Fantasy football bold predictions: AFC East

We continue our fantasy football bold predictions. This time we breakdown the AFC East. And don’t worry, it’s not all about the Patriots.

Buffalo Bills: Tyrod Taylor Is Not a QB2

Tyrod Taylor enters as the 18th fantasy quarterback.

Fantasy football bold predictions: AFC East

Tyrod Taylor (Photo by: espn.com)

Taylor surprised a lot of people coming back to Buffalo this season. More surprising is that Buffalo traded away their top receiver Sammy Watkins and acquired Jordan Matthews in a separate deal.

Taylor finished 2016 as the No. 18 fantasy quarterback. However, he did score at least 20 fantasy points in standard leagues in seven of 15 starts. He also had at least 17 fantasy points in three other games, so he only really struggled for five games on the year. But that’s 2016.

In 2017, his two receivers are Matthews and Zay Jones. Not the best tandem let alone they are new to Buffalo.

So far this preseason Taylor has struggled in the new offense. He had a two-interception outing in Buffalo’s preseason loss to the Eagles on Thursday.

A report from Joe Buscaglia of ABC 7 Buffalo stated that there was concern about who will start at quarterback in week 1. Head coach Sean McDermott said they will go with Taylor as the starter. That alone causes concern on how ready Taylor is.

He has success without Watkins but he’s relying on a rookie and a new receiver to the offense to act as his main targets. It’s risky to even draft Taylor. I also predict that Taylor will not finish the season as the starter.

Miami Dolphins: Julius Thomas will have double digit touchdowns

Julius Thomas was traded from the Jacksonville Jaguars to the Miami Dolphins this offseason. He currently ranks as the 18th tight end in fantasy.

Fantasy football bold predictions: AFC East

Julius Thomas (Photo by: miamidolphins.com)

In a previous article, he is my tight end fantasy sleeper and I still believe that. His time in Jacksonville was dreadful but in Miami he rejoins Adam Gase from his playing days in Denver.

He only had nine total touchdowns with Jacksonville in two seasons. His big break in 2013, he had 65 catches for 788 yards and 12 touchdowns. He would finish as the third tight end in fantasy that season.

In the two years under Gase in Denver, Thomas reached elite status. He finished no worse than the number seven fantasy tight end in standard leagues over that span, combining for 108 catches for 1,277 yards and 24 touchdowns. Even though his quarterback was some guy named Peyton Manning in Denver, Thomas excelled in Gase’s offense.

He was very efficent in the red zone. In 2013 from inside the 20-yard line, he finished seventh in receptions (14), second in yards (112) and sixth in touchdowns (8). He finished fifth in yards (33) and sixth in touchdowns with five from inside the 10-yard line. The year after, he was seventh in receptions (13), eighth in yards (94) and third in touchdowns with nine from the 20-yard line. From the 10-yard line, he improved to fourth with seven receptions and six touchdowns.

Gase has had success helping his tight ends after Thomas. Even though he won’t have Ryan Tannehill, he will have Jay Cutler throwing the ball.

In 2015 when Gase coached Cutler in Chicago, tight end Zach Miller led the team with five touchdowns. With a better supporting cast, Thomas should be the top option in the red zone and should improve from the days in Jacksonville.

New England Patriots: Mike Gillislee becomes the next LeGarrette Blount

The Patriots signed Gillislee, a restricted free agent from the Buffalo Bills, after a season of 101 carries for 577 yards and eight touchdowns.

Fantasy football bold predictions: AFC East

Mike Gillislee (Photo by: profootballweekly.com)

The Patriots are known to like their workhorse backs. Gillislee averaged more yards per carry (4.2) than LeGarrette Blount (3.3) against eight or more defenders in the box last season.

Gillislee now takes over as the starting back, a role that produced 18 rushing touchdowns in 2016 from Blount. He produced nine total touchdowns as the backup to LeSean McCoy in Buffalo last year and being in the top offense in the NFL should only help him.

Now the Patriots do have a lot of running backs with Rex Burkhead, James White and Dion Lewis. New England backs can see a hefty market share in the offense. But that didn’t stop the starters for having good seasons.

Last year, Blount carried 62.03 percent of New England’s touches, good for the ninth-highest share in football. He saw a similar per-game rate in 2015 (he missed four games, but paced towards a 57 percent market share), and in 2012, Stevan Ridley ended the year with a 55.45 percent rushing attempt market share for the Pats. 

It’s not unreasonable to think Gillislee, who has a skillset that’s broader than Blount’s and has shown a ton of upside. He is currently the 24th running back in fantasy.

New York Jets: Bilal Powell will be a top-15 running back

Despite opening last season as the No. 2 running back for the Jets behind Matt Forte, Bilal Powell might have been the best running back in New York in 2016.

Fantasy football bold predictions: AFC East

Bilal Powell (Photo by: bleacherreport.com)

He finished as the No. 23 fantasy running back in standard leagues, which was just three spots behind Forte. He had 131 carries for 722 yards (5.51 yards per carry) and three touchdowns, and 58 catches for 388 yards and two touchdowns.

Powell had career highs in rushing yards, yards per carry and receptions. He outperformed 31-year-old Forte, producing almost as many plays better than 15 yards (14) as Forte (16) despite 59 fewer touches. Powell had a higher average of yards per carry after contact and more missed tackles.

In his final seven games, Powell had at least 14 fantasy points in standard leagues in four of those outings. Powell becomes dual-threat running back this year as he will be a top target in the passing game with Quincy Enunwa out for the season.

Only David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell and White garnered more targets in the passing game for running backs last season. The offense isn’t great, but Powell could get around 250 touches next season if he stays healthy.

He’s going to get his share of touches and he’s a solid No. 3 fantasy running back to target with a mid- to late-round pick, with his value higher in PPR.

 

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Sammy Watkins, Jordan Matthews fantasy value following trade

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

Sammy Watkins to the Rams

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

Sammy Watkins, Jordan Matthews Fantasy Value After Trade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jordan Matthews to the Bills

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

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

Sammy Watkins, Jordan Matthews Fantasy Value After Trade

Jordan Matthews (Photo by: phillysportsnetwork.com)

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

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

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

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

Who will do better in 2017?

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

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

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

 

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AFC eye test predictions: 16-10

Why is the preseason four weeks long? Seems odd to me. Anyways, as the preseason drags on, I have decided to do a preview of both conferences. Unlike most of my articles which are filled with a bunch of statistics and numbers, I will only be using the eye test. I will occasionally drop some numbers if necessary, but this is for the average fan who wants to see a glimpse of every NFL team.

