AJ McCarron

Teams should be very wary about AJ McCarron

Earlier this week, A.J. McCarron won his grievance case against the Bengals. The former Alabama standout is set to become an unrestricted free agent. The supply and demand for decent quarterback play in the NFL is as out of whack as it has ever been. Thus, McCarron and several other quarterbacks are about to be grossly overpaid by quarterback needy teams.

In today’s NFL, if you do not have a quarterback, you don’t have anything. So, teams must overpay at that position on occasion. However, here is why turning to McCarron in particular is going to be a grave mistake for some franchise.

He is even less of a proven commodity than other quarterbacks who may be on the move:

Drew Brees has given every indication that he will be back in New Orleans. Assuming that is the case, it would be a stretch to call any of the free agent quarterbacks elite. The same goes for trade candidates. Still, guys like Kirk Cousins, Nick Foles and Case Keenum have all had stretches where they looked like guys who could carry a franchise for a decade.

While any team should think twice about giving big money to a quarterback who has been pedestrian for his entire career and then suddenly catches lighting in a bottle, McCaron has never had a hot stretch like the three names in the last paragraph

The only season where he had relevant playing time was 2015. He played in 7 regular season games including three starts for an injured Dalton. He put up 854 yards, six touchdown passes and two interceptions. Those numbers are okay, but there certainly are not the kind you build your franchise around.

McCarron’s only playoff start was also unremarkable. He barely completed half of his throws while tallying just 212 yards, a touchdown pass and an interception. He did put his team in positon to win, but they didn’t. Now, some might argue that McCarron has not been given an opportunity to be “the guy” and that is why he has never been anything more than average. That fact is actually very telling as to why teams should avoid him like the plague.

McCarron never really pressured Dalton:

With a career passer rating in the 80s, a completion percentage in the low 60s, and a winless playoff record, Andy Dalton is the posterchild for average quarterbacks everywhere.

Andy Dalton

Photo: Getty Images

Yet, there was never a true quarterback controversy in Cincinnati. As a Cincinnati native, I can tell you that the only talk that ever really existed was in the fan base. Whatever a fan base talks about is pretty meaningless, as fun as it may be. Many fans in NFL cities want to change the quarterback and head coach after every loss. Thankfully, the league does not work that way.

The Bengals organization is far from being run well. However, the people who run any NFL franchise are smarter than the vast majority of fans. If that were not true, the fans would be running the team.

In the last two years, the Bengals have posted losing records. If McCarron was anything special, Cincinnati would have thrown him in there to try and turn the last two years around, but that never happened. If he cannot beat out Andy Dalton, the only place he can take a franchise as a starting quarterback is off a cliff.

McCarron has already had the best supporting cast he is going to get:

Scroll up and read McCarron’s numbers from 2015 again. That Bengals roster had seven pro bowlers on it. Those numbers are all McCarron could manage. Wherever he goes, he won’t be surrounded by seven pro bowlers. Instead, he will perhaps be asked to turn guys like the Jets receivers into pro bowlers. The numbers do not lie. He is not capable of that.

McCarron is about to make a whole lot of money for doing very little in the NFL. He is by no means the first nor will he be the last player this will happen for. Good for him. However excluding rookie deals, these situations rarely turn out well for the player or team involved. Brock Osweiler in Houston, Mike Glennon in Chicago, and the list goes on.  McCarron will no doubt continue that trend.

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A trail of tears from Cleveland

Scott R. Galvin/USA TODAY Sports

Cleveland natives tend to feel the cold fronts coming off of Lake Erie this time of year. Unfortunately, what seems of late, they can settle for the bitter cold feeling of their once beloved football team. For at least a half a century, the city has been on the wrong side of history. Fortunately, recent success has come from the anchors of The Land, the Indians and the Cavaliers.

For the Indians, who haven’t had scent of a world title since the Truman administration, the tide is turning for the Wahoos. The past seasons have been pretty fortuitous to say the least. Coming off of a 100-win season in 2017 and World Series appearance the year prior, the Indians’ future looks brighter than ever. This upcoming season, the Indians are predicted to compete for a title as a top baseball club.

The Cavaliers have been through their own personal battles but still hold their position as Cleveland’s best export. The return of LeBron James has been filled with fortune and serendipity. The Cavs Captured a title in 2016 and ended the championship the fifty-year drought for the city. As long as King James and the Cavaliers are one of the heavyweights in the NBA, they will forever be the epicenter of Cleveland sports.

However, the Browns are at an all time low. Coming off a 2016 season that only amounted to a single win, 2017 couldn’t be any better. In fact, it wasn’t. The worst team of the past became the worst team of the present. And at this rate, they look to be the worst of all time.

On January 7, 2018, along Alfred Lerner Way, Brown fans celebrated their “perfect” season. Instead of cheers, cries for help were heard adjacent of the FirstEnergy Stadium. A parade that mirrored a funeral buried the 2017 Browns along with the NFL’s list of deplorable winless teams. With a platform built by greats including Ozzie Newsome, Lou Groza and Jim Brown, Cleveland has yet to return to such heights.

Enveloped in the lingering scent of their 1964 championship, which unfortunately now has only seen by a handful. The majority of the fan base still cringe over the most gut wrenching moments as the world recognizes them as miracles. The Fumble, The Drive, The Move, all still remain in many fans’ hearts as the lowest points in the franchise. Since the golden ages of the 80’s, the Browns haven’t been able to capitalize in the turn of the century.

