Week 9 DFS don'ts

Week 9 DFS don’ts: Report card

Week 9 was the first time all season I cashed when the week number was a multiple of 3. I know, why would anyone keep track of that? Well, when you lose badly on Week 3 and 6, you are highly aware of Week 9, 12, 15 moving forward.

Anyways, it was my best week of the year in terms of profit and picks. We nailed almost everything on the Suck My DFS Podcast and our picks for the Week 9 DFS don’ts.

Quarterback: 4/6

On our podcast, my three quarterbacks to build around were Russell Wilson, Alex Smith and Jared Goff. Now, I ended up not playing Alex Smith on my cash games and taking my co-host’s advice on Jacoby Brissett in my tournaments. I missed out on a great game from Goff, but still managed to have a good day as all three of these quarterbacks made value in cash games and probably helped you win a tournament.

On the other hand, Matt Ryan and Marcus Mariota managed to have good games and prove me wrong. However, Brock Osweiler was not good. It might seem cheap, but I saw tournament lineups on FanDuel with Osweiler so I’m counting it as a win.

Running Back: 4/6

I was struggling to predict the running back position all season. But finally, in the running back edition of Week 9 DFS don’ts, I came through. Devonta Freeman, C.J. Anderson and Alex Collins all failed to make value in a cash game, and I couldn’t be happier.

Conversely, Todd Gurley and Christian McCaffrey were great. Gurley was a staple in my tournament lineups.

Sadly, I whiffed on Mark Ingram while my co-host nailed it with Alvin Kamara. Thankfully, Gurley carried my lineups to victory.

Wide Receiver: 4/6

Mike Evans, Michael Thomas and Larry Fitzgerald all failed to make value. I’m not counting Jamison Crowder. He ended up not being active, so I won’t count that as a win or a loss.

Thank goodness for that Tyreek Hill play at the end of the first half! I haven’t sweated a game harder all year. While that play was great, Hill came up just short of doubling his value for cash purposes, so that’s a loss.

I don’t know if you heard, but T.Y. Hilton had a decent game, right? His price was too attractive this week and forced me to play him on all my tournament lineups. Russell Shepard ended up being a dud, but not a bad week as a whole though.

Tight End: 3/5

For my Week 9 DFS don’ts at the tight end position, I named Travis Kelce, Jimmy Graham and Ryan Griffin. Kelce had a great game and finished as the second highest scoring tight end on Sunday. Graham and Griffin both came up short.

On the podcast, I liked Evan Engram and Vernon Davis. Like Tyreek Hill, Davis came up less than a point short of making value in a cash game. I sadly played Jack Doyle instead of Engram. I couldn’t find a way to fit him in at that price despite really liking him.

Kicker: 1/3

This was my worst call of the season at this position. I totally missed on Brandon McManus, but I wasn’t going anywhere near that Denver offense. Mike Nugent came up very small, but he wasn’t needed. Cody Parkey didn’t make value, so that’s my only win at this position.

Defense: 2/3

Jacksonville was the chalk this past weekend, and I was happy to swallow it on all my lineups. Cincinnati wasn’t able to get it done against a running game without Leonard Fournette. And, if not for a touchdown, Houston’s defense would have failed to make value as well.

Overall Score: 18/29

I don’t know if I’ll have a week this good again, but I’ll take 62 percent correct. Hopefully Week 10 will be as good. Check out our latest piece on which kicker(s) and defense(s) to keep off your DFS lineups.

 

Featured image from Grizzly Bear Blues

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New Orleans Saints fantasy: Which receiver can players trust?

One of the most frustrating fantasy situations is Drew Brees and his wide receiver corps. It seems like every week there is a new player who comes up big for New Orleans. The question for fantasy owners is which Saints receiver can be trusted?

Michael Thomas

Going into the 2017 season, Michael Thomas was looking to continue his red hot career with Drew Brees. He hasn’t quite performed like the WR1 people drafted him as. Coming off of his bye week, Thomas struggled against a good Lions secondary but bounced back against the Packers this week.

It seems that every week we see Michael Thomas with at least five receptions for 80 yards. A model of consistency that most owners would like to see out of their wide receivers, just not their number one. There was some hope that Thomas would blossom into a full-time WR1 with multiple weeks of eight points, 14 points, and 14 points again.

The touchdowns are what’s key for Michael Thomas. If he can be consistently targeted in the red zone and come away with more touchdowns, then we can see more double digit games from the Saints stud.

Ted Ginn Jr.

New Orleans Saints fantasy: Which receiver can players trust?

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If you played Ted Ginn Jr. in week seven against the Packers, then you got a steal. One of the most frustrating fantasy players has had back to back double digit weeks and is turning into a big target for Drew Brees. Unlike Michael Thomas, Ginn has come off of the bye week playing better than he has all season.

Now when I say that he is a frustrating fantasy player, it’s just because he has been inconsistent so far this season putting up three double digit weeks and three weeks of five points or lower. Owners can never tell if they need to put him in their lineup but he should be owned in every league for sure.

It seems like we can only depend on matchups for Ginn Jr. from here on out. With Michael Thomas drawing most of the coverage from opposing secondaries, it allows Ginn to find gaps in the defense and breakaway for long receptions. From now on if that matchup proves to be good for the Saints, and you need to fill someone in due to bye weeks, play Ginn Jr. and hope for a big game.

Brandon Coleman

Brandon Coleman is the least likely out of the Saints wide receiver trio to be put in your fantasy lineup. I’d like to put Willie Snead on this list but because of the time he’s missed, I’m going to have to defer to Brandon Coleman.

