Dez Bryant

Best destinations for Dez Bryant

The Dallas Cowboys have recently released the 29-year-old, three-time Pro Bowler Dez Bryant. Bryant is now in search of a new team. Whether it is getting revenge on his former team or taking less money for a better shot at winning a Super Bowl, Bryant is moving forward with the next chapter in his football career.

There are a handful of teams that could be good fits for Bryant for many different reasons. Here are a few teams that could help him get back on track.

Dallas statistics

Dez Bryant

Dez Bryant and Tony Romo (Photo from Wallsdesk.com)

Before we do that, we have to discuss Bryant’s production over the years. In his eight-year career, he has 531 receptions with the Dallas Cowboys that translate into 7,459 yards total and 73 touchdowns. He averages 14 yards per reception and every 7.29 catches he makes goes for a touchdown.

Before Dak Prescott arrived in 2016, he had three 1,000-yard receiving seasons. He was arguably a top-five wide receiver in all of the NFL and had four of his five best receiving years overall with Tony Romo at the helm. Basically, the Dallas Cowboys are drastically different with Prescott.

In 2012, (Tony Romo’s best statistical season), Bryant had the most receiving yards in his career to date and his third-most touchdowns. Romo threw the ball 648 times that season. In Dak Prescott’s two-year career, he has only thrown it 949 times. Dez’s declining statistics also has to do with a consistent run game. Ezekiel Elliott entered the league with Prescott in 2016. He has yet to have a season with less than 983 rushing yards.

In Bryant’s career season in 2012, DeMarco Murray only rushed for 663 yards and only 4.1 yards per carry. In one of Bryant’s most statistically underwhelming seasons (the first year with Elliott and Prescott), Elliott ran for over 1,600 yards and Prescott only threw for eight yards per attempt. The Dallas Cowboys are trending away from throwing it downfield and utilizing Bryant’s size.

NFC East

Just knowing Bryant’s personality after all these years, he is going to immediately try to get back at the Cowboys for releasing him. The Giants or Redskins may not be the best fit for him, but it could be a place he lands due to scheduling.

The Redskins made a big move this offseason by getting Alex Smith. They have the cap room and are looking for a little help for Jamison Crowder to free him up a little.

The best NFC East fit for Bryant, if he chooses to go that way, would be the Redskins. They have the salary space to afford him, and he could slide right back into a possible No. 1 wide receiver role. And of course, he would get a shot at playing Jerry Jones and the Cowboys twice a year.

San Francisco 49ers

There is plenty of reasons to believe in Jimmy Garoppolo. Marquise Goodwin has shown that he needs a little help at times. With Goodwin’s speed, Bryant could complement him well and play a nice counter role. He would yet again be a No. 1 wide receiver, and he would get a shot at jumping on board with an improving team that is hungry for the playoffs.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Bryant’s personality matches up well with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags seemingly need a wide receiver to take the reigns and be the guy. Blake Bortles would love throwing to Bryant and his large frame. He would instantly go to a contender and a team that would pay him pretty well. The Jaguars are committed to spreading both the pass and the run out, and Bryant could get back to catching at least 10 touchdowns for the first time since 2014.

Houston Texans

This one is a no-brainer. Bryant would be extremely close to his hometown. He would instantly jump into a No. 2 receiver role and take lots of pressure off of DeAndre Hopkins and draw single coverage. He would have tons of targets and could carve out a great role alongside another great wide receiver. It is one of the rare opportunities where Bryant will get to play in front of his hometown friends and family and could get paid pretty well.

New England Patriots

After an offseason where the Patriots lost multiple offensive starters, including wide receivers in Danny Amendola and Brandin Cooks, the Patriots would love to add another redzone asset for Josh McDaniels’ offense.

The Patriots are a team that invites different personalities. They gave Randy Moss one of his best statistical seasons and created one of the best offenses in NFL history with Tom Brady at the helm. Even though that feels like a lifetime ago, Brady is still the guy in Foxborough, and he would love to throw passes to Dez Bryant.

Only time will tell where Dez Bryant lands.

 

Featured image from Sports Illustrated.

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Dez Bryant release

A lesson in leverage courtesy of Stephen Jones

Everyone is weighing in on the Dez Byrant release. This might come as a shock to the casual fan. Unfortunately, the name Dez Bryant is bigger than his production and paycheck warranted. For those who were paying attention, this decision was an inevitability.

Stephen Jones created a blueprint that every general manager should follow and it can be summed up in one word, leverage. Don’t believe the idea that they just cut ties with Dez without any offer to renegotiate. The Cowboys wanted him back at a reduced rate given the leverage they created with yesterday’s meeting.

Elements of Great Leverage

There are a few factors that create strong leverage for or against a party when negotiating. Those factors include: performance (past and future), price and timing. For the most part, these are the key elements of every negotiation and combine to create leverage for one side or the other. So, let’s review how each of these factors played a role in the Dez Bryant release.

Performance

Dez Bryant release

Photo Courtesy of; USA Today

For those who didn’t know, Dez Bryant has not been good the past three seasons. You can read the details Dez’s lack of production by our own Kenneth Hesse here, so I’ll give you the cliff notes. Dez Bryant has missed four or more games twice in the last four seasons. He also failed to reach 1,000 yards receiving the last three seasons and has not scored more than eight touchdowns since 2014.

Given that information, it seems like Dez would be poised for a rebound as Dak Prescott continues to get better, right? Well, let’s consider his age. Bryant is 29 years old, the same age as Antonio Brown, Julio Jones and AJ Green.

Those other receivers have been producing at a consistent level and have remained relatively healthy. These players have also proved that they have tremendous skill to complement their physical abilities.

