Dark horse candidates for the 2018 Heisman Trophy

The Heisman Trophy is awarded to the best player in college football but that doesn’t always mean they were the favorite to in the award heading into the season. Whether it is Jameis Winston or Johnny Manziel winning it as freshmen or RGIII winning at Baylor, the unknown names sometimes come out on top. Here are some of the players that can win the award with odds of 25/1 or worse:

Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn

Jarrett Stidham Auburn

Jarrett Stidham (Photo by al.com)

Current odds: 25/1

Stidham was actually on this same list last year but qualifies again because of the odds. In his first year at Auburn, after playing at Baylor and junior college, Stidham threw for 3,158 yards and 18 touchdowns. With him at quarterback, the Tigers were able to finish with a 10-4 record and made an appearance in the Peach Bowl.

Auburn has a typically tough schedule with Washington, LSU, Mississippi State, Georgia and Alabama on the docket. All these games will help him get the eyes of Heisman voters. He can start off the season as a frontrunner with solid games against Washington and LSU within the first three weeks of the season.

The schedule is tough, but if they can win eight games in the regular season, Stidham could be in contention for the award. If the defense can keep up with the offense, Stidham should be able to win enough games to help him get some consideration for postseason awards.

Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma

Current Odds: 25/1

While Baker Mayfield got all the headlines last year, Anderson had a solid season as the starting running back for the Sooners. Anderson finished with 1,161 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on 6.2 yards per carry. His running abilities helped Oklahoma get to the College Football Playoff and this year he will be the focal point of the offense.

The Big 12 may be down with Oklahoma State losing key players and TCU needing to take a step forward. They won’t have a lot of great games for Anderson to show off his skills, but they do play UCLA and Florida Atlantic along with their Big 12 schedule.

With the Big 12 not being the most competitive and their non-conference schedule, which features two decent, but not great, teams, Oklahoma could get through the season unscathed if they play at their best. They will need new starting quarterback Kyler Murray to really step up and produce, as well as their defense to play at an average level too.

A.J. Dillon, RB, Boston College

Current Odds: 25/1

Dillon made headlines on National Signing Day when he flipped his commitment from Michigan to sign with Boston College. In his freshman season he rushed for 1,589 yards and 14 touchdowns. The Eagles went 7-6 last season with Dillon and are hoping he can lead them to new heights this season.

The non-conference schedule features Notre Dame, which would be a good game to show out in. There is a stretch of games that could get Dillon a lot of attention featuring games against N.C. State, Louisville, Miami, Virginia Tech, Clemson and then Florida State.

While that is ample opportunity to make an impression, the downside is that Boston College may not have the talent to beat those teams. An unwritten rule of the Heisman Trophy is that the player winning the award has to play on a winning team and the Eagles will be lucky to get to 6-6.

Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

Current Odds: 33/1

Oregon went 7-6 last year, but Herbert was only able to play eight games for the second consecutive season. When he stays healthy he has the ability to play well and be a star. He threw for 1,983 yards and 15 touchdowns, while only throwing five interceptions last season.

The Ducks’ schedule is pretty light so Herbert will have to make the most of the few big games he will play in. Games against Washington and Stanford will help decide the Pac-12 North. Games against Stanford and Arizona will pit Herbert against other Heisman contenders in Bryce Love and Khalil Tate respectively.

With the easier schedule, the Ducks should be able to win enough games to get Herbert the Heisman, if he puts up the stats. A key thing to note is that Herbert will have to deal with his third different coach in three years after Mark Helfrich was fired and Willie Taggart left for Florida State within the last two years.

D’Andre Swift, RB, Georgia

Current Odds: 33/1

D'Andre Swift Georgia

D’Andre Swift (Photo by zimbio.com)

Swift worked his way into getting carries as a freshman in a backfield that included Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. With limited touches, he was able to rush for 618 yards and three touchdowns on 7.8 yards per carry. He helped Georgia get to the National Championship as a freshman and now will see most of the workload at running back.

South Carolina, LSU, Florida and Auburn are all on the schedule this season enabling Swift to have some time on national television. They are also the frontrunners to win the SEC East, giving him another game to pad his stats and be in the spotlight.

Georgia lost a lot from their team last season but should be able to recover for another solid season. Their recruiting has been great and there aren’t many threats to their SEC East title. Ultimately, Georgia’s record shouldn’t hold Swift back from winning the Heisman.

Deondre Francois, QB, Florida State

Current Odds: 33/1

Florida State’s season went south as soon as Francois was lost for the season in the opener against Alabama. In 2018 Francois was able to throw for 3,350 yards and 20 touchdowns, while only throwing seven interceptions. This is especially impressive given that his offensive line was not good at all. During that season the Seminoles went 10-3 with a win over Michigan in the Orange Bowl.

Playing Notre Dame and Florida is as good as it gets for the nonconference schedule while playing Virginia Tech, Louisville, Miami and Clemson in conference should give him a chance to showcase his skills. The first game of the season against Virginia Tech can get him going on the right path for the Heisman, as they are a solid team, even though they lost a lot from their defense last season.