Coleman, like Ted Ginn Jr., has been inconsistent throughout this season. We’ve seen him have big weeks with nine, seven and 14 points, but he has also put together three lackluster performances with one, two and three points.

Now that Willie Snead has made his return, in future weeks he should be on every team and is a viable fantasy option under Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints. But Coleman has been a threat in the red zone in the first seven weeks. As a matter of fact, three out of his 12 receptions have ended up as touchdowns.

Basically with Brandon Coleman, it’s boom or bust. If he can find a way to score a touchdown, then he’s valuable, but we haven’t seen enough of that to promote starting him in fantasy lineups.

It’s tough to decide which receiver to play if you have all three but to play it safe, Michael Thomas is the best, and most consistent receiver on that team and should get our team the most points out of all the Saints wide receivers.

 

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Week three DFS don’ts: Quarterback

Week two for the quarterback position could be characterized as a return to normalcy. We saw the usual suspects at the top of the scoring charts like Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Derek Carr. However, players like Trevor Siemian and Carson Wentz were able to perform on par with or better than those previously mentioned. Will any of these players will wind up on the quarterback edition of my week three DFS don’ts?

Drew Brees: FanDuel Price $8,400

Drew Brees is almost matchup proof. Last year he produced even against the most elite pass defenses like Denver and Seattle. However, he played those games at home in the confines of the Superdome. This Sunday, Brees plays at Carolina in a pivotal division game.

One year of data does not constitute a trend. But, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t consider it. Brees had a staunch difference in production against the Panthers in 2016 depending on where he played. I’m not saying this is exactly what will happen this year, but Brees is not playing with the same team.

Brees will play against the fifth ranked defense in terms of DVOA. You can read more about DOVA here, but it’s a stat that evaluates how good a team or player is relative to the NFL average. Currently, the Panthers are 42 percent better than the average NFL defense, and is ranked by Football Outsiders as the second best defense.

Apart from playing on the road against a great defense, Brees will be less equipped to produce than in his past matchups. Why’s that? Well, last year he had Michael Thomas, Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead at his disposal. This Sunday, he’ll only have Michael Thomas. He’ll also enter the game with one of the least efficient running attacks in the NFL. They currently rank 26th in total rushing and only have 38 rushing attempts in two games.

As much as it pains me to say, I’m not willing to pay $8,400 for Drew Brees given this week’s matchup. Let’s hope his placement on my week three DFS don’ts will be his only time this season.

Russell Wilson: FanDuel Price $7,800

Can Russell Wilson overcome his terrible offensive line to keep the Seahawks from falling to 1-2? (Courtesy of; SI.com)

I feel so bad for Russell Wilson. His franchise is failing him the same way the Colts are failing Andrew Luck. They continue to devote resources away from their offensive line, and now they are paying for it. Seattle is currently tied for 20th in sacks allowed.

This offensive line is so incompetent that they allowed the 49ers to stay competitive in last Sunday’s game. Sadly, I don’t think the Seahawks offense will be able to sustain drives and give their defense ample time to recover between drives.

They will inevitably have multiple three and outs, and that will force the Seattle defense to get pounded by DeMarco Murray or Derrick Henry. This will force the offense to abandon the run, and force Wilson to continue to run for his life.

I hope the Seahawks find a way to correct their pitiful offensive line play. I love stacking Wilson with Doug Baldwin in my DFS lineups. But until further notice, I can’t take that chance. Wilson and company are firmly on my week three DFS don’ts.

 

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Featured Image Courtesy of Sporting News

2017 NFC South division preview

2017 NFC South division preview

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

4: New Orleans Saints

Last season: 7-9

Strength of schedule:15

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

2017 NFC South division preview

(Photo credit: Matthew Hinton)

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

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

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

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

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

3: Atlanta Falcons

2017 NFC South division preview

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

Last season: 11-5

Strength of schedule: 13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last season: 9-7

Strength of schedule: 14

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

2017 NFC South division preview

(Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1: Carolina Panthers

2017 NFC South division preview

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

Last season: 6-10

Strength of schedule: 16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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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.

 

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2017 fantasy football wide receiver rankings: 10-1

Here it is, my final and most important list of receivers. These receivers will fill up the first and second round of most drafts and will fill the void of your number one receiver.

2017 fantasy football wide receivers

https://static.seattletimes.com

10. Doug Baldwin (Seattle Seahawks): After a breakout season in 2015 with 1,069 yards and 14 touchdowns, Baldwin had another 1,000-yard season with seven touchdowns. Regression was expected from Baldwin last season, but I don’t expect that trend to continue this season.

Russell Wilson didn’t target Baldwin as much as he should’ve in the red zone last year. He found success there but he found it using his other receivers.

Where Baldwin did succeed was in his productivity. Baldwin ranked seventh in receptions and seventh in yards after the catch with 447. Another season as Wilson’s number one target, Baldwin should finish as a WR1 this year.

9. Amari Cooper (Oakland Raiders): Amari Cooper has been the receiver that the Raiders hoped he would become after selecting him fourth in the 2015 NFL Draft. After back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, Cooper has the ability to take the next step in 2017.

In the touchdown category, Cooper only has the opportunity to go up after seasons with six and five touchdowns. Now with Marshawn Lynch in the mix, Cooper will find trouble in the red zone but the volume will be there. The Raiders want to get Cooper the ball more and if that happens, he’s a lock for top 10 production.

8. T.Y. Hilton (Indianapolis Colts): The receiving leader in 2016 wasn’t Antonio Brown, Julio Jones or Odell Beckham Jr. It was, however, T.Y. Hilton. Hilton and Andrew Luck were on another level last season. After four straight 1,000-yard seasons, T.Y. can upgrade his touchdowns and be a top five receiver easily.

