should the the nfl eliminate preseason

Why the NFL needs preseason

NFL preseason is well underway now. The top rookies are starting to make a name for themselves, quarterback battles are beginning to show who should be starting and injuries are also beginning to appear.

Perhaps the most noteworthy injury to date was the ankle sprain suffered by Odell Beckham Jr. in the Giants’ Monday night loss to the Browns.

On the play, Beckham jumped in the air to make a first-down catch. When he was in the air, Browns defensive back Briean Boddy-Calhoun hit Beckham in the legs when he went up for the catch. You could tell Beckham was frustrated after the play based on his reaction to flipping the ball and crouching down in pain.

NFL needs preseason

Odell Beckham Jr. got lucky after a scary play, but other players haven’t. (Photo by Getty Images)

Giants fans and fantasy owners everywhere rejoiced after finding out he only suffered an ankle sprain and not any significant leg injury or concussion.

I am not going to debate whether or not the hit by Boddy-Calhoun was clean or dirty, although I do think it is a valid question to ask if they can’t hit high or low, where are they supposed to hit?

I am also not going to debate whether or not Odell Beckham Jr. is a diva and his reaction was just him trying to draw a lot of attention to himself. Other analysts can debate that.

What I want to talk about is based on a scary play like this, should the NFL eliminate its preseason entirely?

Injuries happen all the time in preseason. Some happen to star players and some to third-string linemen. Some injuries knock these guys out for a short amount of time, a week at the most maybe. But others have suffered much longer time off, including season-ending injuries.

Beckham isn’t the only big name to get injured this preseason. Seahawks left tackle George Fant suffered a torn ACL in his right knee and will miss the entire season. Seattle was counting on Fant, who started 10 games last season, to help elevate their line play.

Bengals starting safety Shawn Williams also dislocated his right elbow this preseason. It will not require surgery, but he will miss four to six weeks.

With injuries like these, why should the NFL have a preseason? The players don’t really get paid for it. The owners don’t need the extra money preseason can generate since they are already filthy rich. Why risk a star player like Beckham’s health?

The purpose of preseason

Let’s remember what the preseason is for.

We know how good the stars are, so it is not really for them. Preseason can help the starters get back in the swing of things. It gets them playing in full pads against other talent around the league. It also usually lasts for a quarter, more or less.

NFL needs preseason

Preseason gives players like Browns rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer an opportunity to show what he can do. (Photo by Ron Schwane/AP Images)

The main reason for preseason is to evaluate your backups. Some teams have legit battles at different positions. The Browns are one of those teams that have a quarterback battle. Will it be Brock Osweiler or DeShone Kizer? The preseason can help coaches see how well these guys can play in a game situation.

There are also other battles within the depth chart. It gives free agents an opportunity to get game snaps with their new team in a new system. New coaches also get the benefit of seeing their new team on the field and if their strategy is working. Rookies also get a taste of the NFL action so they aren’t just thrown in on week 1.

With all the changes that occur in an NFL roster from year to year, preseason is an opportunity for teams to enter the season more smoothly. It gives current players an opportunity to shake the rust off and new players an opportunity to learn and transition.

Preparation can help eliminate injuries

As crazy as this sounds, the preseason can also help prevent injuries along the way. Workouts, training camp and preseason are all in place to get the players back in shape and ready to go for the actual season. The MLB does this with spring training and the NBA also does this with summer league and their own preseason.

Let’s flashback to the 2011 NFL lockout. During this time, players did not get the preparation they needed due to the lockout. There was a boost in injuries during the start of the season.

There were 10 players who suffered ruptures to their achilles tendon before the first preseason game even was played. At the time, an average of eight achilles ruptures occurred in a full season.

Lions rookie running back Mikel Lashoure missed his whole season due to a ruptured achilles. Panthers linebacker Jon Beason only played in one game that season due to the same injury. Eric Berry and Jamaal Charles also went down due to torn knee ligaments.

Now not all of these injuries happened in preseason, but the principle still remains. If you do not prepare, you are only going to hurt yourself. Preseason helps players get in rhythm for the actual season.

Conclusion

Teams benefit from the preseason a lot.

Financially, they each host two games. Die-hard fans go to these games after not watching football since last winter. They are eager to get their fix after such a long wait. These games also get on TV, bringing in more money and publicity for the league.

Based on all of this, the NFL won’t be eliminating preseason anytime soon. Teams and players just benefit from it too much. If players are worried about injuries, maybe they should just play limited time like Tom Brady.

Honestly, if injuries are such a big concern, why even play football? Injuries don’t stop after preseason. They continue on. You never know what is going to happen on the football field.

 

Featured Image by AP Photo/Ron Schwane

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Fantasy Football Bold Predictions NFC West

Fantasy football bold predictions: NFC West

The preseason is here and so is fantasy football. We have seen endless articles making bold predictions on players, numbers and who are sleepers. This article and many coming are my 2017 fantasy football bold predictions starting with the the NFC West.

Arizona Cardinals: Carson Palmer will Bounce Back in 2017

Headlined as a fantasy sleeper, Carson Palmer is a QB20 and picked towards the end of drafts.

Fantasy Football Bold Predictions NFC West

Carson Palmer (Photo by: si.com)

In 2015, Palmer had one of the best seasons of his career. He finished in the top-five among quarterbacks in 2015 with 35 touchdowns and 4,600-plus yard season. He had receivers like Larry Fitzgerald, and the emergence of John Brown and Michael Floyd really helped Palmer.

But 2016 was the opposite. Even though he was 36 that season, the departure of Michael Floyd and the recurring illnesses of John Brown were not helpful. Besides that, Palmer hit a wall with efficiency.

His 8.7 yards per attempt in 2015 dropped down to 7.1. Another big part of the struggle was the breakout of David Johnson. But Palmer did have a good end of the season with at least 20 fantasy points in a standard leagues in six of his final nine games, and no outing with fewer than 17 points.

