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 awards predictions

 

After last week’s Hall of Fame Game, between the Arizona Cardinals and the Dallas Cowboys, the NFL is officially back. Get hype!

What a time to be alive. This week, HBO’s Hard Knocks returns. Jay Cutler finessed his way out of the first two weeks of training camp, and agreed to a one-year deal with the Miami Dolphins. The New York Giants put out another electric dance video.

With all that said, it is time for my 2017-18 NFL awards predictions.

AP MOST VALUABLE PLAYER+ AP OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Derek Carr, qb (oakland raiders)

I absolutely love this kid. His 81 passing TD’s in his first three seasons are good for 4th most in NFL history. Last year, Carr led the Raiders to a 12-3 record before breaking his fibula in week 16. He threw for 3,937 yards with 28 touchdowns and only six interceptions.

The guy doesn’t even curse. He has a mamba mentality and is the hardest worker on the field. He ranked 7th in completion percentage for quarterbacks who threw at least 560 passes. That number will only go up, with the addition of Jared Cook and Cordarrelle Patterson. Adding Marshawn Lynch to the backfield will keep this offense clicking.

Oakland is also up against a plethora of teams who do not defend the pass well. Nine of their matchups will be against teams who, last year, ranked in the bottom half for passing defense. The NFL’s highest paid player is about to have a monster year.

AP COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR: ROB GRONKOWSKI, TE (NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS)

While only starting six games last year, Gronk still finished 4th in 20+ yard receptions among all TE’s. After getting his third surgery to repair a herniated disc, Gronkowski looks to be 100 percent, and quite possibly in the best shape of his life. He is now working with Alex Guerrero, the man in charge of Tom Brady’s TB12 Sports Therapy Center.

Healthy Gronk= Nightmare for all defenses (si.com)

Just how dedicated is Gronk to staying healthy? For every alcoholic beverage he consumes, Gronk has to drink three glasses of water.

The addition of Brandin Cooks makes Gronkowski even harder to defend. Cooks’s speed makes him a legit threat over the top, which defenders will have to monitor. This will lead to less double teams for Gronk, which means even more Gronk spikes. The 4x Pro Bowl TE could possibly have his best year.

 

AP DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: JADEVEON CLOWNEY, DE (HOUSTON TEXANS)

Ever since that epic hit during the 2013 Outback Bowl, Clowney has been a force, when healthy. Coming off a breakout year in which he collected six sacks and 40 tackles, Clowney was selected to his first Pro Bowl. In just 14 games, Clowney earned 2nd team AP All Pro honors.

With JJ Watt healthy, the Texans defense will be up there with the best. Their early preseason depth chart has Clowney listed as an outside linebacker. A freak athlete who cannot be blocked, Clowney’s versatility will be key in order for Houston to make a deep run.

AP OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: LEONARD FOURNETTE, rb (jacksonville jaguars)

The Jaguars have been in need of a good running back since Maurice Jones-Drew. I know it sounds crazy to give an award to a Jaguars player. Not only a Jags player, but a running back who will have to go up against the Titans and Texans, both division rivals, who defend the run extremely well. But let’s be real, this kid is special.

To be honest, I’m usually not even a fan of LSU running backs in the NFL. They give us too many Joseph Addai’s and Jeremy Hill’s, but Fournette is a different breed. He is an absolute house, with great speed. Former Jaguar Fred Taylor called him, “an absolute beast” and “a man amongst boys.” Taylor knows a thing or two about running the ball so I’ll take his word for it.

The Jaguars will be relying heavily on Fournette (Saturday Down South)

Fournette will be the focal point of Jacksonville’s offense. Last year, the Jags ranked 24th in rushing attempts, 22nd in rushing yards, and 29th in rushing touchdowns. With Fournette, they will be able to rush the ball 30 times a game. More rushing attempts means less of a chance for a Bortles’ interception. Look for Fournette to be used like Ezekiel Elliot in Dallas.

AP DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: SOLOMON THOMAS, DE (SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS)

After recently signing a four-year deal worth up to $28 million, the defensive linemen from Stanford is already standing out at Niners camp, due to his size and speed. Elvis Dumervil told reporters that Thomas “will be a dominant player in this league.”

Thomas will be joining the worst defense in the NFL. Last year, the 49ers ranked dead last in rushing yards allowed, rushing touchdowns, and rushing attempts. Teams could run with ease all over them. Thomas will be an immediate factor, as someone who can attack the QB and get in the backfield. During his last year at Stanford, Thomas recorded 8.5 sacks. Over his last two years, he had 24.5 tackles for loss.

Because of Stanford’s spring schedule, Thomas was unable to participate in team activities, but this did not stop him from getting better. During this time, he worked out with Warren Sapp, Demarcus Ware and Von Miller.