He’s as productive as productive gets after ranking first in receiving yards and second in air yards. T.Y. Hilton also ranked eighth in fantasy points per game. The only way Hilton does the same thing as last season is if Andrew Luck can stay healthy. If that happens, Hilton will be a better receiver than he was last year.

7. Michael Thomas (New Orleans Saints): In a rookie class highlighted by stud running backs and Dak Prescott, Michael Thomas slid under the radar as one of the league’s best receivers. He was productive in the red zone, ranking fifth in red zone receptions and ninth in receptions overall.

Now Brandin Cooks is gone and Michael Thomas is stepping into the number one receiver role with the New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees. Thomas starts the season in a tough spot facing the Vikings, Patriots and Panthers in his first three matchups. Defenses now know what to expect, but I’m still on the Michael Thomas bandwagon, as he’s a late first to early second round pick.

6. A.J. Green (Cincinnati Bengals): Do I need to talk about Green’s production or efficiency? His past numbers speak for themselves. From 2011-15, A.J. Green had 1,000-plus yards and double digit touchdowns every year but two. Last season, he didn’t have 1,000 yards but that’s only because he missed six games.

2017 fantasy football wide receivers

https://17245-presscdn-0-4-pagely.netdna-ssl.com

Green still finished with 964 yards in just 10 games. Obviously Andy Dalton’s favorite target, Green is in line for another big season. Standing at 6-foot-4 210 pounds, Green has big play ability and he’ll produce big time for the Bengals again this year.

5. Jordy Nelson (Green Bay Packers): After tearing his ACL in 2015, people wondered whether or not Jordy Nelson could bounce back to number one receiver status he once was. He not only removed doubt of being a number one receiver, he ended up as the number one receiver, in terms of fantasy that is.

Nelson formed a great duo with Davante Adams, creating terror for opposing defenses. Aaron Rodgers is destined to put up huge numbers in Green Bay, and will probably throw for 35 or more touchdowns.

The targets are there in the red zone, after last season, Nelson had 32 targets inside of the 20-yard line. Nelson is going to be a stud again in fantasy but expect a little regression in terms of touchdowns.

4. Mike Evans (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): Mike Evans started off last season with a bang. Through the first nine weeks of the season, Evans only had single digit weeks twice. He started to slow down a little after that however.

From week 10 on, Evans only had four double digit weeks. With the development of Jameis Winston, Mike Evans has the ability to be even better than last year. The only problem with Evans is how many targets may go to his fellow players.

With the addition of DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard, targets are going to be spread around the Tampa Bay offense. Evans should still see most of the targets and stay a solid WR1.

3. Odell Beckham Jr. (New York Giants): Definitely the most outspoken player on this list, Odell Beckham Jr. is a once in a generation player. After coming onto the scene in 2014, Beckham Jr. hasn’t had a season with less than ten touchdowns. Last season he had 1,367 receiving yards and ten touchdowns. And that was his worst year as a pro. Odell was arguably the most productive receiver in the league last year ranking within the top 5 at categories such as receptions, receiving yards, yards after catch, touchdowns and fantasy points per game. The category Beckham could improve in is minimizing his drops. He had nine last season, his most since entering the league. Now Brandon Marshall is added to the mix which is a good and bad thing. It’s good for Beckham because he’ll see less double teams but it may minimize his red zone targets.

2. Julio Jones (Atlanta Falcons): The Falcons’ amazing season was helped out by Julio Jones and his play at wide receiver. After his third straight 1,000-plus yard season, is it possible that Julio could be even better than last year. The yardage won’t fall below 1,000 if he stays healthy for a full season.

However, that is a big if. Jones has only played two full seasons since entering the league in 2011. Other than health, Julio can improve in the red zone. He ranked 53rd in the league last season with five red zone receptions. If those numbers increase and the big bodied receiver gets more touchdowns, he’ll be the number one receiver in the league.

(Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

1. Antonio Brown (Pittsburgh Steelers): Business is boomin’ in Pittsburgh. Antonio Brown is in line for another big season with the Steelers. Since 2013, Antonio Brown has had at least 100 receptions, 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns in each season.

He ranked first in the most important fantasy candidate for wide receivers: fantasy points per game. Now Antonio Brown has Martavis Bryant back opposite of him for hopefully a full season which can lead to better things.

In two games where Antonio Brown was primarily double teamed, Sammie Coates was targeted a team-high 19 times. Now with Bryant back in the mix, those double teams should regress and Brown should be even better than last year.

 

Feature image courtesy of www.endzonescore.com

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“From our Haus to Yours”

2017 NFL top 100 players: 100-91

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 first installment, containing players 100-91.

100. Jordan Hicks, LB, Philadelphia Eagles

2017 NFL top 100 players: 100-91

Jordan Hicks (Photo by philly.com)

Hicks only has two seasons in the NFL so far but has impressed. After gaining starting status for all of last season, he blossomed. He finished with 86 tackles, five interceptions, 11 passes defended, a fumble recovery and a sack.

The Eagles have made a commitment to improving their defense through the draft this season. They drafted Derek Barnett, Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas with their first three picks. Philadelphia ranked 12th in the league as a scoring defense and should improve this year.

With other talented players like Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham, Hicks may not be the best player on his defense but should get even better as he progresses.

