will hold their offense back and in turn, the rest of the team as well.

Defensively, there has been a change in the scheme in an attempt to fix a defense that ranked 22nd in points allowed. They also ranked 27th against the pass giving up 269.2 yards per game. The rush defense wasn’t much better as they ranked 25th against the run allowing 120.4 yards per game. The unit as a whole must improve if the Colts are to have a shot at making the playoffs.

There have been no moves that indicate this defense will show improvement. The Colts have an easy schedule and Andrew Luck, but aside from that, there is little to look forward to from this team this upcoming season. Indianapolis will struggle and this time next year the Colts will have a new head coach.

Prediction: 6-10 (3-3), miss the playoffs

Losses: @LAR, @Sea, @Ten, @Cin, @Hou, Pit, @Jax, @Buf, Den, @Bal 

2: Houston Texans

Last season: 9-7

Strength of schedule: 25

Here is something you have probably heard before: The Texans have had three straight 9-7 seasons. That won’t happen this season though as the Texans continue to struggle in their pursuit of finding their franchise quarterback. The weakness of the Texans has consistently been their offense and it will continue to haunt them this season.

Houston only had a successful run game and without it, the entire offense would have been one of the worst the NFL had ever seen. Houston ran for an average of 116.2 yards per game on 28.5 attempts per game. Lamar Miller had 1,073 yards and five touchdowns on just 268 carries. Miller is going to be a workhorse as Tom Savage lines up under center.

2017 AFC South division preview

(Photo Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

Despite the successful rushing attack, the fact of the matter is that the Texans’ offense ranked at the bottom of most offensive categories including points per game (17.4, ranking 29th), points per game in the first half (7.6, ranking 32nd), yards per game (314.7, ranking 29th), third down conversions (37.3 percent, ranking 22nd) and passing yards (198.5, ranking 29th). Every bad play this offense has in 2017 will have the fans clamoring for Deshaun Watson. That much distraction is going to take a toll on the team.

As mentioned previously, the Texans are led by their fantastic defense. Houston ranked 11th in scoring defense 20.5 points per game but first in yards allowed at just 301.3 yards per game. The Texans were led by their pass defense which ranked second allowing 201.6 yards per game. This may slip a bit with the loss of A.J. Bouye but as crazy as it sounds the secondary can improve even more with the return of J.J. Watt.

Watt paired with Jadeveon Clowney will create tons of mismatches. They will be completely unblockable causing teams to dump the ball off quickly so that the secondary won’t have to cover for too long. Whitney Mercilius, Brian Cushing and Bernardrick McKinney are great linebackers who will continue to light up opposing offenses making the Texans defense one of the top five yet again.

Houston is in the same situation it has been in recently. The offense is going to falter while the defense remains Super Bowl worthy. A bad offense and the rise of the Titans will cause the downfall of Houston.

Prediction: 8-8 (3-3), wildcard candidate

Losses: @NE, @Sea, @LAR, @Bal, @Ten, @Jax, Pit, @Ind

1: Tennessee Titans

2017 AFC South division preview

(Photo Credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qijh_Au8B0)

Last season: 9-7

Strength of schedule: 30

Tennessee is the darkhorse team to watch this season. Marcus Mariota is entering his third season and the organization has done well to build around him. There were flashes of greatness from this team last season and they might have made the playoffs had Mariota not broken his leg in the second to last game. This season they take that next step and win the division.

Tennessee ranked third in the NFL with 136.7 yards per game on the ground to lead the offense. DeMarco Murray led the way in the rushing attack averaging 80.4 yards per game. His counterpart, Derrick Henry averaged just 32.7 yards per game. That number should increase this year and this will be one of the best backfields in the entire league.

This top rushing attack is going to help take pressure off of Mariota and the passing game. Marcus Mariota has been phenomenal in his short career already. Mariota has completed 61.6 percent of his passes while throwing for 6,244 yards, 45 touchdowns and just 19 interceptions. He has shown to be a great decision maker already in his career. Mariota converted at the third-best rate in the NFL on third down last year. He has also never thrown a red zone interception in his career.

Mariota accomplished all of this with Delanie Walker being his leading receiver. The Titans drafted Corey Davis and signed Eric Decker to address this issue. Mariota will have legitimate receivers to sling the ball to, making the offense impossible to predict or defend. These two additions may seem small but will make all the difference on the offensive side of the ball.

For all the Titans have going for them on offense, it is their defense that makes this team a possible Super Bowl contender. Tennesse gave up 23.6 points per game which is actually impressive considering the slow starts they were accustomed to. The Titans ranked 29th in first quarter points allowed.

Tennessee’s’ horrible secondary last season has also been improved upon as they drafted cornerback Adoree Jackson and signed defensive backs Logan Ryan and John Cyprien. The additions of these three players can help the Titans catch up to their superb rush defense which ranked second in the NFL, allowing 88.3 yards per game.

The secondary is much improved and Mariota has finally been blessed with some receiving threats. Pair that with a weak division and the third easiest schedule in the NFL means that the Tennessee Titans will finish the season as AFC South champions.

Prediction: 11-5 (4-2), division champion

Losses: Oak, Sea, @Hou, @Pit, @Ind

 

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