week three DFS Dont's

Week three DFS don’ts: Report card

Well, this was my worst week in terms of DFS earnings. I simply could not overcome single digit performances from Ty Montgomery and Jay Ajayi, and a critical injury to Kelvin Benjamin. Not to mention incredibly underwhelming performance from Derek Carr and Michael Crabtree. I could go on, but let’s just get to my week three DFS don’ts report card.

Quarterback: 1/5

I guess I learned that I should never bet against Drew Brees. He dismantled the Panthers and seemingly got every receiver involved while doing so. And, of course, this was the weekend Russell Wilson broke out of his slump. I’m happy he finally started playing well, but, not so happy it was this particular weekend.

I’ll just call this whole position an “L” for week three. I don’t want to even try and justify Stafford as a good play, since he only scored 16.46 points. However, Andy Dalton did manage to more than double his value with 16.28 points. Dalton was my lone victory at this position. I’d rather not talk about Derek Car. He killed me.

Running Back: 3/6

My week three DFS don’ts at the running back position included LeSean McCoy, Christian McCaffrey and Ameer Abdullah. I was right on both McCoy and Abdullah, as both failed to at least double their price in value. McCaffrey finally had a good game; however, I wouldn’t count on him to get 100 yards receiving every game, so good luck if you keep playing him.

I showed Le’Veon Bell and Ty Montgomery a lot of love on the Suck My DFS Podcast, and it backfired. Bell finally had a score, but 18.8 points isn’t good enough for Bell in my opinion. Montgomery was also disappointing. The only saving grace was Chris Carson managed to double his value in terms of production so that’s a win.

Wide Receiver: 4/6

I’m pleasantly surprised my wide receiver predictions. I nailed all of my week three DFS don’ts at this position. Those predictions included Mike Evans, DeAndre Hopkins and Martavis Bryant. None of those players provided two times their production.

A.J. Green wasn’t a difficult prediction to make. He was in a great match up with a new coordinator that clearly wanted to feature him. Sadly, Keenan Allen and Kelvin Benjamin really came up short. Benjamin’s injury was the first straw that broke my cash game lineups.

Tight End: 2/3

As I stated in my tight end edition of week three DFS don’ts, the matchup for Delanie Walker was too difficult. He was still featured as a receiver, but the production just wasn’t there this week. Coby Fleener has returned to being absolutely useless as a tight end, no surprise there.

It was so frustrating to watch Eric Ebron drop every easy catch in that game. Stafford, to his credit, still wanted to target him, but Ebron insisted on destroying any trust he had in that passing game.

Kicker: 2/2

Kicker, like most weeks, was easy. Matt Prater was a must play. He’s proven to have a leg capable of making 50+ yard field goals, and, was playing at home in a dome. He delivered 19 points. On the other hand, Younghoe Koo was disappointing per usual.

Defense: 2/3

Both Seattle and Tampa Bay failed tremendously. One team surrendered almost 200 yards rushing, and the other allowed Case Keenum to throw for more than 300 yards. Sadly, the Eagles collapsed in the second half and allowed 24 second-half points.

Overall Score: 14/25

I’m not happy with week three. My DFS earnings took a hit, one of my seasonal teams got demolished, and I was only correct on 56% of my picks. Let’s just get to week four already. We’ll be back tomorrow with the kicker and defense edition of week four DFS don’ts.

 

Like what you read? Tune into the Suck My DFS Podcast this Friday and find out who TGH fantasy experts will be playing in their DFS lineups this week. You can find the link to our podcast on the Podcast page.

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week three DFS Dont's

NFL Week two DFS don’ts: Report card

Week two turned out to be more predictable than week one. But that doesn’t mean that no one disappointed their seasonal or DFS owners. While my winning percentage wasn’t as good as week one, my volume of winnings was much better. So, let’s close up week two DFS don’ts with my report card.

Quarterback: 5/5

On the Suck My DFS Podcast, the three quarterbacks I liked were Drew Brees, Carson Palmer and Phillip Rivers. I’m counting all three of these guys as wins since they produced just more than double their value. Palmer was the lowest with 16.88 points, then Rivers with 17.24 and then Brees with 22.24 points.

On the other hand, I nailed my quarterbacks on the week two DFS don’ts list. Kirk Cousins and Jay Cutler failed to produce given their value. Washington established the run which negated the Rams’ consistent pass rush and also limited his ability to throw the ball. Cutler looked good in his debut, and I’ll definitely consider him moving forward. But, I’m thankful I left him off my lineup this week.

Running Back: 2/6

I should do myself a favor and never talk about running backs who I think won’t succeed because inevitably they will. Todd Gurley, C.J. Andersen and Carlos freaking Hyde all had productive showings. I’ll leave it at that.

I also sadly loved Ezekiel Elliott against Denver. That was awful. Thankfully, my picks of Melvin Gordon and Ty Montgomery paid off as they scored 17.3 and 26 points respectively. So, if you’re following my articles and the podcast, just ignore who I pick at running back for the most part.

Wide Receiver: 2/6

It was rough predicting this position. I was right on with Antonio Brown, but was so wrong about Brandin Cooks. Similarly, I was right about DeVante Parker, but wrong about Adam Thielen.

The late Sam Bradford just crushed Thielen and Diggs’ values. I was totally wrong about Alshon Jefferey, and sadly, Kelvin Benjamin couldn’t find a way to get into the end zone.

Tight End: 2/4

I’m actually happy I was wrong about Jack Doyle this week. I drafted him everywhere in my seasonal fantasy leagues, so I don’t mind taking the loss this week. I’m also very happy to have picked Austin Hooper to bust completely, and he did.

Zach Ertz produced as usual. No real surprise there. Unfortunately, Jared Cook didn’t find a way to get into the end zone. Cook met everything we want from a tight end in a matchup. His team was a large home favorite, with a big implied team total, and he saw between 8-15 percent target market share in week one.

Kicker: 1/2

Pretty straight forward here. Adam Vinaetieri put up a whopping four points. And please, don’t tell me I shouldn’t have bothered to write about him this week because it was so obvious. Well, I saw him 9 percent ownership in one of my 50/50 leagues this weekend so clearly it wasn’t as obvious as you think. Blair Walsh, and Seattle in general, were bad, as Walsh only scored six points.

Defense: 2/3

The Rams were an easy pick to regress back towards the mean this week. I guess that’s what happens when you play a legitimate NFL quarterback as opposed to Scott Tolzien. Hopefully you listened and didn’t get stuck with a putrid two points.

I’m torn about Arizona. They only scored 10 points against the Colts. However, they were the one of eight defenses to score in double digits. So, I’m counting that as a win. Denver tied for the third highest scoring defense on Sunday, so that’s a loss for me.

Overall Score: 14/26

I’m not happy with 54 percent, but it’s much better than my week one score. Like most things, you get better the more you do it.

You can check out all of my week two DFS dont’s articles here. We’ll start with week three tomorrow as we break down what kicker and defenses you should avoid.

 

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Cam Newton facing fantasy criticism

Cam Newton fantasy football: Why the criticism?

Has the time come to consider Cam Newton a potential bust? That’s how many fantasy football writers have labeled Newton this offseason. In 2016 he did struggle after a season where he was MVP and went to Super Bowl 50 in 2015. But why is Cam Newton facing criticism in fantasy?

