2017 Fantasy football season

Halfway point in fantasy season

We are about the halfway point of the fantasy season. We have seen it all this season, from rookie success to injured superstars and everything in between. Here are the big headlines at the halfway point of the fantasy season.

Ezekiel Elliott may not be available down the stretch

Ouch! The first big headline we have to get out of the way here. On Thursday, a federal appeals court overturned a district court’s decision in the Ezekiel Elliott case. This means the Dallas Cowboys running back’s six-game suspension has been reinstated.

The worse part is it happened on the bye week, which means his suspension will start next week and he will miss weeks 7-12. This a big blow to fantasy owners of Elliott because he may not be available down the stretch to the playoffs especially with how many running backs are out there. This opens the door for Alfred Morris and Darren McFadden.

The top two quarterbacks are Alex Smith and Deshaun Watson

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith and Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson are the top two quarterbacks in fantasy. What’s even more surprising is both of them are the top players in fantasy. Both were on fire against each other last week, combining for eight passing touchdowns and 62.4 fantasy points.

2017 Fantasy football season

Alex Smith (Photo by: profootballweekly.com)

Not to say Smith is a bad quarterback because he isn’t, but he’s not been known to be a reliable fantasy quarterback. Last year he finished as the 22nd best quarterback in fantasy.

This year he and the Chiefs have turned it around. He’s averaging 23.3 fantasy points per game, which is best in 2017. He is also playing at a MVP caliber and is leading the NFL in both passer rating and completion percentage. Smith has proven to be a legitimate QB1 at this point of the season.

Watson on the other hand has surprised a lot of people. It wasn’t surprising he would be taking over the Texans at quarterback, but not at this level.

After his week 5 performance against the Chiefs, he has proven he can play in this league. He threw for five touchdowns and had a 35 point performance. Through four weeks plus a half of a game in week 1, he’s taken over. He’s has 1,072 passing yards, 7.39 yards per attempt, 12 touchdowns, 179 rushing yards and two scores on the ground. He still may be a QB2, but like Smith, he has proven he can be relied on in good matchups.

The top defense is the JAcksonville JagUars

Jacksonville Jaguars fans finally have something they can cheer for. Their defense is leading all defenses in fantasy points with 82. They have finally had some luck with good draft picks, good free agents signings and a good coaching staff.

2017 Fantasy football season

(Photo by: sports.yahoo.com)

Last week against the Steelers they picked off Ben Roethlisberger five times and returned two of them for touchdowns. That doesn’t happen very often.

The Jags are built around their defense. They have one of the best cornerback tandems in the league with A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey combining for four interceptions. With that in their defensive backfield, along with safeties Barry Church and Tashaun Gipson, they rank fourth in passing yards allowed. They also lead the league in interceptions and total turnovers and are third in fumbles.

The Jags may have some flaws in the run game, but their defensive line sure does get to the quarterbacks. They lead the league in sacks with 20, led by newcomer Calais Campbell along with Malik Jackson, Dante Fowler Jr. and Yannick Ngakoue. They really don’t have a weak spot in that defense. Expect them to continue to play well.

Two rookie running backs are top three in points at the position

Through five weeks, we have seen a couple of rookie running backs playing at a high level. Jacksonville Jaguar Leonard Fournette’s success may not surprise you especially with his role. But the big name leading all running backs is third-round pick Kareem Hunt. The Chiefs’ back has dominated since the opening week.

Let’s start with Hunt, who has dominated at the point of attack. He is in the top three in fantasy points overall and No. 1 among running backs. Hunt has rushed over 100 yards in four of the five games and is averaging 121.8 yards per game. He also leads running backs in yards and runs over 20 yards.

He’s averaging 22.3 fantasy points per game. The Chiefs overall are playing as the best team in the league and expect Hunt to still be the emphasis of their offense both running and passing.

Fournette is a big back and the staple of the Jaguars’ offense. He ranks third among running backs in fantasy and 10th in overall players. Fournette leads the league in touchdowns and rushing attempts. He also has the longest run this year by a running back. Fournette is in the top two in rushing yards and yards per game as well.

It may not be surprising that he’s doing this well, but in the Jag uniform, it surprises a lot of people that a player on that team is finding this much success. Fournette continues to be a top RB option in fantasy. That won’t change going forward.

Key Player Injuries

Some other big headlines this year are big names that have been injured. David Johnson, Odell Beckham Jr., J.J. Watt, Andrew Luck, Derek Carr and Allen Robinson are all hurt. Luck hasn’t played yet and Johnson has been hurt since week 1. Carr could come back this week, but could miss more time. Beckham, Watt and Robinson are all out for the year.

2017 Fantasy football season

David Johnson (Photo by: azcentral.com)

Beckham and Johnson were the top players in fantasy at the start of the season. They were the key part of every team. Now fantasy owners are scrambling each week to find replacements.

Owners of Luck are also trying to find patience for his return after he was rumored to possibly start week 1. The Watt injury is a reflection of last year when the Texans were the No. 1 defense. It’s definitely a big injury, but the Texans have proved they can play without him.

Carr is risky to the end of the season with the possibility of coming back or possibly missing a few more weeks. Robinson has been a big injury as the Jags’ passing game has struggled since his injury.

Conclusion

It’s been an interesting first five weeks of the season. Key players haven’t been relied on and the lower tier players have made an impact. We’ve seen surprising players reach top fantasy status and rookies continuing to pound the running game. We still have six to seven weeks left in the regular season, and it shouldn’t disappoint.

 

Featured image from sportingnews.com

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Odell Beckham Jr. fantasy injury

Fantasy reaction: Odell Beckham Jr.’s injury

The New York Giants had a rough week 5 on Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers. Not only did they not get their first win, but they also suffered multiple injuries at one position.

