Dez Bryant

Best destinations for Dez Bryant

The Dallas Cowboys have recently released the 29-year-old, three-time Pro Bowler Dez Bryant. Bryant is now in search of a new team. Whether it is getting revenge on his former team or taking less money for a better shot at winning a Super Bowl, Bryant is moving forward with the next chapter in his football career.

There are a handful of teams that could be good fits for Bryant for many different reasons. Here are a few teams that could help him get back on track.

Dallas statistics

Dez Bryant

Dez Bryant and Tony Romo (Photo from Wallsdesk.com)

Before we do that, we have to discuss Bryant’s production over the years. In his eight-year career, he has 531 receptions with the Dallas Cowboys that translate into 7,459 yards total and 73 touchdowns. He averages 14 yards per reception and every 7.29 catches he makes goes for a touchdown.

Before Dak Prescott arrived in 2016, he had three 1,000-yard receiving seasons. He was arguably a top-five wide receiver in all of the NFL and had four of his five best receiving years overall with Tony Romo at the helm. Basically, the Dallas Cowboys are drastically different with Prescott.

In 2012, (Tony Romo’s best statistical season), Bryant had the most receiving yards in his career to date and his third-most touchdowns. Romo threw the ball 648 times that season. In Dak Prescott’s two-year career, he has only thrown it 949 times. Dez’s declining statistics also has to do with a consistent run game. Ezekiel Elliott entered the league with Prescott in 2016. He has yet to have a season with less than 983 rushing yards.

In Bryant’s career season in 2012, DeMarco Murray only rushed for 663 yards and only 4.1 yards per carry. In one of Bryant’s most statistically underwhelming seasons (the first year with Elliott and Prescott), Elliott ran for over 1,600 yards and Prescott only threw for eight yards per attempt. The Dallas Cowboys are trending away from throwing it downfield and utilizing Bryant’s size.

NFC East

Just knowing Bryant’s personality after all these years, he is going to immediately try to get back at the Cowboys for releasing him. The Giants or Redskins may not be the best fit for him, but it could be a place he lands due to scheduling.

The Redskins made a big move this offseason by getting Alex Smith. They have the cap room and are looking for a little help for Jamison Crowder to free him up a little.

The best NFC East fit for Bryant, if he chooses to go that way, would be the Redskins. They have the salary space to afford him, and he could slide right back into a possible No. 1 wide receiver role. And of course, he would get a shot at playing Jerry Jones and the Cowboys twice a year.

San Francisco 49ers

There is plenty of reasons to believe in Jimmy Garoppolo. Marquise Goodwin has shown that he needs a little help at times. With Goodwin’s speed, Bryant could complement him well and play a nice counter role. He would yet again be a No. 1 wide receiver, and he would get a shot at jumping on board with an improving team that is hungry for the playoffs.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Bryant’s personality matches up well with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags seemingly need a wide receiver to take the reigns and be the guy. Blake Bortles would love throwing to Bryant and his large frame. He would instantly go to a contender and a team that would pay him pretty well. The Jaguars are committed to spreading both the pass and the run out, and Bryant could get back to catching at least 10 touchdowns for the first time since 2014.

Houston Texans

This one is a no-brainer. Bryant would be extremely close to his hometown. He would instantly jump into a No. 2 receiver role and take lots of pressure off of DeAndre Hopkins and draw single coverage. He would have tons of targets and could carve out a great role alongside another great wide receiver. It is one of the rare opportunities where Bryant will get to play in front of his hometown friends and family and could get paid pretty well.

New England Patriots

After an offseason where the Patriots lost multiple offensive starters, including wide receivers in Danny Amendola and Brandin Cooks, the Patriots would love to add another redzone asset for Josh McDaniels’ offense.

The Patriots are a team that invites different personalities. They gave Randy Moss one of his best statistical seasons and created one of the best offenses in NFL history with Tom Brady at the helm. Even though that feels like a lifetime ago, Brady is still the guy in Foxborough, and he would love to throw passes to Dez Bryant.

Only time will tell where Dez Bryant lands.

 

Featured image from Sports Illustrated.

