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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week two DFS Dont's

Week One DFS Dont’s: Report Card

With the first Sunday in the books, it’s time to review week one and my predictions. I’ll be reviewing my picks from last week’s DFS Dont’s article series, as well as the picks I made on the Suck My DFS Podcast. Picks aside, I started off the year right by finishing in the money in all 36 of my FanDuel contests. Without further adieu, here is the report card edition of my week one DFS Dont’s.

Quarterback: 1/5

Last week, I stated that Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Stafford should stay off your DFS lineups. I was feeling great about my Stafford prediction after the first quarter, but that feeling quickly subsided. Stafford finished with 28.08 points. Roethlisberger didn’t set the world on fire, but I’ll chalk his 16.72 points up as a loss for me.

On the Suck My DFS Podcast, I chose three quarterbacks I liked in cash games and GPP’s: Russell Wilson, Carson Wentz and Brian Hoyer. Both Wilson and Hoyer scored single digit points. On the bright side, Wilson didn’t cost me in my cash games. Thankfully, Carson Wentz paid dividends on his $7,100 price tag, as he scored 19.88 points.

I ended up playing three quarterbacks in my cash lineups: Russell Wilson, Derek Carr and Carson Wentz. I couldn’t find a good combination for my GPP contests, so I decided to pull my money out this week and just play cash games. I’m not regretting that decision.

Running Back: 3/6

In my running back DFS Dont’s piece, I advised that you stay away from Ezekiel Elliott, Leonard Fournette and Marshawn Lynch. I had know idea the Jacksonville Jaguars would dominate the Houston Texans in such dramatic fashion. I look forward to cashing in on Fournette in the future as he scored 19.9 points in his debut. Elliott’s $8,700 price tag isn’t usually worth 16.5 points; however, I’ll mark it as a loss since that’s much better than how David Johnson or Le’Veon Bell produced. I told you to stay away from Lynch until we know exactly how his workload will look, hopefully you did, as he scored a whopping 9.7 points.

On the podcast, I gushed over LeSean McCoy and Todd Gurley. They scored 18.4 and 18.1 points each. Sadly, I also loved Bilal Powell, who produced a disappointing single digit performance. Once again, I lucked out with my Powell prediction since I didn’t partake in any GPP contests in week one.

Wide Receiver: 1/5

My week one DFS Dont’s at this position included Dez Bryant, Golden Tate and Jarvis Landry. I was dead on about Bryant and his personal match up against Janoris Jenkins, as he scored a disappointing 5.3 points. However, I was totally wrong about Golden Tate. He, unlike Dez, found a way to overcome a tough match up and produced 16.4 points. Jarvis Landry had an unexpected bye, so I won’t be counting that prediction at all.

In my podcast picks, I pounded the table on AJ Green, Doug Baldwin and Martavis Bryant. I was wrong on all three as they severely under produced.

Tight End: 3/5

Eric Ebron was awful, so that gives me a mark in the win column. Yet again, my other prediction was set to play in the rescheduled Miami vs Tampa Bay game, so throw out O.J. Howard this week.

The tight ends I liked were Delanie Walker, Zach Ertz, Jack Dolye and Zach Miller. Walker and Ertz finished in the top six among tight ends in week one. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough volume for Doyle or Miller to get a chance to be productive or else they would have hit as well. I’ll take the two losses on Doyle and Miller.

Kicker: 2/2

It’s pretty straight forward, stop paying up for kickers. The position is way too dependent on coaching decisions, weather and offensive competency. Nine kickers scored double digit points in week one, and Justin Tucker was not one of them.

On the other hand, my podcast pick clicked, Ryan Succop. It wasn’t rocket science. Here’s the criteria for which I pick my kicker. Is he less than $4,800? Is he at home? Is he favored? Is the weather good? Succop met all of these requirements.

Defense: 2/4

In my first ever DFS Dont’s piece, I made the case not to play the Pittsburgh or Buffalo defense. Neither one of them paid off like most had hoped, but, neither imploded like I had hoped. Given your defense starts with 10 points, I’ll say I was wrong about the Steelers, since they scored 12, and was right about the Bills, since they only scored nine.

We crushed our defensive picks to click. Both Will and I were all in on Los Angeles in week one and they did not disappoint. On the other hand, I offered the Arizona defense as a potential GPP pivot from the Rams, and they only scored eight points.

Week One DFS Dont’s Report Card: 12/27

On a percentage basis, I was not good. I only connected on 44% of my picks in week one. By my standards, and at almost any academic institution, 44% is a failure. Now, no one gets 100% of their predictions right, but, I need to operate in the 60-70 percentile to feel like it was a good week. You can check out all of my week one DFS Dont’s articles here. We’ll start with week two tomorrow as we break down what kicker and defenses you should avoid.

 

Like what you read? Tune into the Suck My DFS Podcast this Friday and find out who TGH fantasy experts will be playing in their DFS lineups this week. You can find the link to our podcast on the Podcast page.

 

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Featured image from Grizzly Bear Blues

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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Fantasy Football Bold Predictions NFC West

Fantasy football bold predictions: NFC West

The preseason is here and so is fantasy football. We have seen endless articles making bold predictions on players, numbers and who are sleepers. This article and many coming are my 2017 fantasy football bold predictions starting with the the NFC West.

Arizona Cardinals: Carson Palmer will Bounce Back in 2017

Headlined as a fantasy sleeper, Carson Palmer is a QB20 and picked towards the end of drafts.

