2017 fantasy football running back rankings: 10-1

Here it is, the final list of my running back rankings. This list mainly consists of first round and early second round picks that will be the backbone of your fantasy football team this year. Here it is, 2017 fantasy football running back rankings: 10-1.

 

10. Todd Gurley (Los Angeles Rams): Todd Gurley is the perfect example of a sophomore slump. The touches are still there for Gurley, as he averaged 17.4 attempts per game last year. He ranked fifth in carries and 12th in targets but the Rams offense just fell apart. He rushed for 885 yards on a terrible 3.2 yards per attempt.

The main reason for Gurley’s disappointing season is the poor play at quarterback for the Rams. If Jared Goff can be more successful and have a much better second year, he can take the pressure off of Gurley. The Rams did bolster their offensive line by adding tackle Andrew Whitworth. If Goff plays better and the offensive line holds up this season, we can expect a bounce back season for Gurley.

fantasy football running back rankings

(http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/todd-gurley-wins-offensive-rookie-of-the-year-has-message-for-rams-fans/)

9. Jay Ajayi (Miami Dolphins): Jay Ajayi broke out in a big way in 2016. Ajayi became the fourth running back in NFL history to rush for 200 yards in three games in a season. Ajayi found himself to be one of the most efficient backs last season, ranking third in yards after contact with 484 yards and sixth in yards after contact per touch with 1.7.

With the addition of Julius Thomas, the Dolphins could be in line for more of a passing offense in 2017, especially with Thomas’ poor blocking ability. But along with the addition of Thomas, the Dolphins added a high end blocker in Anthony Fasano. The Dolphins offense is in its prime right now and Ajayi is a prime piece in the offense, expect another good season from him.

8. Devonta Freeman (Atlanta Falcons): The other half of the two-headed monster in Atlanta has made his appearance on this list. Devonta Freeman has been very consistent over the past two years with 11 rushing touchdowns and at least 1,000 yards.

We did see Freeman’s rushing touches decrease last year, with 40 less attempts and 20 less receptions than he had in 2015. Freeman still had 462 receiving yards and two touchdowns last year. He is also a top ten running back in terms of efficiency, as he ranked eighth in yards after contact.

The only concern with Freeman is how the Falcons use Tevin Coleman. Coleman is the most important backup running back in football and he can put up flex/RB2 numbers any week. Draft Freeman and expect a nice season, just handcuff Coleman if you do.

fantasy football running back rankings

DeMarco Murray’s time in Philly came to an accelerated ending after tensions arose in 2015. (Photo by Philly Influencer)

7. Demarco Murray (Tennessee Titans): Murray returned to RB1 status in 2016. In his first year in Tennessee, he rushed for 1,287 yards and nine touchdowns. The Titans elite offensive line helped him out as the smashmouth approach worked well for the Titans last season.

Murray found little competition from Derrick Henry last season, as he ranked third in snap share and sixth in the league for total team running back touches. Draft Murray as a late first or early second round pick this year.

6. Jordan Howard (Chicago Bears): People don’t realize that last season, Jordan Howard was the second-best rusher in the NFL. He rushed for 1,313 yards, only second to Ezekiel Elliot last season. He is the focal point of the Bears offense now that Alshon Jeffery is gone.

The only problem with Howard is his lack of touchdowns. Chicago ranked 23rd in the NFL in red zone scoring (touchdowns only) by scoring touchdowns on 51% of their opportunities last season. Howard may see an increase in his receiving yards this season in his first full season as the lead back, but definitely expect another great rushing season for him in Chicago.

5. Melvin Gordon (Los Angeles Chargers): Melvin Gordon found success in his second season in the NFL. He was three yards away from 1,000 yards while only playing in 13 games. He hasn’t played a full season in the NFL yet, missing three games last season and two the year before, but that shouldn’t stop you from drafting him.

With the departure of Danny Woodhead, Gordon should see an increase in his role as a passing back and he can develop into a full-time three down back this year. The thing that is very intriguing about Gordon is his touchdowns. Last season he had ten touchdowns in 13 games and that number should increase if he plays a full season.

4. LeSean McCoy (Buffalo Bills): McCoy had a bounce back year with the Bills last season, finishing the season as the No. 3 ranked running back. He rushed for 1,267 yards and 13 touchdowns while averaging 5.4 yards per carry. The Bills rushing attack falls on McCoy’s back now that they didn’t match the offer sheet for Mike Gillislee and he should have an ample amount of carries this upcoming season.

The problem with McCoy is that the Bills spent their offseason acquiring Mike Tolbert and Patrick DiMarco. They have the ability to take many goalline touches from McCoy. McCoy should be a first round pick this season, with the rushing yards continuing to be there but a decrease in touchdowns.

fantasy football running back rankings

(http://www.espn.com/nfl/player/_/id/12514/lesean-mccoy)

3. Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas Cowboys): The rookie phenomenon proved he was the real deal in 2016. Elliott had 1,631 yards (first in the NFL) and 15 touchdowns last season. Elliott tore up opposing defenses last year and he should do the same this upcoming season.

Not only was he the No. 1 running back in terms of rushing yards and carries, he was also one of the most efficient backs. He ranked second in breakaway runs and third in evaded tackles, while finishing the season as the fourth-best running back in terms of yards after contact. Zeke shouldn’t fall past the third pick in any draft this year.

2. David Johnson (Arizona Cardinals): If you had David Johnson on your fantasy team last year, congratulations. DJ was insanely effective in the passing game and as a runner, rushing for 1,239 yards and twelve touchdowns and 879 receiving yards and four touchdowns. He is the definition of a dual-threat back.

He was the most productive back in the receiving game, as he was ranked first in receptions, receiving yards and total touchdowns among running backs. David Johnson is the center of the Cardinals offense and should enjoy another amazing season as the first or second pick in fantasy this year.

1. Le’Veon Bell (Pittsburgh Steelers)- Bell’s running style of cuts and hesitation running has found immediate success in the NFL. Last season, he had 1,268 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. He is key on the Steelers high-powered offense and should continue to see 20+ touches a game. He missed four games last season and still finished as the number four fantasy running back.

fantasy football running back rankings

(http://www.espn.com/nfl/player/_/id/15825/leveon-bell)

Not only is he used as a rusher, but he is used immensely in the passing game for Big Ben. He had 75 receptions for 616 yards and two touchdowns last season and there’s no indication that those numbers should decrease.

The problem with Bell is his injuries and off the field antics. Last season he was kept out of the first three games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy and he’s gone through multiple major knee injuries in his career. If he can stay on the field, and not have any problems off of it, he can be the No. 1 ranked running back in fantasy next year, and that’s exactly where he should be drafted.

 

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Super Bowl Series: NFC East

Super Bowl series 2017: NFC East

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. The first edition will be Super Bowl Series: NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

Super Bowl Series: NFC East

(Photo Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports)

It’s not going out on a limb to say the Dallas Cowboys can win the Super Bowl. Last season, Dallas earned the number one seed in the NFC but lost to Green Bay 34-31 in the divisional round. The experience was valuable for a relatively young team.

The Cowboys are a talented offensive team. Dallas’ offensive line ranked second in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. This allowed rookie running back Ezekiel Elliot to lead the league in rushing with 1,631 yards. Fellow rookie Dak Prescott was named Rookie of the Year after throwing for 3,667 yards, 23 touchdowns and just four interceptions.

The second-ranked offensive line paved the way for the NFL’s leading rusher and they only gave up 25 sacks on the season.

To win the Super Bowl, the offense just needs to do what they did last season. If Elliot leads the NFL in rushing and Prescott protects the football, this offense will continue to be one of the best.

Winning the Super Bowl for the Cowboys comes down to their defense. Dallas gave up the fifth-fewest points last year (19.1) but a lot of that is due to a running game that kept them off the field.

