Cam Newton Fantasy Struggles

The fantasy struggles of Cam Newton

Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton struggled again, and this time it was against the New Orleans Saints at home. He played the league’s worst defense at home and still didn’t look like the 2015 MVP. This was the game where he was supposed to rebound after struggling the past two weeks with his offseason shoulder surgery.

To make matters worse, he couldn’t have a better situation. The Saints were without cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and Sterling Moore. This has to be a concern not just to the Panthers, but to fantasy owners as Newton was drafted as a QB1 to most teams.

Cam’s performance

In three weeks, this is what Newton’s points were according to Fantasypros: 13.1 against the 49ers, 11.8 against the Bills and 8.3 this week. The first game was expected of Newton as he played only one series all preseason after the surgery. Even though he was rusty, he still completed 14 of his 25 passes for 171 yards, threw two touchdowns and one interception and rushed for three yards with a fumble. Many expected a better performance since they played a 49er defense that gave up 400 yards of offense per game last year.

Cam Newton Fantasy Struggles

Cam Newton (Photo by: wkbw.com)

In week 2, he took a pounding, but improved from his week 1 performance. He went 20-of-32 for 228 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. He was brought down on six occasions and per Craig Reed of the Associated Press, finished the contest with a twisted ankle.

He looked solid connecting with seven pass catchers and gained a strong rapport with both Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess, who logged 10 completions for 145 yards on 14 targets.

Even though he improved in his game play in week 2, his fantasy performance was still pedestrian. He still didn’t look comfortable in the pocket and still looked rusty in his mechanics. Newton has barely completed more than 50 percent of his passes and missed some opportunities badly over the first two weeks this year. He had Christian McCaffrey for an easy touchdown last week and overthrew him.

Along with that, he has barely run the ball, which is his strength. Ron Rivera has said they will limit his running and make him more of a passer. If he doesn’t continue to run, he won’t be a top-end QB1.

Week 3

Week 3 continued the woes for Newton. He completed 17 of 26 passes for 167 yards and three interceptions in Sunday’s 34-13 loss to the Saints. He also rushed three times for 16 yards and scored the lone touchdown for the Panthers.
Newton had his hand full the entire time against the Saints. He finished with a 43.8 rating, which was the third-worst passing performance of his career and his worst in three years.
Cam Newton Fantasy Struggles

Newton (Photo by: pantherswire.usatoday.com)

But not all of it was his fault. To start the game, he was out with his favorite target Greg Olsen to a broken foot against the Bills last week. He also lost his second target Kelvin Benjamin in the game to a knee injury during the first half. His next targets Devin Funchess and Christian McCaffrey were really a non-factor the entire game.

Besides the circumstances, Newton still looked to have trouble with throwing the ball. There were few passes that Newton tried to really fire the ball. It’s tough not to believe that his arm isn’t the same as it was in the last two seasons. His highest velocity attempts have come out inaccurate.
Part of his struggles are due to the lack of practice he has had. He was limited all week. I wrote a piece on not to believe in the criticism Newton has had all preseason, saying Newton would come out better than he did in 2016.
But he looks far from it. Maybe the injuries have a big role, but if this continues, it will be a long road.

What to do now

As Newton said, it’s gut check time. For fantasy owners, the thread is dwindling to rely on him as a starter week in and week out. Newton would agree with some fantasy owners as he’s frustrated with his performance.

The team will play road games in four of the next five weeks. He starts with trips to New England and Detroit. If his struggles continue, it may come time to look for a better option and actually cut Newton. It’s hard to cut him, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
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week three DFS Dont's

Week three DFS don’ts: Report card

Well, this was my worst week in terms of DFS earnings. I simply could not overcome single digit performances from Ty Montgomery and Jay Ajayi, and a critical injury to Kelvin Benjamin. Not to mention incredibly underwhelming performance from Derek Carr and Michael Crabtree. I could go on, but let’s just get to my week three DFS don’ts report card.

Quarterback: 1/5

I guess I learned that I should never bet against Drew Brees. He dismantled the Panthers and seemingly got every receiver involved while doing so. And, of course, this was the weekend Russell Wilson broke out of his slump. I’m happy he finally started playing well, but, not so happy it was this particular weekend.

I’ll just call this whole position an “L” for week three. I don’t want to even try and justify Stafford as a good play, since he only scored 16.46 points. However, Andy Dalton did manage to more than double his value with 16.28 points. Dalton was my lone victory at this position. I’d rather not talk about Derek Car. He killed me.

Running Back: 3/6

My week three DFS don’ts at the running back position included LeSean McCoy, Christian McCaffrey and Ameer Abdullah. I was right on both McCoy and Abdullah, as both failed to at least double their price in value. McCaffrey finally had a good game; however, I wouldn’t count on him to get 100 yards receiving every game, so good luck if you keep playing him.

I showed Le’Veon Bell and Ty Montgomery a lot of love on the Suck My DFS Podcast, and it backfired. Bell finally had a score, but 18.8 points isn’t good enough for Bell in my opinion. Montgomery was also disappointing. The only saving grace was Chris Carson managed to double his value in terms of production so that’s a win.

Wide Receiver: 4/6

I’m pleasantly surprised my wide receiver predictions. I nailed all of my week three DFS don’ts at this position. Those predictions included Mike Evans, DeAndre Hopkins and Martavis Bryant. None of those players provided two times their production.

A.J. Green wasn’t a difficult prediction to make. He was in a great match up with a new coordinator that clearly wanted to feature him. Sadly, Keenan Allen and Kelvin Benjamin really came up short. Benjamin’s injury was the first straw that broke my cash game lineups.

Tight End: 2/3

As I stated in my tight end edition of week three DFS don’ts, the matchup for Delanie Walker was too difficult. He was still featured as a receiver, but the production just wasn’t there this week. Coby Fleener has returned to being absolutely useless as a tight end, no surprise there.

It was so frustrating to watch Eric Ebron drop every easy catch in that game. Stafford, to his credit, still wanted to target him, but Ebron insisted on destroying any trust he had in that passing game.

Kicker: 2/2

Kicker, like most weeks, was easy. Matt Prater was a must play. He’s proven to have a leg capable of making 50+ yard field goals, and, was playing at home in a dome. He delivered 19 points. On the other hand, Younghoe Koo was disappointing per usual.

Defense: 2/3

Both Seattle and Tampa Bay failed tremendously. One team surrendered almost 200 yards rushing, and the other allowed Case Keenum to throw for more than 300 yards. Sadly, the Eagles collapsed in the second half and allowed 24 second-half points.

Overall Score: 14/25

I’m not happy with week three. My DFS earnings took a hit, one of my seasonal teams got demolished, and I was only correct on 56% of my picks. Let’s just get to week four already. We’ll be back tomorrow with the kicker and defense edition of week four DFS don’ts.

 

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week three DFS don'ts

Week three DFS don’ts: Running back

The fastest way a running back can land on my DFS don’ts list is to be part of a committee. That word might be one of the worst things a fantasy player can hear. Why? Because it means no one player is guaranteed a substantial workload. That’s why players like Le’Veon Bell and Jay Ajayi are so valuble. Let’s find out which players landed on the running back edition of my week three DFS don’ts.

LeSean McCoy: FanDuel Price $8,100

LeSean McCoy is not on this list because of his workload. McCoy has proven to be the featured back with the Bills. The problem is that the offense isn’t good. The Bills could only generate 125 passing yards on 25 attempts in week 2. No receiver could accumulate more than 30 yards, except for LeSean McCoy. His volume is there without question, but there won’t be production from that volume.

We saw what Denver did to Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys. They dominated their offensive line and locked down the perimeter players. Buffalo does not have any pass catcher of Dez Bryant’s caliber. Charles Clay on his best day isn’t Jason Witten. As good as LeSean McCoy is, he can’t do it on his own.

