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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Le'Veon Bell or David Johnson

Fantasy football number one pick: David Johnson or Le’Veon Bell?

The number one pick is both the best and the worst pick in fantasy football. You have the opportunity to pick the best of the bunch but pick carefully because it could end poorly for you. Take last year for example. If you took someone like Todd Gurley with the first overall pick, your season probably didn’t end up great. This year it’s a fairly easy decision, you either choose David Johnson or Le’Veon Bell. There’s a case to make for both of them.

Le'Veon Bell or David Johnson

David Johnson (Photo by:thelab.bleacherreport.com)

David Johnson- The Arizona Cardinals running back had a breakout season in 2016. With a total 20 touchdowns and over 2,000 yards from scrimmage, Johnson ended the season as the number one fantasy running back.

But should he be your number one pick? The Cardinals don’t have the hardest schedule in the league. In the first eight weeks they face the 49ers, Colts, Buccaneers and Eagles. All of which have sub par defenses in the NFL today especially in terms of defensive line.

Schedule isn’t much of a factor for David Johnson however, as he is the lead rusher on the team and is arguably the main receiver. Larry Fitzgerald is getting older and older and can’t keep up the production he’s had in the last couple of years.

Not only is David Johnson productive, but he’s also efficient. He was second in the NFL last year in terms of yards after contact with 486 and fifth in the league for running backs with only four drops.

David Johnson is coming off of a pretty big knee injury but the Cardinals have high hopes for their offensive line and Johnson should benefit from that immediately.

Le'Veon Bell or David Johnson

Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Le’Veon Bell- Le’Veon Bell is a frustrating player to own in fantasy football. He has off the field issues and a long injury history that has kept him off the field for long periods of time.

Last year Bell missed three games due to suspension and one due to rest by the team. Even with four missed games, Bell ended the season as the number five fantasy running back.

However, 42 out of his 231 points came in one week. Bell may be the best dual-threat running back in the game today and that goes a long way in the NFL. One cause for concern that comes with drafting Bell is his current contract situation.

According to media reports, Le’Veon Bell will report to the team before the first regular season game so there’s not too much concern that comes with that. The Steelers have the fourth easiest schedule in the NFL in 2017 and if the Steelers offense can remain healthy for an entire season then Bell is the clear cut number one overall pick.

 

At the end of the day you won’t go wrong taking either of these guys, but I believe that Le’Veon Bell is the right person to take at number one. Being the centerpiece of a high-powered offense and arguably the best dual threat back in the game, he’s in line for a huge year in Pittsburgh.

 

 

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NFL preseason week 2 betting

Waiting for the regular season to start up to rekindle that gambling addiction you had last year is really tough. So why not bet on a bunch of un-drafted rookies and backup quarters battling it out for a third string job in the NFL. Betting on these otherwise meaningless games gives you a thrill you couldn’t get any other way. Just remember when the guy from Utah St. drops the ball in the end zone to clutch the over don’t get too mad he’s probably not making the team anyways.

Baltimore Ravens @ Miami Dolphins:

 (Courtesy USA Sports)

The Dolphins and Ravens are set to play on Thursday night on the NFL network with the Dolphins favored by 3 and the over at 38. Jay Cutler is presumably making his first appearance in a Dolphins uniform so the chances of a pick six are high. What better night could you ask for seeing the faces of the Dolphins fans as they watch their new QB get beat up by the waiver wire. I do see Cutler playing at least three possessions and netting one or two scores, which should be enough for the Ravens to pick up the rest of the over.

I am also going to be looking for Ryan Mallet to lead the Ravens for a touchdown or two at the beginning and I like Thad Lewis ending the game and closing out the win for the Ravens. The Dolphins are favored in this game -3 but i would be taking the Ravens with the spread.

My Pick: Over 38. Ravens +3

 

Denver Broncos @ San Francisco 49ers

The Broncos and the 49ers are two perfect examples of teams with a quarter back crisis. The Broncos need to make a decision on either Paxton Lynch or Trevor Siemian (Not Great Options). While the 49ers have Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley (Much Worse Options). The game opens up with the 49ers as the favorite at -2.5 with the total points being 40.