With a new coach in Taggart, Florida State will have to make adjustments for this season. They can win a lot of games but if they don’t fit into Taggart’s new system, they could lose as many as five or six games. Francois will need to help transition to the new coaching staff and lead the team to better results than last season to win the Heisman.

 

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defensive backs

Top 10 DBs that could make an impact in the NFL

There were a lot of players that were in the NFL Draft that would make an impact next season. Every defense needs good defensive backs that will be able to make plays and help win games. Here are the top ten defensive backs that could make an impact in the NFL.

1. Denzel Ward, CB—Cleveland Browns

defensive backs

Denzel Ward hits receiver. Mandatory Credit: Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

No question that the Browns are blessed to have one of the most phenomenal cornerbacks in the draft. Ward is a game changer. He plays excellent man coverage and is very physical. During his college career, Ward had a total of 67 tackles, 24 pass breakups and two interceptions. Ward is able to play tight on receivers and read routes very well.

2. Minkah Fitzpatrick, S—Miami Dolphins

Fitzpatrick is everything you want in a defensive back. He can read the quarterback really well, he’s a ballhawk, able to return interceptions back and is able to blitz and make plays in the backfield.  Fitzpatrick was a Freshman All American when he played for the University of Alabama. He was also named first team All American in 2017. He had a total of 171 tackles, five sacks, nine interceptions, 24 pass breakups, and ran four interceptions back for touchdowns. With his size and speed, Fitzpatrick will be a dangerous threat in the secondary.

3. Jaire Alexander, CB—Green Bay Packers

Alexander is an excellent playmaker who is able to cause turnovers. He’s able to play well in man coverage, and he’s able to catch interceptions and return them for touchdowns. Alexander is also phenomenal on special teams, catching punts and returning them to score. He had 77 total tackles, seven interceptions and 15 pass breakups for his whole career at Louisville.

4. Donte Jackson, CB—Carolina Panthers

defensive backs

Donte Jackson tackles receiver at LSU
(NOLA.com)

Jackson is young, tall, fast and physical. He is excellent at playing man coverage, and he knows how to track the ball very well. During his college career, Jackson had a total of 109 tackles, 17 pass breakups, four interceptions and a forced fumble. Jackson has also been second team All-SEC in 2017. He uses his speed in order to track down the ball and make something out of nothing.

5. Derwin James, S—Los Angeles Chargers

James was known for being one of the hardest hitting safeties in the ACC. Not only that he can read the quarterback in zone coverage, and play man-to-man coverage, he can come down and lay the boom on any offensive player. James is an athlete that can track down and make a play on the ball, and he is able to go down and blitz. James had a total of 186 tackles, 11 pass breakups, 5.5 sacks, and three interceptions during his college career at Florida State. He also earned second AP All American and All ACC honors. With James’ natural athletic ability, he will be a dangerous threat in the NFL.

6. Deshon Elliot, S—Baltimore Ravens

Here’s another hard-hitting safety that could also possibly become a threat later on. Elliot is an incredible athlete who can play outstanding zone defense, catch interceptions and can come down and lay the boom. He can also play the linebacker position. Elliot was a first team All-American and first team All-Big 12 honors back when he played for the University of Texas. He had a career total of 105 tackles, nine pass breakups and nine interceptions.

7. Anthony Averett, CB—Baltimore Ravens

Here is an underrated defensive back that is really slept on. Averett was able to show what he could do in the 2016-2017 season. Averett caught a lot of people’s attention, starting in 13 games and playing excellent man coverage on receivers. He may not be that big in size, but he’s fast and able to get to the quarterback during blitzes.

Averett had a career total of 90 tackles 15 pass breakups and an interception.

8. Josh Jackson, CB—Green Bay Packers

Jackson is an outstanding athlete who can play man coverage very well and play zone coverage. He is fast and has hands like a receiver. Jackson was the nation’s leader with eight interceptions and 26 pass breakups. He also earned first-team AP All American and first team all-Big Ten.

9. Mike Huges, CB—Minnesota Vikings

Huges is a major threat when it comes to making interceptions. He is an extraordinary ball hawk, he has speed and he can play zone and man coverage. Huges can also make an impact on special teams, returning kicks and running them in for touchdowns. He was an All American first team as a defensive back, with 44 tackles and four interceptions, and first team as a returner with 635 yards and two touchdowns.

10. Quenton Meeks, DB—Jacksonville Jaguars

Meeks is an all-around defensive back who can play the cornerback and safety position. He can read the quarterback really well and pick the ball off, and he can lock down a receiver pretty well. Meeks had a total of 113 tackles, seven interceptions and 12 pass breakups for his career at Stanford. With his amazing athletic ability, the Jacksonville Jaguars’ will be a great fit for him.

