kicker rankings

2018 fantasy football kicker rankings

I know you’re probably laughing at me right now. Why would anyone waste their time rankings kickers heading into the season? I find myself asking the same questions as I’m writing, but it’s part of the job. When it comes to kickers, there’s only a few that are markedly better than the rest of the group. Let’s find out who those players are in the first edition of my 2018 fantasy football kicker rankings.

Kicker Rankings: 1-5

1. Greg Zuerlein – Los Angeles Rams

Greg Zuerlein a top this list of kicker rankings was one of the easiest decisions yet. Here’s how good Zuerlein was last season. He finished first in points with 180, which was 11 more than the next closest kicker. He was one of six kickers that attempted at least 40 field goals, and attempted the fourth most amount field goals of 50 yards or more. And by the way, he only played in 14 games. While the Rams offense will likely regress, that doesn’t mean Zurlein’s numbers will as well. If anything, it could lead to even more attempts for “Greg the leg”. He’s easily the best kicker heading into 2018.

2. Stephen Gostkowski – New England Patriots

This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Stephen Gostkowski has been near the top among kickers for years. He’s attached to one of the best offenses year in and year out, and has the trust of his head coach to nail long field goal attempts. Even though Gostkowski missed multiple extra points and only attempted four field goals of 50 yards or more, he’ll still likely finish in the top five of total points.

3. Justin Tucker – Baltimore Ravens

I’m not usually a advocate of allowing kickers into the hall of fame, but Justin Tucker might be the exception. He’s historically accurate as a whole, as well as from distance. Even though he was chained to a terrible Baltimore offense, he finished fourth in total points. Joe Flacco and company are the only reason Tucker isn’t higher on this list.

4. Harrison Butker – Kansas City Chiefs

Harrison Butker was likely a fantasy season saver for some last year. Andy Reid’s trust in a rookie kicker was tremendous, especially to allow him to kick five field goals from 50 yards or more. In my opinion, Butker will produce at an even higher level next season. First, he’ll get to start the season as the Chiefs’ kicker, which he didn’t last season. And second, he’ll likely get more red zone attempts. Reid and his offense struggled in the redzone during the middle and end of the season, and that was with an accurate passer at the helm. Patrick Mahomes is talented, but he still comes with accuracy concerns. Butker will likely benefit from more questionable play calls and quarterback inaccuracy heading into 2018.

5. Matt Bryant – Atlanta Falcons

The ageless wonder continues to get it done. Matt Bryant, not to be confused with Matt Ryan, is the beneficiary of a tremendous offense in Atlanta and playing over half of his games in either a dome, or warm weather. Bryant is always a safe pick at this position.

Kicker Rankings: 6-10

6. Robbie Gould – San Francisco 49ers

When researching this article, I was shocked to see Robbie Gould so high in total points from last season. Meaning, he was producing before Jimmy Garoppolo showed up, and continued to produce when he was the starter. I’m not sure how it will translate to this season, but I couldn’t keep him lower than sixth on my first round of kicker rankings.

7. Will Lutz – New Orleans Saints

Will Lutz has been a DFS darling for years. He’s attached to one of the best coach and quarterback tandems in NFL history. He also, like Matt Bryant, gets to play over half of his games in a dome, or in warm weather. The only problem with Lutz is that he doesn’t get many opportunities to connect from 50 yards or more.

8. Chris Boswell – Pittsburgh Steelers

Like most kickers on this list, Chris Boswell plays on one of the league’s best offenses. What holds Boswell back is that there are some games where he only attempts extra points. Boswell also has games where he attempts six field goals; however, his production is too inconsistent to warrant higher placement on this list.

9. Ryan Succop – Tennessee Titans

Ryan Succop is a great option at kicker given his upside, and likely, his value. In 2017, he set an NFL record by making 56 straight field goals of less than 50 yards. That kind of consistency is what we want to find at any position. But, Succop missed over half of his attempts from 50 yards or more.

10. Matt Prater – Detroit Lions

Matt Prater, at worst, has the third strongest leg in the NFL behind Greg Zuerlein and Justin Tucker. Prater plays inside a dome and is attached to an above average offense with Detroit. He also benefits from the Lions’ lack of a running game in the redzone. It’s unclear how much Matt Patricia will impact this team and that uncertainty pushes Prater to tenth in these kicker rankings.

Kicker Rankings: 11-15

11. Kai Forbath – Minnesota Vikings

Kai Forbath isn’t particularly impressive or dominant in any category. However, he plays indoors, with an efficient quarterback, and a head coach who does not like to take chances.

12. Jake Elliott – Philadelphia Eagles

Like Harrison Butker, Jake Elliott was impressive as a rookie. Everyone remembers the 61-yarder he hit to beat the Giants. Elliott will likely be a great value at this position. What keeps him from being higher was his overall lack of attempts and inconsistencies inside 39 yards.

13. Adam Vinatieri – Indianapolis Colts

If Andrew Luck returns, Adam Vinatieri be a top five scorer at his position. Last season we saw some inconsistencies for the first time in his career, so he just cracks the top fifteen.

14. Graham Gano – Carolina Panthers

Graham Gano plays in a warm-weather division, including two domes. He plays on an above average offense, but does not get many attempts beyond 50 yards.

15. Mason Crosby – Green Bay Packers

People forget that Mason Crosby had to deal with Brett Hundley for much of the 2017 season. He will bounce back nicely with Aaron Rodgers back under center.

 

Featured Image Courtesy of USA Today

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

NFL players without a Super Bowl ring

The 2018 “need a ring” team: The offense

Every offseason, we see the same question plastered on every sports page looking for mid-May clicks: “Which players deserve to win their first ring?” This is good fun, but results in the same names being recycled repeatedly.

I’d like to propose a twist: Assembling a super team of veteran players still searching for their first Super Bowl win. All these players must meet the following criteria:

  1. Have not won a Super Bowl with any team (obviously).
  2. Must be over 30 years of age.
  3. Must have at least one Pro Bowl selection.

We will begin assembling our “need a ring” team with the offense. The offense will consist of one quarterback, one running back, two wide receivers, one tight end, two tackles, two guards and one center. May the selections commence!

Quarterback: Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers

NFL players without a Super Bowl ring

(Photo from chargers.com)

With most of the top-tier quarterbacks (Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers) having at least one Super Bowl win, we are left with Philip Rivers.

Since taking over the starting quarterback job in 2006, Rivers has quietly been one of the NFL’s best. The seven-time Pro Bowler is the franchise’s all-time leader in passing yards, touchdowns and completions. He also has not missed a game in over a decade.

Rivers came close to the Super Bowl several times early in his career, but was never able to finish the playoff run. With an improved defense and explosive supporting cast, Rivers has a good shot at returning to the playoffs in 2018.

Honorable mention: Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

Running back: Frank Gore, Miami Dolphins

11 of the top 12 all-time leaders in yards from scrimmage are in the Hall of Fame. The other is Frank Gore, who ranks seventh. In his illustrious career, Gore has surpassed the likes of Marshall Faulk and Ladainian Tomlinson on the NFL’s all-time rushing list.

