NFL super teams: Could it work?

Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors have ruined the NBA for the foreseeable future thanks to their new super team. The Warriors will dominate for years to come and will have the greatest dynasty in sports history when it’s all said and done. That said, the question of whether or not NFL super teams could be formed is an intriguing one to address.

The New England Patriots are the closest thing in the NFL to a super team, as the 2017 edition of the squad is the frontrunner to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, and some even think they could go 16-0.

But the fact is that the NFL does not truly have a super team. Sure, the Patriots are most likely the best team on paper going into 2017, but there’s still no guarantee that they’ll even win the conference championship game.

We’ve seen this issue talked about before, so why not join in on the fun and give a hot #take myself?

There’s a couple different aspects to dissect when looking into NFL super teams. First, and most crucial, is the money. Even though the NFL is the most popular sport in the United States, the 53-man roster leaves less money for each player compared to the NBA. When forming a super team, every single star player would have to take a pay cut in order to allow other stars on the team. NFL players have already complained about the the discrepancy between NFL and NBA contracts, so taking even less could be a tough pill to swallow for many players.

The next concept to consider is that NFL teams have very specific schemes. The offense ran in New England was much different from the one that the Dallas Cowboys ran last season, yet each were top-five offenses in the league. Not only would NFL super teams need stars at every position, but it would also need the right personnel to fit the scheme.

Finally, we must ask if there’s even enough time for NFL super teams to form a dynasty. The shelf life of a running back is already limited, and the prime of many players in the NFL can be shorter than that of an NBA player. Even if it all came together for an NFL team, would there be enough time for them to win multiple Super Bowls with the same core?

Money talks

Every year, NFL players holdout and skip training camp in order to get leverage in earning more money. There can’t be an argument made that NFL players are more greedy than NBA players, but it does go to show that the top talents in the NFL will put their team and preparation at risk in order to get a couple more million dollars.

What a hard life NFL stars live.

NFL super teams

Photo: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Le’Veon Bell is at least the No. 2 running back in the NFL, if not the best (David Johnson may have something to say about that). He’s putting his team’s success in jeopardy this offseason by deciding to holdout. The most significant problem for NFL super teams is whether or not players will put their pride aside to take pay cuts, even though they may be the most elite at their position.

Every elite NFL player will do his best to suck all the money out of his organization he can. Heck, even players that aren’t elite, like Kirk Cousins and Joe Flacco, have tried this (and been successful) in the past.

This poses a threat to NFL super teams when trying to get the best of the best in one uniform. But this is only the start of the problem.

NFL super teams’ Schemes make for an even more complex problem

Dak Prescott and Drew Brees are two very different quarterbacks. Prescott resided in a run-heavy offense in Dallas, as the Cowboys ran the ball more than any other team last season (48.7 percent of plays). The Cowboys’ offense was built by its powerful line which counteracted its lack of skill players on the outside. This allowed Ezekiel Elliott to run all over (and away) from defenses in his rookie campaign.

The Saints’ offensive attack was much different from the Cowboys. Drew Brees had great weapons on the outside in former Saint Brandin Cooks, who used his deep-threat abilities to become Brees’ best downfield target. Rookie Michael Thomas managed to put together one of the best rookie seasons a wide receiver has ever produced, and was Brees’ possession target to look to.

Even Willie Snead, Coby Fleener and Josh Hill were utilized in the pass-first offense that allowed Brees to air it out on 63.4 percent of plays, good for fifth-most in the NFL last season.

The point is that NFL super teams need the perfect combination for an offense to work. The offensive coordinator, quarterback, skill players and offensive line must all be in sync and comfortable with the system in order to reach optimal success. And it’s the same way with the defense.

Not only do the star players at each position need to take pay cuts to form a super team, but they also have to fit with the scheme of whichever side of the ball they play on.

The player pool for a super team continues to shrink with these requirements.

Father Time waits for no man, not even NFL super teams

Barring a select few, most NFL stars are only elite for a couple years. Injuries cut their time of stardom even shorter (Jamaal Charles knows about that), which makes it even harder to field a star team.

Sure, the best of the best can sometimes manage to be stars for over half their career, but remember the requirements already talked about. Finding a star who is willing to take a pay cut and fits in the scheme is hard enough, so the pool of players has already dwindled.

NFL super teams

Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Tom Brady may play until he’s 50, but top players at other positions have missed time in the past couple seasons. If Le’Veon Bell could stop smoking weed and quit getting injured by the Bengals, he’d have a chance to be on Tom Brady’s list.

Antonio Brown missed three games last season, Julio Jones has played in 16 games in a season once in his six years and A.J. Green has missed ten games in his six-year career while finding his way on the mid-week injury report seemingly every week.

This goes to show that even the most elite players can’t escape the injury bug.

And if the top players earn as much money as they want on a theoretical super team, the bench will be filled with aging veterans who are ring-chasing and don’t have enough talent to suffice the loss of a star.

This continues to prove that forming NFL super teams may be nearly impossible.

NFL super teams: Making one is #hard

The San Francisco 49ers currently have the most cap space in the NFL. A lot will change come March 2018, but one thing that will most likely remain is that the 49ers will suck this season. They won’t be the most attractive franchise to build a super team with.

However, the team with the fifth-most cap space is the Houston Texans. Houston has $24.3 million in free cap space, and made the playoffs last season. The Texans seem to be just a few pieces away from being a Super Bowl contender, so we’ll use them as a possible super team.

There’s been a lot of changes to the NFL landscape from last season, and that trend will continue in each offseason. Let’s try to make the Texans a super team through 2018 free agency.

Finding a quarterback

The Texans’ most glaring need is at the quarterback position. Drew Brees, Kirk Cousins and Matt Stafford are the only notable names that will be free agents come 2018.

Photo: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Cousins can be taken off the list right away, as it seems he’s been fighting to get a huge contract from Washington since he was in diapers.

Drew Brees and Matt Stafford both make sense due to the fact that they’ve had great years, yet Brees has just one ring, and Stafford has no playoff wins. It comes down to who would be the best fit in Bill O’Brien’s offense, assuming he stays on staff next season.

O’Brien’s scheme is based around the power-run game and using two tight end sets. The formations used in O’Brien’s system forces the quarterback to make crucial and complicated pre-snap reads. That said, Brees would be the better fit in Houston. His ability to run multiple formations in New Orleans could quite possibly translate to Houston.

If Brees were to make this move, he’d have to be fine with a pay cut since he’d be ring chasing and forming a super team. Let’s say he cuts his salary in half and earns $12 million with Houston.

Receiving a pass catcher

That only leaves $12 million and change in the bank for Houston. Houston has Lamar Miller, who should be an above average back for now. At wideout, the Texans have an elite receiver in DeAndre Hopkins, but could use some help on the receiving end. The wide receiver market is grim in 2018, but a familiar face for Drew Brees will be on the market in 2018 at tight end.

The Drew Brees-Jimmy Graham love affair in New Orleans was art. Graham will be on the market in 2018, and even though he’s had a history of wanting money, let’s assume he wants a ring and to play with Drew Brees more.

We’ll assume Graham will settle for a mere $8 million a year with Houston, which is only $2 million less than he got in Seattle. I for one hope that in this theoretical world, Jimmy Graham makes it in this tough world with only $8 million a year to come home to.

Room for one more player

With $4 left, the Texans could grab a proven veteran for cheap, or a lesser-tier asset. The Texans need help on the offensive line, specifically at tackle. The best player on the market in 2018 is Donald Penn, but he’s currently holding out of Raiders’ camp, so he has to be off the list. Nate Solder could be an option, but the likelihood that he takes a paycut to leave New England is as likely as Johnny Manziel not drinking tonight.

