week three DFS Dont's

Week One DFS Dont’s: Report Card

With the first Sunday in the books, it’s time to review week one and my predictions. I’ll be reviewing my picks from last week’s DFS Dont’s article series, as well as the picks I made on the Suck My DFS Podcast. Picks aside, I started off the year right by finishing in the money in all 36 of my FanDuel contests. Without further adieu, here is the report card edition of my week one DFS Dont’s.

Quarterback: 1/5

Last week, I stated that Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Stafford should stay off your DFS lineups. I was feeling great about my Stafford prediction after the first quarter, but that feeling quickly subsided. Stafford finished with 28.08 points. Roethlisberger didn’t set the world on fire, but I’ll chalk his 16.72 points up as a loss for me.

On the Suck My DFS Podcast, I chose three quarterbacks I liked in cash games and GPP’s: Russell Wilson, Carson Wentz and Brian Hoyer. Both Wilson and Hoyer scored single digit points. On the bright side, Wilson didn’t cost me in my cash games. Thankfully, Carson Wentz paid dividends on his $7,100 price tag, as he scored 19.88 points.

I ended up playing three quarterbacks in my cash lineups: Russell Wilson, Derek Carr and Carson Wentz. I couldn’t find a good combination for my GPP contests, so I decided to pull my money out this week and just play cash games. I’m not regretting that decision.

Running Back: 3/6

In my running back DFS Dont’s piece, I advised that you stay away from Ezekiel Elliott, Leonard Fournette and Marshawn Lynch. I had know idea the Jacksonville Jaguars would dominate the Houston Texans in such dramatic fashion. I look forward to cashing in on Fournette in the future as he scored 19.9 points in his debut. Elliott’s $8,700 price tag isn’t usually worth 16.5 points; however, I’ll mark it as a loss since that’s much better than how David Johnson or Le’Veon Bell produced. I told you to stay away from Lynch until we know exactly how his workload will look, hopefully you did, as he scored a whopping 9.7 points.

On the podcast, I gushed over LeSean McCoy and Todd Gurley. They scored 18.4 and 18.1 points each. Sadly, I also loved Bilal Powell, who produced a disappointing single digit performance. Once again, I lucked out with my Powell prediction since I didn’t partake in any GPP contests in week one.

Wide Receiver: 1/5

My week one DFS Dont’s at this position included Dez Bryant, Golden Tate and Jarvis Landry. I was dead on about Bryant and his personal match up against Janoris Jenkins, as he scored a disappointing 5.3 points. However, I was totally wrong about Golden Tate. He, unlike Dez, found a way to overcome a tough match up and produced 16.4 points. Jarvis Landry had an unexpected bye, so I won’t be counting that prediction at all.

In my podcast picks, I pounded the table on AJ Green, Doug Baldwin and Martavis Bryant. I was wrong on all three as they severely under produced.

Tight End: 3/5

Eric Ebron was awful, so that gives me a mark in the win column. Yet again, my other prediction was set to play in the rescheduled Miami vs Tampa Bay game, so throw out O.J. Howard this week.

The tight ends I liked were Delanie Walker, Zach Ertz, Jack Dolye and Zach Miller. Walker and Ertz finished in the top six among tight ends in week one. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough volume for Doyle or Miller to get a chance to be productive or else they would have hit as well. I’ll take the two losses on Doyle and Miller.

Kicker: 2/2

It’s pretty straight forward, stop paying up for kickers. The position is way too dependent on coaching decisions, weather and offensive competency. Nine kickers scored double digit points in week one, and Justin Tucker was not one of them.

On the other hand, my podcast pick clicked, Ryan Succop. It wasn’t rocket science. Here’s the criteria for which I pick my kicker. Is he less than $4,800? Is he at home? Is he favored? Is the weather good? Succop met all of these requirements.

Defense: 2/4

In my first ever DFS Dont’s piece, I made the case not to play the Pittsburgh or Buffalo defense. Neither one of them paid off like most had hoped, but, neither imploded like I had hoped. Given your defense starts with 10 points, I’ll say I was wrong about the Steelers, since they scored 12, and was right about the Bills, since they only scored nine.