Fantasy Football Bold Predictions NFC West

Carson Palmer (Photo by: si.com)

In 2015, Palmer had one of the best seasons of his career. He finished in the top-five among quarterbacks in 2015 with 35 touchdowns and 4,600-plus yard season. He had receivers like Larry Fitzgerald, and the emergence of John Brown and Michael Floyd really helped Palmer.

But 2016 was the opposite. Even though he was 36 that season, the departure of Michael Floyd and the recurring illnesses of John Brown were not helpful. Besides that, Palmer hit a wall with efficiency.

His 8.7 yards per attempt in 2015 dropped down to 7.1. Another big part of the struggle was the breakout of David Johnson. But Palmer did have a good end of the season with at least 20 fantasy points in a standard leagues in six of his final nine games, and no outing with fewer than 17 points.

But in 2017 Palmer is back and fully focused. Brown is finally healthy and the emergence of J.J. Nelson to complement Larry Fitzgerald and with David Johnson in the backfield should help Palmer have a season like 2015.

Los Angeles Rams: Sammy Watkins will play a full season, but will not have over five touchdowns

Sammy Watkins was traded to the Los Angeles Rams on Aug. 11. There’s no worse situation to be in than the Rams. He is ranked as the 21st wide receiver and selected around the fourth to fifth round.

Fantasy Football Bold Predictions NFC West

Sammy Watkins (Photo by: dailynews.com)

Watkins has missed 11 games over his last two seasons including eight in 2016 because of a foot injury that required multiple surgeries. The good news is that he’s healthy now. He should get the time to rest and learn the offense this preseason.

The bad news is now he’s with the LA Rams. Fantasy owners cringe now because of the situation. His quarterback is Jared Goff who was on the lower end of quarterbacks in 2016. Even though a rookie, he completed a miserable 54.5 percent of his passes, had a 5-to-7 TD/INT ratio and averaged 5.3 yards per attempt.

But for Watkins, he has averaged 0.46 touchdowns per game over his career. And while there’s hope for Goff, he has to learn a new offense and that doesn’t look good for either Goff or Watkins. Look for running back Todd Gurley to have a big role in Los Angeles.

Seattle Seahawks: Doug Baldwin will break into the top-five for wide receivers

Doug Baldwin checks in as the WR10 and ranked 29th overall among fantasy players. Baldwin hasn’t received a whole lot of love from a fantasy perspective. Maybe that’s because Seattle isn’t known as a passing team, but they have done better over the past two seasons. Last year, they ranked tied for 18th with 567 pass attempts. This was the first year Russell Wilson has thrown over 500 pass attempts.

Fantasy Football Bold Predictions NFC West

Doug Baldwin (Photo by: ftw.usatoday.com)

But back to Baldwin. His target share in the last three years has been steady at 22, 21, and 22 percent respectively. He’s blossomed in his new No. 1 wide receiver role, delivering back-to-back top-10 fantasy finishes in both standard and PPR formats. Baldwin’s eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving in consecutive years, and he set a new single-season high of 1,128 yards last year.

His touchdown total however, dipped from 14 in 2015 to seven last year. But 21 touchdowns over the past two seasons is an impressive stat. With guys like Dez Bryant, T.Y. Hilton, DeAndre Hopkins, Demaryius Thomas and Amari Cooper ranked right around Baldwin, his touchdowns over the past two seasons rank best out of all of them.

A key stat for Baldwin is in 2015, 95 percent of Baldwin’s yardage (1,011) and 93 percent of his touchdowns (13) came from the slot, per Next Gen Stats. In 2016, those percentages fell to 59 for yardage (662) and 57 for touchdowns (four). Baldwin proved he could win outside, posting a 78 percent catch rate and 15.36 yards per catch average when lined up out wide.

He has proven to be a top target for Seattle and I expect him to continue his dominance with the run game still in question. His only threat to take targets away is Jimmy Graham but that didn’t stop him in 2016.

San Francisco 49ers: Carlos Hyde will run for over 1,000 yards

Carlos Hyde as of right now is being selected right around the third to fourth round. He is ranked as the 15th running back.

Fantasy Football Bold Predictions NFC West

Carlos Hyde (Photo by: sfgate.com)

Hyde has had some problems staying healthy (14 games missed in three seasons). But when he’s on the field he’s one of the better backs in the league. He averaged a career-best 4.6 YPC on 217 carries last season and has ranked among the top 10 in the NFL in YAC each of the past two years.

He has been the best running back on his team in terms of success rate every year he’s been in the league, and just last season, only 10 running backs had more top-24 PPR performances and only 7 had more top-12 ones.

Hyde will be in a new offense in 2017 under Kyle Shanahan. He will fit his offense around the skillset of his personnel. With Cleveland in 2014, the team ran for five more touchdowns than they threw for. With the Atlanta Falcons, we saw Shanahan turn Devonta Freeman into a top fantasy running back in 2015. Granted in a better offense, Shanahan works well with running backs when the offense molds together.

Hyde finished 2016 ranked 18th in fantasy points in only 13 games, posting five top-10 weeks and nine touchdowns. He just missed 1,000 yards by 12 yards. There’s been a lot of hype around the backup Joe Williams. But he has been dominating training camp and Jon Lynch liked the shape Hyde was in as recently as late July.

 

Featured image from calvinayre.com.