Comments: “Jordan Hicks is one of the best players under 25. Hicks can defend both the run and the pass. He even has a knack for creating turnovers. When we look back on the 2017-18 NFL season, it will look asinine that Hicks wasn’t in the top 50.” -Matthew Hagan

“Hicks is a purpose linebacker that can play inside or outside. He has the ability to drop in coverage and can also fight off blocks at the point of attack to stop the run. He may be the most underrated linebacker in football. The only thing that is holding Hicks from being a top-10 linebacker is injuries. If he can stay healthy, he should be higher on this list.” – Craig Stogdill

99. Kawann Short, DT, Carolina Panthers

2017 NFL top 100 players: 100-91

Kawann Short (Photo by scout.com)

Players who are on the interior of the defensive line sometimes get overlooked, but Short is a great player and deserves his spot on this list. He went from 11 sacks in 2015 to 6 in 2016, but that still is good enough to have him tie for eighth in the league among defensive tackles.

Short will have to play under a new defensive coordinator in 2017, Steve Wilks. Wilks has been around the team as a secondary coach, so players should be able to be familiar with everything Wilks wants them to do. Carolina’s defense slipped in 2017, but they still have enough talent to be a good NFL defense.

While the defense did get worse last season, Short was the second-best player on the defense last year. He played all 16 games, which was something the best player on the defense didn’t do (this player will be seen later on in our rankings). Short is entering his prime and is in store for another big season.

Comments: Kawann Short is way too low on this list for my taste. His 11 sacks in 2015 to six sacks in 2016 drop off is not a big deal as an interior lineman. Short was third in quarterback hurries by a defensive tackle with 46 despite playing fewer snaps than the two players ranked higher than him. He is just as effective against the run as he is the pass. Short is just as important to the Panthers defense as Luke Kuechly and should be much higher than 99.” -Matthew Hagan

98. Janoris Jenkins, CB, New York Giants

NFL Top 100

Janoris Jenkins (photo by giants.com)

Jenkins is a part of a defense that last season was second in the league in points allowed. He had his best season yet as a Giant and finished with three interceptions, 18 passes defended and a forced fumble. Although he doesn’t have a lot of interceptions he does a great job in coverage.

The Giants have better talent this season with Landon Collins going into his third season and Eli Apple entering his sophomore campaign. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie also had a good season last year, making their secondary one to watch. Dalvin Tomlinson was drafted to help an already good defensive line.

With all the talent on the Giants’ defense, Jenkins may not be the first name that comes to mind, but he will do his job effectively.

Comments: “After signing a massive free agent contract, critics believed he would have a down year in 2016. That was not the case. In fact, he had his best year in the NFL and proved he’s worthy to be a teams shutdown corner. He held quarterbacks to a passer rating of 65 on balls thrown his way and his completion percentage dropped from 61 percent to 50 percent on the potent Giants defense.”-Blake Van Poucke

“Jenkins is one of the best shutdown corners in the game. He plays his best game against the best receivers. He held Dez Bryant to a single catch in each meeting (Jenkins forced him to fumble on one of them) in 2016. Jenkins made his first Pro Bowl and I expect another one next season if he plays like last year. He is the best corner on his team he should be in front of DRC and Gilmore. “- Craig Stogdill

97. Stephon Gilmore, CB, New England Patriots

2017 NFL top 100 players: 100-91

Stephon Gilmore (Photo by cbssports.com)

The Patriots got another good corner when they signed Gilmore this offseason. Last year with the Bills, Gilmore had a career high in interceptions with five. He also added 12 passes defended and 48 total tackles.

Gilmore now bolsters the best scoring defense last year. He and Malcolm Butler are one of, if not the best corner tandems in the league. Look for Gilmore to be a reason the Patriots are one of the best defenses against the pass in 2017.

After winning the Super Bowl and acquiring players like Brandin Cooks and Gilmore, the Patriots don’t look like they will be slowing down any time soon.

Comments: Gilmore had a down year in terms of his man coverage, allowing 17.9 yards per pass thrown at him through the first nine weeks. He was slated to make a jump in 2016 to a top five cornerback. But, despite a few terrible games, he accounted for five interceptions in 2016 which is a career high. He will now play in a more sound defensive system with the Patriots and should return to a highly productive cornerback.”-Blake Van Poucke

96. Brandon Marshall, WR, New York Giants

2017 NFL top 100 players: 100-91

Brandon Marshall (Photo by giants.com)

Full disclosure: Marshall had a bad 2016 season, but he was playing on the Jets. He only has three seasons of less than 1,000 receiving yards. Two years ago he had 1,502 receiving yards with Ryan Fitzpatrick as his starting quarterback. So, although he is aging, he should rebound for the Giants.

Marshall will be on an offense that should feature a good passing attack. Odell Beckham Jr. will get his touches, but the rest of the receiving core, including Sterling Shepard, will have to fight for their touches. When Beckham Jr. is double-teamed, Marshall will be able to win his matchups and produce. Having Eli Manning throw the ball to him is a significant upgrade over what he has had for the last two seasons and most of his career.

If this list was based solely on how players were last year, Marshall wouldn’t be on this list. This season though, Marshall has a chance to reestablish himself and make a big impact for a playoff contender.

Comments: “Brandon Marshall should be nowhere close to being ranked on this list. Marshall made this list on reputation alone. Although he is getting a major improvement at quarterback, Marshall is going to be on an offense that features Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard and rookie Evan Engram. These players are much younger and will take away receptions and yards from him. He will be more of a mentor than an actual threat. Marshall won’t even be a top 150 player this season.” -Matthew Hagan

 Even at 33, few have more natural talent than Marshall who had 109 catches just two years ago. Being around so much young talent and a real shot at a playoff run for the first time in his career will rejuvenate him in 2017.”- Dylan Streibig  

95. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, New York Giants

NFL Top 100

Domique Roders-Cromartie (photo by sny.com)

Rodgers-Cromartie was already mentioned as being part of the good Giants’ defense. Last season he finished with six interceptions, 21 passes defended, one forced fumble and 49 total tackles.

