Fantasy football bold predictions: AFC East

We continue our fantasy football bold predictions. This time we breakdown the AFC East. And don’t worry, it’s not all about the Patriots.

Buffalo Bills: Tyrod Taylor Is Not a QB2

Tyrod Taylor enters as the 18th fantasy quarterback.

Fantasy football bold predictions: AFC East

Tyrod Taylor (Photo by: espn.com)

Taylor surprised a lot of people coming back to Buffalo this season. More surprising is that Buffalo traded away their top receiver Sammy Watkins and acquired Jordan Matthews in a separate deal.

Taylor finished 2016 as the No. 18 fantasy quarterback. However, he did score at least 20 fantasy points in standard leagues in seven of 15 starts. He also had at least 17 fantasy points in three other games, so he only really struggled for five games on the year. But that’s 2016.

In 2017, his two receivers are Matthews and Zay Jones. Not the best tandem let alone they are new to Buffalo.

So far this preseason Taylor has struggled in the new offense. He had a two-interception outing in Buffalo’s preseason loss to the Eagles on Thursday.

A report from Joe Buscaglia of ABC 7 Buffalo stated that there was concern about who will start at quarterback in week 1. Head coach Sean McDermott said they will go with Taylor as the starter. That alone causes concern on how ready Taylor is.

He has success without Watkins but he’s relying on a rookie and a new receiver to the offense to act as his main targets. It’s risky to even draft Taylor. I also predict that Taylor will not finish the season as the starter.

Miami Dolphins: Julius Thomas will have double digit touchdowns

Julius Thomas was traded from the Jacksonville Jaguars to the Miami Dolphins this offseason. He currently ranks as the 18th tight end in fantasy.

Fantasy football bold predictions: AFC East

Julius Thomas (Photo by: miamidolphins.com)

In a previous article, he is my tight end fantasy sleeper and I still believe that. His time in Jacksonville was dreadful but in Miami he rejoins Adam Gase from his playing days in Denver.

He only had nine total touchdowns with Jacksonville in two seasons. His big break in 2013, he had 65 catches for 788 yards and 12 touchdowns. He would finish as the third tight end in fantasy that season.

In the two years under Gase in Denver, Thomas reached elite status. He finished no worse than the number seven fantasy tight end in standard leagues over that span, combining for 108 catches for 1,277 yards and 24 touchdowns. Even though his quarterback was some guy named Peyton Manning in Denver, Thomas excelled in Gase’s offense.

He was very efficent in the red zone. In 2013 from inside the 20-yard line, he finished seventh in receptions (14), second in yards (112) and sixth in touchdowns (8). He finished fifth in yards (33) and sixth in touchdowns with five from inside the 10-yard line. The year after, he was seventh in receptions (13), eighth in yards (94) and third in touchdowns with nine from the 20-yard line. From the 10-yard line, he improved to fourth with seven receptions and six touchdowns.

Gase has had success helping his tight ends after Thomas. Even though he won’t have Ryan Tannehill, he will have Jay Cutler throwing the ball.

In 2015 when Gase coached Cutler in Chicago, tight end Zach Miller led the team with five touchdowns. With a better supporting cast, Thomas should be the top option in the red zone and should improve from the days in Jacksonville.

New England Patriots: Mike Gillislee becomes the next LeGarrette Blount

The Patriots signed Gillislee, a restricted free agent from the Buffalo Bills, after a season of 101 carries for 577 yards and eight touchdowns.

Fantasy football bold predictions: AFC East

Mike Gillislee (Photo by: profootballweekly.com)

The Patriots are known to like their workhorse backs. Gillislee averaged more yards per carry (4.2) than LeGarrette Blount (3.3) against eight or more defenders in the box last season.

Gillislee now takes over as the starting back, a role that produced 18 rushing touchdowns in 2016 from Blount. He produced nine total touchdowns as the backup to LeSean McCoy in Buffalo last year and being in the top offense in the NFL should only help him.

Now the Patriots do have a lot of running backs with Rex Burkhead, James White and Dion Lewis. New England backs can see a hefty market share in the offense. But that didn’t stop the starters for having good seasons.

Last year, Blount carried 62.03 percent of New England’s touches, good for the ninth-highest share in football. He saw a similar per-game rate in 2015 (he missed four games, but paced towards a 57 percent market share), and in 2012, Stevan Ridley ended the year with a 55.45 percent rushing attempt market share for the Pats. 

It’s not unreasonable to think Gillislee, who has a skillset that’s broader than Blount’s and has shown a ton of upside. He is currently the 24th running back in fantasy.

New York Jets: Bilal Powell will be a top-15 running back

Despite opening last season as the No. 2 running back for the Jets behind Matt Forte, Bilal Powell might have been the best running back in New York in 2016.

Fantasy football bold predictions: AFC East

Bilal Powell (Photo by: bleacherreport.com)

He finished as the No. 23 fantasy running back in standard leagues, which was just three spots behind Forte. He had 131 carries for 722 yards (5.51 yards per carry) and three touchdowns, and 58 catches for 388 yards and two touchdowns.

Powell had career highs in rushing yards, yards per carry and receptions. He outperformed 31-year-old Forte, producing almost as many plays better than 15 yards (14) as Forte (16) despite 59 fewer touches. Powell had a higher average of yards per carry after contact and more missed tackles.

In his final seven games, Powell had at least 14 fantasy points in standard leagues in four of those outings. Powell becomes dual-threat running back this year as he will be a top target in the passing game with Quincy Enunwa out for the season.

Only David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell and White garnered more targets in the passing game for running backs last season. The offense isn’t great, but Powell could get around 250 touches next season if he stays healthy.

