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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Chris Thompson fantasy

Fantasy options to replace Chris Thompson

Washington Redskins running back Chris Thompson was carted off with an air cast on his leg after he got rolled up on at an awkward angle against the Saints. It was reported after the game that he suffered a fractured fibula and will miss the rest of the season.

Thompson has emerged as a quality running back this season, especially in fantasy. He was 10th in fantasy points in standard scoring at his position as well as 11th in PPR with his ability to both run and catch out of the backfield.

This comes at a big point of the fantasy season with the playoffs coming up because of his versatility as a fantasy running back. It’s time to look at the next man up for Washington to fill the void for both the Redskins and your fantasy team.

The next man up: Samaje Perine

The Redskins will now be on their third running back due to injuries to Thompson and the original starter Rob Kelley (ankle). They will now run with rookie Samaje Perine.

Chris Thompson fantasy

Samaje Perine (Photo from NFL.com)

Perine becomes a priority pickup after the injury to Thompson. The rookie out of Oklahoma had a lot of hype early in the preseason as a candidate to take the starting job, but struggled early on with fumbles and lack of production.

But he has turned the page in the second half of the season. On Sunday, he had a career day against the Saints in relief, as he ran for 117 yards and a score on 23 carries.

Perine will mostly get his opportunities on the ground as he is more of a power back at 236 pounds, which is his strength. He can be in passing situations, but he will mostly be pounding the ball on the ground, especially on the goal line.

They will also mix in rookie Byron Marshall, who they picked up from the Philadelphia Eagles’ practice squad.

Flex option: Josh Doctson

From the passing game perspective, Redskins receiver Josh Doctson could be someone to look at to replace both Thompson and Terrelle Pryor.

Chris Thompson fantasy

Josh Doctson (Photo from detroitnews.com)

He is finally showing the production the Redskins had hoped for from their 2016 first-round pick. With Jordan Reed struggling with injuries and Pryor now out for the season, it has led to an increase in targets to Doctson. He tied his career high with seven in each of the past two weeks. This also included a solid game against the Saints as he caught four passes for 81 yards. He brought in several 50-50 balls, and Kirk Cousins seems comfortable passing to him.

Doctson’s upside and big-play ability have expanded his role as a top option in their offense.

Other options

This is a big blow, especially at this point of the fantasy season with a guy like Thompson. With the amount of injuries this season, there aren’t a lot of big names out there that are consistently producing. But there are a couple of options for the playoff push.

Fantasy owners in need of a running back should look to Austin Ekeler of the Los Angeles Chargers and Danny Woodhead of the Baltimore Ravens. As for the flex position, Corey Coleman has been a big name in the wavier wire as well as Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, who could return from his broken foot.

 

Featured image from thecomeback.com.

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“From our Haus to Yours”

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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NFL Top 100 Players 2017: 60-51

The NFL season is right around the corner and all the lists of top players of the NFL are out. There is only one problem with these lists: they look back on the 2016 season too much. This list will look forward to the 2017 season and predict who will be the top 100 players for the 2017 season. The Game Haus staff compiled their lists together to rank who they think will be the top 100 players this upcoming season.

This is the fifth installment, containing players 60-51.

60. Geno Atkins, DT, Cincinnati Bengals

NFL Top 100

Geno Atkins (Photo by bengals.com)

Atkins has been one of the best defensive tackles in the NFL for years now and is a five time Pro Bowler that should be making his sixth appearance in 2017. In 2016, his latest Pro Bowl season, Atkins had 32 total tackles and 9 sacks and was the best player on the Bengals’ defense yet again.

The Bengals’ defensive line has been thinning out in the talent department the last few years, but the two players who made this list, Atkins and Carlos Dunlap (#91), have done their parts. Cincinnati has added Jordan Willis and Carl Lawson via the NFL Draft to help out in the pass rushing department. If they can get to the quarterback, it should free up Atkins (and Dunlap) from facing a lot of double teams.

In 2017 Atkins will continue to be one of the best interior pass rushers in the NFL as well as be good against the run.