We crushed our defensive picks to click. Both Will and I were all in on Los Angeles in week one and they did not disappoint. On the other hand, I offered the Arizona defense as a potential GPP pivot from the Rams, and they only scored eight points.

Week One DFS Dont’s Report Card: 12/27

On a percentage basis, I was not good. I only connected on 44% of my picks in week one. By my standards, and at almost any academic institution, 44% is a failure. Now, no one gets 100% of their predictions right, but, I need to operate in the 60-70 percentile to feel like it was a good week. You can check out all of my week one DFS Dont’s articles here. We’ll start with week two tomorrow as we break down what kicker and defenses you should avoid.

 

Like what you read? Tune into the Suck My DFS Podcast this Friday and find out who TGH fantasy experts will be playing in their DFS lineups this week. You can find the link to our podcast on the Podcast page.

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Featured image from Grizzly Bear Blues

San Francisco 49ers

Bay Area hope: The Rebuilding San Francisco 49ers

The preseason is not a reliable indicator of regular season success in the NFL. The 2008 Lions went undefeated in the preseason, then went on to be the first team to go winless in a 16 game regular season.

However, sometimes little snippets of games can give viewers both good and bad indicators about a team. This preseason, there is a team whose rebuilding process may not take as long as some people think.

Ever since Richard Sherman tipped away San Francisco’s Super Bowl hopes a few years ago, the 49ers franchise has cratered. They are coming off a pair seasons with just seven combined wins.

Richard Sherman

Photo:: sbnation.com

Rookie head coach Kyle Shanahan and new general manager John Lynch certainly have their work cut out for them, but they have made tremendous strides.

The third preseason game is the so-called “dress rehearsal.” San Francisco traveled to Minnesota last week. The 49ers starters ran the Vikings out of the building for a half.

Brian Hoyer was brought in to stabilize the quarterback situation while the 49ers look for the next young guy. Only time will tell if rookie C. J. Beathard can be that guy. For now though, Hoyer has a chance to guide this team to being very competitive very quickly.

Hoyer is not the kind of guy that a fan base is going to rally behind and buy his jersey, but he can get the job done under the right circumstances. He has been around for almost a decade, has a winning record as a starter and 18 more career touchdown passes than interceptions. There is zero pressure on Beathard to go out and resurrect this franchise right now. That is a beautiful thing.

Also, the 49ers have done a better job putting talent around Hoyer than people realize. Running back Carlos Hyde seems healthy and rejuvenated after getting lost in the shuffle last year. He has managed to put up almost 1800 total rushing yards in his first three seasons despite injuries and organizational dysfunction.

Wide receiver Pierre Garçon was also brought in via free agency and had his best statistical season in 2013 in a Redskins offense that was coordinated by Kyle Shanahan. Garçon also has not missed a game since 2012. Staying healthy and being productive is a rare but great combination to have for any wide receiver.

Honestly, it does not take much to turn an offense from laughable to decent in the NFL. At minimum, you need a serviceable quarterback, a running game that can take some pressure off the quarterback, and a reliable pass catcher or two. For the first time in a handful of years, the 49ers have all of those things in place.

Brian Hoyer

Photo: nfl.com

On defense, the 49ers lack big names outside of linebacker Navarro Bowman, but that unit punctuated the relevant part of its preseason by shutting out Minnesota in the first half. Thanks to the ineffectiveness of Chip Kelly’s offense, they spent more time on the field than any other defense last year. That will not happen again this year. That alone should make for a significant improvement.

The brilliance of Kyle Shanahan cannot be overlooked, he has elevated every healthy quarterback he has ever worked with. He is a big reason for Matt Ryan’s MVP campaign last year and the rookie of the year campaign of Robert Griffin III in 2012. Much like his father who is a Super Bowl winning head coach, he knows how to put his players in the best position possible to succeed.

The playoffs might be a stretch for San Francisco this year, but they could flirt with .500. That would be quite an accomplishment considering where they were just a few months ago. The 49ers fan base has two things it has not had for a while, hope and optimism.