It was announced earlier this off-season that Dez was going to “work on his route running” with a personal coach. That would be great, if he were 24 and still possessed elite physical talent. It’s ironic that Dez only offered to further work on his craft when his job was in question. So, given his previous production, health and skill set, Dez does not project well into the future as his physical skills decline further.

Price

This was probably the biggest factor in the Dez Bryant release. Bryant signed a 5-year, $70 Million contract in 2015. He would have counted against the salary cap for $16,500,000 this year and next. Clearly, he does not warrant that kind of payment. His cap, among other wide receivers, was the third highest in the NFL. Dez Bryant, in no statistical category, is a top three, five, or ten wide receiver. To summarize, the Dez Bryant release was the result of a depreciating asset that was no longer worth the cost of keeping.

Timing

The first two elements are obvious. However, this is the key factor that made the Dez Bryant release great and gave the Cowboys all the leverage in this negotiation. As stated earlier, the Cowboys didn’t want to cut Dez Bryant outright. They wanted to bring him back at a reduced rate and here’s why.

First, what incentive did the Cowboys have to hold onto Dez this long? They could have allocated the extra $8.5 Million they saved by cutting him, to another player in free agency. Here are some players that signed contracts this off-season who could have helped the Cowboys and count for $8.5 Million or less against the salary cap: Sheldon Richardson, Michael Crabtree, TJ Carrie, and Tyrann Mathieu. If they truly did not think Dez would be part of their 2018 plans, they would never have waited until this late in free agency to do so.

Second, Jerry Jones has been loyal to a fault with his star players, especially Dez Bryant. Jones does everything in his power to take care of his stars. He desperately wanted to keep Dez. If he didn’t, he would have released Dez at the start of free agency so that he could have the best opportunity possible to sign with another team.

And finally, Stephen Jones wanted to create as small of a market as possible for Dez if they were to release him, which is exactly what happened. The majority of NFL teams have finished their major free agent acquisitions and have turned their attention to the draft. Meaning, teams don’t have the cap space or potential roster space to sign a player like Dez, even if they wanted to. This scenario pressured Dez into taking a pay cut, and thus, gave Stephen Jones and the Cowboys all the leverage in this situation.

Moving forward

In short, this was a good decision. The Dez Bryant release sends two signals, one to Dak Prescott and one to Ezekiel Elliott. This move tells Prescott that he no longer has to deal with Dez and his constant chirping for the ball. It wasn’t Prescott’s fault that Dez only caught 52 percent of his targets. And, it tells Ezekiel Elliott that this offense will unequivocally run through him. Cowboys fans should notice a more relaxed and confident Dak Prescott in 2018.

 

Featured Image courtesy of USA Today

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Dallas Cowboys 2018 NFL Draft profile

The 2018 NFL Draft is just under a few weeks away, which means that Draftmas is back. Draftmas will take a look at each NFL team heading into this year’s draft, what their needs are and who they could be targeting. Draftmas continues today with the Dallas Cowboys 2018 NFL Draft profile.

Summary

Dallas Cowboys 2018 NFL Draft profile

Tyron Smith (Photo by nbcdfw.com)

The Cowboys had a disappointing 9-7 season last year and barely missed out on the playoffs. There was a lot of drama, as Ezekiel Elliot started the season, but then got suspended in the middle of the season for four games. They were almost able to get to the playoffs for back to back seasons, but came up short and will have to build for next season.

Dallas still has one of the best offensive lines in football, but it isn’t quite as good as a few seasons ago. Cameron Fleming was signed to play right tackle, which should help round out the starting lineup anchored by Tyron Smith and Zack Martin. They helped the team rank second in rushing last season. This line has helped clear holes for Elliot, who should be ready to play a full season again after the suspension last year. He rushed for nearly 2,000 yards in his rookie campaign and is capable of doing so again.

Dak Prescott had a down year for his sophomore season but is still learning on the job. Whether he is a franchise quarterback remains to be seen, but he has had a solid start to his career. Between Jason Witten, Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley he has some nice targets, but could use another solid wide receiver to play opposite Dez Bryant. They ranked 26th in passing yards last season and an extra weapon could be added to help out.

The rush defense ranked eighth in the league last season and benefitted from Dallas controlling the clock. They were also able to rank 11th against the pass. Their overall defensive talent has been upgraded over the last few years. The defensive line has a star in Demarcus Lawrence.

When linebacker Sean Lee is healthy, the Cowboys are significantly better on defense. Jaylon Smith got his first taste of action last season and didn’t play great, but was coming off of the serious knee injury two seasons before when he was in college. In the secondary, Dallas has a few young players who can develop, but a big decision needs to be made whether Byron Jones will continue to play safety or cornerback.

Picks and needs

The Cowboys have 10 picks in this draft to try and shore up the roster for another run at the playoffs.

First round (1 pick): 19

Second round (1): 50

Third round (1): 81

Fourth round (2): 116, 137

Fifth round (1): 171

Sixth round (3): 192,193, 208

Seventh round (1): 236

Offensive needs:

Wide receiver- Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson were both signed and Dallas needs them to step up. If they can’t a number two receiver will be needed. If they can get a receiver who can start off as a number two and develop into a number one option, they can take over for Dez Bryant down the road.

Offensive line depth- The signing of Fleming makes this less of a need. If all the players perform like they are capable of and stay healthy, it should be a productive group. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. When Tyron Smith went down with an injury last year it was apparent Dallas wasn’t prepared for it.

Running back depth- Right now, the Cowboys have Rod Smith and Trey Williams behind Elliot on the depth chart. Elliot is a workhorse who can handle a lot of carries but will need someone to take some carries at some point in the season. If he goes down with injury or suspension, the rest of the running backs on the depth chart may not do the trick.