The team lost four receivers on Sunday. They lost Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard to ankle injuries within a span of four plays in the second quarter. Then they lost Dwayne Harris to a foot fracture and is out for the remainder of the 2017 season.

But the bigger name is their star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. The Giants announced after the game that Beckham fractured his ankle and is expected to miss the rest of the season. This is of course a big blow to the Giants offense and to fantasy owners.

Fantasy players know that they can fix this, even if it’s a high-caliber player like Beckham.

The Giants situation

Granted the Giants had other options, but they don’t have someone to replace a talent like Beckham. Now they face the problem of who will replace the other receivers. According to ESPN, Shapard could miss a couple of weeks, and Marshall’s injury is unknown, but being carted off isn’t a good sign.

Odell Beckham Jr. fantasy injury

Odell Beckham Jr. (Photo by: nytimes.com)

The only wide receiver healthy as of Sunday on the roster is Roger Lewis Jr., who had a 29-yard touchdown catch on Sunday. The Giants made a couple of moves on Monday, promoting Travis Rudolph from their practice squad and re-signing Tavarres King, who played the last three seasons with the Giants. They also have tight end Evan Engram, who is more of a receiver tight end and will likely become Eli Manning’s top target. Also expect running back Shane Vereen to have a bigger role in the passing game.

It will be hard to be rely on these new faces especially with their matchup this week against the Broncos at Denver. Even with a poor offensive line, don’t expect the Giants’ offense to offer reliable fantasy options.  The only players to give a look at especially in deeper leagues are Lewis and Engram and then Vereen only in PPR.

Wavier Wire

The first option is to look at the wavier wire and look at streamable players from this point on. Of course none of these receivers are anything close to Beckham, but they could help you week-in and week-out especially if you need players with good matchups.

The first is to look at Lewis of the Giants. He’s the next man up after the Giants lost four receivers on Sunday. He had a 29-yard touchdown catch. It may not look like much, but with Beckham out and Marshall and Shepard expected to miss time, he could be the new No. 1 receiver for Big Blue. However, his next two matchups are Denver and Seattle, who will both be coming off byes. He might not be the first choice, but shouldn’t be ignored if you’re desperate.

Odell Beckham Jr. fantasy injury

Roger Lewis Jr. (Photo by: sanluisobispo.com)

A streamable receiver to look at is Carolina Panthers receiver Devin Funchess. Since they lost tight end Greg Olsen in week 2, he has seen 27 targets over the last three weeks. Funchess also has crossed the goal line on three occasions over the last two games.

Part of his success is his quarterback Cam Newton playing sensational the past two games. His 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame makes him a natural red-zone target.

The Panthers face the Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the next three weeks. These three teams are ranked inside the top-10 in fantasy points allowed to opposing wide receivers. Funchess also missed practice on Monday with a knee injury, and should be watched closely if he doesn’t play on Thursday.

Other receivers to look at are Jermaine Kearse of the Jets, Mike Wallace of the Ravens, Nelson Agholor of the Eagles and Kendall Wright of the Bears.

Look at trades

If no one in free agency interests you, maybe it’s time to find a trade. Personally I’m not a big fan of trades unless I’m the one receiving the trade, but if times are desperate, then a trade could be in the cards.

One big name that is having a good start to the season is New England Patriots receiver Chris Hogan. Sure he may cost you, but if you have assets, he’s worth it. He may be 31st in the league in targets, but he is a touchdown machine. Hogan has turned four of his last 26 targets into trips to the end zone. They may have lots of mouths to feed in New England, but he has been consistent since week 2 and is continuing to play at a high pace.

Now there’s players to look at who are having down years. Names like Amari Cooper, Terrelle Pryor, Sammy Watkins and Golden Tate could be valuable down the stretch if they turn it around. Some fantasy owners might give up these players for the right price, and it might not take much to land these players. Even with their struggles, they are top receivers on their teams. Their targets will remain consistent, and the plan here is to hope for a bounce back.

Now if you’re one of those players that want to land a star to replace a star then look at Julio Jones. He has struggled out of the gate with no touchdowns, but coming off a bye could be what Jones needs to get going. If you have assets and want to make the swing to the fences, this a trade you want to try.

Best bet: Look for the hot hand

In the end, the best bet is to look at players that are hot. Running backs, wide receivers and tight ends that are playing consistent are the best way to replace Beckham without getting rid of your whole team. There’s no clear way to replace Beckham, but we all can relate to losing the star of your team. Hopefully to most they can overcome this, but continue to make moves for the hot hand if there’s no clear long-term replacement.

 

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week five DFS don'ts

Week five DFS don’ts: Wide receiver

Last week was the first time I hit on all three of my DFS don’ts at the wide receiver position. It’s nothing groundbreaking, it’s just proof that this position is all about the week-to-week matchup.

We know there are defenses that take away a team’s number one wide receiver. That would include teams like the Vikings, Lions and Cardinals. All of those teams have a great cover corner that shadows the opposition’s best receiver. So, let’s go beyond the obvious plays to avoid in the wide receiver edition of week five DFS don’ts.

Odell Beckham Jr: FanDuel Price $8,900

I’m sure you’ve heard the cliche “the best ability is availability”. I hate it too, but most cliches have elements of truth. Odell Beckham Jr. entered this season with an ankle injury. Now, he’s dealing with an injured finger on his right hand. Normally, this wouldn’t bother me. However, I saw that this injury caused him to miss multiple goal line snaps against Tampa Bay.

For any receiver, goal line targets are DFS gold. It’s the only reason I’m willing to pay up for Jordy Nelson each week. Since the Giants have one of the worst running games in the NFL, Odell is the primary target on every down, especially near the goal line. But, if he’s not healthy, I want very little exposure given his gaudy price tag.