But in 2017 Palmer is back and fully focused. Brown is finally healthy and the emergence of J.J. Nelson to complement Larry Fitzgerald and with David Johnson in the backfield should help Palmer have a season like 2015.

Los Angeles Rams: Sammy Watkins will play a full season, but will not have over five touchdowns

Sammy Watkins was traded to the Los Angeles Rams on Aug. 11. There’s no worse situation to be in than the Rams. He is ranked as the 21st wide receiver and selected around the fourth to fifth round.

Fantasy Football Bold Predictions NFC West

Sammy Watkins (Photo by: dailynews.com)

Watkins has missed 11 games over his last two seasons including eight in 2016 because of a foot injury that required multiple surgeries. The good news is that he’s healthy now. He should get the time to rest and learn the offense this preseason.

The bad news is now he’s with the LA Rams. Fantasy owners cringe now because of the situation. His quarterback is Jared Goff who was on the lower end of quarterbacks in 2016. Even though a rookie, 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.

But for Watkins, he has averaged 0.46 touchdowns per game over his career. And while there’s hope for Goff, he has to learn a new offense and that doesn’t look good for either Goff or Watkins. Look for running back Todd Gurley to have a big role in Los Angeles.

Seattle Seahawks: Doug Baldwin will break into the top-five for wide receivers

Doug Baldwin checks in as the WR10 and ranked 29th overall among fantasy players. Baldwin hasn’t received a whole lot of love from a fantasy perspective. Maybe that’s because Seattle isn’t known as a passing team, but they have done better over the past two seasons. Last year, they ranked tied for 18th with 567 pass attempts. This was the first year Russell Wilson has thrown over 500 pass attempts.

Fantasy Football Bold Predictions NFC West

Doug Baldwin (Photo by: ftw.usatoday.com)

But back to Baldwin. His target share in the last three years has been steady at 22, 21, and 22 percent respectively. He’s blossomed in his new No. 1 wide receiver role, delivering back-to-back top-10 fantasy finishes in both standard and PPR formats. Baldwin’s eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving in consecutive years, and he set a new single-season high of 1,128 yards last year.

His touchdown total however, dipped from 14 in 2015 to seven last year. But 21 touchdowns over the past two seasons is an impressive stat. With guys like Dez Bryant, T.Y. Hilton, DeAndre Hopkins, Demaryius Thomas and Amari Cooper ranked right around Baldwin, his touchdowns over the past two seasons rank best out of all of them.

A key stat for Baldwin is in 2015, 95 percent of Baldwin’s yardage (1,011) and 93 percent of his touchdowns (13) came from the slot, per Next Gen Stats. In 2016, those percentages fell to 59 for yardage (662) and 57 for touchdowns (four). Baldwin proved he could win outside, posting a 78 percent catch rate and 15.36 yards per catch average when lined up out wide.

He has proven to be a top target for Seattle and I expect him to continue his dominance with the run game still in question. His only threat to take targets away is Jimmy Graham but that didn’t stop him in 2016.

San Francisco 49ers: Carlos Hyde will run for over 1,000 yards

Carlos Hyde as of right now is being selected right around the third to fourth round. He is ranked as the 15th running back.

Fantasy Football Bold Predictions NFC West

Carlos Hyde (Photo by: sfgate.com)

Hyde has had some problems staying healthy (14 games missed in three seasons). But when he’s on the field he’s one of the better backs in the league. He averaged a career-best 4.6 YPC on 217 carries last season and has ranked among the top 10 in the NFL in YAC each of the past two years.

He has been the best running back on his team in terms of success rate every year he’s been in the league, and just last season, only 10 running backs had more top-24 PPR performances and only 7 had more top-12 ones.

Hyde will be in a new offense in 2017 under Kyle Shanahan. He will fit his offense around the skillset of his personnel. With Cleveland in 2014, the team ran for five more touchdowns than they threw for. With the Atlanta Falcons, we saw Shanahan turn Devonta Freeman into a top fantasy running back in 2015. Granted in a better offense, Shanahan works well with running backs when the offense molds together.

Hyde finished 2016 ranked 18th in fantasy points in only 13 games, posting five top-10 weeks and nine touchdowns. He just missed 1,000 yards by 12 yards. There’s been a lot of hype around the backup Joe Williams. But he has been dominating training camp and Jon Lynch liked the shape Hyde was in as recently as late July.

 

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Is Ty Montgomery a reliable fantasy football running back?

Is Ty Montgomery a reliable fantasy football running back?

Everybody knows that the Packers have a high powered, pass first offense in the NFL today. The one thing the team has struggled to find in recent memory is a consistent, quality running back. Last season Ty Montgomery made the switch from wide receiver to running back, something that doesn’t happen often in the NFL.

Last season was a good sign for Packer fans in terms of Ty Montgomery. He had 457 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns while staying active in the receiving game with 348 receiving yards. Ty Montgomery was a very efficient running back last season. He had 5.9 yards per carry and ranked sixth in the NFL with 6.7 yards per touch. Montgomery became one of the leagues best dual threat running backs in a short amount of time, but the question is can he carry that into this season and be a reliable fantasy football player. Montgomery will have some competition as the Packers drafted three running backs in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Ty Montgomery has his opportunity in front of him to be a feature back, but recent camp and preseason struggles are affecting his opportunity. In the first preseason game, all of the Green Bay running backs struggled, but Montgomery might’ve had the worst night. He had three carries for a total of zero yards and he lost a fumble while catching his only target for eight yards. Now it’s time to analyze Montgomery’s value in both standard and PPR leagues.

Is Ty Montgomery a reliable fantasy football running back?

http://www.packers.com/

Standard Leagues- Montgomery is an interesting pick in standard leagues this year. His current ADP in standard leagues is around the eighth pick of the third round. That’s a little early to draft a running back playing alongside the best quarterback in the NFL. Montgomery is being drafted ahead of players such as Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon and Carlos Hyde. Currently the 17th running back off the board, Montgomery is being drafted as a RB2 while he’s more likely to put up RB3 numbers in Green Bay.