 

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2018 World Cup snubbed starting XI

The World Cup is nearly upon us. Rosters have been released and updated the closer Russia gets. That means there were some players who were not invited to represent their country this summer. I’ve therefore complied what I think would be the 2018 World Cup snubbed starting XI. Disclaimer: I realize that some of these players are on standby should an injury or illness render a teammate incapable of playing, but these players were not listed as part of the original 23-man roster for their country. I have decided to go with a 4-4-2 flat formation for this compilation of players.

Goalkeeper: Stéphane Ruffier (France), AS Saint-Étienne

Since France has a plethora of goalkeeping talent, Ruffier got the short end of this stick. Hugo Lloris, Alphonse Areola and Steve Mandanda were chosen by Didier Deschamps to be the keepers for the French camp. Ruffier claimed 12 clean sheets during the Ligue 1 season in 35 appearances (tied for 4th in the league with Steve Mandanda).

Left-back: Lucas Digne (France), FC Barcelona

Being stuck behind Jordi Alba for first choice LB can be frustrating. Digne was able to produce when called upon as he helped Barca collect five clean sheets in 12 league appearances; Digne also added in 2 assists this season. Deschamps went with the younger Lucas Hernandez (22) for the position, who had 27 league appearances for Atletico Madrid. Digne is 24 and has been named on the list of players on standby.

Center-backs: David Luiz (Brazil), Chelsea FC, and Aymeric Laporte (France), Manchester City

David Luiz was a big part of Chelsea’s league-best defense in 2016-17

Finally, someone that isn’t French that got snubbed. David Luiz arrived 2nd season back at Chelsea was met with disappointment as the Brazilian made only 10 league appearances. Luiz was essentially buried on the bench by Antonio Conte. However, David Luiz is one of those players that plays better for his country than he does for his club.

Back to France we go, as Laporte made 19 appearances in La Liga before being transferred to Manchester City in January; Nine appearances in the Premier League. With Arsenal’s Koschielny out with an injury, Laporte probably felt he would’ve gotten a call-up, but injury struck him as well.

Right-back: Juanfran (Spain), Atletico Madrid

The 33-year-old Spaniard was left out due to the abundance of talent Spain has at RB (Carvajal and Azpilicueta were selected). However, Juanfran played well for Atletico. He attributed to 11 clean sheets in 17 league appearances which is a very nice ratio. The veteran will be missed in Russia.

Left-midfield: Franck Ribèry (France), FC Bayern Munich

Age no doubt played a part in the 35-year-old’s snub. A mainstay in Germany’s top club for years now would surely have Deschamps’ attention. Unfortunately, France has a surplus of young talent on the left wing like Lemar, Greizmann and fellow Bayern teammate Kingsley Coman.

Right-midfield: Anthony Martial (France), Manchester United

Reports suggest that Martial’s attitude in training during the last international break resulted in him not getting the call-up. Deschamps would prefer to work with wonderkids, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele. Martial is, however, on a standby list for France. Martial made 30 league appearances for Manchester United producing 9 goals and 5 assists.

Center-midfield: Radja Nainggolan (Belgium), AS Roma, and Adrien Rabiot (France), Paris Saint-Germain

Probably the most controversial omission of all the rosters is that of Radja Nainggolan. With 31 league appearances, nine assists and four goals, the Belgian is arguably the best midfielder in Serie A. And yet, for petty disciplinary reasons, Roberto Martinez has left him out of the squad in favor of the likes of inconsistent Marouane Fellaini. While Nainggolan isn’t the best player of “the golden generation”, he is a huge talent within it. This snub could cost Belgium as his inclusion would only help the team.

Roma leader, Nainggolan, shrugs off his snub; “I have a new Guinness World Record”

Again, France leaves out another valuable player. Must be nice having all this talent to choose from, eh Deschamps? The 23-year-old was in the PSG lineup constantly, making 32 league appearances. Rabiot actually recently asked to be taken off the standby list as he felt it insulting to not be on the 23-man roster. Can’t say he’s short on confidence.

Strikers: Mauro Icardi (Argentina), Inter Milan, and Zlatan Ibrahimović (Sweden), LA Galaxy

It must be hard living in this era of forwards that Argentina has. Once again, Icardi has been snubbed by a coach in favor of Sergio Aguero, Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain and some guy named Lionel Messi. With 29 Serie A goals in 34 appearances to his name, Sampaoli decided club teammates Dybala (22 Serie A goals) and Higuain (16 Serie A goals) were a better fit for how he wanted his side to play in Russia. Even if that were the case, Higuain has had his chances with the national team and hasn’t shown up in the big games. I think it is criminal that Icardi has not been given his chance on the world stage.

Zlatan made a move from Manchester United to LA Galaxy last month

The big Swede wanted to un-retire from international football in order to make his first World Cup appearance, but was denied by the Swedish FA and coach. Zlatan did not participate in qualifying so rather than upset the balance and chemistry of the team that got to the World Cup, the coach and FA decided against it. While the neutral fan will be saddened that this World Cup will be without Zlatan, the locker room will have the confidence of the manager.