This game is tricky because I think that both top two quarterbacks on the depth chart for both teams are going to get some good time in. I want to see if Denver can get chemistry between one of their quarterbacks and rookie Jake Butt (TE), who im looking to have a big game. I think the game will be close but with Denver sneaking out the win in a low scoring game.

My Pick: Under 40. Denver +2.5

 

New England Patriots @ Houston Texans:

Image result for jacoby brissett happy

(Photo from Palm Beach Post)

For some reason the Patriots are the underdog in this one at a measly +1.5 with total points at 41. The Houston Texans get there second chance against Jacoby Brissett and the Patriots but this time Jimmy Garoppolo will also be making an appearance. Last year in the regular season with Tom Brady suspended and Garoppolo injured Brissett beat down the Texans 27-0, and I have a feeling that Jacoby is going to do the same thing on Saturday night.

 

This is going to be one of the more fun games of the week to watch with Deshaun Watson and Jacoby Brissett going at it for the majority of the game. This is going to be extremely high scoring if the Patriots defense played anything like they did against the Jaguars. I like the patriots winning in a big way but with Deshaun Watson scoring both through the air and on the ground.

My Pick: Over 41. New England +1.5

NY Giants @ Cleveland Browns:

Easily the least appealing game of the week the Browns open up at -1 favorites and the total being 39. Probably the most intriguing thing about this game is how long will they leave Brock Osweiler in and how long will rookie DeShone Kizer play. I have been a huge fan of Kizer since his time at Notre Dame and can’t wait to see him outplay Geno Smith in every way imaginable.

The Browns better get wins under the belt before the regular season starts because they won’t see many of them (if any). I expect to see big things from the Browns defense with rookie’s Jabrill Peppers and #1 overall pick Myles Garrett, and I think the defense will carry them to a gritty win.

My Pick: Under 39. Browns -1

 

Carolina Panthers @ Tennessee Titans:

 

Image result for christian mccaffrey

(Courtesy of Carolina Huddle)

The Tennessee Titans open up as the favorites in this contest at -3 and 41 total points scored. While this game may be lacking interesting back up quarterbacks it makes up for it in explosive offensive rookies. The Carolina Panthers rookie running back from Stanford Christian McCaffrey and the Titans first round pick wide receiver Corey Davis are where everyones eyes will be. I think this game could come down to what rookie has a better game.

Christian McCaffrey has been an infatuation of mine since his amazing college career and believe he will have a huge impact on the Panthers in their first year.  I have him being the difference in this game with at least one touchdown, so make sure you grab him if your doing daily fantasy this week. I think the Panthers get the win behind their rookie by around 10.

My Pick: Over 41. Panthers +3

Pre-Season week two actually has a few intriguing storylines to follow and some money to be made, So have fun and remember the real season will start soon enough but for now might as well feed the beast that is your gambling addiction.

 

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Cover Photo by USA Sports

Cam Newton

NFL early season games to watch: Gut check games

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

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

Week 1: Bucs at Dolphins

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

NFL early season games to watch

Photo: zambio.com

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

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

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

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

Week 2: Cowboys at Broncos

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

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

Week 3: Seahawks at Titans:

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

NFL early season games to watch

Photo: larrybrownsports.com

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

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

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

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

Week 4: Panthers at Patriots:

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

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

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

 

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2017 NFC West division preview

2017 NFC West 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 ado, here is the 2017 NFC West division preview.

4: San Fransisco 49ers

Last season: 2-14

Strength of Schedule: 20

John Lynch made a statement in the NFL Draft. He knows what he is doing and plans on building a championship defense. The picks of Soloman Thomas and Rueben Foster are prime examples. The problem is that the 49ers need lots of talent to actually be competitive. San Fransisco ranked in the bottom of every defensive category and a few young players aren’t going to turn them into a top NFL defense right away.

2017 NFC West division preview

(Photo Credit: USA Today)

The defense is going to struggle against the run. After ranking 32nd last season, the only way to go is up but again, two rookies aren’t going to take them from 32nd to the top of the mountain.

As teams run all over the 49ers, the defense will get worn out and teams will be able to pass against them as well. With a bottom third defense, it will be difficult for San Fransisco to win games.