Breaking down the Cowboys defense shows that they must improve their passing defense. The Cowboys ranked first in the NFL in rushing defense giving up only 83.5 yards per game. Dallas gave up 260.4 yards passing per game which ranked 26th.

In summary, the Cowboys offense needs to replicate their success from last season. Defensively, the Cowboys must continue to stop the run and bring down the passing yards allowed per game. This is what it will take for the Dallas Cowboys to win their sixth Vince Lombardi Trophy.

New York Giants

Super Bowl Series: NFC East

(Photo Credit: AP / Bill Kostroun)

Similar to the Cowboys, it is not far-fetched to say the New York Giants can win Super Bowl LII. The Giants went 11-5 and earned a wild card berth. New York lost their wild card game to Green Bay 38-13.

Eli Manning is a two-time Super Bowl MVP and champion and the leader of this offense. For the Giants to win the Super Bowl this season, Eli Manning will have to have a minimum of 30 touchdowns and 4,000 yards which he is capable of.

From that 4,000 plus passing yards, Odell Beckham needs at least 1,300. If Odell adds 10 touchdowns as well, then the Giants’ offense will be good enough to make the playoffs and compete for a Super Bowl.

As surprising as it is, the Giants will be led by their very talented defense. The front four is loaded and led by players like Olivier Vernon, Jason Pierre-Paul and Damon Harrison. These guys will need to continue improve their pressure on opposing quarterbacks. New York ranked 14th with 35 sacks and that must improve to take that step towards a Super Bowl victory.

The weakest unit of the defense is the linebacking corp. If the linebackers are average they can still help the Giants have a top 10 defense.

New York’s secondary is one of the best in the league. Janoris Jenkins, Landon Collins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie combined for 14 interceptions. Continuing that kind of success will only help the Giants’ chances.

The Giants strength will be the defense and if the offense can keep up the Giants can win the Super Bowl.

Washington Redskins

Super Bowl Series: NFC East

(Photo Credit: Bleacher Report)

The Washington Redskins finished last season 8-7-1 and missed the playoffs. Making the playoffs is going to be a difficult task considering how good the NFC East is. It is going to take a lot for the Redskins to win the Super Bowl.

Washington will need Kirk Cousins to take the next step as a quarterback. That next step is becoming a Pro-Bowl and MVP-caliber quarterback which is asking too much of him. Last season he had 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Those numbers need to be 30-plus touchdowns and less than 10 interceptions.

Washington also has a running back by committee backfield and that must change. One of these running backs needs to step up and have a 1,200-yard season. There must be that go-to guy in crunch time.

The receiving corp is not going to blow your socks off. These guys will have to play over their head and take some of the pressure off of Jordan Reed to help this offense succeed.

Washington is going to be a project defensively. The Redskins don’t have starters listed on their depth chart at either defensive end spot or at strong safety. Josh Norman and Ryan Kerrigan are going to have to lead by example and carry this defense to a top-five ranking if the Redskins want to win the Super Bowl.

In short, for the Redskins to win Super Bowl LII, Kirk Cousins will need to be in the MVP discussion and the defense needs to play out of their mind as a top-five defense.

Philadelphia Eagles

Super Bowl Series: NFC East

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

Philly finished fourth in the NFC East with a record of 7-9 last season. Considering the Eagles had a rookie quarterback, it was a pretty good season. Philadelphia made a lot of moves to try and build a playoff team.

The acquisitions of LeGarrette Blount and Alshon Jeffery will go a long way to helping Carson Wentz avoid a sophomore slump. For the Eagles to win the Super Bowl, Wentz must have a huge year. What would that huge year look like? Wentz would have to double his touchdowns from 16 to at least 32 and cut down on his 14 interceptions.

Alshon Jeffery will simply have to stay healthy. Jeffery is elite when healthy but he has missed 11 games over the past two seasons. Torrey Smith will have to turn back the clock and mirror his 2013 season in which he caught 65 balls for 1,128 yards. Jordan Matthews will also have to step up his game.

The running game will need to take some pressure off the passing game. Blount led the NFL in rushing touchdowns last season (18) with the Patriots and repeating that will push the Eagles to a higher plateau. Ryan Mathews needs to stay healthy which may be impossible because he has never played a full season in his seven years in the NFL.

The Eagles defense is full of playmakers and stars like Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Jordan Hicks and Malcolm Jenkins. Last year Philadelphia ranked 12th in points allowed at 20.7 points per game. If the Eagles want to make the playoffs and win Super Bowl LII they must improve on that to alleviate pressure off of Carson Wentz and the rest of the offense.

If the Eagles remain healthy, get a huge jump in play from Carson Wentz and the defense allows fewer points than they did last season then the Philadelphia Eagles can win their first Super Bowl in franchise history.

 

Thank you for checking out the Super Bowl Series: NFC East. Stay tuned the remaining editions of Super Bowl Series.

Super Bowl Series: AFC East

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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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2017 NFL Players Set to Breakout Under the Age of 25

The rookie class last season had some great players explode onto the NFL scene. Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Joey Bosa, Jack Conklin, Keanu Neal, and Michael Thomas are some of the rookies who had great first seasons. There were also a few second-year players who are emerging as stars as well.

There is a lot of great young talent in the NFL. It is always interesting to see who the next cream of the crop is going to be. The league is only as good as its top players and brightest stars. Listed here are 10 players, under the age of 25, poised to become stars or superstars next season who haven’t been in the spotlight and do not have more than one Pro Bowl appearance.

Players that are not listed are already considered stars such as the rookies already mentioned above. These players listed will all become Pro Bowlers or have a chance to be a top-five player at their position in the next few years.

Jordan Hicks: Philadelphia Eagles-LB

(http://insidetheiggles.com/2017/01/04/philadelphia-eagles-rising-young-star/)

Jordan Hicks is one of the best young linebackers in the NFL. Hicks was a third-round pick out of Texas in the 2015 NFL Draft. In his rookie season, he played in eight games and had 50 tackles, one sack, two interceptions, and a touchdown. He followed up his rookie season starting 16 games for the Eagles and recorded 85 tackles, one sack, and a stunning five interceptions.

Hicks’ teammate, Nigel Bradham, had this to say of Hicks.

“The things he can do on the field,” Bradham said. “His instincts. His power. His speed. He’s everything you want in a linebacker. I know him and I feel like honestly, he can work himself into getting into a gold jacket.”

That is high praise from a fellow linebacker. The ceiling for Hicks is high and if he can continue to make strides forward, he will be one of the best players in the NFL.

 

Cameron Meredith: Chicago Bears- Wr

(http://www.sportingnews.com/fantasy/football/news/fantasy-football-waiver-wire-pickups-week-6-cameron-meredith-jacquizz-rodgers-injury-update-doug-martin/15dzf3a2t2ld11mebkbpnnknqy)

Cameron Meredith was a huge surprise in the Windy City this season. The Bears already had a Pro Bowl receiver in Alshon Jeffery but they were expecting Kevin White to emerge as a solid second option alongside Jeffery. That has been unable to happen due to injuries. Instead, Meredith stepped up and played big for the Bears in his second NFL season.

Meredith went undrafted in 2015 out of Illinois State. He caught only 11 passes in his rookie season. This season he played in 14 games and started 10 of them. He had 66 receptions for 888 yards and four touchdowns. He also had four games with over 100 yards receiving. If the Bears can figure out their quarterback situation, Meredith has a chance to become a star in Chicago.

 

Christian Kirksey: Cleveland Browns-LB

(credit: ESPN)

Browns fans will sure be happy to see a young player on this list that can help change the culture in Cleveland. Like Jordan Hicks, Kirksey was also a third-round draft pick. In his first two seasons in the NFL, he started a total of 13 games.

This past season he started all 16 games for the Browns and was the team’s leading tackler with 148, which was also third best in the NFL. He also added 2.5 sacks. Kirksey should continue to build off the improvement in his third season and the Browns may have a defensive quarterback for the future.