Scott R. Galvin/USA TODAY Sports

Without a playoff birth in almost two decades, fans questions have turned to prayers. With a lack of a notable franchise star, a questionable and ever-changing coaching staff and poor management, the future looks pretty dim as of right now. Even at the franchise’s lowest point, it seems that it is going to get worse as the years go by. Only thing that is safe to say, is that the Browns are here to stay. The efforts of Art Modell in moving the team to Baltimore in 1995 was disastrous. Other than setting precedent for franchise relocations and expansions of the future, for Cleveland, it was futile.

With that being said, Cleveland will have to bare what is to come. In doing so, the seasons of the future might mimic the franchise’s lack accomplishments like the display this past year. For Cleveland to turn things around, this particular off-season will prove to be detrimental for the squad.

 

A star…?

In the past, Cleveland has harbored quite a few franchise cornerstones. Some of who were regarded as not only arguably the best in their respective position like Ozzie Newsome, Bernie Kosar and Lou Groza but also the best player in the league. From 1957 to 1965, Jim Brown reigned as the best player in all of football. Bringing home a rookie of the year trophy, three NFL most valuable awards, and garnishing the franchise’s last championship in 1964.

At the height of his career, Brown retired from professional football in 1965, leaving the franchise in search for a new star. Spurts from Hall of Famers like Bobby Mitchell, Greg Pruitt and Leroy Kelly proved to be promising. Unfortunately, the void left by Brown became too hard to fill. That void still plagues the franchise fifty-years later.

An addition of a prominent all-pro player or an emergence of a young star may speak vibes for the team going forward. After an impressive season by the Buffalo Bills that ended in a playoff berth, the Browns now have the longest current playoff drought in the NFL. In other words, the way the organization is going, the Browns won’t be seen in the winter anytime soon. Great confidence, effort and camaraderie comes from leadership, something the Browns lack. A star could be the epitome of these components and their focus and pursuit in becoming a contender.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

A bright spot in the tumultuous past has been the career of all-pro left tackle Joe Thomas. Thomas, who holds the NFL record for most consecutive snaps played, has proven to be remarkable with nine all-pro selections and ten Pro Bowl appearances. But questions mount as the organization looks to move on from arguably the best lineman in football. According to Cleveland.com, reports show that the 33 year old might consider retirement after a ten year career with the Browns. On a laundry list of problems, this holds as the highest priority for the franchise.

Let’s be honest, Cleveland isn’t the most attractive destination for a free agent or even a draft pick. It does not have the appeal of Los Angeles, Miami, New York or even Texas. The golden age of the city is long gone so a potential of a star wanting to play in Cleveland is slim.

When asked about Cleveland, New York Knicks center Joakim Noah said during an interview with TNT in 2009, “I don’t know about this place, man. I just stayed in my hotel room, man. Every time I look out my window, it’s pretty depressing out here, man.” He reiterated his position in a later press conference season after facing the Cavaliers. He was asked if he had regretted his comments, he replied, “Not at all. You like it? Do you think Cleveland’s cool? I mean, I’ve never heard anybody say ‘I’m going to Cleveland on vacation.’ What’s so good about  Cleveland?” The franchise has to offer more than just Cleveland to reel in targets.

 

A move in Free Agency

The Browns’ organization has been in a rebuild mode since the beginning of their playoff drought. Though certain components of the franchise might seem unattractive, it can be a valuable home for player looking to revitalize their career. A quarterback is  probably the most inconsistent position for the franchise since the departure of Bernie Kosar… literally. Since Tim Couch, the last quarterback for the Browns to start an entire season in 2001, the Browns have started 25 different quarterbacks in 16 seasons, the league’s highest.

This one seems a bit far fetched, but any big name potential targets in this years free agency wouldn’t be any different.  Drew Brees, who has plagued the NFC South Division with four division titles and a Super Bowl in 2009 might look for a change in scenery. After an astounding season with 4,208 passing yards with 23 touchdowns on 73% completion, an NFL record, Brees looks better than ever. The only ones looking forward to Brees departure are the Buccaneers, the Panthers and the Falcons. More than likely, if Brees is to leave, he would want to play for a contender. As tough as the AFC North is, contending for a title isn’t in the team’s imminent future. Brees would be the best case scenario. His pedigree would add appeal for free agents to come to Cleveland.

Patrick Smith/Getty

Kirk Cousins at the moment, is having a difficult time with management of the Redskins. During an interview on the Pritchard and Cecil Hour Podcast, former Redskins GM Scot McCloughan told the tandem when questioned about Cousins, “He’s a good player. Is he special? I don’t see special”. McCloughan was responsible for putting the two franchise tags on Cousins. For that, Cousins has something to prove, something he won’t get from a contender. Cousins has to prove he is a legitimate franchise player.

A career in Washington may not be the answer. With franchise tags it seems that Washington is not 100 percent sold on Cousins. NFL analysts expect the ‘Skins to take a quarterback in this upcoming draft. The only downfall is that Cousins has dealt with a shifting front office. His trust of Cleveland management might not be enough to sign and he’s not wrong for thinking so. To counter that, Cousins play has reflected the ‘Skins success. But it seems a contending team’s management may not think so. Cousins might have to settle with a rebuilding franchise.

Cleveland as a destination could be in consideration. Not only for the money, but a list of players who also have a chip on their shoulder. Browns receiver Josh Gordon is looking to prove the critics wrong and have his named edged in consideration as one of the league’s top wideouts. Also free agent pick ups like Marquise Lee or Terrelle Pryor could be a good addition to the core. Pryor/Lee and Gordon could be wonderful targets for Cousins or Brees or even a younger quarterback.