Let’s start with the worst teams from the AFC.

16. new york jets

Wow, this team sucks. Is Christian Hackenberg really going to be the starter? Who even is Christian Hackenberg? According to CBS Sports, Hackenberg twice hit reporters with terrible throws during OTAs. The other day, he was kicked out of practice for not knowing how to break a huddle correctly.

I genuinely feel bad for this roster. Matt Forte is 88 years old in running back years. Even if Hackeberg knew how to throw the ball, there will be no one there to catch it. Their one good receiver, Quincy Enunwa, is having season-ending surgery because of a bulging disk in his neck. Now no active player on this roster has 1,000 career receiving yards.

It’s too bad because I really like Todd Bowles. The one bright spot on the roster is Jamal Adams, a former LSU safety who New York took in the first round of this year’s draft. He will for sure be a stud, but the rest of the defense is a major problem. Don’t be shocked if this team doesn’t win more than two games.

15. Cleveland Browns

Believeland! No, just kidding. The Browns are still the worst franchise in sports. The Browns are surprisingly headed in the right direction. The additions of JC Tretter and Kevin Zeitler actually puts Cleveland among the top offensive lines in the league. That should help Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson Jr. be a nice 1-2 punch in the backfield. Don’t ask me which one to pick in fantasy because I always choose the wrong one.

All signs point to the Brocket Launcher being the Week 1 starter, which is good news for the rest of the league, and bad news for the Browns. Remember when this guy beat Tom Brady and the Patriots? That seems like 10 years ago. Maybe DeShone Kizer will be ready before expected.

Kenny Britt should help a little bit, and Corey Coleman could be nice option if healthy the whole year. As for as the defensive side of the ball, the additions of Jabrill Peppers and Calvin Pryor should help. Hopefully Peppers can keep finessing around drug tests and be an immediate impact. I’m rooting for the Browns, but don’t expect more than four wins.

14. Jacksonville Jaguars

I highly recommend keeping the headset on and rolling with Henne! (Business Insider)

This team would be really fun if Blake Bortles knew how to play. After finishing near the bottom in all rushing stats, the Jags snatched Leonard Fournette early in the first round.

This dude runs with a lot of power and a lot of speed. I can’t wait to watch this kid truck stick people. Doug Marrone should give Fournette at least 20 attempts a game, which could be huge because the more running plays, the less of a chance for a Bortles interception.

I actually think their defense is pretty dope. I love the signing of Calais Campbell. He and Malik Jackson will lead a decent defensive line.

Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye are legit. Along with these stud corners, at the safety positions are Barry Church and Taushan Gibson, who help make the Jags one of the best secondaries in the league.

Paul Poslunsky and Telvin Smith are a mean duo at the linebacker position. If Bortles can get the ball to Marqise Lee, Dede Westbrook, or anyone named Allen (Robinson or Hurns), then the Jags could surprise people. Unfortunately, Bortles doesn’t seem to be the answer. Maybe give Chad Henne some starts? This team, who has one of the easiest schedules, will probably only win five games, but don’t sleep on them if they can figure it out behind center.

13. Buffalo Bills

I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest Tyrod Taylor fan. I understand he doesn’t turn the ball over a lot, but he never does enough to win games. In 15 games last year, he only threw 17 touchdowns. I’m a big fan of the trade that sent Sammy Watkins to the Rams. Paying him would have been a huge mistake, because he simply can’t stay on the field. Acquiring Jordan Matthews in a trade is cool, but he will likely be the only reliable target.

They have the fifth-hardest schedule, which is based off last year’s records. They have a good offensive line, and LeSean McCoy, who’s coming off a really nice year, says he still feels great, even at 29. With that said, the Bills will be an efficient rushing team.

Sean McDermott is bringing in a new defensive scheme, which might take a few games to adjust to. Veterans Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus will continue to hold down the line, and Lorenzo Alexander should continue his nice play. I like the Micah Hyde signing, but the rest of the secondary is a work in progress.

Buffalo will be travelling to Carolina, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, Kansas City and New England, and that looks like a whole lot of L’s. Buffalo won’t win more than six games.

12. Denver Broncos

Am I disrespecting the Broncos? Honestly, no. Look, their defense is top notch. Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib, who man the “No Fly Zone”, are probably the best corner duo in the league. Von Miller is obviously one of the best all-around players this league has to offer, and Shane Ray made a wise decision to get high before the draft, because he fell to a great spot. Even the NFL’s second coolest Brandon Marshall has made a name for himself.

No Fly Zone. (247sports)

But do you really trust Paxton Lynch or Trevor Siemian? The answer is no. Especially with the below average offensive line that Denver has. If they signed the 2012 version of Jamaal Charles, then they would possibly have some hope. But instead, they signed the older, banged up Charles.

C.J. Anderson has also shown that he can’t stay on the field so the run game will lack production. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are studs, but it will be hard to catch the ducks that will be coming their way.

Denver has to travel to Los Angeles, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Miami and Oakland to name a few. They’ll finish at 6-10.

11. Houston Texans

This team seems to always sneakily slide into the playoffs. They even gave the Patriots a run for their money, until Brock Osweiler turned back into Brock Osweiler. I just don’t see it happening this year. Fun fact: Tom Savage has never thrown a touchdown in his career. While he’s only appeared in five games, and started in two, it is still embarrassing.

Deshaun Watson looked good in his preseason debut, but I’m not sure if he will be ready to perform right away. Savage will be pulled after a few games in favor of Watson, but until then, DeAndre Hopkins shouldn’t expect too many touchdowns. The DeAndre Hopkins story is actually really sad. He is super talented but has yet to work with a legit quarterback.

Will Fuller’s injury hurts Houston, and Lamar Miller is just Lamar Miller- nothing special. However, the defense is still very good, but comes with some shakeups. We know about J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. Whitney Mercilus is good, but Brian Cushing is getting old. After losing Bouye to free agency, I don’t love their secondary.

The roster is good enough to get seven wins, but with Savage behind center, don’t expect anything more than that.

10. Indianapolis Colts

Will Luck lead this talentless team to the playoffs? (Colts.com)

If the Colts didn’t have Andrew Luck, they would be one of the worst teams in the league. Luck, who plans to start Week 1, is a monster. He turns the ball over too much, and forces a lot of passes, but he is a clear franchise quarterback.