Why The criticism

Newton had one of the worst seasons of his career last season. He had career low numbers in completion percentage (52.9 percent) and yards per attempt (6.9), along with his third season of less than 20 passing touchdowns.

One year after posting 45 more fantasy points than any other player, Newton fell to 17th at the position. He posted just five top-10 fantasy weeks, and only three after Week 2. And he had Kelvin Benjamin back, along with Greg Olsen and Ted Ginn who was a deep threat machine for Newton.

Cam Newton fantasy football

Cam Newton (Photo by: pantherswire.usatoday.com)

But Newton isn’t known for his passing. The major factor of the criticism is running the football.

The concern of his dwindling rushing totals are real. He had career lows in attempts (90), yards (359) and touchdowns (five). The worst part is that his head coach doesn’t want him to run as much. That’s where Newton excelled.

Granted it’s smart to change the offense to protect their franchise quarterback from shoulder injuries and concussions. But if we’re to rely on Newton for fantasy, and if the Carolina Panthers don’t want to rely on him as much as a runner, then he’ll have to seriously improve as a passer.

The other concern is a torn rotator cuff on his throwing shoulder that he had repaired in March. With the coaching staff wanting him to throw the ball more, many are worried that he might do more damage.

Give Cam the Rock

The Panthers really need to reconsider decreasing Newton’s rushing attempts.

Cam Newton fantasy football

Newton (Photo by: si.com)

Throughout his first six seasons in the NFL, he’s totaled 3,566 rushing yards with 48 touchdowns. That’s insane for a quarterback. In fact, in three of Newton’s six years (2011, 2012 and 2015), the Carolina quarterback has topped 120 fantasy points on rushing alone.

In his best rushing season (2011 rookie year), Newton had 154.2 fantasy points on the ground. In short, he would have been the No. 21 running back. In his first five seasons, he never dipped below 539 yards on the ground.

Besides the numbers, look at the man himself. The man is a freak athlete. He’s 6 feet, 5 inches at 245 pounds. And he can run the football. There aren’t many quarterbacks like him, that big, that can run like him.

2017 Outlook

The ceiling is high for Newton. But what he is expected to do is risky.

Cam Newton fantasy football

Newton (Photo by: nydailynews.com)

As before, they want him to pass the ball more. But that’s not his game. I don’t see him improving as a passer. I think when they see the issue he will run the ball himself more.

But there’s other reasons to be optimistic of Newton. The Panthers drafted Christian McCaffrey. His ability to catch passes out of the backfield as well as split out wide when needed is going to be a welcomed sight for Newton’s fantasy value.

He may not see a heavy workload while splitting carries with Jonathan Stewart, as he’s the perfect third-down running back for Newton. He still has Olsen and Benjamin along with rookie Curtis Samuel and Devin Funchess. Not the best receivers but he has options though he lost his favorite deep target in Ginn.

Final Verdict

With all the hate, I still believe in Newton. Though there are risks. I wouldn’t draft him as high only because of the situation of him throwing the ball more.

He’s been getting a round eight draft position. In that case, there’ll be an opportunity to already have a loaded fantasy roster and just need to add a quarterback like Newton who can help you win it all. Newton’s ability to take over games and do special things, this can be second to none in the NFL when he’s on.

 

Featured image from sportingnews.com.

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2017 NFC South division preview

2017 NFC South division preview

The NFL regular season is fast approaching. In the blink of an eye, Sep. 7 will arrive and the Chiefs and Patriots will be kicking off the 2017-2018 NFL season. In the meantime, Hagan’s Haus will be bringing you the divisional previews and predictions of how teams will finish in their respective divisions. Without further ado, here is the 2017 NFC South division preview.

4: New Orleans Saints

Last season: 7-9

Strength of schedule:15

Oh when the Saints go marching in, they bring with them no defense. The Saints are hoping the additions of A.J. Klein and Manti Te’o will improve a defense that gave up 28.4 points per game last season. They also drafted defensive backs Marshon Lattimore and Marcus Williams to improve one of the league’s worst secondaries.

2017 NFC South division preview

(Photo credit: Matthew Hinton)

Although New Orleans has made an effort to improve their defense, it won’t become great overnight. Despite ranking 11th in fewest plays per game, the Saints ranked 14th in rushing and 31st in passing. Until this unit shows on-field improvement, there is no way the Saints can win the division or earn a wild card berth.

Offensively, the Saints are absolutely loaded. They have future Hall of Famer Drew Brees under center. New Orleans has committed to Michael Thomas as the go-to guy on the outside in just his second season. Coby Fleener is more than a reliable tight end to compliment Thomas in the middle of the field and in the red zone.

The Saints are also blessed in the backfield with Mark Ingram, future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson and rookie Alvin Kamara. This trio of running backs will give defensive coordinators nightmares.

New Orleans has a pretty easy schedule this season and the offensive side of the ball is going to be straight fireworks. As is the story every season with Saints, can the defense be good enough to help them win games? The answer is no. Every game will be a shootout and opposing defenses are going to make more game winning plays. The Saints will be competitive because of their offense, but the defense will be their downfall yet again.

Prediction: 8-8 (3-3), miss the playoffs

3: Atlanta Falcons

2017 NFC South division preview

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

Last season: 11-5

Strength of schedule: 13

I am a firm believer in Super Bowl hangovers. Just look at how the Panthers’ season went last year after losing Super Bowl 50.

The Falcons’ players are saying all the right things about moving on and using the humiliating let down as motivation for this season but when push comes to shove that loss will be in the back of their mind. The first team to start coming back on them will bring out those painful memories.

Atlanta is also the defending NFC champions and they will get every team’s best shot. Their division is one of the toughest in the NFL and the Buccaneers and Panthers did a lot to improve.

Besides the hangover and their schedule, Atlanta has to prove they can play great defense for an entire season. The first half of last season was abysmal defensively. The Falcons finished the season ranked 27th in points, giving up 25.3 per game. Atlanta saw such a high volume of points scored in the fourth quarter. They ranked 31st in fourth quarter scoring giving up 9.9 points per fourth quarter. If that trend continues they will struggle to win games.

Offensively, the Falcons are loaded. Matt Ryan had a career year that led to him being named league MVP. It is unlikely that he has a second consecutive MVP caliber season as very few players have ever won back to back MVPs. Only four players have done so: Jim Brown, Joe Montana, Brett Favre and Peyton Manning.

Ryan will have a slight drop off in production but not enough to warrant concern. The offense will put up plenty of points and still be electrifying but as mentioned earlier, they will be given the best shot from every team and it will cause them to come up short a few more times than most can expect.

Atlanta’s defense must improve and play to the ability they did in the second half of the season in order to get back to the postseason. Due to a massive Super Bowl hangover, an improved division all-around and a defense that will likely be mediocre, the Falcons come up short and miss the playoffs.

Prediction: 9-7 (3-3), miss the playoffs

2: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last season: 9-7

Strength of schedule: 14

Tampa Bay had a solid season last year but missed the playoffs. This season they should take the next step and make the playoffs behind a very solid offense that has improved. The upgrades on offense include the additions of DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard. Both of which will turn this offense from good to great.