He’s going to get his share of touches and he’s a solid No. 3 fantasy running back to target with a mid- to late-round pick, with his value higher in PPR.

 

Featured image from thesportsquotient.com.

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AFC eye test predictions: 9-5

We continue our eye test predictions with some of the average to above average AFC teams. Here’s my AFC eye test predictions: 9-5.

9. Cincinnati Bengals

The fact that Andy Dalton does not turn the ball over nearly as much as he used to is obviously a plus, but he’ll never be more than average. If he wasn’t a red head, would we look at him differently? Probably, but he’s only had one season with at least 30 passing touchdowns, and that came with 20 interceptions. It seems like the window has closed for the Red Rocket and this Bengals team after only winning six games last year.

AFC eye test predictions: 9-5

Has the window closed for Andy Dalton and the Bengals? (cbssports.com)

Let’s start with some positives. A.J. Green is elite and will continue his big time play. Tyler Eifert has shown that he is a top-tier tight end. The addition of John Ross is cool, even though there is no way he ran a faster 40 time than CJ2K.

As far as the running game, Jeremy Hill isn’t great, and Giovani Bernard, a wannabe Darren Sproles, is coming off a torn ACL. Drafting Joe Mixon is interesting because he could turn into a quality running back.

Hill and Mixon could be a nice 1-2 punch, knocking out defenses and making head coaches lose sleep. Although these backs have potential, they won’t have enough offensive line help. Losing Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zietler is a devastating blow to the offense.

The Bengals defense could keep this team afloat. Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap are studs. Vontaze Burfict is really good, but we all know he will find a way to get suspended with an illegal hit. As far as the secondary, if it’s 2017 and Pacman Jones is your best corner, there is a clear problem. Dre Kirkpatrick got paid this offseason, so it is time to deliver.

Cincinnati is travelling the second lowest amount of miles this year, which is a good sign, but this team won’t win more than eight games. In a tough division with an average quarterback, a bad offensive line and a weak secondary, the Bengals will continue to be the Bengals.

8. Baltimore Ravens

Is Joe Flacco elite? Well, he was during that one Super Bowl run, but besides that, he is just a decent quarterback. With Flacco set to be back by week one, the Ravens should be in decent shape, but do they have enough on offense?

Marshall Yanda is one of the best guards this game has seen, but losing starting offensive tackle Ricky Wagner is a shot to the heart. Terrance West told fantasy owners to scoop him, so maybe we should trust him? Danny Woodhead is the king of grit, but recent injuries are obviously concerning.

Jeremy Maclin looks to be the clear number one, and maybe Mike Wallace will continue to produce. But, is Breshad Perriman good? The former first-round pick is dealing with a hamstring injury and has been out of practice for a while. Dennis Pitta’s unfortunate injury and release from the team leaves a question mark at tight end.

Brandon Williams, the NFL’s highest-paid nose tackle, has shown his ability to perform, but besides him, the rest of the defensive line is sketchy. Terrell Suggs and C.J. Mosley are obviously dope, but the Ravens also lost Elvis Dumervil and Zach Orr.

The brightest spot on this roster is probably the secondary. Eric Weddle and Tony Jefferson are arguably the best safety combo in the league, and the addition of Brandon Carr is massive.

Still, I don’t see this team making a playoff run. There are too many questions on the offensive side of the ball, and the defense lost some crucial names. The Ravens are in talks with bringing back Pro Bowl center Jeremy Zuttah, but even with his addition, the offensive line is not too pretty. There is no way this team wins the division, but eight wins is definitely possible.

7. Miami Dolphins

Jay Cutler is back baby! Ryan Tannehill’s injury is obviously painful for Dolphins fans, but do we understand that he only threw 19 touchdowns with 12 interceptions and the team still won 10 games? Tannehill is basically just a worse version of Alex Smith. The only reason Miami should be upset is because we probably won’t be seeing Lauren Tannehill on television.

Real quick, just wanted to let everyone know that no one is getting disrespected more in this situation than Matt Moore. Moore is 15-13 as a starter and showed last year that he can win with this team. Don’t be surprised if the Dolphins consider rolling with him after a few weeks.

Nonetheless, Miami has decided to go with Cutler. The mainstream media has told everyone hundreds of times that Cutler will be good since he is reuniting with Adam Gase. The problem is, Cutler has never really been that great. No one cares about how good his arm is and how he moves well outside of the pocket, the dude is 34 and has only made the playoffs once.

AFC eye test predictions: 9-5

Don’t sleep on Jarvis Landry emerging as a top receiver (billboard.com)

Still, Cutler is joining a really good roster. Jay Ajayi cleared concussion protocol and looks to be ready to go. Ajayi is coming off a huge year, in which he had over 1,200 rushing yards, including three games of at least 200 yards on the ground.

Jarvis Landry is probably the most underrated wide out in the game. Kenny Stills is a great deep target, and DeVante Parker has shown potential of being legit. Julius Thomas’ reunion with Adam Gase could be special.

The loss of Branden Albert hurts the line, but Laremy Tunsil’s move to left tackle could be a good one. Hopefully Mike Pouncey can stay healthy for the entire season as well.

Whether you respect him or not, Ndamukong Suh is a beast. Cameron Wake, Andre Branch, William Hayes and first-rounder Charles Harris should all be key factors in slowing down the opposition’s running game. Byron Maxwell is a good fit in Miami, and Reshad Jones, who is coming off a major injury, looks to get back to his 2015 Pro-Bowl self. Veterans Lawrence Timmons and Kiko Alonso will also be important in making sure the Dolphin’s don’t end up the 30th ranked defense again.

As you can see, this roster is full of talent. Unfortunately, Cutler and the Dolphins will fall just short. The most games Cutler has ever won is 10, which was done in his age 27 and 29 season. At 34, I can see Cutler helping this talented team to eight or nine wins, but nothing more.