T.Y. Hilton led the league in receiving yards, and Donte Moncrief is legit when healthy. But Frank Gore is old, and we can’t expect too much from Robert Turbin.

Both the offensive and defensive lines are trash. The Colts got extremely young at linebacker. Vontae Davis was terrible a year ago, but drafting safety Malik Hooker and cornerback Quincy Wilson, should help out this dreadful secondary.

Even with all this said, the Colts can win eight games. Obviously, this is dependent on Luck’s health, but they have the easiest schedules in the league. With games against the Browns, 49ers and two against the Jags, Indy could make some noise in the AFC South.

 

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Colin Kaepernick

The Miami Dolphins’ quarterback quandary

With head coach Adam Gase acknowledging that knee surgery is an a option for quarterback Ryan Tannehill, a playoff team from last year is left with major question marks as far as who will be taking snaps this year.

Several solutions are being rumored. The Dolphins are a pretty solid football team. Thus, they cannot afford to knock on the wrong door here. If they do, their season could be over before it really starts.

That said, let’s dissect Miami’s quarterback situation and dive into the team’s options.

The safe bet: Matt Moore

Matt Moore is the perfect backup quarterback. That is exactly what he has been for most of his career. He has started 28 out of 46 career games played and posted a 15-13 record as a starter. This includes leading the Dolphins to a pair of wins that locked down last year’s playoff spot in relief of an injured Tannehill. Not many quarterbacks last a decade in the NFL, backup or otherwise.

Miami Dolphins quarterback quandary

Photo miami.cbsloacal.com

The Dolphins are in a tricky spot though. Unless they figure out time travel and bring back Dan Marino, they are not taking the AFC East from New England. However, they are suited to finish ahead of fellow division rivals Buffalo and the Jets, even with Moore. The 32-year-old can take care of the football well enough to keep Miami competitive.

It is difficult for me to get past Miami’s 30-12 playoff loss to Pittsburgh last year. More looked overwhelmed, as did the rest of the team. Sticking with Moore in Tannehill’s absence could get this franchise back to where it was last year, but certainly no further.

The bad idea: Jay Cutler

It makes perfect sense for Jay Cutler’s name to be thrown around when it comes to Miami’s quarterback situation. However, that does not mean it is a good idea.

The recently retired gunslinger had his best season as a pro in 2015. That year, current Dolphins head coach Adam Gase was his offensive coordinator in Chicago. Even so, Cutler’s career best 92.3 passer rating was not good enough for the Bears to post a winning record.

To put it mildly, there have always been questions about Cutler’s passion for football. Now that he has shifted his focus to broadcasting, it is debatable as to whether or not he would be able to flip the switch back into competitive athlete mode. Worse yet, I am not even sure he truly wants to. The Dolphins have reportedly had casual conversations with Cutler and his representatives. That is as far as this flirtation should go.

High risk, high reward: Colin Kaepernick

Miami Dolphins quarterback quandary

Photo: boston.cbslocal.com

With all the controversy surrounding him, the fact that Colin Kaepernick still has it in him to be a very dynamic dual threat NFL quarterback is getting lost in the shuffle.

In 11 starts for an atrocious 49ers team last year, Kaepernick tossed 16 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Imagine what he is still capable of with real talent around him. Real talent is something the Dolphins definitely have.

We all know that his political activism is why Kaepernick remains unsigned. However, if dogfighting and domestic violence do not disqualify you from being on an NFL roster, voicing your opinion should not either.

Could signing Kaepernick alienate parts of the locker room and fan base? Of course. However, there is a very simple remedy to that: Be a productive player and deliver this franchise its first playoff win since the 2000 season.

Of the options on the table for Miami, Kaepernick is the only one who has shown that he may be capable of doing that. That is good enough for me. The Dolphins need to suck it up and sign him.

 

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Top five 2017 fantasy running backs

One of the more frustrating positions in fantasy football are the running backs. There are only so many that are elite and can be considered No. 1 backs. There are not many starting running backs in the NFL that are reliable. The key is to get the number one running back early and get another solid one in the middle in the draft. These are the five running backs you don’t want to miss out on for your team.

No. 5 Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers

This could come as a surprise but after being a rookie bust, he rebounded in his sophomore season.

Top five 2017 fantasy running backs

Melvin Gordon (Photo by:sandiegouniontribune.com)

Before a season-ending hip injury in week 14, he entered that game with 12 touchdowns and third at the position in fantasy points. Gordon was the No. 8 fantasy running back in standard leagues last year with 254 carries for 997 yards (3.93 yards per carry) and 10 touchdowns. He also had 41 catches for 419 yards and two touchdowns.

Gordon registered 17 carries inside the opponent’s 5-yard line (third most) and his 419 receiving yards ranked ninth. He benefited from Danny Woodhead’s injury and Woodhead is now in Baltimore.

Gordon should have more success with new head coach Anthony Lynn who has been a running backs coach for four teams in 11 years. As well as being a running backs coach, he got promoted to assistant head coach with the New York Jets in 2013.

During his time as the running backs coach from 2009 to 2014, Lynn’s rushing attack ranked outside the top 10 only twice out of the six years with the Jets and his team finished first in his first year as running backs coach with the Jets. In his last two years with the Buffalo Bills as offensive coordinator, his rushing offensive finished first in rushing twice.

The Chargers don’t have anyone on the roster to take Gordon off the field. He will be a standout No. 1 fantasy running back coming into the season and he should be an early second round pick.

No. 4 LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills

One of the more experienced backs in the league, LeSean McCoy turned 29 in July but his age didn’t seem to slow him in 2016 and he ranks fourth on my list.

Top five 2017 fantasy running backs

LeSean McCoy (Photo by:buffalobills.com)

He was the No. 3 fantasy running back in standard leagues in 2016 with 234 carries for 1,267 yards (5.41 yards per carry) and 13 touchdowns. McCoy also had 50 catches for 356 yards and one touchdown. McCoy ranked in the top six in rushing yards for the fourth time in six years.

The blocking in Buffalo was part of his success as his 5.4 YPC ranked fifth among backs. McCoy scored double digits in fantasy points in standard leagues in 12 of 15 games. He also caught 50 of 55 passes (91 percent).