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NFL free agency

Top NFL free agents still looking for a home

The NFL draft is next week. The entire football world is focusing on that, and rightfully so. Most of the free agency dust has settled. However, there are still a handful of players out there that can help teams win, even if they don’t find a home until after the draft. Here are four of those players.

C.J. Anderson

NFL free agency

(Photo from timescall.com)

The first two names are relatively new additions to the free agent pool. Anderson spent five seasons in Denver after going undrafted out of Cal. His release had more to do with finances than football. He is not going to win any foot races, but he is a very tough runner who gets better as the season goes on.

Anderson had 767 yards and eight touchdowns in the second half of the 2014 season and 234 yards rushing yards during Denver’s playoff run to Super Bowl 50. This past season he rushed for over 1,000 yards for the first time in his career after an injury plagued 2016.

True featured running backs are a rare breed in today’s NFL. So there is plenty of room for guys like Anderson, who is only 27 years old. He will be a valuable pickup for a team that comes up short in a rich running back draft.

Dez Bryant 

Bryant’s production has fallen off dramatically since 2014. He has not posted 1,000 receiving yards since then. Injuries, lack of chemistry with anyone other than Tony Romo and general unhappiness with the Cowboys are all factors in his statistical decline and eventual release from the Cowboys.

The former first-round pick may still have some good football left in him, but he is going to get opportunities and offers based on the player he is and not the player he was. Bryant has been very vocal about wanting to face the Cowboys twice a year, but there is not an obvious fit in the NFC East. The Ravens, Texans and Packers have all been mentioned as possible destinations.

He could work very well as a complementary receiver in Baltimore or Houston. The Packers simply do not sign many free agents. Thus, Green Bay going after a loud receiver who has been mediocre for the last three years would be a shocker. The Ravens and Texans represent Bryant’s best chances at adding a decent second act to his career.

Junior Galette 

Galette comes with injury and character concerns. He returned to the field in 2017 after missing the 2015 and 2016 seasons due to injury. He played in all 16 games and posted three sacks for Washington last year.

The three hardest things to find in the NFL are elite quarterbacks, left tackles and pass rushers. In the last three seasons in which Galette has played, he has 25 total sacks. That kind of production should get him an opportunity somewhere, even though it may be during training camp for the veteran’s minimum. If the team structures his contract wisely, he is the definition of low risk, high reward.

Eric Decker 

Decker has had one of the more interesting careers you will ever come across. He has been in some great offenses for wide receivers like the record-setting 2013 Broncos. Decker has also been in some horrible offenses for wide receivers. The Tim Tebow led Broncos of 2011 and last year’s Titans immediately spring to mind.

NFL free agency

(Photo from titansonline.com)

Still, Decker managed to be productive even in run-heavy offenses. He blocked well and put up 44 catches for the 2011 Broncos and 54 with last year’s Titans. When he has played regularly, stayed healthy and been in more modern offenses, Decker has been a shoe-in for 80 catches.

Simply put, Decker will do whatever is asked of him and do it well. He is the kind of player that you really have to pay attention to in order to appreciate. Thus, it is mystifying that Decker continues to wait for his phone to ring. Personnel around the league are sleeping on this guy in a big way.

The Ravens and Raiders have kicked the tires on the former Minnesota Golden Gopher. There has also been some chatter about a reunion between Decker and the Broncos.

The early phases of free agency and rounds of the NFL Draft get most of the headlines, but it is often the latter part of both that separate bad teams from average ones and good teams from championship-caliber clubs.

 

Featured image from SI.com

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Dez Bryant release

A lesson in leverage courtesy of Stephen Jones

Everyone is weighing in on the Dez Byrant release. This might come as a shock to the casual fan. Unfortunately, the name Dez Bryant is bigger than his production and paycheck warranted. For those who were paying attention, this decision was an inevitability.

Stephen Jones created a blueprint that every general manager should follow and it can be summed up in one word, leverage. Don’t believe the idea that they just cut ties with Dez without any offer to renegotiate. The Cowboys wanted him back at a reduced rate given the leverage they created with yesterday’s meeting.

Elements of Great Leverage

There are a few factors that create strong leverage for or against a party when negotiating. Those factors include: performance (past and future), price and timing. For the most part, these are the key elements of every negotiation and combine to create leverage for one side or the other. So, let’s review how each of these factors played a role in the Dez Bryant release.