Substitutions/Honorable Mentions

While the following players may not be the only players missing from the 23-man rosters, these players I feel deserve a mention due to name, reputation or merit:

Mateo Mussachio (Argentina), AC Milan

Kingsley Coman (France), FC Bayern Munich

Javier Pastore (Argentina), Paris Saint-Germain

Alexandre Lacazette (France), Arsenal

Karim Benzema (France), Real Madrid

Fabinho (Brazil), AS Monaco

Joe Hart (England), West Ham United

 

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2018 Atlanta Hawks

2018 Atlanta Hawks NBA Draft profile

The NBA Draft is under a month away, which means NBA Draftmas is back. Each day, The Game Haus will review a team’s past season, their team needs and targets. Draftmas continues today with the 2018 Atlanta Hawks NBA draft profile.

Summary

Entering the 2017 season, the Atlanta Hawks had one goal: accumulate as many ping pong balls as possible. As the NBA is currently constructed, tanking is the best way to create sustained success.

If this strategy was ever in doubt, it certainly was not after the Hawks’ first 20 games. In those first 20 games, the Hawks went 4-16, with two of those wins coming over the Mavericks and Kings, who were also tanking. As a result, the Hawks finished with a 24-58 record, giving them the worst record in the Eastern Conference.

2018 Atlanta Hawks

(Photo from allongeorgia.com)

While it might seem hopeless, there is light at the end of the tunnel for this franchise. In 2013, they were able to find a capable starting point guard at the 17th overall pick in Dennis Schroder. While he is not on a trajectory to be one of the league’s best point guards, he is a key piece to the future of this team’s success.

To the Hawks’ credit, they also hit on two other players in this range of the draft in Kelly Oubre, the 15th overall pick in 2015, and John Collins, the 19th overall pick in 2017. Collins was just named to the All-Rookie second team earlier this week and fits the mold of what the current NBA power forward is: long, athletic and shoots above 30 percent from the 3-point line.

However, they have plenty of room to improve regardless of which players they pick in this year’s draft. The Hawks finished this season 25th in points per game and 23rd in opponent points per game. On the other hand, the Hawks were 10th in pace.

It is important to keep in mind that the hiring of Lloyd Pierce as the head coach could render all of these statistics irrelevant. This will be Pierce’s first stint as a head coach in the NBA. He might be just what the doctor ordered given his experience with the 76ers’ process. His focus on defense also can help build a winning foundation.

Picks and Needs

The 2018 Atlanta Hawks have four picks in this year’s draft.

First round: No. 3, No. 19, No. 30

Second round: No. 33

Like most NBA teams, the Atlanta Hawks lack a player with superstar potential. They have youth all over this roster with good, but not great potential. However, none of the current players have the upside to carry a team to contender status in the Eastern Conference. Given that fact, the Hawks need to pick the player available with the highest upside. They already have a promising group of young players, so to use some baseball terminology, it is time to change their launch angle, elevate the ball and hit it out of the park.

Targets and thoughts

Pick No. 3: Michael Porter Jr., SF, Missouri

I’m respecting the fact that our writer, Josh Burris, has the Kings taking Marvin Bagley at the second pick. If that is how the draft plays out, Michael Porter Jr. is the player with the most upside left. However, if the Hawks can acquire a current NBA player in a deal that allows them to trade down, that would be a viable option as well.

2018 Atlanta Hawks

(Photo from NBA.com)

Porter is an unusual talent and would be in the discussion for this pick if he did not have the back injury. Yes, I know that is a big if, but it is true.

As a prospect, Porter is a 6-foot-10 forward who is an above average shooter from almost everywhere on the floor. Not to mention, he has competent enough ball-handling skills to be a secondary offense initiator as a change of pace, or if Schroder needs a break.

While there are many pros in Porter’s game, there are some legitimate questions. For one, a back injury can have career-altering effects, especially on a player so young and developing physically. He seems to be strong enough mentally to overcome such an injury, but the Hawks will have to trust their medical staff if Porter is picked here. There are also questions about his physicality and decision making when it comes to shot selection.

Overall, this pick makes sense for the Hawks because it gives them a player in the Eastern Conference that teams do not have an answer for. You have to compete with players that present unique matchup problems like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and for now, LeBron James. Michael Porter Jr. would give the 2018 Atlanta Hawks a similar problem to their opponents because of his size, skill and athletic ability at small forward.

Pick No. 19: Bruce Brown Jr., SG, Miami

The Hawks have a history of finding productive players at this spot in the draft. So whoever they pick at this spot, they should get the benefit of the doubt. In this instance, Bruce Brown Jr. would be a good fit for the Hawks.

Lloyd Pierce has already mentioned his focus is going to be on defense. Brown is already a high-level defensive player and could be turned into a 3-and-D guy. Yes, his shooting suffered in his sophomore season, but he has the tools and shooting technique to grow into that role.

