Joe Flacco

NFL training camp injuries: The walking wounded

With last night’s Hall of Fame game, NFL football is officially back in our lives. While that is a beautiful thing, the injury bug is running wild through NFL training camps as it does every year. It is impossible to cover them all, but here is a summary of some early NFL training camp injuries.

Quarterbacks

While Shane Ray and a few other notable defenders will miss some time, most of the early injuries have been on the offensive side of the ball. The league’s most important position is no exception.

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has a herniated disc in his back. That is really all anyone knows for sure. Reports have Flacco missing anywhere from a single week to six weeks.  The front office in Baltimore has said a lot while doing very little in regards to controversial former 49ers signal caller Colin Kaepernick.

Miami Dolphins

Photo: cbssports.com

The training camp reports on current backup Ryan Mallett have been far from glowing. Combine that with the fact the Kaepernick chatter has not exactly been squashed, and the whole situation becomes worth monitoring.

Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill suffered a non-contact injury to the same knee that was hurt at the end of last year. The results of his MRI showed no structural damage in the knee, however there’s no timetable for his return. Any sort of long term injury to Tannehill would be very difficult to overcome and a possible momentum killer for a franchise that surprised many by making the playoffs last year.

As far as backup quarterbacks go, Matt Moore is one of the best around. Even so, he is the backup for a reason.

Andrew Luck and Cam Newton are also not doing much early in training camp due to lingering effects from offseason surgeries.

Offensive lines

You cannot put offensive lineman on your fantasy football team. Thus, many people do not pay much attention to them. However, the offensive line is a key element to any great football team.

Quarterback is just the beginning of the issues in Baltimore. The group that will protect whoever is throwing the ball for the Ravens this year is already shuffling. Marshal Yanda has been one of the best offensive lineman in the game for the last handful of years, but he is also not fully healthy from offseason surgery.

Forrest Lamp

Photo: San Diego Union Tribune

Additionally, center/guard John Urschel suddenly retired a few days ago to further pursue his academic career. Also, rookie guard Nico Siragusa is already out for the year with a knee injury. John Harbaugh’s team may very well have to mix and match on the offensive line well into the regular season. That never turns out well.

Keeping Philip Rivers upright and away from the freakishly talented pass rushers of the AFC West has been a challenge for the Chargers in recent years. Rookie guard Forrest Lamp was supposed to help change that. However, the second-round pick is out for the year with a torn ACL.

The Ravens and Chargers already faced uphill battles in highly competitive divisions this year. Offensive line issues at the very beginning of training camp are a nightmare for any coaching staff to deal with.

Wide Receivers

The injuries are piling up elsewhere. Speedy Texans wideout Will Fuller is sidelined indefinitely with a broken collarbone. Chargers first-round pick Mike Williams may also miss extended time. The former favorite target of Deshaun Watson is dealing with a bad back.

The only thing coaches and fans should really hope for this time of year is for every player that goes down to get back up. We all know that it does not always happen that way. Training camp is our first yearly reminder of what a war of attrition the NFL can be.

 

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NFL top 100 players 2017: 40-31

The NFL season is right around the corner and all the lists of top players of the NFL are out. There is only one problem with these lists: they look back on the 2016 season too much. This list will look forward to the 2017 season and predict who will be the top 100 players for the 2017 season. The Game Haus staff compiled their lists together to rank who they think will be the top 100 players this upcoming season.

This is the seventh installment, containing players 40-31.

40. Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears

NFL Top 100

Jordan Howard (photo by sports.yahoo.com)

Howard had a great rookie season for the Bears that not a lot of people saw coming. He didn’t get to play in week one and got limited carries in weeks two and three before bursting onto the scene in week four with 111 rushing yards against Detroit. He finished 2016 with 1,313 rushing yards and six touchdowns.

Year two will give Howard the opportunity of more reps in practice and more carries in games, which should both help his productivity. Howard goes into 2017 as the lead back and will get a chance at a full season as the starter. He has some good blockers up front in Cody Whitehair, Josh Sitton and Kyle Long (#57). Most teams will be focusing on trying to stop him because Alshon Jeffrey left in free agency and Mike Glennon and Mitch Trubisky are unproven.

The focal point of the offense will be Howard and after a good rookie season, he will have to carry the load for the Bears’ offense.

Comments: “If he was on a better team his ranking might be higher. That being said he had a great rookie year. If he can repeat it expect to see him climb up quickly.”- Robert Hanes

39. Fletcher Cox, DT, Philadelphia Eagles

NFL Top 100

Fletcher Cox (photo by mcall.com)

After making his second straight Pro Bowl in 2016, Cox will be looking to have another good year in 2017. He finished the 2016 season with 43 total tackles, 6.5 sacks, two passes defended, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

Cox isn’t one of the first guys who come to mind when thinking of the best defensive players in the NFL, but not everything he does shows up on the stat sheet. He is good against the run and he tag-teams with Brandon Graham (#65) to give the Eagles a very formidable pass rush. The Philadelphia defense has gotten much better since Chip Kelly left, but Cox was even productive when he was the head coach.

There are a lot of uncertainties in the NFL, but if Fletcher Cox is on your team, you feel confident that there will be a disruptive force in the middle of the defensive line.

Comments: “It doesn’t always show up in his numbers, but Cox is a player that makes the rest of the defense better due to how much chaos he causes. He could be ranked higher and it would be justified.”-Joe DiTullio

38. Matt Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions

NFL Top 100

Matthew Stafford (Photo by nypost.com)

Stafford takes some heat for being a gunslinger, but he had a very good year in 2016, without his favorite target Calvin Johnson, who elected to retire rather than play for the Lions. His 2016 campaign led him into some MVP discussions, which should have Lions’ fans optimistic about 2017. Last season he threw for 4,327 yards, 24 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions.

Although he doesn’t have Johnson anymore, Stafford does have some unique weapons. Golden Tate and Marvin Jones Jr. provide two good targets, albeit not great. His running backs, Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah can both catch passes out of the backfield to help Stafford out. The offensive line didn’t stand out last season, but the Lions did sign T.J. Lang to help bolster it.

The post-Calvin Johnson era started off with a playoff berth and a good season from Stafford, so more good things should be expected in year two.

Comments: “Stafford had an MVP type season in 2016. He showed better decision making without Calvin Johnson on the field. How the Lions made the playoffs last year is beyond me. Stafford was a magician for Detroit and elevated their level of play. The Lions probably won’t make the playoffs in 2017, but Stafford will be a good quarterback once again.”-Joe DiTullio

37. Marshall Yanda, OG, Baltimore Ravens

NFL Top 100

Marshall Yanda (Photo by baltimoresun.com)

Interior offensive linemen are often forgotten, but Yanda has been very good for a long time. He only played in 13 games, but still made his sixth Pro Bowl team. Yanda has moved all over the offensive line during his career but has been dominant since settling in at guard.

While the rushing offense hasn’t been good the last few seasons, it isn’t because of Yanda’s blocking. He helped Baltimore rank in the top half of the league in sacks allowed. The passing offense will be good once again, but the Ravens will likely struggle on the ground in 2017.

Yanda will once again be fighting an uphill battle on the interior of the offensive line trying to get the run offense going, but he will do his job well.