2017 NFC South division preview

(Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

The Buccaneers were led by their passing game, averaging 245.4 yards per game. Mike Evans is one of the top receivers in the league and the combination of DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard will cause defensive coordinators to adjust their game plans leaving Mike Evans with more one on one looks.

The running game only averaged 101 yards per game but Doug Martin only played eight games last season. Martin will start out the season suspended but is eligible to play in week four.

Once Martin returns the running game will start to get rolling, making it even easier for Jameis Winston to air it out. Everything will finally come together for the Bucs offense this season. Don’t be surprised if the 2017 Buccaneers finish with a top 10 offense.

Tampa Bay must become a better defensive team to truly take the step and make the playoffs. The Bucs ranked 22nd in both rush and pass defense giving up a total of 367.9 yards per game. Gerald McCoy will have a Chris Baker next to him to improve the rush defense but it will take more than just one new defensive tackle.

The Bucs should have a better pass defense because the defensive line will get tons of pressure from the trio of Robert Ayers, William Gholston and Noah Spence. Spence had 5.5 sacks in his rookie campaign. With an entire year in the Bucs system, Spence could improve and show the ability he displayed at Ohio State.

In total, this defense gave up 25.3 points per game. If the Bucs can improve that but just four points the offense should easily score more than 21 points per game with all the talent they have.

Tampa Bay will have a balanced offense capable of big play ability. Their defense will also be improved and with an easy schedule, the Bucs should have a solid shot at a playoff berth.

Prediction: 10-6 (3-3), wildcard candidate

1: Carolina Panthers

2017 NFC South division preview

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

Last season: 6-10

Strength of schedule: 16

Carolina had a Super Bowl hangover but this year they are locked and loaded. Cam Newton is determined to correct last seasons mistake and retake his MVP form. The front office also made quality moves to get this team back to the big game.

The Panthers added key playmakers in the draft to help Cam. Christian McCaffery has already put Panther defenders on skates based off of leaked practice videos. That includes Panthers defenders such as all-world linebacker Luke Kuechly. Curtis Samuel, out of Ohio State, was also a key piece the Panthers picked up in the draft but has yet to practice due to a nagging hamstring injury.

Even without Samuel, Cam has Jonathan Stewart, Greg Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin back. With all these weapons and an upgraded offensive line, the Panthers can become one of the premier offenses in the NFL.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Panthers are still as dangerous as ever. The front four have some studs at defensive tackle in Star Lotuelei and Kawann Short. Off the edge, the Panthers bring back Mario Addison and Charles Johnson. This front four is fierce and to beef it up, even more, Panthers legend Julius Peppers has returned to finish his career in Carolina.

The linebacking corp is arguably the best in all of football with Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis and Shaq Thompson. This front seven is going to cause major havoc to opposing offenses.

The Panthers secondary is where their defense struggled last season. To improve this unit, the Panthers signed Mike Adams, a safety, who had 12 interceptions in his three seasons with the Colts. Carolina also brought back Captain Munnerlyn, who is one of the best nickel corners in the league. These additions to the secondary, paired with an elite front seven means the Panthers will have a top 10 defense and the Lombardi Trophy is a realistic goal this season.

These additions to the secondary, paired with an elite front seven means the Panthers will have a top 10 defense and the Lombardi Trophy is a realistic goal this season.

Prediction: 12-4 (4-2), division champion

 

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Featured image courtesy of https://bloggingdirty.com/2015/10/18/atlanta-falcons-state-of-nfc-south-week-6/

2017 fantasy football wide receiver rankings: 40-31

This class of wide receivers is deeper than it has been in years for fantasy football. You can win your league with two stud running backs in the first round and take one of these wide receivers as your number one, so pay attention to this list if you’re going to take two running backs.

 

40. Randall Cobb (Green Bay Packers): In 2015, when Jordy Nelson suffered a season-ending knee injury, the demand for Randall Cobb was high. He was the No. 1 wide receiver on a high-powered Packers offense, but he didn’t live up to expectations.

He followed up his disappointing 2015 season with an even more disappointing 2016 season. Cobb had 610 receiving yards and six touchdowns, and less catches per game last season than any season since 2014.

Mike McCarthy wants Cobb to get more involved in the Packers’ offense, but with a healthy Jordy Nelson, an emerging Davante Adams and a recently acquired Martellus Bennett, targets are going to be hard to come by. Don’t draft Cobb too early, but if the price is right take him.

39. Jeremy Maclin (Baltimore Ravens): The Chiefs made the surprising move to cut Maclin this offseason. He ended up signing with the Ravens on a two-year deal. Jeremy Maclin had a disappointing season with the Chiefs but is in line for a lot of targets this season with Baltimore.

After losing their core of receivers and recently losing tight end Dennis Pitta, Jeremy Maclin is the new No. 1 receiver in Baltimore. He’s playing with a reliable (and elite, debate that in the comments if you must) quarterback in Joe Flacco, but there are some things that make Maclin unreliable.

He ranked in the bottom half of production and efficiency last season and has dealt with his fair share of injuries. He ranked 62nd in receptions and 69th in receiving yards. I have high hopes for Maclin given his current situation in Baltimore, as he has a chance to regain his No. 1 wide receiver status.

2017 fantasy football wide receiver rankings: 40-31

http://prod.static.ravens.clubs.nfl.com

38.  Pierre Garçon (San Francisco 49ers): Pierre Garçon had a bounceback season with the Washington Redskins last year. Quietly, he was one of the most productive receivers in the league last season. He ranked 16th in the league in receiving yards with 1,041 and 17th in receptions with 79. He’s now joining a revamped 49ers team led by quarterback Brian Hoyer.

Not only was Garçon one of the most productive receivers, he ranked in the top half in efficiency. Pierre Garçon was the 13th-ranked receiver in terms of yards per target and that number can increase during Garçon’s tenure in San Francisco.

All in all, I didn’t agree with his choice to leave Washington, but I do think Garçon will surprise people and keep up his production next season.

37. Devante Parker (Miami Dolphins): The long awaited breakout of Devante Parker came last season, kinda. Parker had a nice year, with 744 receiving yards and four touchdowns. He has drawn criticism from head coach Adam Gase and hasn’t fully emerged as the big receiver everyone thought he would be.

Standing at 6-foot-3, Parker should be catching more touchdowns than he did. He had only seven end zone targets which ended up as four touchdowns, which is weak for his size and role in the offense.

With Kenny Stills and Jarvis Landry on the Dolphins’ roster, there’s limited space for targets for Parker. He needs to emerge as a big end zone threat to make some noise in fantasy this season.

36. Eric Decker (Tennessee Titans): I don’t think Decker would make this list if he was still on the Jets. Riddled by injuries last season, Eric Decker never got the chance to do anything noteworthy for the Jets. But in 2015, we saw the Eric Decker that we expected. He was one of the most productive receivers in the league ranking in the top half in categories such as receptions, receiving yards, total touchdowns and fantasy points per game.

Now he heads to Tennessee to play alongside Demarco Murray and Marcus Mariota. The up-and-coming Titans offense has their new No. 1 receiver and Decker has the opportunity to regain his status from 2016.

