NFL Field

Fun With Projected NFL Win Totals

I am a football nerd and proud of it. With the NFL Draft in the rear view mirror, another favorite offseason event of mine took place earlier this week. Las Vegas released their projected regular season win totals for all 32 NFL teams. Here are my three favorite over/under bets for 2017.

Cowboys (Under 9.5 wins)

Unless you are an all-time great, this league has a way of humbling players whose careers get off to a hot start. Dak Prescott could be the latest example of that.

If he takes just a half step back from his 2016 season that saw him toss 23 touchdowns and just four interceptions, the effect will be dramatic.

In addition to their own division where all three opponents are at least reasonably capable, Dallas squares off with the western divisions in each conference, along with the Falcons and Packers. That is a really tough schedule for any team.

Dallas will still be very competitive, but that defense is not scaring anyone. The addition of Brandon Marshall makes the Giants the most complete team in the NFC East, and they already beat Dallas twice last year.

Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott will have to be superhuman again for this team to be close to where they were last year. That is a tough thing to bank on.

Browns (Over 4 wins)

This one is a bit dicey given the quarterback situation. None of Cleveland’s options are particularly appealing in the short term.

Even so, accumulating talent is the name of the game in the NFL. They’ve added linebacker Jamie Collins and three freakishly talented first-round draft picks that actually made sense. Add that to franchise mainstay Joe Thomas and this roster is already much better than last year’s 1-15 squad.

Cleveland Browns

Photo: dawgpounddaily,com

Several of Cleveland’s losses last year were relatively close. They’ve improved via the draft and free agency. They also have a schedule that includes the likes of Jacksonville, Minnesota, the Jets and division rival Cincinnati twice. Four wins does not seem like much to ask.

Bucs (Over 8 Wins)

In each of the last two seasons, an NFC South team has risen from relative obscurity to reach the Super Bowl. If you are a fan of odd trends, here are a few reasons why Tampa Bay could follow their division rivals.

The thought of Jameis Winston throwing to Mike Evans along with new additions O.J. Howard and DeSean Jackson is enough to make any defender lose sleep. Winston gets better with every snap. The organization surrounding him with this kind of talent will only expedite that process.

Jameis Winston

Photo: cbssports.com

Most of the same faces are on the young defense that is far from perfect. They did have a few shining moments last year, including holding Seattle and the Saints to under 15 points.

The Super Bowl might be a reach in the minds of some, but eight wins feels like stealing.

 

Featured Image by flannerysdublin.com

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

How Can Desean Jackson Improve His Game?

After missing the first two weeks of Organized Team Activites (OTAs), DeSean Jackson returned to Redskins Park on Monday June 6th.

Jackson, known for his speed and big playmaking ability, caught touchdowns of 56, 63, 28 and 77 yards in the nine games he saw action in 2015. He averaged 17.7 yards per catch (down from 20.9 in 2014) and his knack for tracking the ball in the air is second to none.

DeSean Jackson makes a one-handed catch during training camp in 2014.

Despite his gifted talent, Jackson lacks other qualities found in the most well-balanced players. For starters, his route capability is very limited; he can run the fly, post, seam, and bubble screen, but is rarely seen running the slant, hook, out, or dig patterns. His run blocking comes off as lazy or unenthusiastic on some plays too. This means that as Jackson gets older and loses his speed, his most valuable asset, his route running and blocking will have to compensate if he wants to stay in the NFL and become a more versatile wide receiver.

Jackson’s shortcomings are not limited to the strategy of the game. Jackson often expresses frustration during a game when the Redskins are losing or he isn’t getting the ball enough. His negative physical language doesn’t excite his teammates, it agitates them, seeing as energy of all kind has been known to spread like a virus around fellow players. Jackson also enjoys taunting the defensive backs he just burned as he slowly dances into the end zone, a process otherwise known as “hotdogging.”

DeSean Jackson taunts his former team after a scores on an 81 yard touchdown reception in 2014.

This kind of behavior may not seem like a huge deal at times, but it can still make a major difference in the course of a game. A prime example occurred in the Redskins/Packers playoff game last January. Jackson caught a shallow crossing route, a rare sight to begin with, and attempted to outrace a defender to the end zone, only to come up just short because of his decision not to dive in. Any other Redskin receiver – Reed, Garcon, Crowder, etc. – would have muscled their way into the end zone for six points. Instead, the offense stalled and the Redskins had to settle for a field goal. They could have been up 9-0 but instead were only up 5-0 (Preston Smith recorded a sack in the first quarter in the end zone for a safety).
As a general statement, I’d like to see a better attitude out of DeSean Jackson. Make no mistake, he is pretty darn good right now. But, he could always be better; he could be one of the greatest of all time.

DeSean Jackson is forced out of bounds before reaching the end zone against the Packers in a 2016 wildcard matchup.