He was the center of the San Francisco 49ers’ offense for nine seasons, and nearly delivered the city a title in 2012. Despite being 35 years old, Gore proved that he can still be effective out of the backfield. Last season with the Indianapolis Colts, he rushed for 961 yards, even without the presence of Andrew Luck.

He is in the twilight years of his career, but it would be a special sight to see Gore end his spectacular run with a Lombardi Trophy.

Honorable mention: Adrian Peterson, free agent

Wide receivers: Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals and DeSean Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL players without a Super Bowl ring

(Photo by AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

No surprise here. Fitzgerald is an all-time great that has been wasted on below-average quarterbacks like Kevin Kolb and Drew Stanton. The amount of production Fitzgerald has had given the circumstances is simply amazing.

He currently sits third on the all-time receiving yards list with 15,545. In a 10-year span from 2007-17, Fitzgerald has missed the Pro Bowl just once. He is by far the best wide receiver of this generation, and it would be a sin to have him retire without winning the game’s ultimate prize.

Entering his 11th season, DeSean Jackson has had himself a very productive career. The prototypical deep threat, Jackson could take on any defense. His tenure with the Philadelphia Eagles was his best, where he averaged over 1,000 yards per season.

The three-time Pro Bowler is not the player he used to be, but he can still make an impact in the passing game. Last season with Tampa Bay, Jackson caught 50 passes for 668 yards and three touchdowns.

Honorable mention: Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos

Tight end: Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers

NFL players without a Super Bowl ring

(Photo from panthers.com)

It is a tough call between Greg Olsen and Vernon Davis, but we will go with Olsen here. Since arriving via trade in Carolina, Olsen has been the Panthers’ go-to target. He has been Cam Newton’s security blanket since being drafted No. 1 overall and has seen a huge bump in production in the latter part of his career.

Prior to the 2017 season, Olsen had three straight years with over 1,000 receiving yards. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in each of those seasons as well. He was one game shy of earning his first ring in 2015 on a 15-1 Panthers squad.

With a talented quarterback and solid defense, the door is still open for Olsen to win his first Super Bowl.

Honorable mention: Vernon Davis, Washington Redskins

Tackles: Duane Brown, Seattle Seahawks and Joe Staley, San Francisco 49ers

In his time in Houston, Duane Brown was the anchor of the Texans’ offensive line. Outside of Joe Thomas, it would be difficult to name a better left tackle than Brown during his tenure with the Texans. He protected Matt Schaub’s (and very briefly Deshaun Watson’s) blindside with near perfection.

Unfortunately, Brown has only seen the playoffs three times, losing in the divisional round each time.

Joe Staley has suffered a similar fate so far in his career. Despite being a lockdown left tackle, the teams Staley has played on simply were not good enough to bring home the hardware. He was just a few yards short of winning it all in Super Bowl XLVII, but has not reached the big game since.

Staley is the model of consistency in San Fran, going to the Pro Bowl in six of the last seven years.

Honorable mention: Andrew Whitworth, Los Angeles Rams

Guards: Mike Iupati, Arizona Cardinals and Andy Levitre, Atlanta Falcons

NFL players without a Super Bowl ring

(Photo by Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

Another member of the 2012 49ers, Mike Iupati helped pave the way for Frank Gore for most of his career. After being selected first-team All-Pro in 2012, Iupati went on to make three more Pro Bowls with the 49ers and Cardinals.

He missed the majority of last season due to injury, but will likely bounce back in 2018. With teammates David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald returning, as well as exciting rookie Josh Rosen, Iupati could return to the playoffs for the first time in three years.

The rules had to be stretched slightly to include Levitre on this list. Andy Levitre has never made the Pro Bowl, despite nine years as a solid starting guard. In his career, Levitre has only missed three starts and has played center, guard and tackle.

He was also inches away from winning his first Super Bowl ring, losing to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI. At only 32 years old and on a perennial playoff team, Levitre could very well earn his way off of this list next year.

Honorable mention: None

Center: Ryan Kalil, Carolina Panthers

One of the most underrated players on his team, Ryan Kalil has consistently been one of the best centers in the NFL. In his 11-year tenure with the Panthers, Kalil has built himself an impressive résumé. He has been selected to five Pro Bowls and was a first-team All-Pro twice (2013, 2015).

Like many of the players on this super team, Kalil came up just one game short of his first ring. With 2018 being his final year in the NFL, it would be fitting to send Kalil off into the sunset as a Super Bowl champion.

Honorable mention: Alex Mack, Atlanta Falcons

 

Featured image by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

2018 fantasy football composite rankings: TE

The NFL Draft is now over and the next big event for football fans is likely their very own fantasy football drafts. The Game Haus will have rankings by both Joe DiTullio and Braxton Angle, as well as composite rankings, coming out over the coming weeks. These will be adjusted when the season gets closer, but it’s never too early to look ahead.

Tiebreakers were decided by both Joe and Braxton.

For longer explanations, you can find their individual rankings here: Joe and Braxton.

Here are the composite tight end rankings:

