2018 fantasy football composite rankings: TE

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

Tiebreakers were decided by both Joe and Braxton.

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

Here are the composite tight end rankings:

Tight End Rankings: 1-10

1. Rob Gronkowski- New England Patriots

Braxton’s rank: 1

Joe’s rank: 1

2. Zach Ertz- Philadelphia Eagles

Braxton’s rank: 2

Joe’s rank: 2

3. Travis Kelce- Kansas City Chiefs

Braxton’s rank: 3

Joe’s rank: 4

4. Greg Olsen- Carolina Panthers

Braxton’s rank: 5

Joe’s rank: 4

5. Evan Engram- New York Giants

Braxton’s rank: 4

Joe’s rank: 6

6. Hunter Henry- Los Angeles Chargers

Braxton’s rank: 6

Joe’s rank: 5

7. Delanie Walker- Tennessee Titans

Braxton’s rank: 7

Joe’s rank: 9

8. Kyle Rudolph- Minnesota Vikings

Braxton’s rank: 8

Joe’s rank: 8

9. Jimmy Graham- Green Bay Packers

Braxton’s rank: 10

Joe’s rank: 7

10. Jordan Reed- Washington Redskins

Braxton’s rank: 12

Joe’s rank: 11

Tight End Rankings: 11-20

11. Jack Doyle- Indianapolis Colts

Braxton’s rank: 16

Joe’s rank: 10

12. Trey Burton- Chicago Bears

Braxton’s rank: 11

Joe’s rank: 15

13. Tyler Eifert- Cincinnati Bengals

Braxton’s rank: 14

Joe’s rank: 12

14. Benjamin Watson- New Orleans Saints

Braxton’s rank: 13

Joe’s rank: 14

15. O.J. Howard- Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Braxton’s rank: 9

Joe’s rank: 19

16. Charles Clay- Buffalo Bills

Braxton’s rank: 18

Joe’s rank: 13

17. Jared Cook- Oakland Raiders

Braxton’s rank: 20

Joe’s rank: 16

18. David Njoku- Cleveland Browns

Braxton’s rank: 15

Joe’s rank: 21

19. Austin Seferian-Jenkins- Jacksonville Jaguars

Braxton’s rank: 19

Joe’s rank: 24

20. George Kittle- San Francisco 49ers

Braxton’s rank: 23

Joe’s rank: 20

Tight End Rankings: 21-30

21. Cameron Brate- Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Braxton’s rank: 26

Joe’s rank: 17

22. Hayden Hurst- Baltimore Ravens

Braxton’s rank: 17

Joe’s rank: 26

23. Austin Hooper- Atlanta Falcons

Braxton’s rank: 27

Joe’s rank: 18

24. Eric Ebron- Indianapolis Colts

Braxton’s rank: 22

Joe’s rank: 23

25. Mike Gesicki- Miami Dolphins

Braxton’s rank: 21

Joe’s rank: 22

26. Dalton Schultz- Dallas Cowboys

Braxton’s rank: 24

Joe’s rank: 27

27. Ricky Seals-Jones- Arizona Cardinals

Braxton’s rank: 28

Joe’s rank: 28

28. Gerald Everett- Los Angeles Rams

Braxton’s rank: 30

Joe’s rank: 30

29. Vance McDonald- Pittsburgh Steelers

Braxton’s rank: N/A

Joe’s rank: 22

30. Tyler Kroft- Cincinnati Bengals

Braxton’s rank: 30

Joe’s rank: N/A

 

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2018 fantasy football tight end rankings

2018 Fantasy football tight end rankings

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

Tight End Rankings: 1-10

1. Rob Gronkowski – New England Patriots

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

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

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

2. Zach Ertz – Philadelphia Eagles

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

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

3. Travis Kelce – Kansas City Chiefs

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

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

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

4. Evan Engram – New York Giants

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

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

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

5. Greg Olsen – Carolina Panthers

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

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

6. Hunter Henry – Los Angeles Chargers

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

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

7. Delanie Walker – Tennessee Titans

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

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

8. Kyle Rudolph – Minnesota Vikings

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

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

9. O.J. Howard – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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

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

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

10. Jimmy Graham – Green Bay Packers

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

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

Tight End Rankings: 11-20

11. Trey Burton – Chicago Bears

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

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

12. Jordan Reed – Washington Redskins

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

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

13. Ben Watson – New Orleans Saints

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

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

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

14. Tyler Eifert – Cincinnati Bengals

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

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

15. David Njoku – Cleveland Browns

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

16. Jack Doyle – Indianapolis Colts

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

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

17. Hayden Hurst – Baltimore Ravens

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

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

18. Charles Clay – Buffalo Bills

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

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

19. Austin-Seferian Jenkins – Jacksonville Jaguars

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

20. Jared Cook – Oakland Raiders

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

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

Tight End Rankings: 21-30

21. Mike Gesicki – Miami Dolphins

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

22. Eric Ebron – Indianapolis Colts

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

23. George Kittle – San Francisco 49ers

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

24. Dalton Shultz – Dallas Cowboys

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

25. Dallas Goedert – Philadelphia Eagles

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

26. Cameron Brate – Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

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

27. Austin Hooper – Atlanta Falcons

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

28. Ricky-Seals Jones – Arizona Cardinals

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

29. Tyler Kroft – Cincinnati Bengals

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

30. Gerald Everett – Los Angeles Rams

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

 