Although Rodgers-Cromartie is now 30 years old, he showed last year that he isn’t wearing down. With Jenkins, Apple and him as their corners and Collins at safety, the Giants will be hard to throw on this season.

In 2017 Rodgers-Cromartie will be one of the best players on one of the best defenses in the NFL.

Comments: “Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was one of the top corners in the NFL last season. Rodgers-Cromartie earned the second-best grade of his career last season from Pro Football Focus, and for good reason. His 16 total pass breakups last season were the fourth-most in the league, and he had the second-lowest QBR-against among corners last season at 56.6.” –Tim Miller

“DRC is a solid size corner at 6-2. He has a knack of being a ballhawk. He led his team in interceptions twice for the Giants. DRC helped improve the Giants when he moved to the inside to the slot. I wouldn’t put him in front of Gilmore or Jenkins.”- Craig Stogdill

94. Kelechi Osemele, OG, Oakland Raiders

NFL Top 100

Kelechi Osemele (photo by sfgate.com)

The Raiders had one of the best offensive lines in 2016 and Osemele was a huge reason why. Oakland ranked sixth in the NFL in rushing yards and gave up the fewest sacks in the league, 18.

Derek Carr’s injury may have caused the Raiders’ season to end prematurely, but with him recovering well from his broken leg, Oakland can have a high-powered offense once again. Carr may get a lot of the love, and a lot of the money in his new deal, but their offense starts because of the offensive line.

Osemele will help lead the charge on a great offense for the 2017 season by continuing to clear way in the running game and protecting Carr.

Comments: “Offensive linemen rarely get the love or recognition they deserve. Osemele earned second-team all-pro from Pro Football Focus last season and was only edged out for the first team by Marshal Yanda. Last season he gave up zero sacks and that is good enough to deserve a much higher ranking.” -Matthew Hagan

“Quite possibly the biggest free agent signing of 2015 was Osemele moving to the Raiders. In his first season in Oakland, he was a force. He was one of the most productive interior lineman in football with his brutal punch and overwhelming physical style. He helped change the complexion of the Raiders offense and was a big reason for their 2016 success.”-Blake Van Poucke

93. Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints

2017 NFL top 100 players: 100-91

Michael Thomas (Photo by upi.com)

Thomas had such a good rookie season that the Saints felt comfortable enough to trade Brandin Cooks to the Patriots. After being the sixth receiver selected, Thomas built a great rapport with Drew Brees. He finished last year with 1,197 receiving yards and nine touchdowns.

People have thought that Brees would be slowing down for the last few seasons, but he delivered yet another 5,000 yard passing season last year. Thomas will benefit from Brees’ continued production, especially now that he is the clear number one receiver.

With the other defenses in the NFC South giving up a lot of passing yards, all ranked in the bottom half of the NFL, Thomas will have every opportunity to have an even better season.

Comments: Michael Thomas was the best rookie wide receiver in the NFL last season. Thomas blew all other rookies out of the water in receptions (92 compared to Sterling Shepard’s second-best 67) and receiving yards (981 compared to Sterling Shepard’s second-best 653). Thomas dominated in every facet among rookie wideouts, but this list isn’t all about rookies.

“What makes Thomas special is that he’s already playing with an elite quarterback in Drew Brees in a pass-heavy offense. The Saints threw the ball on 63 percent of their plays last season, good for fourth-most in the league. Thomas has reportedly added ten pounds of muscle, and with his size (6-foot-3, 212 pounds) and explosiveness (20 tackles broken/avoided, ninth in NFL in 20-plus yard catches last season), expect Thomas to become an elite receiver in the NFL.” – Tim Miller

92. Jameis Winston, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2017 NFL top 100 players: 100-91

Jameis Winston (Photo by nytimes.com)

Two straight 4,000 yard passing seasons have gotten Jameis Winston’s career off to a hot start. Winston had 4,090 passing yards, 28 touchdowns and 18 interceptions in 2016. He has gotten more accurate from season one to season two and will need to continue to do so.

While the stats are encouraging, Winston has also improved the Bucs win total from six to nine from his rookie season to last. Continuing to help improve the Bucs’ record will be a way to raise his stock around the league. He will have more help this season on the offensive side of the ball, as Tampa Bay signed Desean Jackson and drafted O.J. Howard.

Winston is the franchise quarterback for the Bucs and with the added help on offense, should be able to take his game to another level.

Comments: If this list was based on what Winston did last season, he would deserve this spot, but he should be ranked higher. This list is supposed to look ahead to 2017 and Winston will be better with all of the incoming help and his natural progression he has shown in his first two years. With weapons like Desean Jackson, Mike Evans and O.J. Howard, Winston will be higher on this list come next year.”- Joe DiTullio

91. Carlos Dunlap, DE, Cincinnati Bengals

2017 NFL top 100 players: 100-91

Carlos Dunlap (Photo by bengals.com)

Dunlap had a good 2015 season with 13.5 sacks, but his production dipped to 8 sacks last year, which tied for 22nd in the NFL. He also added three forced fumbles and 49 combined tackles.

Last season Dunlap had help rushing the quarterback from Geno Atkins, but not much else. Michael Johnson, who started all 16 games at the other defensive end spot, finished with 3.5 sacks. The Bengals added Jordan Willis and Carl Lawson in the draft to help in this area, which will help take double teams away from Dunlap.