Standard leagues don’t bode well for Montgomery. He won’t get as many points as he’s capable of. With the other running backs on the Packers’ roster, Montgomery can have some of his carries taken away and won’t evolve into a true three down back. Mike McCarthy has told the media that Ty Montgomery should have his carries doubled from last season meaning he’ll have around 150 rushing attempts, not RB2 worthy for a 10-12 team standard league. Don’t pull the trigger on Montgomery in the third round of standard fantasy football drafts.

PPR- PPR is a different story for Ty Montgomery. Dual Threat backs thrive in PPR leagues. Just look at Danny Woodhead and his production when he plays a full season. Montgomery had 44 receptions last season and those numbers should only increase. Even in a half point PPR league, Montgomery is a very valuable running back. There are still concerns revolving around the other running backs on the roster but PPR is a different story. His ADP stays consistent between standard and PPR leagues, as Montgomery is being drafted as the 15th overall running back which is a high RB2. I still believe Montgomery is overvalued at that ADP. He isn’t a lock to keep his starting job and a third round pick is a big risk to take.

All in all Montgomery is a tough sell for fantasy owners but the faith that Coach McCarthy has in Ty Montgomery and his stats from last season make me believe that he will be a RB2 in PPR leagues. Draft him in the fifth or later in standard leagues and he’s a solid fourth rounder in PPR.

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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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2017 fantasy football notes: Cram session

One of the worst feelings in the world is feeling unprepared. You forgot to study for a quiz and have as much knowledge about the subject as Alex Smith has on not being average. You’ve got an important presentation at work but forgot your briefcase at home.

Worst of all, your fantasy draft is tonight, yet you’ve spent the last six months watching baseball and catching up on your favorite guilty pleasure on Netflix. Your pulse reaches an unhealthy level as your heart races trying to think about how to prepare a draft plan good enough to beat your friends, yet you rank Adrian Peterson as your No. 6 running back because you think he’s poised for a great year with the Vikings.

But Adrian Peterson doesn’t play for the Vikings, and you’re screwed.

Fear not, lazy fantasy football player, I’ve got just the article for you. Let’s talk about all the big news and notes you missed so you can have a fighting chance to compete in your league this season.

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL NOTES: QUARTERBACKS

Marcus Mariota is undervalued

2017 fantasy football notes

Photo: titansonline.com

Marcus Mariota is among the top 25 most attractive players in the NFL, and it turns out he’s pretty good at football too. Mariota was good enough to earn spot starts last season, and finished as the No. 13 scoring quarterback. He’s especially suited for fantasy football thanks to his rushing ability, and he’s gotten some upgraded toys to play with for 2017.

No shade at Rishard Matthews or Tajae Sharpe, but Mariota didn’t have the greatest receivers to throw to last season. The Titans signed Eric Decker during the offseason and drafted top wide receiver prospect Corey Davis with their first pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. On top of that, Mariota plays with an elite offensive line and DeMarco Murray, who got back to his usual RB1 self last season.

Entering his third season, the myth of a sophomore slump cannot affect Mariota. Mariota was the top scoring quarterback from weeks five through week 12 of last season, which shows his upside is through the roof this season.

Mariota is being drafted as a fringe QB1 this season, which is way too low. Sit back and wait for Mariota as others grab overvalued quarterbacks, and then grab him once you’ve filled out your starting lineup and part of your bench.

Blake Bortles sucks at throwing footballs, but don’t overlook his volume

Sure, you may’ve spit up in your mouth a little due to reading the name Blake Bortles, and that’s fine. Bortles ruined Allen Robinson last season and made some of the worst throws of the season in 2016. However, while Bortles gets roasted by Twitter everyday, he could make for a good backup for your team.

Before you click the “x” in the upper right corner of your device, hear me out.

Bortles had the fourth-most fantasy points among quarterbacks in 2015, and followed that with the tenth-most points among quarterbacks last season. Even with all the hate Bortles gets, he’s still been a QB1 in each of the past two seasons.

I’m not saying you need to draft him as your QB1 this season, but you should at least consider the volume he’ll see. Leonard Fournette will suck in Jacksonville’s system unless they plan on taking less snaps out of the shotgun this season. Jacksonville started plays out of the gun more than every single team in the NFL except one last season, so don’t expect Fournette to be successful in his current system.

This paves way for Bortles to continue to see a bunch of pass attempts, and at some point they have to turn into touchdowns and 250-yard games. Bortles will most likely embarrass himself this season, and you’ll get heckled for taking him, but if quarterbacks are thin, take him as your QB2.

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL NOTES: RUNNING BACKS

Don’t be that guy who drafts Adrian Peterson

2017 fantasy football notes

Photo: Associated Press

You thought I was kidding about Adrian Peterson no longer being a Viking, didn’t you? Well, I’m no Photoshop wizard, so the picture to your left with Peterson doning New Orleans Saints getup proves Peterson is a Saint this season.

I have no clue why the Saints signed Peterson this offseason. Mark Ingram was productive enough last season to be the eighth-best fantasy running back in PPR leagues. Drew Brees is still under center, so expect the Saints to continue to air it out this season, especially with Michael Thomas playing on the outside.

Ingram will most likely be the starter come Week 1, and even though Peterson will see touches this season, it won’t be enough to sustain any kind of success. Peterson managed just three games last season, and averaged just 1.9 yards per carry. He’s also topped 40 catches in a season just once in his career, compared to Ingram doing that in each of his past two seasons.

Peterson will be dropped halfway through the season by all active owners, so save yourself the trouble and keep Peterson off your team. You can score Terrance West, Robert Kelly, Tevin Coleman or even Danny Woodhead at Peterson’s price, and all of which offer much more upside and volume potential.

Eddie Lacy isn’t as fat as he used to be, but that doesn’t mean you should draft him

Eddie Lacy literally got paid this offseason to not be so chunky. Lacy’s always been overrated to me, but that hasn’t stopped others from clogging their arteries by drafting him. In case you missed it, Lacy is now a Seattle Seahawk, and he’ll be fighting off Thomas Rawls to get fed this season.