Featured image from USA Today

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

2018 fantasy football TE rankings

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

Tight End Rankings: 1-10

1. Rob Gronkowski- New England Patriots

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

2. Zach Ertz- Philadelphia Eagles

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

3. Travis Kelce- Kansas City Chiefs

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

Greg Olsen catching pass

Greg Olsen (Photo by panthers.com)

4. Greg Olsen- Carolina Panthers

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

5. Hunter Henry- Los Angeles Chargers

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

6. Evan Engram- New York Giants

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

7. Jimmy Graham- Green Bay Packers

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

8. Kyle Rudolph- Minnesota Vikings

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

9. Delanie Walker- Tennessee Titans

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

10. Jack Doyle- Indianapolis Colts

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

Tight End rankings: 11-20

11. Jordan Reed- Washington Redskins

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

2018 fantasy football TE rankings

Tyler Eifert (Photo by wcpo.com)

12. Tyler Eifert- Cincinnati Bengals

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

13. Charles Clay- Buffalo Bills

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

14. Benjamin Watson- New Orleans Saints

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

15. Trey Burton- Chicago Bears

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

16. Jared Cook- Oakland Raiders

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

17. Cameron Brate- Tampa Buccaneers

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

18. Austin Hooper- Atlanta Falcons

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

19. O.J. Howard- Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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

20. George Kittle- San Francisco 49ers

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

Tight End rankings: 21-30

21. David Njoku- Cleveland Browns

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

Vance McDonald Steelers

Vance McDonald (Photo by steelers.com)

22. Vance McDonald- Pittsburgh Steelers

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

23. Eric Ebron- Indianapolis Colts

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

24. Austin Seferian-Jenkins- Jacksonville Jaguars

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

25. Mike Gesicki- Miami Dolphins

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

26. Hayden Hurst- Baltimore Ravens

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

27. Dalton Schultz- Dallas Cowboys

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

28. Ricky Seals-Jones- Arizona Cardinals

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

29. Ryan Griffin- Houston Texans

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

30. Gerald Everett- Los Angeles Rams

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

 

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New York Giants 2018 Draft profile

The 2018 NFL Draft is just over a month away, which means that Draftmas is back. Draftmas will take a look at each NFL team heading into the NFL Draft, what their needs are and who they could be targeting. You will find it here. Draftmas will continue with the New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft profile. 

Summary

The New York Giants rode into 2017 hoping to repeat playoff runs. New York finished the 2016 season 11-5 with a Wild Card appearance.

Many Giants fans were shocked at the 0-4 start to the 2017 campaign. This was the second and final season under head coach Ben McAdoo. What finalized this was McAdoo’s decision to name backup quarterback, Geno Smith, as the starter during Week 13.

New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft profile

Photo from bigblueview.com

This snapped Eli Manning’s streak of 210 consecutive regular season starts. This move inevitably drew league-wide ire to say the least, especially when one considers Manning’s laundry list of contributions to the organization. The Giants ended their 2017 campaign 3-13.

On offense, the Big Blue averaged only 15.4 points per game and 314.2 yards of total offense per game. On top of that, their running game left no silver linings in this black cloud, averaging just 96.8 yards per game.

Those numbers did not get any better in Week 5 against the Los Angeles Rams. Giants Pro Bowl wide receiver, Odell Beckham Jr., suffered a fractured left ankle. Furthermore, this injury landed No. 13 on the injured reserve for the rest of the season.

The emergence of rookie tight end, Evan Engram, was a bright spot for the Big Blue. Engram tallied 722 yards on 64 catches, along with six touchdowns.

Defensively, the G-men gave up 24.6 points per game and gave up 373.2 yards per game. Additionally, they ranked in the bottom 10 for rushing and passing yards allowed per game. The only standout from the defensive front was strong safety, Landon Collins. After racking up 104 total tackles and two interceptions, Collins was the lone Giant on last year’s Pro Bowl roster. It was his second Pro Bowl in just three years in the league.

Picks and Needs

The New York Giants have five picks in the 2018 NFL Draft. New York should be able to claim impact players early, along with potential dark horses in later picks.

First round (1 pick): 2

Second round (1): 34

Third round (1): 66, 69

Fourth round (1): 108

Fifth round (1): 139

Sixth round (0)

Seventh round (0)

Offensive needs:

Quarterback – Eli Manning’s days as a quarterback are not infinite. Despite having loads of franchise records to his name, along with two Super Bowl titles, the Big Blue will need to find a dependable successor to their 37-year-old field general.