Comments: “Offensive lineman never truly get the love or recognition they deserve. Yanda is right up there with Zach Martin as the best guard in all of football. He deserves to be in the top 15 and maybe even the top 10.” -Matthew Hagan

36. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

NFL Top 100

Travis Kelce (photo by chiefs.com)

Kelce has turned into one of the best tight ends in the NFL over the last few seasons. In 2016 Kelce led all tight ends in receiving yards with 1,125 on 85 receptions and four touchdowns. On an offense that isn’t seen as the most dynamic, Kelce has helped make it productive.

The Chiefs’ offense is going to look different in 2017 without Jeremy Maclin and Jamal Charles, which will mean Kelce, along with Tyreek Hill, will be the focal points of the offense. Alex Smith is known for liking to check down and Kelce is able to get open and get yards after the catch, making it a perfect fit. If the Chiefs are successful on offense in 2017, Kelce will be a main reason why.

He is entering his fifth season in the league and has already made two Pro Bowls and an All-Pro team, but he isn’t done yet.

Comments: “I would pay a lot of money to see Kelce with Brady, Rodgers, Brees or any other top quarterbacks in the game. He is a beast and it is unbelievable that he puts up these numbers with Alex Smith. He is rated pretty well although I do think with a better quarterback he could be even better.” -Matthew Hagan

35. Vic Beasley Jr., OLB, Atlanta Falcons

NFL Top 100

Vic Beasley Jr. (photo by si.com)

In his second year in the pros, Beasley developed into a great player that helped lead the Falcons to the Super Bowl. He led the NFL in sacks with 15.5 and added 39 total tackles, six forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one touchdown.

Beasley improved a lot from year one to year two and a lot should be expected of him in year three. He does have a lot of areas of his game to improve, but Beasley is great at the main thing he was drafted to do: sacking the quarterback. His ability to do that made the Falcons a much better team in 2016.

He has a lot to build on in 2017 and if he continues to get to the quarterback, he will rise up this list.

Comments: “The single biggest reason for Atlanta’s run to a near Super Bowl win last year was an improved pass rush. Beasley will have to lead the defensive charge again this year for the Falcons to go one step further” -Dylan Streibig

34. Zack Martin, OG, Dallas Cowboys

NFL Top 100

Zack Martin (Photo by dallascowboys.com)

Martin has been a great player from day one in the NFL. In his three seasons he has made the Pro Bowl each year and has been an All-Pro twice. He has been a key part on one of the best offensive lines in the NFL since his rookie season in 2014.

Dallas had the second most rushing yards in the NFL in 2016, in large part thanks to Martin. In addition to blocking for a great rushing offense, Marting helped the Dallas offensive line give up just 28 sacks, which tied for seventh in the NFL in 2016.

He hasn’t missed a game in his NFL career thus far and in 2017 he will continue to open up gaping holes for the Cowboys.

Comments: “Martin is the best guard in the game and could even be ranked higher than this, but interior offensive line play isn’t appreciated. He hasn’t missed a start in his three seasons and has helped make the ground game explosive for the Cowboys.”-Joe DiTullio

33. Travis Frederick, C, Dallas Cowboys

NFL Top 100

Travis Frederick (Photo by insidethepylon.com)

Back to back Cowboys’ offensive linemen make the list. He has been in the league for four seasons, made three Pro Bowls and one All-Pro team. During his first four seasons Frederick has evolved into one of, if not the best center in the NFL.

While he similarly helped the Dallas rush offense, Frederick really helped get rookie quarterback Dak Prescott acclimated to the NFL. He made all of the checks for the offensive line and no doubt helped take a lot off of Prescott’s plate. A center’s biggest job is to make checks and to be the smartest offensive lineman in the unit and Frederick has that down.

Frederick will continue to make good checks and block well in 2017.

Comments: “Frederick was seen as a reach by the Cowboys when they selected him, but he has been superb so far in his career. He is the best center in the game and even Dak Prescott has made comments about how smart Frederick is. He anchors one of the best offensive lines in football.”-Joe DiTullio

32. Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers

NFL Top 100

Cam Newton (Photo by nydailytimes.com)

If this list were based on 2016, then Newton may not be as high. The 2017 season gives Newton an opportunity to rebound from his lackluster season. He finished 2016 with 3,509 passing yards, 19 touchdowns and 14 touchdowns on 52% completion. While his passing numbers were bad, Newton’s rushing numbers were the lowest in his career as well.

He should be helped by new members of the offense in 2017: Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel. Greg Olsen will continue to be a threat at tight end, but there are some concerns about Kelvin Benjamin, who is trying to cut weight. The new weapons, along with the old ones, should help Newton get better, but he will need to play like he did in 2015 to be considered one of the best in the league again.

Newton and his new weapons will get on the same page and make the Panthers’ offense return to its 2015 form.

Comments: “I am sick of all the Cam Newton haters. Newton came into the NFL shattering passing records for young quarterbacks. He has changed the Panthers organization, won an MVP and led his team to a Super Bowl appearance all in just six seasons. Cam is better and deserves to be much higher on this list” -Matthew Hagan

31. Kam Chancellor, S, Seattle Seahawks

NFL Top 100

Kam Chancellor (Photo by bleacherreport.com)

He only played in 12 games in 2016, but Chancellor still had a huge impact. In 2016 he had 81 total tackles, eight passes defended and two interceptions.

Chancellor has had continued success at strong safety for the “Legion of Boom”. He helped Seattle rank eighth in passing yards allowed. He can cover tight ends well and help stop the run. Receivers are conscious of where Chancellor is at all times so they don’t get hit by one of the most powerful tacklers in the league. The key for Chancellor is staying healthy as he missed the four games in 2016 and missed five in 2015.

In 2017 Chancellor will once again be making receivers aware of his presence with his big hits and his good cover skills.

Comments:His defensive backfield teammates are flashier, but Chancellor is the heart and soul of “The Legion of Boom” – Dylan Streibig

Top 100 NFL Players 50-41

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NFL top 100 players 2017: 80-71

The NFL season is right around the corner and all the lists of top players of the NFL are out. There is only one problem with these lists: they look back on the 2016 season too much. This list will look forward to the 2017 season and predict who will be the top 100 players for the 2017 season. The Game Haus staff compiled their lists together to rank who they think will be the top 100 players this upcoming season.

This is the third installment, containing players 80-71.

80. Jarvis Landry, WR, Miami Dolphins

NFL Top 100

Jarvis Landry (Photo by theredbeat.com)

Landry has done a lot in his three seasons in the NFL, but he isn’t talked about as a top receiver in the league quite yet. Last season he had 94 catches for 1,136 receiving yards and four touchdowns. He added a very impressive catch percentage of 71.8%.

The last two seasons Landry has been in the top ten in receptions in the NFL and it doesn’t look like 2017 should be any different. First year head coach Adam Gase helped turn Miami from a bad offensive team to an average one last season. If the players around Landry keep progressing, it should only help him have continued success.

With his flexibility to play in the slot and on the outside, Miami will be able to get the ball to Landry a lot in 2017. If he can capitalize on that he will be a top 100 player in 2017.

Comments: “Landry is a reception machine who can line up anywhere and be effective. Ryan Tannehill hasn’t been a top quarterback in the NFL and Landry has still produced. With Adam Gase getting the offense rolling, Landry  should have another productive season.”-Joe DiTullio

79. Eric Weddle, S, Baltimore Ravens

NFL Top 100

Eric Weddle (Photo by espn.com)

In his first season in Baltimore, Weddle was nothing short of amazing. He finished the season with 89 total tackles, four interceptions, one forced fumble and one sack.