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NFL top 100 players 2017: 30-21

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

This is the eighth installment, containing players 30-21.

30. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL Top 100

Mike Evans (Photo by buccaneers.com)

Jameis Winston has developed into a good quarterback, but has a lot of help from Mike Evans, who has turned into an elite receiver. In 2016 he had a great season that resulted in a Pro Bowl appearance. He finished last season with 96 receptions for 1,321 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Evans is a matchup nightmare at 6’5″ and 231 pounds. In 2017 Evans can continue to move up the ranks of the receivers in the NFL. The emergence and continual progression of Winston will help, but the offense will have some new weapons that might take away some of the double teams. Desean Jackson and O.J. Howard were both added this offseason and the hope for the Buccaneers is that opponents will have to pick and choose, if and who, they decide to double team.

With more help on the offensive side of the ball, Evans should find himself open more and he will capitalize.

Comments: “Mike Evans is a bad man, he makes cornerbacks look like children. The crazy thing is I can see him getting even better.”-Robert Hanes

29. Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers

NFL Top 100

Ben Roethlisberger (Photo by denverpost.com)

The Steelers have a really good offense because of the “Killer B’s” of Ben Roethlisberger, LeVeon Bell and Antonio Brown. Roethlisberger is aging, but is still leading a very good offensive unit that ranked sixth in total yards in 2016. His 2016 campaign saw him throw for 3,819 yards, 29 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

Roethlisberger is now 35, but still has proven to make good throws. With Brown and Bell back, the offense should be balanced and dynamic. The Steelers also get Martavis Bryant back from suspension this year, giving Roethlisberger a plethora of weapons to use. Pittsburgh’s offensive line is very good and will have to try to keep Roethlisberger healthy, as he hasn’t played in a full 16 games since 2016.

With the weapons and talent he has, Roethlisberger is destined to put up great offensive numbers again in 2017.

Comments: “The only thing holding Roethlisberger back is injury and the contemplation of retirement. On a great offense with Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, Roethlisberger will be a top 30 player in the NFL. His ability is what is going to make the Steelers a contender in the AFC once again.”-Joe DiTullio

28. Marcus Peters, CB, Kansas City Chiefs

NFL Top 100

Marcus Peters (Photo by mercurynews.com)

Peters has only been in the NFL for two seasons so far and has cemented himself as one of the best corners and players in the NFL already. In 2016 he had 45 tackles, six interceptions, 20 passes defended, one forced fumble and three fumble recoveries.

Kansas City’s pass defense is average, but Peters does his part. He covers really well and has success against the best of receivers. In his two seasons, he has 14 interceptions already and is getting the reputation of being a ball-hawk. His productivity will continue because of his great instincts for the ball.

In 2017 a lot of quarterbacks will try to shy away from Peters and throw in a different direction, which is the ultimate sign of a great corner.

Comments: “Ever since Peters has come into the NFL he has been a magnet for the football. The Chiefs don’t always utilize his talents the correct way but he is a great young corner. This is the perfect spot for Peters.” -Matthew Hagan

27. Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks

NFL Top 100

Russell Wilson (Photo by sportsonearth.com)

Seattle doesn’t do a great job of protecting Wilson, but he is still productive. In 2016 he threw for 4,219 yards, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The stats are good, but the most impressive thing about Wilson is that he has never had a season of lower than 10 wins.

The Seahawks looked primed for another great season. Wilson will still not have great protection, but the Seahawks tried to improve by drafting Ethan Pocic and signing Luke Joeckel. If Wilson has been good the last few years, he will do fine with this offensive line as well. He still has Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham to throw to and the running game should take a little bit off of his plate with a few options to carry the ball.

Wilson will have to make plays on the run like he has his whole career, but he has thrived before and will again in 2017.

Comments: “He is a winner plain and simple. His offensive line was atrocious last season and he barely had a running game. Yet, he still put up big numbers.”- Robert Hanes 

26. Bobby Wagner, LB, Seattle Seahawks

NFL Top 100

Bobby Wagner (Photo by seahawks.com)

Wagner can sometimes be overlooked for people giving adoration to Russell Wilson, the “Legion of Boom” and the pass rush, but he is one of the league’s best linebackers himself. He led the NFL in tackles in 2016 with 167. He added 4.5 sacks, one interception, three fumbles forced and one fumble recovered.

With the “Legion of Boom” behind him and a good defensive line in front of him, Wagner has the freedom to go run after the football knowing everyone else is doing their jobs. In 2017 Wagner will once again be flying to the football and amass a lot of tackles. He has a knack for doing everything well, which makes him a top 100 player in 2017.

Other people on the Seahawks might get more attention, but Wagner is a great defender that will be near the ball on a lot of plays this season.

Comments: “Wagner is rated a bit too high for my taste. Seahawk linebackers benefit from a good defensive line and a great secondary. Wagner is talented but on any other team he wouldn’t be a top 50 player.” -Matthew Hagan

25. Richard Sherman, CB, Seattle Seahawks

NFL Top 100

Richard Sherman (Photo by richardsherman25.com)

Three Seahawks in a row and there are more coming. Sherman has been one of the best corners in the NFL for what seems like forever. In 2016 he recorded 58 tackles, four interceptions, 13 passes defended and one fumble recovery.

Sherman gets some heat for only covering one side of the field instead of trailing the other team’s best receiver, but he does his job phenomenally. With the other members of the “Legion of Boom”, Sherman will return once again to do his job and create one of the best secondaries in football.