Running back – The Giants have yet to find a workhorse in the backfield in recent seasons. The recent addition of Jonathan Stewart from the Carolina will improve the picture. But there might not be a lot left in the 31-year-old former Panther.

Offensive line – Although the o-line last year was not terrible, they were not great either. Adding former New England Patriot tackle, Nate Solder, can help bring leadership to this young crew. But in a division full of linemen that are more than formidable, the G-men will need more.

Defensive needs:

Defensive line – The Giants’ defense racked up 27 sacks last season, which was just 29th in the league. In addition, they have allowed almost 2,000 yards on the ground (1,933, sixth most in the league). This, along with Jason-Pierre Paul now being a Tampa Bay Buccaneer, means the defensive line will need more sparks and fury in the lineup.

Targets

These names are the ones the Giants can realistically bring in come draft time.

First round:

Pick No. 2: Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame

New York Giants 2018 NFL Draft profile

Quenton Nelson (Photo from CBS Sports)

The New York Giants should not go with running back Saquon Barkley if the Browns pass him up. Why? Because someone like Barkley won’t big noise with an offensive line that forced only 1,549 yards on the ground all season is unlikely. Though they are better at pass blocking, they need to grow and mature as a unit.

Even with the addition of Solder, this is a very young offensive line. They still need time to establish their footing. The best interior lineman in the draft, Quenton Nelson, can bring much needed enforcement both in run and pass protection. His frame, strength and technique will be much-needed utility in increasing offensive production. His leadership showcased at Notre Dame can rally up the troops and bring the pain like never before.

Second round:

Pick No. 34: Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State

Rashaad Penny can be the next big workhorse for the Big Blue, similar to Tiki Barber. With a balance of size and speed, Penny brings a high motor on the ground game. Penny rushed for 2,248 yards and 23 touchdowns last season at San Diego State. Along with being a hard and patient runner, he could also be a surprise weapon on special teams.

Third round:

Pick No. 66: Riley Ferguson, QB, Memphis

Though projected as a fifth or sixth-round pick, Riley Ferguson can bring much-needed depth to the thin quarterback roster in New York. He has thrown 70 touchdowns and just 19 interceptions as a Tiger, in just two seasons. He also completed over 63 percent of his passes in both seasons. Ferguson certainly has potential to be a steal in this draft. In addition, his ability to throw on the run is not something to overlook.

Pick No. 69: Derrick Nnadi DT, Florida State

Derrick Nnadi can be a much needed accent for the Giants’ front seven. While a Seminole, he racked 165 total tackles, including 24.5 tackles for loss. He was also on the squad when Florida State won the Orange Bowl in 2016. The NFL has had quite a history of nose tackles at 6-foot-1 doing great under the lights. Given the right coaching and enough progress in off-season training, Nnadi can turn into a force to be reckoned with in the trenches.

Conclusion

The New York Giants will need to put their foot down in the 2018 NFL Draft, furthermore with free agency. With a new head coach and a young crew on board, the G-men will have much work to do for 2018 to avoid repeating the 3-13 result from last season.

Enjoy the days of Draftmas here at The Game Haus! Make sure to tune in tomorrow for the New York Jets 2018 NFL Draft Profile.

 

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Saquon Barkley giants

The Giants need a quarterback of the future, but need Saquon Barkley now

The NFL Draft is just over a month away. The predictions, prognostications and smokescreens are in full effect. While many of the usual suspects like the Browns and Jets are near the top of the draft board, a few teams are in an unfamiliar spot picking so early. This group includes the New York Giants.

With Eli Manning now 37 years old, New York is looking at quarterbacks with the second overall pick, and rightfully so. UCLA’s Josh Rosen is the signal caller who has been most linked to the Giants.

However, assuming Cleveland takes a quarterback with the first pick, there will be a player available to the Giants that they almost have to take. That player is Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.

The Giants were awful last year, not Eli

Saquon Barkley Giants

Photo from cnbc.com

Last year, the Giants lost their two biggest pass catching threats for the bulk of the season due to injury. Also, second-year head coach Ben McAdoo was clearly in way over his head. Once the losses started piling up, he was literally at a loss for words during postgame press conferences and was fired before the season ended. Throw in cornerback Eli Apple being suspended for conduct detrimental to the team and the league’s 26th ranked rushing offense, and you get a 3-13 record.

Eli Manning was also bizarrely benched for a game, marking the first time he did not start a game for the Giants since 2004. With all of this going on, you would think Manning had a dreadful year. That is not true. All things considered, 19 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions is pretty impressive. Manning may not have much of his playing career left, but he can still play well.

Everything is slowly coming together 

Every quarterback has two best friends: a good offensive line and a solid running game.

One of these things helps create the other. The Giants offensive line was not terrible in terms of pass blocking last year. They ranked 12th in sacks allowed. However, getting the running game going has been a long-standing issue for the Giants.

