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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wide receiver rankings

2018 fantasy football wide receiver rankings

When it comes to fantasy, wide receivers can be some of the most volatile players on a weekly basis. Even players at the top of the league can have games where they record less than 10 points. So if you’re going to spend a first-round pick on a wide receiver, they better consistently be seeing double-digit targets between the 20’s and one or two red zone targets per game. Let’s find out who fits that description in the first edition of my 2018 fantasy football wide receiver rankings.

Wide Receiver Rankings: 1-10

1. Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh Steelers

Antonio Brown is the only player to finish in the top three in targets since 2015. He’s an absolute monster. Brown has what we all want in a player, the workload of a running back and the upside of a wide receiver. The 2017 season was the first time Brown didn’t score double-digit touchdowns since 2014. There are some minor concerns about Brown heading into this season. Todd Haley is no longer the offensive coordinator, and Ben Roethlisberger is another year older, and more susceptible to injury. However, there is no disputing Brown is the unquestioned number one option at the wide receiver position.

2. DeAndre Hopkins – Houston Texans

By the end of 2018, DeAndre Hopkins might have something to say about my last statement. Apart from Brown, Hopkins is the only other player to finish top three in targets since 2015. All the while, he’s been doing it with sub par quarterback play, not a future hall-of-famer like Roethlisberger. We saw a taste of what Hopkins did last season with Deshaun Watson. During that stretch, he averaged 9.8 targets, 6.3 catches, 91.83 yards, and one touchdown per game. At that rate, Hopkins would have the best year of his career, and it may be enough to unseat Brown atop rankings like these.

3. Odell Beckahm Jr. – New York Giants

Despite the inconsistency of his quarterback, OBJ ranks inside the top five heading into 2018. Even though he’s coming off an injury, it occurred on a freak play and did not result in the tearing of any muscles. So, he will likely not suffer from the confidence issue that most player do when they are recovering (I also find the notion he’ll lack confidence to be laughable based on what we’ve seen). He’ll be playing with an improved running game and offensive line, which will alleviate some attention he receives from opposing defenses. But what makes OBJ so incredible, is his ability to seemingly score from any point on the field at any time.

4. Michael Thomas – New Orleans Saints

Although he plays in a run-first offense, Michael Thomas is the unquestioned number one target of Drew Brees. Thomas will likely see more single coverage this season as a result of the success of New Orleans’ running attack in 2017. So, even if he isn’t seeing the volume of other players on this list, the efficiency and quality of the targets he’ll receive will help bridge that gap. The only other perceivable knock on Thomas is his red zone usage, as the Saints like to pound Mark Ingram, or exploit a mismatch with Alvin Kamara.

5. Julio Jones – Atlanta Falcons

Julio Jones scares me. I have to rank him this high because of his talent, production, and quarterback. However, there are a few major red flags. One, he’s injury prone. Two, he’s wildly volatile, maybe even the most volatile fantasy player of all. He can have 10 catches for 200 yards and 2 touchdowns, or 3 catches for 36 yards and zero touchdowns. Three, his team inexplicably ignores him in the red zone and goal line. And four, he’s unhappy about his contract. It’s not being publicized, but Jones is currently the eighth highest paid receiver behind players like Jarvis Landry and Sammy Watkins. I don’t think this will cause Jones to hold out, but it’s been reported that he is not happy with the situation. I’d be cautious taking Jones in the first round if you’re in a 10 or 12 team league.

6. AJ Green – Cincinnati Bengals

2017 was not a good year for AJ Green. He had a career-high in single digit-fantasy performances with seven (according to standard and .5 point ppr scoring). Green also acted out of character this year with that outburst against Jalen Ramsey. Green appears to be in line for a bounce-back season. Cincinnati has made upgrades to their offensive line and should have a more productive running game. Both would allow Green more time to get downfield, as well as provide him with more single coverage situations.

7. Keenan Allen – Los Angeles Chargers

Keenan Allen, unlike AJ Green, had a career year in 2017. He played in all 16 games for the first time, and the results were great. Allen finished with top five in targets, catches, and yards. Hopefully he will increase his touchdown output in 2018. However, he still had more touchdowns than Michael Thomas and Mike Evans, who were consensus first and second round picks.

8. Davante Adams – Green Bay Packers

I want to put Davante Adams higher on this list; however, he’s had a bit of an injury history. Like Allen, he’s only had one season in which he played all 16 games. Since he’s not the physical specimen Allen is, he ranks just beneath him. Adams is in line to be Aaron Rodgers number one target, which is great. But, something tells me Green Bay will make an effort protect Rodgers by running the ball, as they did with success during his absence. Adams could very easily jump players like Allen, Green, and Jones if he sees a true number one’s volume.

9. Mike Evans – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Conversely, I’d like to rank Mike Evans lower on this year’s wide receiver rankings. I had 100 percent exposure to him last year in fantasy leagues and was not pleased with this output. But, I learned from my mistake so it wasn’t a total loss. What keeps Evans from being higher is his inability to make plays after the catch. Evans averaged 1.6 yards after the catch. At his height, he would average more yards after catch if he simply fell forward every time he caught the ball. This severely limits Evans’ upside, and hampers his effectiveness between the 20’s.