While the two were splitting time with the first team to open camp, it appears Thomas Rawls has taken over the bulk of the first team work, Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times said on Aug. 9. For the near future, Rawls looks to be the starter.

Fantasy owners will draft Lacy for the same reason as Peterson, and that’s for name value alone. Rawls doesn’t have the name recognition, but he does have the advantage in terms his skillset. Rawls has much better lateral quickness and has forced more missed tackles over the course of his career. That ability is a necessity in a Seattle offense that has a terrible offensive line.

Marshawn Lynch is playing football again

2017 fantasy football notes

Photo: raiders.com

At the end of the 2015-16 season, Marshawn Lynch called it quits even though it seemed he had more left in the tank. Well, Lynch okie-doked us all by coming out of retirement to join the Oakland Raiders.

With Latavius Murray now in Minnesota, Lynch will own the backfield for the Raiders. Oakland’s offense already owns one of the top one-two punches at wide receiver with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, and the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL in Derek Carr. The talent is no longer shifted to benefit only the passing game with the addition of Lynch.

Lynch is the No. 15 running back according to the consensus Fantasy Pros rankings for 2017. Expect Lynch to end up as a low RB1 by season’s end. He’s ranked lower than Leonard Fournette, Isaiah Crowell and Carlos Hyde in the rankings, which is odd to say the least. Lynch is in a better offense and will receive the same if not more volume as the aforementioned players.

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL NOTES: PASS CATCHERS

Brandin Cooks now plays for the Patriots, and that’s not fair

Tom Brady has made his money by throwing to a bunch of late round draft picks and one large tight end that seems to party more than he plays. That changes this season with the addition of Brandin Cooks. The Patriots traded for Cooks during the offseason, and with that addition and other moves, there’s been pundits saying New England could go undefeated this season.

Cooks’ most notable trait is his speed. His catch rate on deep passes last season was 45.8 percent, good for fourth in the NFL. He also had 544 deep receiving yards which was second in the NFL. Patriots beat writers have raved about Cooks to start camp, which further proves he has a great chance to one of the best receivers Brady’s ever had.

I’ve yet to take Cooks in any drafts at his ADP, as his ADP is a little too high for my taste. However, taking Cooks as your WR2 could pay huge dividends for your team. He resides in a pass-heavy offense with one of the best quarterbacks of all time. I’m not quite comfortable with Cooks as my WR1, but if you have him as a WR2, your receiving corps will be solid.

Terrelle Pryor used to be a bad quarterback but now is a good wide receiver

2017 fantasy football notes

Photo: redskins.com

Terrelle Pryor made a cool one-handed catch in training camp, and for one day fantasy football Twitter anointed him as the next coming of Randy Moss. But that’s what happens during the start of training camp, as our football-thirsty brains need something to sip on. Even so, Pryor is in line to become the No. 1 option in a pass-heavy offense this season.

Kirk Cousins may be his generation’s Alex Smith, as he’s as average as Philadelphia fans are angry. However, the Redskins’ poor defense and questionable running attack could give Pryor the chance to see a lot of targets.

Pryor had 1,007 receiving yards last season with the Cleveland Browns, and that’s as impressive as ESPN ignoring the impulse to tweet about Tim Tebow smacking a double in a low-level minor league game. Pryor was a low end WR2 last season, and his situation this season should allow him to be a solid WR2 again this season.

Martellus Bennett will clown around in Green Bay’s offense

Martellus Bennett signed with the Packers this season, making him the first player to sign with Green Bay during free agency since Bart Starr (that’s called sarcasm, folks). Bennett had a better season last year as a backup in New England than half of the starting tight ends in the NFL. Moving to a pass-heavy offense and playing with a future Hall of Famer in Aaron Rodgers gives Bennett the chance to be a TE1 this season.

Bennett was fifth among tight ends in yards per route run last season at 1.96. This shows he took advantage of his time on the field better than nearly all tight ends. Bennett also dropped just two of his 57 catchable targets last season, which will please Aaron Rodgers (that’s a slight against Davante Adams, folks).

Bennett won’t have to battle anyone on the roster for snaps at tight end, so he has the upside to be a top tight end this season. He’s been drafted as a low end TE1 right now, but if you can get greedy and take him as a TE2, you’ll have a good problem on your hands midseason.

 

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NFL top 100 players 2017: 20-11

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 ninth installment, containing players 20-11.

20. Eric Berry, S, Kansas City Chiefs

NFL Top 100

Eric Berry (Photo by youtube.com)

Berry is a winner in every sense of the word and his ability to come back after beating cancer and still being one of the best safeties in the NFL, is incredible. In 2016 Berry totaled 77 tackles, nine passes defended, four interceptions, a forced fumble and two touchdowns.

With other players on the Chiefs’ defense getting hurt the last few years, Berry has been the best player on the defense. This season, Kansas City should have a good defense once again with a lot of their players healthy. They employ the bend don’t break mentality, so they give up a lot of yards (5,896), but not a lot of points (19.4). With Berry coming off one of his best seasons as a pro and a good defense returning, he will prove once again how good of a safety he is .

The Chiefs are fighting to make it to an AFC Championship Game or Super Bowl and if they get there, Berry will be a major reason why.

Comments: “This man can do it all. Beating cancer and beating down his opponents. This Chiefs defense has been great and will continue to be great while he is roaming the field.”- Robert Hanes

19. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints

NFL Top 100

Drew Brees (Photo by denverpost.com)

There are a lot of quarterbacks on this list, but they may not be as important to their teams as Brees is to the Saints. He was 37 in 2016 when he threw for 5,208 yards, 37 touchdowns and 15 interceptions on 70% completion and will be 38 going into this season.

People have predicted that Brees would fall off for years now, but he keeps producing. He had his fifth 5,000 yard passing season last year and also recorded his second highest passing yards per game in his career. The Saints do lose Brandin Cooks, who they traded to the Patriots, but Brees still has Michael Thomas, who shows some real potential. Brees has done a lot more with a lot less.