Injury circumstances aside, the Chargers have Casey Hayward, who is an above average corner. The Chargers also have an elite pass rush with Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. More importantly, Hayward played shadow coverage for the first time since week one last week. According to Pro Football Focus, on the 74 percent of routes that Hayward shadowed Alshon Jeffery, Jeffery had one catch on four targets for 13 yards. If you want to take the risk on Odell this weekend, be my guest. I’ll happily take your money.

Antonio brown: FanDuel Price $8,800

week five DFS don'ts: wide receiver

Antonio Brown is one of the few players to appear twice on my DFS don’ts list (Courtesy of; The Source Magazine).

What? How is Antonio Brown on my DFS don’ts list for the second time this season? I’m glad you asked. It’s all about the matchup.

Last Sunday, the Jaguars deployed shadow coverage for the first time all season. According to Pro Football Focus, Ramsey shadowed Jermaine Kearse on 64 percent of the snaps. During that time, Ramsey allowed two catches on four targets for 14 yards.

Now, the Jets are by no means the Steelers. However, it’s important to take this trend into consideration. On the other 36 percent of the snaps, Brown will likely see A.J. Bouye, who has played very well since becoming a Jaguar. Overall, you need to consider fading Brown this week.

If you want to pay up, consider cheaper options like Jordy Nelson, Dez Bryant or DeAndre Hopkins. Those players are in great matchups and will allow you to fit in at least one of this week’s elite running backs.

Devin Funchess: FanDuel Price $6,300

Every week I have to include a player who had a breakout game on this list. Devin Funchess, like Bengals tight end Tyler Kroft, had a great situation on Sunday. Like Kroft, great opportunity and great matchup aligned.

Please don’t chase the points here. The Patriots have solidified themselves as the worst defense in the NFL. They are actually on pace to be worse than the 2012 Saints, who are statistically considered to be the worst defense in NFL history.

Let’s just use common sense. Funchess has never been a consistent fantasy producer. Yes, you may have watched every snap of that game. Yes, he was impressive. But guess what? The Detroit Lions are watching that same game film and see Funchess destroying the Patriots. They will no doubt have a strategy to contain the Panthers’ passing game.

Also, if you take Funchess, you’re betting on Cam Newton to come through again. Funchess is the classic example of point chasing, thus, he’s joins Beckham and Brown on my week five DFS don’ts list.

 

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Featured Image Courtesy of Sports Illustrated

Stack your money Sundays: Week 4

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

Atlanta Falcons (-3) @ Detroit Lions

Final: Atlanta Falcons 30, Detroit Lions 26

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

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

Where we went wrong 

Miami Dolphins (-6) @ New York Jets

Final: New York Jets 20 Miami Dolphins 6

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

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

Oakland Raiders (-3) @ Washington Redskins

Washington Redskins 27 Oakland Raiders 10

Stack money Sundays: week 4

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

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

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

 

Week 4 picks

Pittsburgh Steelers (-3) @ Baltimore Ravens

PICK: STEELERS TO COVER

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

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

Cincinnati Benglas (-3) @ Cleveland Browns

PICK: BENGALS TO COVER

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

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

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

New York Giants (+3) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

PICK: GIANTS TO COVER

Stack money Sundays: week 4

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Featured image by CincyJungle

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NFL week 3 takeaways

NFL week 3: Eight takeaways

1. Is Jared Goff a franchise quarterback? 

A week ago, we watched Goff throw a terrible interception to Mason Foster, which sealed the victory for the Redskins. In one of the best Thursday night football games of recent memory, Goff led the 2-1 Rams past the 49ers, 41-39. Goff went 22-of-28 for 292 yards and three touchdowns. Goff also did not take any sacks and had zero turnovers. The Rams are seeing his confidence grow, and it is showing on the football field.

NFL week 3 takeaways

Is Goff legit? (SI.com)

So what should we expect moving forward? Well, mistakes will happen, but this kid is growing and improving every week. Under Sean McVay, Goff is in a legit system, unlike Jeff Fisher’s high school offense. McVay turned Kirk Cousins into a respectable quarterback, so the sky is the limit for Goff and the Rams.

2. Tom Brady is not human

Father time had been undefeated up until Tom Brady arrived on Earth. In one of the best performances of his career, Brady led the Patriots to a miraculous come-from-behind win against Houston 36-33. He completed 71 percent of his passes, threw for 378 yards and tallied up 5 touchdowns.

Brady was getting lit up all game by the Texans defense, but nothing phases this guy. He currently has the most passing yards, passing touchdowns, passes for more than 20 yards and passes for more than 40 yards. Keep in mind that he has yet to throw an interception.

Yeah, Tom Brady is statistically the best quarterback in the NFL, at 40 years of age.

3. The Jaguars absolutely smacked the Ravens

You know the game is getting out of hand when Ryan Mallett is behind center. In a 44-7 slaughtering, the Jaguars recorded their third consecutive victory in London.

If I’m Tom Coughlin, I’m at least asking Roger Goodell if the Jags can build a home stadium in London. No seriously, Jacksonville has now won as many games in London as they have at EverBank Field since October 2015.

As bizarre as this sounds, the Jaguars are legit contenders for the AFC South. Indy is without Andrew Luck until at least week 6. Deshaun Watson looks like he’ll be just fine, but we still don’t know what to expect from him and the Texans moving forward. The Titans defense is also incredibly suspect.

The Jags currently rank fourth in scoring and fifth in rushing yards. Their passing defense has been tremendous, as they have allowed the fewest passing yards in the entire league, and have already forced eight turnovers.

4. How about the Bills beating Denver!

It appeared the Bills were in full tank mode when they gave away Sammy Watkins and contemplated trading LeSean McCoy. After a 26-16 victory over Denver, the Bills are hungry for a playoff spot.