10. Tyreek Hill – Kansas City Chiefs

Tyreek Hill impressed many last year by being more than a speedster and developing into a wide receiver. Kansas City was able to deploy him all over the field and become less predictable as an offense when he’s out wide or in the slot. Hill has the upside of a Jones, Beckham, and Brown, but has since built up his output floor. While Patrick Mahomes may seem like an upgrade, his accuracy and effectiveness at the NFL level is still unpredictable. Given this fact, I don’t think I’d take Hill until the third round.wide

Wide Receiver Rankings: 11-20

11. Alshon Jefferey – Philadelphia Eagles

What makes Alshon Jefferey a surprisingly valuable asset, was his effectiveness with both Nick Foles and Carson Wentz. So, we won’t have to worry if Wentz isn’t available week one. The Eagles deployed Jefferey in the redzone as well as deep down the field. While he’s not the most consistent game-to-game, he plays in a great prolific offense with two capable quarterbacks.

12. Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona Cardinals

Larry Fitzgerald somehow figured out a way to finish top five in targets, second in catches, and top 10 in yards. He managed to do this with multiple quarterbacks throwing him the ball, and, without the threat of David Johnson to take attention away from him. Fitzgerald will be a player I’m targeting this season, especially if I have a volatile or injury prone wide receiver as my number one.

13. Brandin Cooks – Los Angeles Rams

Brandin Cooks might be the luckiest receiver in NFL history. He’s played for Sean Payton, Josh McDaniels, and now, he gets to play for Sean McVay. Cooks is incredibly talented. Other than Randy Moss and Larry Fitzgerald, no player had more catches, yards, and touchdowns through their age 23 season. Cooks looks to add to his historically great start in Los Angeles. I’m of the belief that this whole offense will take a step back. Also, Cooks’ volume will likely be unpredictable until the fourth or fifth game of the season.

14. T.Y. Hilton – Indianapolis Colts

Disclaimer, T.Y. Hilton’s place on these wide receiver rankings are assuming Andrew Luck is the week one starter. We all saw how incredibly explosive Hilton could be in the right matchup. However, we also know that Hilton can disappear in any given game. Hopefully, Luck’s return will raise his floor and make him a value on draft day. Like my theory with Fitzgerald, I would shy away from Hilton if I have a volatile number one like Jones or Hill.

15. Adam Thielen – Minnesota Vikings

If last year didn’t establish Adam Thielen, at a minimum, top 20 receiver, then I don’t know what will.  Thielen finished top 10 in catches and top five in yards in an offense led by Case Keenum. He’s not a bad player by any means, but Kirk Cousins is objectively superior. With the return of Dalvin Cook, and Mike Zimmer’s overall disdain for throwing more than necessary, it’s likely he won’t see the same volume. However, Thielen proved he can score from anywhere on the field and run a complete route tree.

16. Doug Baldwin – Seattle Seahawks

This is a pivotal season for Doug Baldwin. Despite Russell Wilson leading the NFL in touchdown passes, Baldwin was only able to snag eight of them. He also had his lowest output in terms of catches since 2015, and yards in 2014. It’s likely he will have a regression to the mean in those categories, but, will it be worth the draft pick you used to acquire him?

17. Amari Cooper – Oakland Raiders

Everyone remembers that Thursday night game against the Chiefs in which Amari Coper went unconscious with 11 catches for 220 yards and two touchdowns. Sadly, that game made up about 30 percent of his production for the entire season. There’s honestly no telling what his production will be with Jordy Nelson and Jon Gruden’s new offensive scheme. Unless Cooper I can get Cooper as my third receiver, I’ll likely take a pass on him.

18. Demaryius Thomas – Denver Broncos

I haven’t decided how I feel about Demaryius Thomas and this Denver offense yet. Case Keenum will no question be the best quarterback to lead this team since Peyton Manning. Hopefully reports from training camp won’t inflate Thomas’ value before draft season. Thomas is a player who has big-play upside, it’s just a matter if Keenum’s line will hold up and allow him to connect on the deep and intermediate routes.

19. Pierre Garcon – San Francisco 49ers

Pierre Garcon should be a target of everyone who drafts a boom or bust player in their first two rounds. Garcon is slated as the number one receiver in this offense. Marquise Goodwin could cut into his volume, but he’s a deep threat and not as polished as a possession receiver. Not to mention, Goodwin suffered a brutal concussion at the end of last season. Garcon could have one of his best years since leaving Indianapolis, even with his advanced age.

20. Golden Tate – Detroit Lions

Tate is another example of an underappreciated fantasy asset. Since coming to Detroit, he’s never had less than 90 catches, 800 yards, and four touchdowns. What truly makes Tate valuable, is his run after catch ability. Last season he finished fourth in yards after catch with 6.9. It’s unclear whether or not new head coach Matt Patricia will alter the offensive philosophy from featuring Matt Stafford as a high volume passer. However, Tate’s track record shows us that he will maximize every opportunity given to him.