6. Los Angeles Chargers

“GO CHARGERS GO” *Arnold Schwarzenegger voice*. Just like in the 2013-14 NFL season, the AFC West will be sending three teams into the playoffs. Philip Rivers is awesome and is going to be a Hall of Famer. Although he threw a lot of picks last year, River is a savvy vet and has never had back-to-back years with at least 16 interceptions.

After not scoring a single touchdown in his rookie season, Melvin Gordon decided to be good at football again. During his sophomore campaign, Gordon had 12 total touchdowns. Their offensive line isn’t great, but you should still expect Gordon to eclipse his first 1,000 yard rushing season.

The Chargers expect this year’s first-round pick, former Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams, to be back in October. Williams will join Keenan Allen and Travis Benjamin, both guys who can make serious plays. Antonio Gates is somehow still in the league, and his successor, Hunter Henry, played really well last year.

Jason Verrett is back, and Casey Hayward sneaky led the league in interceptions last year. Coming off winning Defensive Rookie of the Year, Joey Bosa will man possibly the best defensive line in football. Melvin Ingram’s conversion from linebacker will be electric, and Brandon Mebane is back working with new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, which is a huge plus.

Look, the defense is good. Philip Rivers is still a top-tier quarterback, and once Williams is healthy, the offense could be special. Even with a relatively hard schedule and a lot of miles to travel, the Chargers will win nine games and sneak into the playoffs.

5. Kansas City Chiefs

If you don’t love Andy Reid, you probably don’t like football. Since taking over as head coach in 2013, Reid has led the Chiefs to four straight winning seasons, including a 12-win season a year ago. The year before Reid was the coach, the team managed to only win two games. What do you expect when Matt Cassel is your quarterback?

Since Alex Smith took over, the team is 43-21. Alex “The Game Manager” Smith, won’t wow you with his stats, but his ability to keep his team in games by not turning the ball over is good enough to generate wins. The last time Smith had double digit interceptions was seven years ago. He has yet to lead a team to a Super Bowl, but he deserves a bit more credit.

AFC eye test predictions: 9-5

The Tyreek Hill magic will continue in KC (kansascity.com)

Although their offensive line is young, they are good enough to help move the chains. Eric Fisher has shown improvements after many people were skeptical about the former number one overall pick.

As far as running the ball, we should see a mix of some solid backs. When Jamaal Charles went down last year, Spencer Ware was able to rush for almost 1,000 yards. Charcandrick West is a nice spark off the bench, and Kareem Hunt could be one of the biggest sleepers this year.

With these three heads, along with Tyreek Hill mixing in a few big runs, expect a productive rushing season for Kansas City.

With Maclin gone, Hill should step into that number one receiver spot. All this kid does is make big time plays. Travis Kelce, although somewhat of a diva, is one of the best tight ends in the game. When the Chiefs won 11 games in 2013, Jamaal Charles was their leading receiver, so don’t worry too much about losing Maclin.

If Justin Houston can stay healthy, this defense will be an absolute force. Veterans Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson are getting up there in age, but will still remain productive. Losing Dontari Poe and Jaye Howard hurts, but the emergence of Chris Jones should give this team one of the best front seven units in all of football.

Eric Berry is a legend, both on and off the field, and Marcus Peters is among the top corners in the sport, but after these two stars, there is a slight drop-off. Still, these guys are good enough to keep teams from testing them. The last time the Chiefs weren’t a top 10 defense, in regards to points allowed, was back in 2012, before Reid took over.

The defense is legit, Andy Reid is one of the best coaches in the game, and Alex Smith keeps the offense on the field. This is at least a 10-win team.

 

Featured image by arrowheadpride.com

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Cam Newton

NFL early season games to watch: Gut check games

As nice as it is to have NFL football back on our television sets, preseason games are often a tough watch. However, it is now more than fashionable to look ahead to the regular season.

Teams can change a lot over 16-plus weeks. Even so, early fall games frequently foreshadow the future. Here is a single game from each of the first four weeks of the season that will tell us a great deal about the teams involved.

Week 1: Bucs at Dolphins

Patriots/Chiefs, Seahawks/Packers and Giants/Cowboys will get all the opening week headlines. This battle of Florida teams is a solid undercard that should not be overlooked.

NFL early season games to watch

Photo: zambio.com

The hype train has been rolling all offseason for Tampa Bay. With Jameis Winston only getting better, it is easy to see why. The charismatic signal caller has tossed 50 touchdowns in his first two seasons.

Also, new additions DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard should help free up top pass catcher Mike Evans. Toss in a young defense that had some really nice moments last year, and the end of a long playoff drought becomes realistic. Opening up against a playoff team from last season will serve as a nice measuring stick.

For Miami, the season hinges on the play of retiree-turned-knight in shining armor Jay Cutler who is back to play for his biggest supporter in head coach Adam Gase. If Cutler is healthy and motivated, he can still throw for over 3,500 yards like he did under the direction of Gase in Chicago.

However, if something is not right with the Cutler experiment, the Bucs are certainly good enough to exploit it and begin what will be a long year for the Dolphins.

Week 2: Cowboys at Broncos

Regardless of the outcome of Ezekiel Elliott’s appeal, the Cowboys are in for a dogfight with the Giants in the opener. However, the rubber will really meet the road here. As long as all members of the “No Fly Zone” are around, the only way to move the ball on a consistent basis against Denver is on the ground.

The Broncos got pushed around at the point of attack in 2016, finishing 28th against the run. If Dallas cannot run the ball here, they will likely struggle in a big way in Elliott’s absence. Conversely, going up against what is widely regarded as the best offensive line in football will be a fantastic gauge of improvement (if any) against the run for Denver.