NFL week 3 takeaways

All smiles for Tyrod Taylor and the 2-1 Bills (Eagles Tribune)

After getting off to a slow start and generating just 10 yards in the first quarter, the Bills came alive, much thanks to Tyrod Taylor. Taylor had the best game of his season as he threw two touchdowns and completed 77 percent of his passes. The Bills struggled to run the ball against Denver’s potent defense, as Buffalo only managed a total of 75 rushing yards on 2.3 yards per carry.

What does this loss mean for the Broncos? No need to worry too much, as Jamaal Charles ran the ball well, and the defense played good enough to win. Trevor Siemian played bad, but that is expected from time to time. Siemian is 3-6 in his career on the road, so that is something to keep an eye on as the season progresses.

5. Was Cam Newton’s 2015 MVP season just a fluke?

The Panthers took their first loss on Sunday to the Saints, and Cam Newton continued to struggle. Newton threw three interceptions and was only able to pass for 167 yards against one of the worst defenses of the past few years.

It’s hard to argue that Newton is a franchise quarterback at this point. Sunday’s 43.8 passer rating was Cam’s third worst of his career. Next week, the Panthers travel to New England, so hopefully Newton can figure it out fast.

Also, the Panthers defense played really bad. After allowing 60 yards per game on the ground in the first two contests, Carolina allowed the Saints to rush for 149 yards. They allowed a total of 362 yards and 21 first downs. You can’t be elite every game, so it will be interesting to see if Carolina is able to bounce back against Tom Brady.

6. The Bengals and Giants’ seasons are most likely over

The Bengals have been in the playoffs in five of the past six seasons, and the Giants went into this season with a Super Bowl in sight. Now with both at 0-3, it is essentially impossible to make the playoffs. Since 1990, only three teams, the 1998 Bills, 1995 Lions and 1992 Chargers, have made the postseason after starting 0-3.

Cincinnati looked like they were going to upset Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, until they absolutely imploded in the second half. The Bengals scored a touchdown on their first possession and even had a pick six against Rodgers, which had only happened one other time in his career. Unfortunately, Cincinnati was 0-5 on third down and did not reach the red zone after halftime.

The Giants lost on a heartbreaking 61-yard field goal by Eagles rookie Jake Elliott. At least Odell Beckham Jr. is dominating again. OBJ has now reached 300 receptions in fewer games than any other player in NFL history. Let’s see if either of these squads can do the impossible and make the postseason.

7. The Seahawks are in trouble

Not only did Seattle fall to 1-2, but their defense played poorly. After carrying this team for years, is this star-studded defense getting tired?

NFL week 3 takeaways

DeMarco Murray scoring with ease against Seattle (The Tennessean)

All of a sudden, teams are running all over Seattle. They currently rank dead last in rushing yards allowed per attempt at 5.3. A week ago it seemed like the 49ers rushing for 159 yards against Seattle was just lucky.

On Sunday, the Titans ran for 195 yards, proving that this Seattle defense has lost a step. This was the most rushing yards allowed by the Seahawks since November 3, 2013. Russell Wilson played well, but the Seahawks now have question marks on both sides of the ball.

8. That Raiders loss was weird

No need to panic if you’re a Raiders fan, but what a weird game. Carr threw a pair of picks and had a quarterback rating of 52.9. The Raiders offense had only 128 yards of total offense. In the first two games, Oakland had 359 and 410. They were also unable to rush the ball against Washington’s defense.

Still, you can’t win all of them. Carr blames himself for the loss and will bounce back. Kudos to the Redskins. Their defense was outstanding, Kirk Cousins looked great and Chris Thompson had a career game. Both teams sit confidently at 2-1 heading into week 4.

 

Featured image by SI.com

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Fantasy Monday Night Preview: Giants-Lions

Fantasy Monday night preview: Giants vs. Lions

Week two will come to an end tonight with the Detroit Lions playing the New York Giants in MetLife Stadium. With many players on both teams on fantasy football rosters, here are some of the players to keep an eye on both good and bad.

Eli Manning

giants lions monday night fantasy

Eli Manning (Photo by: newsday.com)

The Giants offense was a mess last week against the Dallas Cowboys. They accumulated 13 first downs and just three points.

Manning had 220 yards and an interception. Part of his struggles were due to the very inconsistent offensive line. Even if Odell Beckham Jr. played, it wouldn’t have helped that much.

The Detroit defense agitated Carson Palmer as they picked him off three times, but only got to him one time for a sack. They still gave up 23 points to the Cardinals and a lot of fantasy points to Arizona receivers. While they have shown they can make plays, they can still be inconsistent.

Manning could be in for a big week. Don’t be worried if you started him. However, be cautious because if the offensive line repeats last week’s performance, it could be a long day for the Giant offense.

Matthew Stafford

giants lions monday night fantasy

Matthew Stafford (Photo by: foxsports.com)

There was only one quarterback that posted more fantasy points then Matthew Stafford last week. He was spectacular after a four touchdown performance for 292 yards on a solid Cardinal defense. He also completed over 70 percent of his passes. While Stafford put up excellent numbers against a good Cardinal defense, expecting him to duplicate those numbers against a very good Giant defense might be unrealistic.

With that being said, this might not be the best week to play Stafford, unless you didn’t have a better option. The Giants were the second-toughest team against fantasy quarterbacks last season, and Stafford was held to just 10.22 points in his matchup last year against them with 273 yards and one interception.

Giants defense/special teams

giants lions monday night fantasy

Landon Collins (Photo by: giantswire.usatoday.com)

The Giants defense looked good last week against the Cowboys. Considering how much they were on the field, they held their own. They did what they were expected to do.

They were on the field for 34 minutes and gave up just 19 points. That’s pretty good. Players like Janoris Jenkins shut down Dez Bryant. They prevented Ezekiel Elliott from scoring and limited Dak Prescott to 268 passing yards and one touchdown.