Weddle will be 32 during this season, which gives some room for pause, but he is coming off one of his best seasons yet. The signing of Tony Jefferson should make the back end of the Ravens’ defense stronger. He was left off of the NFL top 100 list, but he makes this one.

Although he might not have too many years left as an elite player, you can bet on Weddle having a good 2017 season.

Comments: “I truly have no clue how he made the list and managed to be only one spot behind Harrison Smith? Weddle is not even a top five safety anymore and at 32 years old he will start to see his play diminish.” -Matthew Hagan

78. Harrison Smith, S, Minnesota Vikings

NFL Top 100

Harrison Smith (Photo by wjon.com)

After his second straight Pro Bowl season, Harrison Smith has started to get the respect he deserves. In 2016 he totaled 91 tackles, two passes defended and two fumbles recovered in 14 games played.

Smith was one of the best players, if not the best, on the fifth best scoring defense in the league. He didn’t get any interceptions, but his combination of good coverage skills and run support make him one of the league’s best safeties. He will likely be one of the best players on one of the best defenses in 2017 again.

Turn on a Vikings’ game in 2017 and Smith will prove why he is a top 100 player.

Comments: “If Harrison Smith did exactly what he has been doing on the Seahawks or Patriots people would be putting Harrison Smith in their top 25. He has 411 tackles in just 67 games. He is a versatile safety, amassing 7.5 sacks and 12 interceptions in his career. Smith has also found the endzone four times. Harrison “The Hitman” Smith is one of the top 25 players in the NFL.” -Matthew Hagan

77. Jalen Ramsey, CB, Jacksonville Jaguars

NFL Top 100

Jalen Ramsey (Photo by jacksonville.com)

Ramsey was one of the most impressive rookies in the 2016 class and will be looking to improve on that. He started off his career well in 2016 with 65 total tackles, 14 passes defended two interceptions, one forced fumble and a touchdown.

The entire Jaguars’ defense should elevate their games with the signings of Calais Campbell, Barry Church and A.J. Bouye. If he can glean anything from these players and benefit from their good play as well, Ramsey will be better in 2017 than he was in 2016.

Not only does Ramsey look like he will be a top 100 player in 2017, but also looks like he has a bright future beyond that.

Comments: “Ramsey stepped right into the NFL and went toe to toe with the game’s best wideouts. He is going to be a superstar and as he gains experience his game will improve. Ramsey is going to be one of the top three corners in the NFL this season and this ranking is going to look very disrespectful.” -Matthew Hagan

76. A.J. Bouye, CB, Jacksonville Jaguars

NFL Top 100

A.J. Bouye (Photo by jaguars.com)

One spot later and Ramsey’s new teammate shows up. Bouye went from an undrafted free agent to one of the best corners in the league. Last year for the Texans, Bouye totaled 62 tackles, 16 passes defended, one interception and one sack.

Bouye will be able to shut down his side of the field in 2017 and improves the Jaguars defense drastically. Life hasn’t always been great for the Jaguars, but With him and others signing, the Jaguars are looking to win the AFC South title. The match-ups he will have with T.Y. Hilton, Deandre Hopkins, Corey Davis and others should help him show how good of a player he is.

There won’t be many balls thrown in Bouye’s direction in 2017, which shows his value.

Comments: “Sometimes stats don’t tell the entire story. Despite only having one interception, Bouye was a top five corner last season and the Texans are going to miss him. Pairing him alongside Jalen Ramsey will force teams to choose which corner they would rather throw at. Either option is dangerous.” -Matthew Hagan

75. Amari Cooper, WR, Oakland Raiders

NFL Top 100

Amari Cooper (Photo by Raiders.com)

Cooper is one of the best young receivers in the league and has gotten better in each season he has been in the NFL. In 2016 he had 83 catches for 1,153 yards and five touchdowns to complete a great sophomore year.

The young Raiders, including Cooper and Derek Carr, have grown up quickly. The combination is destined to keep producing with a great offensive line and Michael Crabtree across the field from Cooper. All of the components of the offense, Cooper included, makes the Raiders a team that is AFC Champion-caliber.

At 23, Cooper still has a lot of room for improvement and could really rise up this list with another productive year.

Comments: Amari Cooper had the second highest grade on go routes last season, putting up a wide receiver rating of 137.2. The 23-year-old has a tendency to disappear towards to end of the season, but he’s reportedly bulked up during this offseason which should help his body stay in better shape throughout the season. Cooper has all the tools to be a superstar in the NFL, and with Derek Carr throwing to him, there’s no reason why he won’t be an elite receiver this season.” –Tim Miller

74. Leonard Fournette, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars

NFL Top 100

Leonard Fournette (Photo by Jaguars.com)

The one and only rookie on this list is Leonard Fournette. Other lists don’t allow rookies, but there is a good chance that a rookie, especially in this loaded rookie class, could be a top 100 player in 2017. Fournette totaled 3,830 rushing yards in three seasons at LSU.

Jacksonville doesn’t have the greatest offensive line, but tried to upgrade it by acquiring Brandon Albert. Last season they ranked 22nd in rushing yards, but that should improve with the addition of Fournette and Albert. The Jaguars have an aging Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon, who has never lived up to expectations, so Fournette should be able to shoulder most of the load and be productive.

While not many people will have Fournette in their top 100 lists before the season, he will likely show up on more by season’s end.

Comments: “Leonard Fournette shouldn’t even be on this list. Sure, he’s one of the best running backs in his draft class, but that doesn’t mean anything now that he’s in Jacksonville. Fournette is an in between the tackles runner and needs a fullback in order to be successful. The Jags ran the second most plays out of the shotgun last season, which won’t bode well for Fournette. Unless Jacksonville changes their offensive scheme, don’t expect the LSU product to be very productive this season.” -Tim Miller

73. Jay Ajayi, RB, Miami Dolphins

NFL Top 100

Jay Ajayi (Photo by phinphanatic.com)

No one’s stock rose more than Jay Ajayi last season. He started the season as a healthy scratch, but then came on and finished the season strong. After rushing for 117 yards in the first four weeks, Ajayi finished the season with 1,272 yards and completed a Pro Bowl season.

Adam Gase helped the Dolphins’ offense get a lot better in year one, and should help continue that growth in year two. Miami may not have as good of an offensive line, losing Albert to the Jaguars, but Laremy Tunsil had a good rookie season and is moving to tackle. The line may not be as good, but Ajayi will progress.

In 2017 Ajayi will have the whole season to prove his worth and prove that he is a top 100 player.

Comments: “Ajayi had an interesting season, but came on strong and cemented himself as the starting running back. His footwork is impeccable. With a full season as a starter this year, Ajayi should produce big time.”-Joe DiTullio

72. Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta Falcons

NFL Top 100

Devonta Freeman (Photo by heavy.com)

Freeman is coming off of his second straight 1,000-yard rushing season and is a part of one of the best offenses in the league. He had less carries in 2016 than in 2015, but was more productive. Last season he finished with 1,079 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.