In 2017 Sherman is going to try to keep his status as one of the best corners in the NFL and will likely come away successful.

Comments: “Sherman is the best corner in the NFL. He locks down an entire side of the field. He is on his way to a hall of fame career and is truly one of the best players in the league.” -Matthew Hagan

24. Earl Thomas, S, Seattle Seahawks

NFL Top 100

Earl Thomas (Photo by youtube.com)

His season was cut short after he broke his leg in the Seahawks eleventh game, but Thomas still had a good season in that time. He finished his 2016 season with 46 tackles, two interceptions, 10 passes defended and a fumble recovery.

The Seahawks defense was significantly worse after Thomas’ injury, which showed how good of a player he truly is. When he was on the field Seattle allowed just 16 points per game, but when he wasn’t they allowed 23 points per game. This season he will help restore the Seahawks’ defense to elite status with his big-hitting, ball-hawking nature.

Thomas is coming back from an injury, but his natural instincts will still be sharp, making him one of the best players in the NFL.

Comments: “When Thomas went down with injury, the entire Seahawks’ defense changed for the worse. Thomas could be higher on this list with the big impact he has. If he can recover from his injury he is in no doubt a top 25 player in the NFL.”-Joe DiTullio

23. J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans

NFL Top 100

J.J. Watt (photo by jjwfoundation.com)

Watt only played three games in 2016 due to injury, but if he can recover, he will be a great player once again. In his three games he had eight tackles, 1.5 sacks and a fumble recovery. When he was healthy in 2015 he led the league with 17.5 sacks.

Houston ranked tenth in the NFL as a scoring defense last season without Watt, but they needed more pass rushing. They had just 31 sacks, which tied for 24th in the NFL. Watt will rejoin Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney, which will help. Watt will be one more problem for opponents’ offensive lines to worry about and will produce in 2017.

There is no reason to believe that Watt won’t be a great, physical force in 2017 if he recovers from his injury.

Comments: “Health is the only concern with Watt. If not for last year’s injury, he would be in the top ten”- Dylan Streibig 

22. Landon Collins, S, New York Giants

NFL Top 100

Landon Collins (Photo by giants.com)

The Giants hit the jackpot by selecting Collins with the first pick of the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Ever since he came into the NFL, he has produced. Last season he had 125 tackles, four sacks, five interceptions, 13 passes defended, one touchdown and one fumble recovery.

With Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie taking care of shutting down receivers, Collins is free to play instinctive football. He flies to the football and usually makes a play. Collins is so effective because he can do so many different things. He can cover, blitz and provide good run support.

Collins has been extraordinary in his first two seasons and will continue to improve in the coming years.

Comments: “This man is basically a whole defense by himself. Not to say he doesn’t have good pieces around him but, I think he will be a top 20 players by the end of the season.”-Robert Hanes

21. Tyron Smith, OT, Dallas Cowboys

NFL Top 100

Tyron Smith (Photo by insidethestar.com)

Smith has been one of the best tackles in the NFL and is entering his prime years. The Cowboys have two other offensive linemen on this list: Travis Frederick and Zack Martin, showing how good of an offensive line they have. Smith is ranked the highest out of all of them. He made his fourth straight Pro Bowl in 2016 and added his second appearance as a first team All-Pro.

Like the other linemen from Dallas on this list, he helped Ezekiel Elliot have a great first season in the NFL, as he rushed for 1,631 yards. Most impressively for Smith though was his pass protection, as he allowed just two sacks all season. As the left tackle who goes up against a lot of effective pass rushers, that is an outstanding output.

Dak Prescott has to feel comfortable with how good his offensive line is going to be in 2017, especially with Smith protecting his blindside.

Comments: “Smith is clearly one of the best offensive linemen in the league and deserves this spot. He will keep Dak Prescott upright in 2017 and also help the Cowboys have a good ground game. Smith will make his fifth Pro Bowl in 2017 and is well on his way to a Hall of Fame career.”-Joe DiTullio

NFL Top 100 Players:40-31

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Jameis Winston on the Rise

Jameis Winston on the rise in fantasy

Jameis Winston had an average fantasy season in 2016. He ranked outside of the top 12 on a per game basis but finished 10th in overall fantasy points at the quarterback position. He was, however, able to score at least 20 fantasy points in nine of his 16 games played and failed to post at least 15 fantasy points just once. Winston had 21.2 fantasy points per game that ranked 14th among QB’s. This was better then Cam Newton, Russell Wilson and Derek Carr who were all drafted higher then him. Jameis Winston is on the rise and poised to have a breakout 2017 fantasy football season. He is in route to being a top quarterback this year and you don’t want to miss it.

Winston should be expected to have a great season in large part due to the plethora of weapons he has. The Buccaneers signed wide receiver DeSean Jackson, drafted tight end O.J. Howard and they still have wide receiver Mike Evans and tight end Cameron Brate. This creates more opportunities as Winston is expected to have more designed roll-out plays called for him in 2017, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.

Jameis on the Rise

DeSean Jackson (Photo by: thefantasygreek.com)

Winston will have a deep threat to work with this season in Jackson. Last season Winston ranked towards the bottom in 40+ yard completions.  Jackson has proven he is one of the best deep threat receivers in the NFL, having five catches of 40+ yards that ranked seventh in the category. In fact, three of his four touchdowns came off from 40+ yard catches. With Jackson on the field, safeties will be forced to play a little deeper to respect his speed. This will open up the field for Winston to hit his underneath receivers.