Production wasn’t great for Dunlap last season, but since he has been the starting defensive end for Cincinnati, he has never had fewer than 7.5 sacks in a season. Dunlap will be looking to up his sack total and be more productive in 2017.

Comments: “Dunlap has been one of the most consistent pieces on a Bengals’ defense that has been very good for the last six years. He is constantly in the quarterback’s face and even though his numbers dropped off a bit, he is still able to be a playmaker and change the game at any time. With the help of Jordan Willis, Carl Lawson, Andrew Billings and obviously Geno Atkins, this defensive line should have a great year and so should Dunlap.”- Robert Hanes

 

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Super Bowl series 2017: NFC South

Super Bowl series 2017: NFC South

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. This is the fifth edition, Super Bowl series: NFC South.

Atlanta Falcons

Super Bowl series 2017: NFC South

(Photo credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The Atlanta Falcons are going to have to bounce back from one of the worst Super Bowl collapses of all time. After finishing the season 11-5, the Falcons marched through the playoffs with ease. They beat the Seahawks by 16 and the Packers by 23 to earn the crown of NFC Champions.

Atlanta then blew a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl. In order to win Super Bowl LII, the Falcons must avoid one of the worst hangovers ever.

The key to the Falcons’ success last season was their offense. Getting back to the Super Bowl will require their offense to repeat last year’s performance. The Falcons ranked first in all of the following categories: points per game (34.1), points per play (0.55), points per second quarter (11.1), points per third quarter (8.5) and points per first half (18.9).

The reason their offense was so great was due to balance in yardage. Atlanta ranked second in yards per game with 416.4. The Falcons were second in passing yards per game (298.9) and fifth in rushing yards per game (117.5). Atlanta only ran the ball 42 percent of the time and in order to return to the big game, the Falcons should get their play selection closer to 50-50.

Their two-headed monster in the backfield, Devonta Freeman, and Tevin Coleman, will continue to take pressure off of Matt Ryan. Julio Jones will also continue to dominate defensive backs. Offensively, the Falcons shouldn’t be too concerned and their defense is where this team will really need to pick it up to make a return to the Super Bowl.

Atlanta’s defense got off to a slow start last season and finished 27th in points allowed per game with 25.3. That improved to just 20.3 points allowed per game in their final three games which ranked 10th during that time. If the Falcons can duplicate that final stretch over the course of the entire season, then the Falcons could easily become the best team in the NFL.

Bringing down that 25.3 points per game total begins with being better in the fourth quarter. In the final period of games, the Falcons gave up an average of 9.9 points, which was 31st in the NFL.

It isn’t difficult to see why the Falcons were so bad defensively in the fourth quarter. They played an average of 66.8 snaps per game. That was fourth-most in the league. The biggest reason they were on the field for so many plays was that the Falcons struggled to get off the field on third down as they allowed teams to convert 42.2 percent of the time.

The Falcons defense must improve against the pass in order to fix all of these problems. Giving up 272.9 yards passing per game is not a formula for success.

In order to make it back to the Super Bowl, the Falcons defense must improve and become a middle of the pack defense. Signing Dontari Poe should provide some help up front. Their offense is so good that the defense doesn’t have to be anything more than average.

If the Falcons are able to duplicate last season’s offensive numbers and become an average defense, they will easily get back to the Super Bowl.

Getting back is one story, winning it is another. If the Falcons do make it back, they need better play calling. Being up 28-3 in a Super Bowl should guarantee a victory. Atlanta must learn from their previous mistakes and run the ball more. If they avoid the hangover and do this, the Falcons will redeem one of the worst choke jobs ever and win the franchise’s first-ever Lombardi Trophy.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Super Bowl series 2017: NFC South

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

Tampa Bay was very close to making the playoffs last season, finishing 9-7. The Bucs were a middle of the pack team both offensively and defensively and if they want to take the next step to make the playoffs, they must improve on both sides.

Defensively, Tampa Bay struggled in both pass and run defense. They ranked 22nd in both categories giving up 117.2 rushing yards per game and 250.8 yards per game through the air. Tampa Bay acquired defensive tackle Chris Baker to help them up front alongside Gerald McCoy. Defensive end Noah Spence tallied 5.5 sacks as a rookie and with an expanded role, should provide more pressure off the edge this season.

To help the struggling secondary, the Bucs acquired safety, J.J. Wilcox. Vernon Hargraves will need to have a big second season in order for the Buccaneers to improve defensively as well.

The defense has made changes but they won’t likely make a huge improvement. They gave up 25.3 points per game last season with 12 points per game coming in the first half. The offense is going to need to be on the field often to help this defense bring down a number of points they gave up.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Bucs have lots of room for growth. Tampa Bay averaged 22.1 points per game last season.

The strength of their offense was in the passing game. Tampa averaged 245.4 yards per game and Winston improved in a lot of areas. He improved his completion percentage by 2.5 percent, had 48 more yards and six more passing touchdowns. The addition of DeSean Jackson and drafting tight end O.J. Howard could allow Winston to make a bigger leap in his third season.

The running game must also improve on its 101 yards per game. In five seasons, Doug Martin has only played a full 16 game season twice. In both years, he ran for over 1,400 yards. With the growth of Winston and Martin staying healthy, the Buccaneers could become a top 10 offense in the NFL.

In order to make the playoffs and win Super Bowl LII, the offense needs to carry this team. They also need to start defending their home field. Since 2009, the Buccaneers are 21-42 at home and went 4-4 last season. Tampa has to win at least six games at home this season. If the Bucs defense can be average and the offense moves into the top 10, then the Buccaneers can win Super Bowl LII.