Some of the concern that comes with McCoy is his age. His time as an elite fantasy running back could be coming to an end, but it looks McCoy isn’t slowing down anytime soon. The addition of fullbacks Patrick DiMarco and Mike Tolbert should help McCoy as well as new offensive coordinator Rick Dennison.

Dennison has had success in the run game as the offensive coordinator with the Houston Texans at the time Arian Foster broke onto the scene. From 2011-12 his rushing offense ranked in the top 10 in attempts, yards and touchdowns.

His last job with the Denver Broncos was less successful, ranking 15th and lower in those categories, but his west coast offense should help McCoy stay healthy and be an effective runner and reliable in the pass game.

McCoy should be the No. 4 running back off the board behind Le’Veon Bell, David Johnson and Ezekiel Elliott.

No. 3 Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys

A big part of his success was the great offensive line in Dallas and he took full advantage. He led the NFL with 322 carries and 1,631 rushing yards while finding the end zone a total of 16 times last season (one receiving touchdown). Elliott finished as the No. 2 fantasy running back in standard leagues and scored double digits in fantasy points in every game he played. Only David Johnson ranked higher.

He had seven games with at least 20 points in standard formats. Elliott’s rushing prowess, combined with Dallas’ terrific offensive line and run-heavy scheme, will keep him near the top of the running back rankings.

Top five 2017 fantasy running backs

Ezekiel Elliott (Photo by:espn.com)

Some concern is always the sophomore slump. He will need to work on his pass catching skills as Lance Dunbar is no longer with the Cowboys.

The other concern is a possible suspension due to a domestic violence incident. Even though he wasn’t charged, the NFL continues its investigation and he could likely miss the first two games of the year according to ESPN reporter Adam Schefter.

Elliott should be a top-three pick in most standard leagues, and a top ten pick in PPR only because he is not a pass catching back like Johnson or Bell. In dynasty leagues he could be the top pick because he’s only 22. In this offense, he could be the best running back in the NFL for the foreseeable future.

No. 2 Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers

Even though he was suspended for the first four games last season, Bell established himself as arguably the most dangerous and productive all-around running back in the league.

Top five 2017 fantasy running backs

Le’Veon Bell (Photo by:upi.com)

Bell managed to finish fifth at the position in rushing yards, as well as second in targets, receptions and receiving yards. He’s been good for 10-plus fantasy points in an unbelievable 85.3 percent of his games over the past three seasons. B

ell has been on the field for at least 86 percent of the team’s offensive snaps during 25 consecutive games in which he wasn’t injured or limited in. In those 25 games, he was on the field for 95 percent of the snaps and handled 22.2 carries and 6.7 targets per game. This allowed him to have a top-14 fantasy week during all 12 of his outings last season.

But why he falls to No .2 on my list is not participating in camp due to contract issues. This is like last year except we knew he would miss four games. This time it could be longer.

Bell held out from the start of Steelers training camp and could sit for several weeks according to an NFL Network report. Bell could be a risky number one pick if this doesn’t get resolved. But he is still worth a first round pick as we hope by mid-August he will be back. If you take Bell, likely go after presumed backup James Conner.

No. 1 David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals

Some players after a good rookie season have the sophomore slump but not David Johnson. He thrived for a breakout 2016 season in Arizona and is my No. 1 running back for 2017.

Top five 2017 fantasy running backs

David Johnson (Photo by:thelab.bleacherreport.com)

To start, he was the No. 1 running back in all formats. He was a fantasy stud in every sense of the description last year with 293 carries for 1,239 yards (4.2 yards per carry) and 16 touchdowns, as well as 80 catches for 879 yards and four touchdowns on 120 targets. This totaled 2,118 yards and 20 touchdowns on 373 touches.

He is a force not just in the running game but also in the passing game. Johnson paced all backs in targets, receptions, receiving yards and end-zone targets (four). It seems Johnson could do everything.

He can run with top speed, catch the ball and pound the ball in between the tackles. He carried the ball inside the 5-yard line 22 times (second most) last season. Johnson scored double digits in fantasy points in standard leagues in 15 of 16 games last season.

He averaged 23 touches a game last season but head coach Bruce Arians said he would like to give him around 30 touches in 2017. While this should excite fantasy players, it could come as a concern with his health. In week 17, he suffered an MCL sprain but he’s fine heading into training camp.He won’t slow down with an increased role and he should continue to dominate.

Johnson is a top three pick in all leagues and has a case being the first overall pick in leagues with Bell’s contract issues.

 

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NFL top 100 players 2017: 50-41

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 sixth installment, containing players 50-41.

50. Trent Williams, OT, Washington Redskins

NFL top 100 players 2017: 50-41

Trent Williams (CSN Mid Atlantic)

Williams has proven over his seven seasons that he is one of the best left tackles in the NFL. He has made five straight Pro Bowls and helped give up just 23 sacks in 2016, good enough for fourth best in the NFL.

His blocking was a big component on the Redskins’ offense which had the third most yards in the NFL in 2016. Kirk Cousins will have his protection, but the Redskins’ offensive line will be tasked with opening up holes for the running backs, an area they could be better. Williams hasn’t played a full 16 games in the last three years but has still been effective enough to make Pro Bowls.

In 2017 Williams will be the best player for Washington and continue to be one of the best linemen in the NFL.

Comments: “Williams is one of the best offensive lineman in the league. He should be ranked higher as he is one of the top two or three tackles in the league and better than several players ahead of him on this list.”-Joe DiTullio

49. T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis Colts

NFL top 100 players 2017: 50-41

T.Y. Hilton (spotrac.com)

In 2016 Hilton set new career bests in receptions and receiving yards. He made his third straight Pro Bowl with 91 receptions, 1,448 yards and six touchdowns. He was the NFL’s leading receiver in 2016 and will be looking to match that production in 2017.

Andrew Luck and Hilton have quite the connection and Luck relies on Hilton. Luck targeted Hilton 155 times in 2016 and while Hilton may not get that many targets in 2017, Luck will be looking to connect with Hilton often. Hilton will be entering his prime and with Luck throwing him passes, there is no reason to expect a drop in production.

Hilton may not be the most physically gifted receiver, but he produces and will continue to do so in 2017.

Comments: “One simple explanation on why T.Y. Hilton is too high is because he is ranked higher than Jordy Nelson but is not better than him. Nelson had more receptions and touchdowns the Hilton. Put Nelson higher than Hilton and I have no issues.” -Matthew Hagan

48. Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys

NFL top 100 players 2017: 50-41

Dak Prescott (Getty Images)

No one expected Prescott to do what he did in 2016. He made the most of his opportunity when Tony Romo got injured and led the Cowboys to a great season. Prescott spearheaded the Cowboys’ offense to a 13-3 record. He threw for 3,667 yards, 23 touchdowns and just four interceptions.