Tight End Rankings: 1-10

1. Rob Gronkowski- New England Patriots

Braxton’s rank: 1

Joe’s rank: 1

2. Zach Ertz- Philadelphia Eagles

Braxton’s rank: 2

Joe’s rank: 2

3. Travis Kelce- Kansas City Chiefs

Braxton’s rank: 3

Joe’s rank: 4

4. Greg Olsen- Carolina Panthers

Braxton’s rank: 5

Joe’s rank: 4

5. Evan Engram- New York Giants

Braxton’s rank: 4

Joe’s rank: 6

6. Hunter Henry- Los Angeles Chargers

Braxton’s rank: 6

Joe’s rank: 5

7. Delanie Walker- Tennessee Titans

Braxton’s rank: 7

Joe’s rank: 9

8. Kyle Rudolph- Minnesota Vikings

Braxton’s rank: 8

Joe’s rank: 8

9. Jimmy Graham- Green Bay Packers

Braxton’s rank: 10

Joe’s rank: 7

10. Jordan Reed- Washington Redskins

Braxton’s rank: 12

Joe’s rank: 11

Tight End Rankings: 11-20

11. Jack Doyle- Indianapolis Colts

Braxton’s rank: 16

Joe’s rank: 10

12. Trey Burton- Chicago Bears

Braxton’s rank: 11

Joe’s rank: 15

13. Tyler Eifert- Cincinnati Bengals

Braxton’s rank: 14

Joe’s rank: 12

14. Benjamin Watson- New Orleans Saints

Braxton’s rank: 13

Joe’s rank: 14

15. O.J. Howard- Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Braxton’s rank: 9

Joe’s rank: 19

16. Charles Clay- Buffalo Bills

Braxton’s rank: 18

Joe’s rank: 13

17. Jared Cook- Oakland Raiders

Braxton’s rank: 20

Joe’s rank: 16

18. David Njoku- Cleveland Browns

Braxton’s rank: 15

Joe’s rank: 21

19. Austin Seferian-Jenkins- Jacksonville Jaguars

Braxton’s rank: 19

Joe’s rank: 24

20. George Kittle- San Francisco 49ers

Braxton’s rank: 23

Joe’s rank: 20

Tight End Rankings: 21-30

21. Cameron Brate- Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Braxton’s rank: 26

Joe’s rank: 17

22. Hayden Hurst- Baltimore Ravens

Braxton’s rank: 17

Joe’s rank: 26

23. Austin Hooper- Atlanta Falcons

Braxton’s rank: 27

Joe’s rank: 18

24. Eric Ebron- Indianapolis Colts

Braxton’s rank: 22

Joe’s rank: 23

25. Mike Gesicki- Miami Dolphins

Braxton’s rank: 21

Joe’s rank: 22

26. Dalton Schultz- Dallas Cowboys

Braxton’s rank: 24

Joe’s rank: 27

27. Ricky Seals-Jones- Arizona Cardinals

Braxton’s rank: 28

Joe’s rank: 28

28. Gerald Everett- Los Angeles Rams

Braxton’s rank: 30

Joe’s rank: 30

29. Vance McDonald- Pittsburgh Steelers

Braxton’s rank: N/A

Joe’s rank: 22

30. Tyler Kroft- Cincinnati Bengals

Braxton’s rank: 30

Joe’s rank: N/A

 

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jimmy garoppolo

NFL worst to first candidates for 2018

The NFL is wildly popular in America for many reasons. One of the biggest is that it is the only mainstream American sport where it is not all that uncommon for a team to go from really bad to really good in a very short amount of time. The Super Bowl champion Eagles as well as the Jaguars finished at the bottom of their respective divisions in 2016 before winning them last year.

Also, it is not like teams like the Bills and Saints were on everyone’s radar as far as contending last year either. Still, the worst to first turnaround is most impressive. There are three teams with a realistic shot at doing what the Eagles and Jags did last year.

Denver Broncos: The AFC West is pretty unique headed in to 2018. It is not difficult to imagine any one of the four teams winning it, or finishing last. A lot depends on whether or not two-time defending division champion Kansas City misses a beat in the transition to Patrick Mahomes at quarterback. The former first-round pick is basically a rookie apart from a throwaway start at the end of last season.

The addition of Case Keenum gives the Broncos some long-sought and much-needed stability at the quarterback position. Even if he regresses closer to the player he was prior to last year in Minnesota, he is certainly an upgrade over what Denver put on the field at that spot last year. Only Cleveland had more turnovers than the Broncos in 2017. A quarterback carousel was not the only reason for this but was certainly the biggest factor.

Bradley Chubb

Photo: milehighreport.com

If Keenum only raises the turnover numbers to the middle of the pack, Denver will be a much better football team in 2018. A defense that was top five in both rushing and passing yards allowed last year got younger and hungrier with the addition of Bradley Chubb up front and the departure of Aqib Talib at the back end.

The Broncos also spent another offseason taking a big swing at improving the offensive line. They are counting on veterans to stay healthy and youngsters to improve. Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas saw their production drop off last year, but Keenum showed last year he can get the ball to talented wide receivers. With the improvements made and the question marks that surround their division rivals, the Broncos could be in for a very quick turnaround.

San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers are going to win the NFC West this year. They won five games in a row once midseason acquisition Jimmy Garoppolo was inserted as the starting quarterback to finish out the season. This included defeating three playoff teams. The most impressive showing was putting up 40+ points on a Jacksonville defense that carried that team to within an eyelash of the Super Bowl.

Everyone has been singing the praises of the Rams all offseason long. However, the Jared Goff/Sean McVay offense took everyone by surprise last year. Whenever that happens, defensive coordinators always adjust the next year. Then, the offense either readjusts or never gets back to where it was. The same thing happened with the Wildcat offense in Miami as well as the Dak Prescott-led Cowboys. The Wildcat vanished almost as quickly as it appeared and this year will be the moment of truth for Prescott as an NFL quarterback.

For the Rams, this is the year where the offense regresses a little bit. We will see what Goff and McVay come up with in 2019. Los Angeles added some very splashy names on defense.

However, when you put that many strong personalities on one side of the ball, it is going to backfire. Los Angeles is a horrible place for guys like Talib and Marcus Peters to go. Their previous teams could not wait to unload them and it wasn’t because they are not good football players. To think those guys are going to be on their best behavior in Los Angeles is just plain dumb.

Seattle’s roster is a complete mess outside of Russell Wilson and Arizona is starting over as a franchise. Neither team will be a factor in the division race. San Francisco’s roster outside of Garoppolo is not full of household names.

The former Tom Brady understudy completed 67% of his passes and went 5-0 as a starter for a team that had won one game without him. Imagine what the 49ers can do with an entire off-season to build around their franchise quarterback.

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has proven to be one of the league’s finest quarterback gurus in recent years. What those two are capable of doing together is flat out scary. The small sample size for Garoppolo is worrisome, but his toughest challenge should be being thrown on the field with last year’s awful team. He passed with flying colors.

 

Houston Texans: This one probably has the most ifs attached to it, but it is very intriguing. Prior to getting injured last year, then rookie quarterback DeShaun Watson had Houston looking like Super Bowl contenders. He threw 16 touchdown passes in one month and went toe to toe with Brady and Wilson on the road.

DeShaun Watson

Photo: slate.com

Blake Bortles is still Blake Bortles. If the Jacksonville defense is even slightly less dominant than it was last year, that team will take a step back. Tennessee has similar limitations at quarterback with Marcus Mariota. You can only go so far ranked 23rd in pass yards per game.

If Watson can stay healthy on offense along with J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus on defense, it is sure going to be fun to see what this team is truly capable of. The Colts are capable of a similar turnaround in the same division if Andrew Luck stays healthy.

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2018 fantasy football tight end rankings

2018 Fantasy football tight end rankings

I have had some colorful discussions with my colleague, Joe DiTullio, about writing this series. Debating the position of quarterback, running back and wide receiver for our composite rankings has been great. But now, we have to rack our brains to just name 30 tight ends with fantasy value, let alone rank them. So here is, essentially, my best educated rankings for our 2018 fantasy football tight end.

Tight End Rankings: 1-10

1. Rob Gronkowski – New England Patriots

This was a no-brainier. Rob Gronkowski plays in one of the most tight end-friendly positions in NFL history. Gronk is often put in a position where he has a drastic advantage over his defender, and his quarterback consistently trusts him to win that matchup.

The only discussion worth having about Gronk is when to draft him. In my experience, it is all about preference. From a total points perspective, Gronk is among a small group of tight ends who are better far and away in terms of production. So, you have to compare Gronk to players at other positions in his average draft position.

Personally, I would rather take the 10th or 11th best running back, than the No. 1 tight end. Don’t believe me? Take a look. In PPR scoring formats (which I hate) last season, 10 running backs scored more fantasy points than Rob Gronkowski.

2. Zach Ertz – Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia, while not as good as New England, is another offense that utilizes the tight end well. We saw that even when Zach Ertz was hurt. So with Ertz being incredibly talented on top of that, it is a recipe for a top-three player at the position.