Performance

Dez Bryant release

Photo Courtesy of; USA Today

For those who didn’t know, Dez Bryant has not been good the past three seasons. You can read the details Dez’s lack of production by our own Kenneth Hesse here, so I’ll give you the cliff notes. Dez Bryant has missed four or more games twice in the last four seasons. He also failed to reach 1,000 yards receiving the last three seasons and has not scored more than eight touchdowns since 2014.

Given that information, it seems like Dez would be poised for a rebound as Dak Prescott continues to get better, right? Well, let’s consider his age. Bryant is 29 years old, the same age as Antonio Brown, Julio Jones and AJ Green.

Those other receivers have been producing at a consistent level and have remained relatively healthy. These players have also proved that they have tremendous skill to complement their physical abilities.

It was announced earlier this off-season that Dez was going to “work on his route running” with a personal coach. That would be great, if he were 24 and still possessed elite physical talent. It’s ironic that Dez only offered to further work on his craft when his job was in question. So, given his previous production, health and skill set, Dez does not project well into the future as his physical skills decline further.

Price

This was probably the biggest factor in the Dez Bryant release. Bryant signed a 5-year, $70 Million contract in 2015. He would have counted against the salary cap for $16,500,000 this year and next. Clearly, he does not warrant that kind of payment. His cap, among other wide receivers, was the third highest in the NFL. Dez Bryant, in no statistical category, is a top three, five, or ten wide receiver. To summarize, the Dez Bryant release was the result of a depreciating asset that was no longer worth the cost of keeping.

Timing

The first two elements are obvious. However, this is the key factor that made the Dez Bryant release great and gave the Cowboys all the leverage in this negotiation. As stated earlier, the Cowboys didn’t want to cut Dez Bryant outright. They wanted to bring him back at a reduced rate and here’s why.

First, what incentive did the Cowboys have to hold onto Dez this long? They could have allocated the extra $8.5 Million they saved by cutting him, to another player in free agency. Here are some players that signed contracts this off-season who could have helped the Cowboys and count for $8.5 Million or less against the salary cap: Sheldon Richardson, Michael Crabtree, TJ Carrie, and Tyrann Mathieu. If they truly did not think Dez would be part of their 2018 plans, they would never have waited until this late in free agency to do so.

Second, Jerry Jones has been loyal to a fault with his star players, especially Dez Bryant. Jones does everything in his power to take care of his stars. He desperately wanted to keep Dez. If he didn’t, he would have released Dez at the start of free agency so that he could have the best opportunity possible to sign with another team.

And finally, Stephen Jones wanted to create as small of a market as possible for Dez if they were to release him, which is exactly what happened. The majority of NFL teams have finished their major free agent acquisitions and have turned their attention to the draft. Meaning, teams don’t have the cap space or potential roster space to sign a player like Dez, even if they wanted to. This scenario pressured Dez into taking a pay cut, and thus, gave Stephen Jones and the Cowboys all the leverage in this situation.

Moving forward

In short, this was a good decision. The Dez Bryant release sends two signals, one to Dak Prescott and one to Ezekiel Elliott. This move tells Prescott that he no longer has to deal with Dez and his constant chirping for the ball. It wasn’t Prescott’s fault that Dez only caught 52 percent of his targets. And, it tells Ezekiel Elliott that this offense will unequivocally run through him. Cowboys fans should notice a more relaxed and confident Dak Prescott in 2018.

 

Featured Image courtesy of USA Today

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Dez Bryant released

Dez Bryant released by Dallas Cowboys

Dez Bryant’s run in Dallas has come to an end. The Cowboys released the veteran receiver on Friday after he met with owner Jerry Jones. The move comes after several months of speculation that the team will try to move on from Bryant’s hefty contract.

How we got here

Dez Bryant released

Former Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant (Photo by AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

After a dominant run as one of the league’s premier wide receivers, Bryant has struggled recently to produce at a high level. This was due in part to nagging injuries. Bryant missed a total of 10 games between the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Last season, Bryant caught 69 passes for 838 yards and six touchdowns. This pales in comparison to his numbers in the beginning of his career, when he averaged over 1,300 yards and 13 touchdowns from 2012-2014.