Yes, the Niners suck, but that actually helps Thomas, who will for sure slide right in as a starter. He will have more chances than anyone to be successful, as teams will most likely continue to run heavily against San Francisco.

AP COACH OF THE YEAR: BILL BELICHICK, HC, (NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS)

The GOAT. Not much has to be said in this section. His team is favored in every game. Coming off last year’s Super Bowl, they only got better on offense with the additions of Dwayne Allen, Brandin Cooks and Mike Gillelsie. The number one defense last year, the Patriots also beefed up that side of the ball by adding Stephon Gilmore, Kony Ealy and David Harris.

Will the Patriots repeat? (ESPN.com)

With a healthy and not suspended Tom Brady, who went 11-1 during last year’s regular season, don’t sleep on 19-0.

Featured image by The Fresno Bee

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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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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Super Bowl series 2017: AFC West

Super Bowl Series 2017: AFC West

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

Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs are entirely overlooked and it is egregious. Andy Reid has done incredibly well so far in Kansas City. Reid has gone 43-21 and the Chiefs have made the playoffs in three of his four seasons.

The only thing missing is the playoff success and thus a Super Bowl victory. Kansas City is just 1-3 in the playoffs during the Reid era. That can change this season as the Chiefs look to make a run at Super Bowl LII.

Kansas City is a team that wades in the water like a shark and out of nowhere will sneak up and attack you. Alex Smith gets the hate while the defense gets all the love but the Chiefs averaged 24.3 points per game last season, which was 13th best in the NFL. The Chiefs were able to get out in front of teams early, scoring the eighth most first half points with 12.8 per game.

Super Bowl series 2017: AFC West

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

The Chiefs weren’t special on offense but they were consistent. They ranked 18th in third down conversion percentage (38 percent), 15th in rushing yards (109.2 per game) and 19th in passing yards (233.8 per game). Again, the offense wasn’t spectacular but they are wrongfully accused of costing this team successful playoff runs.

There is still room for growth. The offense can help the defense out even more by running more plays to keep that stellar defense rested. The Chiefs ranked 27th last season averaging 61.9 plays per game. An effective rushing attack is one of the best ways to run more plays.

Kansas City has added veteran running back C.J. Spiller and rookie running back Kareem Hunt in hopes of improving the offense, but Spencer Ware should be the feature back. This offense has been consistent and as long as they improve just a tiny bit, the Chiefs can remain Super Bowl contenders.

In the Reid era, the Chiefs have averaged 27.5 points per game in the playoffs. They also lost a playoff game to the Colts, 45-44. Anytime a team scores 44 points, they should win. As much blame as this offense gets, they have performed well enough to win games in the postseason.

Stepping away from the offense, the Chiefs are truly Super Bowl contenders because of their defense. Despite losing Justin Houston after five games and Derrick Johnson after 13, the Chiefs were able to rank seventh in points allowed per game at 19.4.

The reason the Chiefs were good on defense wasn’t that they held teams to low amounts of yardage; they actually were bad at allowing yards. They ranked 24th in total yards (368.5 per game), 26th in rushing (121.1 per game) and 18th in passing (247.4 per game).

What Kansas City really excelled at was red zone defense and forcing turnovers. The Chiefs only allowed points in the red zone 49.1 percent of the time. They also led the league with 2.1 takeaways per game. There can be improvements made in how much yardage allowed but if the Chiefs can continue forcing turnovers along with getting stops in the red zone, then the Chiefs can remain a top-tier defensive team.

In order to win the Super Bowl, Kansas City must get home-field advantage. They are 18-7 at home in the past three seasons. They must also get over the tough schedule that includes New England, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Dallas outside of the division, plus Oakland and Denver twice each.

If the Chiefs can navigate this schedule and make the playoffs, the offense needs to continue averaging 27.5 points per game and the defense must remain elite. Doing all of this will mean that Arrowhead will be home to the Super Bowl LII champions.

Oakland Raiders

The Oakland Raiders were legitimate Super Bowl contenders last season but the injury bug bit at the worst time. Derek Carr broke his leg in week 16 and just like his leg, the Raiders playoff chances were shattered.

Offensive tackle Donald Penn also went down and if the Raiders can remain healthy at their key positions, then they have one of the best shots in the league to win Super Bowl LII.

In order to win the Super Bowl, the Raiders must improve defensively along with remaining healthy. The Raiders gave up 24.1 points per game and the problem was that they struggled in the second half of games.

Oakland ranked 29th in second half points, allowing 13.4 per game. The Raiders struggled in yardage as well, ranking 26th in total yards (375.1 per game), 23rd rushing yards (117.6 per game) and 24th in passing yards (257.5 per game). The Raiders spent their first three picks on the defensive side of the ball to address these defensive woes.