The only hope McCoy has is if Tyrod Taylor can hurt Denver early with his arm. Then, they establish a run game using the option. This will force Denver to play a more vanilla defense against Buffalo, allowing Taylor and McCoy to have a chance of succeeding. There will be other spots to play McCoy, but not this week.

Christian McCaffrey: FanDuel Price $6,800

week three DFS don'ts: running back

Will Christian McCaffrey ever live up to his pre-draft hype and produce on the field? (Courtesy of; Headline Sports News)

Unlike McCoy, Christian McCaffrey does fall on my week three DFS don’ts list because he’s part of a committee. McCaffrey is dominating his counter-part Johnathan Stewart in snaps played with 47 and 43 compared to Stewart’s 29 and 25. Sadly, Stewart has more total rushes, 33, compared to McCaffrey’s 21 total rushes.

The rushing disparity is concerning. I don’t care how talented McCaffrey is, running backs have to be rush-first threats. Clearly, that isn’t the case. McCaffrey’s production is dependent on Cam Newton being an efficient, accurate passer, which is something Newton has never been.

Even in a great matchup this week against New Orleans, I can’t touch McCaffrey. Until they start increasing his rushing workload, and prove that Newton can deliver the ball to him, I’m off McCaffrey. His lack of production and unpredictable usage has him squarely on my week three DFS don’ts list.

Ameer Abdullah: FanDuel Price $6,100

Another member of a running back by committee is Ameer Abdullah. We saw on Monday night that even in the most ideal gameflow, Abdullah is relatively useless from a fantasy perspective. Abdullah is known as a between the 20’s running back. He’s great at getting you to the red zone, but gets replaced once there. In this case, that would be Dwayne Washington.

How about when the Lions are down and need to roar back? Well, the Lions trot out Theo Riddick to aid in the passing attack. So, Adbullah doesn’t get catches out of the backfield. He doesn’t get the goal line carries. And he only scores if it’s from a distance outside of 20 yards.

It’s obvious, yes. And it’s highly unlikely you ever imagined playing Abdullah in DFS in the first place. But, it’s worth spelling out exactly how bleak the situation is for him in Detroit. Now you know not to use Abdullah for the rest of the year, unless there’s an injury to one of those backs. Running backs by committee are easy placements on my week three DFS don’ts.

 

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NFL week two: Eight takeaways

1. New England looked great, but let’s pump the brakes

Tom Brady threw for 447 yards and three touchdowns, but did we forget who they played? That’s right, New Orleans. In the previous week, the Saints allowed 470 yards to the Minnesota Vikings, who are predominately relevant because of their defense.

This is a Saints team who, last year, finished second to last in total points allowed, and dead last in passing yards allowed. With that said, it is expected for Tom Brady and the New England offense to put up numbers.

Despite the big win however, New England is still banged up. Rob Gronkowski had to exit with a groin injury and Dont’a Hightower might be out another week or two. With Danny Amendola still sidelined, it was nice to see production from Chris Hogan and Philip Dorsett, but we will see how long these two can last as consistent playmakers. Especially when New England plays a legit defense.

2. Maybe the Titans will be as good as we thought?

NFL week two: eight takeaways

Derrick Henry could take over as the RB1 (Tennessee Titans)

Going into the season, people were high on Tennessee. For good reason of course, since they do have Marcus Mariota behind center.

Unfortunately, Mariota hasn’t looked great in his first two games of 2017. Through two games, Mariota has only thrown one touchdown, and has a quarterback rating of 78.7. In his previous two seasons, Mariota’s quarterback ratings were 91.5, and 95.6.

Still, the Titans put up 37 points. Granted it was against Jacksonville, but up until this point in his career, Blake Bortles had been undefeated against Tennessee when he plays at home.

A main reason for the big victory was Tennessee’s ability to run the football. They racked up 179 yards on the ground, mostly from Derrick Henry, who ran for 94 yards, on 6.57 yards per carry.  The Titans defense was also able to force three turnovers, which is a given against Bortles, but they still count. If Mariota can improve, this team could easily win the division.

3. The Panthers are 2-0, but they are overrated

What a blessing it is to start your season against the 49ers and the Bills. Look, the defense has been spectacular, only allowing six total points through two games, but Cam Newton and the offense looks pitiful. It’s understood that Newton is playing banged up, but maybe they need to check for a concussion, because this guy looks lost on the field.

If you watched the game, then you know that your grandmother would have completed the “would be” touchdown pass to Christian McCaffrey, instead of sailing it four feet over his head like Newton did.

Greg Olsen will also 6-8 weeks of the season due to his broken foot, so expect more mediocre play from Carolina’s offense. Carolina is only averaging 2.9 yards per carry is something to keep an eye on as well.

4. The Chiefs look really good

NFL week two: eight takeaways

Kareem Hunt’s debut was no fluke (Sporting News)

After two weeks, Kansas City looks like the best team in football. Not only did they smack the Patriots, but they also beat a good Eagles team. Alex Smith has five touchdowns and has yet to throw an interception, and Kareem Hunt might be able to sit out the rest of the year and still win Rookie of the Year.

In his first two career games, Hunt has 229 yards rushing, along with five total touchdowns. Kansas City is averaging 6.5 yards per carry, which is good for first in the NFL.

The pass rush looks great, as Chris Jones had three of their six sacks against Carson Wentz and the Eagles. If they can slow down the run, this team could be dangerous.

5. Thank God for the Honey Badger, but the Cardinals’ season is over

Without a clutch, game-sealing interception by Tyrann Mathieu, the Cardinals could easily be 0-2. With David Johnson scheduled to miss a serious amount of time, the Cardinals need all the luck they can get, and Mathieu helped them stay relevant for another week.

Carson Palmer has been just awful, with four interceptions and a QBR below 66, his career looks to be done. He turned it around late in the game, but that’s expected against a garbage Colts team. The Cardinals can’t run the ball, and for some reason, are having a hard time defending the pass, so kudos to Mathieu, but it is safe to already write off Arizona.

6. Jay Cutler and the Dolphins might be a perfect match

The Dolphins might be the most underrated team in football, and we might see the best version of Jay Cutler. Yes, it was only one game, but Cutler completed 72.7 percent of his passes, and had a QBR of 101.8.

Jay Ajayi showed that last year was no fluke, rushing for 122 yards. Jarvis Landry led Miami with 13 catches, and the Fins defense held Melvin Gordon to 13 yards on nine attempts. Watch out for Miami.

7. The Raiders are dope

The Raiders home opener was everything you could have hoped for. In a 45-25 win over the Jets, we saw Marshawn Lynch dancing, Michael Crabtree with three touchdowns and Derek Carr looking like a real MVP. Carr has yet to commit a turnover and the Raiders are fifth in the league in rushing.

The defense, who at times, holds this team back, has already recovered two fumbles and is doing a decent job of defending the run. If the defense gets better, the Raiders could be looking at an easy route to home field advantage.

8. Cowboys in trouble?

NFL week two: eight takeaways

Has Dak been exposed? (FanSided)

As someone who does not think Dak Prescott is a franchise quarterback, Sunday’s performance was beautiful to watch. Without Ezekiel Elliott, Dak is nothing. Elliott was held to eight yards on nine attempts, which caused Prescott to actually have to make plays. This resulted in a pair of interceptions.

Denver’s D is top notch, but the Cowboys should be concerned. If the run game is not there, this team is unable to produce, especially with a washed up Dez Bryant. Yeah, he caught a touchdown, but with all those targets, he should have been much better.

 

 

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NFC eye test predictions: 4-1

The best of the best in the NFC.

4. Carolina Panthers

For some odd reason, Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers are good every other year. After going 7-9 in the 2012 season, the Panthers won the division and finished 12-4 in 2013. The following year, they managed to win the division, despite only winning seven games. In 2015, Newton’s MVP season, Carolina was one game away from a perfect regular season. Last year, due to a Super Bowl hangover, the Panthers won only six games. This means a big season is coming up for Carolina.