2017 fantasy football wide receiver rankings: 40-31

https://nbcprofootballtalk.files.wordpress.com

35. Willie Snead (New Orleans Saints): Willie Snead has found success early in his career in the NFL. Snead has eclipsed 850 yards and 65 receptions in both of his seasons in the NFL so far. Playing with elite quarterback Drew Brees, Snead was the number 2/3 wide receiver for the Saints but now things have changed.

Brandin Cooks is gone but the emergence of Michael Thomas has put Snead as the No. 2 receiver. Snead won’t flash anything special in terms of efficiency and production, but one thing he is, is reliable. His reliability is what makes him so intriguing, as he’s a lock to gain 900 yards and five touchdowns. Take him as a No. 2 receiver or flex and love the numbers.

34. Desean Jackson (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): Another old face in a new place. Desean Jackson almost played a full season last year and was as explosive as ever. Jackson eclipsed 1,000 yards for Kirk Cousins and has the opportunity to be even better this year.

Most likely lining up in the slot and returning punts, Jackson has big play ability written all over him. Playing with Mike Evans and Jameis Winston, the new look Bucs have a high-powered offense and a lot of potential.

When healthy, Jackson can put up big yardage, but the only issue with him is he won’t have the touchdowns that the stud wide outs will have.

33. Brandon Marshall (New York Giants): From one New York team to the next, Brandon Marshall finds himself in a good situation with the New York Giants. He is the No. 2 wide receiver behind the top tier, two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Eli Manning.

Last season didn’t go as planned for Brandon Marshall but he’s a big bodied, reliable receiver with something left in the tank. The Giants pass on 62 percent of their plays and Marshall has the opportunity as the No. 2 receiver to see tons of targets and big plays in the red zone. The Giants weren’t great in the red zone last season, as they were successful on 51 percent of their plays, but Marshall will help in that category. Expect double digit touchdowns from Marshall this year.

2017 fantasy football wide receiver rankings: 40-31

http://prod.static.giants.clubs.nfl.com

32. Kelvin Benjamin (Carolina Panthers): Everyone is down on Kelvin Benjamin this season and I don’t know why. He missed his sophomore season with a torn ACL, and didn’t quite rebound like everyone thought he would. He still had 941 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Those numbers were only slightly worse than his impressive 2014 rookie campaign. Keep in mind that the entire Panthers offense was out of sync last season.

Now the revamped offensive line and a healthy Cam Newton makes KB an intriguing fantasy player this year. Still the No. 1 receiver in Carolina, Kelvin is a monster and has the opportunity to be a stud this year.

31. Stefon Diggs (Minnesota Vikings): Diggs broke out as the No. 1 receiver for Minnesota last season. He had 903 yards and three touchdowns in 2016. Stefon Diggs ranked in the top 15 players in the league in terms of receptions with 84 and fantasy points per game with 13.

The Vikings did a lot to revamp their offense by bolstering the offensive line and adding rookie running back Dalvin Cook. Teddy Bridgewater won’t be under center for the Vikings this season, as he recovers form his a knee injury. Diggs won’t have double digit touchdowns due to a lack of looks in the red zone, but 1,000 yards is very possible as he is a clear WR2.

 

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Hagan’s Haus NFL Picks (Week 5)

(http://newarena.com/nfl/a-pissed-off-tom-brady-will-show-no-mercy-against-this-helpless-opponent/)

(http://newarena.com/nfl/a-pissed-off-tom-brady-will-show-no-mercy-against-this-helpless-opponent/)

What a great bounce back week for my NFL picks. Week three had me worried that I was in for a rare, long and painful season of picking NFL games but after having a great week I see that I just had a bad week. We all have them at some point. One of the biggest surprises last week is that the Patriots were shut out at home. Never did I think they would be shut out after how they played in the first three weeks of the season. The positive note for the Patriots is that they went 3-1 without Tom Brady and now that he is coming back, the rest of the AFC should be a bit frightened.

The Los Angeles Rams have won three straight games and at 3-1 on the season. They sit in first place in the NFC West. Few, if any, saw this coming. I expected the Cardinals to struggle this season, (NFC West Preview) but I expected the Seahawks to still be the best team in this division. Only a quarter of the season has passed, but it is still shocking to see the Rams at 3-1.

This week features a few intriguing games and four teams will be on a bye week. Those teams on a bye are The Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints and the Seattle Seahawks. Here are the week five NFL picks brought to you by Hagan’s Haus.

Last Week: 10-4

Season: 36-24

Thursday Night

(Photo: Justin K. Aller, Getty Images)

(Photo: Justin K. Aller, Getty Images)

Arizona 20 @ San Fransisco 24 : This is a very tough game for me to pick. Arizona is not the team most experts thought they would be. Carson Palmer will be out due to concussion protocol and Drew Stanton will start in his place. Drew Stanton has never thrown a touchdown to Larry Fitzgerald in 51 targets. If you can’t get the ball in the end zone with an all-time great like Fitzgerald, then something is wrong. The 49ers will be at home and I think they get the win in this Thursday night match-up.

Sunday Morning

Houston 10 @ Minnesota 23: The Minnesota Vikings defense is for real. Over the past two weeks they have held Kelvin Benjamin to zero catches and held Odell Beckham Jr. to just three catches for 23 yards. The defense in four games is holding opponents to 12.5 points per game, which makes it easy for this team to win. Sam Bradford has protected the football and it is leading to wins. Houston has nothing special on offense to give the Vikings problem, therefore the Vikings defense will reign supreme again.

(https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/redskins/2016/07/23/be2bb322-4ecd-11e6-aa14-e0c1087f7583_story.html)

(https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/redskins/2016/07/23/be2bb322-4ecd-11e6-aa14-e0c1087f7583_story.html)

Washington 23 @ Baltimore 21: This should be an interesting game. Two teams who aren’t that good. Washington will not impress me as long as Kirk Cousins is the quarterback. Baltimore has been fortunate with its schedule up to this point. Neither of these teams will make the playoffs and because of that I have to pick the Redskins because if the Ravens end up 4-1 they may prove me wrong and make a run towards the playoffs.

New England 34 @ Cleveland 17: Cleveland, I am so sorry that Tom Brady’s first game back is against you. The Browns have suffered enough over the years and shouldn’t have to go through this. An anonymous defensive assistant in the NFL was quoted saying “Thanks to Roger Goodall, Tom Brady is going to kill us all”. Tom Brady throws for 300 plus and three touchdowns in this one to make a statement.

Philadelphia 27 @ Detroit 21: Philly is much better than most people anticipated, including myself. Detroit is the same Detroit they have been for the past 50 years. They won’t make the playoffs and their defense is pretty awful. Expect Carson Wentz to have a rookie moment at some point but it shouldn’t happen in this game. Philly’s defense will frustrate Matthew Stafford in this one and Philly will remain unbeaten.

(http://www.mcall.com/sports/football/eagles/mc-eagles-fletcher-cox-defensive-player-of-week-20151014-story.html)

(http://www.mcall.com/sports/football/eagles/mc-eagles-fletcher-cox-defensive-player-of-week-20151014-story.html)

Chicago 24 @ Indianapolis 37: Chicago finally got a win against the Lions, a team that has already beaten Indianapolis. The Colts still have a horrible offensive line causing Andrew Luck to get hit more than a franchise quarterback should. Even though their offensive line is pathetic this isn’t your father’s or grandfather’s Bears defense. Andrew Luck will pick them apart and have his best game of the year.

