2018 fantasy football composite rankings: RB

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 running back rankings:

Running back rankings: 1-10

1. Todd Gurley- Los Angeles Rams

Braxton’s rank: 2

Joe’s rank: 2

2. Ezekiel Elliot- Dallas Cowboys

Braxton’s rank: 1

Joe’s rank: 3

3. Le’Veon Bell- Pittsburgh Steelers

Braxton’s rank: 3

Joe’s rank: 1

4. Leonard Fournette- Jacksonville Jaguars

Braxton’s rank: 4

Joe’s rank: 7

5. Kareem Hunt- Kansas City Chiefs

Braxton’s rank: 5

Joe’s rank: 6

6. Alvin Kamara- New Orleans Saints

Braxton’s rank: 7

Joe’s rank: 5

7. David Johnson- Arizona Cardinals

Braxton’s rank: 8

Joe’s rank: 4

8. Saquon Barkley- New York Giants

Braxton’s rank: 6

Joe’s rank: 8

9. Melvin Gordon- Los Angeles Chargers

Braxton’s rank: 10

Joe’s rank: 9

10. Dalvin Cook- Minnesota Vikings

Braxton’s rank: 11

Joe’s rank: 10

Running back rankings: 11-20

11. Devonta Freeman- Atlanta Falcons

Braxton’s rank: 9

Joe’s rank: 12

12. Jerick Mckinnon- San Francisco 49ers

Braxton’s rank: 12

Joe’s rank: 15

13. Jordan Howard- Chicago Bears

Braxton’s rank: 14

Joe’s rank: 13

14. Christian McCaffrey- Carolina Panthers

Braxton’s rank: 19

Joe’s rank: 11

15. LeSean McCoy- Buffalo Bills

Braxton’s rank: 17

Joe’s rank: 14

16. Joe Mixon- Cincinnati Bengals

Braxton’s rank: 15

Joe’s rank: 18

17. Derrick Henry- Tennessee Titans

Braxton’s rank: 13

Joe’s rank: 20

18. Alex Collins- Baltimore Ravens

Braxton’s rank: 23

Joe’s rank: 17

19. Lamar Miller- Houston Texans

Braxton’s rank: 22

Joe’s rank: 19

20. Kenyan Drake- Miami Dolphins

Braxton’s rank: 25

Joe’s rank: 16

Running back rankings: 21-30

 21. Derrius Guice- Washington Redskins

Braxton’s rank: 21

Joe’s rank: 21

22. Royce Freeman- Denver Broncos

Braxton’s rank: 18

Joe’s rank: 24

23. Carlos Hyde- Cleveland Browns

Braxton’s rank: 16

Joe’s rank: 28

24. Mark Ingram- New Orleans Saints

Braxton’s rank: 20

Joe’s rank: 27

25. Jay Ajayi- Philadelphia Eagles

Braxton’s rank: 26

Joe’s rank: 25

26. Marshawn Lynch- Oakland Raiders

Braxton’s rank: 29

Joe’s rank: 22

27. Marlon Mack- Indianapolis Colts

Braxton’s rank: 24

Joe’s rank: 29

28. Ronald Jones- Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Braxton’s rank: 28

Joe’s rank: 26

29. Rashaad Penny- Seattle Seahawks

Braxton’s rank: N/A

Joe’s rank: 23

30. Sony Michel- New England Patriots

Braxton’s rank: 30

Joe’s rank: N/A

 

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running back rankings

2018 fantasy football running back rankings

As I joked about in my quarterback rankings, these will likely be irrelevant in a matter of weeks. Thankfully, the news about Mark Ingram and his four-game suspension was released this week. It will no doubt impact his draft stock and the usage of every player on the Saints’ offense through the first four games. So, let’s get right into running back rankings for 2018.

Running Back Rankings: 1-10

1. Ezekiel Elliott –  Dallas Cowboys

No offense is going to rely more on their running back than the Dallas Cowboys. The losses of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten means that the rest of their skill positions are unproven commodities and to this point, Dak Prescott isn’t capable of elevating those players. Ezekiel Elliott, as a result, is going to play a much larger role in the passing game. While he’s not as fluid a receiver as some other elite backs, the added touches will give Elliott the weekly upside of players like Todd Gurley and Le’Veon Bell. Not to mention, he’ll enter the season with fresh legs and a monster chip on his shoulder. An angry Ezekiel Elliott has me excited about his fantasy prospects in 2018.

2. Todd Gurley –  Los Angeles Rams 

I’m on record saying this entire offense is going to take a step back. Now, I think Todd Gurley’s production will be the least impacted by the regression. His volume in this offense is too great to keep him out of the top three spots. His involvement in the passing game, particularly in the screen game, would likely make him the number one overall pick in most PPR leagues. However, Sean McVay’s system will not take any coordinator by surprise and one injury to this offensive line would severely limit his production.

3. Le’Veon Bell – Pittsburgh Steelers

Le’Veon Bell is scaring the hell out of me at the number three spot. He once again will not be reporting to camp and won’t be working with the team until the first week of regular season practice. It took two games before we saw the kind of production we’re used to from Bell, then he exploded against Baltimore. Apart from sitting out training camp, Bell has a history of missing games for injury and suspension, and always seems to be feuding with management. Despite all of those potential negatives, he’s too talented and in too great of a system to be lower than the number three spot.

4. Leonard Fournette – Jacksonville Jaguars

Leonard Fournette is in a similar role to Ezekiel Elliot. Fournette is the going to be the focus of a run-first offense and will be receive a tremendous amount of volume. However, there are a few negatives Elliott does not have. Fournette’s role in the passing game is not as substantial, his offensive line is not as good and he missed multiple games in his rookie season. What separates Fournette from a the other players in the top ten is his consistent volume, and his team’s unquestioned commitment to the running the ball.

5. Kareem Hunt – Kansas City Chiefs

As a Kareem Hunt fan, it was absolutely egregious that he was not named the offensive rookie of the year in 2017. Alvin Kamara was great, but he didn’t lead the NFL, or even his own team in rushing yards. Rant aside, Kareem Hunt is in a great position entering 2018. The only person who can stand in his way is Andy Reid. As a season-long owner of Kareem Hunt last year, Reid would randomly not give the ball to Hunt for more multiple games in a row. Now that Patrick Mahomes is the starter, one can surmise that Hunt will receive a larger volume of touches as a result. Also, starting running backs in Andy Reid’s system are always viable fantasy options.

6. Saquon Barkley – New York Giants

Saquon Barkley will likely be over drafted come August. He’s a great player in a good situation. He’s the unquestioned starter and playing with an upgraded offensive line, an elite perimeter player and a capable quarterback. The only problem is that his popularity and camp reports will inflate his value to the point where he is going over players like Hunt and Fournette, which I struggle to agree with. If you want Barkley, you might have to take him with a top-five pick by mid-August.