Brees might start slowing down a little bit, but even if he does, his stats will still blow other quarterbacks out of the water.

Comments: “There is nothing bad I can say about Dree Brees other than he is aging. The fact of the matter is he is still producing. He should be higher on this list just because I think he is a better quarterback than Matt Ryan. He will have another season in which he passes for 5,000 yards and become closer to being the all-time passing leader. -Matthew Hagan

18. A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

NFL Top 100

A.J. Green (Photo by cbssports.com)

Because of injury, Green had his first season of under 1,000 receiving yards in 2016. He only played ten games and still amassed 964 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Had he played a full 16 games and kept up his average receiving yards per game, he would have finished with a whopping 1,542 receiving yards.

The Bengals had a down year and only had Green on their offense as a dynamic playmaker. For the 2017 season, they have added John Ross and Joe Mixon to bring some life to the offense. Tyler Boyd had an impressive rookie year and will try to build on that in his second season. If Andy Dalton has time behind a shaky at best offensive line, he will find Green, much like he has since their rookie seasons in 2011.With a speedster in Ross on the other side of the field, Boyd in the slot and Tyler Eifert in the middle, Green should see more single coverage than last season with Brandon LaFell as the second leading receiver on the team.

Green has some offensive reinforcements this year, which should really open up the offense and allow him to have a great year.

Comments: “When healthy Green is a lock to put up great numbers, even though he sees double coverage most of the time” – Dylan Streibig

17. Joe Thomas, OT, Cleveland Browns

NFL Top 100

Joe Thomas (Photo by sportingsorta.com)

It is unfortunate that Thomas has played on the Browns his whole career and hasn’t had an opportunity to win anything. He is one of the most consistent players in the NFL. In his first ten years in the league, he has never missed the Pro Bowl and has six All-Pro team appearances.

The Browns won’t be expected to win the division this year, but they should be much improved. Thomas will continue blocking for Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson and hope that the passing attack that ranked 28th in the league improves. The starting quarterback may change, but they will have Kenny Britt, Corey Coleman and David Njoku as their main targets.

Thomas will continue to do his job at an elite level, but it once again will not result in a good win total for the Browns.

Comments: “This man is extremely loyal and I hope that Browns fans truly appreciate that. He has been a top 3 LT for years and has done it with bad everything else around him. Cleveland finally has good o-line pieces around him which could put them as a top offensive line for the first time in Thomas’ storied career”- Robert Hanes

16. Patrick Peterson, CB, Arizona Cardinals

NFL Top 100

Patrick Peterson (Photo by patrickpeterson21.com)

Peterson made the Pro Bowl in his rookie season of 2011 and hasn’t looked back. He has six straight Pro Bowls and has made the All-Pro team three times. Last season he recorded 50 total tackles, six passes defended, three interceptions and a fumble recovery.

The Cardinals defense gave up the fourth least passing yards per game in 2016 and Peterson was a big reason why. They will be without Tony Jefferson, who signed with the Ravens, so a lot will fall on the shoulders of Peterson and Tyran Mathieu. Peterson will be required to shut down opponents’ best receivers and will do a great job once again.

At age 28 Peterson will be in his prime and ready to roll for the 2017 season.

Comments: “Peterson is consistently one of the best corners in the NFL. He shuts down opponents’ best receivers and is a ball hawk when the ball is thrown his way. This season Peterson will once again prove to be a premier talent at corner.”-Joe DiTullio 

15. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

NFL Top 100

Le’Veon Bell (Photo by espn.com)

The only problem with Bell is his ability to stay on the field, as he has only played 18 games in the last two seasons. Part of the reason he misses games is injury, the other being a suspension. In his 12 games, last season Bell had 105.7 rushing yards per game and nine total touchdowns.

Pittsburgh’s offense is going to be a juggernaut once again with the talent they have returning. Ben Roethlisberger will be back after contemplating retirement. He will have Antonio Brown, who will be ranked in one of the next 14 spots, and a few other good targets to throw to, helping keep the offense balanced. The offensive line has been solid the past few years and will open up holes for Bell.

Adversaries can’t stack the box against Bell because of how talented the rest of the offense is, meaning that he has a chance to put up a lot of big numbers in 2017.

Comments: “It is comical that Bell is ranked this low. Bell is clearly the best running back in the NFL and a top five player. He was the first player in NFL history to average 100 yards rushing and 50 yards passing. Averaging 150 yards from scrimmage is straight stupid. If this was my list he would be much higher.” -Matthew Hagan

14. Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders

NFL Top 100

Derek Carr (Photo by twitter.com)

Carr will have to recover from his broken leg that knocked him out of last season, but he has had an impressive first three years as a pro. If he can keep on progressing and help the Raiders win some meaningful games, the sky is the limit. In 2016 he threw for 3,937 yards, 28 touchdowns and six interceptions in 15 games.

The biggest thing Carr has done since arriving in Oakland is help increase the win total. In his first year the Raiders won three games, seven the second year and they won 12 of the 15 games he started last year. The offense should continue to be dynamic with one of the best offensive lines in football. They also have Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree as good targets for Carr. The offensive line will block well for Marshawn Lynch and any other back Oakland plans on using, which will help create the balance that offensive coordinators love.

The Raiders will have a great offense once again and Carr will be the trigger man making things happen in 2017.

Comments: “Let me get this out of the way, Derek Carr is a stud. But, is he a top 15 player in the league right now? No, he still has to prove that he can do this consistently. He has plenty of potential and showed last year he can get the job done. If he can do that again this year, then he will be deserving of a top 15 spot.”-Robert Hanes

13. Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots

NFL Top 100

Rob Gronkowski (Photo by washingtontimes.com)

Injuries are the only thing holding one of the greatest tight ends to ever play the game back. He hasn’t played a full 16 games since his second year in the NFL, but did play 15 games in 2015. He had eight games played in 2016. In those eight games he had 540 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

If Gronk is healthy he can have a big year in 2017. The Patriots added Brandin Cooks, another outside threat. Defenses will have to make up their minds about double covering Gronk, or one of the other productive receivers. The defenses will likely choose to double cover Gronk most of the time and he will still make them pay. If they focus their attention on one of the receivers, Gronk might have a career day.