Offensively, the 49ers will struggle because of a bad offensive line. Pro Football Focus is predicting the 49ers to have the 27th ranked line in the NFL. This will mean tough sledding for running back Carlos Hyde. Brian Hoyer has been given the reigns at quarterback but is barely an average quarterback.

Hoyer also has no real threat to throw the ball to outside of Pierre Garcon. Teams can load the box to stop the run and will not have to worry about getting burned by the pass. The predictability of the offense will make it hard for them to win games. The 49ers are clearly heading in the right direction but will not show it with wins this season.

Prediction: 2-14 (0-6), miss the playoffs

3: Arizona Cardinals

Last season: 7-8-1

Strength of Schedule: 23

Carson Palmer showed signs of decline last season at age 37. He went from 35 touchdowns down to 26. Palmer also threw more interceptions as his total increased from 11 interceptions in 2015 to 14 last season. Father Time is undefeated and this season Palmer will feel the effects even more.

2017 NFC West division preview

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

The rest of the offense is pretty solid. David Johnson is one of the top three running backs in the NFL and will be the workhorse. It won’t be far-fetched to say Johnson will have 1,000 yards both on the ground and through the air.

Larry Fitzgerald is back for his 14th season to lead the Cardinals’ receiving corp. Outside of Fitzgerald, there is a lot of inconsistency with the receivers.

Arizona has had a very good defense for the last couple of seasons but there are a few unknowns this year. Losing Calais Campbell and Tony Jefferson really hurt.

There is still plenty of talent but the key pieces of Campbell and Jefferson may prove too big of losses. If they can’t replace these players the defense will regress. The Cardinals will also have a rookie linebacker, Haason Reddick, starting at inside linebacker.

Special teams were a weak link for the Cardinals last season. They must improve in all facets in order to win more games but there isn’t much to look at yet in the preseason to determine whether or not this has improved.

Facing Arizona is going to be a tough game for any opponent but for now, because of an old quarterback and restructured defense, the Cardinals are going to be a team that hovers around .500.

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

2: Los Angeles Rams

Last season: 4-12

Strength of Schedule: 17

Adding Wade Phillips as a defensive coordinator is going to make all the difference for the Rams this season. The Rams’ defense was much better than some of their rankings due to an offense that was rather pedestrian. Los Angeles gave up the ninth fewest yards in the NFL last season at just 337 yards per game.

2017 NFL West division preview

(Photo Credit: https://px1sports.com)

Wade Phillips has had plenty of success as a defensive coordinator and most recently with the Denver Broncos. With players like Robert Quinn, Michael Brockers, Conner Barwin and Aarond Donald (still in the midst of a holdout), Phillips will be able to create massive amounts of pressure on the quarterback.

Alec Ogletree and Mark Barron are pretty solid linebackers who can fly around the field to make tackles.

Trumaine Johnson is one of the best corners in the league and safety Lamarcus Joyner is an up and coming star as well. The secondary has all the makings to round out this defense and turn it into a top five unit.

Now, everyone knows how talented this defense is but the Rams will only go as far as the offense can take them. Los Angeles ranked near the bottom of every offensive category last season. To upgrade the offense, the Rams signed Andrew Whitworth to replace Greg Robinson. This is a colossal improvement at left tackle, which will really help out Jared Goff and the running game.

Speaking of the running game, Todd Gurley is on a mission to prove that last season’s down year was just a fluke. The Rams will need to run the ball well in order to be successful because it takes pressure off of Goff.

The passing game already featured dangerous weapon Tavon Austin but there were a couple more moves made to give Goff plenty of firepower in the passing game. Los Angeles drafted Cooper Kupp, signed Robert Woods and most recently, traded for stud receiver Sammy Watkins. There is no excuse for Goff to play poorly with an improved offensive line, a workhorse running back and a receiving corp filled with speed and playmakers.

With the additions made on offense, a new defensive coordinator that can turn this defense into elite and a fairly easy schedule, the Rams will be in contention for a playoff spot this season.

Prediction: 9-7 (4-2), wildcard candidate

1: Seattle Seahawks

Last season: 10-5-1

Strength of Schedule: 25

The Seahawks have one of the easiest schedules heading into the season. They might need it with the worst rated line in the NFL. Despite having such a bad offensive line, the Seahawks made the playoffs. They were unable to progress deep into the playoffs though. The offense has to improve in order for the Seahawks to become Super Bowl contenders once again.