7. Alvin Kamara – New Orleans Saints

Given my Kareem Hunt analysis, you might think I don’t like him. That could not be farther from the truth. I drafted him in all my redraft leagues when he was slated as the third running back on the depth chart. The only problem I have with Kamara is that he doesn’t appear to be a running back capable of handling 20 carries and 3-5 catches a game, on top of his kick return duties. What made him so great was Sean Payton’s ability to match him up with linebackers in coverage, and give him carries in unconventional running situations. Even with Mark Ingram’s four-game suspension, his volume will not that of an Elliott, Gurley or Bell. The Saints will more than likely ask Drew Brees and company to shoulder more of the load during their stretch without Ingram.

8. David Johnson – Arizona Cardinals

David Jonson’s slide to the eighth spot is the result of a few things. He’s playing in a new offensive system. During Mike McCoy’s tenure as a head coach or offensive coordinator, his offenses on average ranked 14th in attempts. When Melvin Gordon was his starting running back, his team ranked 22nd in rushing attempts both seasons. Gordon and Johnson are similar in terms of volume and involvement in the passing game, with the overall edge going to Johnson. However, the quarterback play will likely be sub-par because Sam Bradford will get injured and McCoy’s playbooks are notoriously difficult to absorb. Johnson will be a productive fantasy running back, but he should not be viewed as the same number one overall pick he was touted as last season.

9. Devonta Freeman – Atlanta Falcons

Devonta Freeman’s production, like everyone on the Atlanta Falcons in 2017, dipped. I do think he and the offense as a whole will improve with another year under Steve Sarkisian. But, there were some concerns towards the end of last season. Seemingly out of nowhere, Freeman got the football equivalent of the yipps and could not score on the goal line. In fairness, he was dealing with an injury late in the season, but it will be telling if the Falcons decide to use Tevin Coleman out of shotgun in short yardage, as opposed to pounding the ball inside with Freeman.

10. Melvin Gordon – Los Angeles Chargers

It seems like the Chargers are the most underrated team in terms of fantasy production when you consider that consistent producers like Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon and Keenan Allen are all on same offense. Every year Gordon is a good starter and is a heavy volume player. The only thing keeping Gordon from being higher on this list is that he doesn’t produce explosive plays like Kamara or Hunt.

Running Back Rankings: 11-20

11. Dalvin Cook – Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings are shaping up to be a dangerous team. They are incredibly well-balanced on offense which bodes well for Dalvin Cook, especially since he’s coming off an injury. Kirk Cousins and his perimeter weapons will help open up running lanes for Cook. Even if the upgrade at the quarterback position takes away from Cook’s volume, he no longer has to compete with Jerick McKinnon for third down touches. Don’t expect Cook’s overall production, or in draft stock.

12. Jerick McKinnon – San Francisco 49ers

I am so excited about the prospects of Jerrick McKinnon in San Francisco. For those who doubt McKinnon’s role as a full-time starter, show me the last running back who was paid $36 million and didn’t see the majority of the touches in the backfield. This is going to sound crazy, but Jerrick McKinnon is Alvin Kamara in terms of ability. McKinnon actually is faster, more explosive, just as capable as a receiver, and only smaller by one inch and four pounds. While I don’t think he can handle a full workload, I absolutely think his production is going to skyrocket with an increased role in San Francisco.

13. Derrick Henry – Tennessee Titans

Now that Derrick Henry is finally rid of Demarco Murray, he is going to see a Leonard Fournette type of volume. Henry’s knock is that he lacks explosiveness and benefited from splitting time with Murray, which is accurate but may not apply moving forward. It will be interesting to see in the first four weeks whether or not he can keep his yards per carry up while seeing the increased volume.

14. Jordan Howard – Chicago Bears

Last year Jordan Howard disappointed fantasy owners, especially those who took him in the second round. Howard was no longer sneaking up on defenses and was actually the primary focus given the team’s rookie quarterback. Thankfully, the Tarik Cohen fad faded as the season progressed, but Benny Cunningham is a classic third-down back who will still take away touches in the passing game from Howard in 2018.

15. Joe Mixon – Cincinnati Bengals

Joe Mixon could explode in productivity this year. The Bengals upgraded their left tackle position and spent a first-round pick on interior defensive linemen, Billy Price. Mixon asserted himself as the best player in this backfield and will see the majority of the touches from week one. Giovani Bernard is still there, so he will likely assume the third-down role. However, Mixon is absolutely the starter and could end up being a value on draft day.

16. Carlos Hyde – Cleveland Browns

Much of my Jerick McKinnon excitement can be applied to Carlos Hyde in Cleveland. Hyde is a complete back and no longer has to convince Kyle Shanahan to give him the ball over Matt Breida. Hyde should be drafted as a fourth-round pick though because of the presence of Duke Johnson and Nick Chubb. Johnson will be the primary third down back, and Nick Chubb could threaten Hyde’s share of the carries.

17. LeSean McCoy – Buffalo Bills

This could be the final season for LeSean McCoy in terms of fantasy relevance. While he’s still dynamic, there are too many new variables that can hamper his success. McCoy has to deal with a new starting quarterback, new starting left tackle and a new starting guard. He will no longer get the benefit of the Tyrod Taylor and running the read option. We also have to keep in mind that McCoy will be 30 years old this July.

18. Royce Freeman – Denver Broncos

Royce Freeman is going to be the week one starter if the Broncos don’t sign a veteran player at the position. The Broncos are so confident in Freeman’s ability that they did not retain C.J. Anderson. Devontae Booker, Jamaal Charless and De’Angelo Henderson were all on the roster last year and none of them could assert themselves as the dominant back. It also doesn’t hurt that Pro Football Focus has Freeman slated as the starter. I will be aggressively targeting Freeman in redrafts and rookie drafts.

19. Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers

Christian McCaffrey was higher in my rankings until the C.J. Anderson acquisition. I believe McCaffrey will be the starter and dominate all the touches between the 20’s. However, Anderson could turn into a goal-line vulture, especially knowing that the Panthers like to bring on big personnel in short yardage for Cam Newton or the former, Jonathan Stewart. I can still see them using McCaffrey in red zone passing situations to exploit matchups, but it’s possible the Anderson steals multiple touchdowns from McCaffrey this season.

20. Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints

Mark Ingram is going to be, or I hope will be, a great value on draft day. Picking Ingram is going to come down to which round I can draft him in. If you told me right now that I could get Ingram in the fifth round, I would jump at that opportunity. If I only get 75 percent of his production last season, since he’s missing the first four games, that means I would be getting 173 carries, 843 yards, and 9 touchdowns. I’ll take that all day in the fifth round.

Running Back Rankings: 21-30

21. Derrius Guice – Washington Redskins

I’m not too high on Derrius Guice. He will certainly have every opportunity to start, but, this team had no interest in running the ball last season. They ranked 24th in rushing attempts in 2017. Also, Chris Thompson will return as the unquestioned third down and pass catching back.