Defensive needs:

Safety- Dallas addressed their corner issue in a big way last year, with several draft picks spent on the position. The secondary still isn’t great and the safety position could use a draft pick. If Jones is moved to corner this is a desperate need, but if he stays at safety, they will still need to draft a safety to play next to.

Linebacker- Lee is often hurt and Smith needs to improve. Other than that, the Cowboys still do need linebackers for the third linebacker spot and for depth.

Defensive line depth-The defensive line did get a little deeper this offseason, but more depth couldn’t hurt. The pass rushers should be fine, but the interior of the defensive line could use some better backups.

Targets

Dallas Cowboys 2018 NFL Draft profile

Rashaan Evans (Photo by revengeofthebirds.com)

First round:

Pick No. 19: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

There are a few notable linebackers who are first-round talents, so one may fall to the Cowboy’s first round pick. Evans can play next to Smith and Lee to start his career. In two-linebacker situations, he can take over for Smith if he doesn’t improve. When Lee isn’t on the field the Cowboys are significantly worse, so getting another talented linebacker would be a failsafe in case he gets injured again. Evans is a good run defender but does need to polish his coverage skills.

Second round: 

Pick No. 50: Justin Reid, S, Stanford

Reid had a huge jump in productivity in his junior year and entered the draft. The Cowboys need secondary help and can pair Reid with Jones or use this pick to help facilitate Jones’ move to corner. His brother Eric has been a decent safety in the NFL for the 49ers, but is currently a free agent. With NFL bloodlines and good production, Reid should be selected within the first two or three rounds.

Third round:

Pick No. 81: Rasheem Green, DE/DT, USC

The Cowboys can get some defensive line depth here. Green could play either defensive end or defensive tackle but probably fits better as a defensive tackle for the Cowboys. He gets good pressure on the quarterback for a player so big. Green could be a backup this season but could see a lot of time as an interior pass rusher in third-down situations.

 

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Dez Bryant cowboys

Moving on is best for Dez Bryant and the Cowboys

The Cowboys are always interesting thanks to Jerry Jones. This offseason, they will be one of the more intriguing teams to follow.

Dallas took a step back to 9-7 in 2017 after Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott took the league by storm two seasons ago as rookies.

Cowboys’ management could go any number of directions to get this team back in the playoffs in 2018. One tough decision they will have to make regards the future of wide receiver Dez Bryant. There is only one conclusion to come to for a few reasons. Bryant and the Cowboys franchise would be better off apart in 2018.

Bryant is not clicking with Prescott

The wide receiver position different from most positions in the NFL. While there are exceptions like DeAndre Hopkins and Larry Fitzgerald, the success or failure of receivers is generally dependent on the quality of the quarterback and the receiver’s chemistry with that quarterback.

Dez Bryant cowboys

Photo from businessinsider.com

Tom Brady turned Brandon LaFell into a receiver that caught 74 balls in 2014. He has been in the league since 2010 and never got close to that kind of production before Brady and has not since.

At the other end of the spectrum, Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas both have multiple seasons with at least 70 catches. Both were non-factors with Denver in quarterback purgatory last year.

In Bryant’s case, he averaged just over 90 catches a year in 2013 and 2014 with Tony Romo at quarterback before injuries derailed Bryant in 2015.

In the last two years with Prescott at the helm and the offense centered around Elliott’s ground game and a dominant offensive line, Bryant’s production has slipped almost back to where it was in his first two seasons as a pro. Throw in his well-documented occasional sideline antics and it is clear Dallas simply does not need him anymore.

The numbers do not add up

Bryant caught just 69 passes last year and only 50 in 2016. Again, this is a dramatic drop-off from the Romo era. Worse yet, last year, he posted a career low of just over 12.1 yards per catch.

Dez Bryant cowboys

Photo by USA Today

Now consider that Bryant is due a base salary of just over $12 million for the 2018 season. Unless he has some high-ranking allies in the Cowboys organization, his recent lack of production means he has two options: take a pay cut or get cut. He laughed off the idea of taking a pay cut late last year.

From the Cowboys’ perspective, there appears to be much better uses for some of the money that is earmarked for Bryant. The Dallas defense is fairly pedestrian apart from Sean Lee, who struggles to stay healthy, and pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence, who is looking to get paid in a big way after a breakout season last year.

If Lawrence does not get what he is looking for, he could be franchise tagged or headed for free agency. The Cowboys obviously do not want either of those scenarios to happen. Moving on from Bryant would free up a little more money for a long-term deal with Lawrence, strengthening the defense as a whole via free agency, or even finding another receiver that better fits Dallas and its run-based offensive scheme.

Bryant’s future outside of Dallas

Despite a reputation as a bit of a problem child, Bryant is just 29 years old. He is still young enough to be a very productive player in the right situation.

He is not an elite receiver at the moment. However, he could really help a team with an established quarterback looking for an additional pass catcher to go with a current top-flight receiver.

This is pure speculation, but Bryant is just the sort of player Cincinnati has been looking for to help A.J. Green ever since Marvin Jones Jr. left. Bryant could also be lethal as a compliment to DeAndre Hopkins in Houston.

Only Bryant knows if his pride will allow him to take on a role like that, but that is his best shot at becoming a factor again. In Dallas, Bryant is sort of wasting away right now. Both he and the Cowboys can do better. If he ends up staying put, both sides are holding on to what was and not what is.

 

Featured image by nflmocks.com

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NFL Week 16

Stack your money Sundays: Week 16

Week 15 Review (2-1) OVERALL: 29-14-2

Green Bay Packers (+2.5) @ Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers 31 Green Bay Packers 24

Unfortunately for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, this season did not go as planned. Rodgers’ three interceptions were costly, but had Geronimo Allison not coughed up the football late in the game, Green Bay would have had a real shot to send the game into overtime.