Tennessee 17 @ Miami 20: Both teams sit at 1-3 and are likely heading for top 10 picks. They both also have a very solid defense but lack offensive fire power. Mariota is in a sophomore slump and Ryan Tannehill looks like he should have stayed a wide receiver. The nod in this one goes to Miami for the simple fact of being at home.

New York (J) 23 @ Pittsburgh 34: Throw out the Steelers game against the Eagles, it was an anomaly. That was one bad game, it is not their identity. The Steelers showed how great they really are last week against the Chiefs. Big Ben was breathtaking in how he played. The Jets will not go anywhere with Ryan Fitzpatrick as their quarterback. This game should be an easy win for the Steelers at home.

Sunday Afternoon

(Photo: Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports)

(Photo: Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports)

Atlanta 13 @ Denver 24: The world is salivating over Julio Jones and the Falcons offense right now. Listen to Aaron Rodgers and “Relax”. The Falcons started out 5-1 last season before ultimately finishing 8-8. They are looking good now but they will come back down to earth against Denver. Denver’s ferocious defense will dominate this game and the Broncos will stay undefeated.

Cincinnati 27 @ Dallas 24: In Dak I trust. Just not against the Bengals. If the Cowboys find a way to win this game then the league will be put on notice. If Dak can lead the Cowboys to a big win like this one then the Cowboys need to treat Tony Romo the same way the Patriots treated Drew Bledsoe when he got hurt and Tom Brady took over. The Bengals will win this game and look for a 150 yard game for AJ Green.

Buffalo 27 @ Los Angeles 21 : The Bills just impressed the entire league by shutting out the Patriots at home. The Rams have impressed the league by just being 3-1 up to this point. Rex Ryan has sent a message to his team because they have been performing great since starting out 0-2. Tyrod Taylor will give this defense some trouble and the Bills continue their hot streak.

San Diego 31 @ Oakland 35: The Raiders are back! Derek Carr has been playing great and this offense is carrying the team. The defense will catch up soon and when it does look out, because this team will get dangerous. The Chargers have led in every game this year but they can’t finish. They may jump out to a 14 point lead in this game but the Raiders will surge back and win a shootout.

Sunday Night

(Photo by John Angelillo/UPI)

(Photo by John Angelillo/UPI)

New York (G) 29 @ Green Bay 28: This should be a great game. The Packers are not as good as people think they are. They struggled to beat the Jaguars and let the Lions comeback to scare them. The Giants need to get Odell Beckham Jr. focused on football. He has yet to score a touchdown this season but will score twice in this one to upset the Packers in Lambeau.

Monday Night

Tampa Bay 26 @ Carolina 34: The Panthers will get back on track this week11837376-mmmain. They are too talented and Cam is going to play mad if he is cleared. This defense also has a lot to prove after getting embarrassed by Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. Jameis is playing better than his numbers indicate. He just has to protect the football better but the Panthers will force at least two turnovers in this game and Cam Newton will put on a show on Monday Night Football.

 

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“From Our House to Yours”

NFC South: Can Cam & The Panthers Be Dethroned?

The NFC South division was formed in 2002 when the NFL realigned. From 2002 through 2012 there had never been a repeat champion of the division. That has since changed and for the past three season Cam Newton has led the Carolina Panthers to three straight division titles. It hasn’t been just because of Cam, but because of the great Carolina defense. The Panthers have a great team but this year they could be in danger of being dethroned. Here is how I think the NFC South will pan out this season.

Next Page

2016 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings

Top 20 Quarterbacks: Young quarterbacks fill out top 15

Top 20 Running Backs: Veteran rusher is number one, with young guns rising in rankings

All rankings are PPR rankings. Although some of my colleagues here at The Game Haus disagree, PPR is the way to go. I believe it, and you, the fans, believe it too (according to our Twitter poll). Here’s your 2016 fantasy football wide receiver rankings.

1. Antonio Brown

2016 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings

AB is the best wide receiver in the NFL. (Photo: Getty Images)

From Surefire Wide Receviers: “Antonio Brown is the number one overall player in fantasy football. If the owner of the number one pick in your draft doesn’t take Brown, deliver a swift backhand to said owner’s jaw. There’s no reason to be cute about it. AB is far and away better than all other receivers and players since 2013.

Numbers make arguments better, so let’s talk about numbers. Antonio Brown caught 136(!) passes last season, good for second-most in a single season in the history of the NFL. Brown played in all 16 games in each of his last three seasons, proving he’s nothing short of incredibly durable.

Brown’s numbers are already huge, but what if his quarterback would’ve played all 16 games? Ben Roethlisberger missed four games last season, which took Brown out of his normal rhythm. Had Big Ben played each game last season, Brown would’ve been on pace to finish with 158 catches for 2,128 yards and 13 touchdowns. The receptions and yards would’ve broken their NFL single season records.

Again, don’t be cute about taking anyone over Brown. He’s the best receiver in football, bar none. If he gets Ben Roethlisberger for all 16 games this season, Brown could break records. He’s the biggest stud in PPR leagues ever. Now, make him the biggest stud on your team by doing all you can to draft him.”

2. Julio Jones

From Surefire Wide Receivers: ”

Remember that time I told you AB caught 136 passes, which was the second-best in a single season? Well, Jones tied Brown’s mark with 136 receptions of his own. For the first three games in 2015, it looked like Julio Jones would overtake Antonio Brown as the best wideout in the league. His game log below shows exactly why.

Game 1 9 catches, 141 yards, 2 touchdowns
Game 2 13 catches, 135 yards
Game 3 12 catches, 164 yards, 2 touchdowns

Jones would cool off for the next two games, yet finished the season with four total games under 90 yards receiving. One of those games saw Jones reel in seven passes for 88 yards, two yards shy of the mark of 90 yards.

Antonio Brown is the best wide receiver in the NFL, but Julio Jones is the clear number two option. He demands targets from Matt Ryan, receiving 203 of them to lead the NFL last season. Jones also averaged 116.9 yards per game, good for first in the league. Draft Jones as the a distinguished WR1, as no player will top Brown or Jones’ production this season.”

3. Keenan Allen

From Surefire Wide Receivers: “Keenan Allen’s 2015 season was as successful of a half-season as we’ve seen. Allen suffered a lacerated kidney which promptly ended his season. Allen’s first eight games had him on pace for 134 receptions for 1,450 yards and 8 touchdowns. He was also on pace for 194 points, which would’ve been good enough for sixth among wide receivers.

The most intriguing aspect of Allen’s 2016 outlook is the fact that he owns targets in San Diego. Allen played in just half the games for the Chargers, yet he still finished with 89 targets (on pace for 178), which was second on the team. That number is just crazy. When Philip Rivers likes a receiver, he absolutely makes sure that receiver gets plenty of targets (see Antonio Gates/Vincent Jackson). Allen will dominate the targets this season, with Antonio Gates on his way out and no other viable receiver in the offense.