22. Lamar Miller – Houston Texans

Lamar Miller is another player I’ll be aggressively targeting. Every year no one wants Lamar Miller, and every year he finishes top 15 in points (average finish of 11.25 in points the last four seasons). He’s going to play in a potentially dynamic offense based on what we saw last season. And, he’s going to be the beneficiary of seven men boxes because of their explosive perimeter players.

23. Alex Collins – Baltimore Ravens

While the Ravens are trying to transform their wide receivers and potentially their quarterback, they are committed to running the ball. The Ravens upgraded their offensive line, and, did not draft a running back in this year’s draft. Alex Collins should be a starter in all leagues and will likely be picked in the fourth or fifth round.

24. Marlon Mack – Indianapolis Colts

The entire team hinges on Andrew Luck, including Marlon Mack. Mack will likely be the starter week one, but will not have the upside of a starter in fantasy if Luck is not under center.

25. Kenyan Drake – Miami Dolphins

Kenyan Drake came on strong for the Dolphins last season. He showed the ability to be an all-around running back. However, the Dolphins have shipped a lot of their talent elsewhere, and aside from Josh Sitton, their interior linemen are sub par.

26. Jay Ajayi – Philadelphia Eagles

I love Jay Ajayi and he’s in a system, but the Eagles just signed Matt Jones this week and brought back Darren Sproles. How in the hell is he going to get enough touches to be productive? Just do yourself a favor and shy away from anyone on the Eagles.

27. Rex Burkhead – New England Patriots

I approach the Patriots the same way I approach the Eagles, just don’t (unless there’s an injury). Rex Burkhead will likely get the goal line carries and be used to exploit some receiving mismatches, but at a much smaller rate than James White.

28. Ronald Jones – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Ronald Jones will probably be the starter. Just as a result of that, he will accumulate production worthy of being drafted. I’m not sure what his upside will be behind that offensive line and in a system that wants to primarily throw the ball to a multitude of targets.

29. Marshawn Lynch – Oakland Raiders

Marshawn Lynch is projected to start week one. But, I wouldn’t be surprised if he retires before the start of the season. It’s very possible that he and Jon Gruden will clash, and as a result, he hands up his cleats again. It’s also a crowded backfield with Doug Martin, Jalen Richard, and DeAndre Washington.

30. Sony Michel – New England Patriots

My best guess is that Sony Michel will assume the Dion Lewis role for the Patriots. He’s substantially more talented than Lewis, but he cannot overcome the Patriots’ system. Unless there’s an injury, don’t count on Michel for production.

 

Featured Image Courtesy of SI.com

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2018 fantasy football RB 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 RB rankings:

Running back rankings: 1-10

1. Le’Veon Bell- Pittsburgh Steelers

Bell still doesn’t have the long-term contract he desires. He will sit out preseason then come back for the regular season, making him a safer running back pick than others getting carries before the season starts. His season will likely start off slow, much like last year, but then he will come on strong. He finished second in scoring among running backs last year and should have another great season.

2. Todd Gurley- Los Angeles Rams

Last season Gurley finished second for all players and first for running backs in fantasy. It would be hard to imagine him having quite the same season this year, as teams figure out Sean McVay’s play-calls and tendencies, but he should play well again. The Rams also have a first-place schedule to worry about. Gurley, like Bell, helps out in the receiving game too, which aids in making him a great running back.

3. Ezekiel Elliot- Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys lack playmakers and are going to need to hand Elliot the rock often. Elliot still has a great line in front of him and can capitalize on that. Teams may stack the box to stop him and make Dak Prescott beat them, but Prescott excels on play-action passes, so they will be kept honest.

2018 fantasy football rb rankings

David Johnson (Photo by azcardinals.com)

4. David Johnson- Arizona Cardinals

Johnson is returning from his broken wrist last season. He has had plenty of time to heal so that injury shouldn’t be a concern for this season. Johnson was an early first-round pick in fantasy drafts last year, so this year may be the time to take him later in the first and get good value on him. He will be the focal point of the offense once again and can help out a new quarterback, whoever it ends up being, with his receiving capabilities.

5. Alvin Kamara- New Orleans Saints

The news that Mark Ingram is out for four games helps Kamara’s case for this season. He will still be splitting carries with Ingram when he returns, which makes it hard to put him much higher than this on the list. Kamara broke onto the scene last year and now will have teams game-planning around him. He finished as the fourth best running back last season and will have to work to get back to that spot.

6. Kareem Hunt- Kansas City Chiefs

With Mahomes taking over, teams will stack the box on Hunt next season. Defenses likely won’t pay too often, as Mahomes won’t complete a very high percentage of his passes. The good news is Hunt will get a large portion of the check-downs that Mahomes throws.

7. Leonard Fournette- Jacksonville Jaguars

Fournette finished eighth among running backs last year and didn’ have a great offensive line in front of him. Andrew Norwell was signed to help improve the line and Fournette should see a little better results because of it. He missed three games due to injuries and being late to a team photo, so that is a concern going forward, but he’s still a top ten running back.

8. Saquon Barkley- New York Giants

Rookie running backs breaking out and having good seasons is more of a norm now. Barkley is one of the most talented college running backs in history and will be the player that the Giants have been looking for at the position for years. The offensive line for the Giants got better this offseason with the acquisitions of Nate Solder and Will Hernandez. He can help out in the passing game as well.

9. Melvin Gordon- Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers’ defense has gotten a lot better, which means that they will lead a lot more and Gordon will get more carries to close out games. Gordon finished fifth last year and is a good candidate to have another good year. He will be hoping that Dan Feeny and Forrest Lamp can stay healthy and improve this season to help create holes.

10. Dalvin Cook- Minnesota Vikings

Cook has a significant injury history dating back to college, so taking him could be a risk. His ability makes it a risk worth taking. He played well in his limited time last year. The offensive line was decent last year and Brian O’Neill as drafted to help improve it even more. Kirk Cousins loves to throw to running backs out of the backfield, so Cook should have a high work rate.

Running back rankings: 11-20

11. Christian McCaffrey- Carolina Panthers

The offensive line got worse this offseason with the loss of Norwell, but McCaffrey had 113 targets in the passing game. He was a boom-or-bust play last year with seven games of under six fantasy points and six games of over 10 points. Jonathan Stewart is now gone, so McCaffrey should see a better work rate.

12. Devonta Freeman- Atlanta Falcons

Freeman finished 13th last year and does split carries with Tevin Coleman. He formerly was the number one running back in fantasy, but that was under a different offensive coordinator. His value is limited with him sharing carries and playing for Steve Sarkisian, who fails to get the most out of his players.

13. Jordan Howard- Chicago Bears

Not many people have Howard this high on their lists, but with the offense getting better around him, he can have a good season. He was the 10th best running back last year and the field should be more spread out for him with Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller and Taylor Gabriel being able to produce.

2018 Fantasy football RB rankings

LeSean McCoy (Photo by buffalorumblings.com)

14. LeSean McCoy- Buffalo Bills

Taking McCoy as a number one running back is no longer a viable option. He is aging and the team around him isn’t going to be very helpful. Cordy Glenn was traded and both Richie Incognito and Eric Wood retired this offseason. Their offensive line is not going to be good. This paired with the fact that an unproven quarterback will be taking snaps, means that other teams can focus their time on shutting down the run.