The Draft

Luckily for the Browns, bad seasons return great draft picks. The team gets an A+ for drafting Myles Garrett last year. After tallying seven sacks in only ten games, the rookie out of Texas A&M might break the chain of poor draft picks for the Browns. This year, they have a chance to do the same as they have the first and fourth pick (via Houston) of the first round in the draft.

Free agent targets like Kirk Cousins and Drew Brees might be out of reach for the Browns. Because so, the organization might have to settle for drafting a quarterback. Luckily, a whole slate of quarterbacks can fit the bill. Wyoming’s Josh Allen, USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen and Heisman trophy winners, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson all look promising for any team. The only problem is the fourth pick, which is a good problem to have. A perfect execution can be the foundation for the future and help pull the Browns out of this hole.

As a prediction, in the first round, the Browns are getting a quarterback and a running back. If the Browns are sold and solely want a particular quarterback, they should pick him first.

Jeff Roberson/AP

As the mock boards have it, the Giants have their eyes on Josh Rosen or Sam Darnold. If the Browns want Josh Rosen, they should draft him. However, that leaves a home run hitter like Penn State’s Saquon Barkley on the board. If Josh Rosen is taken first by the Browns, the Giants or the Colts could take Barkley for the second and third picks respectively. If that’s the case, the Browns should draft Barkley first. The Giants will probably take Rosen, but the Colts won’t draft a quarterback. This leaves Darnold, Mayfield and others on the board for the fourth pick which should be suitable.

Injuries make most players question their futures but ultimately the doubt will fade. More than likely, Joe Thomas will stay with the Browns. He has a lot more football to play and like the Browns, he has something to prove. With that being said, the Browns should look to fortify their defensive line or secondary instead. Best bet is defensive tackle, Trenton Thompson from Georgia at the 33rd pick and Mike Hughes, defensive back from UCF with the 35th pick to replace the released Joe Haden. If the future of Joe Thomas fears the organization, Offensive tackle Connor Williams from Texas looks valuable at the 63rd pick. In the end, Spencer Drango looks promising after filling in for the injured Thomas this year if Thomas decides to hang it up.

 

The fan base

As the transportation hub of the Great Lakes, Cleveland rose to prominence in the mid nineteenth century. By the 1920’s, it became the nation’s fifth largest city. The progressive era brought on businesses and businesses brought a booming economy that welcomed an influx of people. This economy aided the birth of sports as Cleveland was dubbed, City of Champions.

Matthew Emmons- US Presswire

Because of these roots, the love for sports have seeped into the culture. There is no discussion, no fan base is more loyal than Cleveland fans. When most of our country’s industries of energy, automobile manufacturing, and agriculture slowly left the region, the residents of the 216 embraced sports. As the surrounding area seemed to deteriorate, Baseball, Football, Basketball, were seen as beacons of hope for natives of northeast Ohio. Camaraderie means everything to a team. A mystery lies whether if there is enough among the players. However, the fans show to not disappoint.

Over the last seven seasons from the ball club, the team’s record has only amounted to an abysmal 89 loses and 23 wins. However, the Browns fans have been able to keep up almost a full attendance at FirstEnergy Stadium over those years. That can be music to a free agent’s ears. There is nothing like home, but a place where you are wanted can move mountains. A free agent like Kirk Cousins, who has been doubted by  his own ball club’s fan base would instantly be accepted among the dawg pound.

Cleveland’s downfall has come by its own merit. Poor management, lack of a stable roster, and a questionable coaching staff have prevented the franchise from reliving those glory days of the past and give what their respected fan base deserves. To no surprise, the Cleveland Browns’ organization is moving toward being the worst franchise, not only in the NFL but in professional sports. Not only because of its dysfunctional team’s performance, but the potential the team should have based upon the foundation it lays upon.

Despite all of this and what their record was this past season, there should optimism in Cleveland. It literally cannot get any worse than this. Anything is better than current situation of the franchise. And there’s hope. The region was built on determination and grit. The energy and commitment of the fans exhibit those roots. As grim as it may seem, light is always at the end of tunnel. But there aren’t any miracles in northeast Ohio, at least not in favor of Browns. No magical superstar is going to fall out of the sky and it’s unlikely LeBron James will take his talents to the Cleveland backfield.

With that being said the Browns are all they got. There are going to be desperate changes. Maybe a couple drifter-like free agents ever now and then, a couple of hiring and firing of coaches and questions of leadership will still linger. But maybe some advice from it’s parallel sport franchises in the Indians and Cavaliers might be of some help. As they’ve been able to pluck themselves out of their downfalls. It is well known the teams are built around stakeholders and the community. If any motivation the Browns are going to get, it lies within the roots of the fight that the city of Cleveland is willing to put up.

 

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Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins to the Broncos makes perfect sense

As the NFL season wears on, it is becoming more and more apparent that this offseason could feature unprecedented levels of player movement at the quarterback position. Although his contract is up at the end of the season, Drew Brees and the Saints organization have given every indication that the future Hall of Famer will not get to free agency.

Assuming that is the case, the best quarterback that could hit the open market is Washington’s Kirk Cousins. His situation is a fascinating one.

Where Washington stands

Earlier this week, reports came out that Redskins management is still not sold on Cousins long term. The 29-year-old is playing under the franchise tag for a second straight year.

Cousins’ two top targets from last year left in free agency. Washington’s top two running backs are on injured reserve. Injuries up front have also forced the Redskins to use numerous offensive line combinations this year.

However, Cousins is third the NFC in passing yards and has thrown 21 touchdowns and just eight interceptions this year. The fact that he does not have this team in the playoff race means he cannot carry a franchise like Tom Brady can, but he is certainly good enough to be a long-term starter somewhere in this league.