In the Falcons’ offense, Freeman is not only a great runner but also a great receiver out of the backfield. With Matt Ryan chucking the ball all over the field, Freeman gets to catch a lot of passes and it helps keep the defense from stacking the box. The offensive line is solid and should continue to open up holes in the running game in 2017.

Tevin Coleman does take away some of Freeman’s carries, but keeping him fresh is a priority for the Falcons because of his immense talent.

Comments: “An important part of the Falcons’ offense, Freeman had 4.8 yards per carry and also provides a good receiver out of the backfield. With a good offensive line in front of him and a balanced offense, Freeman will have another good season in 2017.”-Joe DiTullio

71. Cameron Jordan, DE, New Orleans Saints

NFL Top 100

Cameron Jordan (Photo by nflmocks.com)

The Saints’ defense hasn’t been good in years, but Cameron Jordan has been a consistently good player for them. Jordan just doesn’t have a lot of good players around him. In 2017 he finished with 7.5 sacks, 58 total tackles, a forced fumble and six passes defended.

2016 marked a down year in terms of sack totals for Jordan, but he did play solidly in other areas. New Orleans will likely struggle on defense again in 2017, but they do have a solid young secondary that should be helped by rookie Marshon Lattimore. If their coverage is better, it will give Jordan a couple more seconds to get to the quarterback.

Look for Jordan to have another great year on another sub-par defense in 2017.

Comments: Cameron Jordan’s sack numbers don’t impress the average NFL fan, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a menace. Jordan had 79 quarterback pressures last season, which is exactly as many as Von Miller. Jordan received an elite grade from PFF, with a 92.4 score which is good for third among edge rushers last season. The Cal product also tied for the lead the NFL in tackles for loss last season, chalking up 17. Jordan is ranked too low for my taste, and this season will prove that.” – Tim Miller

NFL top 100 players: 90-81

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Possible destinations for Manziel and Kaepernick

Possible destinations for Manziel and Kaepernick

The quarterback position is the most iconic position in all of sports. Football fans watch and discuss the position as if it was a soap opera on ABC. If your team has a franchise quarterback then you know you have a shot at the playoffs. If your team doesn’t then you are constantly searching for that guy. Not finding a franchise quarterback will put a team in a situation similar to that of the Browns or Jaguars.

Why does this matter? Just the other day a father and son were simply talking football like many do. One topic that came up was could the Jaguars sign Johnny Manziel as a backup plan to Blake Bortles. Bortles struggled mightily last season and if he regresses again, Jacksonville will more than likely look for a new candidate as the franchise quarterback. The topic of conversation then evolved to who and where could either Manziel or Kaepernick end up this season. Here are some possible destinations for Manziel and Kaepernick, the two controversial quarterbacks.

Johnny Manziel

The quarterback known as Johnny Football has had an infamous journey thus far. Recently Jon Machota of Dallas News tweeted a quote from Manziel that said, “I know the situation I put myself in. I know the year I took off and obviously the mistakes that I made. Right now, I’m hopeful. I think that I made some progress in that regard. But we’ll see. Whenever I get a call, I’ll do what I can to make the most of it.”

Reports have come out that Manziel is fighting hard to make a return to the NFL. He is still only 24 years old and if he is given the chance, can prove that he can still lead a franchise, so what teams are even a possibility?

Jacksonville

Possible destinations for Manziel and Kaepernick

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

This whole idea started because of the question if the Jags could or should sign Johnny Manziel. Blake Bortles has gone 11-34 in his first three seasons in the NFL. He also struggles with protecting the football and hasn’t had a season with less than 16 interceptions yet. This season is truly a make or break season for Bortles who will have a workhorse at running back, Leonard Fournette. The Jags also have a very talented defense that can succeed if the offense isn’t putting them in bad situations routinely.

This opportunity would allow Manziel to serve as the backup, which is the first step he will have to take in order to get back into the NFL. Depending on how things play out in Jacksonville, he may get a shot to take over a struggling Bortles. With the pieces in place, Manziel would have little to no pressure thus improving his chances of becoming the franchise quarterback they are looking for.

New Orleans

Back in March, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton met with Johnny Manziel for breakfast. Payton was rather coy on why they met but did say he was a fan of the talent Manziel possessed. The Saints are only a possibility because of Drew Brees age. He hasn’t shown signs of regression but quarterbacks don’t get better at 38. Even if he plays for two years, he could be an amazing mentor to Johnny Football.

Another reason this could work is that they are practically the same size. The knock on both Brees and Manziel coming out of college was their height. Both are six foot tall and around 208 pounds. Brees has proven, at his size, that even short quarterbacks can throw for 5,000 yards and win a Super Bowl.

Considering how respected of a quarterback and a person Brees is, he could really be the perfect role model for Manziel as Brees’ career comes to an end. Sean Payton would have his quarterback in waiting and the Saints could be set for the next ten years.

New York Giants

The big apple could be dangerous, yet the perfect destination for Johnny Football. Eli Manning is 36 and although hasn’t hinted at retirement, he could be done with football soon. Similar to the situation in New Orleans, Manziel could come in and sit behind Manning for two to three years. The Giants have a good defense and great receiving weapons on offense. Sitting behind Manning could allow Manziel to come in at the right time to be the man in the city so nice they named it twice. This isn’t insider information, just speculation but could you imagine the media frenzy if Manziel went to the Giants?

Colin Kaepernick

Pittsburgh

Possible destinations for Manziel and Kaepernick

(Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Ben Roethlisberger has already struggled with the idea of retirement but decided to come back this season. If the season is long and tough on Big Ben then it is very likely this is his last season. Pittsburgh will need a new man under center. Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell could carry the offense and let Colin Kaepernick manage the game. Kap has experience going deep in the playoffs and can jump straight into the fire with the Steelers. Mike Tomlin could be the coach to take that shot on Kaepernick.

Baltimore

This won’t make much sense at first glance because Joe Flacco doesn’t seem likely to be going anywhere soon. But every team needs a backup and what better place for Kaepernick than to join the team whose head coach is the brother of the coach you had the most success with? Colin Kaepernick may not want to be a backup but at this point, he must take what he can get. John Harbaugh faced Kaepernick in the Super Bowl and knows what he is capable of. It may not be what Kap wants but needs instead.

Jacksonville

Every reason on why Johnny Manziel could play for the Jaguars is why Colin Kaepernick could as well. Last season Bortles threw a touchdown on 3.7 percent and interceptions on 2.6 percent of his throws. That was horrible compared to Kaepernick who threw touchdowns on 4.8 percent and interceptions on 1.2 percent of his throws. Kaepernick would be an improvement over Bortles. If Bortles continues to struggle not only will Manziel be an option but Kaepernick would be the best option.

Other

Both teams in Los Angeles are a possibility. Jared Goff could prove to be a bust for the Rams and if they don’t want to keep trying to find a franchise quarterback through the draft then Manziel or Kaepernick could be worth a shot. The Chargers are a young team with lots of talent aside from Philip Rivers. Rivers is 35 years of age and is coming off of one of his worst seasons as a pro. If he duplicates last years performance, the Chargers may decide to move on.

The Cardinals are another team with an aging quarterback. Arizona also has an offensive minded genius at head coach. Manziel or Kaepernick could be the replacement for Carson Palmer.

Three other teams, the New York Jets, Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins may also be looking for a quarterback after this season ends and it is possible one of these teams throw either of these guys an opportunity.