15. Jerick McKinnon- San Francisco 49ers

McKinnon was just the 24th best running back last season, but he has a tremendous opportunity this year. The 49ers will be able to use him on all three downs and his only competition for carries is Matt Breida. Even if Breida gets a decent amount of carries, McKinnon will get work in the passing game.

16. Kenyan Drake- Miami Dolphins

Frank Gore was signed this offseason, giving Drake a running mate. Gore’s career is winding down and while he may still get a decent amount of carries, Drake will be given the majority. With Ryan Tannehill returning to the lineup, Drake should be a security blanket to throw to in the passing game.

17. Alex Collins- Baltimore Ravens

While he didn’t start off the season to get a lot of the work out of the backfield, Collins ran with his opportunity and finished as the 16th ranked running back. With a full season getting the majority of the carries, Collins should be expected to be a RB2.

18. Joe Mixon- Cincinnati Bengals

After getting his feet wet as a rookie, Mixon is poised for a bigger year in 2018. The offensive line in front of him will be much better with the additions of Cordy Glenn and Billy Price.

19. Lamar Miller- Houston Texans

This ranking is very dependent on Deshaun Watson coming back healthy. At the end of the season, with Watson out of the lineup, Miller had five straight games of under 10 fantasy points. He didn’t have his greatest season last year, but the Texans had a bad offensive line and bad quarterback play without Watson.

20. Derrick Henry- Tennessee Titans

Demarco Murray is finally gone, so Henry can take the lead back role. He will split carries with Dion Lewis, but they should compliment each other well. Henry finished 25th last year and should be able to finish in the top 20 this season.

Running back rankings: 21-30

21. Derrius Guice- Washington Redskins

Guice will be part of a tandem as well, with Chris Thompson. Thompson will capitalize on all of Alex Smith’s short throws, but Guice is going to be tasked with getting all the tough yards on first and second down. He should also receive the majority of the goal line carries.

2018 fantasy football RB rankings

Marshawn Lynch (Photo by sportingnews.com)

22. Marshawn Lynch- Oakland Raiders

He wasn’t the same back that he was before retirement, but he was a top 20 fantasy back last season. Doug Martin now joins the fold, but Lynch will still see the majority of the carries. The line isn’t quite the same great one it was in 2016, but is still solid.

23. Rashaad Penny- Seattle Seahawks

The offensive line is still a huge issue that wasn’t adequately addressed, so Penny will be thrown into the fire as a rookie. The Seahawks did draft him too early, but that shows confidence in his abilities and a desire to use him in their offense. He can stay on the field for all three downs.

24. Royce Freeman- Denver Broncos

Freeman found the perfect situation in the Denver Broncos. He was a great runner behind zone blocking in college and will now run behind a similar zone blocking scheme in the NFL. With C.J. Anderson gone Freeman will only have to fight for carries with Devontae Booker.

25. Jay Ajayi- Philadelphia Eagles

He will surely have a better season than last year when he ranked 33rd in fantasy points for running backs. Ajayi will be the workhorse back, but they have many talented running backs who will get touches this season. They have talked about getting him more involved in the game plan, so expect him to be in the RB2-Flex range.

26. Ronald Jones II- Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs needed a new running back without Doug Martin being on the roster any longer. Jones is a quick running back, who figures to get most of the carries this season. He will also help out in the passing game.

27. Mark Ingram- New Orleans Saints

Ingram is now suspended for four games for breaking the performance-enhancing drug rules of the NFL. He finished sixth last year, but was figured to take a small step back with the emergence of Kamara. With the suspension, he is now dropping down draft boards and shouldn’t be seen as more than a flex player even when he comes back.

28. Carlos Hyde- Cleveland Browns

Hyde has a new home in Cleveland but has to split carries with Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson Jr. He should get carries near the goal line, but other parts of the field might see a more even split. Hyde also has injury problems as last season was the only year he played all 16 games.

29. Marlon Mack- Indianapolis Colts

There are reports that Jordan Wilkins will be a star, but he wasn’t vey successful in college. Mack should get most of the carries and he now has a much improved offensive line to run behind.

30. Chris Thompson- Washington Redskins

Thompson was crushing it before going down with injury and missing the last six games of the season. He is an excellent third-down back who should thrive playing with “Captain Check-Down” Alex Smith.

 

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Rookies to target in fantasy football 2018

With the NFL Draft being over, fantasy owners can start plotting their picks for months down the road. A lot of fantasy eligible players were drafted, but not all will have successful rookie seasons. Here are rookies to target in fantasy football for 2018.

Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

This one is the biggest no-brainer. Barkley is going to be the workhorse back from day one for the Giants. He is capable of handling 20+ carries a game and also provides a good receiver out of the backfield. The Giants likely won’t use him as a returner, but he also is good at that. The most talented running back in the class will have an opportunity to get a lot of touches in his rookie season.

If he doesn’t work out as a great fantasy player, it will be due to his offensive line. It was addressed this offseason with the acquisition of Nate Solder. The Giants also got the best run blocker in the class in Will Hernandez, who will be clearing holes for Barkley for years to come. It still isn’t a great offensive line but it should be vastly improved over last season.

Josh Rosen, QB, Arizona Cardinals

Rookies to target in fantasy football 2018

Josh Rosen (Photo by arizonasports.com)

Taking a rookie quarterback in fantasy is always a risk, but if a rookie quarterback does pan out, it will be Rosen. He was selected with the 10th overall pick after the Cardinals traded up to get him. The Cardinals do have Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon, but Bradford has been unable to stay healthy throughout his career, leaving opportunity for Rosen to take over if he doesn’t beat them out for the job at the start of the season.

Rosen is one of the most pro-ready quarterbacks in the class and playing on the Cardinals will help his development. David Johnson will return from injury to give him a running game and a safety valve of a receiver. Larry Fitzgerald is back for another season and the legend should be able to help Rosen come on more quickly. Arizona also selected Christian Kirk for Rosen to grow with. The offensive line wasn’t good last year, which could be an issue for Rosen if he does get snaps this season.

Calvin Ridley, WR, ATlanta Falcons

Ridley fell all the way to pick number 26 in the NFL Draft, but he ended up in a great position. Matt Ryan will love Ridley’s athleticism and route-running abilities and will likely try to get the ball to him often. He didn’t have the best quarterback play in college and projects as a better pro than a college player.

Steve Sarkisian could hold Ridley back if he calls plays the way he did last year. Ridley could also be the fourth option a lot of times with Jones, Sanu and Hooper. The hope is that he can end up being the number two receiver in the offense when it’s all said and done.

D.J. Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers

Moore was the first receiver selected in the NFL Draft and even if he isn’t the best receiver in the class, he is going to have a lot of balls thrown his way next season. Cam Newton has Greg Olsen and Devin Funchess to throw to and that’s about it. He figures to get the second or third most targets on the team.