Pick No. 30*: Hamidou Diallo, SG, Kentucky

Keep in mind that this selection could be the 28th or 29th pick depending on how the playoffs finish. While they are at the 30th spot, the Hawks could take another player at the shooting guard position. This pick is more of a product of the other players available than the talent of Diallo. He has the potential to be an injection of offense off the bench if he can become more consistent with his shot.

Pick No. 33*: Bruno Fernando, C, Maryland 

Bruno Fernando fits into the mold of Pierce’s defensive philosophy. Fernando is an exceptional above-the-rim player and has good second-jump ability. For those who do not know, that means the ability to jump and then immediately jump again upon hitting the ground. That kind of reaction and explosion is something that players do or do not have. Unfortunately, Fernando would require a ton of development on his offensive arsenal if he were to ever become a starter.

 

Featured image from logomaker.com

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MLB monthly progress report

MLB monthly progress report

The month of May is reaching its final acts. We have seen some squads turn things around after slow starts. But we have also seen teams still struggling to catch fire. In this monthly progress report, we will take a look at some of the teams on hot streaks, cold streaks and those heating up after adjustments made from April.

Yes, there is plenty of baseball to go and anything can happen in a full season. But these past few weeks will be instrumental in what to do for over 100 games yet to come. While some teams look to take over their divisions, others are finding ways to stay in the race. Of course, some teams have steeper mountains to climb than others.

monthly progress report: American league

The hot

The race for the AL West has become a tight one, with the Houston Astros winning eight of their last 10 outings and the Seattle Mariners winning seven of their last 10. The Astros hold the lead in the division by only 2.5 games. The standout component to Houston’s success is their starting rotation. The Astros boast the only pitching staff in the big leagues to yield a team ERA less than 3.00.

MLB monthly progress report

Gerrit Cole of the Houston Astros. (Photo from foxsports.com)

The Mariners, however, are not making it easy for Houston to just run away with the West. Seattle has made its strides primarily through the batter’s box. Though their numbers do not scream, “best in the AL,” the Mariners have found a high note, along with new ways to keep hitting it.

The cold

In the AL Central, the Kansas City Royals have won just three of their last 10 games. KC’s pitching staff holds the highest ERA in all of baseball. Not to mention the Royals’ bats have hit only 42 home runs so far this year, the fewest by any AL squad.

The Chicago White Sox are not fairing well either. They are right behind Kansas City with the second worst ERA. On top of that, Chicago’s batting order has driven in the fewest RBIs in the AL. The White Sox and Royals have two of the three worst regular season records in the AL.

The heating up

The Red Sox and Yankees are currently neck-and-neck for the AL East, but the Tampa Bay Rays are starting to turn it up. Only three games below .500, Tampa Bay has won six of its last 10 games. Currently, the Rays boast the second highest team batting average in the AL, along with a rapidly improving defense. But improvements in pitching will be needed if the Rays want to continue catching fire.

monthly progress report: national league

The hot

In the next part of this monthly progress report, the Atlanta Braves are making their presence felt around the league. Along with leading the NL East, Atlanta leads the NL in batting average and RBIs this season. Though the pitching rotation stands strong, a few adjustments could help the young Braves squad pull away from the pack.

MLB monthly progress report

Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves. (Photo by John Bazemore/Associated Press)

In the NL Central, the Milwaukee Brewers remain scorching in recent weeks. Leading the NL Central somewhat comfortably, The Brewers have made their way to the top with their pitching. Milwaukee’s pitching staff boasts the lowest ERA in the NL.

The cold

The Miami Marlins have not found many high notes this season. Offensive production has proved scarce for the Fish. The Marlins rank last in the NL in home runs and RBIs. Their pitching staff is not any brighter, yielding the worst ERA in the NL. On top of that, the attendance at Marlins Park is just as dismal, barely breaking 10,000 attendants per game on average.

To be fair, the Marlins are bulling through a massive rebuilding process, along with new ownership. Things cannot get better before it gets worse first. But some are questioning if there is a method to the rebuilding madness, or if it is just madness like the Jeffrey Loria days.

The heating up

The Washington Nationals are looking to take back the NL East. Though they still have a way to go, they have help. Washington’s pitching staff holds a 3.42 ERA as a unit, among the best in the NL. Plus, its batting lineup has tallied over 60 home runs this season. But with division rivals as imposing as Atlanta and Philadelphia have been, the Nationals will need to pick up the pace.

The Colorado Rockies have taken the lead in the NL West, with the Arizona Diamondbacks hitting a slump. The Rockies’ defense has become one of the best units in baseball this season. But if they are to remain at the top, Colorado needs to improve in both batting average and pitching. If they can do that, the Rockies can increase the gap between themselves and the rest of the division.

in closing

At the end of the day, everyone will have their ups and downs. Hopefully in the next monthly progress report, we can showcase new teams turning things around. The lessons each team learns from May can spell out solutions to pending problems. With June around the corner, the race for the playoffs continues.