Comments: “You watch him play and tell me he doesn’t deserve to be higher.”- Robert Hanes

59. Xavier Rhodes, CB, Minnesota Vikings

NFL Top 100

Xavier Rhodes (photo by twincities.com)

The Vikings have a great, young corner in Rhodes, who has shown flashes of how good he can be in his first four seasons in the NFL. Rhodes went to his first Pro Bowl in 2016 while totaling 52 tackles, five interceptions, one touchdown, 10 passes defended and one forced fumble.

Rhodes often does a great job against an opponent’s best receiver, which often times means the ball isn’t thrown his way very much. He was a big reason why Minnesota was the third best defense against the pass in 2016, which is no small feat being in the same division as Aaron Rodgers and Matt Stafford.

In 2017 Rhodes will again be called upon to shut down great receivers and doing so could move him up in next year’s list.

Comments:  “This is asinine. Rhodes allowed 3.1 yards per pass attempt which was best in the NFL. He had five interceptions and a touchdown in 14 games. Rhodes locked Odell Beckham down so bad that Odell was saying football wasn’t fun anymore after the game. Rhodes is a top three corner and that is a fact.” -Matthew Hagan

58. Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins

NFL Top 100

Jordan Reed (Photo by espn.com)

Reed has been phenomenal in his NFL career, when healthy. Unfortunately, he has been often injured. When he is healthy, he produces and is Kirk Cousins’ favorite target. In 2016 he played in 12 games and started eight. He still managed to record 66 receptions for 686 yard and six touchdowns.

While he was an average tight end in his first two years in the league, he has blossomed with Cousins over the last few seasons. Cousins will be under center, for at least one more season, so there is no reason to expect Reed to stop producing, unless he gets injured once again in 2017.

He is one of the best tight ends in the league and a dynamic offensive weapon. If Reed can stay healthy his presence will elevate the level of play on the Washington offense.

Comments: “Jordan Reed is a great tight end when he is healthy. He is a pure receiver that makes Kirk Cousins a better quarterback when he is on the field. With Desean Jackson and Pierrre Garcon gone, Reed will be even more of a go-to-guy for Cousins.”-Joe DiTullio

57. Kyle Long, OG, Chicago Bears

NFL Top 100

Kyle Long (photo by philly.com)

In his first four seasons in the NFL, Long has made three Pro Bowls. He missed the Pro Bowl in 2016, but only played in eight games. The most impressive thing for Long, and the Bears is that he was great at opening up holes for rookie running back Jordan Howard, who had four of his seven 100 yard rushing games when Long was in the lineup.

After an ankle injury ended Long’s 2016 season prematurely, he will be looking forward to having a good 2017 season. He will have to continue to open up holes for Howard and block for a new quarterback (Mike Glennon or Mitch Trubisky). The Bears’ offense won’t be great in 2017, but it won’t be because of Long.

If Long is able to come back healthy in 2017, he will reclaim his status as one of the NFL’s best guards.

Comments: “The Bears were bad which is the only reason Kyle Long doesn’t get the love he deserves. Long helped rookie Jordan Howard finish second in the NFL in rushing yards. Without Long, the Bears would be even worse,” -Matthew Hagan

56. Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington Redskins

NFL Top 100

Kirk Cousins (photo by cbssports.com)

He may not have a long-term contract, but Cousins has been turning heads in his two full seasons as a starting quarterback. Cousins had the third most passing yards in the NFL last season. In 2016 he finished with 4,917 passing yards, 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

A lot of Cousins’ receivers have left, but Washington has signed Terrelle Pryor to help fill the void. With him Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson and Jordan Reed (#58), Cousins will have enough weapons to be successful. He will also have one of the NFL’s best linemen, Trent Williams, protecting his blind-side.

If Cousins wants to have a long term deal, whether it’s from Washington or not, he will have to put up more good numbers in 2017.