2017 NFC West division preview

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

Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy are going to attempt to bring a great running game back to Seattle. Russell Wilson is good but the identity and key to success have been being able to run the ball. If the Seahawks do so successfully, they will be one of the most feared teams in the NFL.

Jimmy Graham is still an unstoppable red zone threat. The chemistry between Graham and Wilson has seemed to improve the more they have played together and it will lead to a big year for Graham.

The other receiving threats, Doug Baldwin and Paul Richardson, provide different playmaking abilities that compliment each other well. Baldwin is a quick receiver who can make plays both vertically or by turning a short completion into a long gain. Richardson can make spectacular catches on the outside as a deep threat.

Russell Wilson is the engine to this offense and he doesn’t get enough credit. Without him, this team wouldn’t make the playoffs. He makes good decisions on when to run and rarely turns the ball over. As long as the Seahawks have a viable running game, Wilson will have another Pro-Bowl caliber season.

The heart and soul of this team is the Legion of Boom. Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor are back to lead this defense to a top three ranking. With these three men patrolling in the secondary, teams will earn everything they get through the air because nothing comes easy against them.

The linebackers are solid as well and are headlined by Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. Up front, the Seahawks have head hunters. Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril were the only pair of defensive ends to make the Pro-Bowl. They get constant pressure on opposing offenses making it easier for the rest of the unit to play balls to the wall.

Due to the consistency of this defense over the past five seasons, it is safe to assume the Seahawks have a top three to five defense. Pair that with an offense that will have an improved running game and Pro-Bowl quarterback means the Seahawks will win the division and be one of the best teams in the NFL.

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

 

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Is Ty Montgomery a reliable fantasy football running back?

Is Ty Montgomery a reliable fantasy football running back?

Everybody knows that the Packers have a high powered, pass first offense in the NFL today. The one thing the team has struggled to find in recent memory is a consistent, quality running back. Last season Ty Montgomery made the switch from wide receiver to running back, something that doesn’t happen often in the NFL.

Last season was a good sign for Packer fans in terms of Ty Montgomery. He had 457 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns while staying active in the receiving game with 348 receiving yards. Ty Montgomery was a very efficient running back last season. He had 5.9 yards per carry and ranked sixth in the NFL with 6.7 yards per touch. Montgomery became one of the leagues best dual threat running backs in a short amount of time, but the question is can he carry that into this season and be a reliable fantasy football player. Montgomery will have some competition as the Packers drafted three running backs in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Ty Montgomery has his opportunity in front of him to be a feature back, but recent camp and preseason struggles are affecting his opportunity. In the first preseason game, all of the Green Bay running backs struggled, but Montgomery might’ve had the worst night. He had three carries for a total of zero yards and he lost a fumble while catching his only target for eight yards. Now it’s time to analyze Montgomery’s value in both standard and PPR leagues.

Is Ty Montgomery a reliable fantasy football running back?

http://www.packers.com/

Standard Leagues- Montgomery is an interesting pick in standard leagues this year. His current ADP in standard leagues is around the eighth pick of the third round. That’s a little early to draft a running back playing alongside the best quarterback in the NFL. Montgomery is being drafted ahead of players such as Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon and Carlos Hyde. Currently the 17th running back off the board, Montgomery is being drafted as a RB2 while he’s more likely to put up RB3 numbers in Green Bay.

Standard leagues don’t bode well for Montgomery. He won’t get as many points as he’s capable of. With the other running backs on the Packers’ roster, Montgomery can have some of his carries taken away and won’t evolve into a true three down back. Mike McCarthy has told the media that Ty Montgomery should have his carries doubled from last season meaning he’ll have around 150 rushing attempts, not RB2 worthy for a 10-12 team standard league. Don’t pull the trigger on Montgomery in the third round of standard fantasy football drafts.

PPR- PPR is a different story for Ty Montgomery. Dual Threat backs thrive in PPR leagues. Just look at Danny Woodhead and his production when he plays a full season. Montgomery had 44 receptions last season and those numbers should only increase. Even in a half point PPR league, Montgomery is a very valuable running back. There are still concerns revolving around the other running backs on the roster but PPR is a different story. His ADP stays consistent between standard and PPR leagues, as Montgomery is being drafted as the 15th overall running back which is a high RB2. I still believe Montgomery is overvalued at that ADP. He isn’t a lock to keep his starting job and a third round pick is a big risk to take.