Allen Barber was the No. 16 guard last season according to Pro Football Focus. Although he’s mostly played left guard in the past two seasons, he’s seen time at tackle with the Eagles early in his career.

Barber wouldn’t be a blockbuster move at all, but he could end up being a nice find for Houston to help what’s been a bad offensive line.

NFL super teams: Could it work?

The idea of NFL super teams is far-fetched and there’s too many hoops to jump through for it to work. There’s too many stipulations not seen in the NBA like a much larger roster, less time to be in the peak of a career and scheme fits.

Although the NBA has made it work before, the Golden State Warriors’ mega-team and soon to be dynasty will only work in the NBA. NFL front offices have far too many hoops to jump through.

For now, let’s just enjoy hating the New England Patriots for being better than all of our teams and speculate other things, like how Bill Belichick can pull a homeless man off the street and turn him into a heroic wide receiver or cornerback in a Super Bowl.

 

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more great sports and esports coverage. You should also follow Tim, as he’s gotten over 100 likes on a grand total of three different tweets, and sometimes offers lukewarm takes on things that don’t matter.

2017 fantasy football notes: Cram session

One of the worst feelings in the world is feeling unprepared. You forgot to study for a quiz and have as much knowledge about the subject as Alex Smith has on not being average. You’ve got an important presentation at work but forgot your briefcase at home.

Worst of all, your fantasy draft is tonight, yet you’ve spent the last six months watching baseball and catching up on your favorite guilty pleasure on Netflix. Your pulse reaches an unhealthy level as your heart races trying to think about how to prepare a draft plan good enough to beat your friends, yet you rank Adrian Peterson as your No. 6 running back because you think he’s poised for a great year with the Vikings.

But Adrian Peterson doesn’t play for the Vikings, and you’re screwed.

Fear not, lazy fantasy football player, I’ve got just the article for you. Let’s talk about all the big news and notes you missed so you can have a fighting chance to compete in your league this season.

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL NOTES: QUARTERBACKS

Marcus Mariota is undervalued

2017 fantasy football notes

Photo: titansonline.com

Marcus Mariota is among the top 25 most attractive players in the NFL, and it turns out he’s pretty good at football too. Mariota was good enough to earn spot starts last season, and finished as the No. 13 scoring quarterback. He’s especially suited for fantasy football thanks to his rushing ability, and he’s gotten some upgraded toys to play with for 2017.

No shade at Rishard Matthews or Tajae Sharpe, but Mariota didn’t have the greatest receivers to throw to last season. The Titans signed Eric Decker during the offseason and drafted top wide receiver prospect Corey Davis with their first pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. On top of that, Mariota plays with an elite offensive line and DeMarco Murray, who got back to his usual RB1 self last season.

Entering his third season, the myth of a sophomore slump cannot affect Mariota. Mariota was the top scoring quarterback from weeks five through week 12 of last season, which shows his upside is through the roof this season.

Mariota is being drafted as a fringe QB1 this season, which is way too low. Sit back and wait for Mariota as others grab overvalued quarterbacks, and then grab him once you’ve filled out your starting lineup and part of your bench.

Blake Bortles sucks at throwing footballs, but don’t overlook his volume

Sure, you may’ve spit up in your mouth a little due to reading the name Blake Bortles, and that’s fine. Bortles ruined Allen Robinson last season and made some of the worst throws of the season in 2016. However, while Bortles gets roasted by Twitter everyday, he could make for a good backup for your team.

Before you click the “x” in the upper right corner of your device, hear me out.

Bortles had the fourth-most fantasy points among quarterbacks in 2015, and followed that with the tenth-most points among quarterbacks last season. Even with all the hate Bortles gets, he’s still been a QB1 in each of the past two seasons.

I’m not saying you need to draft him as your QB1 this season, but you should at least consider the volume he’ll see. Leonard Fournette will suck in Jacksonville’s system unless they plan on taking less snaps out of the shotgun this season. Jacksonville started plays out of the gun more than every single team in the NFL except one last season, so don’t expect Fournette to be successful in his current system.

This paves way for Bortles to continue to see a bunch of pass attempts, and at some point they have to turn into touchdowns and 250-yard games. Bortles will most likely embarrass himself this season, and you’ll get heckled for taking him, but if quarterbacks are thin, take him as your QB2.

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL NOTES: RUNNING BACKS

Don’t be that guy who drafts Adrian Peterson

2017 fantasy football notes

Photo: Associated Press

You thought I was kidding about Adrian Peterson no longer being a Viking, didn’t you? Well, I’m no Photoshop wizard, so the picture to your left with Peterson doning New Orleans Saints getup proves Peterson is a Saint this season.

I have no clue why the Saints signed Peterson this offseason. Mark Ingram was productive enough last season to be the eighth-best fantasy running back in PPR leagues. Drew Brees is still under center, so expect the Saints to continue to air it out this season, especially with Michael Thomas playing on the outside.

Ingram will most likely be the starter come Week 1, and even though Peterson will see touches this season, it won’t be enough to sustain any kind of success. Peterson managed just three games last season, and averaged just 1.9 yards per carry. He’s also topped 40 catches in a season just once in his career, compared to Ingram doing that in each of his past two seasons.

Peterson will be dropped halfway through the season by all active owners, so save yourself the trouble and keep Peterson off your team. You can score Terrance West, Robert Kelly, Tevin Coleman or even Danny Woodhead at Peterson’s price, and all of which offer much more upside and volume potential.

Eddie Lacy isn’t as fat as he used to be, but that doesn’t mean you should draft him

Eddie Lacy literally got paid this offseason to not be so chunky. Lacy’s always been overrated to me, but that hasn’t stopped others from clogging their arteries by drafting him. In case you missed it, Lacy is now a Seattle Seahawk, and he’ll be fighting off Thomas Rawls to get fed this season.

While the two were splitting time with the first team to open camp, it appears Thomas Rawls has taken over the bulk of the first team work, Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times said on Aug. 9. For the near future, Rawls looks to be the starter.

Fantasy owners will draft Lacy for the same reason as Peterson, and that’s for name value alone. Rawls doesn’t have the name recognition, but he does have the advantage in terms his skillset. Rawls has much better lateral quickness and has forced more missed tackles over the course of his career. That ability is a necessity in a Seattle offense that has a terrible offensive line.

Marshawn Lynch is playing football again

2017 fantasy football notes

Photo: raiders.com

At the end of the 2015-16 season, Marshawn Lynch called it quits even though it seemed he had more left in the tank. Well, Lynch okie-doked us all by coming out of retirement to join the Oakland Raiders.

With Latavius Murray now in Minnesota, Lynch will own the backfield for the Raiders. Oakland’s offense already owns one of the top one-two punches at wide receiver with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, and the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL in Derek Carr. The talent is no longer shifted to benefit only the passing game with the addition of Lynch.

Lynch is the No. 15 running back according to the consensus Fantasy Pros rankings for 2017. Expect Lynch to end up as a low RB1 by season’s end. He’s ranked lower than Leonard Fournette, Isaiah Crowell and Carlos Hyde in the rankings, which is odd to say the least. Lynch is in a better offense and will receive the same if not more volume as the aforementioned players.

2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL NOTES: PASS CATCHERS

Brandin Cooks now plays for the Patriots, and that’s not fair

Tom Brady has made his money by throwing to a bunch of late round draft picks and one large tight end that seems to party more than he plays. That changes this season with the addition of Brandin Cooks. The Patriots traded for Cooks during the offseason, and with that addition and other moves, there’s been pundits saying New England could go undefeated this season.