In college, Moore excelled on almost entirely screens and slants, so he’ll have to adjust his game a little bit. He has good run after the catch ability but needs to show he can run routes down the field and be successful. If he does only excel at short routes, he is at risk of having Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel steal some of his targets.

Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks

Rookies to target in fantasy football 2018

Rashaad Penny (Photo by fieldgulls.com)

The Seahawks may have reached to select Penny in the NFL Draft but that likely means they have big plans for him. Penny is the most talented running back on the roster with the others being Chris Carson, C.J. Prosise, Mike Davis, JD McKissic and Tre Madden. He should get the majority of the work in the 2018 season.

Penny had a great season at San Diego State and can stay on the field for all three downs with his receiving ability. The offensive line for the Seahawks still isn’t great, with Duane Brown being the only solid offensive lineman on the roster, so he may need to catch more passes for his yardage than if he were on a team with a normal offensive line.

Ronald Jones, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jones was selected early in the second round and will have a chance to be the starting running back. Doug Martin is now a Raider, while Peyton Barber and Jacquizz Rodgers leave a lot to be desired at the position. The Bucs will want to establish more of a running game this season to help open things up for Jameis Winston in the passing game.

Tampa Bay is another team that doesn’t have a great offensive line, but it is much better than the Seahawks’ and Giants’. Jones is quicker than fast and will have to use that ability in tight spaces. Winston will need to look for him out of the backfield as a receiver to maximize his potential.

Derrius Guice, RB, Washington Redskins

Guice fell in the draft due to reported character concerns so the Redskins scooped him up late in the second round. If he can stay focused on the field, he was a great value pick. Chris Thompson will be a great third down back for Alex Smith to use as a target out of the backfield, but Washington needed a workhorse back and Guice can fill that role.

There are holes on the offensive line, but they have a few really good offensive linemen as well. Guice has a good combination of speed and power and will be a good running back early on in his career if he sees the field.

 

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Best players available for day 2 of the 2018 NFL Draft

The first day of the 2018 NFL Draft is in the books. While a lot of good players were selected, there are still good players available for day two. Here are the best available players left in the 2018 NFL Draft:

Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa

Three corners were selected in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, but Jackson did not hear his name called. Denzel Ward, Jaire Alexander and Mike Hughes were all selected and now someone is going to get a steal in early round two.

The lengthy corner had a great last season at Iowa making acrobatic interceptions and even took some back to the house. He was somewhat of a one year wonder at Iowa but was highly productive. Teams likely didn’t like Jackson’s speed, but his length and ball skills make him a steal.

Jackson is the best player available and shouldn’t have to wait long on day two to be selected.

Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP

Best players available for day 2 of the NFL Draft

Will Hernandez (Photo by nj.com)

A few interior offensive linemen were drafted in the first round and Hernandez is better than some of them. With teams near the top of the second round needing some offensive line help, a team will likely take him within the first ten picks of the round.

Hernandez is a mauler and a great run blocker. It would not be a surprise to many if he started in the league for 10-plus years. He was able to learn under Sean Kugler, who was his college coach at UTEP, and he has experience coaching NFL offensive lines. Kugler is the offensive line coach in Denver now, who has a pick early in the second round.

He was a top 20 prospect in the class and now a team can get a day one starter who can vastly improve their run game from the trenches.

Justin Reid, S, Stanford

Terrell Edmunds was selected by the Steelers earlier than expected and now Reid (and Ronnie Harrison for that matter) falls to the second round. Reid might be familiar, as his brother Eric is a current free agent at the position.

He has great speed for the position, but sometimes risks too much to make a big play, which ends up costing his team. No one would’ve batted an eye if he went in the first round, but now a team can get great value in the second.

There are several teams picking in the first few picks who could use Reid, including the Giants, Colts and Bucs.

Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

Best players available day 2 of the 2018 NFL Draft

Derrius Guice (Photo by saturdaydownsouth.com)

Three running backs were selected in the first round, but Guice was left out even though he is the second best running back in the class. The Seahawks reached for Rashaad Penny and the Patriots preferred Sony Michel to Guice, so a team can get a workhorse back on day two.

Guice does have some character issues, including reports that he lied about certain NFL Combine questions being asked, but is a good talent. He has a good combination of size and speed. He did have some injuries in college, but projects to be healthy in the NFL.

Cleveland, Denver, Indianapolis, Tampa Bay and Miami all pick early on in round two and could use a running back like Guice.

Harold Landry, DE/OLB, Boston College

There were only two edge rushers selected in the first round: Bradley Chubb and Marcus Davenport. Landry will not have to wait much longer to be selected.

He had great production two seasons ago, but was unable to reach the same level this season. Landry also lacks the ideal height and length for the position, as he is only 6’2″. His production from two years ago should entice teams to select him.

Teams will have to start selecting edge rushers soon with only the two off the board so far.

Other notable available players: James Daniels C, Connor Williams OT, Maurice Hurst DT, Orlando Brown OT, Mason Rudolph QB

 

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The Game Haus

The Game Haus Staff 2018 NFL mock draft

Over the last few weeks, The Game Haus staff has written draft profiles for each NFL team. Now Draftmas culminates with our Staff mock draft. The staff acts as general managers for each NFL team to make selections for the first round of the NFL Draft. The picks may not be what happens Thursday night, but they are the picks that our staff thinks will make these teams the best they can be. Some of our staff has been kind enough to give their reasonings for their picks. Here is how the draft shook out.

Staff mock draft

1. Cleveland Browns (Josh Burris)- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State

“Barkley completes a stellar skill position group. Taylor has always had a good run game around him in Buffalo, and Duke Johnson is not a starting running back. Barkley is a freak and will also help the passing game.”

2. New York Giants (Manuel Finale)- Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

“I have the NY Giants taking OG Quenton Nelson to keep Eli Manning healthy and provide a kick-butt mentality to the g-men. For me, picking a QB would be disrespectful to Eli, and Nelson can deploy, pull, and run block with authority.

3. New York Jets (Daniel Baldwin)- Sam Darnold, QB, USC

“The Jets originally thought Darnold to the Browns was a done deal, but after Allen to the Browns buzz picked up steam they brought Darnold in for a visit. They love Darnold’s build and toughness. However, the jets love Baker Mayfield’s leadership and fit in the west coast offense. Don’t be surprised if Maccagnan chooses the fiery Heisman winner Thursday night.”

4. Cleveland Browns (Burris)- Bradley Chubb, DE/OLB, N.C. State

“Defensive line was already weak, and after trading Danny Shelton, it got weaker. Chubb is the best defensive lineman in the class and is also a freak. He will be making an impact across from Myles Garrett for years to come.”

5. Denver Broncos (Dylan Streibig)- Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

6. *Buffalo Bills (Braxton Angle)- Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

“Once Denver decided to pass on Rosen, if felt like the logical move to make a deal with the Colts. We got a great talent at the Quarterback position and didn’t have to give up too many assets to do so.”