All in all Montgomery is a tough sell for fantasy owners but the faith that Coach McCarthy has in Ty Montgomery and his stats from last season make me believe that he will be a RB2 in PPR leagues. Draft him in the fifth or later in standard leagues and he’s a solid fourth rounder in PPR.

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“From our Haus to Yours”

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.

 

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AFC eye test predictions: 16-10

Why is the preseason four weeks long? Seems odd to me. Anyways, as the preseason drags on, I have decided to do a preview of both conferences. Unlike most of my articles which are filled with a bunch of statistics and numbers, I will only be using the eye test. I will occasionally drop some numbers if necessary, but this is for the average fan who wants to see a glimpse of every NFL team.

Let’s start with the worst teams from the AFC.

16. new york jets

Wow, this team sucks. Is Christian Hackenberg really going to be the starter? Who even is Christian Hackenberg? According to CBS Sports, Hackenberg twice hit reporters with terrible throws during OTAs. The other day, he was kicked out of practice for not knowing how to break a huddle correctly.

I genuinely feel bad for this roster. Matt Forte is 88 years old in running back years. Even if Hackeberg knew how to throw the ball, there will be no one there to catch it. Their one good receiver, Quincy Enunwa, is having season-ending surgery because of a bulging disk in his neck. Now no active player on this roster has 1,000 career receiving yards.

It’s too bad because I really like Todd Bowles. The one bright spot on the roster is Jamal Adams, a former LSU safety who New York took in the first round of this year’s draft. He will for sure be a stud, but the rest of the defense is a major problem. Don’t be shocked if this team doesn’t win more than two games.

15. Cleveland Browns

Believeland! No, just kidding. The Browns are still the worst franchise in sports. The Browns are surprisingly headed in the right direction. The additions of JC Tretter and Kevin Zeitler actually puts Cleveland among the top offensive lines in the league. That should help Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson Jr. be a nice 1-2 punch in the backfield. Don’t ask me which one to pick in fantasy because I always choose the wrong one.

All signs point to the Brocket Launcher being the Week 1 starter, which is good news for the rest of the league, and bad news for the Browns. Remember when this guy beat Tom Brady and the Patriots? That seems like 10 years ago. Maybe DeShone Kizer will be ready before expected.

Kenny Britt should help a little bit, and Corey Coleman could be nice option if healthy the whole year. As for as the defensive side of the ball, the additions of Jabrill Peppers and Calvin Pryor should help. Hopefully Peppers can keep finessing around drug tests and be an immediate impact. I’m rooting for the Browns, but don’t expect more than four wins.

14. Jacksonville Jaguars

I highly recommend keeping the headset on and rolling with Henne! (Business Insider)

This team would be really fun if Blake Bortles knew how to play. After finishing near the bottom in all rushing stats, the Jags snatched Leonard Fournette early in the first round.

This dude runs with a lot of power and a lot of speed. I can’t wait to watch this kid truck stick people. Doug Marrone should give Fournette at least 20 attempts a game, which could be huge because the more running plays, the less of a chance for a Bortles interception.

I actually think their defense is pretty dope. I love the signing of Calais Campbell. He and Malik Jackson will lead a decent defensive line.

Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye are legit. Along with these stud corners, at the safety positions are Barry Church and Taushan Gibson, who help make the Jags one of the best secondaries in the league.

Paul Poslunsky and Telvin Smith are a mean duo at the linebacker position. If Bortles can get the ball to Marqise Lee, Dede Westbrook, or anyone named Allen (Robinson or Hurns), then the Jags could surprise people. Unfortunately, Bortles doesn’t seem to be the answer. Maybe give Chad Henne some starts? This team, who has one of the easiest schedules, will probably only win five games, but don’t sleep on them if they can figure it out behind center.