Cooks’ most notable trait is his speed. His catch rate on deep passes last season was 45.8 percent, good for fourth in the NFL. He also had 544 deep receiving yards which was second in the NFL. Patriots beat writers have raved about Cooks to start camp, which further proves he has a great chance to one of the best receivers Brady’s ever had.

I’ve yet to take Cooks in any drafts at his ADP, as his ADP is a little too high for my taste. However, taking Cooks as your WR2 could pay huge dividends for your team. He resides in a pass-heavy offense with one of the best quarterbacks of all time. I’m not quite comfortable with Cooks as my WR1, but if you have him as a WR2, your receiving corps will be solid.

Terrelle Pryor used to be a bad quarterback but now is a good wide receiver

2017 fantasy football notes

Photo: redskins.com

Terrelle Pryor made a cool one-handed catch in training camp, and for one day fantasy football Twitter anointed him as the next coming of Randy Moss. But that’s what happens during the start of training camp, as our football-thirsty brains need something to sip on. Even so, Pryor is in line to become the No. 1 option in a pass-heavy offense this season.

Kirk Cousins may be his generation’s Alex Smith, as he’s as average as Philadelphia fans are angry. However, the Redskins’ poor defense and questionable running attack could give Pryor the chance to see a lot of targets.

Pryor had 1,007 receiving yards last season with the Cleveland Browns, and that’s as impressive as ESPN ignoring the impulse to tweet about Tim Tebow smacking a double in a low-level minor league game. Pryor was a low end WR2 last season, and his situation this season should allow him to be a solid WR2 again this season.

Martellus Bennett will clown around in Green Bay’s offense

Martellus Bennett signed with the Packers this season, making him the first player to sign with Green Bay during free agency since Bart Starr (that’s called sarcasm, folks). Bennett had a better season last year as a backup in New England than half of the starting tight ends in the NFL. Moving to a pass-heavy offense and playing with a future Hall of Famer in Aaron Rodgers gives Bennett the chance to be a TE1 this season.

Bennett was fifth among tight ends in yards per route run last season at 1.96. This shows he took advantage of his time on the field better than nearly all tight ends. Bennett also dropped just two of his 57 catchable targets last season, which will please Aaron Rodgers (that’s a slight against Davante Adams, folks).

Bennett won’t have to battle anyone on the roster for snaps at tight end, so he has the upside to be a top tight end this season. He’s been drafted as a low end TE1 right now, but if you can get greedy and take him as a TE2, you’ll have a good problem on your hands midseason.

 

You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more great sports and esports coverage. You should also follow Tim, as he’s gotten over 100 likes on a grand total of three different tweets, and sometimes offers lukewarm takes on things that don’t matter.

2017 NFC East division

2017 NFC East 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. 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 adu, here is the 2017 NFC East division preview.

4. Washington Redskins

Last season: 8-7-1

Strength of Schedule: 7

Last season was an up and down one for the Redskins. This year the schedule makers didn’t make it any easier on them. Aside from playing in the tough NFC East, Washington must also play the AFC West. The AFC West is arguably the best division in football. As if the tough schedule wasn’t enough to deal with, the Redskins have glaring weaknesses on both sides of the ball.

2017 NFC East division preview

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Offensively, their line is average but consistent. The running back situation is somewhat of a mess. None of Washington’s running backs had more than 750 yards last season.

Rob Kelley, Matt Jones and Chris Thompson all got significant carries and return this season. Washington also drafted Samaje Perine from Oklahoma. Without a clear cut go-to running back, the offense will be one dimensional.

The strength of the offense is the passing attack, but it isn’t even all that great on paper. Kirk Cousins is an average NFL quarterback who will not lead a team to a Super Bowl. In their division, he won’t even be able to get them into the playoffs this season.

He doesn’t have the best of receivers either. His number one receiver is a converted quarterback. Cousins’ other viable offensive weapon is tight end Jordan Reed who has had nagging injuries keeping him out of the lineup.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Redskins are going to struggle. The Redskins gave up 23.9 points per game last season because they couldn’t stop the run. Teams ran for an average of 119.8 yards per game. This problem wasn’t addressed in the draft or in free agency. Washington did draft Jonathan Allen, but are playing him at defensive end and his strength is against the pass.

With the lack of a running game and a defense that can’t stop the run, teams will control the flow of the game and the clock against the Redskins. Washington will be playing from behind and Kirk Cousins will have a higher interception total this season. Their seventh ranked schedule is also a major reason on why they will have a rough year.

Prediction: 5-11 (3-3), miss the playoffs

3. Philadelphia Eagles

Last season: 7-9

Strength of Schedule: (T) 10

The Eagles made a lot of moves in the offseason to help out second-year quarterback Carson Wentz. They made it a point to do so because the second season is the most important in the development of a quarterback.

2017 NFC East division preview

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

Heading into the season the Eagles have the best ranked offensive line according to Pro Football Focus. That line should pave the way for a solid year by LeGarrette Blount, who led the league in rushing touchdowns last season.

Wentz was also given a new huge weapon at receiver in Alshon Jeffery. Jordan Mathews, who had 73 receptions in 2016, returns to play alongside Jeffery. Carson Wentz is also blessed with a really good tight end, Zach Ertz, who led the team in catches with 78.

The Eagles have a very talented defense that allowed 20.7 points per game last season. The defense hasn’t changed much and should play similar to the way they did last season.

Philly has road games outside the division against the Chiefs, Panthers and Seahawks. They also have home games against the Cardinals, Broncos and Raiders. A tough division and tough schedule are what may hold Philadelphia back this season.

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

2. New York Giants

Last season: 11-5

Strength of Schedule: 8

2017 NFC East division preview

(Photo Credit: https://rukkus.com/)

New York’s season came to an abrupt end in the playoffs against the Packers after a 38-13 thrashing. It was just a bad game for the Giants and not a true indication of how good they really are. In reality, the Giants are a team capable of winning the Super Bowl and it starts with their defense.

Quietly, the Giants had one of the best defenses in the league last season. They gave up just 17.8 points per game, which was second best in the NFL. Their defensive line got lots of pressure and the amazing secondary put fear into opposing quarterbacks.

The weak spot of the defense is the linebacking corp and if they can just be average, then the Giants will have an elite defense yet again.

Offensively, the Giants can sleep easy knowing Eli Manning is still under center. He doesn’t get the shine like most Super Bowl winning quarterbacks, but he hasn’t missed a game since before Nov. 21, 2004. Manning is consistent and the team knows they will be able to get 4,000 yards and 25 or more touchdowns from him.

He has Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram as targets for 2017. This is going to make his job easy.

The only question mark on the offense is at running back. Paul Perkins is the man but can he shoulder the load for an entire season? He only carried the ball 112 times for 456 yards last season and will be taking over for Rashad Jennings. If he can be the workhorse, the Giants will have a dangerous offense that can win them a lot of games.

New York has talent on both sides of the ball. They will continue to build off of last season’s success and have another solid campaign in 2017 but it won’t be good enough to knock off the Cowboys for the division title.

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

1. Dallas

Last season: 13-3

Strength of Schedule: (T) 10

2016 was a great year for Dallas as they ran out to a 13-3 record and a first-round bye. Unfortunately, their defense let them down against one of the game’s best quarterbacks, Aaron Rodgers. Dallas fell to the Packers 34-31 in the divisional round of the playoffs and their surprising season came to end. This year there are Super Bowl expectations for America’s team.

2017 NFC East division preview

(Photo Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)

The entire team is led by their running game. It is no secret how talented the offensive line is in Dallas and the Cowboys used it to their advantage. Rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott led the NFL in rushing yards with 1,631 yards last season. The success of their running game took pressure off rookie quarterback Dak Prescott.