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Angle)- Minkah Fitzpatrick, S/CB, Alabama

“Minkah is a versatile, technically sound defensive play maker. This secondary needed an infusion of young talent, and Minkah does exactly that.”

8. Chicago Bears (Blake Van Poucke)- Derwin James, S, Florida State

9. San Franciso 49ers (Kenneth Hesse)- Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

10. Oakland Raiders (Joe DiTullio)- Vita Vea, DT/NT, Washington

“Vea is big but has light feet. The Raiders are weak up the middle of their defense and need to take a defensive tackle in the draft. Taking Vea will help in the run game and should be able to take some blockers off of Khalil Mack on pass rushing situations.”

11. Miami Dolphins (DiTullio)- Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

“The quarterbacks are falling, but the Dolphins liked Rosen. He’s not available and Adam Gase may like working with Ryan Tannehill over the other rookies. With Smith, the Dolphins can upgrade their very weak linebacking core. He’s the best linebacker in the draft and can just about everything on the football field. His speed is a great asset.”

12. *Indianapolis Colts (Rob Hanes)- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

“Chubb was the pick at 6 and while there were some other options the opportunity came to get the 12th and 22nd and that was too much to pass up. Clavin Ridley is a nice piece to go opposite of TY Hilton. With great route-running and 3 years of experience with the Crimson Tide this guy should finally give Luck someone else to throw to.”

13. Washington Redskins (Cecil Walker)- Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama

“The Redskins have holes all over the field. Defensive tackle is, both literally and figuratively, the biggest hole they need to fill. Payne is a great prospect and would be the best tackle prospect if not for the athletic freak Vita Vea.”

14. Green Bay Packers (Finale)- Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa

“Their pass defense was bad, and Jackson can give the secondary coverage help and make crucial plays.

15. Arizona Cardinals (Angle)- Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma

“Despite his apparent off the field red flags, Baker is incredibly accurate, something you can’t teach. Having him play in a warm-weather climate and not have be forced into a starting role. Given Bradford’s injury history, Baker is a viable option as a backup when needed.”

16. Baltimore Ravens (David Schneider)- Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU

17. Los Angeles Chargers (Rob Doerger)- Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

18. Seattle Seahawks (Walker)- Isaiah Wynn, OG/C, Georgia 

“Protecting Russell Wilson must be a top priority for the Seahawks this season. Wynn is a great prospect that has the versatility to play anywhere on the offensive line.”

19. Dallas Cowboys (DiTullio)- Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

“With no wide receivers, safeties or defensive tackles worth taking, the Cowboys can select Evans and fill out their linebacker core. Every time Sean Lee gets injured, the defense completely loses its way. Jaylon Smith still doesn’t look totally at home on the football field after his gruesome knee injury in college. Evans can start from day one and can give some insurance to the team if Lee goes down again.”

20. Detroit Lions (Schneider)- Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

“Derrius Guice is too talented a back to pass up at 20th overall. If he is still on the board when the Lions pick I would expect GM Bob Quinn to stick to his M.O. and take the best play available. In this draft it was clearly Guice. However, I could also see them taking Landry or Davenport in this spot if Guice is gone.”

21. Cincinnati Bengals (Hanes)- Connor Williams, OT, Texas

“Wanted McGlinchey or Wynn and thought most of the centers would be available in the 2nd or 3rd round. Thus, Connor Williams made the most sense here as the Bengals upgrade a position of need and have now turned their 12th round pick into their starting tackles by getting Williams and Cordy Glenn.”

22. *Indianapolis Colts (Hanes)- Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

“Getting a second first round pick was absolutely worth it as we upgrade in a major area of need with Alexander. He was probably the best player on the board and just happened to fit.”

23. New England Patriots (Schneider)- D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland

“DJ Moore could turn out to be the best receiver in this class and if he does, what a steal to get him at 23 for the Patriots. With very few young stars on the team, New England needs to address that in the draft, which is why I see them staying pat and not trading up for a QB.”

24. Carolina Panthers (Burris)- Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP

“Hernandez is the best guard available to replace Andrew Norwell. He can start immediately and develop into a pro bowler very soon.”

25. Tennessee Titans (Hesse)- Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State

“The Titans fill the void left by middle linebacker Avery Williamson, who left in free agency. Vander Esch will spend his rookie season playing alongside veteran Wesley Woodyard, and should make an immediate impact at inside linebacker. As one of the most instinctive players in the draft, Vander Esch has the potential to become the centerpiece of Tennessee’s defense.”

26. Atlanta Falcons (Walker)- Marcus Davenport, DE/OLB, UTSA

“With the losses of Dontari Poe and Adrian Clayborne, the Falcons desperately need to shore up the defensive line. Davenport has excelled at every level and shined at the Senior Bowl this year. With the top wide receivers and offensive guards off the board, Davenport is a no-brainer.”

27. New Orleans Saints (Angle)- Billy Price, OG/C, Ohio State

“Andrus Peat and Max Unger have been steadily declining. Price’s versatility on the offensive line gives the Saints great depth, and will allow them to dominate the line of scrimmage even if an injury occurs.”

28. Pittsburgh Steelers (Finale)- Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

“Harrison has a good frame for a safety, and has proven he can help disrupt the ground attack as well as anticipating routes so he can quickly adjust.”

29. Jacksonville Jaguars (Doerger)- Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina

30. Minnesota Vikings (Hesse)- James Daniels, C, Iowa

“The Vikings missed out on Isaiah Wynn and Will Hernandez, so trading down is also likely here. Pat Elflein has settled in as the team’s starting center, so Daniels will likely play as an undersized guard. The former Hawkeye will provide an immediate boost to one of the league’s thinnest offensive lines.”

31. New England Patriots (Schneider)- Harold Landry, DE/OLB, Boston College

“Harold Landry falling all the way to Belichick and the Patriots at 31 would be a great scenario for them. Even with Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen still on the board in this draft scenario, Landry is too naturally gifted at rushing the passer for New England to pass on him.”

32. **Cincinnati Bengals (Hanes)- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

“I know Bengals fans may not like this pick but getting a quarterback that has his talent who can sit behind Dalton for a year or two and grow is a no-brainer.”

*The Bills trade picks number 12 and 20 to the Colts for pick number six overall.

**The Eagles trade number 32 for the Bengals’ second-round pick this year and next year.

 

Washington Redskins 2018 NFL Draft profile

The 2018 NFL Draft is just under a month 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 Washington Redskins 2018 NFL Draft profile.

Summary

Washington Redskins 2018 NFL Draft profile

Alex Smith (Photo by wtop.com)

Washington finished third at 7-9, in a tough NFC East last season. They were unable to qualify for the playoffs and have now entered a new era.

Whether Kirk Cousins was the answer or not is now out of the question, as he is in Minnesota and Alex Smith takes over. The passing offense is all the Redskins have had the past few years and ranked 12th in that category last season. Jay Gruden prefers quarterbacks who can hit the short passes, so Smith seems like a good fit, but he will need to adjust his offense.