Week 3: Seahawks at Titans:

Much like Tampa Bay, there’s lots of talk about Tennessee ending a lengthy playoff drought this year after exceeding expectations in 2016.

NFL early season games to watch

Photo: larrybrownsports.com

The Titans are a rarity in the modern NFL. They run the ball as much or more than they throw it. Games are rarely placed squarely on the shoulders of quarterback Marcus Mariota.

Mariota does a great job fulfilling his role and taking care of the football. He put up 26 touchdowns and just nine interceptions last year.

No team has mastered the physical brand of football that the Titans are trying to build a powerhouse with better than Seattle over the last half decade. Barring key injuries, Seattle will be in the mix again this year.

However, if the Titans want to sit at the big kid table of the NFL, this is their chance to prove they belong.

Week 4: Panthers at Patriots:

With the exception of Josh Norman departing, many of the main cogs for the Panthers are the same as they were when Carolina reached the Super Bowl just two years ago. However, a similar cast of characters also posted a losing record last year.

The Patriots are the gold standard in the NFL. That will likely remain the case as long as Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are around. While talk of them going undefeated is ridiculous, they will certainly be the toughest team in the league to beat.

Make no mistake that Cam Newton and the Panthers still have the talent to play with any opponent in any location. Their performance against the reigning Super Bowl champions will speak volumes about whether their true identity is the team that reached the Super Bowl, or the team that fell off a cliff last year.

 

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John Fox

NFL preseason coaching heat check

NFL coaches on the hot seat is a topic that fans and media alike never seem to stop talking about. NFL preseason is a good time to take an inventory of coaches that could be in trouble if the upcoming season goes poorly.

The NFL never stops surprising us. Thus, the coaches mentioned here are by no means the only ones that might be relocating in 2018. These are just the situations that jump off the page immediately.

Dead men walking

John Fox

John Fox is a hugely underrated coach who has engineered massive turnarounds and deep playoffs runs everywhere he has been. Everywhere except Chicago, that is, as he is just 9-23 in two seasons with the Bears. These days, coaches rarely get more than three seasons to be awful in the same spot.

Unfortunately for Fox, the front office has given him his worst Bears roster yet. The already murky quarterback situation was only made messier by the surprise drafting of rookie Mitchell Trubisky with the second overall pick. Outside of running back Jordan Howard, there just is not much talent on this roster.

There are a lot of projects. Fox does not have time for projects. Despite going 3-13 last year, Chicago did not make much of an impact in free agency and only ended up with five draft picks.

NFL preseason coaching heat check

Photo: nydailynews

It is not entirely his fault, but this is not the recipe for the kind of turnaround Fox needs to keep his job. Right or wrong, the head coach is always the first to go.

Todd Bowles

Minus the established track record, Fox and Todd Bowles are in very similar spots. Bowles is 15-17 in two seasons with the Jets.

With a quarterback race that features Bryce Petty, Josh McCown and Christian Hackenberg and a receiving group in which no one has caught 60 career passes, a winless season is very realistic for the Jets. No coach survives that. Bowles will likely land on his feet as defensive coordinator somewhere in 2018.

Not likely, but not impossible

Mike Zimmer

Mike Zimmer is one of the most respected coaches in the game. He had the back story of assistant coach who paid his dues in the NFL for almost two decades before getting a shot to be a head coach.

However, the reality is that Zimmer is slowly becoming Rex Ryan without the brash and bold guarantees. The defense has always been elite during Zimmer’s time in Minnesota. It even carried them to a 6-0 start last year.

Much like Rex Ryan’s teams though, the offensive side of the ball just is not very good. They have never ranked inside the top 20 in total offense under Zimmer. Even in 2015 when Zimmer’s Vikings reached the playoffs, they were 31st in passing offense.

Rex Ryan has a 61-66 record with four playoff wins as an NFL head coach. He’s now a commentator for ESPN. Zimmer is 26-22 without a playoff win. If Zimmer does not figure out the offensive side of the ball this year, his record will creep closer to .500 and he could join Ryan at ESPN.

Adam Gase

Two weeks ago, Gase would not have been in any article like this. He did an outstanding job in leading the Dolphins to the playoffs last year in his first season.

NFL preseason coaching heat check

Photo: espn.com

However, bringing his favorite pupil Jay Cutler out of retirement to save the day after the injury to starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill is pretty bold. Yes, Cutler had his best statistical season when Gase was his offensive coordinator with the Bears in 2015, but that team still managed only six wins. Last year, Cutler only started five games due to injury and poor performance.

Cutler’s lack of passion for the game of football has always been painfully apparent. Despite a wealth of natural talent, he is only led a team the playoffs once and has losing record as a starter.

He will no doubt fill the stat sheet with touchdowns and interceptions in Miami. Even so, there is nothing to suggest that he will fare any better than original backup quarterback Matt Moore in terms of winning games.

Gaze really stuck his neck out for Cutler. It is only a one-year deal. Even so, if the experiment blows up in his face and muddies the future of the quarterback position in Miami, ownership having a quick hook would not be all that surprising.

Unique Situations:

In addition to the four coaches mentioned above, 2017 is also a big year for several coaches that have been with their current teams for many years. Marvin Lewis, Sean Payton, John Harbaugh, Bruce Arians and Chuck Pagano have all experienced significant success in their current coaching stops. However, they all missed the playoffs last year.

Some of them are on a streak of unsuccessful seasons. They have all done great things for their respective franchises over the years and have immense respect of ownership. Thus, I cannot see any of them getting fired. If the upcoming season goes poorly though, a mutual parting of ways is certainly possible.