Comments: “Yes the Redskins are an incompetent franchise but there is a reason they won’t commit to him long term. Kirk Cousins is an average quarterback that will not lead a franchise to a Super Bowl which is why I believe he should be lower.” -Matthew Hagan

“Numbers don’t lie. While I do not necessarily think he should be a lot higher I think this man can play Quarterback and do it well. Haters need to back off. Imagine if Jay Gruden wasn’t his coach?”- Robert Hanes

55. Alex Mack, OC, Atlanta Falcons

NFL Top 100

Alex Mack (photo by usatoday.com)

Mack endured playing on a bad Cleveland Browns team for the first seven years of his career but made the Super Bowl in his first year on the Falcons. He has made four Pro Bowls in his career and is one of the best centers in the NFL.

The Falcons had one of the best offenses in the NFL in 2016 thanks in large part to a good offensive line, which was led by Mack. With Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman all coming back the Falcons’ offense should be great once again.

If Atlanta wants to make it back to the Super Bowl they are going to need good offensive line play, with Mack taking charge once again.

Comments: “Easily one of the top three if not number one center in the league. He is finally not playing for the Browns, isn’t it about time he gets some love?”- Robert Hanes

54. Calais Campbell, DT, Jacksonville Jaguars

NFL Top 100

Calais Campbell (Photo by jacksonville.com)

The Jaguars made a great offseason move by acquiring Campbell in free agency. While he has been in the NFL since 2008, Jacksonville will be just his second team. In 2016 Campbell was all over the field with 53 combined tackles, eight sacks, six passes defended, two forced fumbles, three fumbles recovered, an interception and a safety.

At 6-8 and 282 pounds, Campbell is a disruptive force and he isn’t slowing down. He will be age 31 in the 2017 season and will be flanked by a lot of talent that the Jaguars acquired in the offseason. Campbell has a chance to take the Jaguars defense to the next level in 2017 and will likely be the best player on the much-improved defense.

Jacksonville made a statement by going after a lot of defensive players and in Campbell, they get a disruptive lineman who has been consistently good over his career.

Comments: “Campbell is a beast. He has been a gem in the desert, but will now help the Jags defense take it to the next level. With some new players also joining him, Campbell has the chance to be the best player on a good defense.”-Joe DiTullio

53. Taylor Lewan, OT, Tennessee Titans

 

NFL Top 100

Taylor Lewan (Photo by titansonline.com)

2016 was Lewan’s first Pro Bowl season, which looks like it will be the first of many. Lewan was a big part of the Titans rushing for the third most yards in the NFL and giving up 28 sacks as a team, which is one of the best in the league.

Lewan will be entering his fourth season in 2017 and the Titans’ offense is improving each year. Derrick Henry and Demarco Murray will lead the rushing attack and Marcus Mariota will continue to develop especially with new weapon Corey Davis. The offense is trending upwards and Lewan will be a big reason why the skill position players are successful.

After a solid first three seasons in the league, Lewan is cementing himself as one of the best offensive linemen in the NFL and 2017 will be the next step to proving it.

Comments: “Lewan has had a great start to his career and by year’s end could even be ranked higher than this. Not only has he done a good job of protecting Marcus Mariota, but he has also cleared holes for Henry and Murray. 2017 will bring another Pro Bowl.”-Joe DiTullio

52. Chris Harris Jr., CB, Denver Broncos

NFL Top 100

Chris Harris Jr. (Photo by denverpost.com)

Harris Jr. has been a stalwart on the Broncos defense for years and is one of the best corners in the NFL. Last season he recorded 63 total tackles, 11 passes defended, two interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovered.

In 2016 Harris Jr. made his third straight Pro Bowl as he helped the Broncos be the best defense against the pass in the NFL. Harris Jr. will continue to have Bradley Robey and Aqib Talib flanking him as the other corners, which allows him to move inside to the slot at times. He is a very versatile player that will continue playing well in 2017.

With Harris Jr. and Talib at the corner spots, the Broncos will have one of the best tandems in the NFL once again in 2017.