Wide Receiver Rankings: 21-30

21. Josh Gordon – Cleveland Browns

Josh Gordon’s position in these wide receiver rankings has nothing to do with football. It’s great that he’s back in the NFL, but in no way should he be viewed as a top 15 player at his position. Last season, when everyone in the DFS community was pounding the table on Josh Gordon against the Packers as a “must play”. He didn’t completely disappoint, as he scored 14.4 points. But, I paid $1,000 less for his teammate Corey Coleman, who scored 14.7 points that day. The moral of the not so humble brag is that you cannot depend on Josh Gordon. If he proves he can put an entire season of productivity together, he’ll rise up the ranks quickly.

22. Julian Edelman – New England Patriots

Julian Edelman will start week one. He suffered his injury during the preseason last year, so he’ll be more than prepared to dominate out of the slot. My hope is that Edelman slides on draft day because of his injury and his perceived lack of production. Last season wasn’t the first time he missed multiple games due to injury, so there is a risk that he could get hurt again. Not to mention, the Patriots love getting fantasy players’ hopes up just to crush them. I’ll certainly have Edelman on my list of players to be targeting.

23. Jarvis Landry – Miami Dolphins

Jarvis Landry was a target monster in Miami. Whether that trend continues, remains to be seen. If Baker Mayfield was set to start week one, I’d have Landry higher on the list. Mayfield is substantially more accurate than Taylor, and attacks the middle of the field well. As soon as he becomes the starter, Landry’s value will increase.

24. Robbie Anderson – New York Jets

If Robbie Anderson can go the rest of the summer and not threaten to sexually assault a police offer’s wife, I’ll be happy (if you want to laugh I encourage you to look up his exact wording). Anderson emerged as the number one receiver with Josh McCown at the helm. Hopefully, that will continue when Sam Darnold inevitably gets the start. Anderson’s combination of height, speed, and run after the catch ability make him dangerous, even if he’s playing on a below average team with average quarterback play.

25. Marvin Jones – Detroit Lions

I feel like I’m saying this about a lot of players in this range, but I want to target Marvin Jones. As the second, or co-number one option on the Lions, Jones had more than 60 catches, 1,000 yards, and accumulated nine touchdowns. This, in large part, is a bi-product of Stafford and the high volume of pass attempts. However, Jones sees most of the team’s red and green zone targets. Stafford loves throwing fades to Jones and assuming Stafford’s volume stays the same, Jones will be a good value.

26. Allen Robinson – Chicago Bears

I have no idea what to do with Allen Robinson. He’s the unquestioned number one in Chicago, but, believe it or not, he’s downgraded from Blake Bortles. Mitchell Trubisky, to this point, doesn’t give me the confidence that Robinson will see the volume or the production of a number one receiver.

27. JuJu Smith-Schuster – Pittsburgh Steelers

JuJu is a good player, but he’ll likely be over-drafted relative to other players at his position because of the team he plays for. Volume is so important for wide receivers. So why should we consider JuJu as a top 20 option if he has to compete with Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell for touches? His talent is undeniable, but his involvement in the offense will be unpredictable with the new offensive coordinator.

28. Devin Funchess – Carolina Panthers

I’m retroactively regretting ranking Funchess this low. Even though he finished with less than 70 catches and 1,000 yards, he caught eight touchdowns and had to compete with Kelvin Benjamin for almost half of the season. Despite Greg Olsen coming back and the addition of DJ Moore in the draft, Funchess could be in line for his first 1,000 yard season.

29. Randall Cobb – Green Bay Packers

Cobb, for the first time in two seasons, is the projected number two for the Packers. The organization clearly values what he can do and featured him in the offense even when Nelson and Adams were on the roster. Cobb’s injury history keeps him from being higher in these rankings.

30. Will Fuller – Houston Texans

Wrapping up the top 30 is Will Fuller. Fuller isn’t particularly special. In my opinion, he’s a less skilled version of T.Y. Hilton. But, he plays in an offense with a quarterback that isn’t afraid to target him deep, and across from one of the NFL’s best receivers.

 

Featured Image courtesy of; Youtube.com

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The 2018 Drafted New England Patriots

The 2018 NFL draft kicked its first round off on Thursday night. The New England Patriots sat in a position to draft two players on both the first round (Thursday) and the second round (Friday).

The Patriots ended up gaining draft picks through the last year or so. The two picks they inherited were the #23 overall pick that was the Los Angeles Rams, and the 43rd overall pick from the 49ers. Those two draft picks were landed in the business transactions that saw Jimmy Garoppolo as well as Brandin Cooks depart from Foxboro.

The Patriots sought out what seemed to be an annual list of “needs”. The usual Offensive Lineman, Cover Linebacker and Cornerback all made appearances in another draft portfolio. That same portfolio that has “quarterback” probably in bold by now. For all of these four picks, it seemed as though the Patriots would attempt to fill the needs with suitable players. Let’s be honest here, if you thought that’s what they were going to do then you’ve never watched Bill Belichick.