Super Bowl series 2017: AFC West

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

Part of the reason they struggled so much defensively was that they couldn’t get off the field on third down. Opponents converted 39.4 percent of the time against the Raiders on third down. If they can fix this, it will improve their entire defense.

Fixing their third down defense starts with getting to the quarterback which the Raiders were the worst at. Oakland ranked 32nd in the NFL in sacks, accumulating just 25 for the season. Khalil Mack, Bruce Irvin and newly acquired Jelani Jenkins must make a bigger impact in rushing the quarterback.

Oakland must also find some discipline. The Raiders ranked dead last in both penalties (9.2 per game) and penalty yardage (77.9 per game). Without these improvements, the Raiders won’t be capable of making deep postseason runs.

The strength of the Raiders is, without question, their offense which averaged 26 points per game. Oakland seemed to get better as the game went on, averaging the fifth most points in the second half with 13.6. The Raiders had no trouble racking up the yardage either, averaging 373.3 yards per game.

They can thank their surprisingly good rushing attack. Oakland ran for the sixth most yards in the NFL last season with 120.1 per game. Adding Marshawn Lynch to the mix should improve this number and make the entire offense even better.

Oakland had the 13th best aerial attack in the NFL, throwing for 253.2 yards per game. Derek Carr has been exceptional and has also been given solid targets to throw to. His two main targets, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, combined for 176 receptions, 2,156 yards and 13 touchdowns last season.

The Raiders decided Carr needed more and added talented receiving tight end Jared Cook and explosive wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson.

Cook has struggled to remain healthy but has been effective when on the field. Patterson has been to the Pro Bowl as a returner but had a solid season catching 74.3 percent of the balls thrown his way last season. These two weapons could really push Oakland’s passing attack to the next level.

The only improvements the Raiders need to make on offense is on third down and in the red zone. Oakland only converted 38.1 percent on third down. Extending drives can help the defense get rest and therefore, perform better.

Although the Raiders averaged 26 points, they only scored in the red zone 58.6 percent of the time. If they can improve this percentage, then the Raiders could easily average 30 or more points per game. If the Raiders do that, then the Lombardi Trophy is going back to the bay, baby.

Denver Broncos

There weren’t many who believed the Broncos would struggle last season but Denver stumbled to 9-7. Similar to recent years, Denver’s defense was spectacular but the offense was just too far behind. The loss of Peyton Manning was more painful than fans care to realize. Denver might have a Super Bowl defense, but without a quarterback to make big plays, the offense is going to hold this team back.

Let’s start off with what this team is known for, and that’s defense. The Broncos have a reputation for beating up quarterbacks. Denver ranked third in the NFL last season with 42 sacks. This helped them get off the field on third down as they forced a third down stop 63.6 percent of the time. Getting to the quarterback often, and quickly, helped the secondary allow just 185.8 yards passing per game. That was the best mark in the NFL.

Super Bowl series 2017: AFC West

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Despite all the success against the pass, the Broncos did struggle against the run. Denver had the fifth worst rush defense in the league, allowing 130.3 yards per game. Altogether, Denver only allowed 316.1 yards per game and that resulted in allowing the fourth fewest points per game at 18.6.

In order to get back to the Super Bowl, Denver must clog up the running lanes. The Broncos have added Domata Peko at defensive tackle to help their run defense. Denver cannot depend on the play of the quarterback and therefore the defense must become elite in all facets of the game. All that is left to conquer is the run.

Offensively, the Broncos need to run the ball more often to make up for their quarterback play. Denver only ran the ball 40.2 percent of the time. This resulted in an average of 92.8 rush yards per game, sixth worst in the NFL. C.J. Anderson is a great back but has yet to play a full season in his career. Speaking of injury prone, the Broncos did add Jamaal Charles to the mix in the backfield as well. While neither can remain healthy on their own, maybe being paired together can help them stay healthy and turn Denver into a good running football team once again.

None of that will be possible without good offensive line play though. Losing Russell Okung isn’t a crushing blow because he had health problems anyway. This is why Denver drafted Garrett Bolles. Also, Matt Paradis is one of the best centers in the league and if he can lead the rest of the unit then Denver can improve their offense.

The Broncos’ passing attack was abysmal as well, ranking 21st. Because of the deficiencies on offense, Denver only managed to score 20.8 points per game. Either Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch need to grab ahold of the quarterback spot with force and prove they can be the franchise quarterback.

If neither of them can, rookie Chad Kelly could sneak in and become the man. No matter how the cookie crumbles, one of these quarterbacks needs to have a great season to help get the Broncos to the Super Bowl.

For everything to fall into place the Broncos, offensive line play must improve which in turn will help the running game improve. Denver needs a quarterback to solidify their spot as the franchise quarterback and lastly, the Denver defense needs to stop the run. If the Broncos can solve all these problems, they can win Super Bowl LII.