The Panthers brought in Matt Kalil, who will play alongside his brother, Ryan, a top notch center. Still, this offensive line is pretty poor, and is the main reason Cam Newton struggled last year.

NEW ERA (CBS Sports)

To take some pressure off Newton, Carolina beefed up the run game by drafting Christian McCaffrey with the eighth pick in this year’s draft. McCaffrey is pure grit, the people’s champ, the ultimate teammate. He must have been using an agility ladder right out the womb, and starting lifting since age six. McCaffrey looks to be an immediate impact in Carolina’s backfield, but don’t forget about Jonathan Stewart. The 30-year-old had over 800 yards, and nine touchdowns in 13 games during last year’s regular season.

Though not great, the receiving core could turn into something special. Obviously Greg Olsen is one of the best tight ends in the game, and Kelvin Benjamin, who looked way out of shape at the beginning of the offseason, looks to be just fine. Benjamin has been a consistent player who could take off and become a top 10 receiver. Let’s hope Devin Funchess can make a giant leap as he heads into his third season.

The experienced trio of Julius Peppers, Charles Johnson, and Mario Addison, should continue to get after the opponent on the ends. Kawann Short, who signed a new deal worth $80 million, is a monster at defensive tackle. Barring injury, this is a top 10 defensive line.

The linebacker combination of Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, and Shaq Thompson, is arguably the best linebacker core in the NFL. If Kuechly stays healthy, he is easily one of the top defensive players in the league.

When Josh Norman left after the Super Bowl season, the secondary took a major hit. Fortunately, James Bradberry and Daryl Worley now have some experience under their belt. Look for this pass defense to bounce back, after finishing 29th in passing yards allowed a season ago.

Cam Newton is good, and will not have two down seasons in a row. They added a serious playmaker in McCaffrey, and the young receivers continue to grow. The defense is extremely solid, and if they can figure out defending the pass, the Panthers will be a serious threat come postseason play. This is an 11-win team.

 

3. New York Giants 

The Giants will be playing in this year’s Super Bowl, but they won’t end up with the best record. In their last two Super Bowl victories, New York finished 9-7 and 10-6 during their respected regular seasons. Coming off an 11-win season a year ago, the New York Football Giants are back.

It’s hard to make a case for Eli being an elite quarterback, but he has lowered the turnovers and has thrown for at least 4,000 yards in the previous three seasons. The offensive line isn’t too good, which is why Eli forces throws, as well as why there is lack of success in the run game. Paul Perkins played well in his last preseason game, which is huge because if the Giants can run the ball, they could easily finish as the number one offense in the NFL.

Scary Trio (SNY)

Even if the running game is subpar, the Giants have the best targets in all of football. Odell Beckham Jr is the most talented player in the NFL, and Brandon Marshall can still do big things. New York desperately needs these guys to get to 100 percent, because of how much sauce and talent they bring. Second year WR Sterling Shepard looks to keep rolling after 8 touchdowns during his rookie year. The Giants selected Evan Engram with the 23rd overall pick in this year’s draft, and he is already a player to watch.

This is one scary defensive line. Jason Pierre Paul and Olivier Vernon both got paid, and deserved every penny. DT Damon “Snacks” Harrison not only has a legendary nickname, but is quite the player.

Not a lot of talent at linebacker, but the secondary is elite. Last year, Landon Collins finished third in defensive player of the year voting. Janoris Jenkins, Eli Apple, and Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie are all extremely skilled corners.

The offense will be scary good, and the defense is full of studs. The Giants will win the division with 11-12 wins, and playoff Eli will get them back to the Super Bowl.

 

2. Seattle Seahawks

Love or hate the rowdy, excessive gum chewing coach, Pete Carroll has changed the culture in Seattle. Did drafting Russell Wilson help with the success? You bet.

All he does is win. (Grantland.com)

Russell Wilson took over in 2012. The Seahawks have won double digit games each year since 2012. This guy is a winner. Even with their pathetic offensive line, Wilson is able to keep plays going with his elusiveness and super power arm.

After finishing 25th in rushing yards, the Seahawks brought in Eddie Lacy to help bolster the run game. Not really too sure what to expect from him, Thomas Rawls, or CJ Prosise.

Jimmy Graham is the most talented of these pass catchers, but Doug Baldwin is still Wilson’s favorite target. Jermaine Kearse looks like he might get traded, but Tyler Lockett and Paul Richardson will both play big roles. To be honest, it seems like Seattle has a new hero every week at wide out.

The defense is still incredible. DE’s Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, and Frank Clark combined for 26.5 sacks last year. Bobby Wagner and K.J Wright are right up there with the best of them, when it comes to linebacker duos. And, The Legion of Boom, headlined by Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, and Earl Thomas, is still the best secondary in the land.

This team will continue to do win because that’s all Russell Wilson does. Judging by their schedule, this looks like a 12-win season and a first round bye for Seattle.

 

1. Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers is just too talented. It’s not even like this roster “wow’s” anyone. The fact that Rodgers is the quarterback is all that needs to be said.

After back to back 10-6 seasons, the Packers are in dire need for more success. Rodgers is, without question, one of the most talented quarterbacks ever. However, only one Super Bowl victory has his legacy at a standstill.

Will Rodgers and the Packers get back to the Super Bowl? (Sporting News)

Not a major run team, the Packers finished 29th in rushing attempts last year. No need to run that much when you have Aaron Rodgers, but Ty Montgomery showed he is very capable of moving the chains, after rushing for 5.9 yards per carry last year. Granted it was only 77 attempts, we don’t know how Montgomery will do as the number one, but Jamaal Williams, more of a pure running back, could slide in and have a major role. These backs should have good protection with Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari manning the edges.

The receiving core is among the best in the NFL. Jordy Nelson is arguably a top 5 receiver, and Davante Adams took a major leap in his third season, hauling in 12 touchdowns. Randall Cobb has slightly regressed, but is still a valid option. The tight end trio of Martellus Bennett, Lance Kendricks, and Richard Rodgers, could cause serious matchup problems for defenses.

A decent defensive line, a below average linebacker core, and essentially no help at corner, the defense is a bit lackluster. However, no problem at safety, with Morgan Burnett and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Nick Perry, who is dealing with an ankle injury, recorded 11 sacks last year. So there is some talent on this side of the ball, but it’s hard to forget that this team allowed the second most passing yards, and the fourth most passing touchdowns, a season ago.

A monster regular season is coming for Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay. 13-3 is very in reach. Lack of passing defense will deter this team from going to the Super Bowl, but the Packers should cruise in the regular season.

 

Featured image by SI.com

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Cam Newton facing fantasy criticism

Cam Newton fantasy football: Why the criticism?

Has the time come to consider Cam Newton a potential bust? That’s how many fantasy football writers have labeled Newton this offseason. In 2016 he did struggle after a season where he was MVP and went to Super Bowl 50 in 2015. But why is Cam Newton facing criticism in fantasy?

Why The criticism

Newton had one of the worst seasons of his career last season. He had career low numbers in completion percentage (52.9 percent) and yards per attempt (6.9), along with his third season of less than 20 passing touchdowns.

One year after posting 45 more fantasy points than any other player, Newton fell to 17th at the position. He posted just five top-10 fantasy weeks, and only three after Week 2. And he had Kelvin Benjamin back, along with Greg Olsen and Ted Ginn who was a deep threat machine for Newton.

Cam Newton fantasy football

Cam Newton (Photo by: pantherswire.usatoday.com)

But Newton isn’t known for his passing. The major factor of the criticism is running the football.

The concern of his dwindling rushing totals are real. He had career lows in attempts (90), yards (359) and touchdowns (five). The worst part is that his head coach doesn’t want him to run as much. That’s where Newton excelled.

Granted it’s smart to change the offense to protect their franchise quarterback from shoulder injuries and concussions. But if we’re to rely on Newton for fantasy, and if the Carolina Panthers don’t want to rely on him as much as a runner, then he’ll have to seriously improve as a passer.