New Orleans Saints

Super Bowl series 2017: NFC South

(Photo Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org

The Saints went marching into free agency and got the best running back of this generation. New Orleans’ offense was one of the best in the NFL last season and they added Adrian Peterson. The Saints needed a lot of help on defense and did well to address that in free agency and the draft as well. They’ve set themselves up nicely for a run to the Super Bowl.

New Orleans has been held back by its defense over the past couple of seasons. Last year they were awful, giving up the second-most points at 28.4 per game. They struggled closing out halves giving up 11.3 points in the second quarter and 7.2 points in the fourth quarter per game.

What makes the Saints defense even worse is that despite only playing the 11th least amount of plays per game (63) they ranked 14th in rushing yards (101.6) and 31st in passing yards (273.8). New Orleans didn’t spend much time on the field defensively but got torched during that time.

Their biggest area of concern was getting off the field on third down. Opposing offenses converted 43 percent of their third downs against the Saints.

In order to get back to the Super Bowl, the Saints must improve in all areas defensively. New Orleans added linebackers A.J. Klein and Manti Te’o to provide this help. They also drafted cornerback Marshon Lattimore and safety Marcus Williams to deepen the secondary. These additions should go a long way in restoring the defense in New Orleans and get them back to the playoffs.

As mentioned earlier, the Saints had an unbelievable offense last season. They scored the second-most points in the NFL with 29.3 per game. The bulk of that scoring came in the second half. New Orleans averaged 15.2 points in the second half last season, ranking first in the NFL. The Saints were first in yards per game (426), first downs per game (24.7) and passing yards per game (317.1).

Trading Brandin Cooks was OK because of the stellar rookie season Michael Thomas had. The rookie had 92 receptions, 1,137 yards and nine touchdowns emerging as Drew Brees’ favorite weapon. The addition of Ted Ginn will help replace Cooks but Brees has made a career of turning receivers into stars. The passing game will not suffer from the loss of Cooks.

The offense just needs to continue doing what they have been doing. They already help keep the defense off the field by holding the ball for an average of 31 minutes per game. The Saints offense also averaged 108.9 yards rushing last season. They can’t do much more to help the team win.

All of New Orleans’ hopes and dreams rest on the defense. Drew Brees and the rest of this offense have carried the team on their shoulders for far too long. If the defense can improve just a little bit, then the Saints can become Super Bowl contenders.

Carolina Panthers

Super Bowl series 2017: NFC South

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

Cam Newton and the Panthers had a major Super Bowl hangover last season. They went from 15-1 to 6-10 and looked like a completely different team. With Cam Newton on your team, you always have a shot to make it to the Super Bowl again. It won’t take much for the Panthers to capture the magic they had in 2015.

The Panthers averaged 343.7 yards per game which were a 24-yard dropoff from 2015. They also went from rushing for 141.9 yards per game to 113.4 yards per game. In order for the Panthers to get to the Super Bowl, they must get back to the numbers they put up in 2015.

Carolina averaged 23.1 points per game and they were pretty consistent putting up points throughout the course of the game. The Panthers scored an average of 12 points in the first half and 11.1 points in the second half. They could improve on their scoring if they improve their third down conversion rate of 37 percent.

The Panthers must begin to run more like they did in 2015 in order to get back to the big game. They called a running play only 43 percent of the time. Along with this, the Panthers must cash out in the red zone. Carolina only scored on 59 percent of their red zone trips. Improving in these areas can turn the Panthers back into an elite team.

On the defensive side of the ball, it starts with the secondary. The Panthers ranked 28th in passing, giving up 268.2 yards per game. The defense also went from giving up 19.5 points per game in 2015 to 25.1 points per game last season. Part of the problem was the amount of time the Panthers spent of the field. Carolina ranked 22nd in plays with 64.7 per game. This caused them to give up the most fourth quarter points in the NFL last season at 10.7.

Stopping the pass and giving up fewer points will go a long way in making the Panthers Super Bowl contenders again. Offensively, the addition of Matt Kalil, Christian McCaffery and Curtis Samuel will help Cam Newton become an MVP candidate once again. If the Panthers mirror the team they were in 2015, then not only will they get back to the Super Bowl, but this time they will win it.

 

Thank you for checking out the Super Bowl Series: NFC South. Stay tuned the remaining editions of Super Bowl series and check out the previous editions of the Super Bowl series here.

You can “Like” The Game Haus on Facebook and “Follow” us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles written by other great TGH writers along with Matthew!

Featured Image courtesy of http://www.steelcityunderground.com

2017 NFL Players Set to Breakout Under the Age of 25

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

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

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

Jordan Hicks: Philadelphia Eagles-LB

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

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

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

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

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

 

Cameron Meredith: Chicago Bears- Wr

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

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

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

 

Christian Kirksey: Cleveland Browns-LB

(credit: ESPN)

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

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

 

 

Jordan Howard: Chicago Bears-RB

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

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

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

 

 

Melvin Gordon: Los Angeles Chargers-RB

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Hunter Henry: Los Angeles Chargers-TE

(Credit: AP Photo)

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

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

 

 

Marcus Mariota: Tennessee Titans-QB

(Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

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

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

 

 

Danielle Hunter: Minnesota Vikings-DE

(USA Today Sports)

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

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

 

 

Landon Collins: New York Giants- S

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

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

 

 

 

Vic Beasley: Atlanta Falcons-DE

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

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

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

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

The 5 Best Underpriced Players for Week 9

What we know

As we approach the back nine of the NFL regular season, there are a few things we know for sure. The London series is awful, Tom Brady is worth every penny, and you can’t trust Blake Bortles. We have also identified players who are routinely underpriced and roster them without hesitation. Here are the best underpriced players for week 9.