 

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Miami Dolphins fantasy football: Jay Cutler’s impact

On Aug. 6, quarterback Jay Cutler came out of retirement to sign with the Miami Dolphins. This signing indicates that Ryan Tannehill is likely out for the season and Cutler will take over as the starter. On paper this could be a good signing for the Dolphins, but how will Cutler fair to fantasy owners?

Adam Gase Reunion

Miami Dolphins fantasy football: Jay Cutlers impact

Jay Cutler and Adam Gase (Photo by: sportsmockery.com)

It’s hard to project players that go to new teams and new schemes but that’s not the case here. We have seen Cutler in this offense before. He and head coach Adam Gase reunite from the days of the Chicago Bears where Gase was the offensive coordinator in 2015.

While Chicago was at the bottom half of the league in both yards and points scored, Cutler had one his most productive seasons. In 15 games, Cutler completed 64.4 percent of his passes and averaged 7.6 yards per attempt. He threw for 3,659 yards, 28 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Even though Chicago didn’t thrive, it is safe to say Cutler had a solid season at age 32 with Gase.

The numbers under Gase

Most of us want to wonder how, if anything, Gase’s offense has changed since becoming a head coach. Fantasypros.com gives us a look at the 14 games Cutler played in 2015, and compare it to how Gase has coordinated his offenses throughout the years.

Att/gm RB Tgt % WR Tgt % TE Tgt %
2015 (Cutler) 32.2 22.0% 57.0% 15.0%
2016 (Tannehill) 29.8 18.0% 67.0% 15.0%
2014 (Manning) 37.9 16.0% 67.0% 16.0%
2013 (Manning) 42.2 17.0% 62.0% 20.0%

Besides Peyton Manning’s breakout 2013 season, Cutler’s numbers are consistent to the other years that Gase has ran the offense. But Cutler had only 57 percent of passes targeted to wide receivers the lowest of the four seasons. However, to Cutler’s credit, these are the receivers he threw to that season.

Player Games Targets
Alshon Jeffery 9 94
Marquess Wilson 11 51
Eddie Royal 9 50
Josh Bellamy 16 34
Marc Mariani 16 33
Cameron Meredith 11 16
Deonte Thompson 7 3

For starters he didn’t have Alshon Jeffrey for the nearly half the season as he missed seven games. The No. 1 and No. 2 receivers that season were Josh Bellamy and Marc Mariani for seven games. Cutler did not have Brandon Marshall as he was traded to the New York Jets that year.

You can’t criticize Cutler. In fact, he should be given an award for the miracle season he had throwing for 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. I see Cutler targeting the wide receivers in 2017 more like Tannehill last season.

Dolphins Pass Catchers

Miami Dolphins fantasy football: Jay Cutlers impact

Kenny Stills, Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker (Photo by: miamiherald.com)

It’s easy to say Cutler has better weapons than he did in Chicago. He has a good trio of receivers in Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills that can be argued as one of the better trios in the NFL. They also have tight end Julius Thomas who has been in the Gase offense in Denver from 2013 to 2014.

The one problem with Thomas is he needs to stay on the field, something he hasn’t done throughout the entirety of his career. Pass catchers will get more targets because Jay Ajayi isn’t known as a pass catcher like Matt Forte was in Chicago.

If we want to project how Cutler will fair in games, he should be throwing over 30 times a game and should be well over 500 passes for the season. I expect the wide receiver targets to double from what they have been in past Gase offenses. The targets to running backs and tight ends should be consistent with years past.

Which receivers will succeed

For starters, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills should be moving up draft boards. The difference between Cutler and Tannehill is that Cutler has one of the stronger arms in the league.

Parker has been labeled to have a great bounce back season. He struggled last year but Gase has praised him this year for his dedication to this offense. Fortunately for him, Cutler tends to favor the big body wide receivers and has the arm to get the ball downfield to them. Parker and Stills could each have 100 targets this year.

As for Jarvis Landry, he could see less targets because Cutler didn’t really take shots in the short, middle area of the field with Gase in Chicago, but personnel likely played a role in that. Eddie Royal was his slot receiver in Chicago. He has Landry this year and he won’t be ignored as he is the top target.

If anything, Landry is still a candidate for over 1,000 yards. Entering a contract year, it’s not exactly the best situation for Landry, though coach Adam Gase is known for feeding his playmakers. Landry is still a WR2 but Cutler at quarterback hurts his draft stock just a little bit.

Final verdict

It’s safe to say that Cutler has had his highs and is lows. Who hasn’t in Chicago lately? He does have a track record of getting hurt and also being unreliable as a fantasy passer for several years. But there is some potential for Cutler in this offense with better weapons surrounding him. He’s worth a look in a two-quarterback league and also as a backup in deeper leagues.

 

Featured image from dailydolphin.blog.palmbeachpost.com.

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Miami Dolphins fantasy football situation

It’s been a rough training camp for the Miami Dolphins. Jay Ajayi has a concussion and now Ryan Tannehill has gone down and might be done for the season with a knee injury. The worst part of his injury is that it was the same knee he injured in week 14 and he wasn’t touched on the play where he was rolling out. There was no structural damage, however, reports Thursday night indicated Tannehill could need season-ending knee surgery.

Miami Dolphins fantasy football situation

Matt Moore (Photo by: heavy.com)

On Friday, Dolphins coach Adam Gase said Matt Moore “is our quarterback” for the time being in a press conference. The Dolphins just signed former Bears quarterback Jay Cutler yesterday, meaning he’s likely the best bet to be Miami’s starter in week one.

Cutler worked with Gase in Chicago in 2015 and had his best career year with Gase in that season.