Health is the biggest concern with this ranking, but when he is healthy Gronkowski is one of the best players in the NFL.

Comments: “One can only wonder how much higher Gronk would be on this list if he could stay healthy. If he can for the rest of his career he will easily go down as a top 5 TE of all time.”- Robert Hanes

12. Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons

NFL Top 100

Matt Ryan (Photo by twitter.com)

Ryan had the best season of his career in 2016 and it really isn’t even close. He took the Falcons to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1990s and won the MVP award. On top of that, he threw for 4,944 yards, 38 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

The Falcons’ offense will be dynamic again in 2017. Julio Jones, who will be ranked within the next 11 players, is one of the biggest matchup problems in the league. Mohammed Sanu also provides a good option. The offensive line is good and will protect Ryan well enough for him to survey the field. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman do a good job running the football and Freeman adds the ability to catch out of the backfield.

He may not win the MVP in 2017, but Ryan will be the man in charge on one of the most high-powered offenses in the NFL.

Comments: “I’m of the minority that Matt Ryan gets too much love. I am not a believer in him as much as others. He has been gifted with talent around him. He is a solid quarterback but  I think he is a fringe top 25 player.” -Matthew Hagan

11. Luke Keuchly, LB, Carolina Panthers

NFL Top 100

Luke Keuchly (Photo by si.com)

It is unfortunate that Keuchly had concussion problems and missed six games, but he still had a good year that resulted in his fourth Pro Bowl. He also has three appearances on the All-Pro first team. In ten games last season Keuchly had 102 tackles, two sacks, six passes defended and an interception.

Keuchly’s versatility makes him great. He has great instincts that allow him to play the run and is one of the best cover linebackers in the NFL. Carolina’s defense wasn’t good last season, ranking 25th in scoring. Having Keuchly for a full year will drastically change that number for the better. They allowed 24.6 points in games he played and gave up 27.8 points per game without him. With all key players back and healthy and Julius Peppers on board, the Carolina defense can vastly improve.

If Keuchly is able to play he will be a top player in the NFL without a doubt.

Comments: “Luke Keuchly is the best pure linebacker in the NFL. He has great athletic ability and instincts, which he uses to his advantage. His instincts help him near the lead in tackles in the NFL every year he is healthy. The athletic ability helps him cover. He is also a very cerebral player that raises the level of play of the entire defense when he is on the field.”-Joe DiTullio

NFL Top 100 Players 2017: 30-21

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Five 2017 bounce back candidates for fantasy football

There’s always those players in fantasy football that you draft early and have high hopes for that end up costing your team a shot at the playoffs and maybe even the championship. The players on this list are some examples of those players and have a chance to bounce back and actually lead your team in the right direction this year.

5. Allen Robinson (Jacksonville Jaguars): In his second year in the league, Allen Robinson had himself a career year. He had 1,400 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns.

bounce back candidates fantasy football

(Jim Steve-USA TODAY Sports)

Let’s just say that Robinson didn’t put up the same numbers last year. Instead of WR1 numbers, Robinson put up WR3 numbers while begin drafted as a WR1. He had 883 receiving yards and six touchdowns.

Most of that decrease in play had to do with the horrid play of quarterback Blake Bortles. Bortles had 500 less throwing yards and 12 less touchdowns than 2015. When Blake Bortles was a QB1, Robinson was A WR1.

With the addition of Leonard Fournette, the Jags are going to have a more balanced offense and there’s no where to go but up for Robinson. If the offense clicks, Robinsons could be a WR1 again.

4. Todd Gurley (Los Angeles Rams): Talk about a sophomore slump. Todd Gurley was amazing in his rookie year with 1,106 yards and ten touchdowns. With an increased workload last season, Gurley’s numbers decreased to 885 rushing yards and six touchdowns.

Defenses adapted and crowded the box against Gurley. He couldn’t adapt to that and his numbers changed drastically. Now Gurley is in line for a big year in L.A. While the Rams added some muscle on their offensive line, with players like Andrew Whitworth, the improved quarterback play is the key for Gurley’s success.

If Jared Goff can breakout and preform like the number one overall pick he is, then Gurley will have a great year.

3. Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers): From the QB1 in fantasy to the QB18, Cam Newton had himself a down year. It might’ve been because he played with a torn rotator cuff or because of the horrid play of his offensive line.

The Panthers addressed that in the offseason but we don’t know how it’s going to play out. The big contract they gave Matt Kalil may give them nightmares one day but he’s definitely an upgrade from last year. They also drafted the monstrous Taylor Moton who can give them some balance and depth on the o-line.

In terms of his weapons, Cam Newton gained Curtis Samuel and college stud Christian McCaffrey. Samuel and McCaffrey will give the opposing defenses tough matchups and give the Panthers opportunities to protect Cam and give him more options. If the offensive line holds up, Cam can be the QB1 again.

2. C.J. Anderson (Denver Broncos): C.J. Anderson has a chance to be a RB2 in Denver this year. He’s stated that he’s in the best shape he has been in this past offseason and that he’s ready to play all 16 games after his season got cut short from a torn meniscus.

The Broncos’ backfield is wide open and whoever gets the ball has an opportunity to succeed after offseason improvements in Denver.

bounce back candidates fantasy football

Brandon Marshall (Photo by:giants.com)

Let’s not forget that Anderson has 4.55 yards per carry over the last three years and can handle a workhorse load. If all goes well for C.J. Anderson, he can regain status as a RB2.

1. Brandon Marshall (New York Giants): From one New York team to the next, Brandon Marshall finds himself in the best position to succeed in the NFL today. Playing alongside Odell Beckham Jr. and Eli Manning, Marshall has the opportunity for double digit touchdowns and 900+ yards this year.

There’s not much to talk about in terms of Marshall’s play from last year because of the terrible situation he had with the Jets. We can only address his upside for the 2017 season.