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Super Bowl series: AFC North

Super Bowl series 2017: AFC North

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. This is the fourth edition, Super Bowl series: AFC North.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Super Bowl series 2017: AFC North

(Photo Credit: Matthew Healey/ UPI | License Photo)

The Pittsburgh Steelers were one game away from making it to the Super Bowl. Getting to the Super Bowl this season isn’t improbable. After finishing the season 11-5, Pittsburgh dismantled Miami 30-12 in their wild card game. In the divisional round, the Steelers squeaked by the Chiefs 18-16. The downfall of the Steelers was running into the New England Patriots, who went on to win Super Bowl LI.

Pittsburgh should be the favorite to win the AFC North this upcoming season. They have won 10 or more games for three straight seasons. The Steelers’ offense was one of the best in the NFL last season and all their key pieces are returning. Ben Roethlisberger had a solid season throwing for 3,819 yards, 29 touchdowns and just 13 interceptions in just 14 games. Starting running back Le’Veon Bell was the first player in NFL history to average 100 yards rushing and 50 yards receiving per game in a single season.

The final major offensive piece, Antonio Brown, will still be around as well. Last season he helped the Steelers rank in the top 10 in multiple offensive categories with 106 receptions, 1,284 yards and 12 Touchdowns. Due to the stellar play of these core players, Pittsburgh was seventh in scoring, averaging 24.9 points per game. Their dynamic passing game ranked fifth in the NFL at 263.2 passing yards per game. This lead to the seventh overall ranked offense as the Steelers averaged 372.6 total yards per game.

For Pittsburgh to win Super Bowl LII they must improve their 14th ranked rushing attack which averaged 110 yards per game. Growth from the offensive line will help with the improvement in the run game. Pro Football Focus is projecting the Steelers to have the third best offensive line in the NFL based on how well they played down the stretch last season.

Speaking of playing well down the stretch, Pittsburgh ranked seventh in fourth quarter scoring last season, averaging 8.2 points per the fourth quarter. If Pittsburgh needs to come back or put away a game late, they have proven to have the capability to score late in games.

On the defensive side of the ball, there is also room for improvement that will help with a Super Bowl berth and possible victory. Pittsburgh ranked 10th in points allowed per game at 20.6 and their first half defense was to thank. In the first half of games, the defense only gave up an average of 9.2 points, which was second best in the NFL.

Pittsburgh must learn to get off the field. Getting off the field quicker will allow the defense to carry over that kind of dominance into the second half by being less gassed. Last season their defense spent too much time on the field. The Steelers ranked fifth in opponents offensive plays with 62.1. The offense can help by putting together longer drives but ultimately the defense must get off the field.

Despite being on the field for that many plays, the Steelers ranked 10th in total yards with 339.2. Their rush defense carried them by ranking eighth as opponents only averaged 93.2 yards on the ground against them. In order for the Steelers to win the Super Bowl, their pass defense must improve which is why they added Coty Sensabaugh in the offseason.

The Steelers must build off of last year’s success on offense. Big Ben has enough experience and talent to lead this offense to some amazing performances. Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown will continue to shatter record books and this offense will be Super Bowl worthy. If the defense can hold up and improve at stopping opponents passing attacks then the Steelers will hold up the Lombardi Trophy for the seventh time in franchise history.

Baltimore Ravens

Super Bowl series 2017: AFC North

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

The Baltimore Ravens stumbled to an 8-8 record last season despite having a very strong defense. In order to make the playoffs this season, Baltimore must fare better on the road as they were 2-6 in road games last year. They must also get a win in October. Going 0-4 in the middle of the season can really set a team off course.

Baltimore’s defense was clearly the team’s strength. The Ravens ranked ninth in points allowed at 20.1 points per game. This top 10 scoring defense was a result of dominant first half play. Baltimore only gave up 9.5 points per game in the first half last season.

In terms of yardage, the Ravens ranked seventh in the NFL in total defense giving up only 322.1 yards per game. Their rush defense led them to this high ranking as they ranked fifth  giving up 89.4 yards per game. To make the playoffs, and ultimately win the Super Bowl, the Ravens need to continue playing strong defense.

The loss of Elvis Dumervill shouldn’t hurt the Ravens too badly. At age 33, his best days are behind him. Dumervill only had three sacks in eight games last season. Losing Dumervill shouldn’t affect the Raven’s pass rush at all due to his lack of production.

Baltimore did add safety Tony Jefferson from the Cardinals. Jefferson is strong in coming up to support the run. He also added two sacks from the safety position. Baltimore’s defense should remain elite and as the old saying goes, defense wins championships.

In order for the Ravens to truly become Super Bowl contenders, they must improve offensively. Baltimore struggled to score points despite scoring the fourth most field goals per game last season with 2.4. Overall, the Ravens only scored 21.4 points per game which ranked 21st in the NFL.

The biggest reason the Ravens’ offense was so bad was because of their running game. Baltimore ranked last in run percentage, running the ball only 34 percent of the time. This led to the 28th worst rushing offense at just 91.4 yards per game. Despite having such a bad rushing game the Ravens were able to control the clock. The Ravens held the ball for nearly 31 minutes a game last season.

If the Ravens are able to continue playing elite defense and run the ball more often, and effectively, then winning Super Bowl LII becomes a real possibility.

Cincinnati Bengals

Super Bowl series 2017: AFC North

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

The Bengals were expected to make the playoffs for the sixth straight season but they fell apart. Cincinnati finished 6-9-1 and they didn’t get a shot to end their 26-year winless playoff drought.

Winning the Super Bowl is going to be no easy task for the Bengals. First, they must find a way to get in the playoffs while in one of the toughest divisions in football. Second, they must find a way to get over that hump and end the drought of simply winning a playoff game.

The Bengals offense does have some talent but did lose two major pieces along the offensive line. Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler both departed this offseason. Losing lineman of Pro-Bowl caliber will not be a good thing and in order to succeed in the NFL, you must have a good offensive line. The Bengals reacquired Andre Smith to help with this problem. Smith was with the Bengals for seven years but went to Minnesota for a year before returning.

One thing the Bengals’ offense did well last season is score early. Cincinnati was third in the NFL in first quarter scoring averaging 6.1 points. Sustaining that quick start was a problem because they went from third in first quarter scoring to 27th in second quarter scoring. Altogether the offense only scored 20.3 points per game.

Improving the consistency of the offense, along with filling the voids on the offensive line will be key in the Bengals pursuit of a Super Bowl title.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Bengals were much better than their counterpart. Cincinnati ranked seventh in points allowed per game at 19.7. This is a closer measure of how good the Bengals’s defense was than their 17th ranked defense (according to yards given up per game, 350.8). The reason the Bengals gave up so many yards is because they were on the field a lot. The Bengals were on the field for an average of 64.9 plays per game, which was eighth most in the NFL.

Kevin Minter will be an upgrade from Rey Maualuga who also departed the Bengals. Maualuga played in 14 games and only had 27 tackles while Minter had 81 in 16 games of action. The defense should play up to the same caliber as last season allowing for the Bengals a chance to contend for the division title.

In order for the Bengals drought to end, and eventually win Super Bowl LII, the Bengals offensive line must allow the rest of the offense to become elite. If all these things fall into place then the Bengals win end up as Super Bowl champs.