Reading between the lines, the former Michigan State standout playing under the franchise tag for a third consecutive year would be unheard of. At the same time, Washington certainly does not seem eager to lock up Cousins.

The Redskins would be foolish to let Cousins walk, but with losses piling up and his supporting cast continuing to disintegrate, it sure looks like that is where things are headed. Then again, coming from an organization that gave $100 million to Albert Haynesworth and hired Jim Zorn and Steve Spurrier as head coaches, should we really be surprised?

Where Denver stands

Enter the Denver Broncos. This is a roster that is still loaded with talent and less than two years removed from winning a Super Bowl on the strength of a dominant defense and a quarterback whose mind was just smart enough to carry his deteriorating body to the ultimate fairytale ending.

Kirk Cousins

Photo from 9news.com

Ever since Peyton Manning retired, the Broncos have found themselves in both a familiar situation and an unfamiliar one. John Elway is still the best quarterback in the organization. Unfortunately for Broncos fans, Elway is now the 57-year-old general manager of the team and not the legendary gunslinger.

 

Prior to this season, Denver had as many Super Bowl appearances as losing seasons since 1991. With the Broncos loss to the Dolphins on Sunday, they now have clinched their fifth losing season since 1991. Quarterback is not the only need for this team right now, but it is by far the biggest.

Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch and Brock Osweiler have each occupied all three spots on the quarterback depth chart this year. This, along with the fact that Denver has played hot potato with the winless Browns for the worst turnover margin in the NFL all season long, tells you all you need to know about why the Broncos sit at 3-9 right now.

Why Cousins fits in Denver

For a few reasons, Denver is not going to draft a quarterback high in the upcoming draft. The most glaring of which is their remaining schedule. They already have three wins and neither of their last four opponents are above .500.

At the very least, they should stumble into another win or two when playing other bad teams. Barring a trade, the highly-touted incoming rookies will be long gone by the time the Broncos are on the clock. Moreover, if Cousins were to enter the fold in Denver, he would inherit two elite receivers and a top-10 defense.

If Cousins can post numbers anywhere close to what he has this year, the Broncos suddenly look like a very dangerous football team again. This is a team that can be right back in the mix as soon as next year with average to above average quarterback play.

Kirk Cousins

Photo from si.com

Also, Denver has a fair amount of resources in Lynch and Chad Kelly. Early indications are not good on Lynch, but he has only played in two full NFL games. That is hardly enough to bury his career. Kelly has missed his whole rookie season due to injury. In short, drafting another unproven commodity would only further muddy the water.

 

Lastly, it is worth keeping in mind that Cousins was drafted to Washington by former Broncos Super Bowl winning head coach Mike Shanahan. Shanahan is still very close with fellow Broncos Super Bowl winning head coach Gary Kubiak.

Kubiak was Shanahan’s play-caller in Denver for over a decade and now works with Elway in the front office. These links are tenuous, but could be very relevant.

The bottom line is ever since Elway entered the Broncos front office, he has always had the guts and found the money to make the Broncos as competitive as possible a timely fashion. Cousins is the path that best fits that bill.

 

Featured image from si.com

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Thanksgiving fantasy football

Thanksgiving games week 12 fantasy turducken MVPs

Thanksgiving is now here. It’s time for turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pie and most importantly, football.

That’s right, it’s time for the tradition of the Thanksgiving games.The first two are hosted by the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys. The Lions will host their NFC North rival Minnesota Vikings, and the Cowboys will play the Los Angeles Chargers. Then the late game is an NFC East battle where the New York Giants head to play the Washington Redskins.

One part about the Thanksgiving games that I miss is John Madden and the turducken award. So for this article, it’s time to bring the turducken award back and predict who will have big fantasy days in each game.

Vikings-Lions MVP: Adam Thielen

The Vikings have been red hot, winning their last six games. That is partially due to their players stepping up with injuries, like Case Keenum playing well and the run game executing without rookie Dalvin Cook. One guy that has been having a surprise season and dominating the last two weeks is receiver Adam Thielen, who is my pick to be the first fantasy turducken winner against the Lions.

Thanksgiving fantasy football

Adam Thielen (Photo from vikings.com)

Over the last two games, Thielen has caught 14 passes for 289 yards. He has caught a touchdown in the last three. The last time the Vikings played the Lions, they lost 14-7, and Stefon Diggs was the better receiver. This time it’s a different Vikings team, and I also expect Thielen to outperform Diggs with the possibility of having Darius Slay on him for the entire game.

Thielen is second in the NFL, only behind Antonio Brown, in receiving yards. He is also tied for fifth in receptions. Thielen is currently on a three-game streak of scoring over 20 points. He’s also only one of five wide receivers with at least four fantasy games in the 20s or higher.

The Lions have allowed the ninth most passing yards to the slot since Week 4. Expect the Vikings to throw some deep shots to Thielen as he’s tied with Brandin Cooks for the most deep (15-plus yards) receptions.

At this point, Thielen is a must-start receiver every week as he has become a favorable target for Keenum.

Chargers-Cowboys MVP: Alfred Morris

The Cowboys have struggled the past two games without Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith. They played the desperate Atlanta Falcons and the Philadelphia Eagles, possibly the best team in the NFC. This week is the time for them to turn it around against an inconsistent Chargers team. For this game, this is when the run game will pay off, and Alfred Morris will have a monster game.

Thanksgiving fantasy football

Alfred Morris (Photo from cbssports.com)

Last week, Morris ran for 91 yards on 17 carries. In fact, Morris had more rushing yards than Dak Prescott had passing yards before the fourth quarter. His performance was especially impressive since the Eagles entered the game having allowed just 3.6 yards per attempt.