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2017 NFC West division preview

2017 NFC West division preview

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

4: San Fransisco 49ers

Last season: 2-14

Strength of Schedule: 20

John Lynch made a statement in the NFL Draft. He knows what he is doing and plans on building a championship defense. The picks of Soloman Thomas and Rueben Foster are prime examples. The problem is that the 49ers need lots of talent to actually be competitive. San Fransisco ranked in the bottom of every defensive category and a few young players aren’t going to turn them into a top NFL defense right away.

2017 NFC West division preview

(Photo Credit: USA Today)

The defense is going to struggle against the run. After ranking 32nd last season, the only way to go is up but again, two rookies aren’t going to take them from 32nd to the top of the mountain.

As teams run all over the 49ers, the defense will get worn out and teams will be able to pass against them as well. With a bottom third defense, it will be difficult for San Fransisco to win games.

Offensively, the 49ers will struggle because of a bad offensive line. Pro Football Focus is predicting the 49ers to have the 27th ranked line in the NFL. This will mean tough sledding for running back Carlos Hyde. Brian Hoyer has been given the reigns at quarterback but is barely an average quarterback.

Hoyer also has no real threat to throw the ball to outside of Pierre Garcon. Teams can load the box to stop the run and will not have to worry about getting burned by the pass. The predictability of the offense will make it hard for them to win games. The 49ers are clearly heading in the right direction but will not show it with wins this season.

Prediction: 2-14 (0-6), miss the playoffs

3: Arizona Cardinals

Last season: 7-8-1

Strength of Schedule: 23

Carson Palmer showed signs of decline last season at age 37. He went from 35 touchdowns down to 26. Palmer also threw more interceptions as his total increased from 11 interceptions in 2015 to 14 last season. Father Time is undefeated and this season Palmer will feel the effects even more.

2017 NFC West division preview

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

The rest of the offense is pretty solid. David Johnson is one of the top three running backs in the NFL and will be the workhorse. It won’t be far-fetched to say Johnson will have 1,000 yards both on the ground and through the air.

Larry Fitzgerald is back for his 14th season to lead the Cardinals’ receiving corp. Outside of Fitzgerald, there is a lot of inconsistency with the receivers.

Arizona has had a very good defense for the last couple of seasons but there are a few unknowns this year. Losing Calais Campbell and Tony Jefferson really hurt.

There is still plenty of talent but the key pieces of Campbell and Jefferson may prove too big of losses. If they can’t replace these players the defense will regress. The Cardinals will also have a rookie linebacker, Haason Reddick, starting at inside linebacker.

Special teams were a weak link for the Cardinals last season. They must improve in all facets in order to win more games but there isn’t much to look at yet in the preseason to determine whether or not this has improved.

Facing Arizona is going to be a tough game for any opponent but for now, because of an old quarterback and restructured defense, the Cardinals are going to be a team that hovers around .500.

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

2: Los Angeles Rams

Last season: 4-12

Strength of Schedule: 17

Adding Wade Phillips as a defensive coordinator is going to make all the difference for the Rams this season. The Rams’ defense was much better than some of their rankings due to an offense that was rather pedestrian. Los Angeles gave up the ninth fewest yards in the NFL last season at just 337 yards per game.

2017 NFL West division preview

(Photo Credit: https://px1sports.com)

Wade Phillips has had plenty of success as a defensive coordinator and most recently with the Denver Broncos. With players like Robert Quinn, Michael Brockers, Conner Barwin and Aarond Donald (still in the midst of a holdout), Phillips will be able to create massive amounts of pressure on the quarterback.

Alec Ogletree and Mark Barron are pretty solid linebackers who can fly around the field to make tackles.

Trumaine Johnson is one of the best corners in the league and safety Lamarcus Joyner is an up and coming star as well. The secondary has all the makings to round out this defense and turn it into a top five unit.

Now, everyone knows how talented this defense is but the Rams will only go as far as the offense can take them. Los Angeles ranked near the bottom of every offensive category last season. To upgrade the offense, the Rams signed Andrew Whitworth to replace Greg Robinson. This is a colossal improvement at left tackle, which will really help out Jared Goff and the running game.