NFL Week 16

Four Touchdowns for the former MVP (Photo from Rolling Stone)

In last week’s article, we talked about how Cam Newton had thrown for less than 200 yards in five of his last six games. We also mentioned that, from last season to now, when a quarterback throws for less than 220 yards against Aaron Rodgers, the Packers are 7-0.

Fortunately for Newton, he played a flawless game. The former No. 1 overall pick threw for 242 yards and four touchdowns with a passer rating of 128. The Panthers also managed to run for 151 yards. Christian McCaffrey had a stellar game, rushing for 63 yards and catching six balls for 73 yards and a score.

Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills (-3.5)

Buffalo Bills 24 Miami Dolphins 16

After three quarters, this game was a blowout. The Bills were up 24-6 and showed no signs of weakness against Jay Cutler and the Dolphins. However, a Kenyan Drake touchdown and a late Cody Parkey field goal made the game a bit more interesting. At the end of the day, it’s really tough to win if your quarterback throws zero touchdowns and three interceptions. I’m going to miss Jay Cutler next year.

It was a typical game for Tyrod Taylor. The former Virginia Tech standout threw one touchdown, rushed for another and did not turn the ball over. LeSean McCoy had a pair of touchdowns as well. The Bills have a legitimate shot to make the postseason, but that Nathan Peterman game against the Chargers could come back to haunt them if they end up with the same record as Los Angeles.

New England Patriots (-2.5) @ Pittsburgh Steelers

New England Patriots 27 Pittsburgh Steelers 24

Arguably the game of the year, New England just barely came out of this one with a win, as well as a cover. By rule, Jesse James did not catch that ball.

In all honesty, Pittsburgh outplayed the Patriots. They had almost double the rushing yards, and went 10-of-16 on third-down conversions. If the Steelers knew how to defend Rob Gronkowski, this game would have ended a bit differently.

Prayers up to Antonio Brown as he exited the game early on, but will hopefully be back for the playoffs. Had he not gotten injured, Brown would have a serious shot at winning MVP.

This probably will not matter, but keep an eye on Tom Brady, as he does not look like the same quarterback from a few weeks ago. He has now thrown five interceptions in his last four games.

WEEK 16 PICKS

Jacksonville Jaguars (-4) @ San Francisco 49ers

PICK: JAGUARS TO COVER

Although Jimmy Garoppolo looks likes the real deal, let’s pump the brakes a bit. He is stacked up against a Jaguars defense that is first in the league in points allowed, opposing yards per play and opposing red zone scoring in regards to touchdowns. They also rank third in both opposing third-down conversion percentage and opposing yards per game. Yes, as odd as it seems, the Jaguars defense is the real deal.

San Francisco’s defense ranks 28th in interceptions, and when Blake Bortles does not throw a pick, the Jaguars are a perfect 8-0. In his last three games, Bortles has been as good as anyone in the league. He has seven touchdowns, zero interceptions and passer ratings of 119.8, 123.7 and 143.7. Jacksonville currently ranks fifth in points per game, sixth in yards per game and fifth in percentage of red zone trips ending in a touchdown.

Leonard Fournette is good to go, which is huge news for the Jacksonville offense, which ranks first in rushing yards per game with 149.1. They are up against a 49ers defense that allows 119.1 yards per game on the ground. The entire NFL has been running all over San Francisco’s defense, so look for Fournette to have a monster game.

Seattle Seahawks (+4.5) @ Dallas Cowboys

PICK: SEAHAWKS TO COVER

NFL Week 16

Look for Russell Wilson to keep the Seahawks alive (Photo from Sports on Earth)

Seattle is coming off two straight losses, including a brutal 42-7 loss to the Rams a week ago. With that said, I don’t see Russell Wilson losing three in a row.

 

In his three games against the Cowboys, he is 2-1 and completing over 60 percent of his passes. Both teams are playing for their lives, so expect a thriller.

Luckily for Dallas, Ezekiel Elliott is back from his suspension and appears to be in even better shape than before. Seattle allows 112.9 rushing yards per game, which is subpar. But if they can hold Dallas to that much, they should be fine. This season, when the Cowboys rush for less than 120 yards, they are 1-4.

In an important matchup like this, pay most attention to the quarterbacks. Wilson is the far superior player to Dak Prescott. Prescott has Dallas ranked 24th in passing yards per game and has thrown seven interceptions in the last five games.

Atlanta Falcons @ New Orleans Saints (-6)

PICK: SAINTS TO COVER

After their Week 2 loss to the Patriots, New Orleans is a perfect 6-0 at home, outscoring opponents by about 11 points per game. Drew Brees is also playing elite football, as the Saints rank first in yards per game, second in touchdowns per game and third in points per game.

Their lethal backfield is averaging 135.1 rushing yards per game and rank first in rushing touchdowns per game. In the three games in which Atlanta has allowed over 136 rushing yards per game, they are 0-3.

The Falcons have done a nice job of turning their season around, but at this point, you have to give the edge to the home team, especially when they have the better quarterback. In Brees’ career against Atlanta, he is 15-9 with a completion percentage of 67.8 and 45 touchdowns. Look for him to have a very efficient game as Atlanta ranks 28th in opposing completion percentage.

 

Featured image from Twitter.com

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Ezekiel Elliott out

The Dallas Cowboys really miss Ezekiel Elliott

It’s hard to say that teams are centered around one person. After watching the Dallas Cowboys the last three weeks, it’s pretty easy to say their offense has severely missed Ezekiel Elliott.