Where the Giants struggled besides not getting a breather was creating turnovers. This week could be the week to execute as we saw this the last time these two teams met. The Giants created two turnovers with an interception and a fumble recovery against Detroit. We’ve seen Stafford get too aggressive throwing the ball and should play a key factor if the Giants can create a pass rush.

The running backs on both teams

One position on both offenses to avoid is all running backs on both teams, unless it is a PPR league.

giants lions monday night fantasy

Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick (Photo by: cbssports.com)

The Detroit running attack only had 82 total rushing yards and 3.0 yards per attempt. Last week, Theo Riddick had one rush for -1 yards, but still remains a PPR option with 6 catches for 27 yards and a touchdown.

Ameer Abdullah will still be the main ball carrier, but struggled with 30 yards rushing last week with his longest run being seven yards. The Giants were the fifth best in fantasy defensive scoring with 243.20 points. In 2016, the Lions only had 56 rushing yards against the Giants.

On the other side, the Giants only had 35 yards rushing with 2.9 yards per attempt. As I stressed earlier, the offensive line was no help. Paul Perkins only had 16 rushing yards and nine receiving yards last week. Shane Vereen becomes an intriguing option in PPR leagues as he led the Giants in receptions with nine for 51 yards.

 

Featured image from getmoresports.com.

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Hagan’s Haus 2017 week 2 NFL picks

Hagan’s Haus 2017 week 2 NFL picks

Welcome to Hagan’s Haus, where football is the only thing that matters. Sundays you won’t find me in a church because Football is my religion and the number one priority in my life. I am so excited that the NFL season is finally back in action! I pride myself in studying the game of football. We can’t get all our picks or predictions right but I am going to leave it here in the open every week for everyone to see. In Hagan’s Haus, it’s all about bragging rights. 

Who is the best? Because winning is the only thing that matters. We don’t get points for second place. I challenge you to post comments on your weekly picks and compare them to mine. This isn’t about point spreads. I will give a score predictions but winning is winning. Doesn’t matter if it’s by an inch or a mile. So try and beat me in picking NFL games. I promise you it won’t be easy, but it will be fun. Here are Hagan’s Haus 2017 week 2 NFL picks.

Last week: 8-7

Season: 8-7

Thursday Night

Hagan’s Haus 2017 week 2 NFL picks

(Photo credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

Houston Texans (0-1) 20 @ Cincinnati Bengals (0-1) 21: It is only week two but this is a vital game for both the Texans and the Bengals. Teams that go 0-2 hardly ever make the playoffs. Andy Dalton must overcome a four interception game. If he plays like that again, Bengals fans will be chanting McCarron’s name. DeShaun Watson has officially been named the starter for Houston. With a short week of preparation, Watson will be behind the eight ball. With McCarron breathing down Dalton’s shoulder and the first start for DeShaun Watson, the Bengals find a way to win.

Sunday Morning

Arizona Cardinals (0-1) 31 @ Indianapolis Colts (0-1) 14: Similar to the teams participating in the Thursday night game, the Cardinals and Colts are sort of in a must win situation. The Colts looked God-awful against the Rams and the Cardinals blew a lead while losing swiss army knife David Johnson. Even though the Cardinals will need Palmer to shoulder the load, Indianapolis is a bad team. Chuck Pagano will be the first coach fired this season. Arizona wins this week but only because Indianapolis is incompetent.

Philadelphia Eagles (1-0) 24 @ Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) 27: This is a game many could consider the game of the week after the performance these two teams put on in week one. Alex Smith looked like a guy who was drafted number one overall ahead of Aaron Rodgers. He lit up the Patriots defense with some spectacular throws. Carson Wentz didn’t look too shabby either. This is going to be a competitive, back and forth game that will come down to the wire. It is hard to pick a winner in this game so the edge goes to the home team.

Hagan’s Haus 2017 week 2 NFL picks

(Photo Credit: Getty Images / Hannah Foslien)

Minnesota Vikings (1-0) 27 @ Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0) 23: For all the hype surrounding the Steelers this offseason their opening performance was a bit lackluster. Le’Veon Bell didn’t get enough touches and it looked like Pittsburgh was trying to punish him for missing training camp. The defense seemed improved behind rookie T.J. Watt but they still only managed a three point victory against the Browns who started a rookie quarterback. Minnesota however, looked like a juggernaut. Their defense completely shut down Drew Brees and the Saints offense holding them to 19 points. The touchdown came in garbage time. Sam Bradford led an aerial assault that nobody saw coming and rookie Dalvin Cook made all Vikings fans say Adrian who? Minnesota looked like the better team in week one. They upset Pittsburgh in week two to put the NFL on notice.

New England Patriots (0-1) 38 @ New Orleans Saints (0-1) 24: The Patriots did look a bit un-patriot-like last week but every time New England has started 0-1 with Bill Belichick they have gone on to win the Super Bowl. This isn’t the time to overreact. The Saints secondary still looks anemic. Sam Bradford torched them with his best game of his career. Tom Brady will dissect them even worse with over 400 yards passing. New England will cruise to a victory in the Superdome.

Chicago Bears (0-1) 24 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-0) 31: It is hard to determine if the Bears looked good or if the Falcons played bad but was probably a mix of the two. Mike Glennon put the ball where it needed to be on the final drive but his teammates let him down. This week the Bears head to Florida to take on the Bucs who will be playing their first game of the season because of Hurricane Irma. Tampa Bay is going to play with a lot of emotion and with the support of the fans, they will win their home opener.

Hagan’s Haus 2017 week 2 NFL picks

(Photo Credit: Getty Images / Ezra Shaw)

Buffalo Bills (1-0) 22 @ Carolina Panthers (1-0) 29: Both teams head into this game with a win in week one. Both also played against some really bad opponents. The Bills look like a team that is still going to run the ball well but their passing attack may still be weak. Cam Newton also looked a bit rusty as his accuracy was hit and miss. Another big story line to follow is Sean McDermott returning to Carolina. He may know exactly what the Panthers are doing but it won’t be enough to stop them. Cam plays big and leads his team to a 2-0 start.