Cleveland Browns

Super Bowl series 2017: AFC North

(Mandatory Photo Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)

Pigs are going to have to fly and unicorns are going to have to dance for the Browns to go from 1-15 to celebrating a victory in Super Bowl LII. In all seriousness, the Browns will have their work cut out for them. They were dreadful on both sides of the ball.

Cleveland did have a solid draft and acquired a few established players in free agency. Brock Osweiler and Kevin Zeitler may improve the Browns offensively, but only time will tell. The Browns struggled to score points averaging 16.5 points per game which ranked 31st. Cleveland needs to find a way to improve the amount of plays they run and time of possession which ranked 27th and 31st respectively.

Osweiler, if named starter, should be able to help improve the Browns passing attack which averaged 204 yards per game. In 2015 with Denver, he was able to average 245 yards per game. His production dropped in Houston but Hue Jackson has been known to bring the best out of quarterbacks.

The ground game was a bit better ranking 19th in the NFL. Improving the entire offensive production can help the Browns get closer to the playoffs.

Cleveland focused on the defensive side of the ball in the first round of the NFL draft. They drafted Myles Garrett and Jabrill Peppers to help the 31st ranked defense in the NFL. The Browns also signed defensive back Jason McCourty to help in the secondary.

The Browns were on the field a lot which is why the gave up so many yards and points. Cleveland is going to be young but talented on defense and if they can begin to slow opposing offenses down, they can win some more games.

It is very unlikely the Browns win a Super Bowl this season. In order for this crazy event to happen, Osweiler is going to need to become a top three quarterback. Along with that, the defense must become feared. Jabrill Peppers and Myles Garrett will have to play at a pro-bowl level for the Browns to even make the playoffs. If pigs can fly, then the Browns will find a way to win Super Bowl LII.

Thank you for checking out the Super Bowl Series: AFC North. Stay tuned the remaining editions of Super Bowl series and check out the previous editions of the Super Bowl series here.

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Top 5 Kickers in Fantasy

Top five kickers in fantasy football

When it comes to fantasy football, the one position that gets no recognition is the kicker. They just kick extra points and field goals to the common player. But just because they’re the pink label at your draft party doesn’t mean they can’t be a big component of your team.

There will be a time you need that one point to win a championship and it comes down to a kicker either you have or are playing against. Kickers can at times make or break your fantasy team, so don’t overlook them.

Here are the top five kickers for fantasy football in 2017.

No.5 Wil Lutz, New Orleans Saints

Lutz had a successful rookie year in 2016. He had the fifth-most points thanks in part to his 98.0 percent accuracy on 50 PAT attempts. He was one of only two kickers with that many behind Matt Bryant.

He went on to post seven top-10 fantasy weeks and finished seventh at the position in fantasy points. Lutz made 28 of his 34 field goals (82.4 percent) that ranked 12th in field goals made and attempted. His situation in New Orleans is a good fit due to a good offense for him to get plenty of opportunities.

The Saints rank 31st in attempts in the past decade (278) but Lutz will be effective when his name is called. It’s possible the 23-year-old’s effectiveness improves in his second season.

No.4 Stephen Gostkowski, New England Patriots

top 5 NFL kickers

Stephen Gostkowski (Photo by: patriots.com)

Even though he had a disappointing 2016 season, I still like Stephen Gostkowski and rank him fourth on my list. Gostkowski had five straight seasons as a top-three fantasy kicker, including number one in each of the previous three years.

In 2016, Gostkowski fell to eighth in fantasy scoring. He converted 84.4 percent of his field goal attempts, which was his worst mark since 2012, and missed three extra point attempts. His 32 attempts were his lowest mark since 2010.

But Gostkowski still had at least over 50 percent when he attempted a field goal from each distance. The real reason why Gostkowski is still a reliable kicker is because of the team is playing for which has one of the best offenses in the NFL.

Gostkowski is still a quality kicker and expected to see more opportunities in 2017 as the Patriots rank third in the NFL with 336 field goal attempts during the past decade. Expect Gostkowski to bounce back.

No.3 Dan Bailey, Dallas Cowboys

Bailey converted only 27 (or 84.4 percent) of 32 field goal attempts last season, but his career mark of 89.5 percent is second-best all time behind only Justin Tucker.

Two of his five misses were in outside stadiums and not in dome stadiums where he is most comfortable. Three of his misses also came from 50-plus yards. He did have a career-low from 40-49 yards at 77.8 percent where he has done better than 83.3 percent in his first five seasons.

Bailey finished 10th at the position last year and has finished no lower than 11th since entering the league in 2011. Bailey is one of two kickers who haven’t missed an extra point attempt during the past two seasons. The high efficiency has led to a lot of fantasy success. The Cowboys offense should allow him plenty of opportunities.

No.2 Matt Bryant, Atlanta Falcons

top 5 NFL kickers

Matt Bryant (Photo by: http://atlantafalcons.blog.ajc.com)

It doesn’t matter how old you are if you’re Matt Bryant. The 42-year-old led all fantasy kickers in points with 176 points last season. Bryant has finished as a top-five fantasy kicker in four of the past seven years and posted a top-10 fantasy week 13 times last season, which was four more than the next-closest kicker. With Atlanta’s terrific offense, he converted an NFL-high 56 of his 57 extra point attempts.

Bryant is getting older but he still can hit his marks. He made 34 of 37 field goal attempts (91.9 percent) last season. One concerning stat from last year is besides attempts from 20-29 yards, he didn’t attempt over 10 field goals in each yard category. However, he made over 75 percent when attempting his field goals. He will still get his chances and be a top-5 kicker at the end of the season.

No.1 Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens

Justin Tucker ranks number one on my list and has every right to be. He was ridiculous last year. He missed one field goal all season and the one he missed was blocked. Bryant was a perfect 14 for 14 from 40-49 yards and 10 of 10 from 50-plus yards. No other kicker last year was perfect from 50-plus yards.

Tucker’s career 89.8 percent field goal conversion rate is the best of all time, and he has connected on all 56 extra point attempts since the league moved the ball to the 15-yard line in 2015.

The Baltimore Ravens have been reliable with their kicker as they have attempted an NFL-high 352 field goals during the past decade. He’s your best bet at the position as he was second in total points last year in standard scoring with 174 fantasy points and has finished no lower than 11th since he entered the league in 2012.

 

Featured image from ftw.usatoday.com.

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2017 AFC North odds: A look the odds and predicting a winner

2017 AFC North Odds

The AFC is probably the most brutal and competitive division in the NFL. With the great rivalries and awful weather, the AFC North is the hardest to predict. The Steelers are favored to win the division at +110, and the rest follows with the Ravens coming second at +175. Both of the top two bets are extremely interesting and both have good potential. The Bengals come in at +250 and the Browns are dead last at a whopping +3300.

Cleveland Browns (+3300)

2017 AFC North odds

Courtesy of Clevelandbrowns.com

What is their to say about the Cleveland Browns? They have been the laughing stock of the NFL for the better part of eight years and have constantly finished among the bottom three teams. The Browns find themselves with high draft picks who never materialize into anything.

 

Look at Trent Richardson, Josh Gordon and Johnny Manziel: All had high ceilings, but all had different issues that kept them from reaching them. With the Browns sitting at +3300, putting money on them to take the division would be like investing in Newbury Comics.