 

 

Jordan Howard: Chicago Bears-RB

(http://chicago.suntimes.com/sports/film-study-jordan-howard-fits-identity-that-bears-offense-wants/)

One of the quietest, yet most successful rookie campaigns came from Jordan Howard. Few would call Jordan Howard a star, but he made the Pro Bowl and finished second in the NFL in rushing yards with 1,313 yards. What was probably the most impressive is that he averaged 5.2 yards per carry. Howard has a chance to become a receiving threat in due time as well as had 29 catches this season and that number will go up in the next couple of years.

Howard is in a big market in Chicago and his star will continue to grow. As the franchise looks for a quarterback, Howard can be that piece that keeps the Bears competitive while they look for that quarterback.

 

 

Melvin Gordon: Los Angeles Chargers-RB

(http://cleatgeeks.com/blog/2016/02/25/on-the-clock-san-diego-chargers-2016-offseason-preview/)

Melvin Gordon had a forgettable rookie year to say the least. Gordon was going into his second season with much to prove. Doubts about how Gordon would fair in the NFL arose because of how well Todd Gurley performed in his rookie season.

Gordon shattered all doubt this season by rushing for 997 yards and 10 touchdowns in just 11 starts. He also became a threat in the passing game, catching 41 passes for 419 yards and two touchdowns. Now that the Chargers are moving to Los Angeles, Gordon will challenge Gurley as the best back in L.A.

 

 

 

 

Hunter Henry: Los Angeles Chargers-TE

(Credit: AP Photo)

Hunter Henry is listed at 6′ 5″ and 250 pounds. He looks like a stud waiting to explode on the football field. Henry was drafted in the second round out of Arkansas. In his rookie season, he had to share time at tight end with Antonio Gates, which kept him out of the lineup consistently.

What was impressive about his rookie season was that every 4.5 catches he made were for a touchdown. He finished the season with 36 receptions, 478 yards, and eight touchdowns. It is just a matter of time before Henry becomes a top five tight end in the NFL.

 

 

Marcus Mariota: Tennessee Titans-QB

(Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Marcus Mariota is on the verge of stardom. Not many people talk about him and he took a step back when he broke his leg. Mariota was quietly leading the Titans to a possible playoff berth.

In his rookie season, Mariota started 12 games and had 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Before breaking his leg, Mariota had started 15 games and had 26 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. With three more games, he had seven more touchdowns and one less interception. The most important stat was wins though. The Titans were in a position to win the division. As Mariota continues to grow, the Titans will become a legit contender and Mariota will become one of the faces of the league.

 

 

Danielle Hunter: Minnesota Vikings-DE

(USA Today Sports)

Danielle Hunter has a chance to become a Hall of Famer one day. Hunter was drafted in the third round out of LSU in 2015. He was the youngest player in the NFL in his rookie season. In very limited action he had six sacks. He showed quickness and athleticism that had Vikings coaches raving.

This season he played just 58 percent of the Vikings defensive snaps and ended up tied for third in the NFL in sacks with 12.5. This kind of production in such a limited amount of reps is unheard of. Once Hunter is inserted into the starting lineup, he will become a sack king and eventually have a 20-sack season.

 

 

Landon Collins: New York Giants- S

(http://nyg.247sports.com/Bolt/Giants-Landon-Collins-excited-about-new-role-46797532)

Some would say Landon Collins already had a breakout year this season. It is hard to argue against that as he made the Pro Bowl and was named first team all-pro. Collins had a great season with 125 tackles, four sacks, and five interceptions, and he put offenses on notice. He will be in the running for defensive player of the year and offenses around the NFL will fear him for the next decade.

 

 

 

Vic Beasley: Atlanta Falcons-DE

(http://www.espn.com/nfl/player/_/id/2512400/vic-beasley-jr)

Vic Beasley is in the same boat as Landon Collins, as some would say he has already had a breakout season. Similar to Collins, Beasley was selected to the Pro Bowl and named first team all-pro. He was the NFL sack king this season with 15.5 sacks, which was way up from the four sacks he had last season.

Beasley has been a big reason the Flacons defense has improved over the second half of the year. Beasley’s production has helped Atlanta reach the Super Bowl. If Beasley has a monster game, he will become a superstar, but no matter how he performs in the Super Bowl, he is on his way to stardom.

 

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Applying Vegas Statistics – Point Spread

Last Sunday produced some of the most exciting and memorable games of the year, which is odd. Not because it lacked marquee match ups like Dallas versus Pittsburgh, but because there were multiple games with large point spreads. For example, Arizona was favored by 14 points and New England by 7.5. Thankfully, these games were not as lopsided as Vegas anticipated. But how should a team’s point spread impact your DFS roster?

What The Spread Indicates

While seemingly obvious and trivial, the point spread indicates how much a team is favored by. Last week Arizona was favored by 14 points, the largest spread to date, against San Francisco. The larger the point spread, the more confident Vegas is in the favored team. Therefore, a small point spread indicates that Vegas is uncertain and in some cases a game can be termed a “pick em”. This means that the point spread is zero.

Why does a point spread matter? Because, it is usually a good determination of not just who will win, but how. When a team is favored by more than a touchdown, the outcome could be decided as early as the third quarter. Therefore, the favored team’s Running Back is poised to have a heavier workload. Each week you should note the largest point spreads and consider rostering a Running Back on a favored team.

As previously stated, the most heavily favored teams last week were Arizona and New England. Thus, it’s no surprise that each team produced a Running Back that scored at least 24.6 points. While David Johnson’s performance was expected, many thought LeGarrette Blount would have trouble producing against Seattle. In reality, that should not have been the case. If Blount and the Patriots were expected to struggle moving the football, then they would not have been favored by more than a touchdown.

Legarrette Blount racked up 69 yards rushing and three touchdowns in Sunday's loss to Seattle.

Legarrette Blount racked up 69 yards rushing and three touchdowns in Sunday’s loss to Seattle.

According to Vegas Insider, a team has been favored by more than a touchdown 22 times this season. Among those contests, a Running Back on the favored team scored at least 17 points 55% of the time. Of those Running Backs to score at least 17 points, nine of them scored more than 20 points when their team was favored by a touchdown or more.

Week 11 Implications

Looking at week 11, we see a familiar face atop the most heavily favored teams.

  • New England (-13)
  • Pittsburgh (-8)
  • Kansas City (-7.5)
  • New York Giants (-7.5)
  • Dallas (-7)

Here are the best Running Back options available in these games, in order from worst to best match up.

5. Ezekiel Elliot ($8,700)

  • Elliot has been one of the most consistent players at any position thus far, but Sunday’s game versus the top ranked Baltimore run defense could be problematic.
  • Elliot’s volume will be sky high, but his efficiency will drop. He could easily produce anywhere from 15-19 points this Sunday, but at $8,700 there are better options available.

4. Rashad Jennings ($5,600)

  • Overall, it has not been a good season for Jennings, but this match up is incredibly favorable, given the spread.
  • Against Cincinnati, Jennings had 21 total opportunities, 15 rushes, and six targets, and his workload is likely to increase this week.
  • Expect Jennings to have a high floor, but a low ceiling this Sunday against Chicago. Plan on getting at least 13 points, but not more than 20. His incredibly low price tag gives any lineup great roster flexibility.

3. Legarrette Blount ($7,300)

  • Given the spread and the team Blount is playing, he should be the number one option this week right? If he were on any team besides the Patriots I would unequivocally say yes.
  • Dion Lewis’ return and James White’s effectiveness out of the backfield could take away Red Zone opportunities from Blount, thus, limiting his ceiling.
  • The Patriots will no doubt have a multiple score lead at the start of the fourth quarter, so Blount will be getting a large volume of opportunities. The only question is will he be able to find the end zone against an anemic 49ers defense? I think yes, but only once.
  • Expect about 16 to 20 points this week for Blount.