The other concern is a torn rotator cuff on his throwing shoulder that he had repaired in March. With the coaching staff wanting him to throw the ball more, many are worried that he might do more damage.

Give Cam the Rock

The Panthers really need to reconsider decreasing Newton’s rushing attempts.

Cam Newton fantasy football

Newton (Photo by: si.com)

Throughout his first six seasons in the NFL, he’s totaled 3,566 rushing yards with 48 touchdowns. That’s insane for a quarterback. In fact, in three of Newton’s six years (2011, 2012 and 2015), the Carolina quarterback has topped 120 fantasy points on rushing alone.

In his best rushing season (2011 rookie year), Newton had 154.2 fantasy points on the ground. In short, he would have been the No. 21 running back. In his first five seasons, he never dipped below 539 yards on the ground.

Besides the numbers, look at the man himself. The man is a freak athlete. He’s 6 feet, 5 inches at 245 pounds. And he can run the football. There aren’t many quarterbacks like him, that big, that can run like him.

2017 Outlook

The ceiling is high for Newton. But what he is expected to do is risky.

Cam Newton fantasy football

Newton (Photo by: nydailynews.com)

As before, they want him to pass the ball more. But that’s not his game. I don’t see him improving as a passer. I think when they see the issue he will run the ball himself more.

But there’s other reasons to be optimistic of Newton. The Panthers drafted Christian McCaffrey. His ability to catch passes out of the backfield as well as split out wide when needed is going to be a welcomed sight for Newton’s fantasy value.

He may not see a heavy workload while splitting carries with Jonathan Stewart, as he’s the perfect third-down running back for Newton. He still has Olsen and Benjamin along with rookie Curtis Samuel and Devin Funchess. Not the best receivers but he has options though he lost his favorite deep target in Ginn.

Final Verdict

With all the hate, I still believe in Newton. Though there are risks. I wouldn’t draft him as high only because of the situation of him throwing the ball more.

He’s been getting a round eight draft position. In that case, there’ll be an opportunity to already have a loaded fantasy roster and just need to add a quarterback like Newton who can help you win it all. Newton’s ability to take over games and do special things, this can be second to none in the NFL when he’s on.

 

Featured image from sportingnews.com.

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NFL Fantasy Studs Sporting New Colors

2017 fantasy football running back rankings: 20-11

This list of running backs fall in the low end RB1 category and the solid RB2 category. These are some of the running backs that can make your season if they breakout and make their way into the top ten. Here you go, the 2017 fantasy football running back rankings: 20-11.

20. Ty Montgomery (Green Bay Packers): Montgomery switched from wide receiver to running back last season and found immediate success. Averaging 5.9 yards per carry, he also rushed for 457 yards. He is kind of like a Swiss army knife for the Packers because of how they still use him in the receiving game. Montgomery had 348 receiving yards last year while playing at both running back and receiver. Expect a bigger workload and continued success for Montgomery and the Packers this year.

19. Spencer Ware (Kansas City Chiefs): After the departure of Jamaal Charles, Spencer Ware has the chance to lock up the number one running back position for the Kansas City Chiefs. Ware started last year after Charles went down with another knee injury, and he succeeded. He had at least 16 fantasy points in four games last season and had at least seven points in 11 games. Ware also averaged 2.9 yards after contact, which was good enough for seventh-best in the league last season. If he can fend off rookie Kareem Hunt, he’ll be a solid RB2.

2017 fantasy football running back rankings: 20-11

http://www.chiefs.com/assets/images/imported/KC/photos/clubimages/2016/02-February/tempSpencer_Ware_Gallery_011–nfl_mezz_1280_1024.JPG

18. Mark Ingram (New Orleans Saints): I had some trouble placing Mark Ingram on this list. He’s found success in a primarily passing offense, as the Saints passed on 63 percent of their plays last season. Now the Saints added former MVP Adrian Peterson and rookie running back Alvin Kamara.

Ingram will split running duties with Peterson and Kamara will get looks as well. The main reason Ingram is high on this list is because of he is used within the opposing 20-yard line. He scored five of his six touchdowns there and should continue to get the ball in the red zone.

17. Bilal Powell (New York Jets): Powell is in a prime position to be the lead back for the New York Jets this season. He will have to compete with Matt Forte in training camp and the starting spot isn’t guaranteed.

Last season, we saw Powell succeed as the number two running back in New York. He finished as the 23rd-best running back in standard leagues. In four of his last seven outings, he eclipsed 14 fantasy points.

What people don’t know is that he has quietly been the sixth-best running back in terms of receptions over the past two seasons. Powell is a great RB3 and a low end RB2 with tons of upside.

16. Christian McCaffrey (Carolina Panthers): The Stanford product finds himself in a perfect position to succeed immediately in the NFL. Everyone knows he has the skill to be a great player, and he gets to play alongside former MVP Cam Newton.

McCaffrey was an absolute beast at Stanford last year. He had over 1,900 yards from scrimmage and 16 touchdowns. The Panthers are going to use him to “create mismatches” for opposing defenses, and that is entirely possible. McCaffrey will line up out of the backfield or the slot and will get a lot of touches this season making him a good RB2 and an even better flex.

2017 fantasy football running back rankings: 20-11

(Courtesy of stanforddaily.com)

15. Lamar Miller (Houston Texans): Lamar Miller was a fantasy disappointment last year, plain and simple. He didn’t handle his increased workload as well as everyone hoped he would. His yards per attempt decreased from 4.5 to 4.0 from 2015 to 2016.

His work as a receiver wasn’t anything to brag about either. He had 16 less receptions and almost 200 less yards than the previous season. With the addition of Deshaun Watson, those numbers should be better in 2017.

The key to Miller’s success will be his offensive line. Ranked 29th in the NFL last season, if that group steps up, then Miller could be a top ten running back.

14. Leonard Fournette (Jacksonville Jaguars): Former No. 1 recruit and All-American, Leonard Fournette is ready to make his mark on the NFL. Standing at 6-feet 240 pounds, Fournette is an absolute beast and his college film can back that up. Being this big, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t eclipse double digit touchdowns and get plenty of work in the red zone.

The Jaguars all but said they were going to commit to a power run scheme by drafting Fournette in the first and left tackle Cam Robinson in the second. Fournette would crack the top ten if it wasn’t for Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon being right behind him.

13. Carlos Hyde (San Francisco 49ers): Carlos Hyde has the ability to be a 1,000-yard rusher in the NFL. That’s if he can stay healthy. He hasn’t played a full season since he entered the league in 2014, but when he plays he is effective. He ranked seventh in the NFL with 414 yards after contact and averaged 31.8 yards after contact per game. Recent reports have told us that he is looking slow and indecisive, so if you draft him make sure you handcuff Tim Hightower.

2017 fantasy football running back rankings: 20-11

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12. Isaiah Crowell (Cleveland Browns): Talk about a breakout year, Isaiah Crowell came into his own last season after rushing for 952 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. Cleveland did a good job in the offseason of bolstering its offensive line, so expect those numbers to increase.

Two things that should be noted surrounding Crowell is the amount of garbage time running he gets and his goal line carries. Crowell had 591 of his yards when the Browns were trailing, which was most of the season. He is a good player when the Browns are losing but doesn’t get as many opportunities when they are ahead. Crowell is also wildly ineffective when in the redzone, averaging 1.6 yards per carry. Draft Crowell as a low RB1 and a good RB2.

11. Marshawn Lynch (Oakland Raiders): Beast Mode is back. Marshawn Lynch made the decision to come out of retirement this offseason and he is now a member of the Oakland Raiders and their high-powered offense. In 2014, Lynch had 1,306 yards and 13 touchdowns and looked like he could play another ten years in the league. It wasn’t until the next season when Lynch hit the injury bug and people saw he was in fact human.