 

Featured image from wikipedia.org

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2018 fantasy football DEF/ST 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 defense and special teams rankings:

DEF/ST rankings: 1-10

1. Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars were the only fantasy defense to reach 200 points in 2017, finishing with 203. They only had two games on the season without a turnover forced and in many games had multiple turnovers. Like any defense, they have their bad games, but those were offset with eleven games in double-digit scoring. With most of the defense back and good players on every level of the defense, the Jaguars should be the first defense selected in fantasy drafts.

2. Los Angeles Rams

The Rams ranked third last season but made some key offseason acquisitions to move up to the second spot here. Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, both are great corners and should be able to shut down the opposition, if they can stay on the field and not get too heated. Ndamukong Suh joins Aaron Donald to provide two elite defensive linemen on the same team. While they are relatively weak at linebacker, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips should make the most of the great talent he has on the roster.

Joey Bosa Chargers

Joey Bosa (Photo by freep.com)

3. Los Angeles Chargers

There are two good defenses in Los Angeles. The Chargers were ranked fifth last season and clearly focused on adding to their defense via the draft this season. Derwin James will be an impact player at safety, while the other players will provide good depth. Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa combine for good pass rushing, while the secondary of James, Jahleel Addae, Casey Hayward, Jason Verrett and Desmond King will make it tough to move the ball.

4. Philadelphia Eagles

They ranked fourth last year and added some key players, making the Eagles ready to go for 2018. Their defensive line rotation is so good that they simply can’t fit all of their good players on the field. They even added Michael Bennett to the fold this offseason. Philadelphia will love having Jordan Hicks back to help the linebackers after he suffered a season-ending injury last year. The secondary is good in its own right, but they really don’t have to keep their coverage too long with that pass-rush.

5. Baltimore Ravens

Baltimore finished second in fantasy points in 2017 but will likely see some regression in 2018. They won’t get as many games this season to have big outings. Last year they got 20 point outings against the Bengals, the Bears, the Dolphins, the Packers (without Aaron Rodgers) and the Browns. The teams they do play on that list this year should be better and they may not be so lucky with the rest of their schedule. Many of their players are on the back-ends of their careers including Terrell Suggs, Eric Weddle and Brandon Carr. They still have solid younger players, including star linebacker C.J. Mosley, but if the veterans’ play falters, the whole defense will take a slight step back.

6. Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings have a good defense but ranked 14th in fantasy scoring last season. They should bounce back to form this season though with the number of talented players on that side of the ball. Sheldon Richardson was added to the fold on the defensive line that already has some great players. He should help improve their run defense, with the talented pass rushers and secondary will make it hard to throw. They should be owned most weeks in fantasy this season.

7. Denver Broncos

While their defense wasn’t great last season, ranking 20th in the league, but there a couple of reasons to watch for some improvement this season. Bradley Chubb was selected with the Broncos’ first-round pick and should get some production in his rookie season. The signing of Case Keenum will help the defense in many ways, as they won’t have to face short fields after turnovers and three and outs.

8. Chicago Bears

They ranked ninth in fantasy points last year and should get better. Chicago drafted Roquan Smith, the linebacker out of Georgia, with their first-round pick. He is a three-down player and will make an impact immediately. Their young safeties, Adrian Amos and Eddie Jackson help to create turnovers and sometimes score. With a solid front seven and corners as well, the Bears should be a top 10 fantasy defense yet again.

9. Detroit Lions

The Lions were surprisingly good for a fantasy football defense last season, ranking sixth. They do have some holes on defense that were not adequately addressed in the offseason though, which means they likely will not have as successful of a season. What they do have is a solid player on the defensive line (Ziggy Ansah) and two in the secondary (Darius Slay and Glover Quin). Those players will need some more help but are a good start for 2018.

10. New Orleans Saints

While the Lions’ defense was surprisingly good, no one thought the Saints’ defense would be anywhere close to where they finished last year. They finished seventh in fantasy scoring and helped take some of the burden off of Drew Brees and the offense. With Marcus Williams and Marshon Lattimore having great rookie seasons, the secondary is a strength. Demario Davis can lead the linebacking core, while Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport can get after the passer.

DEF/ST rankings: 10-15

11. Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh may not have one of their best defenses but they were able to rank 11th last year. They do have to deal with the loss of Ryan Shazier, who had the scary injury against the Bengals in early December. Their inside linebackers will struggle, but they have good pass rushers and a solid defensive line. Drafting Terrell Edmunds helped fill a need at safety and the main corners stay the same from last season.

Bobby Wagner Seahawks,

Bobby Wagner (Photo by si.com)

12. Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks will have a new look next season with the defense being far from the Legion of Boom just a few years back. They can still be solid fantasy play though. Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor return at the back end of the defense. Byron Maxwell and super sophomore Shaquill Griffin will man the corner positions and will also be decent. Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Frank Clark need to lead the front end of the defense with Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett being gone.