2. Spencer Ware ($7,700)

  • Everything about this game screams play Spencer Ware. The Chiefs are favored by more than a touchdown, at home, and are playing the 25th ranked rush defense.
  • In two of three home games Ware played in, he recorded at least 20 points. Both of the teams he faced, New Orleans and San Diego, were in the bottom half of the NFL in rush defense.
  • Ware’s consistent involvement in the passing game, averaging more than four targets per game when healthy, gives Ware a great ceiling this week against Tampa Bay where he will score between 16 and 25 points.
ware

Spencer Ware is poised to have a spectacular day at home versus the 25th ranked Tampa Bay run defense.

1. Le’Veon Bell ($9,100)

  • I don’t need to say much about Bell this week. He’s playing Cleveland, the 31st ranked run defense in the NFL, and is favored by more than a touchdown.
  • Bell’s volume was incredibly high last week, as he carried the ball 17 times and recorded nine catches on 10 targets. This will no doubt continue as the Steelers will be trying to keep the clock running in the second half versus the Browns.
  • Bell will also be getting all the carries in the fourth quarter when trying to ice the game, as DeAngelo Williams is out after undergoing knee surgery. It’s likely that this Sunday will be a season high for bell in every statistical category.

There are other Running Backs worthy of being rostered this week, but, these five have unique circumstances that set them apart from the rest of the pack.

 

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NFL Mid-Season Awards

The NFL season is flying by and mid-season of the NFL is already here. Week nine has now passed and it is time to discuss which players are having the best season and who would win the awards if the season ended today. This 2016 NFL season has seen a ton of great performances and crazy games. As is the case in every season, there have been upsets and surprises. So much more can happen this season and we are in for a great finish. There are eight weeks remaining in the season. A lot can change, but here are all the NFL mid-season awards.

Coach of the Year: Mike Zimmer- Minnesota Vikings

(http://scoreboredsports.com/nfl/post-draftfree-agency-minnesota-vikings-2016-winloss-predictions/)

(http://scoreboredsports.com/nfl/post-draftfree-agency-minnesota-vikings-2016-winloss-predictions/)

There is little debate on who should be the coach of the year. What Mike Zimmer has done with the Minnesota Vikings is nothing short of miraculous. The Minnesota Vikings sit at 5-2 on the year and are in first place in the NFC North. They have struggled of late but that isn’t because of Mike Zimmer. Mike Zimmer has the Vikings in second place in the entire NFC halfway through the season despite injuries from starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, starting running back Adrian Peterson, and starting offensive tackles Matt Kalil and Andre Smith. All have all been placed on injured reserve. They have had other numerous injuries that haven’t required placement on the injured reserve list. If the Vikings win the division and get a first round bye, Mike Zimmer deserves the coach of the year award.

Honorable Mention: Jack Del Rio-Oakland Raiders

Offensive Rookie Of The Year: Ezekiel Elliott RB- Dallas Cowboys

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

There has not been a rookie running back as good as Ezekiel Elliott since Adrian Peterson took the league by storm in 2007. The Cowboys have one of, if not the best offensive line in football. So many want to discredit some of what Elliott has done because of it, but give the kid credit. Elliott is highly talented and deserves the great year he is having. Elliott leads the NFL in rushing yards at 799. He also has added five touchdowns on the ground. If he keeps this pace up, he will be the first rookie running back to win the rushing title in his first season since Edgerrin James in 1999.

Honorable Mention: Dak Prescott QB-Dallas Cowboys

Defensive Rookie of The Year: Joey Bosa DE- San Diego Chargers

(http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com)

(http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com)

There haven’t been many standouts from first year players on defense this season so far. Joey Bosa is quietly dominating offensive lineman. Bosa missed the first 4 games of the season, but has already made a big impact. It will be interesting to see what he will do for the remainder of the season. Since 2006, no player has pressured the quarterback more in their first three games. In 2011, Jabaal Sheard had 15 quarterback pressures in his first three games, which was the most since 2006. Bosa has had 20 in his first three games. In just four games this season, Bosa has 13 tackles and four sacks.

Honorable Mention: Karl Joesph S-Oakland Raiders

Comeback Player of The Year: DeMarco Murray RB- Tennessee Titans

(AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

(AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

This was the easiest award to pick. After last year’s failed experiment in Philadelphia with Chip Kelly, DeMarco Murray is having a fabulous season in Tennessee. Murray is second in the NFL with 756 rushing yards. In the first eight games, he already has 54 more yards than he had all of last season. He is also tied for fourth with six rushing touchdowns. Murray has resurrected his career this season after many believed his best days were behind him. Now everyone is wishing Murray was on their fantasy team.

Honorable Mention: Jordy Nelson WR- Green Bay Packers

Offensive Player of The Year: Matt Ryan QB- Atlanta Falcons

(http://sacrificefly.blogspot.com)

(http://sacrificefly.blogspot.com)

This award would go to Tom Brady if he hadn’t been suspended. This is all about who is putting up the best offensive numbers. Brady would have better numbers had he played the first four games. Matt Ryan has the Falcons atop of the NFC South at 6-3 because of his stellar play. Ryan leads the NFL in passing yards with 2,980. His 23 touchdown passes are also the most in the NFL. If Matt Ryan plays like this the entire season, he will also add his name to the MVP conversation.

Honorable Mention: Tom Brady QB-New England Patriots

Defensive Player of The Year: Marcus Peters DB- Kansas City Chiefs

(http://www.chiefs.com)

(http://www.chiefs.com)

Defensive Player of the year was the most difficult award to pick because there is not one player who just stands out above the rest. There is not a single player who is doing unbelievable things. With that being said, Marcus Peters is still having a great second season in the NFL. Last year in his first season, he finished tied for first with eight interceptions. So far he has picked up right where he left off and leads the NFL with five interceptions.

Honorable Mention: Lorenzo Alexander LB- Buffalo Bills

Most Valuable Player: Tom Brady QB- New England Patriots 

(http://www.chatsports.com/nfl/a/nfl-power-rankings-16-best-players-nfl-2016-29912)

(http://www.chatsports.com/nfl/a/nfl-power-rankings-16-best-players-nfl-2016-29912)

There is no question on who is the most valuable player in the NFL. Tom Brady looks like a robot or alien from another planet this season. His numbers are straight filthy. Yes, the Patriots were still good and went 3-1 without him, but with him the Patriots look unstoppable. When they have Tom Brady, people have nobody else to pick as the favorites in the AFC. The Patriots look like the best team in the NFL and it is all because of number 12. On the season, Brady has passed for 1,319 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has done all that in just four games and has yet to throw an interception. The Patriots would be good without Brady, but wouldn’t be Super Bowl contenders and AFC favorites.

Honorable Mention: Derek Carr QB-Oakland Raiders

 

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Dallas Quarterback Controversy

Injuries are a funny thing. A lot of times injuries hurt a team and turn them bad or uncompetitive. You should not get better as a team if one of your best players goes down for a significant amount of time. From time to time there are exceptions of course. Take a look at this year’s Minnesota Vikings. They have a starting quarterback, starting running back, and two starting offensive tackles that have been placed on injured reserve. Despite these losses, they find themselves at 5-1.

(https://insidethestar.com/cowboys-headlines/tony-romo-injury-the-ripple-effect/)

(https://insidethestar.com/cowboys-headlines/tony-romo-injury-the-ripple-effect/)

They aren’t the only team dealing with injuries. Dallas had to start a rookie quarterback due to Tony Romo’s back injury. It may have been the greatest thing to ever happen to the Cowboys franchise. The Dallas Cowboys sit at 6-1 and are in first place in the NFC East without Tony Romo. Dak Prescott has taken the NFL by storm, and it should be no surprise.

Dak has created a quarterback controversy in Dallas not because of what he’s said, but because of how he he’s played. Prescott has been quoted on many occasions saying this is Romo’s team and when Romo is ready to come back he will step aside into his backup role.