Los Angeles Chargers

Super Bowl series 2017: AFC West

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

The Chargers have left San Diego and are embarking on the journey to run Los Angeles. Due to a slew of injuries and a sub-par defense, the Chargers finished last season 5-11. That record didn’t indicate how good the team really was. The Chargers went 1-8 in games decided by seven points or less. Los Angeles can become a contender simply by winning these close games.

The Los Angeles Chargers are going be a much improved defensive team. For starters, Joey Bosa will be ready at the start of the season and he had 10.5 sacks in just 12 games as a rookie. They also added safety Tre Boston to help out in a secondary that gave up 242.9 yards per game through the air.

The defense also includes Corey Liuget, Brandon Mebane, Melvin Ingram, Jason Verrett and Casey Hayward. These are some really good players but they must play together to improve last year’s bad season.

Last year, the Chargers ranked 29th in the NFL in points, allowing 26.4 per game. It was so high because they really stunk in the second half of games. The Chargers gave up a total of 14.6 points per second half last season with 8.3 of those points coming in the fourth quarter.

The Chargers defense partly struggled just because the offense gave up 2.2 turnovers per game, which was worst in the NFL. The defense is really talented and if they don’t get put into bad situations due to turnovers, they will easily bring down that amount of points they give up.

Last year’s offense was really good aside from the turnovers. They averaged the ninth most points in the NFL with 25.6 per game. Philip Rivers’ aerial assault led the way. They averaged 262.4 yards through the air despite losing their best receiver Keenan Allen. A healthy Allen could allow Rivers to have a better 2017-18 campaign.

In order to really improve the offense, the Chargers must run the ball more effectively. They averaged 94.4 yards per game but a banged-up offensive line hurt their potential. The Chargers know that a better offensive line will improve everything. Los Angeles snatched offensive tackle Russell Okung from the division rival Broncos. They also drafted guard Forrest Lamp.

Improvement for the Chargers starts with the offense. Running the ball more and simply staying healthy will accomplish that. The defense will then be able to bring down a number of points they allow due to rest. Lastly, the Chargers special teams must stop shooting themselves in the foot with bad punts, missed field goals, botched snaps and just horrible coverage.

It will not be easy for the Chargers to make the playoffs, especially in their division. If they can make the improvements listed, then they will have a puncher’s chance. Once they get into the playoffs it is anybody’s trophy.

 

Thank you for checking out the Super Bowl series: AFC West. This was the final edition of the Super Bowl series and you can find the previous editions of the Super Bowl series here.

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Super Bowl 52

If not the Patriots, then who in the AFC?

To call the Patriots heavy favorites to represent the AFC in Super Bowl LLI is a gross understatement. Additions like Brandin Cooks have made a team that already ran roughshod over the conference last year even better on paper heading into 2017. However, sports are a funny thing.

What if the Patriots are finally derailed by the injury bug or just simply pick a bad day to have a bad day in the playoffs? Here are four teams ready to pounce.

Kansas City Chiefs

Ever since Andy Reid came to town, the Chiefs run the ball, play solid defense and do not beat themselves. This is a good formula for winning. However, when that formula comes up against a buzz saw like New England, it is also easy to end up in too deep of an early hole.

Tyreek Hill

Photo: kansascity.com

The divisional playoff matchup between the two teams following the 2015 season was a perfect example of this. Despite holding New England to just 14 points in the first half, Kansas City managed just two field goals and never got caught up.

While Tyreek Hill has provided a much needed boost to KC’s ability to strike quickly, half of their scoring drives in last year’s playoff loss to Pittsburgh were over ten plays. While those are nice, striking quickly is almost a must against the Patriots.

Hope for the Chiefs in a matchup with New England lies in Hill and their pass rushers, led by Justin Houston. With three double digit sack seasons under his belt, Houston is more than capable of wrecking a game for Brady and company, similar to what Von Miller did on Denver’s Super Bowl 50 run.

Kansas City’s opening night matchup with the Super Bowl LI champs will be a nice measuring stick for them.

Denver Broncos

The Broncos have questions at quarterback. Ordinarily, that would disqualify them from an article like this, but the Broncos happen to be the only team Tom Brady has a losing record against.

Von Miller

Photo: dailysnark.com

Denver has beaten New England with Jake Plummer, Brock Osweiler and an aging Peyton Manning at quarterback over the years. Knowing that, why not Trevor Siemian or Paxton Lynch?

Denver invested most of its offseason resources into bolstering the backfield and offensive and defensive lines Thus, the two biggest weaknesses on this team have been addressed.