13. Buffalo Bills

I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest Tyrod Taylor fan. I understand he doesn’t turn the ball over a lot, but he never does enough to win games. In 15 games last year, he only threw 17 touchdowns. I’m a big fan of the trade that sent Sammy Watkins to the Rams. Paying him would have been a huge mistake, because he simply can’t stay on the field. Acquiring Jordan Matthews in a trade is cool, but he will likely be the only reliable target.

They have the fifth-hardest schedule, which is based off last year’s records. They have a good offensive line, and LeSean McCoy, who’s coming off a really nice year, says he still feels great, even at 29. With that said, the Bills will be an efficient rushing team.

Sean McDermott is bringing in a new defensive scheme, which might take a few games to adjust to. Veterans Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus will continue to hold down the line, and Lorenzo Alexander should continue his nice play. I like the Micah Hyde signing, but the rest of the secondary is a work in progress.

Buffalo will be travelling to Carolina, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Los Angeles, Kansas City and New England, and that looks like a whole lot of L’s. Buffalo won’t win more than six games.

12. Denver Broncos

Am I disrespecting the Broncos? Honestly, no. Look, their defense is top notch. Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib, who man the “No Fly Zone”, are probably the best corner duo in the league. Von Miller is obviously one of the best all-around players this league has to offer, and Shane Ray made a wise decision to get high before the draft, because he fell to a great spot. Even the NFL’s second coolest Brandon Marshall has made a name for himself.

No Fly Zone. (247sports)

But do you really trust Paxton Lynch or Trevor Siemian? The answer is no. Especially with the below average offensive line that Denver has. If they signed the 2012 version of Jamaal Charles, then they would possibly have some hope. But instead, they signed the older, banged up Charles.

C.J. Anderson has also shown that he can’t stay on the field so the run game will lack production. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are studs, but it will be hard to catch the ducks that will be coming their way.

Denver has to travel to Los Angeles, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Miami and Oakland to name a few. They’ll finish at 6-10.

11. Houston Texans

This team seems to always sneakily slide into the playoffs. They even gave the Patriots a run for their money, until Brock Osweiler turned back into Brock Osweiler. I just don’t see it happening this year. Fun fact: Tom Savage has never thrown a touchdown in his career. While he’s only appeared in five games, and started in two, it is still embarrassing.

Deshaun Watson looked good in his preseason debut, but I’m not sure if he will be ready to perform right away. Savage will be pulled after a few games in favor of Watson, but until then, DeAndre Hopkins shouldn’t expect too many touchdowns. The DeAndre Hopkins story is actually really sad. He is super talented but has yet to work with a legit quarterback.

Will Fuller’s injury hurts Houston, and Lamar Miller is just Lamar Miller- nothing special. However, the defense is still very good, but comes with some shakeups. We know about J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. Whitney Mercilus is good, but Brian Cushing is getting old. After losing Bouye to free agency, I don’t love their secondary.

The roster is good enough to get seven wins, but with Savage behind center, don’t expect anything more than that.

10. Indianapolis Colts

Will Luck lead this talentless team to the playoffs? (Colts.com)

If the Colts didn’t have Andrew Luck, they would be one of the worst teams in the league. Luck, who plans to start Week 1, is a monster. He turns the ball over too much, and forces a lot of passes, but he is a clear franchise quarterback.

T.Y. Hilton led the league in receiving yards, and Donte Moncrief is legit when healthy. But Frank Gore is old, and we can’t expect too much from Robert Turbin.

Both the offensive and defensive lines are trash. The Colts got extremely young at linebacker. Vontae Davis was terrible a year ago, but drafting safety Malik Hooker and cornerback Quincy Wilson, should help out this dreadful secondary.

Even with all this said, the Colts can win eight games. Obviously, this is dependent on Luck’s health, but they have the easiest schedules in the league. With games against the Browns, 49ers and two against the Jags, Indy could make some noise in the AFC South.

 

Featured image by cbssports.com

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“From our Haus to Yours”

John Fox

NFL preseason coaching heat check

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

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

Dead men walking

John Fox

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

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

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

NFL preseason coaching heat check

Photo: nydailynews

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

Todd Bowles

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

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

Not likely, but not impossible

Mike Zimmer

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

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

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

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

Adam Gase

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

NFL preseason coaching heat check

Photo: espn.com

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

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

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

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

Unique Situations:

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

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

 

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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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