What gives Ertz the nod over Travis Kelce is the consistency in which he is targeted in the red zone, and the fact that he has produced with both quarterbacks. Ertz had 29 total red zone targets, five more than Kelce. He also had 12 targets inside 10 yards, as opposed to Kelce’s four.

3. Travis Kelce – Kansas City Chiefs

I stated the first part of my case for Zach Ertz over Travis Kelce already. Red zone usage is critical to a tight end’s production and upside.

The other side of the argument for having Kelce third in my tight end rankings is his quarterback. Patrick Mahomes is talented, no doubt about it. However, you never know how quarterback preference and style will impact a player’s production.

Kelce will still be productive, as I can make the case that he is the best tight end in the NFL once he catches the ball. His leaping ability and change of direction is rare for a player his size. Kelce led all tight ends in yards after catch in 2017 with 441.

4. Evan Engram – New York Giants

Evan Engram is going to explode this season. Rookie seasons are not historically kind to tight ends. Engram was the exception to that rule. He turned his 64 catches into more than 700 yards and six touchdowns.

What is unclear is how he will be deployed under Pat Shurmur. In Minnesota, Kyle Rudolph was not an incredibly productive tight end. However, Engram is not the same type of tight end. He is not the run blocker Rudolph is, and Rudolph is not the receiver Engram is.

With players like Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley on the roster, Engram will almost never be the primary or secondary focus on a defense’s gameplan.

5. Greg Olsen – Carolina Panthers

Despite coming off an injury, Greg Olsen has proven to be a favorite target of Cam Newton. He has been productive every year since being in Carolina, and Norv Turner will likely add to his production.

When he has had talent at the tight end position, like Antonio Gates and Kyle Rudolph, he uses them. I do not think Olsen will be explosive, but that was never what made him successful. His large frame and route running will still make him a problem for safeties and linebackers.

6. Hunter Henry – Los Angeles Chargers

I was a year early to the “Hunter Henry is a top fantasy tight end” discussion. I am not proud of it, but we all make mistakes.

Everything sets up for Henry to have his best season as a pro. He finally assumes the starting tight end role and will benefit from all the formational matchups that Antonio Gates saw throughout his career. Even though Henry only saw 56 percent of the team’s offensive snaps, he was still targeted 23 times in the red zone, including 11 targets inside 10 yards. His production is going to skyrocket when he sees more than 65 percent of the offensive snaps in 2018.

7. Delanie Walker – Tennessee Titans

Delanie Walker was a favorite of mine in daily fantasy last season. While he struggled to find the endzone consistently, he was tied for third among tight ends in catches with 74, and fourth in yards with 807.

Even if Marcus Mariota does not take a large leap forward, expect his number of touchdowns to increase as a result of regression to the mean. He has averaged just over five touchdowns a year since starting for the Titans, and it is likely that he will reach that number again in 2018.

8. Kyle Rudolph – Minnesota Vikings

Last year may have seemed like a down year for Kyle Rudolph. He played great in 2016 and had career highs in catches and yards. Sadly, that season is an outlier if you look at Rudolph’s career. In 2017, Rudolph had 57 catches for 532 yards and eight touchdowns. For his career, he averages 46 catches, 450 yards and five touchdowns.

His numbers could experience an increase given the arrival of Kirk Cousins. However, I don’t see him getting enough targets to make him a top five fantasy tight end.

9. O.J. Howard – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I was screaming to anyone who would listen last season that Cameron Brate was the more valuable fantasy asset, and I was right. Even though Brate had a slightly lower snap rate, he had 22 more catches, 159 more yards and the same amount of touchdowns.

However, all of that is going to change in 2018. Howard is going to take over the starting role and will have more catches and yards than Brate.

The only problem is that Brate has tremendous chemistry with Jameis Winston in the red zone. Brate had 18 red zone targets, compared to Howard’s 12 in 2017.

10. Jimmy Graham – Green Bay Packers

While the move from Seattle to Green Bay looks great on paper, I have zero faith in Jimmy Graham as a top-eight tight end. Yes, he gets to play with Aaron Rodgers. Yes, he gets to play in an offense that will allow him more favorable matchups.

But, Green Bay does not feature the tight end in their offense. It is simply a matter of scheme. Since Mike McCarthy took over in 2006, the best fantasy season for a tight end was Jermichael Finley in 2011, where he had 55 catches for 767 yards and eight touchdowns. That production in 2017 (PPR Scoring) would have resulted in the seventh best tight end, beating out Jack Doyle by 1.6 points.

Tight End Rankings: 11-20

11. Trey Burton – Chicago Bears

After the top 10, you can essentially make the case for any of these players in any order. I personally like Trey Burton at the eleventh spot because Chicago needed to replace Zach Miller after his gruesome injury, and because the Bears did not pay him $22 million guaranteed to not produce.

I firmly believe that Burton could have a similar trajectory to Delanie Walker when he finally gets a chance to start. Burton is not the overall athlete Walker is, but he is a bigger target, and one that Mitch Trubisky will rely on.

12. Jordan Reed – Washington Redskins

If you are reading this, I am going to do you a favor. Under no circumstances should you draft Jordan Reed in the first nine rounds. He has shown everyone that he cannot stay healthy and that he cannot do something every great NFL player can do: play hurt.

If it is the 10th round or later, then sure, take Reed. If he starts playing well, I would flip him for anything because he is absolutely going to get hurt and take up space at the end of your bench.

13. Ben Watson – New Orleans Saints

Ben Watson is on a short list of players that I am bullish on heading into this season. In 2017, playing for one of the worst passing games in the league in Baltimore, Watson finished 11th in scoring among tight ends with 61 catches for 522 yards and four touchdowns.

Now he gets to play in one of the best offensive systems ever, with one of the best quarterbacks ever. Even at his advanced age, Watson will be productive because the Saints have lacked a player who could dominate the middle of the field since Jimmy Graham left. Coby Fleener and Josh Hill clearly are not the answer.

Watson will be the most dangerous in the red zone as defenses will have to focus on Michael Thomas, Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara.

14. Tyler Eifert – Cincinnati Bengals

I feel about Tyler Eifert the same way I feel about Jordan Reed. If you do not think he will get hurt again, look at his contract. The Bengals signed him to a one-year deal for $8 million, with $3 million guaranteed.

I would rather take a chance on a player like Tyler Kroft (depending on the size of your bench) to be your second tight end because he will eventually start. Eifert joins Reed on my personal list of undraftable players.

15. David Njoku – Cleveland Browns

David Njoku could be poised for a breakout season. I would love his prospects even more if Jarvis Landry was not on the roster. Landry does most of his damage out of the slot, and as a result, will create less space for Njoku to exploit mismatches in the middle of the field. It is also unpredictable how Cleveland’s quarterbacks will distribute to their targets.

16. Jack Doyle – Indianapolis Colts

Jack Doyle was a player I was passionate about heading into last season. Similar to my negative thoughts on O.J. Howard, I was incredibly excited about Jack Doyle. Rob Chudzinski had a track record of producing relevant fantasy tight ends. However, he is no longer in charge of calling plays.