If the additions help Denver run the ball and stop the run consistently, Miller, Shane Ray and the rest of the defense will keep Denver in almost every game like they have for the better part of the last two seasons. Against New England, that is half the battle.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers have not given the Patriots any trouble in recent years. If last year’s AFC title game was a boxing match, it would have been stopped early. The last Steelers’ victory against New England was in 2011.

However, any team that has Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell and flirts with putting up 30-plus points every time out is always dangerous. The bad news for Steeler fans is that the Steel Curtain has been made of feathers in recent meetings with the Pats. Twenty-seven points is the fewest New England has scored during its ongoing four game winning streak against Mike Tomlin’s crew.

With the cast of characters basically the same on defense, the only way Pittsburgh beats New England this year is in a shootout. It is unlikely, but not impossible. They are one of very few teams with the firepower to beat New England in that way.

Indianapolis Colts

This inclusion to the list might surprise some, but the AFC is nowhere near as deep as the NFC. Something has been off in terms of the head coach/management dynamic in Indianapolis for the last two years. General manager Ryan Grigson is gone. With former players tweeting in response to the move, one can only assume that Grigson was a significant part of the problem.

One guy who is not part of the problem is quarterback Andrew Luck. Despite near constant drama in the front office and a flawed roster, the Colts have never posted a losing record under his on-field leadership. However, they have missed the playoffs each of the last two seasons.

Staying healthy has been a challenge for Luck, but 132 touchdowns to just 68 interceptions in almost five full years as a starter are the numbers of a quarterback who can carry a team on his back. The roster still lacks elite players outside of Luck. Also, Indianapolis has been obliterated by the Patriots in two fairly recent playoff meetings.

Even so, the Colts finally fall on the right side of one of a precious few things that is always true in the NFL. If you have a stable front office and a top-notch quarterback, you have a chance every single time you take the field.

Texans and Raiders miss the cut

Two teams that many people would have expected to see in this article are the Texans and the Raiders. They were each left out for very specific reasons. Tom Savage and Deshaun Watson battling for the starting quarterback job means that the Texans will not even be able to spell Super Bowl, much less get there.

Las Vegas Raiders

Photo: USA Today

Anyone who tries to lump Denver’s quarterback situation into the same category as Houston should watch what Trevor Siemian was able to do on the road in Cincinnati and New Orleans last year. The home game against Kansas City also speaks volumes about Siemian’s potential.

As for the Raiders, it is also fairly simple. Derek Carr is no doubt a special quarterback. Despite that, Oakland’s ongoing stadium and relocation drama is worthy of its own article. It is hard not to see it dragging down the on-field product.

Also, even when they were the talk of the league last year, the Raiders still led the world in penalties and got shredded by the opposing quarterback almost every week.

 

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Adrian Peterson

NFL veteran running backs: What do they have left?

Three of the more intriguing signings of the NFL offseason involve veteran running backs out to prove they still have something left in the tank. Here is a deeper look at each situation.

NFL veteran running backs in new places

Adrian Peterson, New Orleans Saints 

Even though it has been a few years, any guy who rushes for over 2,000 yards the season after blowing out his knee is worth taking a flyer on. Drew Brees is amazing and he is going to retire with a bunch of records to prove it.

However, the 38-year-old is not getting any younger and is in the final year of his contract. New Orleans has struggled in a big way to find the right scheme and personnel on defense for the last several years. The Saints lost three games in which they scored 30+ points during last year’s seven win campaign. That should never happen.

There is no reason to think that the defense will be anything other than slightly improved at best. Assuming that is the case, pairing a highly motivated Peterson with Mark Ingram is as good a way as any to try and ensure that Brees will not have to throw for 5000 yards in 2017 for the Saints to be even remotely competitive.

Jamaal Charles, Denver Broncos: One of the single biggest reasons Denver’s season started to go sideways last year was the season-ending injury to running back C.J. Anderson in late October.

NFL veteran running backs

Photo: milehighreport.com

The Broncos were a top-ten rushing team prior to the injury. Following the injury, running back became a revolving door for Denver. By the final quarter of the season, Trevor Siemian attempting 40+ passes a game became commonplace. Regardless of offensive line play or who the quarterback is in 2017, that is not a formula for success in Denver.

Adding Charles to a crowded Broncos backfield that features a now healthy Anderson and second year man Devontae Booker among others, means a 30-year-old who has played in just eight games in two years is not even a lock to make the roster.

However, Charles is among the all-time leaders in yards per carry. Two or three runs of ten yards or more in each game would make a world of difference for this team.

Marshawn Lynch, Oakland Raiders: Even with Al Davis gone for several years now, the Raiders continue to operate unconventionally. Bringing this 31-year-old out of retirement who has not played a full season since 2014  is the latest example of this.