Danny Woodhead led the team in targets last season- as a running back. That shows the state of San Diego’s passing offense. I expect Allen to contend with Green to be at the top of the second tier at the wide receiver position. There’s nothing really to worry about with Allen. I really can’t see the UC-Berkeley product finishing outside the top-five of receivers this season.”

4. Odell Beckham Jr.

Odell Beckham Jr. seems to be a unanimous decision to be nothing less than a top three wide receiver this season. I’ve got him at number four, so I guess that’s close enough. With 93 targets reeled in for 1,450 yards and 13 touchdowns, OBJ is a fantastic wide receiver. He is Eli Manning’s favorite target, which adds to his allure. I do think he’s overrated in part due to one play. The catch he made was one of the #GOAT, but since then people have treated him like he’s the best athlete on the planet. I get the hype for Beckham, but I will never take him at his asking price right now, and neither should you. Regardless, the LSU product is one of the best wide receivers in football, and I’d take him in the latter half of the first round.

5. Allen Robinson

ARob is elite this season, there’s no question. He had eight straight games with five or more catches last season, including a 10/153/3 game against Tennessee. Blake Bortles is part of the next generation of great quarterbacks, and the Jacksonville offense as a whole is improving. I love Allen Robinson this season, and you should too.

6. Brandon Marshall

Brandon Marshall bet Antonio Brown his car that he’d have more receiving yards. That’s enough for me to know Brandon Marshall still feels good at age 32. Marshall can and will replicate his success in 2016. He was the number three wide receiver in all of fantasy football last season, racking up a 109/1,502/14 statline. Marshall is by far Ryan Fitzpatrick’s favorite target, and I’m very confident Marshall has all the tools to be a WR1 again this season.

7. A.J. Green

2016 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings

A.J. Green is on track to have a revamped 2016 season. (Photo: Go-Bengals.com)

From Surefire Wide Receivers: “Once Brown, Jones, and Odell Beckham Jr. are drafted, the fourth-best wide receiver to be drafted is a toss up. Players like A.J. Green, Dez Bryant, and DeAndre Hopkins all will be taken after the top three in many drafts this season.

Frustrating as he may be, A.J. Green is in for a career year this season. Green’s root of inconsistency in 2015 is attributed to his lack of targets. With breakout star Tyler Eifert, two different but useful running backs in Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill, and two other receivers (Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones), vying for targets, Green became just another player in Cincinnati’s potent offense a season ago.

Wide receivers don’t like to share, and Green is no different. For the first time since his rookie season, the Georgia product saw less than 30% of the team’s targets go his way. This season, Green will see an uptick in targets. 39 percent of Bengals targets is now gone with the departure of Jones and Sanu. Brandon Lafell is expected to line up opposite of Green, but he simply will not demand much attention from Andy Dalton. Rookie wideout Tyler Boyd also joins the team to fill in as a slot receiver, but still won’t contend with Green for the most targets on the team.

Green’s only problem last season was a lack of attention from Andy Dalton. This season, it will be a Dalton to Green love affair. I’m not drafting Green with my first pick, but I’m very happy with him as my second pick in the middle of the second round.”

8. Jordy Nelson

I’ve got Aaron Rodgers as my number one quarterback, and Jordy Nelson is his favorite target. Nelson was the number two wideout in 2014, and didn’t play last season due to a torn ACL he suffered in the preseason. He’s on track to play in week one, and he will pick up where he left off in 2014. Nelson had 98 catches and 13 touchdowns in 2014, so the production was clearly there. People may be afraid of Nelson’s durability, and I get that. Still, I’m taking Nelson as a low WR1 this season.

9. DeAndre Hopkins

With no quarterback to catch footballs from last season, DeAndre Hopkins still managed to go bonkers. In 2015, he caught 111 passes for 1,521 yards and 11 scores. He was the number four wideout last season, finishing just below Brandon Marshall. Brock Osweiler is no savior, but he is a step up from the tumultuous quarterbacks Hopkins dealt with last season. The only downside with Hopkins is that the Texans signed Lamar Miller during free agency. Miller is a durable back that will consistently produce for the Texans, meaning the load will be taken off Hopkins at least a little. Hopkins is still a huge game waiting to happen, so he’ll be no lower than a low WR1 this season.

10. Dez Bryant

As mentioned in the quarterback rankings, Tony Romo can’t stay healthy behind the best offensive line in the NFL. Dez Bryant also failed to stay healthy last season, paving way for a terrible year in Dallas. Bryant is back to full health in 2016, as is Romo. This points to a recharged season for Bryant, who will be the primary target for Tony Romo once again. Bryant is as sturdy as they come, so taking him as a WR2 is gold.

I had a heck of a time ranking the next four players. Consider Alshon Jeffery, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and Julian Edelman 11A, 11B, 11C, and 11 D, respectively.

11. Alshon Jeffery

When he stays healthy, Alshon Jeffery is a talent not many cornerbacks in the NFL can contain. He played in all 16 games in 2013 and 2014, but played just nine last season. I trust that he’s ready to go this season, and will stay healthy. The great news on Jeffery is that the top two pass catchers behind Jeffery have departed. Tight end Martellus Bennett is now a member of the New England Patriots, while running back Matt Forte has taken his talents to the New York Jets. Jeffery averaged 87 receptions for 1,277 yards and nine touchdowns in the two seasons he played every game. Sure, Kevin White has hype, but that’s all he has. Until he does something, I’m riding with Jeffery as my WR1, especially with him being the top pass catcher by far in Chicago.

12. Demaryius Thomas

Demaryius Thomas was a borderline WR1 last season, even though he caught passes from Denver quarterbacks with a collective passer rating of 76.3. That rating is second-worst in the entire NFL. It doesn’t matter who plays quarterback, and at what level- Demaryius Thomas will put up huge numbers regardless. Let other owners sulk on Thomas due to Mark Sanchez throwing to him. Oh well, Sanchez can’t be as bad as the play last season, so Thomas will absolutely be at the lowest a high WR2 this season.

13. Eric Decker

One of the more consistent wide receivers since 2012, Eric Decker is vastly underrated. His ADP may not say so, but to the general public, Decker is just the other receiver in New York. Decker posted 80/1,027/12 last season, his second in the Jets’ offense. It’s clear the Minnesota product is becoming more and more comfortable in the New York system. The forecast in New York is not changing. Matt Forte has been added, but most of the core remains. With Ryan Fitzpatrick now signed, roll with Decker as a huge WR2.

14. Julian Edelman

Julian Edelman is quite simply a PPR monster. In 2013, he caught 105 passes, and in 2014 he reeled in 92. Last season, he was on pace for a career mark of 107 catches. One thing is certain with Edelman: New England will feed him the ball with the use of screens and quick hitters, give Edelman ample opportunities to make plays. Due to the face that he’ll be catching passes from Jimmy Garoppolo for the first four weeks of the season, I had to put Edelman behind the three that are in virtual ties ahead of him. Martellus Bennett will also take some targets, but not a crucial amount. No matter what, the Patriots will find ways to get the former quarterback the football.