All reports say Andrew Luck will be back for Week 1, but we saw Doyle produce last year without Luck. Hopefully his role in the offense will not take a significant step back in 2018.

17. Hayden Hurst – Baltimore Ravens

I have no idea what to expect from Hayden Hurst. Baltimore spent a first-round pick on Hurst. However, they also spent a third-round pick on Mark Andrews, the dynamic tight end from Oklahoma.

Joe Flacco has a history of targeting tight ends from Dennis Pitta to Ben Watson. But when you consider all of the new receiving threats they added this offseason, the distribution of targets will likely be unpredictable.

18. Charles Clay – Buffalo Bills

Charles Clay had a good season last year, but almost nothing is going to carry over. Clay is playing with a new quarterback, an inferior offensive line and will no longer benefit from the read option and play action Buffalo ran with Tyrod Taylor.

I am not touching Clay. Unless AJ McCarron or Josh Allen treat Clay like a No. 1 wide receiver, which we will not know until three or four games in, I am not interested in Clay.

19. Austin-Seferian Jenkins – Jacksonville Jaguars

Austin-Seferian Jenkins (ASJ) is a substantial upgrade over Mercedes Lewis at the tight end position. He proved that he can be a red zone weapon. The Jaguars do not throw the ball enough for ASJ to be productive between the 20s, but he will absolutely catch four or five touchdowns at a minimum in 2018.

20. Jared Cook – Oakland Raiders

After stints with the Titans, Rams and Packers, it appears that Jared Cook has found a home with the Raiders. Cook has always been an athletic mismatch, but he has failed to be productive for an entire season without fading.

He also has a documented problem with drops. It is unclear how Jon Gruden’s system will affect this entire offense, let alone Cook’s production.

Tight End Rankings: 21-30

21. Mike Gesicki – Miami Dolphins

Mike Gesicki is wildly talented as a pass catcher, but he is not capable of being a blocker at this point in his career. Gesicki will probably finish as a top-20, maybe even top-15 tight end, but don’t waste a valuable pick on him.

22. Eric Ebron – Indianapolis Colts

This player was the bane of my DFS existence last season, so much so I am not going to mention his name. He drops passes at seemingly the most pivotal moments. The Lions were so done with him that they did not even pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie deal. The only way he should be considered as a starter is if Jack Doyle gets hurt, and Andrew Luck has shown a propensity to target the tight end.

23. George Kittle – San Francisco 49ers

George Kittle is going to see a lot of snaps for San Francisco. However, the upside is not there. He is not overly fast, quick, big or strong. He is a solid player and one that should be considered if you need a replacement at tight end.

24. Dalton Shultz – Dallas Cowboys

Don’t believe the Rico Gathers hype. Dalton Shultz will be the starter for the Dallas Cowboys, and I will bet money on it. Shultz, unlike Gathers, is a true football player and is a massive player at the tight end position.

25. Dallas Goedert – Philadelphia Eagles

Dallas Goedert is the one player in this section of the rankings I would take a chance on. He will play in an offense that uses multiple tight end sets often, and we have a track record of the backup producing when the starter gets hurt.

26. Cameron Brate – Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

O.J. Howard will likely take over more of a starting role this season. If anything happens to Howard, Brate is a must-add off the waiver wire.

27. Austin Hooper – Atlanta Falcons

Austin Hooper is a starting tight end on a top offense in Atlanta. I do not think he will be anything special this season, but he would be a decent fill-in on bye weeks or if there is an injury.

28. Ricky-Seals Jones – Arizona Cardinals

He is essentially a wide receiver. Hopefully, they will feature him more in the offense, but it is unlikely since Larry Fitzgerald plays the slot and controls the middle of the field.

29. Tyler Kroft – Cincinnati Bengals

Tyler Kroft can potentially be a top-20 tight end if and when Tyler Eifert gets hurt. Until then, he is not worth a roster spot.

30. Gerald Everett – Los Angeles Rams

The Rams spent a second-round pick on Gerald Everett, so I expect them to incorporate him more in his second season. It is an incredibly crowded receiving core, so he will not produce unless there is a massive injury or offensive shift.

 

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roster

Eagles 53 man roster prediction defense edition

This is part two of my Eagles roster prediction. If you need to catch up on part one, just follow that link. As I said before, these predictions are purely speculative and based upon past performance and projections of future performance. In addition, I will only use players on the Eagles official roster on their website.

I will be listing the players by position and I will also list the players who were cut so that you can see exactly who makes and doesnt make the roster.

Defensive end – (6)

Make the roster – Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Chris Long, Michael Bennett, Josh Sweat, Joe Ostman

Cuts – Danny Ezechukwu, Aziz Shittu, Steven Means

Defensive end is the strongest position on the Eagles roster, besides quarterback. The obvious returners are Graham, Long, Barnett and Bennett. They are joined by promising fourth-round pick Josh Sweat and undrafted free agent Joe Ostman. I would not be surprised if Sweat works his way up to become the first rotational defensive end behind Graham and Barnett. He has incredible length, speed and talent. All he has to do is put the work in and stay healthy.

Michael Bennett is in the defensive end section because he is listed as one. However, I would not be surprised if he started the season playing inside next to Fletcher Cox as a way to make up for the extended absence of Timmy Jernigan. I believe Ostman can make the cut over the other players currently on the roster, it was surprising to me that he was not drafted in the first place.

Defensive tackle – (5)

roster

Eagles defensive line. Photo by Eric Hartline of USA TODAY Sports

Make the roster – Fletcher Cox, Timmy Jernigan* (Reserve/PUP), Haloti Ngata, Elijah Qualls, Destiny Vaeao, Winston Craig

Cuts – Bruce Hector

Yes, I know six players are listed and it says five. The reason for that is that Jernigan is going to be out four to six months. This means he will most likely start the season on the Reserve/PUP list. Which means he will not count against the 53 man roster limit.

Now, to the analysis, Fletcher Cox, Jernigan and Ngata are all as close to locks as can be. The last spot should end up being a battle. Qualls showed enough last year for me to put my faith in him earning this spot. Vaeao made the roster last year so him making it again this year is not a surprise. He has talent and is a good rotation player should the Eagles have injuries. Craig is making the roster here but he will be the likely cut when Jernigan returns.

Linebacker – (6)

Make the roster – Jordan Hicks, Nigel Bradham, Mychal Kendricks, Nathan Gerry, Corey Nelson, Kamu Grugier-Hill

Cuts – Asantay Brown, Joe Walker, Paul Worrilow

Hicks Bradham and Kendricks should end up the main starters in the base defense. In the nickel, just like last year, expect Kendricks to come off, leaving Bradham and Hicks.

The last three spots are not out of reach for any of these players. However, I expect Corey Nelson to land in one of them and I believe Nathan Gerry’s versatility will land him one if he continues to develop. Grugier-Hill is a great special teamer which will most likely get him a spot on the team. However, the other linebackers seem better at actually playing linebacker.