The First Round:

#23

Many rumors circulated about the Patriots potentially taking Lamar Jackson at their 23rd selection. After all the smoke cleared the Patriots passed on Lamar not once but twice. The 23rd pick resulted in the University of Georgia Offensive lineman, Isaiah Wynn.

This pick proved to be a very smart move being that they lost Nate Solder this offseason. Wynn proved to be a very solid run blocker as Georgia’s two-back rushing attack was one of the best in the country and showed that he could hold up in pass protection as well. Wynn will be the immediate plug and play to replace Nate Solder and I don’t think too many New England fans are disappointed with that.

#31

This pick was the Patriots original draft selection, and one that surprised most people. After an offseason where they lost one of their lead backs in Dion Lewis, then turned around and signed former Cincinnati Bengal standout in Jeremy Hill, they turned to the draft to pick another back to be in an already crowded backfield. The Patriots shocked some people by taking Sony Michel with the 31st pick. Sony Michel is another Georgia Bulldog and a very good one at that.

Despite being in a dual backfield at Georgia, Michel was one of the stars of college football. He especially seemed to shine in the College Football Playoffs. Against Oklahoma and their subpar defense, Michel managed to get 222 yards on 16 carries. In the National Championship, basically on the opposite side of the spectrum, he got 98 yards on 14 carries against the nations toughest defense in the Alabama Crimson Tide. Michel took over the backfield and outshined Nick Chubb. He could be a possible Jeremy Hill but younger. He joins a backfield that doesn’t have a true running back but has a bunch of pass catching backs.

James White and Rex Burkhead have shown that they are the two heavy load backs, but the Patriots have lacked a true runner. Mike Gillislee is the closest thing the Patriots have to a true running back and he’s the same weight and height as the unproven Michel. Gillislee has proven to not be the guy for the Patriots, so Michel could get the opportunity to shine behind a very solid offensive line and in a great offense.

Second Round:

#56

New England Patriots

Duke Dawson Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

What was originally two picks heading into the second round then turned to one. The Patriots, rather classically, traded out of their selection and managed to drop further back into another draft. They did, however, manage to take care of one of the glaring holes on their defense. Duke Dawson is a corner that played for the Florida Gators (Ah yes, SEC defenders). He is coming in trying to be the complement to Stephon Gilmore. He will come in looking to be a solid cover corner to fill in for Malcolm Butler who the Patriots let go this offseason.

Summary:

The Patriots have done a very nice job in the earlier rounds of filling some of the voids they have. Year in and year out it seems like people are worried about who is going to take over for Tom Brady. This season was no different, many people were expecting Lamar Jackson to come off the boards and go with the Patriots. Instead, they are stocking up their assets for Brady to exploit and stashing some picks later in the draft to take a chance on a quarterback for the future. The Patriots have yet again done another solid job on building a roster back up after it seemed to be depleted this offseason.

 

Featured image from The Boston Herald.

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

New England Patriots

What the Patriots need

New England Patriots’ quarterback, Tom Brady is still questionable for the 2018 season. People believe that there’s no doubt that he will play this year, but they don’t know for sure if he will return. Brady is in his early 40s and is still playing like he’s in his 20s. He didn’t show up for the first week of the offseason program.

The five-time Super Bowl champion isn’t the only player that hasn’t shown up; Tight end Rob Gronkowski also missed the first week of the offseason program as well. There are questions that if he will return to the Patriots. But that’s not the only issue. Star receivers Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola and running back Dion Lewis were traded and went to different teams. Now the real question is, who will the Patriots pick up in the draft to rebuild their offense?

Brady’s Situation

There’s no answer on who will take Brady’s place and at quarterback. He’s been in the NFL for 18 years and led the Patriots to five Super Bowl victories. Last season, he threw for 4,577 yards and 32 touchdowns; and he also won his third AP MVP award. Brady has a total of 66,159 passing yards and 99 touchdowns for his whole career.

New England Patriots

Tom Brady
(Sports Illustrated)

It’s still questionable if he will return, therefore, The Patriots are making preparations on who they will pick up in the NFL draft. Of course, they have back up quarterback, Bryan Hoyer right behind Brady, who played with the San Fransisco 49ers last season. He threw for 1,245 yards and four touchdowns. Hoyer is a good quarterback, but he wouldn’t be able to replace Brady and continue his legacy. Hoyer is also the only back up since the Patriots traded away Jimmy Garappolo to the San Fransisco 49ers.

Will Gronk return?

New England Patriots

Rob Gronkowski
(CBS Boston)

The Patriots also need a back up tight end for Gronkowski just in case if he doesn’t come back. He is one of Brady’s favorite targets to throw to and is one of the best tight ends in the league. He has a combined total of 7,179 receiving yards and 76 touchdowns for his whole career.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if Gronk plays next year, but his ability to stay healthy is the main concern. He’s been to the hospital numerous times for surgery on his knee, ankle, forearm four times, and on his back three times. There’s no telling how much his body is willing to take for one more year, and he’s only 27.

What will the Patriots Need?