Prescott should take a leap this year as the Cowboys will attempt to open up the playbook. Dak threw for 3,667 yards, 23 touchdowns and four interceptions. The formula for success is still to run the ball, but with a better understanding of the offense and solid weapons around him, Dak could have an even better sophomore season.

The issue with the Cowboys is their defense but more specifically, their pass defense. Dallas addressed their defense by adding Taco Charlton to try and create quick pressure on opposing quarterbacks. They also drafted Jourdan Lewis out of Michigan, who was one of the best corners in the nation. To improve the secondary even further, they signed Nolan Carroll from the division rival Eagles.

All these moves should improve the defense but there is a potential superstar, who isn’t a new acquisition, waiting to be unleashed.

Jaylon Smith was a consensus top five pick last season before he blew his knee out in a bowl game. Smith sat out last season after the Cowboys drafted him in the second round. If Smith can stay healthy, he will be a Pro-Bowl caliber player. Adding him to this defense could be the difference in losing to Green Bay and heading to Minnesota for Super Bowl LII.

With all the talent the Cowboys have on offense, the defense just needs to be average. They will be better than average with the moves they made in the offseason and the Cowboys will be a legitimate Super Bowl contender this season.

Prediction: 12-4, division champion

 

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NFL Top 100 Players 2017: 60-51

The NFL season is right around the corner and all the lists of top players of the NFL are out. There is only one problem with these lists: they look back on the 2016 season too much. This list will look forward to the 2017 season and predict who will be the top 100 players for the 2017 season. The Game Haus staff compiled their lists together to rank who they think will be the top 100 players this upcoming season.

This is the fifth installment, containing players 60-51.

60. Geno Atkins, DT, Cincinnati Bengals

NFL Top 100

Geno Atkins (Photo by bengals.com)

Atkins has been one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL for years now and is a five time Pro Bowler that should be making his sixth appearance in 2017. In 2016, his latest Pro Bowl season, Atkins had 32 total tackles and 9 sacks and was the best player on the Bengals’ defense yet again.

The Bengals’ defensive line has been thinning out in the talent department the last few years, but the two players who made this list, Atkins and Carlos Dunlap (#91), have done their parts. Cincinnati has added Jordan Willis and Carl Lawson via the NFL Draft to help out in the pass rushing department. If they can get to the quarterback, it should free up Atkins (and Dunlap) from facing a lot of double teams.

In 2017 Atkins will continue to be one of the best interior pass rushers in the NFL as well as be good against the run.

Comments: “You watch him play and tell me he doesn’t deserve to be higher.”- Robert Hanes

59. Xavier Rhodes, CB, Minnesota Vikings

NFL Top 100

Xavier Rhodes (photo by twincities.com)

The Vikings have a great, young corner in Rhodes, who has shown flashes of how good he can be in his first four seasons in the NFL. Rhodes went to his first Pro Bowl in 2016 while totaling 52 tackles, five interceptions, one touchdown, 10 passes defended and one forced fumble.

Rhodes often does a great job against an opponent’s best receiver, which often times means the ball isn’t thrown his way very much. He was a big reason why Minnesota was the third best defense against the pass in 2016, which is no small feat being in the same division as Aaron Rodgers and Matt Stafford.

In 2017 Rhodes will again be called upon to shut down great receivers and doing so could move him up in next year’s list.

Comments:  “This is asinine. Rhodes allowed 3.1 yards per pass attempt which was best in the NFL. He had five interceptions and a touchdown in 14 games. Rhodes locked Odell Beckham down so bad that Odell was saying football wasn’t fun anymore after the game. Rhodes is a top three corner and that is a fact.” -Matthew Hagan

58. Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins

NFL Top 100

Jordan Reed (Photo by espn.com)

Reed has been phenomenal in his NFL career, when healthy. Unfortunately, he has been often injured. When he is healthy, he produces and is Kirk Cousins’ favorite target. In 2016 he played in 12 games and started eight. He still managed to record 66 receptions for 686 yard and six touchdowns.

While he was an average tight end in his first two years in the league, he has blossomed with Cousins over the last few seasons. Cousins will be under center, for at least one more season, so there is no reason to expect Reed to stop producing, unless he gets injured once again in 2017.

He is one of the best tight ends in the league and a dynamic offensive weapon. If Reed can stay healthy his presence will elevate the level of play on the Washington offense.

Comments: “Jordan Reed is a great tight end when he is healthy. He is a pure receiver that makes Kirk Cousins a better quarterback when he is on the field. With Desean Jackson and Pierrre Garcon gone, Reed will be even more of a go-to-guy for Cousins.”-Joe DiTullio

57. Kyle Long, OG, Chicago Bears

NFL Top 100

Kyle Long (photo by philly.com)

In his first four seasons in the NFL, Long has made three Pro Bowls. He missed the Pro Bowl in 2016, but only played in eight games. The most impressive thing for Long, and the Bears is that he was great at opening up holes for rookie running back Jordan Howard, who had four of his seven 100 yard rushing games when Long was in the lineup.

After an ankle injury ended Long’s 2016 season prematurely, he will be looking forward to having a good 2017 season. He will have to continue to open up holes for Howard and block for a new quarterback (Mike Glennon or Mitch Trubisky). The Bears’ offense won’t be great in 2017, but it won’t be because of Long.

If Long is able to come back healthy in 2017, he will reclaim his status as one of the NFL’s best guards.

Comments: “The Bears were bad which is the only reason Kyle Long doesn’t get the love he deserves. Long helped rookie Jordan Howard finish second in the NFL in rushing yards. Without Long, the Bears would be even worse,” -Matthew Hagan

56. Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington Redskins

NFL Top 100

Kirk Cousins (photo by cbssports.com)

He may not have a long-term contract, but Cousins has been turning heads in his two full seasons as a starting quarterback. Cousins had the third most passing yards in the NFL last season. In 2016 he finished with 4,917 passing yards, 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

A lot of Cousins’ receivers have left, but Washington has signed Terrelle Pryor to help fill the void. With him Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson and Jordan Reed (#58), Cousins will have enough weapons to be successful. He will also have one of the NFL’s best linemen, Trent Williams, protecting his blind-side.

If Cousins wants to have a long term deal, whether it’s from Washington or not, he will have to put up more good numbers in 2017.

Comments: “Yes the Redskins are an incompetent franchise but there is a reason they won’t commit to him long term. Kirk Cousins is an average quarterback that will not lead a franchise to a Super Bowl which is why I believe he should be lower.” -Matthew Hagan

“Numbers don’t lie. While I do not necessarily think he should be a lot higher I think this man can play Quarterback and do it well. Haters need to back off. Imagine if Jay Gruden wasn’t his coach?”- Robert Hanes

55. Alex Mack, OC, Atlanta Falcons

NFL Top 100

Alex Mack (photo by usatoday.com)

Mack endured playing on a bad Cleveland Browns team for the first seven years of his career but made the Super Bowl in his first year on the Falcons. He has made four Pro Bowls in his career and is one of the best centers in the NFL.

The Falcons had one of the best offenses in the NFL in 2016 thanks in large part to a good offensive line, which was led by Mack. With Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman all coming back the Falcons’ offense should be great once again.

If Atlanta wants to make it back to the Super Bowl they are going to need good offensive line play, with Mack taking charge once again.

Comments: “Easily one of the top three if not number one center in the league. He is finally not playing for the Browns, isn’t it about time he gets some love?”- Robert Hanes

54. Calais Campbell, DT, Jacksonville Jaguars

NFL Top 100

Calais Campbell (Photo by jacksonville.com)

The Jaguars made a great offseason move by acquiring Campbell in free agency. While he has been in the NFL since 2008, Jacksonville will be just his second team. In 2016 Campbell was all over the field with 53 combined tackles, eight sacks, six passes defended, two forced fumbles, three fumbles recovered, an interception and a safety.