While Lynch returning to play for his hometown team is a nice story, this has never made much sense to me. Like the other two signings, the contract is very low risk-high reward. Even so, with Latavius Murray now in Minnesota, the running back situation is quite murky for the Raiders. Lynch is the only proven NFL ball carrier on the roster.

Unless someone separates themselves in training camp and the preseason, Lynch will likely be asked to preform feature back duties. For the reasons above, it is hard to see that turning out well.

NFL veteran running backs

Photo: arrowheadone.com

There is no substitute for live game action. That is something Lynch has not seen in a long time. Murray is a guy who dealt with a lot of nagging injuries, but still managed to be fairly productive. He rushed for a total of over 1,800 yards in his final two seasons in Oakland. It is baffling to me that the Raiders made virtually no effort to keep him while rolling out the red carpet for Lynch.

In theory, the running game is supposed to take pressure off of the quarterback. Even with a solid running game spearheaded by Murray last year, it often felt like Derek Carr was carrying this team. Look no further than what happened to this team in the final two games of last year after Carr’s late-season injury.

They were outscored 51-20 and sent home in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. While the Raiders stood very little chance with Connor Cook starting in his first career game, the Raiders barely broke 50 yards rushing in their defeat to Houston.

The running game did not step up then. With nothing more than a rusty Lynch and a bunch of talented but unproven commodities on the roster now, it is hard to imagine the upcoming season being much different in that regard. The Raiders had simply better hope and pray that Carr can stay healthy.

 

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Jameis Winston on the Rise

Jameis Winston on the rise in fantasy

Jameis Winston had an average fantasy season in 2016. He ranked outside of the top 12 on a per game basis but finished 10th in overall fantasy points at the quarterback position. He was, however, able to score at least 20 fantasy points in nine of his 16 games played and failed to post at least 15 fantasy points just once. Winston had 21.2 fantasy points per game that ranked 14th among QB’s. This was better then Cam Newton, Russell Wilson and Derek Carr who were all drafted higher then him. Jameis Winston is on the rise and poised to have a breakout 2017 fantasy football season. He is in route to being a top quarterback this year and you don’t want to miss it.

Winston should be expected to have a great season in large part due to the plethora of weapons he has. The Buccaneers signed wide receiver DeSean Jackson, drafted tight end O.J. Howard and they still have wide receiver Mike Evans and tight end Cameron Brate. This creates more opportunities as Winston is expected to have more designed roll-out plays called for him in 2017, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.

Jameis on the Rise

DeSean Jackson (Photo by: thefantasygreek.com)

Winston will have a deep threat to work with this season in Jackson. Last season Winston ranked towards the bottom in 40+ yard completions.  Jackson has proven he is one of the best deep threat receivers in the NFL, having five catches of 40+ yards that ranked seventh in the category. In fact, three of his four touchdowns came off from 40+ yard catches. With Jackson on the field, safeties will be forced to play a little deeper to respect his speed. This will open up the field for Winston to hit his underneath receivers.

The signing of Jackson doesn’t only help Winston, it also helps Evans. With Jackson’s speed making safeties play deeper, it will be more difficult to roll coverage in Evans’ direction. That will result in a lot more man-to-man coverages for Evans which he the size, speed and soft hands to take advantage of.

Winston will also have two tight ends to throw to. We have seen a quarterback by the name of Tom Brady excel with two reliable tight ends . Winston loved throwing to Brate last year as he was the second leading receiver on his team. Brate also led the league in touchdowns for tight ends and was second among receiving touchdowns inside of the 20-yard line.

O.J. Howard (Photo by: mmqb.si.com)

Winston will also have first round draft pick Howard to go along with Brate. Howard, from Alabama, could struggle early but he is still a weapon that defenses will have to respect. He can also be a valuable deep threat option along with Jackson. At Alabama three of his seven career touchdowns were from 40+ yards with two of them coming against Clemson in the National Championship game in 2015. Howard can be a game changer tight end the Winston can rely on especially a big target in the red zone.

Last but not least, the running game in Tampa is finally healthy. All of the moving parts in the backfield from last year have created a deeper, more confident stable of runners that offer multiple pass-catching options for Winston. This will help Winston from having to force the ball down field which led to 18 interceptions. Charles Sims and Jacquizz Rodgers will be the primary pass-catchers out of the backfield and Doug Martin will pound the ball taking some of the pressure off Winston (after finishing is PED suspension).

Winston may not be a top five quarterback but he is a quarterback you should be targeting after the top players at the position are gone. He will rarely lose you a week as Tampa’s offense is built around him. Winston looks to be ranked between the 10th to 12th quarterback and thus won’t be drafted high. He could be the steal of your fantasy draft at quarterback as people aren’t quite sold on him yet. He enter as a high-end QB2 in most leagues but has the potential to be a QB1 as the season progresses.