They have had some injuries and disappointments at the tight end and wide receiver positions in recent years. Jordan Reed staying healthy would be a huge help and Paul Richardson was added to bring depth to the position. They still don’t have a true number one receiver though.

The running game ranked 28th in the NFL at 90.5 points per game. This helps signify that while the offensive line has a few good players, it needs more help. In addition, the running back situation isn’t in a great spot. Chris Thompson will thrive with Smith at quarterback due to his ability as a receiver. Rob Kelley and Samaje Perine have both shown flashes of good plays, but are inconsistent. Smith will need more of a running game to work with.

On defense, the Redskins have one of the worst units in the league, allowing 24.3 points per game, which tied for 27th in the league. Their pass defense was fine, but they were the worst rushing defense in the NFL last season. This highlights their need for defensive linemen in their 3-4 scheme.

The back seven of the defense has some good players including Ryan Kerrigan and Josh Norman. The linebackers have to help out more with the run, but the secondary, with Norman, can shut down a lot of good receivers.

With Smith now running the show, can the Redskins improve the team enough through the draft to compete for a playoff spot?

Picks and Needs

The Redskins have eight picks in the draft to help improve their standing.

First round (1 pick): 13

Second round (1): 44

Third round (0): 

Fourth round (1): 109

Fifth round (2): 142, 163

Sixth round (1): 188

Seventh round (2): 231, 241

Offensive needs:

Center/Guard- The offensive line has solid tackles, including the great Trent Williams, but needs some help on the interior. Getting good interior line players will not only help protect new quarterback Alex Smith but will also help the very bad run game.

Running Back- Washington has a good third down back in Chris Thompson, but needs an every-down back. Kelley and Perine are ok, but not great running backs.

Wide Receiver- There is some potential at the position already in Josh Doctson and Jamison Crowder, but a number one receiver is needed.

Defensive needs:

Nose Tackle- The run defense has to be improved and it starts with the nose tackle. Ziggy Hood is over the hill and needs to be upgraded. With a few good players who can fill this need in this class, the Redskins should be able to improve the situation via the draft.

Corner Back- Orlando Scandrick was signed to play opposite Josh Norman. Scandrick hasn’t been great the past few years but can fill in for the time being. Depth and a developmental corner who can take over for Scandrick is a need that can easily be filled.

Targets

Washington Redskins 2018 NFL Draft profile

Da’Ron Payne (Photo by sportingnews.com)

First round:

Pick No. 13: Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama

Vita Vea could be the pick here if he falls, but Payne is an experienced nose tackle as well. He played in Alabama’s three-man front and was continually doing great things. As a nose tackle, his play doesn’t always show up in the stats, but a quick look at the tape will prove his skill. He even played some offense for the Crimson Tide. Payne should be able to clog up the middle of the line and vastly improve the Redskins’ rush defense.

Second round:

Pick No. 44: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

As mentioned earlier, the Redskins need to improve their running game. They haven’t had a quality every-down back in a while. With Thompson already doing well on third downs, Guice can make the most of his carries in the early downs. Guice is one of the top running backs in the class and has a great combination of size and speed.

Conclusion

The Redskins will certainly have a new feel next year and now have to draft players that can help them compete in the NFC East.

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free agency

Detroit Lions’ free agency targets 2018

The “legal tampering” window is now open and teams are already beginning to meet with potential free agent signings. No matter what end of the spectrum a team finds themselves on – one player away from contention to multiple needs on both sides of the ball – the right move(s) will energize the locker room and the fan base. General Manager Bob Quinn has shown he is not afraid to be active in free agency to bring these types of players to Detroit. Last season we saw him address the offensive line in a big way (TJ Lang and Ricky Wagner).

The Detroit Lions’ biggest needs are at guard/center, defensive line, running back, defensive back and tight end. If possible, filling one to three of these needs in free agency can help alleviate the pressure on choosing between rookies in the draft. With just a shade under $30 million in cap space, the Lions have the opportunity to be major players in free agency. What they do in free agency will be a good indicator of their draft plans. A few free agents could fill those major holes and dictate draft strategy for Bob Quinn and Head Coach Matt Patricia.

 

Ndamukong Suh (DT) – Miami Dolphins

Yes, you read that correct. Ndamukong Suh may very well make a return back to Detroit. The Lions have the money, the need, and the history with Suh. It really depends on if he burnt too many bridges (or vice-a-versa) with his departure to South Beach. Much like Cleveland welcomed back LeBron; I am sure Detroit fans would do the same with Suh bringing back the nastiness, bad-boy mentality that embodies the Motor City.

Suh still performs at a high level and commands attention from opposing teams in their game planning. Suh’s production declined in Miami, but he still is fully capable of playing at a Pro Bowl level. The defensive system in Miami is quite different than Detroit’s. The system and way he was used could be more to blame for his decline rather than his physical prowess.

Consolation Prize: Dontari Poe (Atlanta Falcons)

Malcolm Butler (CB) – New England Patriots

free agency

Malcolm Butler wins Super Bowl for New England with clutch interception Photo: Associated Press

This seems too obvious not to happen. His former Defensive Coordinator is now the Head Coach in Detroit. With the reported falling out between Butler and Bill Belichick (along with disagreement between Patricia and Belichick on discipline), Lions’ fans have been clamoring over the possibility of Butler lining up opposite Darius Slay.

Fortunately, his price tag may not be too high as he struggled last season and has average speed (4.62). However, his familiarity with Patricia and ability to prepare makes him a real possibility for Detroit. His physicality and route recognition skills would be a great addition to the defensive backs meeting room as well. The ability he has shown at covering the slot also makes him a versatile option for Quinn and Patricia.

Consolation Prize: Rashaan Melvin (Indianapolis Colts)

Other Notable Options

Jimmy Graham could sign with the Lions as a pass catching threat. He has lost a step, but his body size and control still makes him one of the few elite pass catching tight ends in the league.

Demarco Murray is a viable option to add to the roster. Tennessee released Murray in light of his injury concern and the strong play of Derrick Henry. His one-cut style could be a nice piece to add in the Lions offense to complement other runners (Abdullah and Riddick). Even if they make a play for Murray, it is not out of the question they add another running back in the draft.

Best Option (For Free Agency and Draft)

free agency

Photo: Butch Dill, Associated Press

The absolute strongest move the Lions can and should make is to bring Ndamukong Suh back home. In addition, they need to sign Malcolm Butler to play in the secondary with Glover Quin and Darius Slay. These two moves, combined with resigning Tahir Whitehead would instantly give Matt Patricia weapons at all three levels of the defense. This would also solidify the draft strategy in the first few rounds as they can focus on drafting starters at other needs (running back, offensive line and tight end) in the first three rounds.

Signing Suh and Butler allows the Lions to draft the best player available (BPA) on their board at either running back or offensive line in the first round. I would expect this to be someone like Derrius Guice (LSU, RB) or Billy Price (Ohio State, G/C). This would also allow them to draft someone like Mike Gesicki in the second round. The tight end out of Penn State was off the charts at the combine with his athleticism and projects as a great pass catching threat. This need becomes even more glaring if Eric Ebron and the organization part ways.