The Giants have not finished above 18th in the league in rushing since 2012. Now, guys like Paul Perkins, Rashad Jennings and Orleans Darkwa are not exactly future Hall of Famers, but the offensive line is not blameless either.

Thus, New York wisely went out and spent big money on former Patriots left tackle Nate Solder in free agency. Solder has been protecting Tom Brady since 2011. The fact that he was given that responsibility that long tells you a lot. He immediately brings consistency to a unit that has been hit or miss in recent years. He should help a great deal in both the running and passing games.

This is where Barkley comes in. As noted above, the running back talent for the Giants has not been great as of late. There is no such thing as a can’t miss prospect in the NFL, but Barkley is without question a great talent. The Big Ten is one of the strongest defensive conferences in college football. Yet, Barkley never rushed for less than 1,076 yards in a season at Penn State. The two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year has also proven to be a decent receiver out of the backfield. He could be the star running back that the Giants have not had in a very long time.

Saquon Barkley Giants

Photo from nydailynews.com

Then, there is new head coach, Pat Shurmur. He failed as a head coach in Cleveland a few years back, but that should no longer be held against anyone. Shurmur was the offensive coordinator in Minnesota last year. His scheme helped the team reach the NFC Championship and turned Case Keenum into a hot free-agent commodity. After what he was able to do with Keenum, think of what Shurmur could do to revitalize the career of a borderline Hall of Famer like Manning.

Even without a new face in the offensive backfield, the supporting cast around Manning and whoever may wind up succeeding him in New York has gotten much better this offseason. Manning is certainly better qualified than Rosen or any other incoming rookie to take advantage of these improvements.

The New York factor

It may be overblown at times, but the New York media is different than most other places. The media firestorm around last year’s dumpster fire of a team was insane. The Giants cannot afford another three-win campaign. Drafting a rookie quarterback in the first round could be disastrous.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume the Giants draft Rosen. The second Manning has a bad game, fans and media calling for Rosen to step in would be all anyone talked about. That is damaging to any football team.

Manning is not getting any younger. Thus, the wise thing for the Giants would be to draft and develop a quarterback in the middle rounds without much fanfare and see if he can replace Manning in a couple years. They already have a decent defense. Put Barkley in the backfield behind a revamped offensive line, have Manning throwing to Evan Engram and a healthy Odell Beckham Jr. and you are suddenly looking at a team that could compete in 2018. That is exactly what the Giants have to do.

 

Featured image from yardbarker

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Week 9 DFS don'ts

Week 9 DFS don’ts: Report card

Week 9 was the first time all season I cashed when the week number was a multiple of 3. I know, why would anyone keep track of that? Well, when you lose badly on Week 3 and 6, you are highly aware of Week 9, 12, 15 moving forward.

Anyways, it was my best week of the year in terms of profit and picks. We nailed almost everything on the Suck My DFS Podcast and our picks for the Week 9 DFS don’ts.

Quarterback: 4/6

On our podcast, my three quarterbacks to build around were Russell Wilson, Alex Smith and Jared Goff. Now, I ended up not playing Alex Smith on my cash games and taking my co-host’s advice on Jacoby Brissett in my tournaments. I missed out on a great game from Goff, but still managed to have a good day as all three of these quarterbacks made value in cash games and probably helped you win a tournament.

On the other hand, Matt Ryan and Marcus Mariota managed to have good games and prove me wrong. However, Brock Osweiler was not good. It might seem cheap, but I saw tournament lineups on FanDuel with Osweiler so I’m counting it as a win.

Running Back: 4/6

I was struggling to predict the running back position all season. But finally, in the running back edition of Week 9 DFS don’ts, I came through. Devonta Freeman, C.J. Anderson and Alex Collins all failed to make value in a cash game, and I couldn’t be happier.

Conversely, Todd Gurley and Christian McCaffrey were great. Gurley was a staple in my tournament lineups.

Sadly, I whiffed on Mark Ingram while my co-host nailed it with Alvin Kamara. Thankfully, Gurley carried my lineups to victory.

Wide Receiver: 4/6

Mike Evans, Michael Thomas and Larry Fitzgerald all failed to make value. I’m not counting Jamison Crowder. He ended up not being active, so I won’t count that as a win or a loss.

Thank goodness for that Tyreek Hill play at the end of the first half! I haven’t sweated a game harder all year. While that play was great, Hill came up just short of doubling his value for cash purposes, so that’s a loss.

I don’t know if you heard, but T.Y. Hilton had a decent game, right? His price was too attractive this week and forced me to play him on all my tournament lineups. Russell Shepard ended up being a dud, but not a bad week as a whole though.

Tight End: 3/5

For my Week 9 DFS don’ts at the tight end position, I named Travis Kelce, Jimmy Graham and Ryan Griffin. Kelce had a great game and finished as the second highest scoring tight end on Sunday. Graham and Griffin both came up short.

On the podcast, I liked Evan Engram and Vernon Davis. Like Tyreek Hill, Davis came up less than a point short of making value in a cash game. I sadly played Jack Doyle instead of Engram. I couldn’t find a way to fit him in at that price despite really liking him.