Speaking of the running game, Todd Gurley is on a mission to prove that last season’s down year was just a fluke. The Rams will need to run the ball well in order to be successful because it takes pressure off of Goff.

The passing game already featured dangerous weapon Tavon Austin but there were a couple more moves made to give Goff plenty of firepower in the passing game. Los Angeles drafted Cooper Kupp, signed Robert Woods and most recently, traded for stud receiver Sammy Watkins. There is no excuse for Goff to play poorly with an improved offensive line, a workhorse running back and a receiving corp filled with speed and playmakers.

With the additions made on offense, a new defensive coordinator that can turn this defense into elite and a fairly easy schedule, the Rams will be in contention for a playoff spot this season.

Prediction: 9-7 (4-2), wildcard candidate

1: Seattle Seahawks

Last season: 10-5-1

Strength of Schedule: 25

The Seahawks have one of the easiest schedules heading into the season. They might need it with the worst rated line in the NFL. Despite having such a bad offensive line, the Seahawks made the playoffs. They were unable to progress deep into the playoffs though. The offense has to improve in order for the Seahawks to become Super Bowl contenders once again.

2017 NFC West division preview

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

Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy are going to attempt to bring a great running game back to Seattle. Russell Wilson is good but the identity and key to success have been being able to run the ball. If the Seahawks do so successfully, they will be one of the most feared teams in the NFL.

Jimmy Graham is still an unstoppable red zone threat. The chemistry between Graham and Wilson has seemed to improve the more they have played together and it will lead to a big year for Graham.

The other receiving threats, Doug Baldwin and Paul Richardson, provide different playmaking abilities that compliment each other well. Baldwin is a quick receiver who can make plays both vertically or by turning a short completion into a long gain. Richardson can make spectacular catches on the outside as a deep threat.

Russell Wilson is the engine to this offense and he doesn’t get enough credit. Without him, this team wouldn’t make the playoffs. He makes good decisions on when to run and rarely turns the ball over. As long as the Seahawks have a viable running game, Wilson will have another Pro-Bowl caliber season.

The heart and soul of this team is the Legion of Boom. Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor are back to lead this defense to a top three ranking. With these three men patrolling in the secondary, teams will earn everything they get through the air because nothing comes easy against them.

The linebackers are solid as well and are headlined by Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. Up front, the Seahawks have head hunters. Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril were the only pair of defensive ends to make the Pro-Bowl. They get constant pressure on opposing offenses making it easier for the rest of the unit to play balls to the wall.

Due to the consistency of this defense over the past five seasons, it is safe to assume the Seahawks have a top three to five defense. Pair that with an offense that will have an improved running game and Pro-Bowl quarterback means the Seahawks will win the division and be one of the best teams in the NFL.

Prediction: 12-4 (4-2), divison champion

 

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Quarterback rankings for the 2017 fantasy football season: 32-21

In the NFL today, quarterbacks are easily the most important position on the field. With an elite quarterback, winning comes easily (just look at the Patriots). But in fantasy, the demand for the position just isn’t what it used to be. Today, we’ll take a look at my 2017 fantasy football quarterback rankings, starting with numbers 32-21.

These quarterback rankings are unlike the others you’ll find. They are based on a variety of things: athletic ability, arm accuracy, arm strength, strength of receivers and strength of offensive line.

Here’s the start to my early quarterback rankings for the 2017 fantasy football season.

32. Josh McCown (New York Jets)

What happened to the Josh McCown we saw four years ago? In 2013, McCown threw for 13 touchdowns and one interception with the Chicago Bears. Do I think that he still has the ability to put up decent numbers in the NFL? Yes, just not with the broken, receiver-less Jets.

31. Cody Kessler (Cleveland Browns)

I have hope for Cody Kessler or any starting quarterback for the Browns, as they have an improved offensive line and still have some decent weapons on the team. Kessler showed signs of improvement and potential last year, but doesn’t have enough experience to be higher on this list. Plus four fumbles in nine games. I’ll take my chances with a different quarterback in fantasy this year.