13. New England Patriots

New England never seems to have the greatest players on defense and still plays solidly. They finished 13th last season but no longer have Matt Patricia to run the defense. They did sign Adrian Clayborn and acquired Danny Shelton, so their line should be significantly better. Malcolm Butler was replaced by Jason McCourty at the corner position.

14. Kansas City Chiefs

Patrick Mahomes will start on offense, which should put the defense on the field a bit more than last season. Kendall Fuller was acquired via the Alex Smith trade and he is the only good corner on the roster. Eric Berry returns again at safety, just like Justin Houston at edge rusher. Houston isn’t the same player he once was but will have to produce. Derrick Nnadi was drafted to play nose tackle and shore up the run defense.

15. Washington Redskins

The Redskins seem to be drafting a lot of Alabama defensive players and it has worked. They were solid last year when Jonathan Allen played but were horrible against the run when he didn’t. With him healthy and Da’Ron Payne added to the fold, the Redskins run defense should be vastly improved. Ryan Kerrigan can get after the passer, while the secondary plays their typical zone defense that Josh Norman excels at.

 

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The 2019 NFL Draft to be hosted in Nashville

The NFL owners have voted to host the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville, Tennessee from April 25 through April 27.

Nashville’s bid was seen as the favorite to host the next draft and owners agreed on that on Wednesday.

Other cities considered were Las Vegas, Denver, Kansas City and Canton/Cleveland.

In 2018 the NFL Draft was hosted in Dallas, Texas, as the NFL has decided to switch up the host-city on a yearly basis after leaving New York City for the 2015 NFL Draft. In 2015 and 2016 it was hosted in Chicago, while in 2017 it was hosted in Philadelphia.

 

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OTAs

Philadelphia Eagles lose two linebackers in one day

Adversity caused by injuries is not rare for a football team to endure. During phase two of OTAs, it’s a little more rare. Unless you are the Los Angeles Chargers. On Tuesday that’s just what happened for the Philadelphia Eagles who lost a linebacker for the season just hours after cutting one.

Mychal Kendricks actually gets cut

On Tuesday, May 22 the Philadelphia Eagles released linebacker Mychal Kendricks. Kendricks was a valuable asset last season in which he played 60 percent of the defensive snaps. However, this season Kendricks would not have played nearly as much. He was the odd man out at the linebacker rotation when going to the Eagles’ favored nickel defense. This means he wouldn’t have seen the field all too much.

Last season he played so much because Jordan Hicks went down with a season-ending Achilles tear. However, Hicks is returning and Kendricks was going to make $7.6 million this season. That is a sizeable amount for a player that would not reach nearly 60 percent of playing time this season. This was more of a cap saving cut then anything else. The Eagles had tried to trade Kendricks multiple times throughout his career, therefore him getting cut is not overly surprising.

Paul Worrilow goes down

OTAs

Paul Worrilow. Photo by Bleacher Report

Later on, that same day is when the Eagles suffered a loss of another linebacker, this one from injury. Paul Worrilow, formerly of the Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions, tore his ACL during OTA’s when he collided with another player in a drill. It was apparent immediately that he was seriously injured, athletic trainers put an air cast on his knee and he was carted off the field. It was quickly learned that he had indeed torn his ACL and will be out for the upcoming season. He was likely going to be a backup and he was a toss up to make the team. Still, two lost linebackers in one day is a major loss for any team.

 

Featured image by Michael Ainsworth (AP Photo)

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Sacramento Kings 2018 NBA Draft profile

Sacramento Kings 2018 NBA Draft profile

The NBA Draft is under a month away, which means NBA Draftmas is back. Each day, The Game Haus will review a team’s past season, their team needs and targets. We will continue with the team that has the No. 2 overall pick, the Sacramento Kings.

Summary

You would think with all the high draft picks the Kings have had over the years, they would eventually figure out how to draft. Unfortunately for Sacramento fans, that has not really happened.

Sacramento Kings 2018 NBA Draft profile

To say things have been rough in Sacramento is an understatement. (Photo by Sergio Estrada/USA TODAY Sports Images)

The Kings have not had a winning season since the 2005-06 season. They have not topped 35 wins since the 2007-08 season when they won 38. They have won less than 30 games eight different times during this stretch of missing the postseason. Sacramento has also had nine different head coaches during this period. The franchise is a dumpster fire.

The Kings have had plenty of top 10 picks lately and have flopped on most of them. However, they really have a chance to get a star with the second overall pick.

This season, the Kings were last in points, 14th in points allowed, 22nd in field goal percentage, third in 3-point percentage, 28th in rebounds, 25th in assists, 11th in steals and 25th in blocks. They rank surprisingly high in a few of those categories, but it is easy to see why this team finished just 27-55.

The Kings need to capitalize of this draft. After taking De’Aaron Fox last season, they need to find another young star to pair him up with.