In the three games that Elliott has missed, the Cowboys have scored 22 total points. They have scored under 10 in all three of those games and lost all three. With Elliott on the field, they have scored no less then 17 in a game.

Offense

The numbers with and without Elliott say it all. Because teams don’t respect the Cowboys current run game, the play action passing game is nonexistent.

The Cowboys haven’t been able to use stars like Dez Bryant to move down the field with chunk plays. In turn, they are becoming stagnant on offense.

Ezekiel Elliott out

Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott (Photo from ftw.usasports.com)

Dak Prescott with Elliott on the field has thrown for over 230 yards six times. In the three games without Elliott, he is averaging 166.7 yards per game. Teams no longer feel  the need to stack the box, and it is hurting Prescott’s numbers.

Only one time in the first nine weeks was the Cowboys leading rusher under 80 yards. In two of the three weeks without Elliott, the Cowboys have been under 55 yards. The offense has scored just two touchdowns in 12 quarters without Elliott.

The biggest statistic is his quarterback rating. Prescott’s quarterback rating sits at a combined 66.7 in the three games, which is an average of 22.2 per game. He has also thrown zero touchdowns and five interceptions over that span.

The Cowboys have only three passing plays that have gone for at least 20 yards in the last three games. Because the Cowboys don’t have a strong passing game, having a decreasing rushing game has made it so that the Cowboys offense has struggled as a whole.

Offensive line injuries and struggles

Lingering and reoccurring injuries haven’t helped the Cowboys. Tyron Smith has been in and out of the lineup with a back and groin injury and finally got back into the lineup on Thanksgiving.

Not having consistent members on the offensive line creates a different level of uncertainty. They have been without La’el Collins for extended amounts of time and haven’t been able to practice with the same group of guys as often as years past.

The Dallas Cowboys need to get back to their offensive line of a few years ago if they want to continue their success. Having an offensive line that can block and give time to a quarterback as well as create holes and room for a running back is an extremely valuable asset to any team.

A quarterback and running back are only as good as their offensive line. In years past, the Cowboys have been in the top of the league in offensive line play. This season, they have had their ups and downs, and it has hurt their passing rushing production without Elliott.

Outlook

The Cowboys don’t look great as of late. If they can figure out a solid ground game and establish it early, there is a solid chance that they will be competitive in future games. In the next three games (all without Elliott) the Cowboys opponents are 12-21.

It is possible that they could go 3-0 and beat two division rivals. They are good enough to win these games, but they have gone away from the things that have won them games. If they are looking to grab a Wild Card spot, they need to dig in and focus because they will have to operate without Elliott in more than half of their remaining games.

I think they finish the season at 8-8 and miss the playoffs, but they have the potential to go 5-0 and make the playoffs.

 

Featured Image from SI.com.

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Stack your money Sunday’s: Week 12

Week 11 Review (2-1) OVERALL: 21-10-2

Buffalo Bills @ Los Angeles Chargers (-4)

Los Angeles Chargers 54 Buffalo Bills 24

This game was laughable from the jump. The fact that the Bills thought it was smart to go with Nate Peterman against this monster pass rush is mindboggling. Peterman threw not one, not two, not three, not four, but five interceptions in the first half alone. He had six total completions.

After the game, head coach Sean McDermott claimed he did not regret his decision to start Peterman, which is a wild statement. McDermott should have been fired at halftime for essentially ruining the Bills chances of making the playoffs. Luckily, McDermott had enough brain cells left and named Tyrod Taylor the starter for this week’s contest against the Chiefs.

After an 0-4 start, the Chargers are on a roll. Not only did they slaughter the Bills, but they also manhandled the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. Philip Rivers gobbled up the Cowboys defense, and Jason Garrett probably should have grabbed Tony Romo from the booth and thrown him in behind center.

Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5) @ Dallas Cowboys

Philadelphia Eagles 37 Dallas Cowboys 9

Like stated before, the Cowboys are a total disaster. Without Sean Lee and Ezekiel Elliott, this team has no chance. Since Zeke was suspended three weeks ago, Dallas is 0-3, and has been outscored 92-22.

Jay Ajayi is loving life as a member of the Eagles (247Sports)

The Eagles just keep on rolling and look like the best team in the NFC. It would be hard to say they are better than New England, because if the Super Bowl was tomorrow, the Patriots would most likely be favored, mainly because of that quarterback they have.

Still, Philly is now first in the league in scoring, third in total yards and fourth in first downs. Their defense has been phenomenal, allowing the fewest rushing yards in the league, and causing the third most turnovers. Carson Wentz looks like the favorite for MVP, but there is still plenty of football left to play.

 

Atlanta Falcons @ Seattle Seahawks (-3)

Atlanta Falcons 34 Seattle Seahawks 31

There is usually no need to blame a coach for a loss, but Pete Carroll, come on man! That fake field goal attempt was an epic disaster. The Seahawks defense sure missed Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas, as their poor play on key downs ended Seattle’s 11-game win streak on Monday night.

Atlanta converted 64 percent of their third down attempts, including eight of their first 10. Per usual, Russell Wilson played his heart out, with three total touchdowns and 86 yards on the ground. However, a costly fumble led to an Adrian Clayborn scoop and score, which gave the Falcons a 21-7 lead. With both teams sitting at 6-4, it will be interesting to see if both of these teams earn spots in the postseason.

Week 12 Picks

Seattle Seahawks (-5.5) @ San Francisco 49ers

PICK: SEAHAWKS TO COVER

Although the Seahawks let us down a week ago, they are still a good football team. Sitting at 6-4, a loss against the 49ers would be inexcusable. Since 2012, Seattle is 16-6 in November, while the 49ers are 1-7 in their last eight November games. After picking up their first win of the season, the Niners are sticking with C.J. Beathard, which is a positive for Seattle. In his four games, Beathard has a completion percentage of 54.3 and has thrown five interceptions.