Comments: “He may be forgotten behind Miller and Talib, but Harris has made himself into one of the NFL’s best corners himself. He shuts down good wide receivers and helps this defense be the best against the pass in the NFL.”-Joe DiTullio

51. Jordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers

NFL Top 100

Jordy Nelson (Photo by packers.com)

The Packers have come on strong at the end of seasons for the past two seasons and Nelson came on strong at the end of 2016. In the last eight games, he had four of his five 100 receiving yard games. Overall Nelson had 97 receptions for 1,257 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Nelson is undoubtedly Aaron Rodgers’ number one target once again in 2017 and will put up some big numbers. He will be 32 this season which isn’t ideal for a receiver who relies on his speed, but he still has a lot left in the tank. In the past three seasons, Nelson has set a new career high in targets each year and he should get his fair share again in 2017.

The Rodgers to Nelson connection may not be able to happen for too much longer, but they have a few more seasons together.

Comments: “Jordy Nelson is a silent assassin. He has had over 1,200 yards in three straight seasons. Nelson has also accumulated 27 touchdowns over that past two seasons. Aaron Rodgers has struggled at times without Nelson. Jordy is a top five receiver in the NFL but doesn’t have the flash required to be ranked higher.” -Matthew Hagan

NFL Top 100 Players: 70-61

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Top 5 2017 Fantasy Tight Ends

The tight end position is known for big targets that can create space and are touchdown machines in the red zone. Tight ends can sometimes be nerve racking because there aren’t many that are elite. When its draft time it’s all about patience especially for tight ends as you don’t want to reach too high or wait to long for your starting TE.

Here are the top-5 fantasy tight ends you should consider for your fantasy team in 2017.

No.5 Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings

To start, my number five tight end is Kyle Rudolph of the Minnesota Vikings. In 2016 he was the most heavily targeted tight end in the league. This was due in part to Pat Shurmur replacing Norv Turner as Minnesota’s offensive coordinator in early November. Tight ends have accounted for a 24 percent target share during Shurmur’s 122 games as a head coach or coordinator since 2009 according to ESPN.

In 2016, Rudolph  paced all tight ends with 128 targets and ranked in the top four in receptions, yards, touchdowns and end zone targets (11). In the past, Rudolph would average around three receptions and 27.8 yards per game, basically becoming a touchdown-or-bust tight end. Rudolph flipped the switch in 2016 and put up 5.2 grabs and 52.5 yards per game. This helped him finish second at the position in fantasy points, his best ranking since he landed 11th in 2012.

In 2017, Rudolph should continue to be a featured option in the Viking offense as Shurmur is still around. He’s not a top-tier option but he’s much better than the tight ends you’ll find at the end of your draft.

No.4 Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins

Jordan Reed has proven to be a valuable target in Washington. In 2016 he ranked in the top 10 tight ends in receptions, yards and touchdowns despite only playing 12 games.

Reed has posted a pair of top-10 fantasy seasons in the past two seasons. In 2015, he had his best season to date with 87 catches for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns, which allowed him to finish as the No. 3 fantasy tight end in standard leagues. In 2016 he still produced at a high level with 66 catches for 686 yards and six touchdowns but finished as just the No. 8 tight end in standard formats. An impressive stat is that Reed has caught at least three-quarters of his targets during each of his four NFL seasons. That’s scary good.

The one issue with Reed is injuries. He has yet to play a full 16 games in his career. Last year he missed two games with a shoulder injury and one with a concussion. But these injuries haven’t prevented Reed’s numbers to drastically decline. However in 2017 he should become the number one option in Washington with DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon both moving on.

No.3 Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers

My number three tight end is Greg Olsen of the Carolina Panthers. He may not be the flashiest player, but without a doubt he’s the most consistent tight end in the NFL.