Manning is the best quarterback that Marshall has ever had but don’t expect him to put up exact numbers as his career year in 2015. Sterling Shepard will take away receptions and yards from Marshall and Odell is still the clear number one, but Marshall can easily regain WR2 numbers this year.

Feature Image Courtesy of, blogs.buffalobills.com

 

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Houston Texans

Predicting the 2017 NFL quarterback battles

If you do not have a quarterback, you don’t have anything in the NFL. Like any other year, quarterback battles are sprinkled throughout training camps. Here is a look at the top battles to keep an eye on during the preseason.

Houston Texans

The players: Tom Savage and Deshaun Watson

Context: These first two situations are different from most quarterback battles. Whoever wins them will be inheriting a team that has realistic aspirations of playing meaningful games when the weather gets cold.

2017 nfl quarterback battles

Photo: Houston Chronicle

Houston’s top-ranked defense carried them to the playoffs last year, but quarterback play was perhaps the only real weakness all year long. Brock Osweiler was the main source of that and is now in Cleveland.

Tom Savage was pretty ordinary in spot duty last year. In three games played, he completed just 46 of 73 passes while not throwing a touchdown. He was forced back to the bench for the playoffs due to injury.

Meanwhile, Watson comes in with all the hype and the glitzy college numbers. The first-round pick led Clemson to consecutive national title games and was named the MVP of last year’s comeback win over Alabama.

While back to back seasons of double digit interceptions scare me, the winning is hard to ignore. Throw in his mobility and the recent success we have seen by other NFL rookie quarterbacks, and his upside becomes very intriguing. The roster in Houston is loaded with talent. Thus, Watson presents the highest risk, but also the highest reward and may be able to take this team to the next level.

Winner: Watson

Denver Broncos

The players: Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch

Context: Even though the players themselves are saying as much, the notion that the Broncos had some kind of massive Super Bowl hangover last year is simply not accurate. They went 9-7, meaning a couple different bounces of the ball would have resulted in at least a return to the playoffs.

2017 nfl quarterback battles

Photo: denverpoast.com

Surprise starter Trevor Siemian was by no means a disappointment in 2016. Throwing for 3,400 yards and eight more touchdowns than interceptions is nothing to sneeze at. Siemian also dealt with a shoulder injury for most of the year that required offseason surgery.

Despite winning one, Lynch was pretty bad as he started two games for an injured Siemian. He posted just 327 combined passing yards and struggled to complete half his throws. His numbers are somewhat skewed due to playing well in garbage time.

Lynch was drafted in the first round to be the franchise quarterback, but it is no secret that he was a project coming out of Memphis where he simply let it fly and never lined up under center.

Quite frankly, the project is probably coming along slower than the Broncos would like. Even so, whoever wins the job will have the benefit of playing behind a revamped offensive line, two top-notch wide receivers, a crowded but talented backfield and a defense that remains one of the best in football.

New head coach Vance Joseph has spoken very highly of Lynch this offseason, but Siemian has done nothing to lose the job. Until that happens, he is the present, even if Lynch or late-round draft pick Chad Kelly end up being the future.

Winner: Siemian

New York Jets

The players: Josh McCown, Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg

Context: The Jets seemingly endless search for a franchise quarterback rolls on. McCown is what he is. That is a 38-year-old journeyman who has never been healthy (or good) enough to start for an entire 16-game season. He was clearly brought in to be a one-year bridge to one of the younger guys.

2017 nfl quarterback battles

Photo: nydailynews.com

A brief late-season glimpse of Bryce Petty last year was nothing to write home about. Hackenberg is where all the intrigue lies here. The former Penn State star did not see the field in his rookie year. However, he is the only guy on the current roster who could be the future at quarterback.

No matter how little offensive talent they have around him, the Jets have to explore that possibility.

Winner: Hackenberg

Cleveland Browns

The players: Brock Osweiler, Cody Kessler and DeShone Kizer

Context: Hue Jackson and company have done an outstanding job adding talent to a roster that won just a single game last year. Additions like Kenny Britt, Kevin Zietler and Myles Garrett, among others have set the table for vast improvement in 2017.

2017 nfl quarterback battles

Photo: cleveland.com

Quarterback remains a major question mark though. Cody Kessler went winless in eight starts last year. DeShone Kizer was given the project label coming out of Notre Dame. The Browns say he is ahead of schedule, but it would be a surprise for him to start a game this year. Even so, his long-term upside has some folks salivating.

Despite posting a winning record as a starter in Houston, Brock Osweiler struggled in a big way after signing the big contract last year, completing just 59 percent of his throws and accounting for more turnovers than touchdowns.

Osweiler was just a bad fit from the start in Houston. He spent most of his time in the shotgun, which was not a strong point when he held down the fort quite well for the 2015 Broncos.

It has never been a work of art, but there is something to be said for going 13-8 as a starting quarterback in the NFL. Supporting casts are not created equal, but no other quarterback in this competition has ever won an NFL game. If Osweiler has anything to give, Jackson is the kind of offensive mind that will get it out of him.

Winner: Osweiler

Chicago and San Francisco

Two other shaky quarterback situations reside in Chicago and San Francisco. However, those organizations continue to articulate their commitment to Mike Glennon and Brian Hoyer respectively. As much as we all like to speculate this time of year, a quarterback competition can only exist if management says there is one.

 

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2017 fantasy football wide receiver rankings: 10-1

Here it is, my final and most important list of receivers. These receivers will fill up the first and second round of most drafts and will fill the void of your number one receiver.

2017 fantasy football wide receivers

https://static.seattletimes.com

10. Doug Baldwin (Seattle Seahawks): After a breakout season in 2015 with 1,069 yards and 14 touchdowns, Baldwin had another 1,000-yard season with seven touchdowns. Regression was expected from Baldwin last season, but I don’t expect that trend to continue this season.

Russell Wilson didn’t target Baldwin as much as he should’ve in the red zone last year. He found success there but he found it using his other receivers.