Now everyone is going to start to panic not just because of Tannehill but about the weapons in Miami as well. The Dolphins have three prominent receivers in Jarvis Landry, DeVante Parker and Kenny Stills along with tight end Julius Thomas.

Now the big reason for this is to not panic. Landry and Parker shouldn’t lose any value with Tannehill gone. And Stills might benefit even without a familiar quarterback to catch passes from.

Jarvis Landry

Start with Landry, whose average draft position (ADP) on Fantasy Pros is currently in Round 4 in all leagues. He has been ranked around 18-25 as a wide receiver and our own Cameron Palikuca ranked him as the 23rd receiver in his rankings.

Miami Dolphins fantasy football situation

Jarvis Landry (Photo by: dailydolphin.blog.palmbeachpost.com)

In four games with Moore last year including the playoff game against the Steelers, Landry had 26 catches for 315 yards and two touchdowns on 33 targets. If you project his final four games over 16 games he would’ve had Landry would have finished with 104 catches for 1,260 yards and eight touchdowns on 132 targets. The touchdowns and yards would be a career highs. And catches and targets would be the second best of his career. For 2017, I don’t see Landry matching these stats.

The final three games of the season he had two double digit outings. In the season finale, Landry caught nine passes on 12 targets for 76 yards and a touchdown from Moore. Then in the playoffs, he had 14 targets into 11 receptions for 102 yards. Things seemed to click after those two games.

I don’t expect Landry to suffer with Moore under center. I also expect with Landry in a contract year to play at a high level.

Devante Parker

Many believe that Parker could have a breakout season. His ADP is Round 8 in PPR as the No. 37 receiver, and he’s going as the No. 42 receiver in Round 9 in standard leagues. He is the 37th receiver by Palikuca but many believe he will play better then where he will be drafted.

Miami Dolphins fantasy football situation

Ryan Tannehill and DeVante Parker (Photo by: thedeependmiami.com)

Parker was a receiver that struggled with Moore. In their four games together last season, Parker only had 14 catches for 202 yards and one touchdown on 22 targets. Going back to the projections, he would’ve had 56 catches, 808 yards and four touchdowns on 88 targets over a full season, which is basically what he did in 2016 (56 catches, 744 yards and four touchdowns on 87 targets).

I think Parker can do better then his 2016 numbers. He has potential and could be Moore’s favorite weapon and I especially see him as a presence in the red zone at 6-3. Two of his touchdowns came within the 10-yard line. He will also be a valuable deep-threat in favorable matchups as he had two touchdowns of 40-yards plus.

Kenny Stills and Julius Thomas

First with Kenny Stills, he thrived with Moore. Stills had 13 catches for 210 yards and three touchdowns on 23 targets. He scored at least eight fantasy points in a standard league in every game.

Miami Dolphins fantasy football situation

Kenny Stills (Photo by: sun-sentinel.com)

The projections over 16 games would’ve been 52 catches for 840 yards and 12 touchdowns on 92 targets. That would be an improvement on his actual stats from 2016 when he had 42 catches for 726 yards and nine touchdowns on 81 targets.

The problem that comes with Stills is that he’s likely the third or fourth target especially if Parker improves and Thomas makes an impact. But the chemistry can’t be ignored between him and Moore. Stills is definitely worth a late-round flier given his ADP, which is Round 15 in PPR and Round 18 in standard leagues.

As for Thomas, I predicted he would be a sleeper to watch before the Tannehill injury. There’s nothing to go on for Thomas as this his first season in Miami but he has played with Gase before in Denver. With Gase as the offensive coordinator in Denver, Thomas had 24 touchdowns combined in 2013-14 and was a top 10 Fantasy tight end both years. He’s worth a late-round flier in all leagues now that he’s back with Gase.

Final verdict

From a non-fantasy view, the Dolphins should be okay. From a fantasy perspective, no one should panic picking Dolphins players. One player that could thrive is Ajayi. His role will increase some especially with the Tannehill situation. He could sneak into the first round in some leagues due to concerns with the quarterback.

But the Dolphins should be ok with Moore and the good thing for him is that he has familiar faces he played with last season as well as the same system. He will keep Landry, Parker and Stills playing at a high level for fantasy owners this year.

As of Sunday August 6, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network has reported that Cutler has come out of retirement and agreed to a contract with the Miami Dolphins.

 

Featured image from nflspinzone.com.

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Colin Kaepernick

The Miami Dolphins’ quarterback quandary

With head coach Adam Gase acknowledging that knee surgery is an a option for quarterback Ryan Tannehill, a playoff team from last year is left with major question marks as far as who will be taking snaps this year.

Several solutions are being rumored. The Dolphins are a pretty solid football team. Thus, they cannot afford to knock on the wrong door here. If they do, their season could be over before it really starts.

That said, let’s dissect Miami’s quarterback situation and dive into the team’s options.

The safe bet: Matt Moore

Matt Moore is the perfect backup quarterback. That is exactly what he has been for most of his career. He has started 28 out of 46 career games played and posted a 15-13 record as a starter. This includes leading the Dolphins to a pair of wins that locked down last year’s playoff spot in relief of an injured Tannehill. Not many quarterbacks last a decade in the NFL, backup or otherwise.

Miami Dolphins quarterback quandary

Photo miami.cbsloacal.com

The Dolphins are in a tricky spot though. Unless they figure out time travel and bring back Dan Marino, they are not taking the AFC East from New England. However, they are suited to finish ahead of fellow division rivals Buffalo and the Jets, even with Moore. The 32-year-old can take care of the football well enough to keep Miami competitive.

It is difficult for me to get past Miami’s 30-12 playoff loss to Pittsburgh last year. More looked overwhelmed, as did the rest of the team. Sticking with Moore in Tannehill’s absence could get this franchise back to where it was last year, but certainly no further.