Tennessee Titans (0-1) 23 @ Jacksonville Jaguars (1-0) 21: The Jaguars are above .500 for the first time in a long time. Their defense completely dominated Houston. Jacksonville also ran the ball very well with rookie Leonard Fournette. Taking the ball out of Blake Bortle’s hands seems to be the key to success. Tennessee must bounce back after looking a bit underprepared for Oakland. The offense didn’t light it up as many expected and it resulted in an underwhelming performance. Week one usually has a ton fluke results and this week the Titans will prove it by outplaying Jacksonville on the road.

Cleveland Browns (1-0) 23 @ Baltimore Ravens (1-0) 22: Baltimore has been a franchise that is built on defense and showcased that again last week. Joe Flacco didn’t do much on offense but that isn’t anything new. This team will be an average team because of the offense but if the defense plays like that all season then maybe they will sneak up on people. Cleveland played pretty well last week after they had a punt blocked for a touchdown. Without that play, they probably upset the Steelers. Cleveland is heading in the right direction and a win on the road this week will prove as much.

Sunday Afternoon

Hagan’s Haus 2017 week 2 NFL picks

(Photo Credit: Photo: Wesley Hitt, Getty Images)

New York Jets (0-1) 17 @ Oakland Raiders (1-0) 45: New York will be lucky to win a single game this season. They are tanking whether it is on purpose or by accident, it is a tank. Oakland opened the season by flying across the country and beating up on a team many predicted to win their division. The offense is loaded and Marshawn Lynch is back to being “Beast Mode”. The defense looked much improved from last season. Everything seems to be falling into place perfectly. Oakland defends the Black Hole in a complete annihilation.

Miami Dolphins (0-0) 20 @ Los Angeles Chargers (0-1) 27: The Chargers almost had the upset but almost only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades. Los Angeles’ defense is going to be elite and the offense seems to have chosen the run as its identity. They will be a good team this season. Miami will be playing its first game of the season due to Hurricane Irma. The Dolphins won’t be ready and Los Angeles gets a much-needed win.

Dallas Cowboys (1-0) 32 @ Denver Broncos (1-0) 22: Denver was lucky to sneak away with a win in week one. They might not be so lucky this week. Trevor Siemian played well but the problem is his inconsistency. One week he looks like an NFL starter and the next he looks like a backup. He will look like a backup against Dallas. The Cowboys, on the other hand, looked amazing against the Giants. Dak Prescott seems to have more control of the offense and Ezekiel Elliot is back to his old ways. Dallas goes into the Mile High City and stops on the Broncos.

Washington Redskins (1-0) 10 @ Los Angeles Rams (1-0) 21: Was that the Los Angeles Rams or the 2015 Denver Broncos defense on the field last week? The answer is the Rams, but it’s because former Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is now running the defense of the Rams. Defensively, they played lights out and still get to add Aaron Donald to the mix. The offense looked NFL worthy as Jared Goff had a spectacular game. It was against the Colts thought. This week they matchup with the Washington Redskins who dropped their game to their division rival Eagles. Kirk Cousins will not play well in this game. Los Angeles puts out another championship caliber defensive performance to start 2-0.

San Fransisco 49ers (1-0) 6 @ Seattle Seahawks (0-1) 28: Russell Wilson was running for his life against the Packers. Seattle still hasn’t fixed their offensive line issues and it may spell doom for them this season. The defense is still elite but can only do so much. Although they may be in for a difficult season they won’t struggle against the 49ers. San Fransisco will be good in a few years but right now there isn’t enough talent in the locker room to do any damage. Seahawks will win this one, easily.

Sunday Night

Hagan’s Haus 2017 week 2 NFL picks

(Photo Credit: Unknown)

Green Bay (1-0) 41 @ Atlanta Falcons (1-0) 38: A rematch of the NFC Championship game in which Atlanta ran Green Bay off the field. Green Bay’s secondary will be tested yet again in this game but will hold up better. Atlanta looked bad in Chicago and a hangover is lingering. Matt Ryan will put up a lot of points in this game but Aaron Rodgers will put up more. The Packers offense may need 40 to win but the opportunity for revenge will cause them to do so. Packers will upset Atlanta because Aaron Rodgers has a 350 yard, four touchdown game.

Monday Night

Detroit Lions (1-0) 31 @ New York Giants (0-1) 34: The Lions are still the comeback kids after last week’s comeback against the Arizona Cardinals. Matthew Stafford shook off the pick six to have a pretty stellar game. Detroit doesn’t have the defense to be a playoff team but Stafford will carry this team to a few unexpected wins. The Giants looked shell shocked against Dallas. There is no run game whatsoever. They should have drafted a running back from this amazing class but felt Paul Perkins was the answer. He is not. If they can’t run the ball they can’t open up the passing game. Odell should be back in action in this game and Eli Manning will be the happiest about it. Odell makes the difference and the Giants get in the win column, barely

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Featured image courtesy of http://www.definearevolution.com/2016/09/dar-sports-nfl-week-2-preview.html

NFC eye test predictions: 4-1

The best of the best in the NFC.

4. Carolina Panthers

For some odd reason, Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers are good every other year. After going 7-9 in the 2012 season, the Panthers won the division and finished 12-4 in 2013. The following year, they managed to win the division, despite only winning seven games. In 2015, Newton’s MVP season, Carolina was one game away from a perfect regular season. Last year, due to a Super Bowl hangover, the Panthers won only six games. This means a big season is coming up for Carolina.

The Panthers brought in Matt Kalil, who will play alongside his brother, Ryan, a top notch center. Still, this offensive line is pretty poor, and is the main reason Cam Newton struggled last year.