There is one problem with that. Dak is not a backup. The rookie quarterback has proven he belongs in the NFL as a starter. It begins to raise the alarming questions: how did he even fall to the fourth round? What did the other teams miss? Should Tony Romo start for the Dallas Cowboys ever again?

College Days

(https://hailstatebeat.wordpress.com/2013/09/19/dakattack-the-definitive-dak-prescott-pun-collection/)

(https://hailstatebeat.wordpress.com/2013/09/19/dakattack-the-definitive-dak-prescott-pun-collection/)

Dak Prescott was a flat out baller at Mississippi State and his stats prove it. In 2013 he appeared in 11 games and threw 1,940 yards, 10 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. Dak also made an impact on the ground rushing for 829 yards and 13 touchdowns. He also found a way to contribute as a receiver with two receptions for 53 yards and two touchdowns. He quickly displayed great athleticism. That was just the beginning.

In 2014, his junior year, Dak took the Bulldogs to heights never seen in school history. It was his first full season as a starter and he led the Bulldogs to a 10-2 record and an Orange Bowl appearance. He also helped Mississippi State reach their first ever number one ranking in school history. In his first full season as the starter, he broke 10 school records, most notably: passing yards in a season (3,449), passing touchdowns in a season (27), and total touchdowns in a season (41). He also finished eighth in Heisman voting.

His senior season wasn’t as great as his junior season as far as leading the team to wins, but he still did good things for the Bulldogs. He set a personal record for most passing yards in a season with 3,793. Dak also threw 29 touchdowns to just five interceptions. He also added 588 yards on the ground along with 10 touchdowns.

The statistics were always there for Dak Prescott and so was the eye test. He played in the toughest conference in college football. The proof that he was a great football player was there, so where did his evaluation during the draft go wrong? Why wasn’t he a first round pick like Carson Wentz or Jared Goff? It raises the question, what did other teams miss that the Cowboys didn’t?

The Draft Fall

(http://www.clarionledger.com/story/sports/college/mississippi-state/2016/03/13/how-dak-prescotts-dui-arrest-affects-his-draft-stock/81739262/)

(http://www.clarionledger.com)

One off-field mistake is the reason Dak Prescott fell in the draft. In March, just a month before the NFL draft, Dak was arrested for a DUI. Teams often take chances on players with off-field issues, but at the quarterback position it has more of an impact. A quarterback is the face of the franchise and no owner, general manager, or coach wants their quarterback involved in anything off the field. It may not be fair, but a quarterback has less room for error.

The one thing Dak did well after he found himself in this situation was own up to his mistakes. He took full responsibility and acknowledged his mistakes while apologizing for his short moment of misjudgment. He then vowed to show improvement of character without asking for forgiveness.  This incident caused Dak to fall from the second round to the fourth, but how he handled himself after the mistake showed his poise and maturity. That is what teams should have focused on during the draft process.

Sometimes a young man is going to make mistakes. It is how they approach life after the mistake that shows their character. Dak Prescott has said and done all the right things since the DUI.

Who Should Start for Dallas?

(http://nflspinzone.com/2016/08/29/fantasy-football-early-expectations-dak-prescott/)

(http://nflspinzone.com/2016/08/29/fantasy-football-early-expectations-dak-prescott/)

Now that Dak Prescott is thriving in his rookie season, everyone is asking if Tony Romo should start for the Cowboys when he gets healthy. The answer is absolutely, unequivalently no. Here is why.

Tony Romo is injury prone and aging (36).  In 2010 Romo injured his shoulder and missed 10 games. Tony Romo herniated a disc in his back in week 16 of the 2013 season that required surgery. He suffered a second back injury the following season that only required him to miss two weeks. Just last season Romo fractured his collarbone. This year in the third preseason game Romo fractured a vertebra in his back. This was his third back injury in just four seasons. History makes it clear that he has back troubles and at age 36 he can not withstand the hits of the NFL without getting hurt.

Along with the injuries, Romo has a playoff history that has been extremely unproductive. Tony Romo has been in the NFL 14 years and has had 11 as a starter. In those 11 years Romo has led the Cowboys to just four playoff appearances and his record is just 2-4. He also has the infamous dropped P.A.T. against the Seahawks that resulted in a one point loss because of the play. To Romo’s credit he has thrown eight touchdowns to just two interceptions, but he is not leading the Cowboys to playoff victories. That is what matters most.

(John Froschauer/AP Photo)

(John Froschauer/AP Photo)

Another reason Romo should not start for the Cowboys is the team chemistry. The Cowboys are winning and having fun while doing so. Jason Garrett and Jerry Jones need to let the youth of this team get experience so that this team can become a constant playoff team and Super Bowl contender for years to come. Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliot, and the offensive line have an average age of 25.4 years old. The current success is good, but the long term success can get better This team could become one of the best teams in the NFL for the next 10 to 15 years.

This isn’t just about Tony Romo and his lack of postseason success or injuries. Dak has played lights out this season. Along with the 6-1 record as a starter, he has put up great stats. He is completing 65.2 percent of his passes. Dak has 1,773 yards passing and nine touchdowns. His quarterback rating of 99.6 is good for seventh best in the NFL. Dak has also added four touchdowns on the ground.

The most impressive Dak Prescott stat of the season was also a record he broke. The great Tom Brady went 162 passes to begin a career without an interception. Dak Prescott decided to break that record with 172 passes to begin a career without an interception. He has only thrown two interceptions all year.

It’s Been Done Before

(http://www.nfl.com/photos/0ap1000000154170)

(http://www.nfl.com/photos/0ap1000000154170)

If the Cowboys are worried about giving up on Tony Romo for good, they should look at some of the other teams to make the difficult decision.

Back in 1986 current ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski suffered an injury in the second week of the season and the Eagles decided to stick with Randall Cunningham for the remainder of the season. Cunningham continued to play in the NFL until 2001.

Alex Smith was having a great season in 2012 and had a 19-5-1 record under Jim Harbaugh, who was the coach at time. When Alex Smith went down to injury Colin Kaepernick took over and eventually went to the Super Bowl that season because the 49ers decided to stick with Kaepernick.

Drew Brees is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time but even the great Drew Brees lost his job to injury. In the 2005 NFL season, Drew Brees hurt his shoulder in the final game. The Chargers started Philip Rivers and decided to not resign Brees in favor of Rivers.

Hall of Famer Joe Montana eventually lost his job to Steve Young after an elbow injury in the 1990 NFC Championship game. Once Montana got healthy the team still stuck with Young and Montana had won four Super Bowls.

The most similar situation to the Cowboys current dilemma is when Tom Brady came in for the great Drew Bledsoe. In 2001 the Jets knocked Bledsoe out of the game and in came in the scrawny, unknown Tom Brady. The rest was history. Brady went on to win the Super Bowl and Drew Bledsoe was traded to the Buffalo Bills.

(http://www.foxsports.com/nfl/story/tony-romo-injury-broken-qb-dak-prescott-stats-salary-highlights-video-cowboys-dallas-nfl-082716)

(http://www.foxsports.com/nfl/story/tony-romo-injury-broken-qb-dak-prescott-stats-salary-highlights-video-cowboys-dallas-nfl-082716)

There are an abundance of reasons why the Cowboys need to remain with Dak Prescott as the team’s starting quarterback. Dak Prescott is playing great and the team is winning. Tony Romo has a long history of injuries that won’t improve at the age of 36. Romo also has had minimal success in the playoffs with a long body of work. If the Cowboys want to become a great franchise it starts with a great quarterback. It is time to let Dak lead the Cowboys into the future.

 

 

What Happened To The Running Game?

As the 2000s roll on and we begin to notice changes in NFL paradigm, one claim that stands out is how the modern saying holds true: The NFL is a passing league.  Gone are the days when teams would integrate a run heavy or run first gameplan.  Passing the ball downfield is where it’s at!