Corner – (5)

roster

Photo by Michael Leff/Getty Images

Make the roster – Jalen Mills, Sidney Jones, Ronald Darby, Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox

Cuts – De’vante Bausby, Randall Goforth, Chandon Sullivan, Elie Bouka, D.J. Killings

Jones and Darby figure to be the outside starters next year with Mills sliding in to play the slot. The backup on the outside should be Douglas and the slot backup figures to be rookie Avonte Maddox.

This position group seems like one of the easiest to project. Barring a trade of Ronald Darby, this will be the group the Eagles carry into next year.

Saftey – (4)

Make the roster – Malcolm Jenkins, Rodney McLeod, Tre Sullivan, Stephen Roberts

Cuts – Ryan Neal, Jeremy Reaves, Chris Maragos, Dominick Sanders

Jenkins and McLeod will be the starters next year. Tre Sullivan will likely serve as the primary backup. Chris Maragos normally makes the team as a special teams ace. However, this year the Eagles go for a youthful player they can develop at the position. After all, Maragos is 30 years old and costs $2 million a year.

The only changes I could see happening to the top three are if two of the undrafted free agent rookies in Neal, Reaves, Roberts or Sanders have an amazing camp and preseason. Then I could see Tre Sullivan losing a spot to one of them. Stephen Roberts gets the last spot because he more athletic and faster than the others in this group. In addition, he has versatility as he has played both strong and free safety for a big SEC school in Auburn.

Special Teams – (3)

Kicker – Jake Elliott

Punter – Cameron Johnston

Long snapper – Rick Lovato

The Eagles figure to have a solid special teams unit once again. Kicker Jake Elliot was crazy good last year as a rookie. He should only get better. Cameron Johnston got the fast track to the job when Donnie Jones retired and then last decided he did not want to retire yet and requested his release. Finally, Rick Lovato is a good long snapper and doesn’t even look to have any camp competition.

There you have it 24 players on offense, 29 players on defense and special teams. 53 man rosters predictions are known to be especially volatile so I could be way off. However, this is who I believe will be on the team heading into the regular season.

 

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Minnesota Vikings undrafted free agents

Minnesota Vikings undrafted free agents that could make the final roster

Last week, we looked at an early prediction of the Vikings’ depth chart heading into 2018. These offseason guesses are fine reads, but often neglect to represent a team’s undrafted free agent (UDFA) class.

Every year, dozens of talented players slip through the cracks to sign as UDFAs. Although many will fail to stick around in September, some may become valuable starters. Here are the five undrafted free agents most likely to make the Vikings’ roster in 2018.

Jake Wieneke, WR, South Dakota State

Minnesota Vikings undrafted free agents

Former South Dakota State wide receiver Jake Wieneke (No. 19) makes an acrobatic touchdown grab against Cal Poly. (Photo by Dave Eggen/Inertia)

Wieneke is your prototypical red zone threat. His size (6-foot-4, 221 pounds) gives him an immediate advantage near the goal line. Combine this with his insane high-pointing ability and physicality and Wieneke is a clear threat inside the 20-yard line. He is an impressive route runneri as well.

Wieneke put up insane numbers in college, with over 5,000 career receiving yards and 59 touchdowns. The main knock on the former Jackrabbit is his speed. He does not have great straight-line speed, which could be a major handicap heading into the NFL. Faster cornerbacks will not allow him to gain any separation, no matter how crisp his route running is.

Despite this, he will likely compete with Laquon Treadwell for the team’s fourth receiver spot.

Roc Thomas, RB, Jacksonville State

Minnesota Vikings undrafted free agents

Running back Roc Thomas at the NFL combine. (Photo from AL.com)

As a running back, Thomas is relatively small in stature, standing at only 5-foot-10. This brought down his draft stock, causing him to go undrafted. But what he lacks in height he makes up for in work ethic and quickness. Thomas is a very elusive back that can dominate defenders at the next level.

His jump cuts are second to none, but he does need to improve his vision to complete his game. He was impatient at times, jumping to the outside instead of waiting for running lanes to develop. If this can be corrected, Thomas can be a special talent. He has the potential to be a great change-of-pace back and could be the Vikings’ third running back this fall.

Holton Hill, CB, Texas

Holton Hill could have (and should have) been drafted, but his maturity issues forced many teams to push him away. He is long, fast and physical, fitting the mold of coach Mike Zimmer’s ideal cornerback. He also excels in coverage, minus the ball skills that first-round pick Mike Hughes has.

Despite playing cornerback, Hill is not afraid to commit to the run and is an excellent tackler. Based purely on talent, Hill could have been drafted as high as the third round. But after being suspended from Texas for violating team rules, his character came into question.

His perceived immaturity is a major red flag and will dictate whether he stays in the NFL. If Zimmer can set him straight, the Vikings may have found a diamond in the rough.

Hercules Mata’afa, LB, Washington State

Minnesota Vikings undrafted free agents

Hercules Mata’afa (No. 50) hits pressured Cal quarterback Austin Hinder. (Photo by James Snook-USA TODAY Sports)

Like many undrafted free agents, Mata’afa is a high-production player that may struggle to find a position in the NFL. At Washington State, he was a disruptive force as an interior defensive lineman. His quickness and toughness helped him earn an All-American and All-Pac-12 selection in 2017.

Unfortunately, we will not be able to see Mata’afa play on the defensive line at the professional level. He is far too small (6-foot-2, 254 pounds) to play as a defensive tackle, and does not have the burst needed to play as a 4-3 defensive end. He is currently listed as a linebacker, providing a steep learning curve for the native Hawaiian.

Mata’afa may need another year to develop, but his tenacity will help him compete for a job during training camp.

Garret Dooley, LB, Wisconsin

Like many Wisconsin defenders, Garret Dooley is very technically sound. He displays good hand use and is a solid tackler. Dooley is also a strong competitor who has been raved about by his coaches at Wisconsin.

He fits the mold of a traditional 4-3 middle linebacker, but lacks the athleticism needed in today’s NFL. None of Dooley’s physical attributes “wow” on tape. He is stiff as a runner and pass rusher and is too slow to excel in coverage. However, he only started for one year in college, and will now have an NFL weight room at his disposal.

Right now, he is only a practice squad-caliber player, but with the lack of depth at the linebacker position, Dooley might sneak onto the Vikings’ active roster.

 

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2018 fantasy football TE rankings

The NFL Draft is now over and the next big event for football fans is likely their very own fantasy football drafts. The Game Haus will have rankings by both Joe DiTullio and Braxton Angle, as well as composite rankings, coming out over the coming weeks. The rankings are for standard leagues. These will be adjusted when the season gets closer, but it’s never too early to look ahead. Here are Joe’s TE rankings:

Tight End Rankings: 1-10

1. Rob Gronkowski- New England Patriots

Gronkowski is the sure-fire top tight end after scoring the most at the position last year. He will continue to be Tom Brady’s best target. There are questions about his desire to play and injuries, but at the end of the day, no other tight end can take the top spot from Gronkowski. He missed three games last year and was still able to hold the top spot.

2. Zach Ertz- Philadelphia Eagles

Last season, Ertz missed a few games due to injury and placed third among tight ends. If he stays healthy he should be able to move up to spot with good quarterback play (whether they start off with Nick Foles or Carson Wentz) and an offense that should be improved. Travis Kelce will be with a new starter at quarterback, so Ertz moves up to two.