Morris has gotten better as he has seen more carries and is only getting better. He’s averaging 5.1 yards per carry in the two games since Elliott got suspended. With Darren McFadden a healthy scratch and Rod Smith not performing, Morris should only get more carries until Elliott comes back.

Dallas is at home against a Chargers team that is allowing a league-high 138.9 rushing yards per game and the second-most yards per carry (4.93). Playing against the 30th ranked team against running backs means Morris will be getting the ball a ton early in the game.

Giants-Redskins MVP: Vernon Davis

Even with injuries to Chris Thompson and Terrelle Pryor, the Redskins should still be efficient on offense. The turducken award in this game goes to tight end Vernon Davis.

Thanksgiving fantasy football

Vernon Davis (Photo from sports.yahoo.com)

When it comes to the tight end against the Giants defense, it’s the worst in fantasy. They have given up a touchdown every game but last week. However, they still gave up 120 yards to the position.

During Jordan Reed’s three-week absence, Davis has averaged 8.7 targets, 5.3 catches and 71.7 receiving yards. Last week he had six targets and 67 receiving yards. Dating back to Week 6, Davis leads the Redskins in receiving yards (367), is tied for second in receptions (25) and is second in targets (38). With Reed missing practice, it’s likely Davis will get the start again against the Giants.

The Giants have yielded a league-high 19.6 PPR points per game to this position. With this matchup, he has to be a must-start, even at the flex position.

 

Featured image from sbnation.com.

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Chris Thompson fantasy

Fantasy options to replace Chris Thompson

Washington Redskins running back Chris Thompson was carted off with an air cast on his leg after he got rolled up on at an awkward angle against the Saints. It was reported after the game that he suffered a fractured fibula and will miss the rest of the season.

Thompson has emerged as a quality running back this season, especially in fantasy. He was 10th in fantasy points in standard scoring at his position as well as 11th in PPR with his ability to both run and catch out of the backfield.

This comes at a big point of the fantasy season with the playoffs coming up because of his versatility as a fantasy running back. It’s time to look at the next man up for Washington to fill the void for both the Redskins and your fantasy team.

The next man up: Samaje Perine

The Redskins will now be on their third running back due to injuries to Thompson and the original starter Rob Kelley (ankle). They will now run with rookie Samaje Perine.

Chris Thompson fantasy

Samaje Perine (Photo from NFL.com)

Perine becomes a priority pickup after the injury to Thompson. The rookie out of Oklahoma had a lot of hype early in the preseason as a candidate to take the starting job, but struggled early on with fumbles and lack of production.

But he has turned the page in the second half of the season. On Sunday, he had a career day against the Saints in relief, as he ran for 117 yards and a score on 23 carries.

Perine will mostly get his opportunities on the ground as he is more of a power back at 236 pounds, which is his strength. He can be in passing situations, but he will mostly be pounding the ball on the ground, especially on the goal line.

They will also mix in rookie Byron Marshall, who they picked up from the Philadelphia Eagles’ practice squad.

Flex option: Josh Doctson

From the passing game perspective, Redskins receiver Josh Doctson could be someone to look at to replace both Thompson and Terrelle Pryor.

Chris Thompson fantasy

Josh Doctson (Photo from detroitnews.com)

He is finally showing the production the Redskins had hoped for from their 2016 first-round pick. With Jordan Reed struggling with injuries and Pryor now out for the season, it has led to an increase in targets to Doctson. He tied his career high with seven in each of the past two weeks. This also included a solid game against the Saints as he caught four passes for 81 yards. He brought in several 50-50 balls, and Kirk Cousins seems comfortable passing to him.

Doctson’s upside and big-play ability have expanded his role as a top option in their offense.

Other options

This is a big blow, especially at this point of the fantasy season with a guy like Thompson. With the amount of injuries this season, there aren’t a lot of big names out there that are consistently producing. But there are a couple of options for the playoff push.

Fantasy owners in need of a running back should look to Austin Ekeler of the Los Angeles Chargers and Danny Woodhead of the Baltimore Ravens. As for the flex position, Corey Coleman has been a big name in the wavier wire as well as Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, who could return from his broken foot.

 

Featured image from thecomeback.com.

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Three players fantasy owners should drop

At this point in the NFL season, players have either matched/exceeded their preseason predictions or have fallen short. If they’ve in fact fallen short, fantasy owners are probably holding onto to the last little bit of hope that they may bounce back. But by this point, they’re just a waste of a roster spot. Here are three players fantasy owners should drop.

 

3. Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers)

Is it the end of the road for Big Ben. Big questions surrounded him when he threw for five interceptions against the Jaguars. He’s definitely picked up the pace in his last three games with a touchdown to interception ratio of 4:2. But is he even worthy of a fantasy start anymore?

In eight games of the 2017 NFL season, Big Ben hasn’t gained more than 17 fantasy points in one week. From weeks three through six, Roethlisberger got 11, 10, 2 and 12 fantasy points, not QB1 material. Especially when Ben Roethlisberger is stacked with arguably the best wide receiver corps in the league. Surprisingly those four weeks sum up Big Ben’s season quite nicely. He’s averaged a poor 12.3 fantasy points per game and has performed very poorly on the road, even against teams like Chicago and Cleveland. Two teams who haven’t performed well against the pass this year.

For the rest of the season, it isn’t looking too much better for Big Ben and fantasy owners. In four of the last eight games, Roethlisberger faces Baltimore, Houston, Cincinnati and Green Bay. Four teams that have performed well against the pass so far this season. Another one of his games comes against Cleveland, who held him to only 16 fantasy points in week one.