The signing of Jackson doesn’t only help Winston, it also helps Evans. With Jackson’s speed making safeties play deeper, it will be more difficult to roll coverage in Evans’ direction. That will result in a lot more man-to-man coverages for Evans which he the size, speed and soft hands to take advantage of.

Winston will also have two tight ends to throw to. We have seen a quarterback by the name of Tom Brady excel with two reliable tight ends . Winston loved throwing to Brate last year as he was the second leading receiver on his team. Brate also led the league in touchdowns for tight ends and was second among receiving touchdowns inside of the 20-yard line.

O.J. Howard (Photo by: mmqb.si.com)

Winston will also have first round draft pick Howard to go along with Brate. Howard, from Alabama, could struggle early but he is still a weapon that defenses will have to respect. He can also be a valuable deep threat option along with Jackson. At Alabama three of his seven career touchdowns were from 40+ yards with two of them coming against Clemson in the National Championship game in 2015. Howard can be a game changer tight end the Winston can rely on especially a big target in the red zone.

Last but not least, the running game in Tampa is finally healthy. All of the moving parts in the backfield from last year have created a deeper, more confident stable of runners that offer multiple pass-catching options for Winston. This will help Winston from having to force the ball down field which led to 18 interceptions. Charles Sims and Jacquizz Rodgers will be the primary pass-catchers out of the backfield and Doug Martin will pound the ball taking some of the pressure off Winston (after finishing is PED suspension).

Winston may not be a top five quarterback but he is a quarterback you should be targeting after the top players at the position are gone. He will rarely lose you a week as Tampa’s offense is built around him. Winston looks to be ranked between the 10th to 12th quarterback and thus won’t be drafted high. He could be the steal of your fantasy draft at quarterback as people aren’t quite sold on him yet. He enter as a high-end QB2 in most leagues but has the potential to be a QB1 as the season progresses.

 

Featured image from nytimes.com

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Quarterback rankings for the 2017 fantasy football season: 10-1

Here’s the list you’ve all been waiting for… Quarterback Rankings for the 2017 fantasy football season: 10-1. This is the group of quarterbacks that most of you will have on your teams, especially if you’re in a 10-team league or an 8-team league. Many people have their own opinions concerning the top 3 quarterbacks that are on this list, but believe me if you can snag one of hose guys, don’t hesitate.
10. Jameis Winston (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)- Jameis is only going to get better. New targets such as OJ Howard, and Desean Jackson will team up with Mike Evans for the new look Tampa Bay offense this year. You might have to take him early, but Jameis is worth it.

(Photo: Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)

9. Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks)- Russell Wilson may be the most talented quarterback in the NFL. He just doesn’t have the wide receivers or offensive line to crack the top 5. Looking to run the ball more this season, the Seahawks brought in Eddie Lacy but didn’t do too much to address the problem at wideout. Other than Jimmy Graham and Doug Baldwin, Wilson is lacking targets. He’s never a risky pick so if you want to go safe go with Wilson.

8. Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions)- Did Matt Stafford hit his peak last year? I sure think so. He’s a great player don’t get me wrong, and having Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick at full health will help, but I don’t see Stafford doing much better than last year. If you want to grab a elite level QB for the price of a second tier guy, Stafford is your man.

7. Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints)- I know what everyone is thinking, “Drew Brees deserves to be in the top 5!” Not this year. I can’t say anything bad about Brees except that he might hurt from the loss of Brandin Cooks. Michael Thomas will be great once again but it won’t be enough. I love Brees this year, I just believe that the other 6 quarterbacks will outplay him.

(http://sacrificefly.blogspot.com)

6. Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons)- Matt Ryan is an elite QB in the NFL. Mark my words because he will not be as good as he was last year. The dreaded super bowl hangover will haunt him and it will be hard to regain MVP status without Kyle Shanahan as his play caller. There’s nothing wrong with taking Matt Ryan this year, just don’t expect him to be a carbon copy of last year.

5. Cam Newton (Carolina Panthers)- Here is a prime example of a Super Bowl hangover. The combination of the big loss and the fact that he had to deal with a torn rotator cuff for the majority of the season, caused Cam to have the worst season of his career. Expect a bounce back year however. With new additions of Christian McCaffery and Curtis Samuel, the Panthers have the ability to have the most explosive offense in the NFL. The most important thing is if his offensive line can hold up.

4. Derek Carr (Oakland Raiders)- My way too early pick for MVP this year is Derek Carr. He’s young and hungry and looking for revenge from his early exit last year. Pair that with the receiving corps of Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree and the addition of Marshawn Lynch, Carr is in for a huge year.

3. Andrew Luck (Indianapolis Colts)- Another player who could easily be number one on this list if he could stay healthy. Andrew Luck has the size, arm strength, and arm accuracy to be successful in the NFL. He just needs more targets. Get him those targets and he is my number one quarterback.

(Foxboro, MA, 01/18/15) New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady throws in the second quarter of the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, January 18, 2015. Staff Photo by Matt Stone

2. Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers)- This was by far the toughest decision I had to make. If you told me that Aaron Rodgers is the number one fantasy quarterback I’d have no problem with that, I just believe Brady is better. Rodgers has all the targets and a consistent offensive line, give him a legitimate running back and he’s my number one quarterback.