It is a positive sign to see Jackson at Redskins Park because he missed seven games last season due to a hamstring injury he sustained in week one after he stretched out to catch a deep ball that was just overthrown. He was not touched by a defender on the play. Early reports indicated that Jackson would be out for three to four weeks but Jackson’s health took much longer to improve. Could Jackson’s injury be a result of his absence from OTAs last offseason? It seems like a probable reason that went into his status. With a little more conditioning and effort, Jackson could be in better shape, maybe build a little more muscle, and strengthen team chemistry.

Five Instant Impact NFL Fantasy Players for 2016

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Ezekiel Elliot transitions from one of the best teams in college football to one of the best offensive lines in the NFL.

It’s the beginning of May and life in the NFL is boring. The draft is over, OTA’s don’t start until late May (as if anyone cares), and I’m left rooting for my sorry baseball team that’s worse at baseball than Johnny Manziel is at staying sober.

It’s never too early to look ahead to the 2016 season (those rankings were published in the beginning of January, so they don’t reflect my feelings now). If you’re looking for some rookies to draft for your fantasy team next season, take a peek at these five future stars.

For the record, you won’t see a quarterback on this list, as I feel as comfortable with any rookie quarterback as I do going to a pool party hosted by Jerry Sandusky. As I sit at my computer listening to the rain fall, I can only assume it’s Joe Paterno crying profusely at my terrible joke.

Ezekiel Elliott

Ezekiel Elliott is the most obvious choice out of all rookies. The best running back in the draft will go run behind the best offensive line in the NFL. Elliott can run, catch, and block, proving he’s a three-down back. The OSU product can be a huge find in PPR leagues, as he could catch three balls a game or so.

This is a no brainer pick, but since he’s a rookie, I don’t want him until round two at the earliest. If you can grab Elliott in the third round, he’ll be a great value and a great starter for your fantasy team.

Laquon Treadwell

Dubbed the most NFL-ready receiver in the draft, Laquon Treadwell has a chance to be a true number one receiver in his first NFL season. Stefon Diggs will be the the other starting wide receiver for the Vikings, so Treadwell could easily become the best receiver on the team. Questions about Treadwell’s explosiveness, speed, and durability caused Treadwell to fall to the 23rd pick of the draft, but I’m not concerned about that. Don’t expect Treadwell to take the top off defenses. Treadwell will make his money running quick slants and other double move patterns.

You have to make sure you get a top wide receiver before drafting Treadwell. I’m not confident that Treadwell will break out as a star this season, but he’ll be a quality WR3 at the worst. A team with Antonio Brown, A.J. Green, and Laquon Treadwell won’t have to worry about the position all season.

Michael Thomas

The second player out of #THE Ohio State University, Michael Thomas should be a solid find in fantasy world this season. Thomas is a great all-around player, who really doesn’t lack any skill sets. The one knock against him is that he isn’t the biggest vertical threat around, but that has never kept him from being successful. Thomas is a great route runner, has spectacular hands, and has the tools to be an elite receiver to just about anyone who watches him (Our very own Dan Taylor has a different opinion, go to 2:56:25 to hear him and myself get #heated. It gets better as it goes on, trust me.). It’s Thomas’ time to take over and lead the New Orleans wide receivers, and he’s more than capable.

I trust Thomas more than I trust Treadwell when it comes down to just skill and potential, but Thomas has more competition in New Orleans. With a talented third-year receiver in Brandin Cooks, Thomas will compete to be the number one threat on a rebuilding Saints team. I’m taking Thomas as my number three wideout, but Thomas has more upside yet more risk than Treadwell.

Will Fuller

Easily the most enticing deep threat in the draft, Will Fuller is capable of putting up huge numbers in any game. Fuller’s only disadvantage is his small frame, but Steve Smith and Wes Welker (in his prime, of course) scoff at silly scouts who think small receivers can’t be true threats in the NFL. Fuller joins forces with DeAndre Hopkins in Houston, which could be the makeup of an elite one-two punch of wide receiving for years to come.

Fuller reminds me of DeSean Jackson, as he could put up 10 or 100 yards in any game. I’d only use the Notre Dame product as a spot starter for the first half of the season before I trust him fully as a starter for my team.

Roberto Aguayo

Here lies Tim Miller, who demanded that #SpecialistsArePeopleToo be etched into his tombstone.

Maybe my death will bring justice, but until the day I die, I will go to bat for long snappers, punters, and kickers. Roberto Aguayo has been the highest graded kicker in 20 years according to some scouts, and he was the most accurate kicker in college football history. I’m no kicking expert, but it shouldn’t be hard to translate the success he’s had in college to some 1o-plus point performances in the NFL.

Although I love specialists, I believe kickers are basically interchangeable in fantasy football. I’ll never draft a kicker before I draft my second tight end, but Aguayo will be a starting kicker in fantasy football until he turns 40. If you must reach for Aguayo, reconsider your life choices and cross your fingers. Either way, Aguayo could become the next Stephen Gostkowski.