Top 5 2017 Fantasy Tight Ends

Greg Olsen (Photo by: nj.com)

Olsen finished third in fantasy points and in the top-seven at the position in targets, completions and receiving yards each of the past five years. In 2016 he had seven games with eight-plus fantasy points. He did, however, only have three touchdowns, his fewest since 2007. Olsen is still the main piece in the Panthers passing game especially in the red zone . He had another 1,000 yard season for the third year in a row and maintains consistency in targets and receptions.

The thing that Olsen excels in is durability. He hasn’t missed a game since 2007. He is always a reliable TE1 and expect him to bounce back in touchdowns and being consistent.

No.2 Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots

Top 5 2017 Fantasy Tight Ends

Rob Gronkowski (Photo by: washingtontimes.com)

I know I will have some hate mail, but if it weren’t for injuries Gronkowski would be my number one tight end. The three-time top fantasy tight end has missed at least one game during each of the past five years and a total of 24 during that span. However, outside of fantasy he is the best tight end in the NFL and always a top two in fantasy.

In 2016 he appeared in eight games and finished with 25 catches for 540 yards and three touchdowns on 38 targets. He still finished as the No. 20 Fantasy tight end in standard leagues which goes to show how good he is. From weeks 6-10 he was the top fantasy tight end in fantasy points. He’s finished in the top five in touchdowns, fantasy points and yards per target during the past four seasons in which he’s appeared in at least 11 games. In fact he has double digit touchdowns in all but two seasons of his seven year career and they were due to injuries.

Again, people will not agree with this ranking but I fear Gronkowski will again have injury issues. He hasn’t seen a full 16 games since his first two seasons. In 2014 and 2015 he only missed a total of two games and had top fantasy seasons. We hope he plays at least 13 games because when he’s healthy he’s easily the best fantasy tight end in any format. If he can do that he will be the Gronkowski that we can rely on. I do expect him to be ready and also to be the first tight end off the board in Rounds 2 or 3.

No.1 Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

Everyone might question this but I’m going with Travis Kelce as my number one tight end for fantasy in 2017. The first thing is why is he in front of Gronkowski? . Gronkowski hasn’t played a full 16 games since 2011. Kelce has played in 16 games three of his four seasons and has started 42 of his 49 career games.

But other then durability Kelce had a breakout 2016 season. He led almost every category at the tight end position including yards, yards per game, catches for 20 and 40 plus yards, and had the longest catch among tight ends. The Chiefs tight end was also second in receptions. Kelce finished as the No. 1 Fantasy tight end in standard leagues with 85 catches for 1,125 yards and four touchdowns on 117 targets. Another interesting stat about Kelce is that he was second among receivers with 100 plus yard games behind only Julio Jones with six. He had a span where he had four 100 plus yards game towards the time of the fantasy playoffs.

Kelce if anything he should see an increase in usage this year with the release of Jeremy Maclin.  Even though he will be picked as the second tight end behind Gronk, Kelce is a good option and is valuable in both standard and PPR leagues. Look for him around the 4th to 5th round to be off the board as he has become a top tier tight end in fantasy.

 

Featured image from arrowheadaddict.com.

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Super Bowl Series: NFC East

Super Bowl series 2017: NFC East

Football is right around the corner and The Game Haus is going to get you ready for the 2017-18 NFL season. The Super Bowl Series is going to explain how every team in the NFL can win Super Bowl LII. The Super Bowl Series will be divided into eight editions, one for each division. The first edition will be Super Bowl Series: NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

Super Bowl Series: NFC East

(Photo Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports)

It’s not going out on a limb to say the Dallas Cowboys can win the Super Bowl. Last season, Dallas earned the number one seed in the NFC but lost to Green Bay 34-31 in the divisional round. The experience was valuable for a relatively young team.

The Cowboys are a talented offensive team. Dallas’ offensive line ranked second in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. This allowed rookie running back Ezekiel Elliot to lead the league in rushing with 1,631 yards. Fellow rookie Dak Prescott was named Rookie of the Year after throwing for 3,667 yards, 23 touchdowns and just four interceptions.

The second-ranked offensive line paved the way for the NFL’s leading rusher and they only gave up 25 sacks on the season.