Kicker: 1/3

This was my worst call of the season at this position. I totally missed on Brandon McManus, but I wasn’t going anywhere near that Denver offense. Mike Nugent came up very small, but he wasn’t needed. Cody Parkey didn’t make value, so that’s my only win at this position.

Defense: 2/3

Jacksonville was the chalk this past weekend, and I was happy to swallow it on all my lineups. Cincinnati wasn’t able to get it done against a running game without Leonard Fournette. And, if not for a touchdown, Houston’s defense would have failed to make value as well.

Overall Score: 18/29

I don’t know if I’ll have a week this good again, but I’ll take 62 percent correct. Hopefully Week 10 will be as good. Check out our latest piece on which kicker(s) and defense(s) to keep off your DFS lineups.

 

Featured image from Grizzly Bear Blues

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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Fantasy Football Week 9 winners

Top five fantasy stars of Week 9

Week 9 of the NFL season has come and gone. As we have passed the halfway point of the season, we had some big fantasy performances this week. If you had these players (or if you got lucky) you feel pretty good about your team this week. Here are the top five fantasy stars of Week 9.

Carson Wentz, Quarterback, Philadelphia Eagles

Wentz had a day against the Denver Broncos, throwing four touchdowns in a 51-23 blowout.

Fantasy Football Week 9 winners

Carson Wentz (Photo from grandforksherald.com)

The Broncos defense hasn’t allowed 18 or more fantasy points to any quarterback in their first seven games of the season. However, Wentz steamrolled one of the top defenses in the league.

For Wentz, it’s all about consistency, and we have seen that in his last five games. He has tossed 17 touchdowns and just three picks in the last five.

In seven of the nine games he has played, he has been a top eight quarterback. His elusiveness as a passer and a runner has made him a high-end QB1 with his consistent play.

Wentz now has a league-leading 23 touchdown passes and is continuing to have what looks like an MVP season. After a bye in Week 10, he will face the Dallas Cowboys the following week.

I expect him to have another good day with Dallas’ defense being in the lower tier against the quarterback this season.

T.Y. Hilton, Wide Receiver, Indianapolis Colts

Many of us had given up hope on Indianapolis Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton, but he finally broke through. It looks as if there is some chemistry developing between him and his quarterback Jacoby Brissett as well.

Fantasy Football Week 9 winners

T.Y. Hilton (Photo from tvasports.ca)

Hilton has been struggling all season, with some of it being due to not having his quarterback Andrew Luck. For the first eight weeks, he only averaged 66 yards and had only one touchdown.

But he was a beast on Sunday with 175 yards and two touchdowns, with one being 45 yards and the other was a 80-yard score. His 34 points in PPR and 29 in non-PPR gives some life to fantasy owners as there seems to have been a jumpstart in the Colts offense at least throwing the ball. Hilton has a trio of long touchdowns, but other than that, he has been kept out of the end zone.

It’s encouraging to see Hilton finally have a good game, but he will continue to be a boom or bust player for the rest of the season.

Quarterback Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams

The first two quarterbacks picked last season had stellar performances. Jared Goff had a similar day to Wentz as he torched the New York Giants defense.

Goff had a career day, throwing for 311 yards and four touchdowns while completing 14 of his 22 passes in a 51-17 blowout. The highest scoring offense has continued its dominance, and part of it is Goff playing well.

This is a guy that started his career with an 0-7 record as starter heading into 2017 with a 63.6 passer rating. Now he looks like the first overall pick the Rams were hoping for.

He has now scored at least 16 points five times in the last eight games, including 28 on Sunday. Goff averaged an outstanding 14.1 yards per attempt thanks to a pair of long touchdown passes, one a 52-yard strike to Robert Woods on a third and 33 and then a 67-yard deep ball to Sammy Watkins just over two minutes later. It’s just one of those feel-good stories when it comes to Goff.

Goff has gained some attention across fantasy as he was the 13th most started quarterback according to ESPN. He will continue his good play against a struggling Houston Texans defense.

Running back Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints

What a season rookie Alvin Kamara is having, both as a runner and a pass catcher. Even though this is his eighth game, he had a career day in fantasy with 25 points and 31 points in PPR.

Fantasy Football Week 9 winners

Alvin Kamara (Photo from buffalonews.com)

The Saints back contributed 152 total yards against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Kamara rushed 10 times for 68 yards and a touchdown and hauled in six of seven targets for 84 yards and another score.

The versatile rookie made his presence felt again, leading the Saints in receiving yardage while posting his best reception total since Week 4. He also posted his second straight week scoring a rushing touchdown for the first time in his career. Kamara also for the first time scored a receiving and a rushing score in the same game. The Saints seem to have found their pairing with Kamara and Mark Ingram.

He continues to be one the best pass catching backs in the league as he and rookie Christian McCaffrey are the only backs with at least three receptions in every game this season. They play the Bills next week and could have a solid day as a pass catcher.