Going into 2017, Prescott has a lot going for him. The main thing is a great offensive line that will give him time to make good throws. He has great targets in Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and Cole Beasley. The Cowboys do have issues with Ezekiel Elliot, who may be suspended for a few games for a variety of reasons, but Prescott should still be able to be successful with his line and receivers.

Prescott may not lead the Cowboys to a 13-3 record, but has all the tools to be successful in 2017.

Comments: “The kid is good, don’t get me wrong. He is absolutely a top 100 player. Is he a top 50 player? Not at all. His supporting staff is easily top five in the league. I want to see him grow on the throws he makes and see how he handles more pressure.”- Robert Hanes

47. Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts

NFL top 100 players 2017: 50-41

Andrew Luck (colts.com)

A lot has been made of Andrew Luck, but he is a very talented quarterback on an average at best team. Last year Luck threw for 4,240 yards, 31 touchdowns and 13 interceptions on 63.5% completion. If and when the Colts are successful, it is because of Luck.

Luck will still have his favorite target, T.Y. Hilton (#49), which will be a great combination once again. The offensive line has gotten better over the last couple of years and should help Luck have time to find open receivers and stay relatively healthy. In a division that is very winnable, Luck can lead the Colts to a division win.

In 2017 Luck will be the best player on the Colts and has a chance to elevate a pretty mundane team once again.

Comments: “Andrew Luck is the only reason the Colts are relevant and it is because of his stellar play. If you give Luck a better defense and a better running game, he will be a top 30 player in the NFL.” -Matthew Hagan

46. Tyreek Hill, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

NFL top 100 players 2017: 50-41

Tyreek Hill (CBS Sports)

Hill burst onto the scene last season after being relatively unknown. He was drafted in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft and not much was expected of him. As a very versatile player for the Chiefs, Hill had 860 yards from scrimmage, 976 return yards and 12 total touchdowns.

The Chiefs have moved on from Jeremy Maclin and are looking to make Hill and Travis Kelce the focal point of their offense. With Alex Smith at quarterback, the offense is usually mundane, but because Hill is so electric with the ball in his hands, the offense can be dynamic. With his return ability added to his skills on offense Hill can be a game-changer.

After a successful first season in the league, it should be expected that Hill will improve in year two with more reps.

Comments: “There is too much hype on Hill. He is extremely fast and explosive. With Maclin gone he will have to prove he can be the number one threat and this season it will prove to be too much and that he is more suited for a role as a number two.” -Matthew Hagan

“Hill had a first good season and can change the game in many ways, but this is way too high.He is ranked higher than T.Y. Hilton and Jordy Nelson on this list. Some of our staff is drinking too much of the Tyreek Hill Kool-Aid.”-Joe DiTullio

45. Jadeveon Clowney, OLB, Houston Texans

Brett Coomer

Jadevon Clowney (Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle)

His first season was injury plagued, but since then he has progressed into a really good player. In 2016 Clowney had 52 tackles, six sacks, two passes defended and one forced fumble. With J.J. Watt injured, Clowney stepped up and became an impact player.

Clowney and Whitney Mercilus have combined to be a good duo at outside linebacker and having Watt back in 2017 should free them up to get after the quarterback more. Opposing offensive lines will not be able to block all three consistently and Clowney will benefit.

He has just scratched the surface of his potential, but Clowney should have a very good 2017.

Comments: Clowney helps anchor one of the best front sevens in the NFL. After a lackluster start to his career, Clowney broke out towards the end of the 2016 season. Clowney received the third-highest grade from PFF among edge defenders in run stopping with an 89.1, and has improved his pass rushing abilities as well. Clowney produced 58 quarterback pressures last season coupled with 38 defensive stops. As long as he can stay healthy, expect Clowney to continue to bolster a scary defense in Houston.” –Tim Miller

44. Joey Bosa, DE, Los Angeles Chargers

nfl top 100 players 2017: 50-41

Joey Bosa (Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

His rookie year did not get off to a great start as he was in a contract holdout, but once he took the field Bosa was a great player. In his first season, he played in 12 games, had 31 tackles and 10.5 sacks.

Bosa will benefit from an entire offseason to work out and learn, something he didn’t have the privilege of doing in 2016. With this, he should be ready to play a full season, which puts a reasonable expectation that his stats will increase in 2017. The Chargers’ defense was much improved in 2016 and will likely get better again this season.

In 2016 Bosa had a great rookie year, which has fans excited to see what he can do in 2017.

Comments: “A product of The Ohio State University, Bosa’s dominant play in college translated quickly to the NFL. Bosa played in 12 games last season, yet he still racked up 59 total quarterback pressures, including 11 sacks. Bosa has played both defensive end and outside linebacker with the Chargers, which further helps his claim as a top edge defender in the NFL.

“The reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, expect Bosa to put up another incredible season and become one of the best defensive players of his generation.” –Tim Miller

43. LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills

nfl top 100 players 2017: 50-41

LeSean McCoy (Getty Images)

McCoy is entering into the end of his prime years at age 29 but hasn’t slowed down yet. Last season he rushed for 1,267 yards and 13 touchdowns. He is a threat every time the ball is in his hands and defenses always have to try to stop the run when they play Buffalo.

If McCoy stays healthy, he is a sure thing to give you 1,000 yards on the ground. This is something he has done every season with at least 15 games played since his rookie season. McCoy runs behind a good offensive line that features Eric Wood, Richie Incognito and Cordy Glenn.

The Bills may not have the best offense, but they can always rely on handing the ball to McCoy.

Comments: “McCoy is the quickest cutter in the league and continually puts defenders on skates. His 1,267 yards aren’t eye-popping stats, but he did average 5.8 yards per carry. McCoy will produce in 2017 again.”-Joe DiTullio

42. Aqib Talib, CB, Denver Broncos

Aqib Talib (USA Today)

While Talib is going to be 31 this season, he is still playing at an elite level on a very good Denver defense. In 2016 Talib was an All-Pro, had 43 tackles, 12 passes defended, three interceptions and a touchdown. 2016 marked his first appearance on the All-Pro team, but he has made four Pro Bowls.