5. Dak Prescott – $7,600

The Cowboys Quarterback has taken the NFL by storm and deserves all the credit in the world for his on field success.  On the other hand, his fantasy production is often overlooked. Since his second game against the Redskins, Prescott has scored at least 17.5 points in every game he’s played, including two games in which he scored over 23 points. This level of consistent play is usually exclusive to the most expensive Quarterbacks. But not even Brees, Rodgers, or Newton can say they have scored at least 17.5 points in every game since week one.

Dak Prescott looks to extend his great play against the Cleveland Browns this Sunday.

Dak Prescott looks to extend his great play against the Cleveland Browns this Sunday.

This week’s matchup against the Cleveland Browns could be another monster day for Prescott. The Cowboys will have no trouble moving the football against a bottom eight rush and pass defense. Inside the Red Zone, expect the Browns to do everything they can to stop Ezekiel Elliot and Jason Witten. Their focus on stopping Elliot and Witten will create huge running lanes that Dak will take advantage of inside the 10 yard line. Also, Prescott’s underpriced value allows for great player stacks like Dez Bryant or Ezekiel Elliot.

 

4. Kyle Rudolph – $5,000

The Vikings, specifically their offense, were exposed these past two weeks versus Philadelphia and Chicago. The element that both of these defenses share is the ability to rush the passer. Both the Eagles and Bears rank among the top 10 teams in sacks. Luckily, the Lions are not a top 10 team in terms of sacks. This means that Sam Bradford will have slightly more time to deliver the ball to the largest target on the field, Kyle Rudolph.

While he hasn’t scored a touchdown in three games, expect that to change this Sunday. The Detroit Lions have been incredibly inept when it comes to covering Tight Ends this season.

screen-shot-2016-11-02-at-10-43-49-am

How is this possible? Well, the Detroit Lions continually used Outside Linebacker Kyle Van Noy to cover the opposition’s Tight End. Van Noy was so brutal in coverage that the Lions traded him to the Patriots, so clearly he’ll find a way to excel in New England’s system, because that’s what they do. Even though he wasn’t covering CJ Fiedorowicz Sunday, the defense proved to still be vulnerable to the Tight End position.

Rudolph’s $5,000 price tag gives great flexibility to any DFS lineup. But this week, it’s more about the Lions inability to cover Tight Ends than the underpriced Kyle Rudolph.

3. Emmanuel Sanders – $6,800

Emmanuel Sanders will play a pivotal role in the Bronco’s game plan Sunday night. Sanders has one of the most fantasy friendly matchups of the week as he faces off versus the 27th ranked pass defense, but the matchup is even more favorable than expected. Non-number one receivers have had great success against Oakland. This includes Russell Shepard of Tampa Bay (9.4 points),  Marqise Lee of Jacsksonville (14.2 points), and Travis Benjamin of San Diego (15.2 points). Sanders is no doubt more talented than all of those receivers and has seen a minimum of six targets in every game this season, including two games with 13 targets.

On the other hand, Sanders hasn’t scored a touchdown in four games. But, the Raiders have allowed other pass catchers to break out of their End Zone slump including Steve Smith (3 games), Julius Thomas (3 games), and Cameron Brate (3 games). While this isn’t the greatest stat ever, it does breed more confidence in starting the underpriced Sanders, who is due for a touchdown given the volume of targets he is getting on a weekly basis.

2. Frank Gore – $6,300

Even at 33 years old, Frank Gore still finds a way to be a productive DFS player. This is the lowest price tag for a starting Running Back that does not operate in a committee situation. Gore has scored a touchdown in five of his eight games and has accumulated over 63 all-purpose yards in each of his games.

Other Running Backs in this price range include Terrence West, Jonathan Stewart, and Jerick McKinnon. All of these Running Backs combined only have eight all-purpose touchdowns compared to Gore’s five. Gore has also produced against top defenses. He scored at least 11 points against Denver, Houston, and Tennessee, all of which are in the top 10 FanDuel defenses. Meaning, Green Bay’s seventh ranked defense shouldn’t scare people away from using Frank Gore this weekend.

At this point, Gore hasn’t shown a propensity to record a performance with more than 20 points, but that is a result of the Colts always playing catch up. While I don’t see Gore getting his first 20 point performance this Sunday, I absolutely see him getting his usual 13-17 points which is a bargain for his underpriced value.

1. Michael Thomas – $5,800

I’m not sure how Michael Thomas is still valued under $6,000 at this point in the season. Thomas has established himself as the number two Wide Receiver on the highest scoring offense in the NFL with a hall of fame Quarterback at the helm. In four of his seven games Thomas has scored at least 12 points and has been targeted at least five times in each of those four games.

The only other Wide Receivers with comparable numbers in this price range are Anquan Boldin and Tavon Austin. Boldin has only scored at least 12 points in two of his eight games and Austin has done the same three times in seven games. What makes Thomas underpriced is that his floor is much higher than Boldin and Austin.

Thomas’ least productive day was against the Giants, in which he scored 7.6 points. Boldin and Austin’s least productive games were 0.9 points against the Texans and 3.5 points against the Niners respectively. Thomas should be rostered whenever possible and is a must play if you are considering a New Orleans stack.

Michael Thomas has emerged as the Saints' go to Wide Receiver and is poised to to have a great day versus the 49ers.

Michael Thomas has emerged as the Saints’ go to Wide Receiver and is poised to have a great day versus the 49ers.

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