TIght End Evan Engram, New York Giants

While the Giants struggled, Evan Engram had a solid day against the Rams. Engram had four catches for 70 yards and a score.

This may not seem like a star to most, but Engram has been lights out the last three games, scoring over 15 in three straight. He has established himself as the first target in a struggling Giant offense. He led the team in targets and tied for the most yards. Engram found the end zone in the fourth on a 10-yard pass from Eli Manning. He has posted at least 60 receiving yards in four of his last five games while reaching the end zone in each of his last three.

Engram has had a solid season even with the Giants woes on offense and should be considered a viable TE1 option. Expect Engram to have another solid outing next week against the winless San Francisco 49ers.

 

Featured image from si.com.

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week 7 DFS don'ts

Week 7 DFS don’ts: Tight end

Week 6 might have been my worst week at the tight end position. No one’s perfect, but none of my low priced tight ends were even close to hitting. Thankfully, I get another shot to be right, or wrong, in week 7. Let’s dive right into the tight end edition of week 7 DFS don’ts.

Evan Engram: FanDuel Price $5,500

I love Evan Engram. I have shares of him in multiple seasonal fantasy leagues, but it’s not happening this weekend. I’ve talked multiple times about this Seahawks defense and how it is not good for opposing tight ends.

Kam Chancellor is great. His size as a safety allows him to play physically with tight ends and not worry about being bullied. Earl Thomas also has incredible playmaking skills, which keep quarterbacks from testing the deep middle.

Personnel aside, the Seahawks cover 3 scheme does not allow tight ends to accumulate a lot of yards. To successfully attack a Cover 3 defense, the ball has to get to the hash marks. This is the area by which neither player in their zone can account for. The Giants haven’t yet shown the ability to attack this part of the field.

The Seahawks statistically have been great against the tight end position. They have allowed zero touchdowns thus far, and only one time has a tight end scored double digit points. This occurred in week 5 against the Rams.

Overall, the Seahawks won’t allow Engram to get going because he is the focal point of the passing game. They won’t have a disappointing outing like the Denver Broncos because they have a superior coach in Pete Carroll. Stay away from Evan Engram this weekend.

Zach Miller: FanDuel Price $5,200

week 7 DFS don'ts

Don’t be fooled by Zach Miller’s recent production, as it has come in the most unconventional ways. (Photo by CBS Sports Chicago)

Please don’t fall for this trick. I’ve heard people talking about how Mitch Trubisky has made Zach Miller relevant. This could not be further from the truth. Miller’s production the last two weeks is nothing but complete luck. Miller’s touchdown against the Vikings should have been an interception.

Instead, the ball was tipped and fell right into his hands. Against the Ravens, Miller caught a touchdown from Tarik, freaking, Cohen. He caught a touchdown pass from a running back and people are trying to correlate that production to Trubisky.

Miller’s matchup is one of the worst this weekend for any tight end. He and the Bears will host the Carolina Panthers, who have been one of the NFL’s best defenses. Outside of Zach Ertz, they have done a great job against tight ends.

There are other players in much better situations at Miller’s price with more reliable production. Miller joins Engram on my week 7 DFS don’ts.

 

Featured Image Courtesy of Scout.com

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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Odell Beckham Jr. fantasy injury

Fantasy reaction: Odell Beckham Jr.’s injury

The New York Giants had a rough week 5 on Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers. Not only did they not get their first win, but they also suffered multiple injuries at one position.

The team lost four receivers on Sunday. They lost Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard to ankle injuries within a span of four plays in the second quarter. Then they lost Dwayne Harris to a foot fracture and is out for the remainder of the 2017 season.

But the bigger name is their star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. The Giants announced after the game that Beckham fractured his ankle and is expected to miss the rest of the season. This is of course a big blow to the Giants offense and to fantasy owners.

Fantasy players know that they can fix this, even if it’s a high-caliber player like Beckham.

The Giants situation

Granted the Giants had other options, but they don’t have someone to replace a talent like Beckham. Now they face the problem of who will replace the other receivers. According to ESPN, Shapard could miss a couple of weeks, and Marshall’s injury is unknown, but being carted off isn’t a good sign.

Odell Beckham Jr. fantasy injury

Odell Beckham Jr. (Photo by: nytimes.com)

The only wide receiver healthy as of Sunday on the roster is Roger Lewis Jr., who had a 29-yard touchdown catch on Sunday. The Giants made a couple of moves on Monday, promoting Travis Rudolph from their practice squad and re-signing Tavarres King, who played the last three seasons with the Giants. They also have tight end Evan Engram, who is more of a receiver tight end and will likely become Eli Manning’s top target. Also expect running back Shane Vereen to have a bigger role in the passing game.

It will be hard to be rely on these new faces especially with their matchup this week against the Broncos at Denver. Even with a poor offensive line, don’t expect the Giants’ offense to offer reliable fantasy options.  The only players to give a look at especially in deeper leagues are Lewis and Engram and then Vereen only in PPR.