Talib returns to Denver and has a lot of good players around him. It is hard for teams to find a defensive back to pick on when the Broncos have Talib, Bradley Roby and Chris Harris Jr. (#52). With the help of his teammates, Talib helped the Broncos have the best pass defense in the NFL by far in 2016, allowing just 185 yards per game through the air.

With everyone back for another year, Talib and the Broncos’ secondary will prove why they are one of the best in the NFL.

Comments: “Talib is part of the best cornerback tandem in the entire NFL. Talib was the only player in the NFL to play in over 500 snaps yet not give up a touchdown reception last season, proving he was toughest in the clutch. Allowing just a 49.5 passer rating on balls thrown his way was good enough for second-best in the NFL among qualified players last year. Talib is getting older for sure, but he still has enough talent to keep him on this list going into next season.” –Tim Miller

41. Demarco Murray, RB, Tennessee Titans

NFL top 100 players 2017: 50-41

DeMarco Murray (George Walker IV/The Tennessean)

Murray was a good player for the Dallas Cowboys, then slumped with the Philadelphia Eagles before reviving his career in Nashville. Last season he rushed for 1,287 yards and nine touchdowns to bring some life to the Titans’ rushing attack.

He partnered with Derrick Henry to help Tennessee average the third most rushing yards in the NFL with 136.7 yards per game. Murray will again split carries with Henry, but the former Cowboy has proven that he deserves the lion’s share. The offensive line in front of him was tremendous and will continue to create big holes for him in 2017.

With guys like Taylor Lewan (#53) and Jack Conklin blocking for Murray, he is going to have another productive season.

Comments: “Murray has benefited from some good offensive lines, first in Dallas now in Tennessee. He is a very good running back, but he did have a bad season with Philadelphia. He will have a good season in 2017, partly because of his talent and partly because his offensive line.”-Joe DiTullio

 

NFL top 100 players: 60-51

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week one DFS

Three ideal week one DFS quarterbacks

If you’re like me, you’ve been counting down the days until week one of the NFL season since championship Sunday. Now, with the NFL preseason looming, it’s never too early to look ahead and start planning. In order to finish in the money, you can’t whiff on your quarterback selection. So without further adieu, here are three quarterbacks to build your week one DFS lineup around.

Matt Ryan Average 2016 Salary: $8,268

Week one DFS has some interesting matchups. If you’re looking for a tier-one quarterback to roster, it can’t be Tom Brady, since he plays on Thursday night. Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees play tough defenses in Seattle and Minnesota. And finally, Andrew Luck and Derek Carr will be returning from major injuries. These factors make the 2016 NFL MVP, Matt Ryan, the ideal tier-one quarterback.

NFL week one DFS quarterbacks

Matt Ryan has a history of delivering for week one DFS players (Photo by usatoday.com).

Ryan has a history of producing on opening day. According to Rotoguru, Ryan has scored at least 18 points in every week one game including three 20-point and two 30-point performances since 2012. While none of these have come versus Chicago, his week one opponent, they show Ryan’s ability to deliver on day one.

Yes, I’m aware Ryan will have new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, who’s never called a play in the NFL. However, weapons like Julio Jones, Mohammed Sanu, Taylor Gabriel, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman will more than compensate for Sark’s lack of experience.

Ryan’s past aside, the Bears don’t look like a top 10 defense. Their status as a top seven pass defense last year had more to do with their inability to stop the run, as they finished 27th in rushing yards allowed.

According to NFL.com, Ryan is set to average just under 18 points per game. It makes sense. The 2015 NFL MVP, Cam Newton, regressed to the mean this past season. Ryan will not have such a dramatic drop off, but it is likely he will not produce at the same MVP caliber level.

Matt Ryan will be the premiere tier-one quarterback given his health and his match up compared to players like Rodgers, Brees, Luck and Carr for week one.

Jameis Winston Average 2016 salary: $7,606

Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers have quietly assembled one of the most complete teams in the NFC. While they are not without flaws, they have the ability to quickly move up a division notorious for parity at the top spot. To compete with Matt Ryan, Drew Brees and Cam Newton, Winston will have to increase his production while maintaining his growing efficiency.

NFL week one DFS quarterbacks

Jameis Winston (left) and Mike Evans (right) look to ascend to the top of the NFC South in 2017 (Photo by lockerdome.com).

In 2016, Winston experienced an increase in the following categories: attempts, completion percentage, yards, touchdowns and passer rating. Most of these increases were marginal, but Winston ascended above the critical 60 percent completion threshold.

Previous number one quarterbacks like Andrew Luck, Cam Newton and Matt Stafford all had breakout performances in their third season as a starter. Specifically, they all saw increases in touchdowns, completion percentage, and QBR, including some career highs in those areas.

Another great reason to roster Winston for week one DFS are the weapons at his disposal. Mike Evans has established himself as a premiere receiver, in fantasy as well as reality. The Buccaneers additions of DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard only make this offense more explosive in the passing game.

While I don’t see Howard overtaking Cameron Brate, he will absolutely play a role in their red zone offense as another big target for Winston.

Winston also provides a low floor, high ceiling option in his tier-two price range. He’ll likely fall into the $7,400-$7,800 price range for week one, which is completely fair. Hopefully, the oddsmakers at DraftKings and FanDuel set his price at the lower end of the range in his week one DFS match up against the Dolphins.

Tyrod Taylor – Average 2016 Salary: $7,481

In all honesty, I don’t think I rostered Tyrod Taylor more than two or three times last season. Sometimes that worked out well, and other times it didn’t. In 2017, I plan to capitalize on Taylor, especially in week one. Taylor and the Bills will be hosting the bumbling, incompetent New York Jets. While Taylor’s sample size vs New York is small, it’s also promising.

NFL week one DFS quarterbacks

According to Scout Fantasy, Tyrod Taylor has been successful in his limited opportunities against the Jets (Photo by fftoolbox.scout.com).

While Taylor can be inconsistent in season-long leagues, he has performances that merit selection in DFS. In particular, his week one match up against the Jets. Multiple media outlets have claimed the Jets are in full on rebuild mode in hopes to acquire a top quarterback prospect. Given this information, it’s likely that Taylor, along with LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins, will face minimal resistance come Sunday, Sep. 10.