1. Tom Brady (New England Patriots)- Isn’t life just great for Tom Brady? Coming off his fifth super bowl win, he gets Brandin Cooks, Dwayne Allen and Rex Burkhead, all of whom will help out Brady immensely. Give the already best quarterback in the league a great offensive line and an influx of great receivers and running backs, he’s only going to get better.

 

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Seattle Seahawks 2017 NFL Draft Profile

The Seattle Seahawks are up for day 24 of Draftmas.

Summary

Seattle had a good season, but ended up losing to the Falcons in the Divisional Round of the 2016 NFL Playoffs. Their 10-5-1 record was solid, but they do have some things to address in the draft to get back to hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.

Russell Wilson (Photo courtesy: Wikipedia.org)

The pass offense was good under Russell Wilson, ranking 10th in the league, but the Seahawks had one of the worst rushing attacks in the league. Wilson carried the offense to score 22.1 points per game.

Wilson is and will be the franchise quarterback for years to come. Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise are both solid running backs and Eddie Lacy was signed in hopes he regain the form he had early in his career. At wide receiver Doug Baldwin continues to play well and Paul Richardson has played decently in his first three years, while Tyler Lockett returns from injury. Jermaine Kearse had a bad season last year, but should be able to do well again this season. Wide receiver may be addressed in the draft, but like running back, they most likely won’t take a wide receiver until late in the draft. Jimmy Graham is a great tight end and Seattle has Luke Wilson backing him up.

Offensive line, like the past few years, is a big area of concern for the Seahawks. Luke Joekel was signed to give some experience at left tackle, but he hasn’t played up to the hype of being the number one overall pick. Oday Oboushi was signed to play guard, but he isn’t that great either. Basically at this point they could use all the help they can get. They do have a center that played well last season in Justin Britt, but that may have just been a flash in the pan.

Seattle, as it usually does, had a great defense last season that ranked eighth against the pass and seventh against the rush last season.

Earl Thomas needs to get healthy after breaking his tibia last season, but if he is healthy, he and Kam Chancellor are the best safety duo in the league. The trade rumors surrounding Richard Sherman make it necessary for the Seahawks to acquire a corner. Even if Sherman doesn’t get traded, Seattle still likely needs to draft a corner or two.

Another linebacker could be used for their base 4-3 defense, but do already have K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner. On the defensive line the Seahawks have a lot of versatile players, but could use a few more for depth.

Picks and Needs

The Seahawks have eight picks in the 2017 NFL Draft. Five are in the first three rounds, so they will be able to get a few impact players for next season.

First round: (1) No. 26

Second round: (1) No. 58

Third round: (3) No. 90, No. 102, No. 106

Fourth round: (0)

Fifth round: (0)

Sixth round: (1) No. 210

Seventh round: (2) No. 226, No. 244

These needs are in no particular order.

Offensive Needs:

Guard- Mark Glowinski and Oday Oboushi should not be starting. At some point the Seahawks have to start protecting Russell Wilson.

Tackle- Luke Joekel was signed, but he isn’t a sure thing. Gary Gilliam needs to be upgraded.
 Defensive Needs:

Defensive Line- With some versatile players on the defensive line, the Seahawks need to take some players for depth, regardless of position.

Cornerback- Sherman is in trade rumors, but even if he stays, they need help at corner.

Linebacker- Just one linebacker is needed to play alongside Wright and Wagner.

Targets and Thoughts

The picks here are who the Seahwaks could realistically get where they are drafting. There will be no trades.

First Round:

Pick #26: Garett Bolles, OT, Utah

Garett Bolles (Photo courtesy: denverpost.com)

Improving the offensive line has to be a top priority for the Seahawks. Bolles only has one year of starting experience at Utah, but has good mobility and flexibility for a tackle. He can play left tackle if Joekel fails, or start at right tackle.

Second Round:

Pick #58: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida

Wilson is a tall corner, who has good speed. He is a good man to man cover corner, but is susceptible to pass interference calls. He doesn’t offer much in terms of run support and sometimes looks as if he doesn’t want to tackle anybody. The Seahawks will like his length and may think they can teach him their zone coverage scheme.

Third Round:

Pick #90: Montravius Adams, DT, Auburn

Adams can help the Seahawks by being a pass rusher from the defensive tackle position. This enables them to keep Michael Bennett on the outside. There are some questions with his motor, but Seattle will be able to get the most out of him.

Pick #102: Pat Elfein, OG/C, Ohio State

Elfein has experience at both guard and center at Ohio State and can be a good value pick in the third round to help out the offensive line immediately. This isn’t a great class for offensive linemen, but Elfein should be one of the few interior linemen able to have an impact at the NFL level.

Pick #106: Alex Anzalone, LB, Florida

Anzalone is a fast player that has experience playing outside linebacker in a 4-3 scheme. He can start in the base defense for the Seahawks and learn from Wright and Wagner. He will need to improve to stay on the field in more than just the base defense.

Conclusion

Seattle is a perennial power in the NFL and just needs a few more things to make their quest for another Super Bowl happen. With a good draft this season, they can shore up some holes and help bring the city another Lombardi Trophy.

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

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Franchise Analysis – Seattle Seahawks

Since beating the Redskins in 2012, the Seattle Seahawks have been a perennial contender. With Russell Wilson and the legion of boom at the helm, there’s no doubt Seattle will look to compete for another title in 2017. However, this organization is not without flaws. Seattle’s eye-opening loss to Atlanta proves that there is still room to improve. The question is not where do they improve, but how. Between decreasing cap space and glaring positional needs, Pete Carroll and John Schneider have a tough task ahead of them.