The Raiders had the sixth-best rushing attack last offseason and have the offensive line to help Lynch succeed this season. Their offensive line is currently ranked fourth in the NFL. With Jalen Richard and Deandre Washington also in the mix, Lynch should have ample rest opportunities and should be fresh the whole season. It wouldn’t be a stretch to expect another 1,000-yard season and ten touchdowns for Marshawn Lynch.

 

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2017 fantasy football running back rankings: 30-21

Dak Prescott

NFL quarterbacks under the most pressure in 2017

In recent years, it has become increasingly obvious that quarterback is the most important position in NFL football. While the goal of leading the team to wins is the same for all 32 starters in the league, the circumstances and context under which they play are all very different. Here are some NFL quarterbacks under pressure to produce heading into the 2017 season.

Andy Dalton– Dalton’s impact on the Bengals franchise has been largely positive. Last year, he and the Bengals missed the playoffs for the first time in Dalton’s still relatively young career. He has thrown almost twice as many touchdowns as interceptions.

However, the reality is until he delivers this franchise a long-awaited playoff win, he will show up on any list like this. There is one additional detail that complicates Dalton’s situation for the upcoming season. Backup quarterback A.J. McCarron’s contract situation is murky, but he may be available via free agency after the 2017 season.

NFL quarterbacks under pressure

Photo: cincyjungle.com

The former Alabama signal caller has proven to be very capable when filling in for Dalton. He got closer than Dalton ever did to a playoff win two years ago against the Steelers. Several quarterback-needy teams would be interested should he become available.

As a native Cincinnatian, I can tell you that the Bengals’ resistance to making coach and player changes is the subject of a lot of comedy around town.

Even so, should Dalton and the team struggle again like they did last year, the threat of McCarron leaving may force Cincinnati into choosing one of the two quarterbacks. If Cincinnati gets off to a rough start, the coaching staff taking an extended look at McCarron as the starter is not unrealistic.

Jared Goff- You can pick whatever metric you want. The fact is Goff was flat-out atrocious when finally given the chance to start during his rookie season. While it is very true he did not have much talent around him, a completion percentage of under 55 and more interceptions than touchdowns speaks for itself.

NFL quarterbacks under pressure

Photo: turfshowtimes.com

In some cases, those numbers for a rookie quarterback on a bad team might not be too worrisome. However, virtually the entire front office and coaching regime that traded up to pick Goff first overall has been fired.

The new management has no attachment to Goff and is well aware that the Rams must show significant improvement in their second year back in Los Angeles. The franchise is struggling to become relevant again in the crowded Los Angeles sports scene.

With Wade Phillips now coordinating what was already a playoff-caliber defense, Goff must step up to the plate and at least be a serviceable quarterback this year.

Life is not always fair in the NFL. If Goff does not improve dramatically this year, he is likely headed down the path of guys like David Carr and JaMarcus Russell.

Goff still does not have much to work with on the offensive side of the ball. Running back Todd Gurley was neutralized last year because the Rams had no passing offense to speak of. The addition of young offensive guru Sean McVay as head coach is a wildcard. It will be up to him to turn this offense into something that looks like it belongs on an NFL field. It all starts and ends with Goff, one way or the other.

Cam Newton– Is he the MVP that ran rough shot over the league until running into the 2015 Broncos in Super Bowl 50? Or is he the inaccurate turnover machine that became a bit of a problem child late last season? 2017 is a big swing year for Cam Newton.

NFL quarterbacks under pressure

Photo: charlottestories.com

It should be noted that Newton had surgery to repair a partial rotator cuff tear following last season. Only he knows how much that affected him, but it certainly could not have helped matters.

The versatility of rookie running back Christian McCaffrey should be a big help to the charismatic signal caller. Improvement in the secondary will also be key to the Panthers ability to bounce back from last year’s hugely disappointing six-win campaign.

Much like every other quarterback on this list though, Newton will get all the credit or all blame. That is just the way it works in the NFL today.

Dak Prescott– Prescott was the inspiration for this article. The pressure on him for 2017 almost cannot be put into words. He is now the unquestioned starter for one of the most recognizable franchises in sports. His spectacular rookie season is perhaps the single biggest reason why borderline Hall of Famer Tony Romo is now a broadcaster.

We know the Ezekiel Elliott led running game and offensive line are fantastic, but Prescott in year two is a massive question mark. From Robert Griffin III to the option and wildcat offenses, we have seen so many things set the league on fire one year only to fade away the next. The defensive coaches in this league usually adapt over time.

Only time will tell if Prescott is different. For me, it is the most fascinating story of the upcoming season. There are two other factors to keep in mind for Prescott and the Cowboys. First, because of winning the division they will play a much tougher schedule than last year. Also, even in a year where he could seemingly do no wrong, Prescott was unable to get the Cowboys any closer to a Super Bowl than Romo ever did.

 

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2017 NFL Draft Grades

The first round of the 2017 NFL Draft is in the books and it is now time to see how the teams fared.

AFC EAST

Buffalo Bills: B

They traded down with the Chiefs and acquired future picks, while still getting a great cover corner in Tre’Davious White out of LSU. This will help them cope with the loss of Stephon Gilmore.

Miami Dolphins: B

The Dolphins needed to get a younger edge rusher and luckily pass rushers fell in this draft class. Charles Harris is a good pass rusher that needs to develop into a good run stopper.

New England Patriots: A

Brandin Cooks was acquired in a deal that sent pick number 32 to the Saints. Cooks will make the Patriot’s offense more dynamic. New England also got very good value in the trade.

New York Jets: A+

Jamal Adams (Photo courtesy: nj.com)

The Jets loved the safeties in this class and they got Jamal Adams. Adams is a safer pick and should have a great and long NFL career. Safety wasn’t the biggest need, but they got great value in Adams.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens: C

Baltimore got decent value in Marlon Humphrey, but could have addressed different needs. All three tackles with first round grades were still available. Humphrey can improve and will have to to cover Antonio Brown and A.J. Green in the division.

Cincinnati Bengals: F

John Ross is the fastest player in the class, but the Bengals reached on him. Cincinnati could have gotten him later in the round if they had traded down. They also had other needs that could have been addressed at nine. Ross can develop into a good NFL player, but also has injury issues to deal with.

Cleveland Browns: A-

The Browns did not screw this up and in fact had a good draft. They took Myles Garrett with the first overall pick, who should be a good pass rusher for years to come. Cleveland traded the number 12 pick to the Texans and acquired more Picks. With the pick they got from Houston, they selected safety Jabrill Peppers, which fills a huge need. After this, they traded into the first round and took tight end David Njoku, who should be a great receiving threat next season.

Pittsburgh Steelers: B

Pittsburgh needed to get pass rushing help, as James Harrison led the team in sacks last year and is aging. Watt was taken a little bit high for his value, but can develop into a good player with time.

AFC SOUTH

Houston Texans: D

The Texans traded all the way up to 12 to get Deshaun Watson. Had they stayed at their pick and gotten him, it would have been a great pick, as it fills a great need. Watson has accuracy and arm strength issues, but does have good intangibles. He will need the offense to help out a lot around him.

Indianapolis Colts: A+

Malik Hooker somehow fell all the way to number 14. The Colts needed to improve the defense, even though this didn’t fill a huge need. Hooker has some concerns with injuries, but is a great middle of the field safety.

Jacksonville Jaguars: A

Leonard Fournette (Photo courtesy: nola.com)

The Jaguars don’t have a great running back on the roster and now has a once in a lifetime running back. Leonard Fournette will give the Jaguars a good running game and allow them to evaluate Blake Bortles after the season.  With the defense addressed in free agency, Jacksonville should be able to compete for the division.

Tennessee Titans: B-

Tennessee got good players, but they reached on both picks in the first round of draft.  Corey Davis and Adoree’ Jackson will both be players capable of starting for the Titans for years, but they could have gotten them later. They both however fill big needs at wide receiver and corner.