Gronk and Brady aren’t the only players that are missing. Star wide receivers, Amendola and Cooks both switched to different teams. Amendola denied the Patriot’s offer and signed with to the Miami Dolphins for the 2018-2019 season. Brandin Cooks has been traded to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for two draft picks. These wide receivers were huge playmakers that were fast and able to leave defenders behind.

Dion Lewis, who was a huge weapon to New England’s run game, was not re-signed and left for the Tennessee Titans. On the day of the draft, the Patriots will need to pick up more receivers to strengthen their depth and an explosive running back. Since the Patriots have two first and second round picks, and a third-round pick, they have an opportunity to acquire as much young talented rookies to back up and replace them.

 

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Los Angeles Rams 2018 NFL Draft profile

The 2018 NFL Draft is just two weeks away, which means that Draftmas is back. Draftmas will take a look at each NFL team heading into this year’s draft, what their needs are and who they could be targeting. Draftmas continues today with the 2018 Los Angeles Rams NFL Draft profile.

Summary

The Rams were one of the best stories of the 2017 NFL season. They finished 11-5 and champions of the NFC West. Sean McVay entered the season under heavy scrutiny, as he was the youngest head coach in modern NFL history.

Los Angeles Rams 2018 NFL Draft profile

(Photo from Clutch Points)

However, he resurrected this franchise offensively. The Rams finished first in points and 10th in yards. Whether it was Jared Goff and company through the air or Todd Gurley on the ground, McVay’s creativity took the league by storm.

Defensively, the Rams transitioned from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense under longtime coordinator Wade Phillips. Phillips has an undeniable ability to pressure opposing quarterbacks, and that is exactly what he did. While this unit finished 12th in points and 19th in yards, they were top five in sacks and turnovers.

Given the transactions made by the 2018 Los Angeles Rams, it is clear they are in “win now” mode. The additions of Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, Ndamukong Suh and Brandin Cooks have solidified the Rams as winners of this offseason heading into the draft. That title does not always translate to postseason success, but the Rams have addressed a lot of their potential needs and are poised to make a deep run in this year’s playoffs.

Picks and Needs

The Los Angeles Rams’ success in 2018 will be predicated on their free agent moves. With only one pick in the first three rounds, it is unlikely they will find multiple impact players to help them in 2018.

Overall, the Rams have eight picks in this year’s draft, with four of those picks being in sixth round.

First round (0 picks):  

Second round (0):

Third round (1): 87

Fourth round (1): 111, 135, 136

Fifth round (0): 

Sixth round (5): 176, 183, 194, 195

Seventh round (0):

Offensive needs:

Offensive guard – This unit is very good. The only spot that appears to be vulnerable is the right guard position. Jamon Brown has never been an above average player and Rodger Saffold has missed four or more games four times in his career with the Rams.

Defensive needs:

Linebacker – The Rams made some tangible improvements on the defensive line and in the secondary this offseason. However, they have yet to address the linebacker position. After trading away Alec Ogletree, Ramik Wilson is slated to start next to Mark Barron. Hopefully Wilson will return to his 2016 form as a starter for the Rams this season.

Targets

Third round:

Pick No. 87: Frank Ragnow, G/C, Arkansas

Los Angeles Rams 2018 NFL Draft profile

(Photo from Cleveland.com)

NFL teams look to add impact players in rounds one through three. It was a close call between giving them offensive line depth, or a potential starter at inside linebacker. In the end, an injury to a starter on the offensive line would be more devastating than an injury to a starting linebacker.

The Rams can reinforce their offensive line with a versatile player in Frank Ragnow. Ragnow started at both center and guard during his tenure at Arkansas. His senior season ended with a high ankle sprain, and as a result, an abbreviated final year. It is likely he will be a Day 2 pick in this year’s draft.

Conclusion

The 2018 Los Angeles Rams will likely be defined by the phrase “Super Bowl or bust.” Whether that is a fair statement is an argument for another time. The Rams will face a new set of challenges in 2018, but it appears they have the coaching and talent to overcome those challenges and make a run at the Lombardi Trophy.

Make sure to tune in tomorrow for the Carolina Panthers 2018 NFL Draft profile.

 

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Brandon Cooks

Brandin Cooks traded to the Rams

The Rams have once again hit the jackpot. This offseason, they’ve traded away Robert Quinn and Alec Ogletree; and they’ve brought in Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters and Ndamukong Suh to make an all-star defense that will become a problem in the NFL this upcoming season. Now it’s time for the offense to get involved in the mix as well. On Tuesday, April 3, general manager Les Snead gave up their number 23 pick in the first-round of the NFL Draft to the New England Patriots in order to get wide receiver, Brandin Cooks (A sixth-round pick was also traded from the Rams to the Patriots in exchange for a fourth-round pick. This is the second year that the Rams will be without a first-round pick.) Now that he’s part of the team, there’s no telling what the Los Angeles Rams are capable of this upcoming season.

What Cooks Will Bring to the Table?