2016 Evaluation – offense

It’s clear that Russell Wilson is a great quarterback and who this offense will revolve around moving forward. Wilson ended the 2015 season playing the best football of his career, but that momentum did not carry over to the start of the 2016 season. Overall, the Seahawks finished as tied for 18th in points scored and 12th in yards. Russell Wilson had his second-best statistical season in terms of completion percentage and his best in terms of yards. While his quarterback rating was the lowest yet, Wilson had never thrown more in his NFL career. Not only was Wilson asked to do more in 2016, he was also asked to work with less.

The former college basketball standout George Fant had a rude awakening this year, discovering how hard it is to play tackle in the National Football League (Courtesy of; MyNorthwest.com).

No, I am not referring to his playmakers on the outside or in the backfield. I am talking about the left and right tackle positions. Any marginal Seahawks fan knows that the tackle position was a liability this season. Here is how poor that position played relative to the rest of the league. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Gary Gilliam and George Fant were rated as the 73rd and 80th best tackles among 80 qualified players. The Seattle Seahawks empirically had the worst tackle in the NFL protecting Wilson’s blindside. Both players were also liabilities as run blockers. This impacted the decreased production on the ground more than not having a “premiere” running back. Seattle absolutely must address both tackle positions this offseason if they hope to keep Russell Wilson upright in the immediate future.

Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham are great playmakers. Both players are rated as top 10 players at their position by PFF. The emergence of Paul Richardson as a compliment to Baldwin on the outside is also a good sign moving forward. The Seattle Seahawks will see an increased production from all of their current players is they find a way to upgrade their tackles in the offseason. This idea is simple, but not easy, given the salary cap situation of the team.

2016 Evaluation Defense

Since the Seahawks started their ascension to one of the best franchises in the NFL, they have had a dominant defense. The 2016 season was no different. This defense finished as the third in terms of points and fifth in yards. Their secondary, when healthy, is the best bar none. They have two great linebackers in Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright, as well as a premiere defensive lineman in Michael Bennett. Given all of these great defensive assets, there is still room to improve.

Despite his incredible play, Bobby Wagner remains egregiously underrated nationally as a top 10 defensive player (Courtesy of; Bleacher Report).

The biggest drop off in a relevant statistic for the Seahawks was their third down defense. In 2015, opposing offenses converted only 34.4 percent of their third downs. In 2016, the Seahawks only stopped their opponents on 38.7 percent of their third downs. That may not seem like much, but small percentages in this statistic matter. For example, there’s only a 3.5 percent difference between the first and 10th ranked third down defense and a 7.5 percent difference between the 15th and 32nd ranked third down defense.

The 4.3 percent difference from year to year leads to extended drives by the opposition and more points. That difference in production could have been the difference between winning another game and potentially getting a first round bye and a home divisional playoff game.

Of course, injuries played a role in this decline. Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, and Michael Bennett all missed at least four games at some point during the season. With the emerging information about Richard Sherman’s injury, it’s fair to say that he was impacted significantly throughout the season. It’s absolutely logical that this portion of the Seattle defense will improve next season as their key players return to full health.

Divisional Analysis

The Seattle Seahawks have been the class of the NFC West for the past five years; every divisional rival is building their team to beat the Seahawks. So what does Seattle need to do? They need to continue refining and reinforcing what got them to this point: a productive running game and a dominant defense.

Given the greatness of Russell Wilson, they won’t ever have an offense that goes through a running back, like Marshawn Lynch. But they need to be able to control the line of scrimmage in order to stay atop this division. When you have to face the Cardinals and Rams front seven twice a year, you need a physical offensive line and running game. We’ve already talked about their deficiency at both tackle positions.

With the 26th overall pick, Seattle has an opportunity to address this need. It is likely that Cam Robinson will be off the board by the time Seattle is on the clock. Other viable players at that position include Ryan Ramczyk from Wisconsin and Mike McGlinchey from Notre Dame. At this point, those are the only two players outside of Robinson that could warrant a first-round selection.

Injuries are never expected, but always occur. While you can’t predict being without your best defensive players for multiple games, you can do your best to prepare for that scenario. Seattle needs to add depth to their defensive line and secondary. Michael Bennett is unique because of his ability to play every defensive line position at a high level. Carroll Phillips from Illinois could be that player in the third or fourth round to add depth to an already physically gifted front four. While he has off-field issues, his talent could outweigh those issues if he remains a day two prospect.

Seattle could also go the route of drafting a long, athletic corner to bolster their secondary. This could come in the form of Des Lawrence from North Carolina, who has the size and would fit well in their cover 3 defense. However, his man to man skills are not NFL ready. If they decide to add depth, they will be using day two and three selections to do so.

Post Season Prospects

This section is meant to show non-playoff teams where and by how much they need to improve to be a playoff team. Clearly, Seattle was a playoff team, so I will use them as a means to back up why I use these metrics to determine post season probability.

Metrics like points scored and time of possession are straightforward. However, stats like yards per attempt and third down conversion give more insight about the team. Yards per attempt is one of the best stats to differentiate between quarterbacks. A high yards per attempt means a quarterback is consciously trying to throw the ball downfield as opposed to constantly checking down. Thus, this is the difference between a Russell Wilson and an Alex Smith and why one has had more post season success.