At 6-8 and 282 pounds, Campbell is a disruptive force and he isn’t slowing down. He will be age 31 in the 2017 season and will be flanked by a lot of talent that the Jaguars acquired in the offseason. Campbell has a chance to take the Jaguars defense to the next level in 2017 and will likely be the best player on the much-improved defense.

Jacksonville made a statement by going after a lot of defensive players and in Campbell, they get a disruptive lineman who has been consistently good over his career.

Comments: “Campbell is a beast. He has been a gem in the desert, but will now help the Jags defense take it to the next level. With some new players also joining him, Campbell has the chance to be the best player on a good defense.”-Joe DiTullio

53. Taylor Lewan, OT, Tennessee Titans

 

NFL Top 100

Taylor Lewan (Photo by titansonline.com)

2016 was Lewan’s first Pro Bowl season, which looks like it will be the first of many. Lewan was a big part of the Titans rushing for the third most yards in the NFL and giving up 28 sacks as a team, which is one of the best in the league.

Lewan will be entering his fourth season in 2017 and the Titans’ offense is improving each year. Derrick Henry and Demarco Murray will lead the rushing attack and Marcus Mariota will continue to develop especially with new weapon Corey Davis. The offense is trending upwards and Lewan will be a big reason why the skill position players are successful.

After a solid first three seasons in the league, Lewan is cementing himself as one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL and 2017 will be the next step to proving it.

Comments: “Lewan has had a great start to his career and by year’s end could even be ranked higher than this. Not only has he done a good job of protecting Marcus Mariota, but he has also cleared holes for Henry and Murray. 2017 will bring another Pro Bowl.”-Joe DiTullio

52. Chris Harris Jr., CB, Denver Broncos

NFL Top 100

Chris Harris Jr. (Photo by denverpost.com)

Harris Jr. has been a stalwart on the Broncos defense for years and is one of the best corners in the NFL. Last season he recorded 63 total tackles, 11 passes defended, two interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovered.

In 2016 Harris Jr. made his third straight Pro Bowl as he helped the Broncos be the best defense against the pass in the NFL. Harris Jr. will continue to have Bradley Robey and Aqib Talib flanking him as the other corners, which allows him to move inside to the slot at times. He is a very versatile player that will continue playing well in 2017.

With Harris Jr. and Talib at the corner spots, the Broncos will have one of the best tandems in the NFL once again in 2017.

Comments: “He may be forgotten behind Miller and Talib, but Harris has made himself into one of the NFL’s best corners himself. He shuts down good wide receivers and helps this defense be the best against the pass in the NFL.”-Joe DiTullio

51. Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers

NFL Top 100

Jordy Nelson (Photo by packers.com)

The Packers have come on strong at the end of seasons for the past two seasons and Nelson came on strong at the end of 2016. In the last eight games, he had four of his five 100 receiving yard games. Overall Nelson had 97 receptions for 1,257 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Nelson is undoubtedly Aaron Rodgers’ number one target once again in 2017 and will put up some big numbers. He will be 32 this season which isn’t ideal for a receiver who relies on his speed, but he still has a lot left in the tank. In the past three seasons, Nelson has set a new career high in targets each year and he should get his fair share again in 2017.

The Rodgers to Nelson connection may not be able to happen for too much longer, but they have a few more seasons together.

Comments: “Jordy Nelson is a silent assassin. He has had over 1,200 yards in three straight seasons. Nelson has also accumulated 27 touchdowns over that past two seasons. Aaron Rodgers has struggled at times without Nelson. Jordy is a top five receiver in the NFL but doesn’t have the flash required to be ranked higher.” -Matthew Hagan

NFL Top 100 Players: 70-61

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Super Bowl Series: NFC East

Super Bowl series 2017: NFC East

Football is right around the corner and The Game Haus is going to get you ready for the 2017-18 NFL season. The Super Bowl Series is going to explain how every team in the NFL can win Super Bowl LII. The Super Bowl Series will be divided into eight editions, one for each division. The first edition will be Super Bowl Series: NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

Super Bowl Series: NFC East

(Photo Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New York Giants

Super Bowl Series: NFC East

(Photo Credit: AP / Bill Kostroun)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Washington Redskins

Super Bowl Series: NFC East

(Photo Credit: Bleacher Report)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Philadelphia Eagles

Super Bowl Series: NFC East

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Super Bowl Series: AFC East

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Quarterback rankings for the 2017 fantasy football season: 20-11

This wasn’t an easy list to come up with and this was probably the hardest part of writing it. The quarterback rankings for the 2017 fantasy football season numbers 20-11 mainly consist of the veterans and up and comers who aren’t quite ready to crack the top ten yet. These are the ideal quarterbacks that you would want to take if you like to wait to pick a QB, but the consistency does vary from player to player. This is arguably the most important group of quarterbacks for fantasy so read closely.

(Aug 11, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) throws a pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the third quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports)

20. Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens)- Flacco is just frustrating. He’s got all the athletic ability to be great in this league but he plays a sloppy game and doesn’t have the greatest targets in the world. Danny Woodhead is a great pickup and will definitely help him out this year but unless you’re desperate, avoid Flacco.

19. Sam Bradford (Minnesota Vikings)- Don’t sleep on Sam Bradford, he’s a former number one overall pick and he is stacked with weapons this year and a brand new offensive line. He’ll get some help from players like Stefon Diggs, Adam Theilan, Michael Floyd, Kyle Rudolph, Dalvin Cook, and Latavius Murray. Need I say more? This Vikings offense could be scary this year.

18. Carson Wentz (Philadelphia Eagles)- Carson Wentz is the next great quarterback in the NFL, with weapons like Alshon Jeffery and Legarette Blount, Wentz is goning to be great, just not this year. He’s learning and that takes time so pass on Wentz in drafts this year but keep him on your radar.

17. Phillip Rivers (Los Angeles Chargers)- Rivers is the model of consistency in the NFL. He’s a good player and he has succeeded in the past but I think this is the turning point for Rivers. He’s 35 and his body can’t withstand the hits anymore. If he’s there for the right price, take him but don’t jump the gun on Phillip Rivers this year.

16. Ryan Tannehill (Miami Dolphins)- Tannehill had the best year of his career and I only expect him to get better. Adding new weapons like TE Julius Thomas will make him a better player. If you like him, I know I do, then take him late in your drafts, but just expect some hiccups along the way.

15. Eli Manning (New York Giants)- Let me just say that I am scared of the New York Giants. They have one of the best defenses in the league, and a 2x Super Bowl champion at QB…. who’s in for a big year. Bring him more targets like Brandon Marshall and Evan Engram and he will succeed, mark my words and take Eli when the time is right.

(http://muzul.com/style/eli-manning/)

14. Dak Prescott (Dallas Cowboys)- I’ll stay in the NFC East with this pick. Dak Prescott is a great NFL player, but I don’t think he deserves to be above other proven vets. You need constant reliable production out of your quarterback and I don’t believe that Dak Prescott will give that to you. If you’re the type of player to wait to pick a QB, Prescott may be your guy. Just don’t take him before the eighth round.

13. Kirk Cousins (Washington Redskins)- Kirk Cousins and Tyrelle Pryor? Yes please. Team him up with Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson and Jordan Reed, this Redskins offense looks dangerous. I’d like to put him higher on this list but if the injury prone receivers he works with go down, so does Cousins.