The bad idea: Jay Cutler

It makes perfect sense for Jay Cutler’s name to be thrown around when it comes to Miami’s quarterback situation. However, that does not mean it is a good idea.

The recently retired gunslinger had his best season as a pro in 2015. That year, current Dolphins head coach Adam Gase was his offensive coordinator in Chicago. Even so, Cutler’s career best 92.3 passer rating was not good enough for the Bears to post a winning record.

To put it mildly, there have always been questions about Cutler’s passion for football. Now that he has shifted his focus to broadcasting, it is debatable as to whether or not he would be able to flip the switch back into competitive athlete mode. Worse yet, I am not even sure he truly wants to. The Dolphins have reportedly had casual conversations with Cutler and his representatives. That is as far as this flirtation should go.

High risk, high reward: Colin Kaepernick

Miami Dolphins quarterback quandary

Photo: boston.cbslocal.com

With all the controversy surrounding him, the fact that Colin Kaepernick still has it in him to be a very dynamic dual threat NFL quarterback is getting lost in the shuffle.

In 11 starts for an atrocious 49ers team last year, Kaepernick tossed 16 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Imagine what he is still capable of with real talent around him. Real talent is something the Dolphins definitely have.

We all know that his political activism is why Kaepernick remains unsigned. However, if dogfighting and domestic violence do not disqualify you from being on an NFL roster, voicing your opinion should not either.

Could signing Kaepernick alienate parts of the locker room and fan base? Of course. However, there is a very simple remedy to that: Be a productive player and deliver this franchise its first playoff win since the 2000 season.

Of the options on the table for Miami, Kaepernick is the only one who has shown that he may be capable of doing that. That is good enough for me. The Dolphins need to suck it up and sign him.

 

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Houston Texans

How The Houston Texans Can Win The Super Bowl

The AFC South has been one of the worst divisions in football for two years now. The Houston Texans have won the AFC South both seasons with back-to-back 9-7 records.

The biggest problem for the Texans is the lack of consistent quarterback play. The Texans started four different quarterbacks in 2015: Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallet, T.J. Yates, and Brandon Weeden. They started two more quarterbacks last season: Brock Osweiler and Tom Savage.

Starting six quarterbacks in two years is not the formula to winning the Super Bowl, but they are really close.

Super Bowl Defense

Houston Texans

(Photo Credit: Brett Coomer / Houston Chronicle )

Offense wins games, but defense wins championships. The Seahawks’ defense was so dominant four years ago that it led them to a 43-8 Super Bowl victory. The Patriots came up with a goal-line interception three years ago to the win the Super Bowl. The Denver Broncos had one of the best defenses in the NFL two seasons ago and shut down the top scoring offense to beat the Panthers in the Super Bowl. The Patriots came back down from 28-3 this past February to win the Super Bowl. That could not have happened if their defense didn’t shut down the high-flying Falcons offense.

The Texans have a defense capable of playing to the level of all these other defenses. Houston allowed the fewest yards in the NFL last season at 301 per game. They also allowed the second-fewest passing yards.

Houston also has the best defensive player in the NFL in J.J. Watt. He only played in three games last season, which makes what Houston’s defense did more impressive.

Watt is a four-time Pro Bowler and a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year, which is tied for most all-time with Lawerence Taylor. Adding him back to the mix makes them an elite defense.

The Texans also finally saw the emergence of former number one overall pick Jadeveon Clowney, who had six sacks last season. Clowney’s amazing play doesn’t show up in the stats. He constantly received double teams without Watt in the lineup, but still made plays. In the Wild Card game against the Raiders, he made an incredible interception that took over the game.

These two great defenders will make one of the best pass rushes in the NFL. The Texans also have one of the best linebacking corps in the NFL, headlined by Brian Cushing and Whitney Mercilus. If the secondary can make up for the loss of A.J. Bouye, they could contend for the best defense in the NFL.

What Is Missing?

It is no secret that the Texans need to improve offensively. Houston’s offensive line ranked 18th in the NFL by Pro Football Focus. They must improve both guard positions if they want to improve the overall line play.

Running back is not an issue of concern. Lamar Miller finished 10th in the NFL with 1,073 yards in just 14 games. Alfred Blue is also a solid backup to Miller.

The receiving corp is solid with Jaelen Strong, Will Fuller, and Braxton Miller, but headlined by DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins has 189 receptions, 2,475 yards and 15 touchdowns in the last two seasons. Those stats are impressive with six different quarterbacks over two years.

It all comes back to quarterback play. The Texans are a quarterback away from being the biggest threat to the Patriots in the AFC. There is one quarterback perfect for the Texans that they need to get.

The Missing Piece

Houston Texans

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

Houston threw millions at an unproven Brock Osweiler and it failed miserably. Osweiler has since been traded to the Browns and the only quarterbacks on the Texans’ roster are Tom Savage and Brandon Weeden. These quarterbacks won’t even win the division, let alone a Super Bowl. So what should the Texans do?

The Texans could find a quarterback in the draft, but most analysts feel there are no NFL-ready quarterbacks in this draft. Free agency is always an option and Houston was hoping to get Tony Romo, but he retired. Jay Cutler is available, but that option could be just as bad or worse than what they already have.

That leaves only one option, a trade. The Houston Texans should go all in for a trade with the Los Angeles Chargers for Philip Rivers. The Chargers are nowhere close to contending for a championship and Rivers is 35 years old.

Rivers has accomplished a lot in his time in the NFL. His career record is 97-79. Rivers has 314 touchdowns, 156 interceptions and 45,833 yards.

By most comparisons, he is the AFC’s Tony Romo. Everything he has done of significance has come in the regular season. His playoff record is 4-5 and couldn’t get to the Super Bowl with Hall-of-Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson and future Hall-of-Fame tight end Antonio Gates.