2016 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings

Brandin Cooks is one of the next stars of the NFL. (Photo: Brynn Anderson/Associated Press)

15. Brandin Cooks

I am quite high on Brandin Cooks this season. After chalking up 1,138 yards on 84 catches last season, Cooks will be even better this season. Entering his third season, the Oregon State product is primed for his best season ever. Willie Snead, Michael Thomas, and Coby Fleener are good enough to distract defenses, yet not take away targets from Cooks. I expect this season to be the last season Cooks is ranked less than a WR1.

16. Jarvis Landry

What I love about Jarvis Landry is that he was the ninth-best wide receiver last season, even without being touchdown dependent. With just four trips to paydirt last season, Landry has huge potential to rise in rankings as the season goes on. My problem with Landry is that there’s a lot of potential great young wide receivers in Miami. Couple that with Jay Ajayi receiving rave reviews, and Landry could see his target share go down in 2016. Still, Landry should be consistent enough to find himself as a quality WR2.

17. Mike Evans

Mike Evans has huge upside just like the aforementioned Landry thanks to his independence of touchdowns. Evans scored just three times last season, yet he still was the number 23 wide receiver last season. Evans’ stock drops in PPR formats, which is why he is number 17 for me this season. However, Jameis Winston is getting better, and so is the entire team in Tampa Bay. With 1,206 yards on just 74 catches last season, Evans is a big play machine. Provided he’s able to haul in 12 or more catches this season, Evans will be considered a hard WR2.

18. Amari Cooper

Rookie wide receivers very rarely produce productive fantasy numbers, but Cooper tried to break that mold last season. Although he wasn’t Derek Carr’s favorite target, Cooper still accounted for 1,070 yards on 72 receptions in his rookie campaign. Cooper will simply be a better NFL receiver this year, as one year of experience in an NFL offense can go a long way. There’s no reason to believe Cooper will decline this season, so trust him to be your WR2 all season.

19. Doug Baldwin

Doug Baldwin exploded for 14 touchdowns last season. Baldwin was at his best in the second half of the season, and Pete Carroll has already said he will employ a similar style of offense for this season. Baldwin will lose some targets to Jimmy Graham and Tyler Lockett, but overall, I expect him to be a WR2. He’s touchdown dependent, which is really worrisome. Expect his touchdown numbers to decrease, as it’d be very hard to maintain 14 scores again this season.

2016 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings

Sammy Watkins is able to stay on the field better than many think, so trust him as your WR2, or get hyped if he’s your WR3. (Photo: Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

20. Sammy Watkins

For some reason, Sammy Watkins is known for being injury prone, and that always hurts his draft stock. However, Watkins started all 16 games in his rookie season, and started in 13 games last season. He’s only missed three games in his entire career, yet some owners still don’t like him. I understand that Watkins finds his way on the injury report more than we’d like to see, but he still plays on nearly every Sunday. Watkins is more valuable in standard leagues, but he’s still a WR2 in any format. Provided Watkins can steadily raise his 60 reception total from last season, he will be known as a concrete WR2 by the end of the season.

21. Kelvin Benjamin

After putting up a solid 2014 rookie season, Kelvin Benjamin’s 2015 ended before it began after tearing his ACL. Now in 2015, Benjamin is on fantasy football owners’ radar once again. He’ll be a solid receiver, and the number one wideout for the Panthers. However, I expect Greg Olsen to take the most targets and receptions in Carolina, which will hurt Benjamin’s stock. Regardless, his 73/1,008/9 clip from 2014 provides signs of promise for 2016.

22. T.Y. Hilton

I really wanted to rank T.Y. Hilton higher. While charting wide receivers, I had him in the 11-19 crop. However, after doing some digging, I had to drop Hilton lower due to shear production alone. However, Andrew Luck attempted 88 deep passes in 2014, which led the NFL (PFF). Hilton was a top five wideout when it came to deep balls in 2014 (also PFF), which paves way for Hilton to be a classic boom or bust candidate. There will be weeks where Hilton is a WR1, but there will also be weeks where Hilton can’t score double digits. Be cautious with Hilton in 2016.

23. Jeremy Maclin

I wasn’t high on Jeremy Maclin in 2015, but I think he’ll be an asset to your team in 2016. Maclin was the hope to rebuild the Kansas City wide receiver corps last season, and he did just that. The Missouri product produced 87 catches for 1,088 yards and eight touchdowns last season. I think his numbers will rise in 2016 as he gets more comfortable with his role. Maclin is a WR3 for me now, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him reach WR2 numbers multiple times this season.

24. Michael Crabtree

Michael Crabtree is the definition of a possession receiver. He hogged 15 red zone targets in 2015, and earned 151 targets, 17 more than Amari Cooper. Reeling in 85 passes for 922 yards is impressive- I think. Anyway you slice it, you can trust Crabtree as a strong PPR option. He’s got limited upside, but expect Crabtree to be a solid WR2 this season.

25. John Brown

2016 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings

Emmanuel Sanders is a great backup option for your team. (Photo: denverbroncos.com)

John Brown was one of the most consistent wide receivers in the league last year. In nine of the 15 games he played last season, he recorded in between four and seven catches. He also had two other games with seven and 10 receptions. In eight games last season, Brown had 60 receiving yards or more. In 11 games in 2015, he had 12 fantasy points or more. With more than 12 points in all 16 games this season, Brown could see himself around 240 points, which would put him as a WR2 this season. Draft Brown as the premier playmaker in Arizona, and watch him win you a fantasy championship.

26. Emmanuel Sanders

As said with Demaryius Thomas, it doesn’t matter who plays quarterback for Denver. The quarterback quality can’t be as bad as it was last year. That said, Emmanuel Sanders still racked up 1,135 receptions on 76 receptions. There’s no reason to think his targets will go down, so trust Sanders as a WR2/WR3 mix.

27. Tyler Lockett

Maybe I’m crazy for this, but I like Tyler Locket- a lot. Tyler Lockett is the confirmed starting wide receiver paired with Doug Baldwin. He’s made “significant strides” in his game according to reports out of Seattle. Again, Pete Carroll has confirmed he will be rolling out the same style of offense as was implemented in the second half of last season, which is exactly when Lockett’s numbers surged. I’m taking Lockett, and expecting him to blow his ADP out of the water.

28. Donte Moncrief

Pegged as a sleeper last season, Donte Moncrief finished as a middling WR3. I expect him to improve upon his 64/733/6 stat line from last season, and begin to take away targets from T.Y. Hilton. Andre Johnson is now gone, making Moncreif the number two wideout in Indy. Stashing Moncrief could pay dividends, as he caught 80 percent of his red zone targets (8 of 10), and tied for more red zone receptions among returning players for the Colts.

29. Larry Fitzgerald

Larry Fitzgerald will always see playing time thanks to his ability to run block. He’ll see targets due to being in an explosive offense. I still think Fitzgerald’s play takes a dip this season with David Johnson and John Brown emerging as stars.

30. Randall Cobb

Randall Cobb will play second fiddle to Jordy Nelson. Although I still think Cobb is a good wide receiver, his inconsistency worries me. Cobb should still find around 75 catches, 900 yards, and around five touchdowns. Draft Cobb as your WR3, with upside to be a low WR2.