3. Travis Kelce- Kansas City Chiefs

There are three tight ends in the top tier of fantasy and they are Gronkowski, Ertz and Kelce. Kelce finished second last year, but will now have to adjust to having Pat Mahomes as his starting quarterback. He will still produce but will be passed up by Ertz.

Greg Olsen catching pass

Greg Olsen (Photo by panthers.com)

4. Greg Olsen- Carolina Panthers

Don’t reach for a tight end if the top three are gone, as the next few should finish right about in the same range. Olsen was injured last season but finished in the top five for tight ends for every year before that dating back to 2012. He should be expected to finish top five again if he stays on the field.

5. Hunter Henry- Los Angeles Chargers

He finished 11th last year, but now Antonio Gates is out of the picture. Henry will be the featured option at tight end and should see a significant boost in production.

6. Evan Engram- New York Giants

Engram was number five in fantasy points last season and with all the injuries to the receivers last year, he was the only viable target for Giants’ quarterbacks. Having Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Sheppard on the field will make him less of a featured target, but he will still be a huge part of the offense.

7. Jimmy Graham- Green Bay Packers

The tight end isn’t a featured part of the offense or else Graham would be higher on the list. He is going to work with Aaron Rodgers but there isn’t much of a history of him using tight ends to back up having Graham much higher on this list. Graham finished fourth among tight ends last year and could be a value pick in drafts if he and Rodgers can work well together.

8. Kyle Rudolph- Minnesota Vikings

Rudolph has been solidly in the top ten each of the last two seasons, finishing third two years ago and sixth last season. He got hot late in the season last year with five touchdowns in four games from weeks 12 through 15. The Vikings and new quarterback Kirk Cousins love using tight ends, so Rudolph should see good production yet again.

9. Delanie Walker- Tennessee Titans

The seventh tight end last season, Walker will be in the top 10 again this season. Every year since 2009 he has finished in the top 10 making him a reliable option.

10. Jack Doyle- Indianapolis Colts

He finished ninth last season and if Andrew Luck can come back healthy, Doyle will be a top 10 tight end again. Jacoby Brissett certainly limited the production of the offense last season and Doyle will be a top target for Luck. He will compete for targets with Eric Ebron at the tight end spot this year.

Tight End rankings: 11-20

11. Jordan Reed- Washington Redskins

The biggest problem for Reed is staying healthy, as he has never played a full 16 game season and misses multiple games every year. This is compounded by the fact that he has had so many concussions. With Alex Smith as his new quarterback, he will be utilized a lot if he’s able to play.

2018 fantasy football TE rankings

Tyler Eifert (Photo by wcpo.com)

12. Tyler Eifert- Cincinnati Bengals

Another tight end with the same problem. In 2014 Eifert played in one game, in 2016 he played in eight and last season he played in two. If he can play similarly to his 2015 season, Eifert is a top-five tight end, but he can’t stay healthy enough to be relied upon. His injury has allowed Tyler Kroft to get more opportunities, which could hurt his value as well.

13. Charles Clay- Buffalo Bills

Clay has been under-utilized in his time in Buffalo. The quarterback play won’t be great, but A.J. McCarron or Josh Allen will need to rely on Clay this season, as they are newly minted starting quarterbacks.

14. Benjamin Watson- New Orleans Saints

An ageless wonder, Watson finished 15th in fantasy points for tight ends last season. He was with the Ravens last year and his production should increase as a member of the Saints this year.

15. Trey Burton- Chicago Bears

Burton has moved on from Philadelphia and to Chicago. He will now get his chance to be a feature tight end for the Bears after finishing 21st last season.

16. Jared Cook- Oakland Raiders

He was able to finish 13th last year and now will have to fight for targets with Amari Cooper, Martavis Bryant and Jordy Nelson. He should get some production but may need to be played on a match-up basis.

17. Cameron Brate- Tampa Buccaneers

Many thought that Brate wouldn’t be brought back and O.J. Howard would be the lead tight end, but then the Bucs brought Brate back. He finished eighth among tight ends last season. This year he will be in competition with Howard for targets, but should still get more to live up to his contract.

18. Austin Hooper- Atlanta Falcons

Hooper started off last season hot but finished 17th in fantasy points. He too was affected by the play-calling of Steve Sarkisian. Things will open up more this season with Julio Jones, Mohammed Sanu and Calvin Ridley, but that also means fewer targets. If Jones doesn’t get thrown to in the end zone, Hooper should get those targets.

19. O.J. Howard- Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Howard’s value was severely hurt when the Bucs decided to bring Brate back. At the end of the day, he is a boom or bust play and it won’t be known when he will go off for a big day.

20. George Kittle- San Francisco 49ers

Although he wasn’t highly thought of coming into the NFL, Kittle had a solid rookie season for the 49ers. He ranked 18th for tight ends and seemed to form some chemistry with Jimmy Garoppolo with two 10 point games to close out the season.

Tight End rankings: 21-30

21. David Njoku- Cleveland Browns

Njoku was a top 20 tight end last season and now has talented skill-position players around him. The question is if Tyrod Taylor or Baker Mayfield can get him the ball.

Vance McDonald Steelers

Vance McDonald (Photo by steelers.com)

22. Vance McDonald- Pittsburgh Steelers

Steelers’ GM Kevin Colbert is excited to have Vance McDonald for a whole offseason, which may hint that the team is heading in a different direction than Jesse James, who has never had a season of over 500 receiving yards or more than three touchdowns. McDonald’s game against the Jaguars in the playoffs has Steeler fans excited for what he could do this season.

23. Eric Ebron- Indianapolis Colts

The Colts acquired Ebron and will now have two decent tight ends with him and Doyle. If Luck is on the field, they should both get some decent work.

24. Austin Seferian-Jenkins- Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville has a new tight end to fill in for Mercedes Lewis. Seferian-Jenkins is going to get another chance at being a top tight end, but shouldn’t be owned unless it is a great matchup or a deep league.

25. Mike Gesicki- Miami Dolphins

The Dolphins needed a tight end for Ryan Tannehill and got Gesicki in this year’s draft. He is a very athletic, receiving tight end who will struggle with blocking, but be effective on passing downs for Miami.

26. Hayden Hurst- Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore selected two tight ends this year to help replace Benjamin Watson. Hurst was taken in the first round and should be more NFL-ready at the age of 26 when the season starts.

27. Dalton Schultz- Dallas Cowboys

Jason Witten’s retirement surprised the Cowboys and they took Schultz to replace him. He should be seen as the front-runner to be the starting tight end for Dallas. Dak Prescott uses his tight ends and slot receivers at a high rate, so Schultz could move higher than this if he wins the job.

28. Ricky Seals-Jones- Arizona Cardinals

Seals-Jones was a wide receiver in college at Texas A&M but played tight end last season for the Cardinals. Troy Niklas is now a Patriot so he should get more of an opportunity this season.