AFC WEST

Denver Broncos: B

Denver filled their biggest need by selecting tackle Garett Bolles. With the top three tackles on the board, the Broncos elected to go with the most athletic of the three in Bolles. He will be a good pass blocker form day one.

Kansas City Chiefs: C-

It was a very risky move to trade up in the draft and get quarterback Pat Mahommes at pick 10. He has great arm strength and good accuracy, but is a gunslinger who throws a lot of interceptions. The transition from Alex Smith to Mahommes should be a fun one to watch.

Los Angeles Chargers: B

Wide receiver was a need and Mike Williams is a stud. He will provide great value if Keenan Allen gets injured again, or playing along side him. Williams is a great red zone target who will be productive in his first year. Phillip Rivers did a great job with little talent at receiver last year and should be overjoyed heading into next season.

Oakland Raiders: C-

Gareon Conley is a great corner who had value being taken at number 24 overall. The problem is that he was accused of rape on April 9. If he comes back clean this is a steal of a pick, but if it doesn’t he could be suspended or worse.

NFC EAST

Dallas Cowboys: B

Taco Charlton wasn’t supposed to fall to the Cowboys, but he now gets to play for Dallas. They needed more edge rushers and Charlton has the size that can be molded into a dominant force.

New York Giants: C

Tight End was a need, but they should have addressed the tackle position with so many on the board. Engram is a fast tight end, who is more of a glorified wide receiver. He will be a good weapon for the Giants, but only if Manning has the time to deliver the ball to him.

Philadelphia Eagles: B-

Derek Barnett presented good value, but they don’t have many good corners. The Eagles will give up  a lot of yards through the air if the pass rush doesn’t get to the quarterback in time. Running back was also a good option with Dalvin Cook on the board.

Washington Redskins: A+

Jonathan Allen (Photo courtesy: washingtonpost.com)

Washington had Jonathan Allen fall all the way to pick number 17 and rushed to the podium to get him. Allen is a top five player in the class, who will have an immediate impact.

NFC North

Chicago Bears: F

The Bears traded up one pick, to get a quarterback that they likely could’ve gotten at their original pick, number 3. Mitch Trubisky is the best quarterback in this class, but none of them warranted a pick at number two overall. This grade also takes into account the big deal that the Bears gave Mike Glennon.

Detroit Lions: B-

Jarrad Davis was selected and he is a good linebacker and should’ve been drafted in that range. The problem is that the best linebacker in the class, Reuben Foster was still on the board.

Green Bay Packers: A

The Packers traded out of the first round with the Browns to get the first selection in the second round. None of the players the Packers were likely targeting were selected in the picks after the trade.

Minnesota Vikings: C-

Sam Bradford was acquired with the Vikings first round selection in this draft class. Bradford did set a record for completion percentage in a season, but overall Minnesota’s offense sputtered.

NFC SOUTH

Atlanta Falcons: B

Atlanta traded up to get Takkarist McKinley. He has the best motor of anybody in the entire class, although he is a bit undersized. He will be a good speed rusher across from Vic Beasley.

Carolina Panthers: A

Christian McCaffrey is a very versatile player that will get touches as a running back, wide receiver and return man. Drafting McCaffrey will allow Cam Newton to take less hits and create an interesting dynamic with Jonathan Stewart still in the backfield.

New Orleans Saints: C+

The Saints had a good pick at number 11 in the first round when they selected Marshon Lattimore. They likely didn’t think he would fall to them, but got great value. Lattimore fits what New Orleans needs, which is a lot of defensive help. After this they went on to select Ryan Ramczyk with the last pick in the first round. He does provide value, but the Saints already have too many tackles on their roster.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: A-

Tampa Bay didn’t absolutely need a tight end, but O.J. Howard was a great value pick at number 19. He is going to make their offense fun to watch and should help the development of Jameis Winston.

NFC WEST

Arizona Cardinals: C-

The Cardinals reached for Haason Reddick. He is a converted edge rusher now trying to play linebacker in the pros. At the very least he is a guy they will need to develop. Reddick could have been selected a little later in the round.

Los Angeles Rams: D+ 

Jared Goff was acquired as part of a deal that sent the Rams’ first round pick this year. While Goff hasn’t played the greatest yet, he still has potential and a new coaching staff can get some good things out of him.

San Francisco 49ers: A+ 

Solomon Thomas (Photo courtesy: oregonlive.com)

San Francisco started off the draft by trading the number two pick to the Bears and likely got the player they wanted all along in Solomon Thomas. Thomas should be able to help immediately. They then traded back up into the first round and selected Reubuen Foster, who is the best linebacker in the class.

Seattle Seahawks: ??

The Seahawks traded out of the first round with the 49ers. They only moved down a few spots and can likely still get the offense line help they need. More will be learned about their grade once they actually make their selections.

 

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2017 NFL Mock Draft April 27

The NFL Draft is hours away and more information is coming out about these prospects. This NFL Mock Draft will have no trades.

ROUND ONE

1. Cleveland Browns- Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

The Browns need to take the best player available, instead of reaching for a quarterback. Garrett is the premier pass-rushing prospect. He has a solid jump off of the ball and then uses his athleticism and speed to get to the quarterback. Garrett is great at containing opposing quarterbacks in the pocket. He is good against the run and even makes teams run to the other side of the field like Alabama did against him. His good gap integrity on running plays will help him transition to playing against NFL offenses. He had a good NFL Combine, so the Browns should feel very comfortable picking Garrett.

2. San Francisco 49ers- Solomon Thomas, DE/DT, Stanford

There is a new regime in San Francisco, but all visible signs show them not taking a quarterback with the number two pick. That may change, or maybe they are protecting their real thoughts. Jonathan Allen is a premier talent, but may not be the greatest fit as they have drafted two different five-technique defensive linemen the last two years. Whether John Lynch wants to keep these guys or draft his own people remains up in the air. As the team currently sits Solomon Thomas is the best fit. They need pass rushing help and Thomas is a well rounded defensive end, who is as good at stopping the run as he is rushing the passer. He’s very quick at the snap of the ball. His best quality is his versatility. He can play almost any position on the defensive line and be successful.

3. Chicago Bears- Jonathan Allen, DE/DT, Alabama

If Allen falls to three and the Bears aren’t worried about his shoulder injuries, they will run to the podium to pick Allen. He is a good fit in their 3-4 defense and can start from day one. Allen could not be blocked with one blocker consistently and continuously disrupted plays. He doesn’t always have the best gap integrity, but does have great play recognition skills.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars- Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

Fournette can do everything required as a running back and can handle a heavy dose of carries. He played this last season with a lingering ankle injury and still averaged 6.5 yards per carry. His combination of speed, size and vision makes him an elite running back prospect. The Jaguars have other needs, but Fournette is too good to pass up. Jacksonville will likely give Blake Bortles one more season to figure things out, and a good running game will help his chances. The Jaguars flirted with signing free agent running backs, but elected not to, which may show where they are leaning with this pick.

5. Tennessee Titans- Marson Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

The Titans cut Jason McCourty, which may signal where they are going with this pick. Lattimore is a shut-down corner, who has good ball skills. Even though Ohio State got blown out by Clemson, he only gave up one catch and it was to Mike Williams on a screen pass. Lattimore is decent in run support too.

6. New York Jets- Mitchell Trubisky, QB, UNC

The Jets don’t have a quarterback worthy of starting for the long haul currently on their roster. Josh McCown is capable of bridging the gap between now and a franchise quarterback being ready. Trubisky only has one year of starting experience, which is concerning, but he is very accurate. He also rarely makes bad decisions, which is a rarity for quarterbacks in this draft class. On top of all that, Trubisky is an athlete that has above average speed and can throw well while on the move.

7. Los Angeles Chargers- Jamal Adams, SS, LSU

The Chargers needs secondary help and luckily, this class is loaded with it. Adams is a hard-hitter, who helps in run support. He has shown the capability to guard elite college level tight ends like Evan Engram, which will help him a lot at the NFL level.