Surefire Quarterbacks for Your Fantasy Football Team

It’s the middle of July, so it’s time to really dive into the world of fantasy football. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be giving you a healthy dose of fantasy football knowledge. To start, I’ll provide you with the most safe picks you can make at each position in order to steer your team to a championship.

 

If you’re not into sky diving, alligator wrestling, or giving cats baths, this article is for you. Here’s five safe bets quarterbacks who’ll be quality starters this season.

1. Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers should be the number one quarterback on your draft board this season. (Photo: Christian Peterson/Getty Images)

Aaron Rodgers should be the number one quarterback on your draft board this season. (Photo: Christian Peterson/Getty Images)

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers scored the seventh-most points among quarterbacks last season, which is already great. Rodgers didn’t even get to enjoy the services of Jordy Nelson last season, who missed the entire year after tearing his ACL in the preseason. Nelson finished with 230 points in 2014, good for second among wide receivers.

The Packers didn’t even have a great wideout last season. Their leading point scorer was James Jones (141 points), who isn’t even on an NFL roster right now. Randall Cobb was right behind Jones, scoring 130 points last season. Rodgers didn’t get to throw to an elite receiver, or even a great one at that.

I say all that to say this: Aaron Rodgers was one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL last season, and he did it without an elite receiver. Of the six passers to score more than Rodgers last season, all of them had at least one player who scored in the top 12 of receivers last season.

Here’s the complete breakdown:

Cam Newton Greg Olsen (#5 TE)
Tom Brady Rob Gronkowski (#1 TE), Jullian Edelman (on pace to be#7 WR)
Russell Wilson Doug Baldwin (#7 WR)
Blake Bortles Allen Robinson (#4), Allen Hurns (#14)
Carson Palmer Larry Fitzgerald (#11), John Brown (#21)
Drew Brees Bradin Cooks (#12)

Aaron Rodgers has been one of the most consistent quarterbacks since he became a starter in 2008. Rodgers hasn’t finished worse than third in points among quarterbacks since 2008, other than last season. He’s chalked up two first place finishes, coupled with two second place finishes.

Draft Rodgers this season, and don’t worry about drafting another quarterback until the double digit rounds. The UC-Berkeley alum stays healthy, and will get Jordy Nelson back this season, so don’t be surprised to see him finish in first among quarterbacks this season.

2. Cam Newton

Cam Newton scored the most fantasy points of all players in fantasy football last season. Just like Rodgers, Newton gets one of his favorite targets back after missing all of 2015. Kelvin Benjamin returns this season, and like the aforementioned Nelson, missed 2015 due to a torn ACL.

In 2014, Kelvin Benjamin caught 73 passes for 1,008 yards. He was 11 catches away from Greg Olsen’s team leading 84 catches, and tied Olsen’s mark for most receiving yards. Benjamin also led the team in receiving touchdowns, snagging 9. With Benjamin back, Newton has a chance to have two top-15 pass catchers at their positions. Benjamin is just 25 years of age, and is about to enter the prime of his career. It will also be just his second full season in the league.

Alongside Benjamin and Olsen are Tedd Ginn Jr., Philly Brown, and Devin Funchess. Ginn’s rather ho-hum career was recharged last season. The Ohio State product was the ringleader of the wide receivers, pulling in 44 throws for 739 yards and 10 touchdowns. Ginn is 31, so he may still have a few more productive seasons in him. Regardless, the speedster still should produce enough to help Newton be more than serviceable this season.

Another Ohio State alum who’ll continue to improve his young career is Corey “Philly” Brown. Brown caught 31 balls for 447 yards and 4 touchdowns. Brown is just hitting his stride in his NFL career, and will be a deep-threat slot receiver for Newton this season.

Wedged in between two OSU alums is Michigan standout Devin Funchess. Many fantasy experts are waiting for Funchess to quit spinning his wheels and gain traction in the NFL, but it hasn’t happened yet. With 473 yards on 31 catches and 5 touchdowns last season, Funchess was widely known as a fantasy sleeper last season. Instead, Ginn took his projected role. Funchess is still a pretty good option for Newton, who is really becoming accustomed to not-so-new faces in Carolina.

3. Ben Roethlisberger

Big Ben will be one less headache for your team this season. (Photo: Brian Kunst/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire)

Ben Roethlisberger would’ve finished as the fifth-best quarterback last season had he played all 16 games last season according to projections.

Let’s marvel at all the toys Ben gets to play with. Le’Veon Bell, DeAngelo Williams, Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, and Ladarius Green, will all catch passes from Big Ben this season. Roethlisberger has the best weapons in the league, paving way for a monster season for the bruising quarterback.

Roethlisberger threw for less than 250 yards just twice in the entire season in 2015. Six times he threw for 350 yards or more, and also had a game with 349 yards. The Miami (OH) product is just keeps on keepin’ on, and so long as he stays healthy, enjoy his services.

4. Drew Brees

If you’re looking for a player with consistency like Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees is your guy. Since 2004, Brees’ worst season was finishing as the ninth-best quarterback(!). He did that twice, in his 2004 and 2005 seasons. Since then, Brees has finished in the top-five in every season except two, when he finished sixth in 2010 and 2015.

To add to Brees’ allure, he’ll get to throw to one of the most respected rookies from other players’ standpoint in the league. Michael Thomas was the Saints’ second-round pick, and the first of two Buckeyes to be drafted onto the roster (Vonn Bell). Thomas will be a huge red zone target for Brees, and has great hands. Thomas has gotten knocked due to his inability to showcase a large catching radius, but every rookie has some kind of kink to work out.

Rave reviews aren’t few and far between for Thomas. The highest of praise came from Saints in-house reporter Sean Kelley, who said Thomas is “going to be a star”. He went on to say that Thomas will easily take the number three spot on the depth chart, and that he could even push Willie Snead and Brandin Cooks.

5. Russell Wilson

In 2012, the first season after Tony Romo got married, Romo had the best season of his career. On July 6 of this year, Russell Wilson tied the knot. People say history repeats itself, so I project big things for Russell Wilson. All humor aside, let’s get to the undeniable stats.

Since entering the league in 2012, Wilson has been in the top-ten in scoring each season. He’s improved each season in points, shooting all the way up to second last season. Wilson’s exact finishes are shown below.

2015 Second
2014 Third
2013 Eighth
2012 Ninth

To make a better case for Wilson, he gets one of the best tight ends in the league back this season. Jimmy Graham started slow last season prior to his gruesome knee injury that ended his season. However, three of his best four games took place in the second half of his season.

In addition, Wilson may be passing the ball more frequently with the retirement of Marshawn Lynch this offseason. Thomas Rawls was great in Lynch’s absence in 2015, but it’s not certain whether or not the running game will be as steady as last season. Pro Football Focus gives Seattle the worst offensive line grade in the entire league after the 2015 season. Wilson is a great passer when on the run, and it’s easier to throw with a mobile quarterback than run with a terrible line.

Disclaimer: Tom Brady is not included in this list due to his four-game suspension. I refuse to expose this issue more than it already has, so I’ll make this quick. Brady will miss 25 percent of the season, meaning 25 percent less points. Had Brady missed 25 percent of the season last season, he would’ve been the 18th highest scoring quarterback. If you think he still deserves to be on this list, I respectfully and strongly disagree.

 

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