The move is likely cap-space motivated as well. Bryant was slated to make $16.5 million in 2018, which is one of the highest salaries at his position. The Dallas Cowboys are one of the most cap-space hungry teams in the NFL as they only have about $20 million to work with this offseason. Cutting Bryant frees up an additional $8 million, allowing the team to lock up some of their marquee players, like defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence.

Looking forward

Talks about a potential Bryant release heated up after the Cowboys signed free agent Allen Hurns. Hurns is another big-bodied receiving threat that will likely be Dak Prescott’s new No. 1 target. Bryant will likely not be a free agent for long and should be scooped up by a receiver-needy team quickly. Some obvious fits include the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens, who both have massive holes at the position.

Elite talents like Bryant rarely hit the open market, so there will be a plethora of options for him going forward. After Jarvis Landry’s massive five-year, $75 million deal, Bryant’s new contract will be a story to watch.

 

Featured image by Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

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Dallas Cowboys 2018 NFL Draft profile

The 2018 NFL Draft is just under a few 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 Dallas Cowboys 2018 NFL Draft profile.

Summary

Dallas Cowboys 2018 NFL Draft profile

Tyron Smith (Photo by nbcdfw.com)

The Cowboys had a disappointing 9-7 season last year and barely missed out on the playoffs. There was a lot of drama, as Ezekiel Elliot started the season, but then got suspended in the middle of the season for four games. They were almost able to get to the playoffs for back to back seasons, but came up short and will have to build for next season.

Dallas still has one of the best offensive lines in football, but it isn’t quite as good as a few seasons ago. Cameron Fleming was signed to play right tackle, which should help round out the starting lineup anchored by Tyron Smith and Zack Martin. They helped the team rank second in rushing last season. This line has helped clear holes for Elliot, who should be ready to play a full season again after the suspension last year. He rushed for nearly 2,000 yards in his rookie campaign and is capable of doing so again.

Dak Prescott had a down year for his sophomore season but is still learning on the job. Whether he is a franchise quarterback remains to be seen, but he has had a solid start to his career. Between Jason Witten, Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley he has some nice targets, but could use another solid wide receiver to play opposite Dez Bryant. They ranked 26th in passing yards last season and an extra weapon could be added to help out.

The rush defense ranked eighth in the league last season and benefitted from Dallas controlling the clock. They were also able to rank 11th against the pass. Their overall defensive talent has been upgraded over the last few years. The defensive line has a star in Demarcus Lawrence.

When linebacker Sean Lee is healthy, the Cowboys are significantly better on defense. Jaylon Smith got his first taste of action last season and didn’t play great, but was coming off of the serious knee injury two seasons before when he was in college. In the secondary, Dallas has a few young players who can develop, but a big decision needs to be made whether Byron Jones will continue to play safety or cornerback.

Picks and needs

The Cowboys have 10 picks in this draft to try and shore up the roster for another run at the playoffs.

First round (1 pick): 19

Second round (1): 50

Third round (1): 81

Fourth round (2): 116, 137

Fifth round (1): 171

Sixth round (3): 192,193, 208

Seventh round (1): 236

Offensive needs:

Wide receiver- Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson were both signed and Dallas needs them to step up. If they can’t a number two receiver will be needed. If they can get a receiver who can start off as a number two and develop into a number one option, they can take over for Dez Bryant down the road.

Offensive line depth- The signing of Fleming makes this less of a need. If all the players perform like they are capable of and stay healthy, it should be a productive group. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. When Tyron Smith went down with an injury last year it was apparent Dallas wasn’t prepared for it.

Running back depth- Right now, the Cowboys have Rod Smith and Trey Williams behind Elliot on the depth chart. Elliot is a workhorse who can handle a lot of carries but will need someone to take some carries at some point in the season. If he goes down with injury or suspension, the rest of the running backs on the depth chart may not do the trick.

Defensive needs:

Safety- Dallas addressed their corner issue in a big way last year, with several draft picks spent on the position. The secondary still isn’t great and the safety position could use a draft pick. If Jones is moved to corner this is a desperate need, but if he stays at safety, they will still need to draft a safety to play next to.