Cooks will replace Sammy Watkins as their new elite vertical threat. He is an expert at causing separation from defensive backs, and he has the speed and agility to go up and make plays. Now, Rams quarterback, Jarod Goff, will have more options to choose from when he’s on the field. Cooks will also work well alongside wide receivers Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods, and Rams star running back Todd Gurley. Cooks is not an Odell Beckham Jr., which was who the Rams were going for, but he’s just as effective and more productive than him and Watkins. Another difference between the two talented receivers is that Cooks is more discipline and has a better attitude than Beckham.

Brandon Cooks

Brandin Cooks
(Calisportsnews)

As a receiver, Cooks has a total of 227 receptions for 3,393 yards and 24 touchdowns throughout his three years in the NFL. He was ranked 15th in the NFL for yards per catch when he was with the New Orleans Saints. Last season, Cooks had a total of 65 receptions for 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns, putting him in as one of the four players to record three seasons of 1,000 receiving yards and seven touchdowns before turning 25. The other three that achieved this task were Randy Moss, Odell Beckham Jr. and John Jefferson.

Reason For Leaving

Although Cooks has only one year left on his rookie contract, the Rams hope to sign him over to a long-term extension. Now, the Patriots are looking for someone to replace the young receiver. Of course; it was a tough loss for them. Cooks is a fast, energetic receiver who can go up and make plays.

If his contract hadn’t expired with New England, then there’d be no doubt that he would’ve stayed. The Patriots were also going to pay Cooks up to $14 million per year. But since they knew that his contract wasn’t going to last, they decided to trade him a year early. The Patriots have other problems as well that they’re trying to solve. Two of their best players, quarterback Tom Brady and star tight end Rob Gronkowski, are now in a year-to-year situation. In order to have another successful season, the Patriots will need to gather up players that will be able to stay on their team long term.

What Will the Patriots do Now?

Now the Patriots have two first-round picks, two-second rounders, one third-rounder, two selections in the sixth round, and one in the seventh. They will be able to rebuild, having the flexibility to move around the draft board, and add more talent to their dynasty. There have been rumors saying that the Patriots might pick up New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Most likely it could happen, but there wouldn’t be a need to since they have a number of picks in the draft.

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Thanksgiving fantasy football

Thanksgiving games week 12 fantasy turducken MVPs

Thanksgiving is now here. It’s time for turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pie and most importantly, football.

That’s right, it’s time for the tradition of the Thanksgiving games.The first two are hosted by the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys. The Lions will host their NFC North rival Minnesota Vikings, and the Cowboys will play the Los Angeles Chargers. Then the late game is an NFC East battle where the New York Giants head to play the Washington Redskins.

One part about the Thanksgiving games that I miss is John Madden and the turducken award. So for this article, it’s time to bring the turducken award back and predict who will have big fantasy days in each game.

Vikings-Lions MVP: Adam Thielen

The Vikings have been red hot, winning their last six games. That is partially due to their players stepping up with injuries, like Case Keenum playing well and the run game executing without rookie Dalvin Cook. One guy that has been having a surprise season and dominating the last two weeks is receiver Adam Thielen, who is my pick to be the first fantasy turducken winner against the Lions.

Thanksgiving fantasy football

Adam Thielen (Photo from vikings.com)

Over the last two games, Thielen has caught 14 passes for 289 yards. He has caught a touchdown in the last three. The last time the Vikings played the Lions, they lost 14-7, and Stefon Diggs was the better receiver. This time it’s a different Vikings team, and I also expect Thielen to outperform Diggs with the possibility of having Darius Slay on him for the entire game.

Thielen is second in the NFL, only behind Antonio Brown, in receiving yards. He is also tied for fifth in receptions. Thielen is currently on a three-game streak of scoring over 20 points. He’s also only one of five wide receivers with at least four fantasy games in the 20s or higher.

The Lions have allowed the ninth most passing yards to the slot since Week 4. Expect the Vikings to throw some deep shots to Thielen as he’s tied with Brandin Cooks for the most deep (15-plus yards) receptions.

At this point, Thielen is a must-start receiver every week as he has become a favorable target for Keenum.

Chargers-Cowboys MVP: Alfred Morris

The Cowboys have struggled the past two games without Ezekiel Elliott and Tyron Smith. They played the desperate Atlanta Falcons and the Philadelphia Eagles, possibly the best team in the NFC. This week is the time for them to turn it around against an inconsistent Chargers team. For this game, this is when the run game will pay off, and Alfred Morris will have a monster game.

Thanksgiving fantasy football

Alfred Morris (Photo from cbssports.com)

Last week, Morris ran for 91 yards on 17 carries. In fact, Morris had more rushing yards than Dak Prescott had passing yards before the fourth quarter. His performance was especially impressive since the Eagles entered the game having allowed just 3.6 yards per attempt.

Morris has gotten better as he has seen more carries and is only getting better. He’s averaging 5.1 yards per carry in the two games since Elliott got suspended. With Darren McFadden a healthy scratch and Rod Smith not performing, Morris should only get more carries until Elliott comes back.