30. Jared Goff (Los Angeles Rams)

I still believe that Jared Goff has the potential to be something great in the NFL, but is this year his year? I’m gonna have to say no. In an offense centered around young stud Todd Gurley, with minimal receiving help, Goff is just waiting for his time to come. I’m gonna say pass on Goff this year but keep him on your radar for the future.

29. Blake Bortles (Jacksonville Jaguars)

2017 fantasy football quarterback rankings

(Photo: USA Today)

I was big on Blake Bortles last year, but clearly things didn’t pan out. I know this is pretty low for a guy that finished in the top five for fantasy quarterbacks just two years ago, but I don’t believe what the Jaguars did this offseason is going to help Bortles. They brought in Leonard Fournette which makes me think they’re ready to go run-heavy, especially in the red zone. Be cautious with Bortles this year.

28. Brian Hoyer (San Francisco 49ers)

I like Brian Hoyer this year, just in fantasy football. Under Kyle Shanahan, I actually think Hoyer can make some noise in this league, as he’s got some big targets like Vance McDonald and Pierre Garcon. I just don’t believe that a quarterback leading a team to probably around four wins can do well in fantasy.

27. Mike Glennon (Chicago Bears)

The Bears were a little risky giving Glennon this much money after only a few career starts. With some nice weapons at his disposal, like Jordan Howard, Victor Cruz and Kevin White, I’d suggest keeping Glennon on your radar and picking him up on a top tier quarterback’s bye week depending on the matchup.

26. Trevor Siemian (Denver Broncos)

If I had one word to describe Trevor Siemian, it would probably be mediocre. He’s an average quarterback who will throw for 250 yards, a touchdown and a pick per game, letting the dirty Broncos defense do their work. Draft another quarterback, but consider Siemian on bye weeks due to his copious amounts of targets.

25. Tyrod Taylor (Buffalo Bills)

I don’t really understand the big hype around Tyrod Taylor this year. How will Taylor succeed so well in a run-first system? Coming off his huge year, Lesean McCoy will continue to get a majority of the touches while in the red zone the Bills will use their newly signed fullbacks. I see Tyrod Taylor being nothing special again this year, so keep him off your team.

24. Carson Palmer (Arizona Cardinals)

2017 fantasy football quarterback rankings

(Photo: cincinnativseveryone.com)

Alright, I’ll be the first to say it: Carson Palmer is no longer a top-tier quarterback in the NFL. Going into this season with arguably the best running back in the NFL, Bruce Arians will probably focus on the running game this year. To make a long story short, stay away from Carson Palmer.

23. Deshaun Watson (Houston Texans)

I really want to put Watson higher on this list but how can I do that when he has never thrown an NFL pass? With weapons like Lamar Miller, Deandre Hopkins and Will Fuller IV, Watson is in the perfect position to succeed. Stash Watson on your team and wait for him to breakout midway through the season.

22. Andy Dalton (Cincinnati Bengals)

I believe Andy Dalton is a good quarterback in the NFL and can be great. This year won’t be his year though. He has two huge targets in A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert, but his offensive line took a hit this offseason. Losing two starters is hard to replace and I believe Dalton will feel the pressure this season and it will affect his numbers in a negative way.

21. Alex Smith (Kansas City Chiefs)

Smith is the go to guy if your quarterback is on his bye week and you want to know you’ll get at least 12 points out of your fill-in. He’s not flashy and he doesn’t make big plays, but he’s safe with the ball and he makes the right decisions. If you want to wait to pick a quarterback late in your draft, Alex Smith is your guy.

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Houston Texans

How The Houston Texans Can Win The Super Bowl

The AFC South has been one of the worst divisions in football for two years now. The Houston Texans have won the AFC South both seasons with back-to-back 9-7 records.

The biggest problem for the Texans is the lack of consistent quarterback play. The Texans started four different quarterbacks in 2015: Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallet, T.J. Yates, and Brandon Weeden. They started two more quarterbacks last season: Brock Osweiler and Tom Savage.