NEW ERA (CBS Sports)

To take some pressure off Newton, Carolina beefed up the run game by drafting Christian McCaffrey with the eighth pick in this year’s draft. McCaffrey is pure grit, the people’s champ, the ultimate teammate. He must have been using an agility ladder right out the womb, and starting lifting since age six. McCaffrey looks to be an immediate impact in Carolina’s backfield, but don’t forget about Jonathan Stewart. The 30-year-old had over 800 yards, and nine touchdowns in 13 games during last year’s regular season.

Though not great, the receiving core could turn into something special. Obviously Greg Olsen is one of the best tight ends in the game, and Kelvin Benjamin, who looked way out of shape at the beginning of the offseason, looks to be just fine. Benjamin has been a consistent player who could take off and become a top 10 receiver. Let’s hope Devin Funchess can make a giant leap as he heads into his third season.

The experienced trio of Julius Peppers, Charles Johnson, and Mario Addison, should continue to get after the opponent on the ends. Kawann Short, who signed a new deal worth $80 million, is a monster at defensive tackle. Barring injury, this is a top 10 defensive line.

The linebacker combination of Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, and Shaq Thompson, is arguably the best linebacker core in the NFL. If Kuechly stays healthy, he is easily one of the top defensive players in the league.

When Josh Norman left after the Super Bowl season, the secondary took a major hit. Fortunately, James Bradberry and Daryl Worley now have some experience under their belt. Look for this pass defense to bounce back, after finishing 29th in passing yards allowed a season ago.

Cam Newton is good, and will not have two down seasons in a row. They added a serious playmaker in McCaffrey, and the young receivers continue to grow. The defense is extremely solid, and if they can figure out defending the pass, the Panthers will be a serious threat come postseason play. This is an 11-win team.

 

3. New York Giants 

The Giants will be playing in this year’s Super Bowl, but they won’t end up with the best record. In their last two Super Bowl victories, New York finished 9-7 and 10-6 during their respected regular seasons. Coming off an 11-win season a year ago, the New York Football Giants are back.

It’s hard to make a case for Eli being an elite quarterback, but he has lowered the turnovers and has thrown for at least 4,000 yards in the previous three seasons. The offensive line isn’t too good, which is why Eli forces throws, as well as why there is lack of success in the run game. Paul Perkins played well in his last preseason game, which is huge because if the Giants can run the ball, they could easily finish as the number one offense in the NFL.

Scary Trio (SNY)

Even if the running game is subpar, the Giants have the best targets in all of football. Odell Beckham Jr is the most talented player in the NFL, and Brandon Marshall can still do big things. New York desperately needs these guys to get to 100 percent, because of how much sauce and talent they bring. Second year WR Sterling Shepard looks to keep rolling after 8 touchdowns during his rookie year. The Giants selected Evan Engram with the 23rd overall pick in this year’s draft, and he is already a player to watch.

This is one scary defensive line. Jason Pierre Paul and Olivier Vernon both got paid, and deserved every penny. DT Damon “Snacks” Harrison not only has a legendary nickname, but is quite the player.

Not a lot of talent at linebacker, but the secondary is elite. Last year, Landon Collins finished third in defensive player of the year voting. Janoris Jenkins, Eli Apple, and Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie are all extremely skilled corners.

The offense will be scary good, and the defense is full of studs. The Giants will win the division with 11-12 wins, and playoff Eli will get them back to the Super Bowl.

 

2. Seattle Seahawks

Love or hate the rowdy, excessive gum chewing coach, Pete Carroll has changed the culture in Seattle. Did drafting Russell Wilson help with the success? You bet.

All he does is win. (Grantland.com)

Russell Wilson took over in 2012. The Seahawks have won double digit games each year since 2012. This guy is a winner. Even with their pathetic offensive line, Wilson is able to keep plays going with his elusiveness and super power arm.

After finishing 25th in rushing yards, the Seahawks brought in Eddie Lacy to help bolster the run game. Not really too sure what to expect from him, Thomas Rawls, or CJ Prosise.

Jimmy Graham is the most talented of these pass catchers, but Doug Baldwin is still Wilson’s favorite target. Jermaine Kearse looks like he might get traded, but Tyler Lockett and Paul Richardson will both play big roles. To be honest, it seems like Seattle has a new hero every week at wide out.

The defense is still incredible. DE’s Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett, and Frank Clark combined for 26.5 sacks last year. Bobby Wagner and K.J Wright are right up there with the best of them, when it comes to linebacker duos. And, The Legion of Boom, headlined by Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, and Earl Thomas, is still the best secondary in the land.

This team will continue to do win because that’s all Russell Wilson does. Judging by their schedule, this looks like a 12-win season and a first round bye for Seattle.

 

1. Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers is just too talented. It’s not even like this roster “wow’s” anyone. The fact that Rodgers is the quarterback is all that needs to be said.

After back to back 10-6 seasons, the Packers are in dire need for more success. Rodgers is, without question, one of the most talented quarterbacks ever. However, only one Super Bowl victory has his legacy at a standstill.

Will Rodgers and the Packers get back to the Super Bowl? (Sporting News)

Not a major run team, the Packers finished 29th in rushing attempts last year. No need to run that much when you have Aaron Rodgers, but Ty Montgomery showed he is very capable of moving the chains, after rushing for 5.9 yards per carry last year. Granted it was only 77 attempts, we don’t know how Montgomery will do as the number one, but Jamaal Williams, more of a pure running back, could slide in and have a major role. These backs should have good protection with Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari manning the edges.

The receiving core is among the best in the NFL. Jordy Nelson is arguably a top 5 receiver, and Davante Adams took a major leap in his third season, hauling in 12 touchdowns. Randall Cobb has slightly regressed, but is still a valid option. The tight end trio of Martellus Bennett, Lance Kendricks, and Richard Rodgers, could cause serious matchup problems for defenses.