With the exception of Ezekiel Elliot, who is on pace to rush for 1,747 yards, no starting running back is likely to reach 1,500 yards.  Just ten years ago there were five running backs who eclipsed that milestone (LaDainian Tomlinson, Larry Johnson, Frank Gore, Tiki Barber, and Steven Jackson).

Last season alone seemed to be particularly dismal for rushing with Adrian Peterson leading the league with 1,485 yards, the third lowest for a league-leading rusher since 1990.  Interestingly enough, from 1990 to 1997, Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith each lead the NFL in rushing yards four times.  Eric Dickerson dominated most of the 1980s as the leading rusher, passing 1,600 yards for three seasons.

Stats aside, the NFL simply feels increasingly more like a passing league year after year.  When you think of the most talented running backs in the NFL in 2016, who comes to mind?  Le’Veon Bell?  If he can stay healthy and prove he’s an every down back, he’s a sure talent.  David Johnson?  He’s playing very well this season and is definitely a contender, even if it’s still early in his career.  LeSean McCoy?  As shifty and multi-faceted as they come.  Then of course, it would appear that Ezekiel Elliot is turning into a stud.  What about when you think of the most talented quarterbacks?  Your selections to choose from may seem obvious, but they’re also more up for debate.  Some might say Tom Brady, Aaron Rogers, Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers, Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger, or Matthew Stafford to name a few.  Gosh, take your pick.

I have a couple of theories of why this shift in football culture and play-calling has finally arrived.  First and foremost, NFL players are bigger, heavier, and in some cases, fatter, than they were 10, 20, and 30 years ago.  The following graphs tell the whole story.  While defensive players have gained more weight,  running backs have not shown as drastic an increase and are actually smaller in height.

The Weights of NFL Players (1950-2013)

If defensive players have gotten larger over the years, running through tackles will inflict more of a physical toll on an offensive player’s body.  According to www.livestrong.com, running backs have the shortest life spans in the NFL, averaging just 2.57 years.  This makes sense since workhorse running backs can be hit 20, even 30 times a game.  Wide Receivers usually don’t make 20 or 30 catches a game, and linebackers usually don’t record 20 or 30 tackles a game.  This realization goes hand in hand with the progression towards a balanced offensive attack that became more popular after the 1970s.  Teams began throwing the ball more, and nowadays, it’s the favorable play-calling option.

My other theory as to why teams are rushing the ball less is the evolution of the quarterback position.  Some quarterbacks are pocket passers, some prefer the three step drop, some are scramblers and throw on the run, and some even like to run the ball themselves.  The quarterbacks has evolved into such a dynamic position that defenses must account for various types of plays.  Running quarterbacks are, in essence, stealing what could be potential running plays from running backs.

And if nothing else, passing the ball is just more exciting than running the ball.  Teams like to employ the deep pass as well as brainstorm different route possibilities.  A long pass play fires up the team and few running plays go for long gains.  Coming up with new plays will always be an option at the coach’s disposal.  Football schematics is an art after all.

Hagan’s Haus NFL Picks (Week 4)

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Last week was absolutely horrible. The weeks picks were ,by far, my worst week of predictions this season. On a positive note, I perfectly predicted the Cowboys would win 31-17 against the Bears and that was precisely what happened. It was a minor bright spot in an otherwise abysmal week of picks. Also, allow me take this moment to apologize to Eagles fans. I was wrong to say the Eagles would finish last in the division. They certainly will not and also I apologize for not giving Carson Wentz the credit he deserves. He is the real deal and may even be the rookie of the year.

Week 4 features the first bye week of the current NFL season and the Packers and Eagles will be the two teams on a bye. This means there will be only 15 games this week and less room for error. Here are my picks in the NFL for week four.

Last Week: 7-8

Season: 26-20

Thursday Night

(http://steelerswire.usatoday.com/2015/10/28/steelers-bengals-nfl-week-8-aj-green-steelers-secondary-matchups/)

(http://steelerswire.usatoday.com/2015/10/28/steelers-bengals-nfl-week-8-aj-green-steelers-secondary-matchups/)

Miami 24 @ Cincinnati 28: Miami struggled against the Browns last week. They don’t look like a good football team and Ryan Tannehill looks like he has taken a step back. On a short week it will be tough for the Dolphins to go into Cincinnati and win. Look for Cincinnati to get back in the win column after a tough game against Denver.

Sunday Morning

Indianapolis 31 @ Jacksonville 34: Jacksonville has surprised me this season and not in a positive way. I am totally shocked they are 0-3 after three games. Jacksonville can still turn their season around by winning this divisional game at home. The Colts sit at 1-2 and haven’t looked all that impressive so far. Their secondary is decimated by injury and Blake Bortles should be able to have a big day at home and get the Jags their first win of the season.

Detroit 34 @ Chicago 35: Will anybody actually pay to go watch this snoozer? The Lions can’t play any defense and the Bears can’t stop a bloody nose. Honestly, the Lions have looked better than the Bears so far this season but Chicago has to find a game to win. This is their chance to win a game against a weak divisional opponent at home. If they don’t win this game they can definitely being to look at that number one overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft.

(Cam Newton beats Atlanta's Thomas DeCoud to the end zone (AP photo)

(Cam Newton beats Atlanta’s Thomas DeCoud to the end zone (AP photo)

Carolina 34 @ Atlanta 22: The Panthers struggled offensively against the Vikings because of their pass rush. The Falcons do not have a pass rush to be afraid of. The Falcons have been impressive on offense but we all know the Panthers have a great defense. The Panthers will get back to their winning ways on the road in Atlanta.

Oakland 27 @ Baltimore 20: Oakland is a good football team with a great head coach in Jack Del Rio. They will have to win 10 or 11 games to keep pace in their division and this is a game they are capable of winning. The Ravens are one of five undefeated teams remaining in the NFL, but are not as good as their record would indicate. Their opponents combined record is 1-8 as they’ve beaten the Bills, Browns and Jaguars. The Raiders will be their toughest test so far and the Raiders will deal the Ravens their first loss of the season.

Tennessee 13 @ Houston 18: The Texans get a pass for last weeks’ loss. Playing the Patriots on a short week is a loss for most teams in the NFL. The Texans still have a great defense and many explosive weapons on offense that should get them this win within the AFC South. The Titans also have a great defense but their offense holds them back.

Buffalo 16 @ New England 22: Do I have to give any more of a reason for the Patriots to win this game other than the fact that Bill Belichick is the best coach in the NFL? The Bills got a huge upset win in week three, but that doesn’t make me a believer in them. It certainly doesn’t mean they are going to beat the Patriots on the road. Anything can happen, but the Patriots will find a way to win.

(http://www.chainimage.com/image/seattle-seahawks-players)

(http://www.chainimage.com/image/seattle-seahawks-players)

Seattle 17 @ New York (J) 13 : Ryan Fitzpatrick had one of his best games in week two throwing for 374 yards and a touchdown while committing zero turnovers. He followed that performance up by throwing six interceptions against the Chiefs. That is what you get with Fitzpatrick. For the Jets to beat the Seahawks, he’s going to have to be spectacular. He won’t, and the Seahawks get a cross country road win.

Cleveland 23 @ Washington 21: Terrelle Pryor said the Browns have one of the best teams in the NFL. Hopefully he was drug tested because they definitely do not. They did have a chance to win last week, but their kicker missed a field goal as time expired and eventually lost in overtime. The Redskins got a huge road win last week against the archival Giants. The problem is they are 0-2 at home and the Browns are desperate for a win. The Browns will get an upset for one of their few wins of the season because the Redskins are not a good team at home thus far.

Sunday Afternoon

(http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nfl/broncos/2016/08/29/trevor-siemian-denver-quarterback-northwestern/89508068/)

(USA Today)

Denver 27 @ Tampa Bay 17: The Broncos surprisingly keep rolling even behind a seventh round quarterback that few thought could be a NFL starter. The reason they keep rolling is because of that Super Bowl defense. As long as they continue to play lights out on defense they will continue to win games. The Buccaneers were picked by many to be a playoff team but they do not look it. They are in shootouts every week and with Denver coming to town they won’t have enough offense to win this one.