Wilson has won his last seven contests against the 49ers (MercuryNews)

Seattle comes into this one with the 10th best scoring offense, while San Francisco allows the third most points per game. The 49ers defense is allowing close to 380 yards per game, which is 27th in the league, and not a good sign going up against Seattle’s offense, who is among the top-10 in terms of yards per contest.

Even though they are depleted from injuries, Seattle still held reigning MVP Matt Ryan to under 200 yards passing. In his one game against a team with a winning record, Beathard threw for only 167 yards and completed 47.2 percent of his passes with a pair of interceptions.

Seattle’s defense comes into this one ranking top-10 in both passing yards and rushing yards allowed per game. They are fourth in opposing completion percentage, and are the sixth best team in terms of opposing red zone drives ending in a touchdown.

The 49ers score the least amount of touchdowns per game, and after this L to Seattle, look for Jimmy G to hop in.

Chicago Bears @ Philadelphia Eagles (-13)

PICK: EAGLES TO COVER

The Eagles have been playing elite all year, especially at home. They have yet to lose at Lincoln Financial Field and have outscored their opponents by 22 points in their last four home games. Chicago has only covered once this season when playing on the road.

All the numbers point to the Eagles dominating this one. They are the highest scoring team, going up against the 27th ranked offense. The Eagles are also second in the league in opposing third down percentage, and are impossible to run on. The Bears rely heavily on the run and will be in big trouble if Trubisky is forced to throw the ball.

Tennessee Titans (-3.5) @ Indianapolis Colts

PICK: TITANS TO COVER

The Titans go into the matchup following a brutal loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 40-17. The offense was totally outmatched, and Tennessee’s lethal backfield was held to just 52 yards rushing. The good news is, the Colts let up 111.3 rushing yards per game. When the Titans rush for at least 100 yards, they are a perfect 4-0.

Jacoby Brissett will start, despite having a possible concussion. Brissett has led the Colts offense to 27th in yards per game, and dead last in percentage of red zone opportunities ending in a touchdown. When these teams met in Week Six, the Titans had 473 yards of total offense, and won 36-22.

 

Featured image by OregonLive

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Thanksgiving fantasy football

Thanksgiving games week 12 fantasy turducken MVPs

Thanksgiving is now here. It’s time for turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pie and most importantly, football.

That’s right, it’s time for the tradition of the Thanksgiving games.The first two are hosted by the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys. The Lions will host their NFC North rival Minnesota Vikings, and the Cowboys will play the Los Angeles Chargers. Then the late game is an NFC East battle where the New York Giants head to play the Washington Redskins.

One part about the Thanksgiving games that I miss is John Madden and the turducken award. So for this article, it’s time to bring the turducken award back and predict who will have big fantasy days in each game.

Vikings-Lions MVP: Adam Thielen

The Vikings have been red hot, winning their last six games. That is partially due to their players stepping up with injuries, like Case Keenum playing well and the run game executing without rookie Dalvin Cook. One guy that has been having a surprise season and dominating the last two weeks is receiver Adam Thielen, who is my pick to be the first fantasy turducken winner against the Lions.

Thanksgiving fantasy football

Adam Thielen (Photo from vikings.com)

Over the last two games, Thielen has caught 14 passes for 289 yards. He has caught a touchdown in the last three. The last time the Vikings played the Lions, they lost 14-7, and Stefon Diggs was the better receiver. This time it’s a different Vikings team, and I also expect Thielen to outperform Diggs with the possibility of having Darius Slay on him for the entire game.

Thielen is second in the NFL, only behind Antonio Brown, in receiving yards. He is also tied for fifth in receptions. Thielen is currently on a three-game streak of scoring over 20 points. He’s also only one of five wide receivers with at least four fantasy games in the 20s or higher.

The Lions have allowed the ninth most passing yards to the slot since Week 4. Expect the Vikings to throw some deep shots to Thielen as he’s tied with Brandin Cooks for the most deep (15-plus yards) receptions.

At this point, Thielen is a must-start receiver every week as he has become a favorable target for Keenum.

Chargers-Cowboys MVP: Alfred Morris

The Cowboys have struggled the past two games without Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith. They played the desperate Atlanta Falcons and the Philadelphia Eagles, possibly the best team in the NFC. This week is the time for them to turn it around against an inconsistent Chargers team. For this game, this is when the run game will pay off, and Alfred Morris will have a monster game.

Thanksgiving fantasy football

Alfred Morris (Photo from cbssports.com)

Last week, Morris ran for 91 yards on 17 carries. In fact, Morris had more rushing yards than Dak Prescott had passing yards before the fourth quarter. His performance was especially impressive since the Eagles entered the game having allowed just 3.6 yards per attempt.

Morris has gotten better as he has seen more carries and is only getting better. He’s averaging 5.1 yards per carry in the two games since Elliott got suspended. With Darren McFadden a healthy scratch and Rod Smith not performing, Morris should only get more carries until Elliott comes back.

Dallas is at home against a Chargers team that is allowing a league-high 138.9 rushing yards per game and the second-most yards per carry (4.93). Playing against the 30th ranked team against running backs means Morris will be getting the ball a ton early in the game.

Giants-Redskins MVP: Vernon Davis

Even with injuries to Chris Thompson and Terrelle Pryor, the Redskins should still be efficient on offense. The turducken award in this game goes to tight end Vernon Davis.

Thanksgiving fantasy football

Vernon Davis (Photo from sports.yahoo.com)

When it comes to the tight end against the Giants defense, it’s the worst in fantasy. They have given up a touchdown every game but last week. However, they still gave up 120 yards to the position.