12. Ben Roethlisberger (Pittsburgh Steelers)- If Big Ben stays healthy, he’s a top 10, maybe top five quarterback. But that’s a big if. He’s too risky for his ADP (Average draft position). The weapons pull me in but the injuries keep me away. Obviously if you’re at the point where you’re desperate for a quarterback, take Big Ben but don’t jump too early.

11. Marcus Mariota (Tennesse Titans)- I love Marcus Mariota. He’s one of the best redzone QB’s and is starting to develop some good chemistry with his targets like Delanie Walker, Demarco Murray, and Derrick Henry. Give him 2 more years and he’ll probably be in my top 5, just not yet. I’d fully advise taking Mariota this year.

 

Quarterbacks 32-21

Come back to see the top ten quarterbacks.

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Washington Redskins 2017 NFL Draft Profile

On day 16 of Draftmas the Washington Redskins will get analyzed.

Summary

Washington missed the playoffs last season after finishing the season 8-7-1. In a very competitive NFC East almost anything can happen in the coming years.

Kirk Cousins (Photo courtesy: Clevelandsportszone.com)

Kirk Cousins led the offense to the 12th most points in the league in 2016, averaging 24.8 points per game. He led the second best passing attack in the NFL that had 297.4 yards per game. He will be back on the Redskins under the Franchise Tag. The running game was below average and will need to be addressed in the draft.

Desean Jackson and Pierre Garcon were lost to free agency, but Terrelle Pryor was signed to try to fill some of the void left at receiver. Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson will need to step up to give Cousins a lot of good targets to throw to. Cousins will have Jordan Reed, who is a great tight end when healthy. The offensive line is solid, but Shaun Lauvao will need to be upgraded at left guard.

The defense was one of the worst in the league in terms of yards per game and needs to be improved. Both the pass and rush defense were sub-par.

Some moves were already made to improve the defense. D.J. Swearinger is a good safety who was signed this offseason as a free agent and will play next to Su’a Cravens. Inside linebacker was addressed when Washington signed Zach Brown after his Pro Bowl Season in Buffalo. The Redskins need to get better in the trenches and draft some corners to be successful this season.

Picks and Needs

The Redskins have ten picks in this draft class, but the majority of them are in the later rounds. They will be hoping they can find some diamonds in the rough with those picks, but also capitalize on their early round picks.

First round: (1) No. 17

Second round: (1) No. 49

Third round: (1) No. 81

Fourth round: (2) No. 114, No. 124

Fifth round: (1) No. 154

Sixth round: (2) No. 201, No. 209

Seventh round: (2) No. 220, 235

These needs are in no particular order.

Offensive Needs:

Running Back- There is not one dynamic playmaker at running back on this roster. While this doesn’t necessarily need to be addressed with the first couple of picks, it should be addressed at some point when good value can be found.

Offensive Guard- Shawn Lauvao should not be starting. They can get good interior linemen in this draft class.
Wide Receiver- Terrelle Pryor was signed to a one year deal and Josh Doctson is unproven. Kirk Cousins will need targets if Doctson can’t step up and Pryor elects to leave after the season.

Defensive Needs:

Nose Tackle- Ziggy Hood is the starting nose tackle for the Redskins and in eight seasons in the NFL hasn’t had great success. To help stop the run, Washington needs to get a run-stopper.

Defensive End- Stacy McGee was overpaid this offseason, but more help at defensive end is needed.

Cornerback- Behind Josh Norman, the Redskins don’t have too many great corners. Bashaud Breeland isn’t a great number two and at best serviceable. Kendall Fuller is young and has time to grow, but Washington may want to take another corner to shore things up.

Targets and Thoughts

The picks here are who the Redskins could realistically get where they are drafting. There will be no trades and I will be looking at just the first three rounds.

First Round:

Pick #17: Christian McCaffrey 

Christian McCaffrey (Photo courtesy: businessinsider.com)

With such a loaded running back class, either McCaffrey or Cook will be available (maybe both). McCaffrey can be a game-changer in the running game and help make the offense more balanced, but can also help out in the receiving game. He would be a swiss army knife for the Redskins and could open up their offense even more.


Second Round: 

Pick #49: Malik McDowell, DE/DT, MSU

McDowell can play multiple positions on the defensive line, but will fit in as a 3-4 defensive end for Washington. The talent and size are there for McDowell, but his motor is not always there. The hope is that NFL coaches can get him to give maximum effort throughout games and seasons.

Third Round:

Pick #99: Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA

Corner has to be addressed in this draft class at some point. Moreau was a good corner at UCLA, but really stood out with his workouts leading up to the draft. He will need to learn how to play the zone coverage that the Redskins like to use.

Conclusion

In an NFC East that is always competitive, the Redskins have some work to do, but can compete for a playoff spot. They need to improve their defense and find a spark for their offense, but should be able to do that in this draft.

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

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Week 10 NFL Picks Against the Spread

Week 10 is off and running in the NFL. I was on the wrong side of a ten point spread Thursday night, picking the Browns is rarely a good idea. Last week, I was a pedestrian 6-5-2 and am now 64-69-6 on the year. All spreads are from rtsports.com at the time of my writing. My picks are bolded and outright upsets have an asterisk. Here goes nothing.

*Falcons at Eagles (PK) – For any site to have three pick ‘em games in one week is quite rare. The first of those match ups features two pleasant surprises. I struggle to see either team making a real playoff run, but Atlanta’s Matt Ryan is playing at an MVP level for now and the Falcons offense is by far the best unit in this game. That is good enough for me. Atl 30 Phi 24

*Bears at Bucs (PK) – I like the Bucs on paper, but something is missing. I am not sure what. Their young offensive talent is still too inconsistent. Meanwhile, I had the bears in the playoffs this year. I am never afraid to own up to a horrible prediction. Right now, Tampa Bay has a home-field disadvantage. They are 3-17 in their last 20 home games. On the other end, Chicago seemed reenergized on both sides of the ball in support of returning quarterback Jay Cutler last time out. I expect both trends to continue. Chi 21 TB 17

*Broncos at Saints (-2.5) – This is the kind of game I would feel much more comfortable betting five minutes in, but that is frowned upon. Last week was a humbling experience for the Broncos and their fans, myself included. However, the much-maligned Saints defense could be just the thing Denver needs to get the running game going. If that happens, everything else follows suit for the Broncos, including the play of first-year starter Trevor Siemian. However, Drew Brees and the Saints are always going to score points and the Broncos defense is banged up at every position level. Yet, it is still better than anything the Saints have on defense. Either the Saints roll here or Denver’s superiority in two of the three phases is just enough to get the job done. I will go with the latter. Den 31 NO 28

Packers (-2.5) at Titans- Yes, the Packers are struggling on offense, but the lack of respect here is stunning. On their worst day they are significantly better than anything Tennessee has to offer. The Titans are hanging around in a bad division, but continue to turn the football over at an alarming rate. A pair of defensive scores led to their demise last week in San Diego. It should surprise no one if that happens again here. Like the rest of the AFC South, Tennessee has really struggled outside the division the last couple years. They are improving, but not ready for a team that is capable of playing like Green Bay can, even if they are struggling. GB 31 Ten 20

Texans at Jaguars (PK) – With the way Brock Osweiler has played, I am not sure how the Texans are 5-3 and in first place, but they are. That same bad division referenced above certainly helps. They stay inside the division and notch another win this week. Hou 24 Jac 13