Los Angeles 17 @ Arizona 24: This game is hard for me to pick. The Rams have looked pretty decent over the past two weeks and the Cardinals dropped a surprising game to the Bills. The Cardinals are not as good this year as they were last year. They may make the playoffs but they aren’t going to the conference championship. They should win this west coast battle in the desert this week though.

New Orleans 37 @ San Diego 34: I don’t know which of these teams is worse. This game could see 100 combined points. Both teams have struggled defensively but have put up points. The Chargers rank third in points per game with 29 and the Saints are tied for ninth with 26.3 points per game. I think New Orleans will find a way to get their first win of the season.

Dallas 27 @ San Fransisco 21: This game will be much closer than people expect. The 49ers are an average team that is just missing a good quarterback. Dallas is rolling behind rookies Ezekiel Elliot and Dak Prescott. That should continue in this one and the Cowboys will be forced to consider never starting Tony Romo again.

Sunday Night

(http://www.espn.com/nfl/player/_/id/15825/leveon-bell)

(http://www.espn.com/nfl/player/_/id/15825/leveon-bell)

Kansas City 27 @ Pittsburgh 31: Kansas City is going to fight in every game but I’m starting to think they will finish third in the AFC West behind the Broncos and Raiders. The Steelers dropped a shocker to the Eagles. The biggest surprise was that they got blown out by the Eagles. I expect Mike Tomlin to get this team more prepared this week and it helps La’Veon Bell will be back in this one. The Steelers win at home in week four.

Monday Night

(http://cover32.com/2016/09/13/week-one-reaction-minnesota-vikings-tennessee-titans/)

(http://cover32.com/2016/09/13/week-one-reaction-minnesota-vikings-tennessee-titans/)

 

 

 

New York 6 (G) @ Minnesota 20: The Minnesota Vikings are the best team in the NFC. Their defense is a Super Bowl caliber defense. Mike Zimmer should already be the favorite for coach of the year. The Giants offense will struggle in this game. Eli  Manning has typically been horrific in his career against the Vikings. In seven career games against the Vikings, Eli Manning has 122 completions, 244 attempts, 1,445 yards, five touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He will continue to struggle in this one.

2016 NFL Mock Draft April 28

  1. Jared Goff will be the number one pick tonight. Photo courtesy of sportingnews.com.

    Los Angeles Rams- Jared Goff, QB, Cal

The Rams have traded up for the number one pick to start the craziness of the draft. There is no reason to trade up this far if they don’t plan on selecting a quarterback. Early reports say they are leaning towards Goff, who is the best quarterback in this class. Goff is a natural, who has a lot of poise in the pocket. He has solid arm strength and good accuracy.

2. Philadelphia Eagles- Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota State

Philadelphia has now traded up for the second pick. Teams do not trade up like this unless they want a quarterback. The Eagles prefer Wentz and want him to sit behind Sam Bradford for at least a year.  Wentz had a great pro day that cemented his good draft stock.

  1. San Diego Chargers- Laremy Tunsil, OT, Ole Miss

The Chargers can’t pass up getting more protection for Phillip Rivers. The offensive line has some holes that Tunsil would be able to help fill. Tunsil has the ability to play either tackle position and has the potential to be a good starter for years.

4. Dallas Cowboys- Jalen Ramsey, CB/S, Florida State

The Cowboys don’t have a great pass rush or secondary, and in this scenario they get the guy they want. Ramsey is versatile enough to help out the Cowboys in numerous ways and can make plays for a team that only had eight interceptions last season. With one of their needs filled here, Dallas will be dangerous next season.

5. Jacksonville Jaguars- Myles Jack, LB, UCLA

The Jaguars have to improve their defense this off-season. Jack can help fill the hole they have at linebacker, but is also a great value pick, as he is one of the best athletes in the class.

  1. Baltimore Ravens-Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida

Baltimore can either get an offensive lineman or secondary help here. Their secondary was terrible, so they will probably fill the bigger need. Hargreaves is a good shutdown corner, who would immediately improve the Ravens’ secondary.

  1. San Francisco 49ers- Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State

The 49ers had the fifth fewest sacks in the NFL last season and desperately need to improve their pass rush to be competitive again. Bosa would be a great pick here as many believe he is a top five prospect.om

Photo courtesy of bleacherreport.com

  1. Cleveland Browns-Leonard Floyd, DE/OLB, Georgia

The Browns will probably try to trade down for a wide receiver or Ezekiel Elliot. Another big need is an outside linebacker who can get to the quarterback. Floyd is a very versatile player who can rush the passer, but still play good coverage when called upon.

9.Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Deforest Buckner, DE/DT, Oregon

Tampa Bay should probably trade down to get secondary hep at this pick, but with so many teams already trading they may be forced to take a player. The Buccaneers need help on the interior of the defensive line and Buckner could fit in their 4-3 defense at defensive tackle. He would be paired next to Gerald McCoy, which could be a dynamic duo for the future.

  1. New York Giants- Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame

It could be argued that Stanley is the best offensive lineman in this class. He is a great run blocker, who allowed C.J. Prosise to have a breakout year at running back for Notre Dame. He will be tasked with keeping Eli Manning off of the ground and providing holes for a weak running game.

  1. Chicago Bears- Ezekiel Elliot, RB, Ohio State

Elliot was asked which team liked him the best and his answer was: The Bears. Matt Forte is now a Jet and Jeremy Langford isn’t a sure thing for next season. If both offensive tackle options are off of the board at this point, Elliot would be a great pick to get the offense up and running.

  1. New Orleans Saints- Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson

Lawson had a fantastic final season at Clemson and can help the Saints, who had a terrible season defensively last year. He will be a star on the defense along with fellow Clemson Tiger Stephone Anthony, who was drafted by the Saints last season.

  1. Miami Dolphins- Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State

The Dolphins now have Byron Maxwell, but still need another corner if they plan on beating Brady and the Patriots. Apple has good size and speed and shut down Big Ten receivers for two years.

Photo courtesy youtube.com.

  1. Oakland Raiders- Darron Lee, OLB, Ohio State

Oakland finally has their offense on the right track. Now they need some defensive players to put with with Khalil Mack. Lee is an athletic and fast linebacker who can cover and stop the run, but he can’t rush the passer very well. The Raiders can leave that to Mack.

  1. Tennessee Titans-Jack Conklin, OT, MSU

The Titans traded down and now have a chance to rebuild their roster around Marcus Mariota. Tennessee should improve their defense, but can get Mariota protection because he was sacked a lot last season.

  1. Detroit Lions- Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville

The Lions used to have great interior defensive linemen, but that is no longer the case. Taking a defensive tackle would really help their run defense.

  1. Atlanta Falcons- Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State

Atlanta had a league low 19 sacks last season. They will be targeting pass rushers again this season. Ogbah is falling in a lot of mock drafts, but he is still a talented player. He had great production last year for Oklahoma State and had a solid combine. Ogbah may be a little inconsistent, but he still produces enough numbers that it shouldn’t matter.

  1. Indianapolis Colts- Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama

The Colts had a terrible defense last season and will want to get a play-maker on that side of the ball. Ragland can hold down the middle of the defense for the Colts for years. The Colts also need some interior offensive line players, but can get some later in the draft to protect Andrew Luck.

  1. Buffalo Bills- Robert Nkemdiche, DL, Ole Miss

Nkemdiche has a lot of concerns about his character after an incident involving marijuana before Ole Miss’ bowl game. He has a lot of potential and versatility, which makes him an intriguing prospect. Rex Ryan will overlook his character issues to get a player whose value is greater than his draft position.

  1. New York Jets- Taylor Decker, OT, Ohio State

Decker is a great run blocker who helped Ezekiel Elliot blossom into a star. This pick makes even more sense now that D’Brickashaw Ferguson has chosen to retire. Decker would fill a huge need for the Jets without Ferguson.