 

Featured image from nytimes.com

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“From our Haus to Yours”

Quarterback rankings for the 2017 fantasy football season: 10-1

Here’s the list you’ve all been waiting for… Quarterback Rankings for the 2017 fantasy football season: 10-1. This is the group of quarterbacks that most of you will have on your teams, especially if you’re in a 10-team league or an 8-team league. Many people have their own opinions concerning the top 3 quarterbacks that are on this list, but believe me if you can snag one of hose guys, don’t hesitate.
10. Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)- Jameis is only going to get better. New targets such as OJ Howard, and Desean Jackson will team up with Mike Evans for the new look Tampa Bay offense this year. You might have to take him early, but Jameis is worth it.

(Photo: Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)

9. Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks)- Russell Wilson may be the most talented quarterback in the NFL. He just doesn’t have the wide receivers or offensive line to crack the top 5. Looking to run the ball more this season, the Seahawks brought in Eddie Lacy but didn’t do too much to address the problem at wideout. Other than Jimmy Graham and Doug Baldwin, Wilson is lacking targets. He’s never a risky pick so if you want to go safe go with Wilson.

8. Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions)- Did Matt Stafford hit his peak last year? I sure think so. He’s a great player don’t get me wrong, and having Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick at full health will help, but I don’t see Stafford doing much better than last year. If you want to grab a elite level QB for the price of a second tier guy, Stafford is your man.

7. Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints)- I know what everyone is thinking, “Drew Brees deserves to be in the top 5!” Not this year. I can’t say anything bad about Brees except that he might hurt from the loss of Brandin Cooks. Michael Thomas will be great once again but it won’t be enough. I love Brees this year, I just believe that the other 6 quarterbacks will outplay him.

(http://sacrificefly.blogspot.com)

6. Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons)- Matt Ryan is an elite QB in the NFL. Mark my words because he will not be as good as he was last year. The dreaded super bowl hangover will haunt him and it will be hard to regain MVP status without Kyle Shanahan as his play caller. There’s nothing wrong with taking Matt Ryan this year, just don’t expect him to be a carbon copy of last year.

5. Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers)- Here is a prime example of a Super Bowl hangover. The combination of the big loss and the fact that he had to deal with a torn rotator cuff for the majority of the season, caused Cam to have the worst season of his career. Expect a bounce back year however. With new additions of Christian McCaffery and Curtis Samuel, the Panthers have the ability to have the most explosive offense in the NFL. The most important thing is if his offensive line can hold up.

4. Derek Carr (Oakland Raiders)- My way too early pick for MVP this year is Derek Carr. He’s young and hungry and looking for revenge from his early exit last year. Pair that with the receiving corps of Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree and the addition of Marshawn Lynch, Carr is in for a huge year.

3. Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts)- Another player who could easily be number one on this list if he could stay healthy. Andrew Luck has the size, arm strength, and arm accuracy to be successful in the NFL. He just needs more targets. Get him those targets and he is my number one quarterback.

(Foxboro, MA, 01/18/15) New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady throws in the second quarter of the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, January 18, 2015. Staff Photo by Matt Stone

2. Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers)- This was by far the toughest decision I had to make. If you told me that Aaron Rodgers is the number one fantasy quarterback I’d have no problem with that, I just believe Brady is better. Rodgers has all the targets and a consistent offensive line, give him a legitimate running back and he’s my number one quarterback.

1. Tom Brady (New England Patriots)- Isn’t life just great for Tom Brady? Coming off his fifth super bowl win, he gets Brandin Cooks, Dwayne Allen and Rex Burkhead, all of whom will help out Brady immensely. Give the already best quarterback in the league a great offensive line and an influx of great receivers and running backs, he’s only going to get better.

 

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From our Haus to Yours.

 

Oakland Raiders 2017 Draft Profile

The Game Haus is back with another edition of Draftmas. This is the 22nd edition of Draftmas and it focuses on the Oakland Raiders.

SUMMARY

Courtesy of USATSI

The Oakland Raiders had one of their best seasons since 2002. The 2017 Raiders went 12-4 but their postseason seemed to end for them before they even started. When Derek Carr went down in Week 16, Raider Nation and probably even the players and coaches knew their was no way to go far in the postseason. With Connor Cook behind center, the Raiders lost their first playoff game since 2002. The 2018 Raiders do have a lot of great pieces coming back to the team. Seven Raiders went to the Pro Bowl, a franchise-high since 1991, and the most players for any team in 2017.

PICKS AND NEEDS

The Raiders have eight picks in this draft, with one in each of the first six rounds and in the seventh round they have two picks.