Wavier Wire

The first option is to look at the wavier wire and look at streamable players from this point on. Of course none of these receivers are anything close to Beckham, but they could help you week-in and week-out especially if you need players with good matchups.

The first is to look at Lewis of the Giants. He’s the next man up after the Giants lost four receivers on Sunday. He had a 29-yard touchdown catch. It may not look like much, but with Beckham out and Marshall and Shepard expected to miss time, he could be the new No. 1 receiver for Big Blue. However, his next two matchups are Denver and Seattle, who will both be coming off byes. He might not be the first choice, but shouldn’t be ignored if you’re desperate.

Odell Beckham Jr. fantasy injury

Roger Lewis Jr. (Photo by: sanluisobispo.com)

A streamable receiver to look at is Carolina Panthers receiver Devin Funchess. Since they lost tight end Greg Olsen in week 2, he has seen 27 targets over the last three weeks. Funchess also has crossed the goal line on three occasions over the last two games.

Part of his success is his quarterback Cam Newton playing sensational the past two games. His 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame makes him a natural red-zone target.

The Panthers face the Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the next three weeks. These three teams are ranked inside the top-10 in fantasy points allowed to opposing wide receivers. Funchess also missed practice on Monday with a knee injury, and should be watched closely if he doesn’t play on Thursday.

Other receivers to look at are Jermaine Kearse of the Jets, Mike Wallace of the Ravens, Nelson Agholor of the Eagles and Kendall Wright of the Bears.

Look at trades

If no one in free agency interests you, maybe it’s time to find a trade. Personally I’m not a big fan of trades unless I’m the one receiving the trade, but if times are desperate, then a trade could be in the cards.

One big name that is having a good start to the season is New England Patriots receiver Chris Hogan. Sure he may cost you, but if you have assets, he’s worth it. He may be 31st in the league in targets, but he is a touchdown machine. Hogan has turned four of his last 26 targets into trips to the end zone. They may have lots of mouths to feed in New England, but he has been consistent since week 2 and is continuing to play at a high pace.

Now there’s players to look at who are having down years. Names like Amari Cooper, Terrelle Pryor, Sammy Watkins and Golden Tate could be valuable down the stretch if they turn it around. Some fantasy owners might give up these players for the right price, and it might not take much to land these players. Even with their struggles, they are top receivers on their teams. Their targets will remain consistent, and the plan here is to hope for a bounce back.

Now if you’re one of those players that want to land a star to replace a star then look at Julio Jones. He has struggled out of the gate with no touchdowns, but coming off a bye could be what Jones needs to get going. If you have assets and want to make the swing to the fences, this a trade you want to try.

Best bet: Look for the hot hand

In the end, the best bet is to look at players that are hot. Running backs, wide receivers and tight ends that are playing consistent are the best way to replace Beckham without getting rid of your whole team. There’s no clear way to replace Beckham, but we all can relate to losing the star of your team. Hopefully to most they can overcome this, but continue to make moves for the hot hand if there’s no clear long-term replacement.

 

Featured image from sportingnews.com.

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2017 NFC East division

2017 NFC East division preview

The NFL regular season is fast approaching. In the blink of an eye, Sep. 7 will arrive and the Chiefs and Patriots will be kicking off. In the meantime, Hagan’s Haus will be bringing you the divisional previews and predictions of how teams will finish in their respective divisions. Without further adu, here is the 2017 NFC East division preview.

4. Washington Redskins

Last season: 8-7-1

Strength of Schedule: 7

Last season was an up and down one for the Redskins. This year the schedule makers didn’t make it any easier on them. Aside from playing in the tough NFC East, Washington must also play the AFC West. The AFC West is arguably the best division in football. As if the tough schedule wasn’t enough to deal with, the Redskins have glaring weaknesses on both sides of the ball.

2017 NFC East division preview

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Offensively, their line is average but consistent. The running back situation is somewhat of a mess. None of Washington’s running backs had more than 750 yards last season.

Rob Kelley, Matt Jones and Chris Thompson all got significant carries and return this season. Washington also drafted Samaje Perine from Oklahoma. Without a clear cut go-to running back, the offense will be one dimensional.

The strength of the offense is the passing attack, but it isn’t even all that great on paper. Kirk Cousins is an average NFL quarterback who will not lead a team to a Super Bowl. In their division, he won’t even be able to get them into the playoffs this season.

He doesn’t have the best of receivers either. His number one receiver is a converted quarterback. Cousins’ other viable offensive weapon is tight end Jordan Reed who has had nagging injuries keeping him out of the lineup.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Redskins are going to struggle. The Redskins gave up 23.9 points per game last season because they couldn’t stop the run. Teams ran for an average of 119.8 yards per game. This problem wasn’t addressed in the draft or in free agency. Washington did draft Jonathan Allen, but are playing him at defensive end and his strength is against the pass.