Chiefs at Panthers (-3) – Carolina is starting to wake up. They are nowhere close to where they were last year and it may be too little too late for the playoffs, but I certainly would not want to play them. This is just a bad matchup for Kansas City. Alex Smith, who is returning from injury relies on taking what the defense gives him. Based on the last two weeks, the Panthers defense will give him nothing. Kansas City is not built to play against flashy teams with offensive firepower. Make no mistake, the Panthers have that even though they have struggled this year. Car 27 KC 19

Rams at Jets (-2) – Good God what an awful game. In terms of quarterback play, these might be the two worst teams in football right now. Yet, both are resistant to playing the young quarterbacks they have on the bench. No one seems to understand why. The only reasonable explanation I can offer is holding on to miniscule playoff hopes. The Jets have a little more talent at the skill positions. Veteran running back Matt Forte is still a big time playmaker. He will be the difference in an ugly game. NYJ 16 LA 10

Vikings at Redskins (-3) – Remember when the Vikings were undefeated and Mike Zimmer was the second coming of Vince Lombardi? Yeah, me neither. Due to a mix of injuries and players simply coming back down to earth, Minnesota’s season is slowly falling apart. The defense is still very good, but the patchwork offensive line is dragging the entire other side of the ball down the drain. The Redskins should have just enough offensive juice behind Kirk Cousins to pull out a tight game. Was 20 Min 14

Dolphins at Chargers (-3.5) – Here is your sneaky good game of the week. What Jay Ajayi has done for the Dolphins is incredible. His 500+ yards rushing combined in the last three games has taken the Dolphins from dead in the water to a team that could fight for a playoff spot. Unfortunately for them, San Diego is the best last-place team anyone has ever seen. They are just in the wrong division in the wrong year. If games were 58 minutes rather than 60 they would have just a single defeat, but they have closed games much better in the last month. Philip Rivers is white-hot and running back Melvin Gordon has finally found his NFL sea legs. Should be a fun one, I will take San Diego pulling away late. SD 32 Mia 21

Cowboys at Steelers (-2.5) – While last week’s loss may really hurt the Steelers down the road, in the short term, it means nothing. Ben Roethlisberger had no business being out there last week. The coaching staff should have saved him from himself. Of course he said he was okay to play. He is a competitor. In theory, he will only get healthier going forward. As good as Dak Prescott has been, he really has not been forced to keep up with an elite quarterback in a shootout. That is exactly what this game will turn in to. Until I see it, I will have my doubts. Pit 35 Dal 28.

photo from timesunion.com

photo from timesunion.com

49ers at Cardinals (-13.5) – This pick has nothing to do with Xs and Os and everything to do with value. The 49ers are dreadful in every way you can imagine, particularly on defense. Chip Kelly is a college coach, and there is nothing wrong with that. Apparently, he is the only one who does not realize it. Despite all that, the Cardinals are not 13.5 points better than anyone in this league. AZ 33 SF 24

*Seahawks at Patriots (-7.5) – Russell Wilson is finally starting to look like himself and Seattle’s defense will always travel well, even to New England. Believe it or not, the Patriots are made up of humans just like every other team. The only style that occasionally disrupts Tom Brady and the offense are fast, physical defenses who can rush the passer. See Seattle. So, why not go out on a limb? Sea 24 NE 20

photo from espn.com

photo from espn.com

MNF: *Bengals at Giants (-2.5) – Two teams with very high ceilings and very low floors in terms of their level of play. The Giants as a home favorite scare me. The Bengals in primetime scare me. I wouldn’t advise putting a nickel on this game, but the Bengals are a little more balanced on offense. Cin 27 NYG 23

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If NFL Players Were Presidential Candidates

With the 2016 Presidential election just around the corner, I figured it was time that we compare NFL players to politicians…while politics are still relevant.  Everyone has their own views on politicians, but hopefully by the end of this article, you’ll see that they’re just like some of our favorite football players.  Whether we fight on the gridiron or on the podium, let’ get started.

 

Richard Sherman is the Donald Trump of the NFL.  They’re both loud and egotistical and claim they’re “the best” at what they do.  Sherman says he’s the best cornerback in the game and Trump says he’s the best businessman, presidential candidate, and human being there ever was.  They also each come from an experienced background.  Sherman maintained an excellent GPA at Stanford University and Trump created many jobs and has had much success as a real estate businessman.  These two bullies trash talk an insane amount as well.  The one caveat is that Sherman isn’t as disliked nationwide as Trump, I think?

Image result for Richard ShermanImage result for donald trump

 

 

Tom Brady is the Hillary Clinton of the NFL.  Alleged lies galore.  Tom, you did deflate those balls.  You did know about it, and you are a cheater.  And Hillary, you know you meant to use a private email to hide secret State Department information.  You did know about it, and you are a cheater.

Image result for tom brady lieImage result for hillary clinton lie

 

 

Colin Kaepernick is the Bernie Sanders of the NFL.  Interesting hair styles for these two to say the least.  All Bernie has stressed to us time and time again is how certain groups of people are treated unfairly in the United States and that that needs to improve.  All Kaepernick has emphasized during his sudden resurgence of fame is how our nation doesn’t represent the liberty and justice for all like it’s supposed to.  Both of these men stand for equality and they also attract the much younger crowd.

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Kirk Cousins is the Barack Obama of the NFL.  Okay, here me out on this one.  They each took over for someone who was arguably disliked more than them (Robert Griffin III and George Bush); they each created their own catchphrase or slogan (“You Like That!” and “Yes We Can!”); they’re each the captain of their team or leader of their nation; and they’ve each mentioned about 50 times how they’re either looking to get better or how things have gotten better under their reign.  Wow, that’s four similarities!

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Eli Manning is the Jeb Bush of the NFL.  You ever notice how each of them always have that little boy whining look on their face?  Not to mention, they each have an older brother who was arguably better at their respective jobs.  Jeb didn’t win the primary while George Bush was president for two terms.  In a slight difference, Eli (somehow) beat the Patriots twice in the Super Bowl, but just as Bush won the nomination two times, Peyton Manning won the Super Bowl two times as well.  Furthermore, because of 9/11, George Bush won two very different elections for our nation in 2001 and 2004.  Speaking of difference, Peyton won the Super Bowl with two different teams, the only quarterback to do so.

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Tony Romo is the Gary Johnson of the NFL.  Some love him and some hate him, but Gary Johnson still remains relatively unknown among third party candidates.  Similarly, you either love Romo or hate him and he seems like he’s never around either because of his recent injury bug.

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Martavis Bryant is the Ben Carson of the NFL.  Bryant is suspended for one year for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy and Carson looked like he was abusing some substance during every debate this past year.  I mean every time I look at Carson I feel like I don’t know if he’s just high or if I’m getting high from just looking at him.  Cheap shot?  Probably.

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Allen Hurns is the Jill Stein of the NFL because he came out of nowhere, didn’t receive much press and is now performing well on a losing team.  Jill Stein came onto the scene in 2012 seemingly out of nowhere, didn’t receive much attention, and performed well on a platform that will never win the presidential election.  Poor Jaguars and poor Green Party.

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Johnny Manziel is the Ted Cruz of the NFL because they have very similar faces and egos. Need I say more?

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Whether they’re deflating balls or using private emails, fighting for extra yards or for extra bucks, signing four year deals or serving four year terms, our NFL players and Presidential candidates are more similar than one may think. while this is true, one decides the victory on Sundays and the other decides the direction of the United States.  Small difference there.  This November, we have a very important decision to make as Kirk Cousins leaves office and Richard Sherman and Tom Brady square off for POTUS.  If that’s not potentially scary then I don’t know what is.  And with that, happy cheering and happy voting.

2016 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings

The Surefire series is behind us, so now it’s time to get into the nitty gritty. For the next week, I’ll be ranking the top players at each position in fantasy football. To start, we’ll look at the 2016 fantasy football quarterback rankings.