During Jordan Reed’s three-week absence, Davis has averaged 8.7 targets, 5.3 catches and 71.7 receiving yards. Last week he had six targets and 67 receiving yards. Dating back to Week 6, Davis leads the Redskins in receiving yards (367), is tied for second in receptions (25) and is second in targets (38). With Reed missing practice, it’s likely Davis will get the start again against the Giants.

The Giants have yielded a league-high 19.6 PPR points per game to this position. With this matchup, he has to be a must-start, even at the flex position.

 

Featured image from sbnation.com.

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Top rookie quarterback seasons

Top rookie quarterback seasons of the 2000s

Although Deshaun Watson lost in a shootout to Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks, the rookie quarterback from Clemson has been nothing short of spectacular for the Houston Texans. After a four-touchdown performance on Sunday, Watson now has the record for most touchdown passes in a player’s first seven NFL games with 19. We are only halfway through the season, and Watson already has the rookie record for most three-passing touchdown games in a season with four.

How was this man the third quarterback taken in the draft? How did the Browns not grab him first overall? More importantly, how was Tom Savage the original starter for the Texans? Nonetheless, Watson looks like a franchise quarterback, something that Houston has never seen before.

Will Watson finish his rookie season better than these standouts? Here, we have developed a list of rookie quarterbacks from the 2000s, who had stellar first seasons.

Ben Roethlisberger (2004)

13 starts: 13-0, 18 total TDs, 11 INTs, 66.4 comp. pct., 2,621 yards

It would be almost impossible for anyone to top what Big Ben did to start his professional career. Originally, Roethlisberger was the third quarterback on the depth chart, but the backup, Charlie Batch, went down with an injury in the preseason. Then Tommy Maddox suffered an injury in Week 2, giving the 11th overall pick from Miami (OH) a shot earlier than expected. After almost bringing the Steelers back in their Week 2 loss to Baltimore, Roethlisberger remained the starter for the rest of the season.

Big Ben wound up finishing the regular season with a 13-0 record as a starter. He helped end the New England Patriots record 21-game winning streak by throwing a pair of touchdowns and no turnovers in a 34-20 victory. The following game, Roethlisberger and the Steelers defeated the Philadelphia Eagles, who were 7-0 at the time. At the end of the season, Roethlisberger was unanimously selected as the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Pittsburgh ended up losing to the Patriots, 41-27 in the AFC Championship Game. While Roethlisberger struggled and threw three interceptions, the Steelers had found their quarterback for years to come.

Vince Young (2006)

13 starts: 8-5, 19 total TDs, 13 INTs, 552 rushing yards, 2,199 passing yards

Top rookie quarterback seasons

The comeback kid, Vince Young (Photo from NYDailyNews)

Unlike Roethlisberger, who played with an all-time great defense, Young joined a four-win Titans team after being selected third overall in the 2006 NFL Draft. After Kerry Collins was benched because of an 0-3 start, Young took over and excelled.

He went on to win eight of his thirteen games. Four of those eight wins were fourth-quarter comebacks, including the Titans 24-21 victory over Eli Manning and the Giants. After being down 21-0, Young rallied the troops and statistically had the best game of his career. He finished with 249 passing yards, two touchdowns, 69 rushing yards, and a passer rating of 107.9.

The following week against Eli’s brother Peyton, who had his Colts sitting at 10-1, Young led another come-from-behind win over Indianapolis. This was the first time in NFL history that a rookie quarterback led two 14-point or more comeback wins in the same season.

Due to a Philip Rivers injury, Young was named to the 2007 Pro Bowl. He would also go on to win the NFL Rookie of the Year.

Matt Ryan (2008) 

16 starts: 11-5, 17 total TDs, 11 INTs, 61.1 comp. pct., 3,440 passing yards

The year before Ryan was selected, Atlanta finished 4-12. As a rookie, Ryan led the Falcons to an 11-5 record, which was good enough for a spot in the playoffs.

His first NFL pass resulted in a 62-yard touchdown to Michael Jenkins. He went on to become the first Falcons rookie quarterback to throw for over 3,000 yards in a season. In the history of the NFL, only 12 quarterbacks have thrown for over 3,000 yards in their rookie season.

In his first playoff start, Ryan was up against Kurt Warner, who is 15 years older than Ryan. While Ryan threw a pair of touchdowns, the Falcons ultimately fell to Warner’s Cardinals 30-24. For his stellar regular season, Ryan was named AP NFL Rookie of the Year.

Cam Newton (2011)

16 starts: 6-10, 35 total TDs, 17 INTs, 60.0 comp. pct., 4,051 passing yards

Top rookie quarterback seasons

Super-Cam (Photo from IMG Academy)

Although Newton and the Carolina Panthers only managed to win six games, the Auburn star showed the world why he was the first overall pick in his draft class.

Right off the bat, he became the first rookie to throw for over 400 yards in his first career game. Newton also became the first rookie quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards.

“Superman” Cam was named the NFL Rookie of the Year, and was also an alternate, and later a member of the NFC Pro Bowl team.

 

 

Andrew Luck (2012)

16 starts: 11-5, 28 total TDs, 18 INTs, 4,374 passing yards

Just like Newton, Luck was selected first overall, and was immediately called on to start. The successor to Peyton Manning led the Colts into a Wild Card game, which they ended up losing to the Ravens.

During the season, Luck and the Colts upset Aaron Rodgers’ Packers on a game-winning touchdown pass, in which Luck found Reggie Wayne with 35 seconds left. In Week 9 against Miami, Luck threw for 433 yards, which became the new record for most yards in a game by a rookie quarterback. In a late December game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Luck broke the record for most passing yards in a season.