This narrative could change with a trade to Houston. His career would be revitalized and he would have a three to four years to win the Super Bowl. He would have the necessary weapons to succeed; such as a running game and a top 10 receiver in the NFL. The Texans would have a top five defense and an offense capable of keeping pace on the scoreboard with any team in the NFL.

Houston, if you want to win the Lombardi Trophy, trade for Phillip Rivers.

 

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Chicago Bears 2017 NFL Draft Profile

On the third day of Draftmas TGH gave to me! The Chicago Bears Draft Profile! (It makes more sense if you sing it..)

Summary

The Bears had a very underwhelming season in a very tough division. The Vikings, Packers and Lions were all solid teams last year and will probably continue that into next year.

The offseason was an interesting one for the Midway Monsters. They let go of Jay Cutler much to the surprise of no one and they brought in Mike Glennon who seemed to have been forgotten about until this offseason. Personally I think Glennon has a lot to prove and deserves a starting role. We will see if the Bears risk will pay off.

They also strengthened their Wideout core by adding Markus Wheaton, Rueben Randle and Kendall Wright. While all of them have their issues they also all have a lot of talent in completely different ways. Paring them with the surprise in Cameron Meredith and the hopefully healthy Kevin White and this could be one of the more interesting Wide Receiver groups in the NFL.

Lastly they added Prince Amukamara and Quitin Demps to try and shore up their Defensive Backs. While they aren’t big names they still should add some much needed help in the secondary.

Picks and Needs

The Bears have 7 picks in this draft. It is good that they have kept so many and should be able to fill some major holes with them.

First round: (1) No. 3

Second round: (1) No. 36

Third round: (1) No. 67

Fourth round: (2) No. 111, No. 117

Fifth round: (1) No. 147

Sixth round: (0)

Seventh round: (1) No. 221

Having two fourth round picks should allow Chicago to find some solid depth players. Also while I won’t be looking at trades in this Profile I can definitely see the Bears making some moves up or down in the draft depending on their board.

The worst thing Chicago can do with these picks is pick an early Quarterback or panic and trade up for someone they do not really need.

Here are their needs at Offense:

Left Tackle

Left Guard

Backup Pass Catching Tight End (Preferably one that they can grow)

Now for Defense:

Cornerback

Safety (Either one)

Edge Rushing Defensive End

Inside Linebacker to go along with Trevathan

Targets and Thoughts

I will pick who I think is best for the team just as I did in my other draft profile. There will be no trades and I will be looking at just the first three rounds.

Courtesy of: Youtube.com

First Round:

Pick #3: Jamal Adams SS, LSU

What is not to like about this kid? He is everything you could ask for in a safety and more. Many people believe he might be the safest pick in the draft.

Second Round:

Pick #36: Cordrea Tankersley CB, Clemson

It seems as though his choice to go back for his Senior Year payed off. He won a National Championship and is now one of the best Corners in the draft. It is very possible he could be off the board before the 36th pick but, if he is still here I think the Bears continue adding to their defense.

Third Round:

Pick #67: Roderick Johnson OT, Florida State

At 6’7, 298, Johnson has the size and arm length to be a very productive left tackle. His footwork needs some fine tuning but, he has the potential to be an extremely good asset for the Bears offensive line.

Conclusion

The Bears can add some needed pieces to help them contend in the brutal NFC North. Shoring up the secondary and adding a tackle may not seem like much but, it can go a long way for a team that struggled much of last season. Hopefully Mike Glennon will be the Quarterback they needed.

Thank you for joining us on our third day of TGH Draftmas! Check back tomorrow where we will be bringing you the Draft Profile of the Jacksonville Jaguars!

You can read all of the previous days of Draftmas below!

Draftmas Day 1: Cleveland Browns

Draftmas Day 2: San Francisco 49ers

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More Than Just Football: If Colin Kaepernick Goes to the Chicago Bears

The Colin Kaepernick saga is coming to a close in San Francisco on March 9. The 49ers want to go in a new direction that won’t include the last 49ers quarterback to make it to a Super Bowl since Hall of Famer Steve Young.

Where will he go? Hopefully to another historic franchise on the downslide. More than just football, Colin Kaepernick to the Chicago Bears is a match made in heaven.

The Bears have been shopping Jay Cutler since the end of the season. Cutler has been the starting quarterback for the Bears for eight seasons. Chicago is expected to either trade or release him once he is healthy.

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Cutler is due $13 million for next season. Whenever he passes the medical clearance, the Bears will do what they have to do.

The move to San Francisco could bring Cutler closer to the Shanahan family once again. Newly acquired head coach Kyle Shanahan is the son of Mike Shanahan. Mike Shanahan coached and drafted Cutler in Denver. Mike and his offense produced arguably the best Jay Culter we have seen in 2008.

In 2008, Cutler produced career highs in attempts, completions and yards. Why wouldn’t he want to go San Francisco?

Now back to Kaepernick.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/ AP

Kaepernick’s involvement in activism would be perfect for the Windy City. A city that is riddled with crime and violence and disappointing football seasons needs a person and a quarterback like Colin Kaepernick. It is also a good move for Kaepernick on the field.

The Bears have an upcoming defense and a good bit of offensive players that suit what Kaepernick can do. They have two big and shifty running backs in Jordan Howard and Jeremy Langford.

They possibly have two big body deep threats on the edge with Kevin White and Alshon Jeffery. He also has a big and fast tight end in Zach Miller. It is similar to the roster he had in his early years in San Francisco.

The move that could bring Kaepernick to the Bears would be for so much more than football. This is one of the times where politics and sports do mix.

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