Wilson is always looking to make a play downfield as opposed to dumping the ball off after three seconds. Alex Smith missed a wide open Tyreek Hill twice during their playoff game because he doesn’t try to attack defenses deep. Being in the top ten in yards per attempt is a good sign for any offense. There are of course areas in which this offense can improve. The biggest theme of this entire analysis is that if the Seahawks had just average tackle play, they might still be playing. Being in the bottom third of the league in sacks allowed is the direct result of such poor tackle play.

From a defensive perspective, this team just needs to stay healthy. We outlined their decrease in third down efficiency, but it’s not because they aren’t getting to the quarterback. This means that problem is in the secondary and with so many injuries, it was bound to impact their play. I firmly believe that is also why the turnover numbers are low for this unit. Health permitting, the 2017 Seahawks will be better on third down as well as accumulating turnovers.

Predictions

Pete Carroll and John Schneider need to have an excellent off season in order to overcome this teams sanctions and salary cap situation (Courtesy of; The Seattle Times).

As I eluded to earlier, the Seattle Seahawks have a unique challenge facing their franchise this offseason. The salary of Russell Wilson and their elite defensive players has left this team strapped for cap space. The Seahawks have just over $4.8 million in cap space. This is not enough to sign substantial free agents to upgrade their tackle positions. They have 14 players who become free agents this year, but none of them will create significant cap space if let go.

Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be a big issue, but with the emerging story concerning Seattle’s second-round draft pick, it becomes a pressing one. Yes, they have found good players in the late rounds of the draft. However, no franchise can depend on striking gold with a day three pick. Given their salary cap and draft situation, I don’t see this team being able to get all the adequate help they need. With that being said, I believe the Seattle Seahawks will finish 9-7 behind the Cardinals, but will make the playoffs as a wild card team.

 

 

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Keys to the NFL Divisional Playoffs

NFL fans and media rarely agree on much. However, I think we can all agree that Wild Card weekend did not produce much excitement or competitive football. While it is a little early in the week to pick the divisional playoff matchups, here is a key to each.

 

Seahawks at Falcons- Are the Falcons ready for the big time?

Seattle should have zero concerns about being ready for a game like this. They have played in dozens of them over the last handful of years. Like always, the defense will limit scoring opportunities and the Seahawks will ask Russell Wilson to make a few key throws to get the win.

Atlanta is a different story. Despite Matt Ryan having an MVP worthy season, the Falcons have flown mostly under the radar and have not been placed in the glamorous national TV windows very often. A scenario where Atlanta’s offense simply scores too much for Seattle to keep up is conceivable. However, a scenario where Atlanta folds under newfound spotlight is just as conceivable. With Earl Thomas out, Seattle’s defense is a tad more vulnerable. Given what the Falcons are capable of on offense and their much improved defense, it is now or never for Atlanta.

Texans at Patriots – Houston needs some kind of early break

The Texans are 15.5 point underdogs for a reason. New England shut them out early in the year with a third-string quarterback. Fast forward a few months and now Tom Brady is back in the fold for New England. As ominous as that may sound for Houston, anything is possible. If that was not the case, games like this would never be played.

There are a few things that work in Houston’s favor. First, the coaching staff has numerous ties to New England. There isn’t much the Patriots can do that would surprise the AFC South champs. Also, much-maligned quarterback Brock Osweiler had the best game of his young career last year in Denver against the Patriots defense.

The Texans are here because of its defense. As atrocious as the quarterback play has been, the top-ranked defense has been that good. It will be up to that unit to force a turnover that leads to easy points early in the game and give the massive underdogs some belief. A big play on special teams would also serve the same purpose. Houston cannot fall in a big hole early if they want any chance at all.

Steelers at Chiefs – Steelers pass protection

No matter how good he is at sandbagging his injuries, there is no way Ben Roethlisberger goes from a walking boot to fully healthy in a week. Thus, those trademark Roethlisberger scrambles under pressure to extend plays are likely off the table. It is up to Pittsburgh’s offensive line to keep Kansas City’s pass rushers away from their franchise quarterback.

Photo Courtesy of steelersdepot.com

This will not be an easy task. The Chiefs have three or four guys that are capable of chasing down any quarterback in this league. Their defense is led by a healthy Justin Houston. Le’Veon Bell will not run wild against the Chiefs like he did against Miami last week, but he will need to run well enough to take some heat off of the offensive line as well. Looking back on it, Pittsburgh’s 43-14 early-season blowout of Kansas City is one of the true oddities of the NFL season. This game will be a lot closer one way or the other.

 

 

Packers at Cowboys – Green Bay’s third-down defense

This may be the toughest game of the weekend to call, but it is the easiest to size up. The only way anyone is going to stop Aaron Rodgers and the Packers right now is by keeping their offense on the sideline. Dallas has been near the top of the league in time of possession and third-down conversions all year long.

Photo Courtesy of thelandryhat.com

The Packers defense has struggled to get off the field on third down, raking just 22nd in that category. Dallas will dance with what brought them here. They need to stay in manageable down and distance scenarios with a heavy dose of Ezekiel Elliott. It is up to Clay Matthews and company to ensure that Rodgers gets enough opportunities to work his magic. Here is to hoping at least one of these games is half as good as Monday’s national championship game I fell asleep during.

 

 

 

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