  1. Aaron Rodgers

From the Surefire Quarterbacks: “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.

2016 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings

Aaron Rodgers is your number one quarterback for 2016. (Photo: Christian Peterson/Getty Images)

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.”

Aaron Rodgers is the number one quarterback in fantasy football. He has an elite receiver in Jordy Nelson, a solid running game, and the fifth-best pass-blocking offensive line in football according to Pro Football Focus.

  1. Cam Newton

From Surefire Quarterbacks: “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.”

Newton’s rushing abilities make him a much more valuable quarterback in fantasy football. He had 10 rushing touchdowns, more than any other quarterback in 2015. He also had 636 rushing yards, which was also first among passers. Couple that with Newton’s 35 passing touchdowns a season ago and you’ve got an elite fantasy football quarterback.

  1. Russell Wilson

From Surefire Quarterbacks: “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.”

Another quarterback with uncanny running abilities, Russell Wilson is a fantasy asset thanks to his legs. Wilson only managed one rushing touchdown in 2015, but he still had 553 yards rushing. Wilson will be a high-end QB1 this season.

  1. Drew Brees

From Surefire Quarterbacks: “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.”

Drew Brees has managed to be one of the most elite quarterbacks of the past 10 years. He gets a rookie in Michael Thomas who has already impressed many during training camp. As long as Drew Brees is a quarterback, he’ll most likely be a QB1.

  1. Carson Palmer

It seems like a lot of quarterbacks threw for 35 touchdowns last season, and Carson Palmer is part of that group. Palmer is a lot like Ben Roethlisberger, in that they both have a lot of weapons in their offense. David Johnson is set to be a PPR stud, Larry Fitzgerald at worst will be the best blocking wideout in the league, and John Brown is poised to set Arizona on fire as a breakout receiver. Palmer does have knee issues, as he’s torn his ACL two times. Barring an injury, Palmer will be the beneficiary of one of the best offenses in the NFL this season.

  1. Ben Roethlisberger

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

2016 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings

Big Ben will be a QB1 this season. (Photo: Brian Kunst/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire)

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.”

Le’Veon Bell is suspended for the first four games, and Martavis Bryant is suspended for all 16. It could be tough going for Big Ben until Bell returns, but when he does, he’ll be an easy QB1.

  1. Philip Rivers

Now everyone pull up a seat and let me drop some truth on you. Philip Rivers isn’t that bad. Listen here, Rivers was the number two quarterback in fantasy football through eight games last season. Unfortunately, Keenan Allen’s season was cut in half, just like his kidney (not confirmed), causing Rivers’ numbers to plummet. I’m no fortune teller, but I can tell you Keenan Allen is back, Travis Benjamin has signed with the Chargers (for whatever that’s worth), and I’m high on Rivers this season.

  1. Andrew Luck

Andrew Luck makes me nervous. His line allowed anything with as much horsepower as motorized Heelys get to the quarterback last season. There’s a bunch of hype in the receiving corps, but my momma told me that potential shouldn’t be taken as results- it hasn’t done anything yet. Luck is a gifted quarterback, but he must stay healthy in order to be a top-flight passer. Temper your expectations with Luck this season, and maybe he’ll be a number one quarterback like he was in 2014.

  1. Tom Brady

Way to go Tom Brady. You let air out of a football and got re-suspended after getting un-suspended from your original suspension. Because of that, I have to rank you as my number nine quarterback. You know what you get from Tom Brady. He’s going to throw for 300 yards a game, 3 touchdowns, and stay uninjured. Survive with another quarterback for the first four games, then ride with Brady as a top-five quarterback for the rest of the year.

  1. Andy Dalton

Some writers call Andy Dalton a sleeper for the MVP. I’m a Bengals fan and a writer, so I know that’s just something called #clickbait. Andy Dalton has the potential to be a QB1, that’s for sure. He has a WR1 in A.J. Green, and TE1 in Tyler Eifert, and two running backs who have dual uses in Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard. Cincinnati is a balanced attack, so Dalton simply won’t get enough passing attempts in to be a reliable QB1 each game.

  1. Blake Bortles

The two best wide receivers with the first name of Allen play for the Jags. Allen Robinson, a top-ten wide receiver, and Allen Hurns (64 receptions, 1,031 yards in 2015) will both help a scary Jacksonville pass offense. Don’t forget about former Denver Bronco Julius Thomas, who enters his second season in Florida. Bortles passed for 35 touchdowns last season, and will be a solid QB1 this season.

2016 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings

Underrated in 2015, let Carr fall into your lap as a high QB2 late in drafts. (Photo: AP/Joe Mahoney)

  1. Derek Carr

Amari Cooper is a budding star, and it turns out Michael Crabtree doesn’t suck in the NFL. Derek Carr has great deep threat and possession wide receivers, and a solid running game behind Latavius Murray. Carr threw for 32 touchdowns last season, and could venture his way into QB1 territory.

  1. Eli Manning 

Eli Manning was straight peeved when Peyton Manning clinched the Super Bowl. That said, he’ll have some extra fire girded within his loins this season. Odell Beckham is overrated but good (how about that for a hot #take for your Monday). Sterling Shepard could be one of the next great receivers in the NFL, and there are enough average running backs in New York (technically New Jersey) to have a mundane running game. Manning plays in a pass heavy offense, which means he could go off in any week.

  1.  Matt Ryan

Julio Jones just so happens to be good at gracing footballs into his hands. Matt Ryan is a good quarterback, but he has no other friends to throw to. I guess Devonta Freeman will have to suffice, because there’s no way the Falcons knew what they were getting in signing Mohamed Sanu to an absurd $32 million deal.

  1. Ryan Fitzpatrick

Ryan Fitzpatrick was the number 12 quarterback in fantasy last season. After finally agreeing to a new contract with the New York Jets, Fitzpatrick is in position to be a solid streaming option for your team this season. Throwing to the likes of Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall is as good as it gets, and Matt Forte can run and catch out of the backfield. Fitzpatrick is a solid QB2 with potential to be a low QB1.

  1. Tony Romo

Tony Romo can’t stay healthy, even with the best offensive line in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. That’s very concerning. What’s more is that Ezekiel Elliott will be seeing upwards of 300 touches according to Dallas coaches.

  1. Kirk Cousins

The Washington front office doesn’t believe Kirk Cousins is the long-term quarterback, but I believe he’s your long-term backup fantasy quarterback for this season. Jordan Reed is an animal inside the 20, and DeSean Jackson is an animal outside the 20. What more could he need? A running game? Psh.

  1. Matthew Stafford

Eric Ebron is slowly becoming a good tight end in the NFL. Golden Tate catches two-yard touchdowns like it’s his job (I guess it kind of is). Marvin Jones is no longer a sleeper because everyone is calling him a sleeper. Oh, and the Lions signed Anquan Boldin (meh). Calvin Johnson retiring will make Matthew Stafford have to actually throw the ball with some precision.

  1. Jameis Winston

When he’s not stealing crab legs, Jameis Winston is a viable QB2. He ran for 6 touchdowns last season, better than all passers not named Cam Newton. He gets to throw to the likes of Mike Evans and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, so he does have the potential to sneak into high QB2 range this season.

  1. Marcus Mariota

Marcus Mariota had 19 touchdown passes and 2 rushing touchdowns. There’s also more young receivers with potential in Tennessee than there are “Go green” bumper stickers on a Toyota Prius. Lots of upside for Mariota.

  1. Brock Osweiler

Throwing to DeAndre Hopkins is a privilege. The only problem is that Hopkins is the only great receiver to throw to in Houston. Minor details.

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