8. Carolina Panthers- Christian McCaffrey, RB, Stanford

Ron Rivera has commented on taking a running back early and McCaffrey is rising up draft boards. McCaffrey is a big play guy who can run in between the tackles. He is also good at receiving out of the backfield, which should help Cam Newton.

9. Cincinnati Bengals- Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

Cincinnati takes the best player available and that could be Mike Williams. He can be a great number two receiver to A.J. Green and the Bengals can keep Tyler Boyd in the slot. In the National Championship Game, Mike Williams was the difference maker for Clemson. Williams is the best red zone threat in college football from the wide receiver position. He is tall and lanky, but athletic enough to make great catches.

10. Buffalo Bills- Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

The Bills desperately need safety help and would be overjoyed if Hooker fell to them. He would be an immediate upgrade for their lackluster secondary. Hooker has the best range of any safety in the class. He is a ball-hawk, who isn’t afraid to come up and help in the run.

11. New Orleans Saints- Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

New Orleans needs defensive help badly. They can start by getting a pass rusher across from Cameron Jordan. Barnett is one of the best pass rushers in the class, but does not do much against the run. He uses his speed to get around the tackle blocking him, but rarely uses pass rushing moves to get to the quarterback.

12. Cleveland Browns- Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

The Browns are likely going to take a signal caller with this pick if they don’t take one with the first pick overall. Watson doesn’t have great accuracy and consistently relied on receivers to make plays for him. The most alarming thing about Watson is his decision making, as he makes throws that have no chance of being completed. His arm strength has also been called into question by only throwing 49 mph at the combine. The accepted low for an NFL quarterback is 55 mph. (Dak Prescott threw 54 mph last combine, but had a hurt shoulder) Watson has shown flashes of greatness, particularly against Alabama, but needs to be more consistent. One thing is for sure, Watson steps up in the clutch.

13. Arizona Cardinals- Pat Mahommes, QB, Texas Tech

Mahommes has the chance to prove that system quarterbacks can make it in the NFL if they have talent. His arm strength is second to none in this class. He is a gunslinger that loves extending plays and showing off his arm. The Cardinals will likely want to get a future quarterback behind Carson Palmer and with a year or two to learn, Mahommes can develop in to a great quarterback.

14. Philadelphia Eagles- Marlon Humphrey, CB, Alabama

The Eagles need corner help badly. They will likely have to take Humphrey even though he was most likely behind Sidey Jones (achilles) and Gareon Conley (rape accusations) on their board. Humphrey guarded Mike Williams well in the National Championship game, but Williams made some crazy catches through the good coverage. Humphrey is a good man to man corner, who can get confused while playing zone.

15. Indianapolis Colts- Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama

Foster was the best player for Alabama in the National Championship Game. He was all over the field and showed great closing speed on ball carriers. In addition to that, he was a very effective when blitzing, knocking down Deshaun Watson plenty of times. He is also good in coverage, which doesn’t leave many holes in his game. The Colts have a lot of defensive holes to plug and Foster is the best defensive player available. He has some character issues, but is a top ten talent in this class.

16. Baltimore Ravens- Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

The Ravens need to protect Joe Flacco and can take tackles in two consecutive years. Many scouts question whether Robinson can be a left tackle in the NFL and if he can’t he can play right tackle or guard for the Ravens. Robinson did a solid job pass blocking Myles Garrett in their match-up.

17. Washington Redskins- Adoree’ Jackson, CB, USC

Washington has had multiple visits with Jackson and they could use a corner to go alongside Josh Norman. Jackson has all of the capabilities necessary to be a lock-down corner for many years in the NFL. He can play both sides of the ball and also help in the return game. His ability to play both ways and to bait quarterbacks into throwing passes, just so he can intercept them, shows his likeness to Deion Sanders.

18. Tennessee Titans- Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

Marcus Mariota needs a number one target to throw to. Davis is a premier talent at wide receiver. He is big, at 6 feet 3 inches, but his skills match that of a smaller receiver, making him a unique prospect. Davis knows where to go on broken plays and fights for the football with resiliency.

19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama

A lot of people think that Tampa Bay will go running back here, but if Howard were to fall, he would be the selection. Howard is a great receiving tight end, who didn’t get the chance to produce much at Alabama due to play-calling and quarterback issues. He can be another good target to help Jameis Winston.

20. Denver Broncos- Garett Bolles, OT, Utah

Before the Broncos give up on Trevor Siemian they need to protect him to give him a fair shot. Bolles uses his mobility to his advantage by stopping speed rushers who try to pass him by. He may need to add some strength to be successful in the NFL.

21. Detroit Lions- Taco Charlton, DE/DT, Michigan

Someone other than Ziggy Ansah has to be able to rush the passer. Charlton has great size at 6’6″ tall and can get to the quarterback with 10 sacks last season.

22. Miami Dolphins- Forrest Lamp, OT/G, Western Kentucky

Lamp played tackle in college, but will likely be kicked inside in the NFL. He is currently considered by most the best interior line prospect in the class. Miami is moving Laremy Tunsil out to left tackle after trading Brandon Albert to the Jaguars and will need some help on the interior.

23. New York Giants- David Njoku, TE, Miami

Njoku is a fast tight end who should be a good receiving threat in the NFL. He may be able to develop into a good blocker as well. The Giants have solidified their offense by signing Brandon Marshall, but could use a decent tight end threat over the middle.

24. Oakland Raiders- Haason Reddick, LB, Temple

The Raiders need help at inside linebacker and Reddick is changing positions to become one. He was an edge rusher in college, but has looked good in the events leading up to the draft at inside linebacker. Oakland will need to work with Reddick, but if they see his potential, they may elect to try and develop him into a good pro.

25. Houston Texans- DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame

Tom Savage will get his shot to start, but the Texans need a long term answer at quarterback. Because they are picking so late in the round, they may have to trade up to get one. Kizer has moved up and down draft boards constantly, which makes him a wild card. Kizer has the size and arm strength to be a franchise quarterback. He has some issues with being consistent with the accuracy of his passes, but for the most part is decent. If he wants to be successful he should work on putting passes in areas for wide receivers to run after the catch. His mobility is good enough to get him out of jams.

26. Seattle Seahawks- Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin

Seattle’s offensive line problems have been well documented. Any lineman prospect near this range should be considered. Ramczyk is a solid left tackle, who is a good run and pass blocker. He did a pretty good job blocking Taco Charlton when the Badgers played the Wolverines. He doesn’t have good mobility and athleticism and can be beat by fast rushers and blitzers.

27. Kansas City Chiefs- John Ross, WR, Washington

Kansas City doesn’t have too many needs, but could be better with another offensive weapon. They do have Jeremy Maclin and Tyreek Hill, but could become more explosive with another guy who can burn a defense. A lot of people are overvaluing Ross because of his 40 time at the NFL Combine. The hope for him is that NFL teams also overvalue him. His speed is apparent and helps him be productive in the return game.

28. Dallas Cowboys- Jabrill Peppers, S/CB/LB, Michigan

The Cowboys lost Barry Church to the Jaguars in free agency. They will need a safety to go alongside Byron Jones. Peppers can be successful at any position in the back seven of the defense, but will be the safety that Dallas needs. Peppers’ downside his his ball skills. He has all the fundamentals down, but had only one career interception in college. He does have a diluted sample on his drug test at the combine, but the Cowboys usually aren’t worried about those things.

29. Green Bay Packers- Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

Mike McCarthy likes Ty Montgomery at running back, but Cook might present too much value to pass up. Cook is an elusive, speed back who is hard to catch. He is a weapon as a receiver out of the backfield. There are some concerns with the amount of injuries he has had and off the field issues, but when healthy Cook is an elite running back prospect.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers- Obi Melifonwu, S/CB, Connecticut

The Steelers need to draft more secondary help and Melifonwu has been rising up draft boards with his outstanding combine. Melifonwu played safety, but could also play some corner in the NFL. At 6’4″ with a 4.4 40 yard dash time, the Steelers can get a star at the end of the first round.