Linebacker- Lee is often hurt and Smith needs to improve. Other than that, the Cowboys still do need linebackers for the third linebacker spot and for depth.

Defensive line depth-The defensive line did get a little deeper this offseason, but more depth couldn’t hurt. The pass rushers should be fine, but the interior of the defensive line could use some better backups.

Targets

Dallas Cowboys 2018 NFL Draft profile

Rashaan Evans (Photo by revengeofthebirds.com)

First round:

Pick No. 19: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

There are a few notable linebackers who are first-round talents, so one may fall to the Cowboy’s first round pick. Evans can play next to Smith and Lee to start his career. In two-linebacker situations, he can take over for Smith if he doesn’t improve. When Lee isn’t on the field the Cowboys are significantly worse, so getting another talented linebacker would be a failsafe in case he gets injured again. Evans is a good run defender but does need to polish his coverage skills.

Second round: 

Pick No. 50: Justin Reid, S, Stanford

Reid had a huge jump in productivity in his junior year and entered the draft. The Cowboys need secondary help and can pair Reid with Jones or use this pick to help facilitate Jones’ move to corner. His brother Eric has been a decent safety in the NFL for the 49ers, but is currently a free agent. With NFL bloodlines and good production, Reid should be selected within the first two or three rounds.

Third round:

Pick No. 81: Rasheem Green, DE/DT, USC

The Cowboys can get some defensive line depth here. Green could play either defensive end or defensive tackle but probably fits better as a defensive tackle for the Cowboys. He gets good pressure on the quarterback for a player so big. Green could be a backup this season but could see a lot of time as an interior pass rusher in third-down situations.

 

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Ezekiel Elliott out

The Dallas Cowboys really miss Ezekiel Elliott

It’s hard to say that teams are centered around one person. After watching the Dallas Cowboys the last three weeks, it’s pretty easy to say their offense has severely missed Ezekiel Elliott.

In the three games that Elliott has missed, the Cowboys have scored 22 total points. They have scored under 10 in all three of those games and lost all three. With Elliott on the field, they have scored no less then 17 in a game.

Offense

The numbers with and without Elliott say it all. Because teams don’t respect the Cowboys current run game, the play action passing game is nonexistent.

The Cowboys haven’t been able to use stars like Dez Bryant to move down the field with chunk plays. In turn, they are becoming stagnant on offense.

Ezekiel Elliott out

Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott (Photo from ftw.usasports.com)

Dak Prescott with Elliott on the field has thrown for over 230 yards six times. In the three games without Elliott, he is averaging 166.7 yards per game. Teams no longer feel  the need to stack the box, and it is hurting Prescott’s numbers.

Only one time in the first nine weeks was the Cowboys leading rusher under 80 yards. In two of the three weeks without Elliott, the Cowboys have been under 55 yards. The offense has scored just two touchdowns in 12 quarters without Elliott.

The biggest statistic is his quarterback rating. Prescott’s quarterback rating sits at a combined 66.7 in the three games, which is an average of 22.2 per game. He has also thrown zero touchdowns and five interceptions over that span.

The Cowboys have only three passing plays that have gone for at least 20 yards in the last three games. Because the Cowboys don’t have a strong passing game, having a decreasing rushing game has made it so that the Cowboys offense has struggled as a whole.

Offensive line injuries and struggles

Lingering and reoccurring injuries haven’t helped the Cowboys. Tyron Smith has been in and out of the lineup with a back and groin injury and finally got back into the lineup on Thanksgiving.

Not having consistent members on the offensive line creates a different level of uncertainty. They have been without La’el Collins for extended amounts of time and haven’t been able to practice with the same group of guys as often as years past.

The Dallas Cowboys need to get back to their offensive line of a few years ago if they want to continue their success. Having an offensive line that can block and give time to a quarterback as well as create holes and room for a running back is an extremely valuable asset to any team.

A quarterback and running back are only as good as their offensive line. In years past, the Cowboys have been in the top of the league in offensive line play. This season, they have had their ups and downs, and it has hurt their passing rushing production without Elliott.

Outlook

The Cowboys don’t look great as of late. If they can figure out a solid ground game and establish it early, there is a solid chance that they will be competitive in future games. In the next three games (all without Elliott) the Cowboys opponents are 12-21.