With the focus turned to the run game, Le’veon Bell is the man in Pittsburgh now, and Big Ben can officially be let go from fantasy rosters.

Three players fantasy owners should drop.

(Photo by:deadspin.com

2. Lagarrette Blount (Philadelphia Eagles)

It sure didn’t take long for Jay Ajayi to get comfortable in Philadelphia. In his debut, he had eight rushes for 77 yards and a touchdown, including his longest run of the season on a 46 yard touchdown. While that was going on, Blount rushed nine times for 37 yards. With a surplus of running backs on the roster, and now Ajayi who adds to that and looks like the new workhorse, Blount’s playing time in Philly may be cut down.

Last season Blount had over 1,000 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns for the Patriots. This one has been much more inconsistent. In nine games in 2017, Blount has 504 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He’s actually rushing better than he did last season, with his yards per attempt up .7 yards. The key part that’s missing is the touchdowns. A drop off from 18 touchdowns to two touchdowns loses many fantasy points for owners all around the nation. With Carson Wentz playing at an elite level, and two huge red zone threats in Zach Ertz and Alshon Jefferey, those touchdown numbers aren’t too likely to increase by many more in the rest of the season.

Blount has a decently tough schedule ahead of him for the rest of the year. He faces defenses like the Rams, the Seahawks, the Raiders and the Cowboys. With the addition of Jay Ajayi, the use of Wendall Smallwood and Corey Clement and the elite passing attack in Philadelphia, Blount is droppable in all leagues.

 

1. Terrelle Pryor Sr. (Washington)

What happened to Terrelle Pryor? Last season with the Browns and their putrid quarterback play, he had 1,007 yards and four touchdowns. In the offseason, he signed a one year deal with Washington to play under Kirk Cousins. This had the entire football world excited to see what the two could do together.

Ultimately we saw that Cousins and Pryor couldn’t do anything together. In eight games in 2017, Pryor has 24 receptions and one touchdown. Pretty bad for someone with the talent of a number one receiver in this league. It’s been clear that Pryor and Cousins haven’t been on the same page in 2017. They haven’t connected when Pryor has been open and that’s led to a decrease in the number of snaps that Pryor has played. Not only is he being benched for Josh Doctson, but recently he’s been nursing a bone bruise.

Along with his chemistry, his schedule for the rest of the season is intense. Pryor goes up against defenses like Minnesota, New Orleans, New York Giants, Los Angeles Chargers and Denver. This doesn’t bode well for Terrelle Pryor, and he is ready to be on the waivers in fantasy leagues.

 

Feature Image courtesy of USA TODAY Sports

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Chicago Bears

The one NFL team no playoff contender wants to play

With the ninth week of regular season play already started, separation is starting to take place  in the NFL when it comes to who will be fighting for a playoff spot late in the season and who will just be playing for pride. There is one team out there that no playoff contender should want to deal with.

While stranger things have certainly happened, the playoffs are probably out of reach for the Chicago Bears who sit at 3-5 as they enjoy their bye week. However, this team is among the most improved since the start of the season. Here is why they are poised to at the very least play spoiler as we roll towards this season’s stretch run.

They finally have an identity on offense:

Are the Bears limited on offense with rookie Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback? Of course. The second overall pick has not completed more than 14 passes in any of his four starts. Despite that, knowing your limitations and playing to your strengths can count for a lot in this league. Bears head coach John Fox knows this better than most coaches. He won a playoff game with Tim Tebow at quarterback.

The best thing about the Bears offense was always the Jordan Howard led ground game. Turning to a rookie quarterback, forced Chicago to become more reliant on that. For some reason, the Bears were intent on throwing the ball all over the place with Mike Glennon under center to start the season. Granted, the Bears were trailing a lot, but averaging 35 pass attempts per game with a quarterback like Glennon is not a formula for consistent winning. A quarterback change caused a light bulb to come on for the entire organization,

Howard has had fewer than 20 carries just once in Trubisky’s four starts. Rookie Tarik Cohen has come from nowhere to give the Bears one of the best backfield combos in football. Chicago now has the fourth ranked rushing offense in the NFL.

It is also important to remember that the modern NFL is a pass happy league where even average quarterbacks like Kirk Cousins throw for 4,000 yards. Thus, when a run based team like the Bears comes along, it is a difficult style for defenses to adapt to. Jacksonville is having some success this year with a similar formula. This style is not flashy, some may even call it boring, but it has given opponents fits for the last month.

Another thing a run heavy offense has allowed the Bears to do is limit turnovers. Looking at just the quarterback position, Glennon was responsible for six turnovers in the first four games of the year. In the last four, Trubisky has accounted for just two.

Turnovers are not the only negative plays Trubisky is helping to avoid, he is far more mobile than the much older and taller Glennon. He has been able to create something out of nothing and scamper to avoid sacks. Sometimes, an incomplete pass is not so bad. Apart from a terrible throw at the end of the game in his first start, the added element of Trubisky’s mobility has served him and the team well.

Having played only a handful of games in college, Trubisky is still prone to rookie mistakes, but there are things like bootlegs in the clip below from the NFL YouTube channel. Those were not in the playbook with Glennon.

 

The defense is playing well:

When healthy, the Bears defense has played well the last three years under Fox, but that has been rare. So far so good for the Bears defense in 2017. They rank 12th in rush defense. Over the last two games, Drew Brees and Cam Newton led offenses have been held to 23 combined points. In fact, Chicago defeated the Panthers on the strength of two defensive touchdowns by rookie Eddie Jackson.