Cincinnati Bengals (+250):

2017 AFC North odds

Courtesy of IGN.com

Three years ago, if you told me that the Cincinnati Bengals were going to be the best team in the AFC North I might have believed you. Sadly, for Andy Dalton and head coach Marvin Lewis, you would have been dead wrong.

The Bengals went into last season with the most hype surrounding the franchise in a long time, thanks to the duo of Dalton and A.J. Green. Unfortunately, Green was sidelined during the season, missing four games and the other receivers just couldn’t make up for the explosiveness of Green.

This season, Dalton and Green will put up big numbers, but it won’t materialize into enough wins to take home the AFC North title. At +250, the Bengals do have an enticing money line that holds a lot more value than the Ravens. Use this pick at your own discretion but it could be a big payout at the end of the year.

Baltimore Ravens (+175)

The Ravens have been an interesting team in that when you think they’re on the right path for a good year, they stink it up yet when the expectations are low they cause big upsets. Offseason acquisitions like Jeremy Maclin, Danny Woodhead and Brandon Carr and also drafting some help at offensive line shows the Ravens have made a serious attempt at competing with the Steelers.

With their line being at +175, you’re not getting a much better line than the favored Steelers so the money is certainly safer in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh Steelers (+110)

2017 AFC North odds

Courtesy of Sportskings.com

The Steelers have been owning the division in recent years with some of the best offensive weapons in Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. The availability of Ben Roethlisberger has come into question during the last few seasons and getting a year older isn’t going to do you any favors in the toughest division in football.

The Steelers have a bunch of talent on the offensive end and although the defense has some holes, they’re still good enough to make things happen.

That said, I will surely be putting my money on the Steelers to take the division and give me a nice pay day at the end of the season. #ThanksBen

 

 

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Running back rankings for the 2017 Fantasy Football season: 50-41

Probably the most coveted position in fantasy football, we are in the era of the running back. If you had players like Le’veon Bell, David Johnson, or Ezekiel Elliot on your team last year, you were probably in the playoffs and maybe even won your championship. These rankings can help you win your league and avoid some bad choices in your draft. Here are the Running back rankings for the 2017 Fantasy Football season: 50-41.

50. Robert Kelley (Washington Redskins)- 

Questions come into training camp, as to whether or not Kelley can remain the lead back in Washington. Last season he averaged 4.2 yards per attempt while he rushed for 704 yards and six touchdowns. It is known that Washington will go with a running back by committee approach, and there’s a lot of running backs in Washington gunning for those touches. I’d stay away from Kelley until the later rounds of drafts.

49. Jeremy Hill (Cincinnati Bengals)

For the past couple of years, Jeremy Hill has always been the guy who’s supposed to have a great year. After his breakout season in 2014 with 1,124 yards and 9 touchdowns, he hasn’t been the same.

http://rotoviz.com/2016/03/jeremy-hill-fantasy-3/?hvid=57gwhW

The touchdowns have been there (11 in 2015 and 9 last season) but he hasn’t had a 1,000 yard rushing season since. With the addition of Joe Mixon, Giovanni Bernard coming back and the depleted offensive line, I would avoid Jeremy Hill in drafts this year.

48. Latavius Murray (Minnesota Vikings)

Before the draft, Latavius Murray joined the Minnesota Vikings and I was intrigued. Once Dalvin Cook was drafted, Murray’s stocked dropped and Cook became the front runner to start for the Vikings.

He hit the injury bug a little bit last year when he missed two games but he still recorded 788 yards and 12 touchdowns. He split carries last year behind a great offensive line and now he’ll be splitting carries behind a worse offensive line. Murray is a good RB3 but nothing more.

47. Derrick Henry (Tennesse Titans)

I really like Derrick Henry this year. In the last 5 games of the season, Henry ran for more than 40 yards 3 times on minimal carries. His workload will increase this year and given Demarco Murray’s injury history, I’d stash Henry on your bench and wait it out.

http://titansized.com/2017/03/21/derrick-henry-needs-a-new-role-in-the-tennessee-titans-offense/

46. Samaje Perine (Washington Redskins)

I absolutely love Perine this year. After rushing for over 1700 yards and 21 touchdowns at Oklahoma this past season, the Washington Redskins drafted Perine with the 114th overall pick.

After running a 4.65 40 yard dash, scouts saw that he was a tough runner who could handle a big workload, which just may happen for him in Washington. The Redskins are trying to deal Matt Jones, and will use a Running back by committee, but Perine is that running back to own.

45. Jacquizz Rodgers (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

Rodgers in an interesting fantasy candidate this year. Doug Martin is suspended four games and Charles Sims coming off of a torn pectoral. Rodgers will be the lead back for the start of the season. When Rodgers got at least 15 carries a game last season, he always got more than 60 yards. I would draft Rodgers for the first four games while Martin is suspended and then keep him on your bench for the rest of the season.

44. Wendall Smallwood (Philadelphia Eagles)

Smallwood reminds me a lot of his teammate Darren Sproles. Last year Sproles had a career resurgence but I think this year Smallwood will fill his shoes. After averaging 4.05 yards a carry as the 3rd running back theres no reason why he shouldn’t be able to do that in a bigger workload as the consistent third town back. He won’t get you many touchdowns but the yards will be there.

43. LaGarrette Blount (Philadelphia Eagles)

Back to back Eagles running backs, just this time I’m talking about the workhorse back. After winning a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots, Blount rushed for 1,161 yards and 18 touchdowns. The free agent market for the aging running back was slim but i think the powerful runner still has something left in the tank. The Eagles ran the ball on 40% of their plays last season without a feature back. Now Doug Pederson has his running back and good things will come from it.

Legarrette Blount racked up 69 yards rushing and three touchdowns in Sunday’s loss to Seattle.

42. Terrence West (Baltimore Ravens)

After a nice year with the Ravens, rushing for 774 yards and 5 touchdowns, West should have a bit of a fall in 2017. With the addition of Danny Woodhead and the emergence of Kenneth Dixon, I don’t see West being anything special this season. Dixon is suspended however so West could be good for four games but after that I wouldn’t keep West on your team.

41. Matt Forte (New York Jets)

Running backs may be the only good thing that the New York Jets have on they team anymore. Forte and Bilal Powel provide a strong one-two punch but in this case, Forte is the worse choice of the two. A former first round pick in fantasy football, Forte is still a good running back, but with his age and his injury history (hasn’t played a full season since 2014), I’d stay away from him this year.

 

 

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Football Stars on New Teams

NFL Fantasy Studs Sporting New Colors

In 2017, many NFL players will be moving on to new teams. I have composed a list of five NFL fantasy studs sporting new colors this season. These five players will have a major impact on not only their new teams success, but on your fantasy teams success should you be fortunate enough to draft them.

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Oakland Raiders

 

NFL Fantasy Studs Sporting New Colors

Marshawn Lynch (Photo by: silverandblackpride.com)

A lot of people are excited to see Marshawn Lynch back in the NFL. After being retired in 2016, Lynch finds himself in his hometown team’s silver and black. Lynch is a big powered back that lives up to his name “Beast Mode”. He will be the go to guy with the Oakland Raiders after they lost Latavius Murray to Minnesota in free agency. The Raiders ranked within the top-10 in most rushing categories and Lynch should only improve on those statistics in 2017. The Raiders did find themselves in the top-10 in fumbles lost in 2016 and adding Lynch will improve that number as he had zero in 2015 and one in 2014. Lynch will be a high-end RB2 and maybe even a low-end RB1 in most fantasy leagues depending on how committed to the run the Raiders are in 2017.