  1. Washington Redskins- Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama

Terrance Knighton just signed with the New England Patriots so the Redskins need someone to fill in on the interior of the defensive line. Reed is a physical defensive tackle who speializes in stopping the run, but still needs some work on his pass rushing abilities.

Photo courtesy foxsports.com.

  1. Houston Texans- Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss

Treadwell is athletically gifted and has great hands. He has recently claimed that he played in the SEC on one leg. Because he was able to do that he will be a great NFL wide receiver when healthy. The Texans need a wide receiver to pair with Deandre Hopkins.

23.Minnesota Vikings- Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame

The Vikings just cut Mike Wallace and would like another receiver to pair with Stefon Diggs. Fuller is a great deep threat and had a great combine. Teddy Bridgewater could have a career year with an extra target and because he is now playing half of his games in a dome.

  1. Cincinnati Bengals- Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor

The Bengals need to find a replacement for Domata Peko. He continues to get worse every season and the Bengals do nothing about it. Billings will be the steal of this draft. He is very quick off of the ball and reminds me of Aaron Donald. The Bengals can pair him next to Geno Atkins and have the best defensive line in the NFL.

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers- William Jackson, CB, Houston

The Steelers desperately need secondary help and will probably pick a corner back if they decide they don’t want to stash another linebacker on their depth chart. Jackson had a great combine and season for Houston. The Steelers will need him from day one.

  1. Seattle Seahawks- Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech

The Seahawks don’t have too many needs. Butler is a great interior pass rusher, who could make Seattle’s defense even better.

  1. Green Bay Packers- Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA

Clark can play nose tackle in the Packers 3-4 defense, but may need to put on a few more pounds. The Packers need to improve their defense, as their offense continues to be great year in and year out.

  1. Kansas City Chiefs- Josh Doctson, WR, TCU

Kansas City have to continue to give Alex Smith weapons. Doctson is great at high-pointing the football and has great hands to haul in passes. He will be a good fit across from Jeremy Maclin.

29.Arizona Cardinals- Noah Spence, DE/OLB, EKU

The Cardinals need to improve their defense, as their offense was outstanding in 2015. Spence would provide a great pass rusher for Arizona’s scheme. He did have issues with failing drug tests, but seems to be past that now.

30.Carolina Panthers- Makensie Alexander, CB, Clemson

The Panthers have a great defense, but now are desperate for corners with Josh Norman leaving. Alexander is a great pick here, who could start for Carolina next season.

Photo courtesy Nfl.com.

  1. Denver Broncos- Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis

Denver lost two quarterbacks this off-season and replaced them with Mark Sanchez. They developed Brock Osweiler well, and Lynch fits the same mold. He differs from Osweiler in that he is more mobile, but has a weaker arm.

Round 2

  1. Cleveland Browns- Corey Coleman WR, Baylor- Andrew Hawkins and Brian Hartline are the best wide receivers for the Browns. This has potential to be the worst receiving corps in league. Coleman is a very versatile receiver and would help out RGIII a lot.
  2. Tennessee Titans- Xavien Howard, CB, Baylor- Titans need defensive help everywhere. Howard isn’t a great value pick, but fills a need.
  3. Dallas Cowboys- Jonathan Bullard DE/DT- Florida- The Cowboys needs some more defensive line depth and pass rushing.
  4. San Diego Chargers-Keanu Neal, S, Florida- Neal is a steal at this range and fills a need for the chargers.
  5. Baltimore Ravens- Cody Whitehair, G/OT, Kansas State- The Ravens need offensive line help everywhere and Whitehair is versatile.
  6. San Francisco 49ers- Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State- Thomas can be the redzone threat that Torrey Smith isn’t. The 49ers are going to need targets for whoever they put at quarterback next season.
  7. Jacksonville Jaguars- Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia- Joseph is a playmaking, hard hitting safety. He is the best safety in the class.
  8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Darrian Thompson, S, Boise State- The Bucs need any type of defensive back available.
  9. New York Giants- Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama- Henry provides a good value at this pick. He can be a big physical runner for the Giants, which should take pressure off of Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr.
  10. Chicago Bears- Germain Ifedi, OT/G, Texas A&M- The Bears can protect Jay Cutler so he can be productive by taking Ifedi here.
  11. Miami Dolphins- Chris Jones, DE/DT, Mississippi State- The Dolphins can use some depth on the defensive line, especially with Cameron Wake coming off of a torn achilles.
  12. Tennessee Titans- A’Shawn Robinson, DE/DT, Alabama- Tennessee needs a lot of defensive help and gets a player who is talented, especially for this range. Robinson stops the run well and can be a great player if he is focused.
  13. Oakland Raiders- Kevin Dodd, DE/OLB, Clemson- The Raiders can get a pass rusher here, who should pair nicely with Khalil Mack.
  14. Tennessee Titans- Tyler Boyd, WR, Pittsburgh- Boyd is a versatile play-maker who can bust one loose at any time. He does have a problem catching the football at times.
  15. Detroit Lions- Shilique Calhoun, DE/OLB, Michigan State- Calhoun dominated the past couple of seasons at MSU. Lions get some needed defensive line depth here.
  16. New Orleans Saints- Kamalei Correa, DE/OLB, Boise State- The saints need so much defensive help that they should take the best defensive player on their board.
  17. Indianapolis Colts- Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama- Kelly is the best center in the class and should be taken here to help protect Andrew Luck.
  18. Buffalo Bills- Jaylon Smith, LB, Notre Dame- Smith could be the best player in the draft class had he not been injured in the Fiesta Bowl. Rex Ryan will love him, especially in the second round.
  19. Atlanta Falcons- Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas- Henry is the best tight end in the class and the Falcons haven’t gotten a lot out of the position since Tony Gonzalez
  20. New York Jets- Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State- Cook is a pro-style quarterback that can start, or back up Ryan Fitzpatrick pending a deal.
  21. Houston Texans- Yannick Ngakoue, DE/OLB, Maryland- Ngakoue is very athletic, but raw. They can develop him next to J.J. Watt.
  22. Washington Redskins- Kendall Fuller, CB, UCLA- The Redskins get another great pick here from UCLA. Fuller would be the top corner taken had he not had a knee injury last season.
  23. Minnesota Vikings- Su’a Cravens, S/OLB, USC- The Vikings need an OLB for when Chad Greenway retires, but also need another safety. Cravens will fit one of those needs based on what position he plays in the NFL.
  24. Cincinnati Bengals- Leontee Caroo, WR, Rutgers-  Caroo is a big wide receiver that can be paired next to A.J. Green. The Bengals capitalized on Mohammed Sanu from Rutgers as well.
  25. Seattle Seahawks- Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana- The Seahawks need a lot of offensive line help, especially with Thomas Rawls starting at running back next season and Russell Wilson running for his life last season.
  26. Green Bay Packers- Kyler Fackrell, OLB, Utah State- Green Bay has a huge need at linebacker and can get Fackrell to provide depth.
  27. Pittsburgh Steelers- Artie Burns, CB, Miami- Pittsburgh has a terrible secondary and should take two corners at least in this draft.
  28. Chiefs-Le’Raven Clark, OT, Texas Tech- The Chiefs need offensive linemen to protect Alex Smith, who might be the quarterback for a few more years with some help.
  29. New England Patriots -Devontae Booker, RB, Utah- Booker was the best running back in the Pac-12 and can give the Pats a feature back.
  30. New England Patroits- Adolphus Washington, DE/DT, Ohio State- Washington is a great player, but fell a little because of character issues. The Patriots will capitalize on his low draft stock.
  31. Carolina Panthers- Shon Coleman, OT, Auburn- Panthers need both tackle spots upgraded.
  32. Denver Broncos- Nick Martin, C, Notre Dame-  Martin is a great center, who is able to play guard as well. His brother Zack already plays guard for the Cowboys.
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