Dallas is at home against a Chargers team that is allowing a league-high 138.9 rushing yards per game and the second-most yards per carry (4.93). Playing against the 30th ranked team against running backs means Morris will be getting the ball a ton early in the game.

Giants-Redskins MVP: Vernon Davis

Even with injuries to Chris Thompson and Terrelle Pryor, the Redskins should still be efficient on offense. The turducken award in this game goes to tight end Vernon Davis.

Thanksgiving fantasy football

Vernon Davis (Photo from sports.yahoo.com)

When it comes to the tight end against the Giants defense, it’s the worst in fantasy. They have given up a touchdown every game but last week. However, they still gave up 120 yards to the position.

During Jordan Reed’s three-week absence, Davis has averaged 8.7 targets, 5.3 catches and 71.7 receiving yards. Last week he had six targets and 67 receiving yards. Dating back to Week 6, Davis leads the Redskins in receiving yards (367), is tied for second in receptions (25) and is second in targets (38). With Reed missing practice, it’s likely Davis will get the start again against the Giants.

The Giants have yielded a league-high 19.6 PPR points per game to this position. With this matchup, he has to be a must-start, even at the flex position.

 

Featured image from sbnation.com.

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week six DFS don'ts

Week six DFS don’ts: Report Card

An interesting trend is starting to develop. It seems as though every three weeks I’m due for a dip in DFS profitability. Thus far, I’ve only failed to profit in weeks three and six. Does that mean I should just not play in weeks nine, twelve and fifteen? Of course not, if there’s a Sunday slate, I’ll play it. Let’s wrap up week six DFS don’ts with the dreaded report card.

Quarterback: 1/3

As some of you might have noticed, no week six DFS don’ts piece about quarterbacks. Sorry about that, won’t happen again. Anyways, Tom Brady came up just short of doubling his value against the Jets and Kevin Hogan was a huge disappointment. Thankfully, Kirk Cousins redeemed me by finishing as the top fantasy quarterback this weekend.

Running Back: 4/6

Not a bad week at the running back position. Leonard Fournette and Mark Ingram were great for my cash game lineups. Unfortunately, the Denver Broncos didn’t show up and that cost me huge with C.J. Andersen. As far as my week six DFS don’ts at this position, Carlos Hyde proved me wrong. I’m glad to see he’s reestablished himself as the lead back even if it was at my expense. Both Ameer Abdullah and Elijah McGuire failed miserably to double their value.

Wide Receiver: 2/5

I don’t count players who end up being out, so, I’m not counting DeVante Parker as part of my report card. DeAndre Hopkins and Chris Hogan shockingly didn’t produce double their value. I know DeSean Jackson didn’t technically double his value; however, I’m counting this as a win since he still managed to produce with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Brandin Cooks came so close to proving me wrong, whereas Demaryius Thomas blew me away with 10 catches for over 130 yards.

Tight End: 1/4

Martellus Bennett was an easy pick. If you couldn’t tell a week ago, you can now. He doesn’t produce in this offense. Darren Fells, despite a lack of targets, still managed to produce. He’s officially supplanted Eric Ebron and is a viable DFS option moving forward. Ryan Griffin and AJ Derby were also bad calls despite great matchups.

Kicker: 2/2

At least I’m continuing to pick this position correctly. Aaron Rodgers injury aside, I didn’t like Mason Crosby going into this week. However, I loved Wil Lutz this week and he more than doubled his value.

Defense: 1/2

I will apologize for everyone who listened to the Suck My DFS Podcast and picked Denver as their defense. They were incredibly disappointing. Thankfully, Jacksonville laid an egg at home as I predicted.

Overall Score: 11/22

50% isn’t great, but, there doesn’t seem to be a correlation between who I pick and how much money I win. The weeks I’ve won the most money, I haven’t been great on individual player picks, and vice versa. The best thing about this game is that we can quickly move on to the next week. Come back tomorrow for which kicker and defense you should avoid in week seven.

 

Featured Image Courtesy of Grizzly Bear Blues

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week six DFS don'ts

Week six DFS don’ts: Wide receiver

My week five was one to forget in terms of my wide receiver predictions. Yes, there were obvious calls I could have made, but I wanted to take some risks. I’ll be doing the same this week. However, I’ll try to make these more calculated. Let’s find out which players are my wide receiver edition of week six DFS don’ts.

Brandin Cooks: FanDuel Price $7,900

This pains me to say because I love Brandin Cooks. I was so excited when I found out he was traded to New England. However, there are problems with Cooks that emerged in last Thursday’s game against the Buccaneers.

As we all know, Rob Gronkowski was inactive in last week’s game. With Gronk out, we saw a shift towards the pass catching running backs and Danny Amendola. Cooks did see a season-high in targets, but it still failed to reach double digits. It’s clear that Chris Hogan is the number one receiving option in this offense going forward.

Offensive role aside, Cooks does not have a favorable matchup this week. Yes, I know they are playing the Jets. However, I’m referring to Cooks’ individual matchup versus Morris Claiborne. Claiborne has been deployed in shadow coverage every week since week two. According to Pro Football Focus, Claiborne has only been targeted 14 times since week two, allowing nine total catches for 95 yards.