Starting six quarterbacks in two years is not the formula to winning the Super Bowl, but they are really close.

Super Bowl Defense

Houston Texans

(Photo Credit: Brett Coomer / Houston Chronicle )

Offense wins games, but defense wins championships. The Seahawks’ defense was so dominant four years ago that it led them to a 43-8 Super Bowl victory. The Patriots came up with a goal-line interception three years ago to the win the Super Bowl. The Denver Broncos had one of the best defenses in the NFL two seasons ago and shut down the top scoring offense to beat the Panthers in the Super Bowl. The Patriots came back down from 28-3 this past February to win the Super Bowl. That could not have happened if their defense didn’t shut down the high-flying Falcons offense.

The Texans have a defense capable of playing to the level of all these other defenses. Houston allowed the fewest yards in the NFL last season at 301 per game. They also allowed the second-fewest passing yards.

Houston also has the best defensive player in the NFL in J.J. Watt. He only played in three games last season, which makes what Houston’s defense did more impressive.

Watt is a four-time Pro Bowler and a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, which is tied for most all-time with Lawerence Taylor. Adding him back to the mix makes them an elite defense.

The Texans also finally saw the emergence of former number one overall pick Jadeveon Clowney, who had six sacks last season. Clowney’s amazing play doesn’t show up in the stats. He constantly received double teams without Watt in the lineup, but still made plays. In the Wild Card game against the Raiders, he made an incredible interception that took over the game.

These two great defenders will make one of the best pass rushes in the NFL. The Texans also have one of the best linebacking corps in the NFL, headlined by Brian Cushing and Whitney Mercilus. If the secondary can make up for the loss of A.J. Bouye, they could contend for the best defense in the NFL.

What Is Missing?

It is no secret that the Texans need to improve offensively. Houston’s offensive line ranked 18th in the NFL by Pro Football Focus. They must improve both guard positions if they want to improve the overall line play.

Running back is not an issue of concern. Lamar Miller finished 10th in the NFL with 1,073 yards in just 14 games. Alfred Blue is also a solid backup to Miller.

The receiving corp is solid with Jaelen Strong, Will Fuller, and Braxton Miller, but headlined by DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins has 189 receptions, 2,475 yards and 15 touchdowns in the last two seasons. Those stats are impressive with six different quarterbacks over two years.

It all comes back to quarterback play. The Texans are a quarterback away from being the biggest threat to the Patriots in the AFC. There is one quarterback perfect for the Texans that they need to get.

The Missing Piece

Houston Texans

(Photo Credit: http://boltbeat.com)

Houston threw millions at an unproven Brock Osweiler and it failed miserably. Osweiler has since been traded to the Browns and the only quarterbacks on the Texans’ roster are Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden. These quarterbacks won’t even win the division, let alone a Super Bowl. So what should the Texans do?

The Texans could find a quarterback in the draft, but most analysts feel there are no NFL-ready quarterbacks in this draft. Free agency is always an option and Houston was hoping to get Tony Romo, but he retired. Jay Cutler is available, but that option could be just as bad or worse than what they already have.

That leaves only one option, a trade. The Houston Texans should go all in for a trade with the Los Angeles Chargers for Philip Rivers. The Chargers are nowhere close to contending for a championship and Rivers is 35 years old.

Rivers has accomplished a lot in his time in the NFL. His career record is 97-79. Rivers has 314 touchdowns, 156 interceptions and 45,833 yards.

By most comparisons, he is the AFC’s Tony Romo. Everything he has done of significance has come in the regular season. His playoff record is 4-5 and couldn’t get to the Super Bowl with Hall-of-Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson and future Hall-of-Fame tight end Antonio Gates.

This narrative could change with a trade to Houston. His career would be revitalized and he would have a three to four years to win the Super Bowl. He would have the necessary weapons to succeed; such as a running game and a top 10 receiver in the NFL. The Texans would have a top five defense and an offense capable of keeping pace on the scoreboard with any team in the NFL.

Houston, if you want to win the Lombardi Trophy, trade for Phillip Rivers.

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

What Really Matters in the NFL Preseason?