29. Ryan Griffin- Houston Texans

The Texans don’t have a dominant tight end and Griffin will seemingly get most of the looks at the position.

30. Gerald Everett- Los Angeles Rams

Everett is a forgotten man in the offense, but finished 29th last year and should be in the same range for the upcoming season.

 

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Andrew Luck injury 2018

Andrew Luck could be playing for his job in 2018

The NFL offseason is primetime for wild speculation, and outlandish trade theories run rampant in the news cycle. Earlier this year, we saw this with the trade rumors regarding Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Now that the draft has come and gone, those talks have mostly died down. However, there is another story that many people don’t seem to be following: Andrew Luck’s future in Indianapolis.

After missing the entire 2017 season due to a shoulder injury, Luck will be a welcome sight for Colts fans, as he is expected to be available during training camp. Since he was drafted, the Indianapolis Colts have had a 10-16 record without the services of Andrew Luck. Compare this to his 43-27 record and it is clear why he is the face of the Colts’ franchise.

When he is on the field, Luck is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. But with his injury history and his high cap number, could we see Andrew Luck in a new uniform in 2019? It is unlikely, but if he cannot perform next season, there are some reasons why Indy could move on from the former No. 1 overall pick.

The Salary

Andrew Luck injury 2018

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

For starters, Luck’s contract puts the Colts in a tricky situation.

In 2016, the team signed Luck to a six-year, $140 million extension, the biggest contract in NFL history at the time. With a $24 million cap hit this year, Luck will be the seventh-highest paid player in the NFL in 2018. This is a hefty price for a player who has struggled to stay on the field as of late.

One interesting piece of information regarding Luck’s contract is his guaranteed money. The contract’s front-heavy structure would allow Indy to move on from the quarterback next season with little repercussion. If the Colts were to release Luck right now, it would result in $40 million in dead cap space. If things don’t work out next season, the Colts could move on from him with only a $12.8 million cap penalty.

This potential out would save the team over $50 million in cap space over the next three years. This, along with an already large sum of cap space, would allow the team to enter a full rebuild and find their next quarterback of the future.

The front office

Andrew Luck injury 2018

Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard. (Photo from offthemonstersports.com)

Along with this, the current Colts’ front office has no emotional ties to Luck. Since he was drafted in 2012, the entire coaching staff has left Indianapolis. Former general manager Ryan Grigson is also no longer with the team.

After three outstanding years, Luck struggled to stay on the field in 2015. A sprained shoulder and later a lacerated kidney derailed his season, allowing him to only start seven games. His nagging shoulder injury bled into the next season, but Luck was able to start 15 games. He then underwent shoulder surgery, and he has not played a down since.

With such a laundry list of injuries, there will be even more pressure on Andrew Luck to bounce back. He will need to prove to his new coaching staff that he is still the top-tier quarterback we saw from 2012-14. It is common for new regimes to start fresh with a new quarterback, so patience may grow thin if he cannot produce next season.

Conclusion

Although there will be plenty of pressure on Andrew Luck to return to form, saying that he will not return to Indianapolis in 2019 is purely speculative. Since he was in college, Luck has been heralded as a generational talent.

He turned his team into a playoff contender, and when healthy, is easily one of the league’s top five quarterbacks. Barring another major setback with his shoulder rehab, Luck should be the Colts’ franchise quarterback for years to come.

 

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2018 fantasy football composite rankings: WR

The NFL Draft is now over and the next big event for football fans is likely their very own fantasy football drafts. The Game Haus will have rankings by both Joe DiTullio and Braxton Angle, as well as composite rankings, coming out over the coming weeks. These will be adjusted when the season gets closer, but it’s never too early to look ahead.

Tiebreakers were decided by both Joe and Braxton.

For longer explanations, you can find their individual rankings here: Joe and Braxton.

Here are the composite wide receiver rankings:

Wide receiver rankings: 1-10

1. Antonio Brown- Pittsburgh Steelers

Braxton’s rank:1

Joe’s rank: 1

2. DeAndre Hopkins- Houston Texans

Braxton’s rank: 2

Joe’s rank: 2

3. Odell Beckham Jr.- New York Giants

Braxton’s rank: 3

Joe’s rank: 4

4. Julio Jones- Atlanta Falcons

Braxton’s rank: 5

Joe’s rank: 3

5. Michael Thomas- New Orleans Saints

Braxton’s rank: 4

Joe’s rank: 6

6. Keenan Allen- Los Angeles Chargers

Braxton’s rank: 7

Joe’s rank: 5

7. A.J. Green- Cincinnati Bengals

Braxton’s rank: 6

Joe’s rank: 7

8. Davante Adams- Green Bay Packers

Braxton’s rank: 8

Joe’s rank: 8

9. Mike Evans- Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Braxton’s rank: 9

Joe’s rank: 9

10. Tyreek Hill- Kansas City Chiefs

Braxton’s rank: 10

Joe’s rank: 10

Wide receiver rankings: 11-20

11. Larry Fitzgerald- Arizona Cardinals

Braxton’s rank: 12

Joe’s rank: 11

12. Alshon Jeffery- Philadelphia Eagles

Braxton’s rank: 11

Joe’s rank: 13

13. Adam Thielen- Minnesota Vikings

Braxton’s rank: 15

Joe’s rank: 12

14. T.Y. Hilton- Indianapolis Colts

Braxton’s rank: 14

Joe’s rank: 14

15. Doug Baldwin- Seattle Seahawks

Braxton’s rank: 16

Joe’s rank: 15

16. Amari Cooper- Oakland Raiders

Braxton’s rank: 17

Joe’s rank: 16

17. Demaryius Thomas- Denver Broncos

Braxton’s rank: 18

Joe’s rank: 17

18. Golden Tate- Detroit Lions

Braxton’s rank: 20

Joe’s rank: 18

19. Pierre Garcon- San Francisco 49ers

Braxton’s rank: 19

Joe’s rank: 24

20. Brandin Cooks- Los Angeles Rams

Braxton’s rank: 13

Joe’s rank: N/A

Wide receiver rankings: 21-30

 21. Marvin Jones- Detroit Lions

Braxton’s rank: 25

Joe’s rank: 19

22. Jarvis Landry- Cleveland Browns

Braxton’s rank: 23

Joe’s rank: 21

23. Julian Edelman- New England Patriots

Braxton’s rank: 22

Joe’s rank: 23

24. Allen Robinson- Chicago Bears

Braxton’s rank: 26

Joe’s rank: 20

25. Josh Gordon- Cleveland Browns

Braxton’s rank:21

Joe’s rank: 27

26. Robbie Anderson- New York Jets

Braxton’s rank: 24

Joe’s rank: 25

27. JuJu Smith-Schuster- Pittsburgh Steelers

Braxton’s rank: 27

Joe’s rank: 26

28. Devin Funchess- Carolina Panthers

Braxton’s rank: 28

Joe’s rank: 30

29. Stefon Diggs- Minnesota Vikings

Braxton’s rank: N/A

Joe’s rank: 22

30. Randall Cobb- Green Bay Packers

Braxton’s rank: 29

Joe’s rank: N/A

 

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