Picks and needs

First round: No. 2

Second round: No. 36

At this point, the Kings just need some talent on their roster. With the second pick, they should take the best player available. Most likely, that will be a big man, and the Kings could sure use one.

Most of the Kings’ talent comes in guard form, and they could use a big to compliment them. Stats like the rebounding and blocks, as well as the fact they rank 22nd in both points in the paint and second-chance points, show the need for a big.

Targets and thoughts

Pick No. 2: Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke

If DeAndre Ayton is still on the board, the Kings should take him. However, with Ayton most likely going first, the Kings should take the power forward from Duke.

Sacramento Kings 2018 NBA Draft profile

Bagley is one of the greatest freshmen in Duke history. (Photo by Getty Images)

Marvin Bagley had an incredible freshman season at Duke. He set nine Duke freshman records, including his 21 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. He was also just one of four players this past season to average at least 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. He ranked third in the NCAA in double-doubles as well with 22. He was also dominant in the paint with 98 dunks, which is a Duke single-season record.

The 6-foot-11, 235-pound power forward is just what the Kings need. He can definitely help the team with their scoring and rebounding problems. He also brings a dominating presence inside that the Kings do not have.

Bagley can also be a threat outside the paint as he shot 39.7 percent from the 3-point line as well. The Kings have screwed up plenty of draft picks, this cannot be one of them.

Pick No. 36: Keita Bates-Diop, SF, Ohio State

Bates-Diop is projected anywhere from late in the first round to early in the second. If Bates-Diop falls to pick No. 36, the Kings should definitely take advantage.

Last season as a redshirt junior, Bates-Diop averaged 19.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. He also shot 48 percent from the field and 35.9 percent from the 3-point line.

Bates-Diop can also get things done defensively. At 6-foot-7, he can guard almost any opponent. He also averaged 1.6 blocks per game. Like Bagley, he could really help out the Kings with scoring and rebounding.

If Bates-Diop is already selected, other top prospects that could be available include Grayson Allen (Duke) and Josh Okogie (Georgia Tech).

Conclusion

The Kings have been pretty bad for a while now, making it hard to attract top free agents. They are a young team and will need to continue building through the draft. 

Sacramento needs to address their offensive struggles. With the No. 2 pick, they have an opportunity to add a future face of the franchise. That man is Marvin Bagley. Hopefully, Bagley and other young prospects like De’Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson and Buddy Hield all pan out for the franchise. 

The Kings can also add a key role player early in the second round. Keita Bates-Diop could be a great pick if he falls to that far.

That concludes the Sacramento Kings 2018 NBA Draft profile. Be sure to check back tomorrow to read the Atlanta Hawks 2018 NBA Draft profile!

 

Featured image from BET.com

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Philadelphia Eagles charity

The Philadelphia Eagles off-the-field impact

Sometimes as fans, we forget that NFL players are truly people with lives, not just players or pawns on fantasy football teams. Today, let’s look at just some of the many off-the-field projects, charities and activities that the Eagles’ organization and their players take part in each year. Many of these guys are not just great players, but great people too.

The Philadelphia Eagles off-the-field ventures

Featured image by Drew Hallowell

Eagles Green Efforts.

  • Philadelphia Eagles Go Green
  • Mission of Hope
  • Home Runs for Hearts
  • Huddle Up for Autism
  • Eagles Care

Philadelphia Eagles Go Green is an initiative that has made the Eagles stadium completely self sustained. They use solar panels and wind turbines to generate electricity and the stadium produces almost no waste.

On the mission of hope trip, the players handed out shoes, painted houses, played games with the kids and helped in construction of a sports complex. Things like this can go a long way towards improving a neighborhood.

Home Runs for Hearts is a home run derby designed to raise money for research and educational programs in Philadelphia.

Huddle Up for Autism is an event where children who have autism are treated to a nice day complete with activities, meeting some of the players and even going onto the field.

Finally, Eagles Care is a program where each year, the Philadelphia Eagles select three non-profits to partner with and help strengthen to make an even greater impact. Last year, they built playgrounds, helped Dignity Housing provide affordable homes for single parents and their children and helped improve the lives of children suffering with cancer and their families. These are just some of the many ways that the Philadelphia Eagles try to make the world a better place.

Others are orchestrated by individuals on the team itself

Featured image by Drew Hallowell

Carson Wentz in Haiti. (Photo by Nick Rotondi)

Just in the last year, so many players have made such an impact on society. Chris Long donated his entire year’s salary to helping the education of the up-and-coming generation. His money went towards helping children get the best possible schooling.

Carson Wentz and his foundation, the AO1 foundation, are building a massive sports complex in Haiti. Wentz himself has even donated up to $500,000 himself towards the construction of the project.

Malcolm Jenkins helped supply needy families with food and other supplies and necessities.

These players all participate in so many more charity efforts that are not listed. Many NFL players are working towards making today a better time, and that is commendable. Maybe we should all ask ourselves what we can do for our communities even if it is just a small donation or some of our time.

 

Featured image by Drew Hallowell

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