It is possible that they could go 3-0 and beat two division rivals. They are good enough to win these games, but they have gone away from the things that have won them games. If they are looking to grab a Wild Card spot, they need to dig in and focus because they will have to operate without Elliott in more than half of their remaining games.

I think they finish the season at 8-8 and miss the playoffs, but they have the potential to go 5-0 and make the playoffs.

 

Featured Image from SI.com.

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Week five DFS don’ts: Report card

Well, as fun as week five was, it was not nearly as kind to me as week four. My DFS profitability reached a season high; however, my individual player picks were not as good. I’d like to move on to week six as soon as possible, so lets get into the report card edition of week five DFS don’ts.

Quarterback: 2/5

Thank goodness my top two quarterbacks came up big. Aaron Rodgers and Dak Prescott anchored my cash game lineups. With 24 and 30 points respectively, they made up for some of the stragglers in my lineups. Sadly, I was totally wrong about Cam Newton and Tyrod Taylor.

However, I’m the most upset about Carson Palmer. He somehow managed to double his $7,200 price tag and did it without Larry Fitzgerald or Jaron Brown scoring a touchdown. Carson Palmer might be my least favorite player in the NFL after this Sunday.

Runningback: 2/4

Since Ty Montgomery didn’t play, I will not be counting him as a win. I just thought it was worth noting in my DFS don’ts series because of the unclear picture provided by the Packers earlier this week. Le’Veon Bell, along with Marshawn Lynch came up small. On the bright side, Leonard Fournette came up huge for my tournament lineups, since he was owned in the single digits, and Bilal Powell busted.

Wide Receiver: 0/6

I’m so sorry if any of you chose to listen to me and fade any receiver on my week five DFS don’ts. While the Giants and Steelers lost in demoralizing fashion, Odell Beckham and Antonio Brown played incredibly well. Devin Funchess also managed to double his value with a score against Detroit.

At least everyone was wrong with me on Jordy Nelson and Dez Bryant. They had okay games, but neither produced to the level that their price tags dictated. And of course, my Jaron Brown call proved to be more embarrassing than Jay Cutler’s wildcat performance against the Saints.

Tight End: 3/4

This would have been a perfect four for four if Charles Clay didn’t get injured against the Bengals. It’s clear that offense will struggle if he cannot return quickly. I told you Tyler Kroft wouldn’t get it done in my tight end edition of week five DFS don’ts. And, I took pure joy in watching Darren Fells, not Eric Ebron, score two touchdowns against the Panthers. Austin-Seferian Jenkins also came through by doubling his value with a touchdown.

Defense: 2/2

If there’s one thing we nail on the Suck My DFS Podcast, it’s the special teams portions of the roster. We were all on the Dolphins defense as soon as the Titans signed Brandon Weeden. They were a huge reason why we were able to cash this weekend, despite injuries and poor performances. And, the Rams defense failed to double their value, so that’s a win.

Kicker: 2/2

We nailed the kicker position as well. I outlined exactly why you needed to fade Greg Zuerlein. I hope you listened. We also talked on the podcast value kickers that would produce. My choice was Harrison Butker, and he delivered.

Overall Score: 11/23

Like I said in the opening paragraph, I’m ready to move on to week six. My week five DFS don’ts predictions were some of the worst of the season. However, we will start over tomorrow with the defense and kicker edition of week six DFS don’ts.

 

Featured Image Courtesy of  Grizzly Bear Blues

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NFL week two: Eight takeaways

1. New England looked great, but let’s pump the brakes

Tom Brady threw for 447 yards and three touchdowns, but did we forget who they played? That’s right, New Orleans. In the previous week, the Saints allowed 470 yards to the Minnesota Vikings, who are predominately relevant because of their defense.

This is a Saints team who, last year, finished second to last in total points allowed, and dead last in passing yards allowed. With that said, it is expected for Tom Brady and the New England offense to put up numbers.

Despite the big win however, New England is still banged up. Rob Gronkowski had to exit with a groin injury and Dont’a Hightower might be out another week or two. With Danny Amendola still sidelined, it was nice to see production from Chris Hogan and Philip Dorsett, but we will see how long these two can last as consistent playmakers. Especially when New England plays a legit defense.