With the lack of a running game and a defense that can’t stop the run, teams will control the flow of the game and the clock against the Redskins. Washington will be playing from behind and Kirk Cousins will have a higher interception total this season. Their seventh ranked schedule is also a major reason on why they will have a rough year.

Prediction: 5-11 (3-3), miss the playoffs

3. Philadelphia Eagles

Last season: 7-9

Strength of Schedule: (T) 10

The Eagles made a lot of moves in the offseason to help out second-year quarterback Carson Wentz. They made it a point to do so because the second season is the most important in the development of a quarterback.

2017 NFC East division preview

(Photo Credit: http://www.csnphilly.com)

Heading into the season the Eagles have the best ranked offensive line according to Pro Football Focus. That line should pave the way for a solid year by LeGarrette Blount, who led the league in rushing touchdowns last season.

Wentz was also given a new huge weapon at receiver in Alshon Jeffery. Jordan Mathews, who had 73 receptions in 2016, returns to play alongside Jeffery. Carson Wentz is also blessed with a really good tight end, Zach Ertz, who led the team in catches with 78.

The Eagles have a very talented defense that allowed 20.7 points per game last season. The defense hasn’t changed much and should play similar to the way they did last season.

Philly has road games outside the division against the Chiefs, Panthers and Seahawks. They also have home games against the Cardinals, Broncos and Raiders. A tough division and tough schedule are what may hold Philadelphia back this season.

Prediction: 7-9 (3-3), miss the playoffs

2. New York Giants

Last season: 11-5

Strength of Schedule: 8

2017 NFC East division preview

(Photo Credit: https://rukkus.com/)

New York’s season came to an abrupt end in the playoffs against the Packers after a 38-13 thrashing. It was just a bad game for the Giants and not a true indication of how good they really are. In reality, the Giants are a team capable of winning the Super Bowl and it starts with their defense.

Quietly, the Giants had one of the best defenses in the league last season. They gave up just 17.8 points per game, which was second best in the NFL. Their defensive line got lots of pressure and the amazing secondary put fear into opposing quarterbacks.

The weak spot of the defense is the linebacking corp and if they can just be average, then the Giants will have an elite defense yet again.

Offensively, the Giants can sleep easy knowing Eli Manning is still under center. He doesn’t get the shine like most Super Bowl winning quarterbacks, but he hasn’t missed a game since before Nov. 21, 2004. Manning is consistent and the team knows they will be able to get 4,000 yards and 25 or more touchdowns from him.

He has Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram as targets for 2017. This is going to make his job easy.

The only question mark on the offense is at running back. Paul Perkins is the man but can he shoulder the load for an entire season? He only carried the ball 112 times for 456 yards last season and will be taking over for Rashad Jennings. If he can be the workhorse, the Giants will have a dangerous offense that can win them a lot of games.

New York has talent on both sides of the ball. They will continue to build off of last season’s success and have another solid campaign in 2017 but it won’t be good enough to knock off the Cowboys for the division title.

Prediction: 10-6 (3-3), wildcard candidate

1. Dallas

Last season: 13-3

Strength of Schedule: (T) 10

2016 was a great year for Dallas as they ran out to a 13-3 record and a first-round bye. Unfortunately, their defense let them down against one of the game’s best quarterbacks, Aaron Rodgers. Dallas fell to the Packers 34-31 in the divisional round of the playoffs and their surprising season came to end. This year there are Super Bowl expectations for America’s team.

2017 NFC East division preview

(Photo Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports)

The entire team is led by their running game. It is no secret how talented the offensive line is in Dallas and the Cowboys used it to their advantage. Rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott led the NFL in rushing yards with 1,631 yards last season. The success of their running game took pressure off rookie quarterback Dak Prescott.

Prescott should take a leap this year as the Cowboys will attempt to open up the playbook. Dak threw for 3,667 yards, 23 touchdowns and four interceptions. The formula for success is still to run the ball, but with a better understanding of the offense and solid weapons around him, Dak could have an even better sophomore season.

The issue with the Cowboys is their defense but more specifically, their pass defense. Dallas addressed their defense by adding Taco Charlton to try and create quick pressure on opposing quarterbacks. They also drafted Jourdan Lewis out of Michigan, who was one of the best corners in the nation. To improve the secondary even further, they signed Nolan Carroll from the division rival Eagles.

All these moves should improve the defense but there is a potential superstar, who isn’t a new acquisition, waiting to be unleashed.

Jaylon Smith was a consensus top five pick last season before he blew his knee out in a bowl game. Smith sat out last season after the Cowboys drafted him in the second round. If Smith can stay healthy, he will be a Pro-Bowl caliber player. Adding him to this defense could be the difference in losing to Green Bay and heading to Minnesota for Super Bowl LII.

With all the talent the Cowboys have on offense, the defense just needs to be average. They will be better than average with the moves they made in the offseason and the Cowboys will be a legitimate Super Bowl contender this season.

Prediction: 12-4, division champion

 

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