We also have a track record of teams choosing to shadow Cooks over Hogan. In week four, James Bradberry shadowed Brandin Cooks on over 65 percent of the snaps. Bradberry was targeted six times, only surrendering three catches for 38 yards. Teams clearly see Cooks as the most talented wide receiver and are choosing to focus on him as opposed to Hogan or Amendola. If you want DFS shares of the Patriots, pivot to another receiver this week.

Demaryius Thomas: Fanduel price $6,800

week six DFS don'ts: wide receiver

Will Demaryius Thomas find a way to reach the end zone for the first time all season against the tough Giants secondary? (Photo: Denver Post)

2017 has been so disappointing thus far for Demaryius Thomas. Denver allocated resources in the offseason to build the offensive line and support Trevor Siemian, and it hasn’t translated to production for Thomas.

Granted, he’s had a solid floor in terms of point production. However, he failed miserably in a great matchup versus Oakland in week four. Thomas was only able to turn five targets into one catch for 11 yards.

This week’s matchup does not bode well for Thomas, or any Denver wide receiver. While the Giants are depleted on offense, they still have one of the best secondaries in the league. Another strike against Thomas is the 12-point spread.

This kind of spread indicates that the game will be over in the third quarter, or even by halftime. Meaning, the Broncos will look to sit on their lead and fee C.J. Anderson against a below average run defense. Consider other options in Thomas’ price range, as his matchup and role have landed him on my week six DFS don’ts.

DeVante Parker: FanDuel Price $6,000

You can attribute Parker’s place on this list to Jay Cutler. It’s embarrassing how poorly he played against a bad Titans defense. How on earth does a starting NFL quarterback not throw for 100 yards in a game in which they play all four quarters? Cutler failed to complete 50 percent of his passes, including one interception. His overall body language was disheartening and his interest in the game looked minimal. I don’t think anyone on the Dolphins offense has a chance to produce as long as Cutler remains the quarterback.

Parker’s health is also uncertain, as his status for Sunday’s game is questionable. Not all injuries are equal. Parker left the game with an ankle injury which can linger if not addressed immediately. If you really want to play Parker this week, keep checking practice reports and his official status as the week continues. Parker joins Thomas and Cooks on my week six DFS don’ts.

 

Featured Image Courtesy of Boston Globe

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Week three DFS don’ts: Quarterback

Week two for the quarterback position could be characterized as a return to normalcy. We saw the usual suspects at the top of the scoring charts like Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Derek Carr. However, players like Trevor Siemian and Carson Wentz were able to perform on par with or better than those previously mentioned. Will any of these players will wind up on the quarterback edition of my week three DFS don’ts?

Drew Brees: FanDuel Price $8,400

Drew Brees is almost matchup proof. Last year he produced even against the most elite pass defenses like Denver and Seattle. However, he played those games at home in the confines of the Superdome. This Sunday, Brees plays at Carolina in a pivotal division game.

One year of data does not constitute a trend. But, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t consider it. Brees had a staunch difference in production against the Panthers in 2016 depending on where he played. I’m not saying this is exactly what will happen this year, but Brees is not playing with the same team.

Brees will play against the fifth ranked defense in terms of DVOA. You can read more about DOVA here, but it’s a stat that evaluates how good a team or player is relative to the NFL average. Currently, the Panthers are 42 percent better than the average NFL defense, and is ranked by Football Outsiders as the second best defense.

Apart from playing on the road against a great defense, Brees will be less equipped to produce than in his past matchups. Why’s that? Well, last year he had Michael Thomas, Brandin Cooks and Willie Snead at his disposal. This Sunday, he’ll only have Michael Thomas. He’ll also enter the game with one of the least efficient running attacks in the NFL. They currently rank 26th in total rushing and only have 38 rushing attempts in two games.

As much as it pains me to say, I’m not willing to pay $8,400 for Drew Brees given this week’s matchup. Let’s hope his placement on my week three DFS don’ts will be his only time this season.

Russell Wilson: FanDuel Price $7,800

Can Russell Wilson overcome his terrible offensive line to keep the Seahawks from falling to 1-2? (Courtesy of; SI.com)

I feel so bad for Russell Wilson. His franchise is failing him the same way the Colts are failing Andrew Luck. They continue to devote resources away from their offensive line, and now they are paying for it. Seattle is currently tied for 20th in sacks allowed.

This offensive line is so incompetent that they allowed the 49ers to stay competitive in last Sunday’s game. Sadly, I don’t think the Seahawks offense will be able to sustain drives and give their defense ample time to recover between drives.

They will inevitably have multiple three and outs, and that will force the Seattle defense to get pounded by DeMarco Murray or Derrick Henry. This will force the offense to abandon the run, and force Wilson to continue to run for his life.

I hope the Seahawks find a way to correct their pitiful offensive line play. I love stacking Wilson with Doug Baldwin in my DFS lineups. But until further notice, I can’t take that chance. Wilson and company are firmly on my week three DFS don’ts.

 

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Featured Image Courtesy of Sporting News