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

NFL Draft prospects in the 2018 Citrus Bowl

LSU and Notre Dame always produce a lot of NFL talent and will play in the 2018 Citrus Bowl. There are going to be a lot of NFL players on the field during this game. Here are the top NFL Draft prospects in the 2018 Citrus Bowl:

Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Mike McGlinchey, OT

McGlinchey would’ve been one of the first tackles taken in last year’s draft, but elected to go back to Notre Dame. He has retained his status as one of the best prospects in the 2018 NFL Draft. The two-time Notre Dame captain has been recognized as an All-American during his time in college. He has experience at both tackle spots, which is a good thing.

At 6’8″ and 315 pounds he has great size for an NFL offensive tackle. He has been good for Notre Dame at left and right tackle. McGlinchey is a good run blocker and decent pass blocker, but has shown increased athletic ability this season.

Projected draft range: Top 15 pick

Quenton Nelson, OG

NFL Draft prospects in the 2018 Citrus Bowl

Quenton Nelson (Photo by rivals.com)

Guards don’t usually get much attention in the draft, but Nelson is one of the best guard prospects in a long time. He is also a team captain and has received a lot of honors during his time at Notre Dame. Nelson has a unique blend of quickness and strength, which allows him to do anything that is asked of a guard.

He is 6’5″ and 330 pounds which will make him look at home in the NFL. While guards usually don’t get drafted early in the draft, it would be hard to pass up on his talent.

Projected draft range: 1st round

Equanimeous St. Brown, WR

St. Brown doesn’t have the best production, but hasn’t had the best quarterbacks or play calling to work with. He has made a lot of highlight plays and shown flashes of being a great receiver. Unfortunately it has only amounted to 1,437 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns.

At 6’5″ and 203 pounds, he creates a matchup problem for defenses. He will need to add some strength to his slight frame, but when he does, he can reach his full potential.

Projected draft range: 1st round-3rd round

Other notable Notre Dame prospects: RB Josh Adams (3rd round-5th round), DT Jerry Tillery (3rd round-5th round), TE Durham Smythe (4th round-6th round), LB Te’Von Coney (4th round-6th round), C Sam Mustipher (4th round-6th round), S/LB Drue Tranquill (5th round-7th round), LB Nyles Morgan (6th round-undrafted free agent), DE Andrew Trumbetti (undrafted free agent)

LSU Tigers

 

Derrius Guice, RB

NFL Draft prospects in the 2018 Citrus Bowl

Derrius Guice (Photo by withthefirstpick.com)

Guice is probable for this bowl game with an unspecified injury. He has battled injuries this season, but has still been productive. He has 2,976 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns in his LSU career. That is impressive due to the fact that he was Leonard Fournette’s backup until this season and is just a junior.

He has good size for an NFL running back at 5’11” and 218 pounds. If he leaves early to go in this draft, he will go within the first few rounds.

Projected draft range: 1st round-3rd round

Donte Jackson, CB

Donte Jackson is the next good corner to come out of LSU. The junior has gotten playing time for three seasons now and has turned himself into a shut-down corner. He has 107 total tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack, four interceptions and 19 passes defended in his career.

At 5’11” and 175 pounds, he has decent enough height, but will need to add weight to not get beaten off the line of scrimmage. He is a player that will likely go on day two of the NFL Draft.

Projected draft range: 1st round-3rd round

Will Clapp, G/C

Clapp has been hearing draft buzz for a while now. He can play both guard and center, which will make him more valuable to NFL teams. He has earned All-SEC recognition and has done just about everything an interior offensive lineman can do at the college level.

He is 6’5″ and 314 pounds, which is great for an interior lineman in the NFL. Clapp will be selected in the middle rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Projected draft range: 3rd round-5th round

*Arden Key will not play in this bowl game with a finger injury, but will be a top 15 pick.

Other notable LSU prospects: CB Kevin Toliver II (3rd round-5th round), WR D.J. Chark (3rd round-5th round), OT Toby Weathersby (5th round-7th round), S Ed Paris (7th round-undrafted free agnet)

 

 

2018 Citrus Bowl preview

The Citrus Bowl pits the LSU Tigers against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. These two teams played each other at the conclusion of the 2014 season in the Music City Bowl. Both teams had solid seasons again and were just a few wins away from reaching their goals. Here is the 2018 Citrus Bowl preview:

14 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-3)

2018 Citrus Bowl preview

Josh Adams (Photo by indystar.com)

Notre Dame was a playoff contender going into the last three weeks of the season, but lost two of their last three games. They lost to Georgia, Miami and Stanford, which were all losses to good teams. They were able to beat some solid teams in USC, N.C. State and Michigan State.

The Fighting Irish score 35.3 points per game and run the ball well. They average 279.1 yards on the ground per game. Josh Adams has been their star running back this season with 1,386 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. The second leading rusher on the team is quarterback Brandon Wimbush with 765 yards and 14 touchdowns. They have two very good offensive linemen who clear holes for the running game in Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson.

Wimbush has had his struggles throwing the ball this season. He completes less than 50% of his passes at 49.8%. On the season he has 1,818 passing yards, 16 touchdowns and six interceptions. Wimbush has the potential to make good throws, but is inconsistent. Equanimeous St. Brown is the leading receiver with 468 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

Their defense is one of the most improved units in the entire country and allow 21.8 points per game. They rank 49th against the run and 51st against the pass. Nyles Morgan is the leader of the defense with 82 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and a sack.

17 LSU Tigers (9-3)

2018 Citrus Bowl preview

Derrius Guice (Photo by gridironnow.com)

It looked as if the sky was falling when LSU lost to Troy, but LSU got to nine wins on the season. Their record is a bit inflated, as they only beat two bowl eligible teams in Texas A&M and Auburn. This was still a decent start for Ed Orgeron in his first full season as head coach of the Tigers.

The offense has still been an issue, but they score over 28 points per game. They also have a good running game that is the strong point of their offense. Two running backs have done a lot of damage for LSU. Derrius Guice has battled injuries to rush for 1,153 yards and 11 touchdowns. Darrel Williams has been a great backup with 776 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.

Danny Etling is a senior who has started a lot of games in the past two years for the Tigers. He won’t make the most plays, but protects the football and manages the game well. He has thrown for 2,234 yards, 14 touchdowns and two interceptions. Wide receiver D.J. Chark is a supreme talent who leads the team with 811 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

The defense, like usual, carries the team and allows 18.8 points per game. They rank 21st against the run and 20th against the pass. Pass rusher Arden Key will be out for this game after having surgery on his pinky finger. Freshman defensive back Andraez Williams has five interceptions this season.

Prediction

Both of these teams are solid, but LSU has the advantage. If they can stop the run and make Wimbush beat them, they will be able to win. The LSU running game can control the clock, which will make it hard for Notre Dame to catch up.

LSU Tigers 29 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 21