Apart from his matchup and ability to run the ball, I love Taylor’s price tag. It’s likely his week one DFS price will be inflated. However, it is safe to say he won’t cost more than $7,600. Taylor was most expensive in week six of 2016 with a price of $7,800 against the 49ers. So, against a historically bad defense, Taylor didn’t even scratch the $8,000 range. It is likely he will be priced in the $7,300-$7,600 range, which will allow you great flexibility at other spots of your lineup.

 

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Super Bowl series 2017: AFC East

Super Bowl series 2017: AFC East

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

New England Patriots

Super Bowl series 2017: AFC East

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

The defending Super Bowl champions are the easiest team in the NFL to dissect during the Super Bowl series. If you had to bet your life on a team winning the division then your safest bet would be the Patriots. Since 2000, the Patriots have won 14 out of the 17 division titles, including eight straight. New England’s dominance within the division shouldn’t change this season.

The old adage says defense wins championships. Defensively, the Patriots are going to be stacked. Last season, the Patriots ranked first in points allowed per game at 15.6. They were also eighth in yards allowed per game (326.4) and ranked seventh in opponents third down conversion percentage (37 percent). The Patriots also added defensive end Kony Ealy and cornerback Stephon Gilmore to improve.

To win Super Bowl LII, New England must put up defensive numbers in the same ballpark as last seasons. If the Patriots allow under 20 points per game, the chances of making it back to the Super Bowl increase exponentially.

One area of concern from the Patriots’ offense comes from the offensive line. Pro Football Focus recently released its projected 2017 offensive line rankings in which New England was surprisingly ranked 19th. Tom Brady can make up for a poor offensive line with his quick release which averages between 2.1 to 2.5 seconds.

The Patriots will improve as they get Rob Gronkowski back from injury. New England also traded for wide receiver Brandin Cooks who will help stretch the field vertically.

The only thing stopping the Patriots from winning Super Bowl LII is injuries to key players, and even then, Bill Belichick could still pull a rabbit out of his hat and win the big game.

Miami Dolphins

Super Bowl series 2017: AFC East

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Miami was a surprise playoff team last year, especially after its 1-4 start. The Dolphins finished the season with a 10-6 record to earn a wild card berth. They lost that wild card game in Pittsburgh, 30-12.

In order to win the Super Bowl, the Dolphins must improve vastly on defense. Miami ranked 18th in points allowed per game (23.8), 15th in passing yards allowed per game (242.2), 19th in sacks (33) and 30th in rushing yards allowing 140.4 yards per game.

Ndamukong Suh and Jordan Phillips must stuff the run this season to help Miami improve their rush defense.

Rookie linebacker Raekwon McMillian was a tackling machine at Ohio State, racking up 275 total tackles in three years and his immediate impact should help the Dolphins stop the run better in 2017.

On the offensive side of the ball, Miami must continue to dominate up front. The Dolphins ranked ninth in the NFL in rushing, averaging 114 yards per game. Miami needs to stay in the top 10 in rushing to help Ryan Tannehill succeed in the passing game.

Running the ball consistently will help Tannehill and the rest of the Dolphins offense improve their 26th-ranked passing attack. If the Dolphins can progress their passing game to a similar level of their running game, then the offense can average more than 22.7 points per game which ranked 17th last season.

Miami must improve its rushing defense, passing offense and upset New England in the regular season to earn some home playoff games. If the Dolphins are able to do this then they will have a shot at hoisting up the Lombardi Trophy.

Buffalo Bills

Super Bowl series 2017: AFC East

(Photo Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports)

Buffalo is starting off fresh with new head coach Sean McDermott. McDermott will emphasize defense with the Bills and that could turn them into contenders very quickly. Buffalo hasn’t made the playoffs since 1999 and taking the leap from 7-9 to Super Bowl champs is going to be difficult.

Last season, the Bills were the best rushing team in the NFL averaging 164.4 yards per game. Staying first in rushing will be the first step towards making the playoffs. Buffalo did not have trouble scoring points either as they averaged 24.9 points per game which was 10th best in the NFL.

The major area that needs improvement on offense is in the passing game. Buffalo only threw for 189.8 yards per game last season. In this era of football, passing for less than 200 yards is somewhat pitiful. Buffalo needs to jump that number up past 230 yards or more to become a dangerous offensive juggernaut.

Defensively, Buffalo was average last season. The Bills gave up 23.6 points per game which ranked 16th. Buffalo should try to become a top-10 scoring defense to improve its chances of making the playoffs. The secondary was the best unit on defense as they only gave up 223.9 yards passing per game.

The rush defense was a different story. Buffalo ranked 29th, giving up 133.1 yards per game. If Buffalo’s rush defense can move into the middle of the pack, then its defense can really become great.

For the Buffalo Bills to end their long playoff drought and win the Super Bowl, they must improve their passing attack on offense and stop the run on defense. Also, just like Miami, the Bills must split with the Patriots. Splitting with New England gives the Bills a shot at winning the division and home games in the playoffs make all the difference.

New York Jets

Super Bowl series 2017: AFC East

(Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)

The New York Jets are going to need a miracle to win Super Bowl LII. Coming off a 5-11 season, the Jets seemed to have gotten worse with the moves they have made. New York let go of Eric Decker, David Harris, Marcus Gilchrist, Brandon Marshall, Darrelle Revis, Nick Folk and Nick Mangold. The roster is going to look completely different from last year.

Making the playoffs is going to be hard and winning the Super Bowl is going to be close to impossible. If the Jets are going to win the Super Bowl, then Josh McCown, Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg are going to have to have an unbelievable year. The Jets ranked 27th in passing yards per game with 216.6. Whoever earns the starting job at quarterback will need to take a big leap to improve this number.

New York ranked 30th in points scored last season, averaging only 17.2 points per game. That must also improve drastically. The Jets did have a solid running game averaging 112.6 yards per game last year. Matt Forte is getting old for a running back but Bilal Powell will spell Forte enough that the Jets can continue to be a solid running team.

Head coach Todd Bowles is known for his defense but last season the Jets had no defense. They ranked 28th in points (25.6), 29th in interceptions (8), 29th in sacks (27) and 17th in passing yards allowed per game (243.6). Bowles must turn the Jets into a top five defense if the Jets want to win games this season.

The most important thing the Jets must do is find their starting quarterback. Improving the passing game and putting more points on the board is key in the Jets pursuit of a Super Bowl. If they manage to do this along with becoming a top five defense under Bowles, then the Jets can win Super Bowl LII.