31. Atlanta Falcons- Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri

Harris is a good pass rusher, who is also solid against the run. He doesn’t have great length for a edge rusher, but does have good strength. The Falcons had Vic Beasley last season, but need to get more pass rushers around him to have a better defense.

32. New Orleans Saints- Tre’Davious White, CB, LSU

New Orleans needs to improve every level of their defense. White is a good team leader, who is very athletic. He doesn’t have the best size for a corner, but can cover with the best of them. His added value comes in the return game, where he did a solid job for LSU. The bottom line is that White can cover.

ROUND 2

33. Cleveland Browns- Zach Cunningham, LB, Vanderbilt

Cunningham is tall and lanky, but makes plays. He is a tackle machine that can vastly improve the Cleveland run defense. The outside linebackers for the Browns are solid, but Demario Davis isn’t.

34. San Francisco 49ers- Kevin King, CB, Washington

The 49ers don’t have a good corner on their roster. King has elite height at 6’3″ for the position and ran a blazing 4.43 40 yard dash at the combine. He will need to add some muscle to his frame to be able to jam receivers and shed blocks.

35. Jacksonville Jaguars- Takkarist McKinley, DE/OLB, UCLA

McKinley has one of the best motors in the class for a pass rusher. The Jags need to get another defensive end in case Fowler and Ngakoue don’t improve his season.

36. Chicago Bears- Zay Jones, WR, ECU

The Bears lost Alshon Jeffrey to free agency and now have to get someone for Mike Glennon to throw the ball too. Zay Jones may be overlooked because of the wide receiver prospects ahead of him, but he is a talented receiver himself, who set the FBS career record for receptions.

37. Los Angeles Rams- Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss

If the Rams want Jared Goff to continue to develop, they have to get him some weapons. Engram is one of the best receiving tight ends in this draft class, but needs to block better.

38. Los Angeles Chargers- Dan Feeney, G, Indiana

Protecting Phillip Rivers has to be a top priority. Feeney could have gone higher in this year’s draft, but dealt with injury issues last year.

39. New York Jets- Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida

The Jets already addressed the quarterback position in round one and now can try to improve the secondary. Wilson is a tall corner, who has good speed. He is a good man to man cover corner, but is susceptible to pass interference calls. He doesn’t offer much in terms of run support and sometimes looks as if he doesn’t want to tackle anybody. The Jets can use another corner or two, as Morris Claiborne will likely get injured at some point this season.

40. Carolina Panthers- Demarcus Walker, DE, Florida State

Walker is good at rushing the passer and disrupts passes by sticking his hands up into the passing lane. Carolina needs to get a young pass rusher.

41. Cincinnati Bengals- Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova

When Cincinnati was at their best, they rushed the passer well. Kpassagnon fits the mold of a big defensive end that they like and could be a player to develop for the future.

42. New Orleans- JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC

Smith-Schuster is creating a lot of buzz lately and has moved up into the second round. The Saints can add a receiver with one of their many early picks and try to replace Brandin Cooks.

43. Philadelphia Eagles- Alvin Kamara, RB, Tennessee

With taking a CB in the first round, the Eagles can now get a dynamic offensive weapon. Darren Sproles is getting older and Ryan Matthews is often hurt. Kamara will be a great target for Carson Wentz out of the backfield.

44. Buffalo Bills- Bucky Hodges, TE, Virginia Tech

Hodges has a great combination of size and speed, but doesn’t run great routes or block well. He can be a valuable target for Tyrod Taylor and can even split out wide for the Bills.

45. Arizona Cardinals- Malik McDowell, DE/DT, Michigan State

McDowell has a lot of talent, but doesn’t have a great motor and gets discouraged when his team is losing. The Cardinals will hope they can get him to play hard every down. Arizona needs to get better defensive ends for their 3-4 scheme.

46. Indianapolis Colts- Chris Wormley, DE/DT, Michigan

Foster is a good add for the first round, but the Colts need to upgrade a lot of positions in this draft. Wormley can play defensive end and help with the pass rush.

47. Baltimore Ravens- T.J. Watt, DE/OLB, Wisconsin

Baltimore only had 31 sacks as a team last season. Watt may not be as good as his brother, but makes plays and can help rush the passer.

48. Minnesota Vikings- Dion Dawkins, OT, Temple

The Vikings have addressed some of their line problems via free agency, but they still need some upgrades there. Dawkins can play tackle in the NFL, but some believe he would be better off as a guard.

49. Washington Redskins- Carl Lawson, DE, Auburn

Lawson would have been in the talks for a first round pick, but he was often injured at Auburn. Washington has to get a few more solid players on their defensive line.

50. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- D’onta Foreman, RB, Texas

With Doug Martin’s injury and substance abuse issues the Bucs need to take a running back in this loaded class. Foreman is big, but ran a good 40 yard dash and should be selected on day two.

51. Denver Broncos- Montravious Adams, DT, Auburn

Adams is a great interior pass rusher and played well at the Senior Bowl. Denver needs to get some better players on the interior of the defensive line.

52. Cleveland Browns- Budda Baker, S, Washington

Cleveland needs secondary help badly. Baker makes plays in the passing game, but isn’t afraid to come up and help in the run either. He isn’t the biggest safety, but is productive. His ball skills aren’t great, but should be worth the pick.

53. Detroit Lions- Curtis Samuel, WR/RB, Ohio State

Samuel is going to be a good slot receiver and can also play running back. Detroit can move Golden Tate back out wide or use Samuel and Tate on the inside of four receiver sets.

54. Miami Dolphins- Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado

The Dolphins need to get some help at corner to slow down the pass. Awuzie is a physical corner who is good at jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage.

55. New York Giants- Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida

Davis will likely go higher, but is a perfect fit for the Giants. They rarely take linebackers early in the draft, but this value is hard to pass up.

56. Oakland Raiders- Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson

The Raiders need to improve their defensive line. Watkins is a good defensive tackle who rushes the passer well.

57. Houston Texans- Taylor Moton, OT, Western Michigan

Moton had a great career at Western Michigan, but may get moved inside. The Texans need offensive line help and can’t afford to ruin quarterbacks like they did David Carr.

58. Seattle Seahawks- Ahkello Witherspoon, CB, Colorado

With the Richard Sherman trade talks and a need at corner anyways, Witherspoon would be a good pick. He is slight and doesn’t provide much run support, but is talented in coverage.

59. Kansas City Chiefs- Cordrea Tankersley, CB, Clemson

The Chiefs need to get some depth behind Marcus Peters and Terrance Mitchell. Tankersley is good in a lot of coverages, but needs to work on his technique.

60. Dallas Cowboys- Sidney Jones, CB, Washington

Dallas has a knack for taking risks on players in the second round and Jones is a player that would’ve gone in the first, but tore his Achilles. The Cowboys can reap the reward of taking a guy who may not be ready for week one, but could have a successful career.

61. Green Bay Packers- Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA

Moreau raised his draft stock by doing well in the workouts leading up to the draft. Green Bay desperately needs corner help and will be enticed by his testing results.

62. Pittsburgh Steelers- Tim Williams, DE/OLB, Alabama

Williams has off the field issues, but could be a steal for Pittsburgh if they get him here and he can stay out of trouble. He would be a great edge rusher that can take over for James Harrison at some point.

63. Atlanta Falcons- Raekwon McMillan, LB, Ohio State

McMillan needs to work on pass coverage, but can help stop the run. Atlanta doesn’t have many good linebackers outside of Deon Jones.

64. Carolina Panthers- David Sharpe, OT, Florida

The Panthers seem to always need offensive line help and need to take one here to protect Cam and help out a potential new running back.

 

For more mock drafts: DC Pro Sports Report

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