We are halfway through the NFL preseason. At times, it does not produce the highest quality of football for fans. There has been talk for years of shortening the preseason, but I do not see it happening for a very simple reason. In the span of about a month, teams have get down from around 90 players to 53 by the start of the regular season. Obviously, this is not easy. Whether we as fans like it or not, coaches need as much time as they can get to evaluate talent and fill out the back end of their rosters in the best way possible. Trust me, every coach will end up needing all 53 guys on his roster during the season. So, there is value to the preseason. There are also a couple things that really matter in the preseason and a couple things that mean absolutely nothing. Here is a look at each starting with the two things I feel matter most in the preseason.

Injuries- The one thing players, coaches and fans will all agree on is that they all hope everyone comes out of training camp and the preseason healthy. Unfortunately, it rarely works that way. Maybe the most glaring example of this was Michael Vick in 2003. His leg was broken in a preseason game in 2003. Vick was coming off of a Pro Bowl season. With one play, the Falcons went from Super Bowl contender to 5-11 football team. While I do not think this preseason has produced anything that impactful, the Bengals, Patriots, Broncos and Texans have all lost multiple starters for extended periods of time. The league has been decimated by injuries along the offensive and defensive line. J.J. Watt is the biggest name to be bit by the preseason injury bug, but he should be back by the end of September. Names like Patriots running back Dion Lewis and Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert may not be so lucky.

photo from sportsnaut.com

photo from sportsnaut.com

 

Special Teams- When I talk about filling out the back end of roster, special teams is crucial. Guys like Terrell Davis and James Harrison made their first NFL rosters as special teamers on the kick and punt return teams. They may both be bound for Canton one day. I cannot tell you who will parlay solid special teams play in the 2016 preseason into a roster spot, and eventually a successful career. I am not that much of a genius, but there will be someone. This is another reason I detest talk of eliminating the kickoff. Also, struggles on special teams are more likely to carry over into the regular season. The Steelers kicking woes began in the preseason last year. They ended up employing five different kickers during the 2015 season. Now, on to the two things I feel fans and media overhype during the preseason and are meaningless.

photo from behindthesteelcurtain.com

photo from behindthesteelcurtain.com

Backup quarterback lighting up vanilla defenses- Every year, the world falls for a quarterback that looks like a million bucks in the preseason. In previous years, guys like Brian Hoyer and Tarvaris Jackson have been preseason darlings. How did it work out for those guys? This year the preseason darling is Dak Prescott of the Cowboys. While it is difficult not to be impressed by a rookie mid round draft pick completing 81.5% of his passes for four touchdowns and no interceptions in his first two tastes of live NFL game action, be careful. Just four months ago, there were a handful of teams who wanted to draft Prescott at tight end. This is not uncommon for athletic quarterbacks who were not in pro-style offenses in college. Now, in late August after his stellar start to the preseason, there are actually people out there who think he should start over Tony Romo in Dallas. Keep in mind anything a backup quarterback does in the preseason is usually against backup defenders, vanilla defenses who do not blitz, or both. Thus, it always amazes me the way people go gaga when a guy goes off in the preseason. Does anyone actually believe that a guy can go from possibly being drafted as a tight end to replacing Tony Romo as the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys in four months? Good God, I hope not, but it sure looks that way. Granted, the good news is Prescott appears capable of holding down the fort should the often injured Romo get banged up again, but when healthy there is no comparison under any circumstances where Prescott is a better option than Romo.

Wins and losses- The single biggest difference between preseason and regular season football is the only things that matter in the regular season mean absolutely nothing in the preseason. Look, winning is always better than losing. However, 99% of the time. The only thing that the score of preseason game proves is which team had better third string players. The Patriots have had just two winning records in the preseason since 2008. They have made the playoffs all but one of those years. The one year they did not make the playoffs their record was 11-5. With starters playing a maximum of three quarters, and usually less than that, preseason win/loss records are a horrendous barometer of regular season team success or failure.

So, as you enjoy the rest of the NFL preseason, watch it with more of a critical and skeptical eye. We are under three weeks to real football. Keep counting down the days folks!