First Round: (1) No. 24

Second Round: (1) No. 56

Third Round: (1) No. 88

Fourth Round: (1) No. 129

Fifth Round: (1) No. 168

Sixth Round: (1) No. 208

Seventh Round: (2) No. 242 and No. 244

Offense:

Running Back: Yes, the Raiders do likely have Marshawn Lynch in the backfield now, but that still doesn’t fill the void in the at the running back position. I could see the Raiders finding a back later in the draft, most likely late Day 2.

Defense:

Middle Linebacker: The Raiders need a rugged and power middle linebacker in that 3-4 scheme. They have Pro Bowler Khalil Mack on the outside, but they need a force up the middle as well.

Conrnerback: In this league, you can never have too many good corners. Oakland could definitely use another good corner to play with Sean Smith and complete their secondary.

Defensive Tackle:  The defensive tackles on this roster are awful, but they could get whole lot better. Defensive tackle is not a major concern, but the Raiders could get some value from this deep pool of defensive tackles in the draft.

TARGETS AND THOUGHTS

These predictions are without trades.

First Round, Pick 24: Jarrad Davis, ILB, Florida

If Jarrad Davis didn’t have some durability issues he could be a Top 15 pick, but most likely he could slip into the late first round to the Oakland Raiders. He shows tremendous Football IQ as he breaks down plays and then attacks. He is very good against the run and his acceleration and closing speed makes him a very good blitzing inside linebacker. Davis also has some pretty fluid hips and can stick with most tight ends and some slot receivers. When you think of middle linebacker dawning the black and sliver, you think of an intimating presence. Davis has that. He wore a neck roll and didn’t wear gloves. That is the pure definition of a nasty Oakland Raider 3-4 inside linebacker.

Second Round, Pick 55: Teez Tabor, CB, Florida

Two Florida Gators back to back. Teez Tabor another one of the great cornerbacks Will Muschamp played in The Swamp before his departure. Tabor teases the quarterback into making bad plays and he makes them pay for it. And when you turn on the tape, you see that. He plays with the supreme confidence that every great NFL corner has. He has very good ball skills and will come back down with the ball in his hands more times than the offensive player.

Tabor has the size to play the game and his style of play matches up very well with how the Raiders want to us their corners. He can definitely cover the third of the field and shut down most opposing number one and number two receivers right now in the league. And to be a Raider, you have to have some baggage. It’s how Al Davis would have liked it.

Third Round, Pick 88: Carlos Watkins, DT, Clemson

If you need a defensive lineman, one of your first stops is definitely Clemson, S.C. Clemson has produced nine Top 100 defensive linemen since 2007. Last year Watkins led the National Champion Clemson Tigers in sacks from the interior. He is also sneaky athletic and in the 3-4 disguise can help the defense and help Khalil Mack get more chances to get one-on-one matchups.

CONCLUSION

The Raiders were one injury from a very interesting playoff push. If Derek Carr can come back healthy and if they follow this draft profile, they should have a season that could contend with the 2017 season.

You can read all previous Draftmas profiles here.

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Marshawn Lynch is Going Home

Marshawn Lynch is going home to play for the Oakland Raiders. According to Michael Silver, the source who broke the news, Lynch and the Raiders have agreed to terms on a deal for the 30-year-old running back. Lynch is a native of Oakland, California.

Silver said the Seahawks were shocked and unaware the two parties were in agreement. The Raiders now must put together a trade with the Seahawks to officially finish the deal.

Trading for a 30-year-old running back should be relatively easily. The trade will likely come in the form of conditional draft picks, meaning the pick they get depends on how Lynch performs. The picks will likely come from either the third or fourth round with the possibility of being an earlier round if Lynch has a certain amount of carries.

 

Raiders Favorites?

What does this mean for the Raiders, The AFC, and the rest of the NFL? The Raiders aren’t going to be the favorites in the AFC by solely acquiring Marshawn Lynch. New England is still the favorite but the gap has closed significantly.

Lynch’s last full season as a full-time starter came in 2014 in which he had 280 carries for 1,306 yards and 13 touchdowns. Lynch played in 2015 but only appeared in seven games due to injuries. He has spent the last season retired from the game, meaning he has fresh legs.

Marshawn Lynch Oakland Raiders

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

This gives the Raiders an offense with no weaknesses at all. Derek Carr is entering the top five of quarterbacks in the NFL. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree are one of the best receiver duos in the NFL. Pro Football Focus ranked the Raiders line as fourth best in the NFL. All that was missing was a workhorse running back.

Because their offense will be so potent, they will be able to score with any offense in the league, including New England’s. Not to mention they traded for wide receiver Brandin Cooks as well.

This move allows the Raiders to focus completely on their defense in the draft to try and close the gap even more. If the Raiders can make moves to build the depth of their defense, they will have just as much as a shot at winning the AFC as the Patriots.

Buckle up Oakland, the last few years in the city may lead to parades.

 

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