 

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

Super Bowl Series 2017: NFC East

Super Bowl Series 2017: NFC North

 

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The NFL's Hardwood Roster

The NFL’s Hardwood Roster

The NFL offseason is a difficult time for the fans. Once June starts people can feel the season inching closer and closer to the point where they can’t take it anymore. The fans just need some football and that is where we are at currently. Thankfully, the NBA Finals have been keeping our attention with a clash of titans in the Finals. There is still a need and want for football to be here. Many players in the NFL have played basketball before so naturally, the thought arose as to what players in the NFL would make up the best basketball team? The NFL doesn’t have many players taller than 6-foot-6 so this lineup will be the best possible considering it may be a small ball lineup. Hagan’s Haus has your answer on which players would make up the NFL’s hardwood roster.

Point Guard

The NFL's Hardwood Roster

(Photo Credit:http://www.chronicle.pitt.edu)

Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers, 5′ 10″ 181 LBS: 

A point guard has to be quick and athletic. He also has to be capable of leading a team. Antonio Brown seems to be the best match to be the point guard of the NFL’s basketball team.

Antonio Brown has so much speed and explosion he would be able to attack the rim with ease. Brown had a 40-yard dash of 4.47 seconds. With that speed, it would be hard for opposing point guards to slow him down.

Brown also has a vertical jump of 33.5 inches giving him the ability to not only get the rim but finish at the rim as well. Antonio Brown would be a perfect point guard for the NFL’s basketball team.

 

Backup: Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants, 5′ 11″ 198 LBS:

Odell is very similar to Antonio Brown. He is quick, fast, athletic and can jump out of the gym. There are videos of him doing some pretty sick dunks on YouTube.

O.B.J. has shown issues with maturity and handling his emotions so he may not be the best of leaders. Most point guards are the leaders of basketball teams because they run the offense. Odell’s skills and talents make him a good option, but his emotions and immaturity don’t make him the best option.

Honorable Mention: LeSean McCoy, RB, Buffalo Bills, 5′ 11″ 208 LBS

Shooting Guard

The NFL's Hardwood Roster

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

Terrelle Pryor Sr., WR, Cleveland Browns, 6′ 4″ 223 LBS:

Terrelle Pryor is probably the best basketball player in the NFL today. If we form a basketball team from NFL players then Pryor is the Kobe or M.J. of the team. Coming out of high school Pryor was ranked 39th in ESPN’s top 100 for basketball. He was ranked 14 spots ahead of Klay Thompson! Nobody in the NFL was close to being ranked as high as Pryor was.

Scouting reports said Pryor was able to score both inside and behind the arc. They also said he was one of the best perimeter defenders in the country. Pryor was a legitimate basketball prospect who played both sides of the ball. Knowing all this, Terrelle Pryor would be the best player on the team.

Backup: Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons, 6′ 3″ 220 LBS:

In high school, Julio Jones was a beast of a hooper along with being a great football player. There is audio and reports of him dunking on NBA center DeMarcus Cousins in a high school playoff game. Jones was even called an exceptional shot blocker by his high school football coach.

Julio is a scorer in the NFL and would be as a basketball player as well. His leaping ability and athleticism would allow him to be a solid defender and rebounder to back up Pryor.

Honorable Mention: Dez Bryant WR, Dallas Cowboys, 6′ 2″ 220 LBS:

Small Forward

The NFL's Hardwood Roster

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

Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers, 6′ 5″ 245 LBS:

Everyone knows that Cam Newton is an athletic freak of nature. At 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, he is almost impossible to tackle one on one. Picture trying to stop Cam Newton driving to the rim. That would be a scary sight.

Cam has shown his athletism as a quarterback by breaking the record for most career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with 48. He has done that in just six NFL season. Cam would be hard to stop, especially as he worked his way into the paint. Defensively, he has the size to frustrate opponents. Cam is athletic enough to be a really good basketball player.

Backup: Jadeveon Clowney, DE/LB, Houston Texans, 6′ 5″ 270 LBS:

Jadeveon Clowney is one of the most athletic players in the NFL. At his massive size, he still managed to run a 4.53-second 40-yard dash. Clowney has shown world class quickness while trying to get past offensive lineman.

Clowney is a defender at heart and on the court that would be no different. His lateral quickness paired with his massive size would help him become a lockdown defender.

Honorable Mention: Danielle Hunter, DE, Minnesota Vikings, 6′ 5″ 252 LBS

Power Forward

The NFL's Hardwood Roster

(Photo Credit: Steve Cannon/Associated Press)

Jimmy Graham, TE, Seattle Seahawks, 6′ 7″ 265 LBS:

It is no secret that Jimmy Graham played basketball at the University of Miami. Graham averaged 4.2 points and 4.2 rebounds in his four-year career. Although those numbers don’t blow your socks off he has proven to be one of the best at going up and coming down with the football in the NFL.

That trait came from his rebounding skill and if the NFL were to build the best possible basketball team, Graham would have to be in the front court to pull down some boards. He would be an undersized power forward in the NBA but is one of the tallest players in the NFL.

Backup: Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs, 6′ 5″ 260 LBS:

Travis Kelce would be even more undersized than Jimmy Graham is but would still be able to be the NFL’s backup power forward. Kelce is one of the best tight ends in the NFL because he can use his body to gain position against defenders to make the catch.

That ability would translate well to the hardwood as a rebounder. Kelce has the quickness to be a decent defender but as long as he knew his role was to get boards he would be good. Would you really want to get in the way of Travis Kelce going for a massive throwdown? He would be a great backup to Jimmy Graham.

Honorable Mention: Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots,  6′ 6″ 265 LBS

Center

Rico Gathers, TE, Dallas Cowboys, 6′ 8″ 275 LBS:

Rico Gathers is not only one of the tallest players in the NFL, but he has basketball experience. Gathers would have to play center on the NFL’s basketball team but he played power forward at Baylor. He averaged 8.6 points and 8 rebounds per game in his four years at Baylor.

Backup: Dan Skipper, OL, Dallas Cowboys, 6′ 10″ 320 LBS:

Basketball requires height, and Dan Skipper of the Dallas Cowboys is 6-foot-10. He may not have the skill set of a basketball player but sometimes you just need those bigs to be in the way. Skipper could be a rotation player capable of picking up some fouls and defending the rim. At the very least he should be able to get some rebounds. This is definitely reaching, but hey, this article was meant to be fun.

Honorable Mention: Demar Dotson, OL, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 6′ 9″ 315 LBS

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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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