To win the Super Bowl, the offense just needs to do what they did last season. If Elliot leads the NFL in rushing and Prescott protects the football, this offense will continue to be one of the best.

Winning the Super Bowl for the Cowboys comes down to their defense. Dallas gave up the fifth-fewest points last year (19.1) but a lot of that is due to a running game that kept them off the field.

Breaking down the Cowboys defense shows that they must improve their passing defense. The Cowboys ranked first in the NFL in rushing defense giving up only 83.5 yards per game. Dallas gave up 260.4 yards passing per game which ranked 26th.

In summary, the Cowboys offense needs to replicate their success from last season. Defensively, the Cowboys must continue to stop the run and bring down the passing yards allowed per game. This is what it will take for the Dallas Cowboys to win their sixth Vince Lombardi Trophy.

New York Giants

Super Bowl Series: NFC East

(Photo Credit: AP / Bill Kostroun)

Similar to the Cowboys, it is not far-fetched to say the New York Giants can win Super Bowl LII. The Giants went 11-5 and earned a wild card berth. New York lost their wild card game to Green Bay 38-13.

Eli Manning is a two-time Super Bowl MVP and champion and the leader of this offense. For the Giants to win the Super Bowl this season, Eli Manning will have to have a minimum of 30 touchdowns and 4,000 yards which he is capable of.

From that 4,000 plus passing yards, Odell Beckham needs at least 1,300. If Odell adds 10 touchdowns as well, then the Giants’ offense will be good enough to make the playoffs and compete for a Super Bowl.

As surprising as it is, the Giants will be led by their very talented defense. The front four is loaded and led by players like Olivier Vernon, Jason Pierre-Paul and Damon Harrison. These guys will need to continue improve their pressure on opposing quarterbacks. New York ranked 14th with 35 sacks and that must improve to take that step towards a Super Bowl victory.

The weakest unit of the defense is the linebacking corp. If the linebackers are average they can still help the Giants have a top 10 defense.

New York’s secondary is one of the best in the league. Janoris Jenkins, Landon Collins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie combined for 14 interceptions. Continuing that kind of success will only help the Giants’ chances.

The Giants strength will be the defense and if the offense can keep up the Giants can win the Super Bowl.

Washington Redskins

Super Bowl Series: NFC East

(Photo Credit: Bleacher Report)

The Washington Redskins finished last season 8-7-1 and missed the playoffs. Making the playoffs is going to be a difficult task considering how good the NFC East is. It is going to take a lot for the Redskins to win the Super Bowl.

Washington will need Kirk Cousins to take the next step as a quarterback. That next step is becoming a Pro-Bowl and MVP-caliber quarterback which is asking too much of him. Last season he had 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Those numbers need to be 30-plus touchdowns and less than 10 interceptions.

Washington also has a running back by committee backfield and that must change. One of these running backs needs to step up and have a 1,200-yard season. There must be that go-to guy in crunch time.

The receiving corp is not going to blow your socks off. These guys will have to play over their head and take some of the pressure off of Jordan Reed to help this offense succeed.

Washington is going to be a project defensively. The Redskins don’t have starters listed on their depth chart at either defensive end spot or at strong safety. Josh Norman and Ryan Kerrigan are going to have to lead by example and carry this defense to a top-five ranking if the Redskins want to win the Super Bowl.

In short, for the Redskins to win Super Bowl LII, Kirk Cousins will need to be in the MVP discussion and the defense needs to play out of their mind as a top-five defense.

Philadelphia Eagles

Super Bowl Series: NFC East

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

Philly finished fourth in the NFC East with a record of 7-9 last season. Considering the Eagles had a rookie quarterback, it was a pretty good season. Philadelphia made a lot of moves to try and build a playoff team.

The acquisitions of LeGarrette Blount and Alshon Jeffery will go a long way to helping Carson Wentz avoid a sophomore slump. For the Eagles to win the Super Bowl, Wentz must have a huge year. What would that huge year look like? Wentz would have to double his touchdowns from 16 to at least 32 and cut down on his 14 interceptions.