Where Baldwin did succeed was in his productivity. Baldwin ranked seventh in receptions and seventh in yards after the catch with 447. Another season as Wilson’s number one target, Baldwin should finish as a WR1 this year.

9. Amari Cooper (Oakland Raiders): Amari Cooper has been the receiver that the Raiders hoped he would become after selecting him fourth in the 2015 NFL Draft. After back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, Cooper has the ability to take the next step in 2017.

In the touchdown category, Cooper only has the opportunity to go up after seasons with six and five touchdowns. Now with Marshawn Lynch in the mix, Cooper will find trouble in the red zone but the volume will be there. The Raiders want to get Cooper the ball more and if that happens, he’s a lock for top 10 production.

8. T.Y. Hilton (Indianapolis Colts): The receiving leader in 2016 wasn’t Antonio Brown, Julio Jones or Odell Beckham Jr. It was, however, T.Y. Hilton. Hilton and Andrew Luck were on another level last season. After four straight 1,000-yard seasons, T.Y. can upgrade his touchdowns and be a top five receiver easily.

He’s as productive as productive gets after ranking first in receiving yards and second in air yards. T.Y. Hilton also ranked eighth in fantasy points per game. The only way Hilton does the same thing as last season is if Andrew Luck can stay healthy. If that happens, Hilton will be a better receiver than he was last year.

7. Michael Thomas (New Orleans Saints): In a rookie class highlighted by stud running backs and Dak Prescott, Michael Thomas slid under the radar as one of the league’s best receivers. He was productive in the red zone, ranking fifth in red zone receptions and ninth in receptions overall.

Now Brandin Cooks is gone and Michael Thomas is stepping into the number one receiver role with the New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees. Thomas starts the season in a tough spot facing the Vikings, Patriots and Panthers in his first three matchups. Defenses now know what to expect, but I’m still on the Michael Thomas bandwagon, as he’s a late first to early second round pick.

6. A.J. Green (Cincinnati Bengals): Do I need to talk about Green’s production or efficiency? His past numbers speak for themselves. From 2011-15, A.J. Green had 1,000-plus yards and double digit touchdowns every year but two. Last season, he didn’t have 1,000 yards but that’s only because he missed six games.

2017 fantasy football wide receivers

https://17245-presscdn-0-4-pagely.netdna-ssl.com

Green still finished with 964 yards in just 10 games. Obviously Andy Dalton’s favorite target, Green is in line for another big season. Standing at 6-foot-4 210 pounds, Green has big play ability and he’ll produce big time for the Bengals again this year.

5. Jordy Nelson (Green Bay Packers): After tearing his ACL in 2015, people wondered whether or not Jordy Nelson could bounce back to number one receiver status he once was. He not only removed doubt of being a number one receiver, he ended up as the number one receiver, in terms of fantasy that is.

Nelson formed a great duo with Davante Adams, creating terror for opposing defenses. Aaron Rodgers is destined to put up huge numbers in Green Bay, and will probably throw for 35 or more touchdowns.

The targets are there in the red zone, after last season, Nelson had 32 targets inside of the 20-yard line. Nelson is going to be a stud again in fantasy but expect a little regression in terms of touchdowns.

4. Mike Evans (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): Mike Evans started off last season with a bang. Through the first nine weeks of the season, Evans only had single digit weeks twice. He started to slow down a little after that however.

From week 10 on, Evans only had four double digit weeks. With the development of Jameis Winston, Mike Evans has the ability to be even better than last year. The only problem with Evans is how many targets may go to his fellow players.

With the addition of DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard, targets are going to be spread around the Tampa Bay offense. Evans should still see most of the targets and stay a solid WR1.

3. Odell Beckham Jr. (New York Giants): Definitely the most outspoken player on this list, Odell Beckham Jr. is a once in a generation player. After coming onto the scene in 2014, Beckham Jr. hasn’t had a season with less than ten touchdowns. Last season he had 1,367 receiving yards and ten touchdowns. And that was his worst year as a pro. Odell was arguably the most productive receiver in the league last year ranking within the top 5 at categories such as receptions, receiving yards, yards after catch, touchdowns and fantasy points per game. The category Beckham could improve in is minimizing his drops. He had nine last season, his most since entering the league. Now Brandon Marshall is added to the mix which is a good and bad thing. It’s good for Beckham because he’ll see less double teams but it may minimize his red zone targets.

2. Julio Jones (Atlanta Falcons): The Falcons’ amazing season was helped out by Julio Jones and his play at wide receiver. After his third straight 1,000-plus yard season, is it possible that Julio could be even better than last year. The yardage won’t fall below 1,000 if he stays healthy for a full season.

However, that is a big if. Jones has only played two full seasons since entering the league in 2011. Other than health, Julio can improve in the red zone. He ranked 53rd in the league last season with five red zone receptions. If those numbers increase and the big bodied receiver gets more touchdowns, he’ll be the number one receiver in the league.

(Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

1. Antonio Brown (Pittsburgh Steelers): Business is boomin’ in Pittsburgh. Antonio Brown is in line for another big season with the Steelers. Since 2013, Antonio Brown has had at least 100 receptions, 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns in each season.

He ranked first in the most important fantasy candidate for wide receivers: fantasy points per game. Now Antonio Brown has Martavis Bryant back opposite of him for hopefully a full season which can lead to better things.

In two games where Antonio Brown was primarily double teamed, Sammie Coates was targeted a team-high 19 times. Now with Bryant back in the mix, those double teams should regress and Brown should be even better than last year.

 

Feature image courtesy of www.endzonescore.com

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Possible destinations for Manziel and Kaepernick

Possible destinations for Manziel and Kaepernick

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

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

Johnny Manziel

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

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

Jacksonville

Possible destinations for Manziel and Kaepernick

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

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

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

New Orleans

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

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

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

New York Giants

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

Colin Kaepernick

Pittsburgh

Possible destinations for Manziel and Kaepernick

(Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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

Baltimore

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

Jacksonville

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

Other

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

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

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

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