Jeremy Maclin, WR, Baltimore Ravens

 

Changing to the wide receiver position, another player to focus on is new Baltimore Ravens receiver Jeremy Maclin. Cut by the Kansas City Chiefs on June 2, he found a new home in Baltimore just 11 days later on a two-year deal. Maclin should fit in right away as Joe Flacco’s number one target. Maclin’s numbers should increase as he is in a better passing offense with the Ravens. The Ravens ranked 12th in passing yards while the Chiefs ranked 19th and Baltimore attempted 679 passes, which led the league, to Kansas City’s 546.  Maclin at worst is a valuable flex option and has the potential to be a high-end WR2.

Alshon Jeffrey, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

 

NFL Fantasy Studs Sporting New Colors

Alshon Jeffrey (Photo by: nj.com)

Another receiver looking to rebound is Alshon Jeffrey of the Philadelphia Eagles. Jeffrey is a big target with good hands and solid route running skills. Like most Chicago Bear offensive players, Jeffrey struggled last year as he only managed 95 catches for 821 yards and two touchdowns. He was also suspended for four games by the NFL for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. This year Jeffrey should bounce back being paired with Carson Wentz and having a good core of receivers in Torrey Smith, Jordan Mathews and tight end Zach Ertz around him. The Eagles last year ranked 24th in receiving yards and 29th in yards-per-reception and Jeffrey should only help improve those numbers. Jeffrey will be a high-end WR2 but will be a drafted too early as a WR1.

Brandin Cooks, WR, New England Patriots

 

One player that could see a new role is receiver Brandin Cooks. After trade on March 10 to the New England Patriots, Cooks finds himself in a plethora of receivers that he will pair with. Tom Brady will be happy to have him. As a fantasy owner I wouldn’t worry about how many catches he will get. The Patriot offense is all about spreading the ball around. Cooks was part of that with the New Orleans Saints but he was also the number one target for them. In New England he’s another weapon and the primary deep threat for Brady. He will lose some value but he will remain a solid WR2 option in leagues this season.

Adrian Peterson, RB, New Orleans Saints

 

One of the more intriguing players we will be watching is running back Adrian Peterson of the New Orleans Saints. Peterson shouldn’t be expected to be the player he was with the Minnesota Vikings but more of an option the Saints have at running back along with Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara. There is no guarantee he will be the starter come week one but the Saints signed him to get some carries and take a good portion of the workload. The Saints have proven to have a consistent running game as they rank in the top-15 in most rushing categories and adding Peterson can only strengthen those numbers. He has struggled with injuries but he is Adrian Peterson and we have seen him bounce back from injuries before. He is someone to take a gamble on late in the draft as he will get touchdowns and carries.

These five players were major components for their old teams and you should expect them to be contributors to their new teams in 2017. The roles the fill will be changing and their fantasy output should be researched thoroughly before making them a key contributed for your team.

Featured Image from https://nflspinzone.com/

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Baltimore Ravens 2017 NFL Draft Profile

The Baltimore Ravens are upon us on day 15 of Draftmas.

Summary

The Baltimore Ravens were plagued by injuries for a second straight season, resulting in an 8-8 record. The most disappointing part about this finish was that they were just one win away from a playoff berth, if they could have only beaten the Pittsburgh Steelers on Christmas. In that game, the Ravens had a lead going into the 4th quarter, but their defense completely collapsed. That one quarter helps show how a team once known for its unstoppable defense, needs to focus a lot of attention on upgrading that side of the ball this offseason.

It has been a somewhat quiet offseason for the Ravens. The team made some changes at the position coach level, but all three coordinators are returning for another season as well as head coach John Harbaugh. Wide receiver Steve Smith also announced his retirement and the team will need to find a replacement.The best move the Ravens have made this offseason was resigning Brandon Williams to a long term deal. Williams, 26, is one of the best nose tackles in the NFL and a great run-stuffer in the 3-4 defense. The Ravens also spent the offseason cutting underperforming veterans including outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil and cornerback Ladarius Webb.

The signing of safety Tony Jefferson from the Arizona Cardinals was also a great move and he will be a definite upgrade over the aging Webb. The Timmy Jernigan trade does not make sense because he is a young defensive end in a position of need for the Ravens who had shown flashes in the past. Jernigan at age 24 is simply too young to justify the Ravens trading him away to move up 25 spots in the third round, Jernigan’s upside is too great. The Ravens did not do much to address their needs in free agency and hope the draft will help fill them.

 

Ravens Picks and Needs

The Ravens have seven picks in this years draft, including two in the third round. This gives the Ravens enough picks to address their needs as well as build depth on a team that lacks it. Here are the picks:

First Round: 16th Overall

Second Round: 47th Overall

Third Round: 74th –from Eagles for Timmy Jernigan and 99th overall pick

Third Round: 78th Overall

Fourth Round: 122nd Overall

Fifth Round: 159th Overall

Sixth Round: 186th Overall- from 49ers for C Jeremy Zutter and 198th overall pick

The Ravens have some glaring needs on both sides of the ball. The defense has holes at almost every position besides safety and nose tackle. The team has a decent offense, but the offensive line is their weakest unit and needs to be upgraded in order to keep Joe Flacco healthy. The team also needs to find a replacement for Steve Smith. Here are the Ravens’ needs:

 

Offense:

Wide Receiver

Center

Offensive Guard

Left Tackle

Right Tackle

 

Defense:

Defensive End

Rush Linebacker

Cornerback

Inside Linebacker

 

Ravens Targets:

Here I will project the Ravens picks in the first three rounds assuming there are no trades.

First Round:

16th Pick: Cam Robinson OT, Alabama

The Ravens are in desperate need at offensive line this offseason with the departure of Ricky Wagner to the Giants. This pick has decent value at this point of the first round and Robinson is the only tackle graded as a first rounder. Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome has always liked picking Alabama players and it has been reported the Ravens are high on Robinson. Wide receiver John Ross out of Washington could also go here as a successor to Steve Smith.

Second Round:

47th Pick: Curtis Samuel WR, Ohio State

The Ravens get their replacement for Steve Smith here. Samuel has a very similar skill set to Steve Smith and should be used as a vertical threat in the pros. I could also see the Ravens addressing the rush linebacker spot here, but this is a deep class for edge rushers.

Third Round:

74th Pick: Carl Lawson, DE/OLB, Auburn

Lawson played defensive end in college, but a lot of people think he will fit in better as a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. He provides great value for the Ravens at this point. While he was productive when he was healthy in college, Lawson does have a little bit of an injury history, which is why he is a third round pick.

78th Pick: Kendall Beckwith, ILB, LSU

Baltimore needs another inside linebacker to pair with C.J. Mosley. Beckwith has experience playing in both a 3-4 and a 4-3 defense in college at LSU and did well in both schemes. Although he is a third round pick, he may be able to compete for a starting job and at the very least will provide good depth.

Conclusion:

The AFC North is likely going to be a two horse race between Baltimore and Pittsburgh. The Ravens can compete for a playoff spot with some good additions in this draft class, if they stay healthy.

 

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