2. Maybe the Titans will be as good as we thought?

NFL week two: eight takeaways

Derrick Henry could take over as the RB1 (Tennessee Titans)

Going into the season, people were high on Tennessee. For good reason of course, since they do have Marcus Mariota behind center.

Unfortunately, Mariota hasn’t looked great in his first two games of 2017. Through two games, Mariota has only thrown one touchdown, and has a quarterback rating of 78.7. In his previous two seasons, Mariota’s quarterback ratings were 91.5, and 95.6.

Still, the Titans put up 37 points. Granted it was against Jacksonville, but up until this point in his career, Blake Bortles had been undefeated against Tennessee when he plays at home.

A main reason for the big victory was Tennessee’s ability to run the football. They racked up 179 yards on the ground, mostly from Derrick Henry, who ran for 94 yards, on 6.57 yards per carry.  The Titans defense was also able to force three turnovers, which is a given against Bortles, but they still count. If Mariota can improve, this team could easily win the division.

3. The Panthers are 2-0, but they are overrated

What a blessing it is to start your season against the 49ers and the Bills. Look, the defense has been spectacular, only allowing six total points through two games, but Cam Newton and the offense looks pitiful. It’s understood that Newton is playing banged up, but maybe they need to check for a concussion, because this guy looks lost on the field.

If you watched the game, then you know that your grandmother would have completed the “would be” touchdown pass to Christian McCaffrey, instead of sailing it four feet over his head like Newton did.

Greg Olsen will also 6-8 weeks of the season due to his broken foot, so expect more mediocre play from Carolina’s offense. Carolina is only averaging 2.9 yards per carry is something to keep an eye on as well.

4. The Chiefs look really good

NFL week two: eight takeaways

Kareem Hunt’s debut was no fluke (Sporting News)

After two weeks, Kansas City looks like the best team in football. Not only did they smack the Patriots, but they also beat a good Eagles team. Alex Smith has five touchdowns and has yet to throw an interception, and Kareem Hunt might be able to sit out the rest of the year and still win Rookie of the Year.

In his first two career games, Hunt has 229 yards rushing, along with five total touchdowns. Kansas City is averaging 6.5 yards per carry, which is good for first in the NFL.

The pass rush looks great, as Chris Jones had three of their six sacks against Carson Wentz and the Eagles. If they can slow down the run, this team could be dangerous.

5. Thank God for the Honey Badger, but the Cardinals’ season is over

Without a clutch, game-sealing interception by Tyrann Mathieu, the Cardinals could easily be 0-2. With David Johnson scheduled to miss a serious amount of time, the Cardinals need all the luck they can get, and Mathieu helped them stay relevant for another week.

Carson Palmer has been just awful, with four interceptions and a QBR below 66, his career looks to be done. He turned it around late in the game, but that’s expected against a garbage Colts team. The Cardinals can’t run the ball, and for some reason, are having a hard time defending the pass, so kudos to Mathieu, but it is safe to already write off Arizona.

6. Jay Cutler and the Dolphins might be a perfect match

The Dolphins might be the most underrated team in football, and we might see the best version of Jay Cutler. Yes, it was only one game, but Cutler completed 72.7 percent of his passes, and had a QBR of 101.8.

Jay Ajayi showed that last year was no fluke, rushing for 122 yards. Jarvis Landry led Miami with 13 catches, and the Fins defense held Melvin Gordon to 13 yards on nine attempts. Watch out for Miami.

7. The Raiders are dope

The Raiders home opener was everything you could have hoped for. In a 45-25 win over the Jets, we saw Marshawn Lynch dancing, Michael Crabtree with three touchdowns and Derek Carr looking like a real MVP. Carr has yet to commit a turnover and the Raiders are fifth in the league in rushing.

The defense, who at times, holds this team back, has already recovered two fumbles and is doing a decent job of defending the run. If the defense gets better, the Raiders could be looking at an easy route to home field advantage.

8. Cowboys in trouble?

NFL week two: eight takeaways

Has Dak been exposed? (FanSided)

As someone who does not think Dak Prescott is a franchise quarterback, Sunday’s performance was beautiful to watch. Without Ezekiel Elliott, Dak is nothing. Elliott was held to eight yards on nine attempts, which caused Prescott to actually have to make plays. This resulted in a pair of interceptions.