A decent defensive line, a below average linebacker core, and essentially no help at corner, the defense is a bit lackluster. However, no problem at safety, with Morgan Burnett and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Nick Perry, who is dealing with an ankle injury, recorded 11 sacks last year. So there is some talent on this side of the ball, but it’s hard to forget that this team allowed the second most passing yards, and the fourth most passing touchdowns, a season ago.

A monster regular season is coming for Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay. 13-3 is very in reach. Lack of passing defense will deter this team from going to the Super Bowl, but the Packers should cruise in the regular season.

 

Featured image by SI.com

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“From our Haus to Yours”

should the the nfl eliminate preseason

Why the NFL needs preseason

NFL preseason is well underway now. The top rookies are starting to make a name for themselves, quarterback battles are beginning to show who should be starting and injuries are also beginning to appear.

Perhaps the most noteworthy injury to date was the ankle sprain suffered by Odell Beckham Jr. in the Giants’ Monday night loss to the Browns.

On the play, Beckham jumped in the air to make a first-down catch. When he was in the air, Browns defensive back Briean Boddy-Calhoun hit Beckham in the legs when he went up for the catch. You could tell Beckham was frustrated after the play based on his reaction to flipping the ball and crouching down in pain.

NFL needs preseason

Odell Beckham Jr. got lucky after a scary play, but other players haven’t. (Photo by Getty Images)

Giants fans and fantasy owners everywhere rejoiced after finding out he only suffered an ankle sprain and not any significant leg injury or concussion.

I am not going to debate whether or not the hit by Boddy-Calhoun was clean or dirty, although I do think it is a valid question to ask if they can’t hit high or low, where are they supposed to hit?

I am also not going to debate whether or not Odell Beckham Jr. is a diva and his reaction was just him trying to draw a lot of attention to himself. Other analysts can debate that.

What I want to talk about is based on a scary play like this, should the NFL eliminate its preseason entirely?

Injuries happen all the time in preseason. Some happen to star players and some to third-string linemen. Some injuries knock these guys out for a short amount of time, a week at the most maybe. But others have suffered much longer time off, including season-ending injuries.

Beckham isn’t the only big name to get injured this preseason. Seahawks left tackle George Fant suffered a torn ACL in his right knee and will miss the entire season. Seattle was counting on Fant, who started 10 games last season, to help elevate their line play.

Bengals starting safety Shawn Williams also dislocated his right elbow this preseason. It will not require surgery, but he will miss four to six weeks.

With injuries like these, why should the NFL have a preseason? The players don’t really get paid for it. The owners don’t need the extra money preseason can generate since they are already filthy rich. Why risk a star player like Beckham’s health?

The purpose of preseason

Let’s remember what the preseason is for.

We know how good the stars are, so it is not really for them. Preseason can help the starters get back in the swing of things. It gets them playing in full pads against other talent around the league. It also usually lasts for a quarter, more or less.

NFL needs preseason

Preseason gives players like Browns rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer an opportunity to show what he can do. (Photo by Ron Schwane/AP Images)

The main reason for preseason is to evaluate your backups. Some teams have legit battles at different positions. The Browns are one of those teams that have a quarterback battle. Will it be Brock Osweiler or DeShone Kizer? The preseason can help coaches see how well these guys can play in a game situation.

There are also other battles within the depth chart. It gives free agents an opportunity to get game snaps with their new team in a new system. New coaches also get the benefit of seeing their new team on the field and if their strategy is working. Rookies also get a taste of the NFL action so they aren’t just thrown in on week 1.

With all the changes that occur in an NFL roster from year to year, preseason is an opportunity for teams to enter the season more smoothly. It gives current players an opportunity to shake the rust off and new players an opportunity to learn and transition.

Preparation can help eliminate injuries

As crazy as this sounds, the preseason can also help prevent injuries along the way. Workouts, training camp and preseason are all in place to get the players back in shape and ready to go for the actual season. The MLB does this with spring training and the NBA also does this with summer league and their own preseason.

Let’s flashback to the 2011 NFL lockout. During this time, players did not get the preparation they needed due to the lockout. There was a boost in injuries during the start of the season.

There were 10 players who suffered ruptures to their achilles tendon before the first preseason game even was played. At the time, an average of eight achilles ruptures occurred in a full season.

Lions rookie running back Mikel Lashoure missed his whole season due to a ruptured achilles. Panthers linebacker Jon Beason only played in one game that season due to the same injury. Eric Berry and Jamaal Charles also went down due to torn knee ligaments.

Now not all of these injuries happened in preseason, but the principle still remains. If you do not prepare, you are only going to hurt yourself. Preseason helps players get in rhythm for the actual season.

Conclusion

Teams benefit from the preseason a lot.

Financially, they each host two games. Die-hard fans go to these games after not watching football since last winter. They are eager to get their fix after such a long wait. These games also get on TV, bringing in more money and publicity for the league.

Based on all of this, the NFL won’t be eliminating preseason anytime soon. Teams and players just benefit from it too much. If players are worried about injuries, maybe they should just play limited time like Tom Brady.

Honestly, if injuries are such a big concern, why even play football? Injuries don’t stop after preseason. They continue on. You never know what is going to happen on the football field.

 

Featured Image by AP Photo/Ron Schwane

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

2017 NFC East division

2017 NFC East division preview

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

4. Washington Redskins

Last season: 8-7-1

Strength of Schedule: 7

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

2017 NFC East division preview

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Nick Wass)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Philadelphia Eagles

Last season: 7-9

Strength of Schedule: (T) 10

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

2017 NFC East division preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. New York Giants

Last season: 11-5

Strength of Schedule: 8

2017 NFC East division preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Dallas

Last season: 13-3

Strength of Schedule: (T) 10

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

2017 NFC East division preview

(Photo Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prediction: 12-4, division champion

 

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