Russell Wilson (2012)

16 starts: 11-5, 30 total TDs, 10 INTs, 64.1 comp. pct., 3,118 passing yards, 489 rushing yards

Even after the addition of Matt Flynn, Russell Wilson was named the starting quarterback in August. Wilson helped the Seahawks reach 11 regular-season wins and earned his first playoff victory by defeating the Redskins 24-14 in come-from-behind fashion. In the divisional round, Wilson threw for 385 yards, but Seattle fell to Atlanta, 30-28.

Wilson finished the regular season with a passer rating of 100.0, which was good for fourth in the league. His 26 passing touchdowns tied Peyton Manning’s record for most touchdowns thrown by a rookie.

Robert Griffin III (2012)

15 starts: 9-6, 27 total TDs, 5 INTs, 65.6 comp. pct., 3,200 passing yards, 815 rushing yards

Top rookie quarterback seasons

RG3 had a miraculous rookie season. (Photo fromBleacher Report)

As a rookie, RG3 looked like the real deal. In his starting debut, Griffin threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns in a victory over the New Orleans Saints. He became the first rookie quarterback to be named NFC Offensive Player of the Week in a debut game. Griffin was also named September’s Offensive Rookie of the Month.

Following a bye week in November, the Redskins voted RG3 an offensive co-captain. After the nomination, in a game against the Eagles, Griffin became the first rookie in NFL history to throw for 200 yards, pass for four touchdowns, and rush for over 75 yards in a single game.

A lingering knee injury caused Griffin to slow down, and ultimately led to the end of the Redskins season, as Washington was defeated by Seattle in a Wild Card game. He would undergo surgery, and as we know, nothing was the same.

Still, Griffin was selected to the Pro Bowl, and also won the 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award.

Dak Prescott (2016)

16 starts: 13-3, 29 total TDs, 4 INTs, 67.8 comp. pct, 3,667 passing yards, 104.9 quarterback rating

Tony Romo’s preseason injury changed Dallas forever. Romo now works for CBS, and Prescott is busy leading America’s team.

Last year, Prescott set the records for highest passer rating by a rookie quarterback (104.9) and highest touchdown to interception ratio (5.75:1). His 67.8 completion percentage was good for fourth in the league. Prescott was a major contributor to Dallas’ 11-game winning streak, spanning from Week 2-13.

The Cowboys won the NFC East, but were defeated by the Packers in the divisional round. In that loss to Green Bay, Prescott threw for 302 yards and had a quarterback rating of 103.2. His incredible season made him the obvious choice for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. He edged out his teammate, Ezekiel Elliott, by seven votes.

 

Featured image from Bleacher Report

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Week five DFS don’ts: Report card

Well, as fun as week five was, it was not nearly as kind to me as week four. My DFS profitability reached a season high; however, my individual player picks were not as good. I’d like to move on to week six as soon as possible, so lets get into the report card edition of week five DFS don’ts.

Quarterback: 2/5

Thank goodness my top two quarterbacks came up big. Aaron Rodgers and Dak Prescott anchored my cash game lineups. With 24 and 30 points respectively, they made up for some of the stragglers in my lineups. Sadly, I was totally wrong about Cam Newton and Tyrod Taylor.

However, I’m the most upset about Carson Palmer. He somehow managed to double his $7,200 price tag and did it without Larry Fitzgerald or Jaron Brown scoring a touchdown. Carson Palmer might be my least favorite player in the NFL after this Sunday.

Runningback: 2/4

Since Ty Montgomery didn’t play, I will not be counting him as a win. I just thought it was worth noting in my DFS don’ts series because of the unclear picture provided by the Packers earlier this week. Le’Veon Bell, along with Marshawn Lynch came up small. On the bright side, Leonard Fournette came up huge for my tournament lineups, since he was owned in the single digits, and Bilal Powell busted.

Wide Receiver: 0/6

I’m so sorry if any of you chose to listen to me and fade any receiver on my week five DFS don’ts. While the Giants and Steelers lost in demoralizing fashion, Odell Beckham and Antonio Brown played incredibly well. Devin Funchess also managed to double his value with a score against Detroit.

At least everyone was wrong with me on Jordy Nelson and Dez Bryant. They had okay games, but neither produced to the level that their price tags dictated. And of course, my Jaron Brown call proved to be more embarrassing than Jay Cutler’s wildcat performance against the Saints.

Tight End: 3/4

This would have been a perfect four for four if Charles Clay didn’t get injured against the Bengals. It’s clear that offense will struggle if he cannot return quickly. I told you Tyler Kroft wouldn’t get it done in my tight end edition of week five DFS don’ts. And, I took pure joy in watching Darren Fells, not Eric Ebron, score two touchdowns against the Panthers. Austin-Seferian Jenkins also came through by doubling his value with a touchdown.

Defense: 2/2

If there’s one thing we nail on the Suck My DFS Podcast, it’s the special teams portions of the roster. We were all on the Dolphins defense as soon as the Titans signed Brandon Weeden. They were a huge reason why we were able to cash this weekend, despite injuries and poor performances. And, the Rams defense failed to double their value, so that’s a win.

Kicker: 2/2

We nailed the kicker position as well. I outlined exactly why you needed to fade Greg Zuerlein. I hope you listened. We also talked on the podcast value kickers that would produce. My choice was Harrison Butker, and he delivered.

Overall Score: 11/23

Like I said in the opening paragraph, I’m ready to move on to week six. My week five DFS don’ts predictions were some of the worst of the season. However, we will start over tomorrow with the defense and kicker edition of week six DFS don’ts.

 

Featured Image Courtesy of  Grizzly Bear Blues

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