Denver’s D is top notch, but the Cowboys should be concerned. If the run game is not there, this team is unable to produce, especially with a washed up Dez Bryant. Yeah, he caught a touchdown, but with all those targets, he should have been much better.

 

 

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Fantasy Monday Night Preview: Giants-Lions

Fantasy Monday night preview: Giants vs. Lions

Week two will come to an end tonight with the Detroit Lions playing the New York Giants in MetLife Stadium. With many players on both teams on fantasy football rosters, here are some of the players to keep an eye on both good and bad.

Eli Manning

giants lions monday night fantasy

Eli Manning (Photo by: newsday.com)

The Giants offense was a mess last week against the Dallas Cowboys. They accumulated 13 first downs and just three points.

Manning had 220 yards and an interception. Part of his struggles were due to the very inconsistent offensive line. Even if Odell Beckham Jr. played, it wouldn’t have helped that much.

The Detroit defense agitated Carson Palmer as they picked him off three times, but only got to him one time for a sack. They still gave up 23 points to the Cardinals and a lot of fantasy points to Arizona receivers. While they have shown they can make plays, they can still be inconsistent.

Manning could be in for a big week. Don’t be worried if you started him. However, be cautious because if the offensive line repeats last week’s performance, it could be a long day for the Giant offense.

Matthew Stafford

giants lions monday night fantasy

Matthew Stafford (Photo by: foxsports.com)

There was only one quarterback that posted more fantasy points then Matthew Stafford last week. He was spectacular after a four touchdown performance for 292 yards on a solid Cardinal defense. He also completed over 70 percent of his passes. While Stafford put up excellent numbers against a good Cardinal defense, expecting him to duplicate those numbers against a very good Giant defense might be unrealistic.

With that being said, this might not be the best week to play Stafford, unless you didn’t have a better option. The Giants were the second-toughest team against fantasy quarterbacks last season, and Stafford was held to just 10.22 points in his matchup last year against them with 273 yards and one interception.

Giants defense/special teams

giants lions monday night fantasy

Landon Collins (Photo by: giantswire.usatoday.com)

The Giants defense looked good last week against the Cowboys. Considering how much they were on the field, they held their own. They did what they were expected to do.

They were on the field for 34 minutes and gave up just 19 points. That’s pretty good. Players like Janoris Jenkins shut down Dez Bryant. They prevented Ezekiel Elliott from scoring and limited Dak Prescott to 268 passing yards and one touchdown.

Where the Giants struggled besides not getting a breather was creating turnovers. This week could be the week to execute as we saw this the last time these two teams met. The Giants created two turnovers with an interception and a fumble recovery against Detroit. We’ve seen Stafford get too aggressive throwing the ball and should play a key factor if the Giants can create a pass rush.

The running backs on both teams

One position on both offenses to avoid is all running backs on both teams, unless it is a PPR league.

giants lions monday night fantasy

Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick (Photo by: cbssports.com)

The Detroit running attack only had 82 total rushing yards and 3.0 yards per attempt. Last week, Theo Riddick had one rush for -1 yards, but still remains a PPR option with 6 catches for 27 yards and a touchdown.

Ameer Abdullah will still be the main ball carrier, but struggled with 30 yards rushing last week with his longest run being seven yards. The Giants were the fifth best in fantasy defensive scoring with 243.20 points. In 2016, the Lions only had 56 rushing yards against the Giants.

On the other side, the Giants only had 35 yards rushing with 2.9 yards per attempt. As I stressed earlier, the offensive line was no help. Paul Perkins only had 16 rushing yards and nine receiving yards last week. Shane Vereen becomes an intriguing option in PPR leagues as he led the Giants in receptions with nine for 51 yards.

 

Featured image from getmoresports.com.

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week three DFS Dont's

Week One DFS Dont’s: Report Card

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

Quarterback: 1/5

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

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

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

Running Back: 3/6

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

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

Wide Receiver: 1/5

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

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

Tight End: 3/5

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

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

Kicker: 2/2

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

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

Defense: 2/4

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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