Eddie Jackson

Photo: Chicago Tribune

There are very few things that are always true when it comes to NFL football. However, if you run the football, stop the run on defense, and limit turnovers, you will always have a chance to win. The Bears have a .500 record in Trubisky’s four starts. The two losses are by one possession. All but two of Chicago’s remaining games feature opponents that are realistically in the playoff hunt. As long as the Bears keep doing the three things mentioned in this paragraph well, contending teams should be very worried about playing them.

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week six DFS don'ts

Week six DFS don’ts: Report Card

An interesting trend is starting to develop. It seems as though every three weeks I’m due for a dip in DFS profitability. Thus far, I’ve only failed to profit in weeks three and six. Does that mean I should just not play in weeks nine, twelve and fifteen? Of course not, if there’s a Sunday slate, I’ll play it. Let’s wrap up week six DFS don’ts with the dreaded report card.

Quarterback: 1/3

As some of you might have noticed, no week six DFS don’ts piece about quarterbacks. Sorry about that, won’t happen again. Anyways, Tom Brady came up just short of doubling his value against the Jets and Kevin Hogan was a huge disappointment. Thankfully, Kirk Cousins redeemed me by finishing as the top fantasy quarterback this weekend.

Running Back: 4/6

Not a bad week at the running back position. Leonard Fournette and Mark Ingram were great for my cash game lineups. Unfortunately, the Denver Broncos didn’t show up and that cost me huge with C.J. Andersen. As far as my week six DFS don’ts at this position, Carlos Hyde proved me wrong. I’m glad to see he’s reestablished himself as the lead back even if it was at my expense. Both Ameer Abdullah and Elijah McGuire failed miserably to double their value.

Wide Receiver: 2/5

I don’t count players who end up being out, so, I’m not counting DeVante Parker as part of my report card. DeAndre Hopkins and Chris Hogan shockingly didn’t produce double their value. I know DeSean Jackson didn’t technically double his value; however, I’m counting this as a win since he still managed to produce with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Brandin Cooks came so close to proving me wrong, whereas Demaryius Thomas blew me away with 10 catches for over 130 yards.

Tight End: 1/4

Martellus Bennett was an easy pick. If you couldn’t tell a week ago, you can now. He doesn’t produce in this offense. Darren Fells, despite a lack of targets, still managed to produce. He’s officially supplanted Eric Ebron and is a viable DFS option moving forward. Ryan Griffin and AJ Derby were also bad calls despite great matchups.

Kicker: 2/2

At least I’m continuing to pick this position correctly. Aaron Rodgers injury aside, I didn’t like Mason Crosby going into this week. However, I loved Wil Lutz this week and he more than doubled his value.

Defense: 1/2

I will apologize for everyone who listened to the Suck My DFS Podcast and picked Denver as their defense. They were incredibly disappointing. Thankfully, Jacksonville laid an egg at home as I predicted.

Overall Score: 11/22

50% isn’t great, but, there doesn’t seem to be a correlation between who I pick and how much money I win. The weeks I’ve won the most money, I haven’t been great on individual player picks, and vice versa. The best thing about this game is that we can quickly move on to the next week. Come back tomorrow for which kicker and defense you should avoid in week seven.

 

Featured Image Courtesy of Grizzly Bear Blues

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Drew Brees

NFL bye week check: Week 5

Week 5 of the NFL season is upon us. It marks the first official week of byes. The bye week is always a good time to evaluate the teams who have the week off. So, here it goes.

Denver Broncos, 3-1

Biggest positives: We knew the defense would be really good, and it is. However, Denver is third in rush yards per game so far this year. C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles have managed to stay healthy. The revamped offensive line has also exceeded expectations.

NFL bye week check: Week 5

Photo: denverpost.com

It was not uncommon for Trevor Siemian to have to throw 40-45 times a game last year. Siemian is better than most people think, but he is not built to do that. If the Broncos keep running the ball anywhere near their current clip, they will be back in the playoffs again and well-equipped to do damage.

Areas of concern: Winning on the road in the NFL is hard. Denver’s first road game of the year in Buffalo was a failure. Coming off the bye, the Broncos will be on the road seven of the next ten weeks. The AFC West is absolutely loaded. One or two bad games could sink any one of the three contenders. With that many road games coming up, Denver will have several landmines to avoid.

New Orleans Saints, 2-2

Biggest positive: The Saints have not quite figured out their running back rotation yet, but the offense continues to be very productive. Averaging 370 yards per game and putting up 23 points per game will give you a fighting chance every single week. Drew Brees may be 38, but he is still a premier player. He has yet to throw an interception this year.

Area of concern: The book on the Saints has been the same for several years now. As good as the offense is, the defense is that bad. Even after giving up 13 combined points in two games leading into the bye, they still rank 28th in total defense. The Saints got themselves back in the mix after an 0-2 start. However, the defense must continue its recent upswing for this team to be a true contender going forward.

Washington Redskins, 2-2

Biggest positives: Despite losing its two top pass catchers from last year, quarterback Kirk Cousins and the offense continue to produce. A three-headed monster has created a top ten rushing attack thus far. Washington remains hesitant to commit to Cousins long term. With 77 touchdowns to just 43 career interceptions, he has a long-term future as a starter, even if it is not with the Redskins.

NFL bye week check: Week 5

Photo: si.com

For now though. Cousins is averaging almost eight fewer pass attempts per game this year than last. A legitimate ground game is a huge help to any quarterback. Jay Gruden is doing a great job of putting his offense in positions to be successful each week.

Areas of concern: The defense is middle of the pack in almost every category. Also, this division is another that is very strong. The Eagles are leading it at the moment and getting better each week. The Redskins have already lost to Philadelphia. With five division games left, a lot can change. However, Washington is already behind the eight ball for tiebreakers in what promises to be a tight race.

Atlanta Falcons, 3-1

Biggest positives: The defending NFC champions have found ways to win. That counts for a lot. This is not college football. Style points do not matter. With three of four games decided by one possession, their record could easily be flipped.

NFL bye week check: Week 5

Photo: thefalconholic.com

Areas of concern: They have found ways to win, but the offense just is not as good as it was last year. It was unrealistic to expect them to put up 33 points a game again. The defense was not special last year and is not this year. The Falcons are scoring a touchdown less per game this year under new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. Unless the defense improves, that will show up in the win/loss column before long.

 

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Stack your money Sundays: Week 4

Week three review (1-2) overall: 6-3

Atlanta Falcons (-3) @ Detroit Lions

Final: Atlanta Falcons 30, Detroit Lions 26

Wow, this one was lucky. Golden Tate appeared to have won the game when Matthew Stafford hit him with eight seconds left. After the scoring review, it was clear that Tate was actually stopped short of the goal line and because of a mandatory 10-second runoff, the game was over.

Matt Ryan had three interceptions and was very fortunate to squeak out of Detroit with a victory. The Falcons did a good job of defending the run, as well as stopping the Lions on third down. Detroit only converted three of their 13 third down attempts.

Where we went wrong 

Miami Dolphins (-6) @ New York Jets

Final: New York Jets 20 Miami Dolphins 6

This game was a clear example of how past numbers cannot tell the whole story. Going into this game, the Jets were the worst ranked defense. They were also 28th in passing yards and 28th in first downs. New York ranked dead last in rushing yards allowed, so it seemed like Jay Ajayi would run all over this team, and Cutler would have no problem moving the ball, right?

Ajayi rushed 11 times for 16 yards. The Dolphins racked up a total of 225 yards. Cutler was sacked twice, and they converted one third down in 12 attempts. Not to mention Miami went 0/3 on fourth down as well. Josh McCown decided to complete 78 percent of his passes and did not turn the ball over. Good for the Jets, who people thought would fail to win a single game this year.

Oakland Raiders (-3) @ Washington Redskins

Washington Redskins 27 Oakland Raiders 10

Stack money Sundays: week 4

Redskins D held Lynch to just 18 yards. (YouTube)

After not turning the ball over through the first two games, Oakland had three turnovers, including two interceptions from Derek Carr. The Raiders were only able to muster off 128 yards of offense, while the Redskins had 472. Marshawn Lynch had only 18 yards rushing, and the offense failed to convert once on third down. That’s right, Oakland was 0/11 on third down conversions.

Oakland played bad, but the Redskins defense is no joke. They have allowed the fifth fewest total yards, second fewest rushing yards, and are fourth in the NFL in takeaways. If Kirk Cousins can play how he did last Monday, then the Redskins could seriously win the NFC East.

 

Week 4 picks

Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) @ Baltimore Ravens

PICK: STEELERS TO COVER

Both of these teams are coming off disappointing losses. Baltimore just went into London and got demolished by the Jags, and the Steelers took an L to Mike Glennon and the Chicago Bears. Yes, the Steelers are not that good on the road, and I understand that Ben Roethlisberger is 2-7 in his career against Baltimore, but like stated before, numbers can’t tell the full story. The Steelers are just a flat out better team than Baltimore. The Ravens are last in total yards, and Joe Flacco looks horrible, so bad that Ryan Mallett got some snaps last week.

Le’Veon Bell is bound to have a big game. The holdout has clearly effected his play, but after three games, Bell should be ready to breakout. Last time these two teams squared off, Bell ran for 122 yards. Look for Flacco to continue to struggle and the Steelers to get back on track.

Cincinnati Benglas (-3) @ Cleveland Browns

PICK: BENGALS TO COVER

This is the battle of 0-3 teams. In all honesty, the Bengals should have beaten Aaron Rodgers and the Packers last week, but for some odd reason, Cincinnati could not get in the red zone during the entire second half.

Andy Dalton is 9-3 in his career against Cleveland, including 3-0 in his last three games at FirstEnergy Stadium. Dalton looks to be back on track after completing 77 percent of his passes against Green Bay. A.J. Green had a monster 10-catch, 111-yard performance, which was beautiful for fantasy owners. Green will continue his nice play as he has owned Cleveland in the past. In the last two games against the Browns, Green has a pair of touchdowns and 297 receiving yards.

DeShone Kizer is not the answer at quarterback for Cleveland. This was evident after his three-interception game against the Colts. How do you only complete 46 percent of your passes against Indianapolis? Anyways, the Browns are first in turnovers and will not be able to defend Dalton and the Benglas.

New York Giants (+3) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

PICK: GIANTS TO COVER

Stack money Sundays: week 4

Eli Manning has never lost to Tampa Bay (Sportige.com)

There is no chance the Giants start 0-4 after many people thought they would win the NFC East and possibly reach the Super Bowl. While those two feats seem unlikely, they will at least beat Tampa Bay. In the final half against Philadelphia, it was clear Eli and the offense remembered how to play football.

Odell Beckham Jr. is back and he is clearly unstoppable. He had two amazing touchdowns last week and one legendary celebration. In his only game against Tampa Bay, OBJ had nine catches for 105 yards.

Eli is 4-0 in his career vs. the Bucs, including 2-0 in Tampa. Jameis Winston is still growing and is not consistent enough to be trusted. His three interceptions last week against Minnesota show that he still has a lot of work to do.

Eli will have a nice game, the Giants defense will be all over Winston, and OBJ will entertain the crowd with at least one cool celebration.

 

 

Featured image by CincyJungle

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