Alshon Jeffery will simply have to stay healthy. Jeffery is elite when healthy but he has missed 11 games over the past two seasons. Torrey Smith will have to turn back the clock and mirror his 2013 season in which he caught 65 balls for 1,128 yards. Jordan Matthews will also have to step up his game.

The running game will need to take some pressure off the passing game. Blount led the NFL in rushing touchdowns last season (18) with the Patriots and repeating that will push the Eagles to a higher plateau. Ryan Mathews needs to stay healthy which may be impossible because he has never played a full season in his seven years in the NFL.

The Eagles defense is full of playmakers and stars like Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Jordan Hicks and Malcolm Jenkins. Last year Philadelphia ranked 12th in points allowed at 20.7 points per game. If the Eagles want to make the playoffs and win Super Bowl LII they must improve on that to alleviate pressure off of Carson Wentz and the rest of the offense.

If the Eagles remain healthy, get a huge jump in play from Carson Wentz and the defense allows fewer points than they did last season then the Philadelphia Eagles can win their first Super Bowl in franchise history.

 

Thank you for checking out the Super Bowl Series: NFC East. Stay tuned the remaining editions of Super Bowl Series.

Super Bowl Series: AFC East

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Surefire Tight Ends for Your Fantasy Football Team

It’s July, so it’s time to really dive into the world of fantasy football. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be giving you a healthy dose of fantasy football knowledge. To start, I’ll provide you with the most safe picks you can make at each position in order to steer your team to a championship.

Quarterbacks: ARodg, Brees control consistency, but does Brady make it?

Running Backs: Fresh faces accompany AP and Bell

Wide Receivers: Brown, Jones lead the pack, but who else gets the nod?

 

Consistency and tight ends are not synonymous in the NFL. If you look at the best tight ends in terms of fantasy points in the last five years, you’ll see around four names that consistently are among the league’s greatest. Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Antonio Gates, and Jason Witten are usually among the ten best tight ends in the league. Other than that, there’s different names all over the top tight end rankings every season.

That being said, predicting which tight ends will be the best is very hard to do. However, there are a few that have potential to average quality numbers week in and week out. The ones I feel most confident about are listed below.

1. Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski is head and shoulders above the rest of the tight end crop. In the four seasons in which Gronk’s played 15 or more games or more, he’s finished first in points among tight ends three times; the only time he didn’t finish first was his rookie campaign.

gronk

Rob Gronkowski has already started a Hall of Fame worthy career. (Photo: Sporting News)

It seems to me that fantasy players are overly-concerned with Rob Gronkowski’s health. He’s only had two seasons in which he hasn’t played 15 games. The root of the concern seems to stem from the fact that the two seasons Gronk missed more than one game came back-to-back (11 games in 2012, 7 games in 2013). Sure, he’s had some minor issues in each season, but none of them have been severe enough to hurt his numbers.

Gronk has proved pretty durable since the start of 2014. He’s also enjoyed three huge years with his New England Patriots while he’s been a starter and stayed healthy. Looking at the table below shows just how explosive the Arizona product has been.

[su_table]

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2011 90 REC, 1,327 yards, 17 TD (1 rushing)
2014 82 REC, 1,124 yards, 12 TD
2015 72 REC, 1,176 yards, 11 TD

There’s not really much that needs to be said about Rob Gronkowski. Barring injury, he’ll finish as the best tight end in football yet again this season. I still refuse to take him before the twelfth(ish) pick. However, grabbing a player with the Surefire Stamp of Approval (patent pending), and then picking Gronkowski will be huge for your team this season.

2. Greg Olsen

Greg Olsen has blossomed since joining Carolina five seasons ago. He’s stepped into the role of being Cam Newton’s primary pass catcher, which isn’t something tight ends normally do. Olsen will be a great tight end this season.

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Greg Olsen is Cam Newton’s favorite player to throw to. (Photo: buccaneers.com)

There are no question marks surrounding Greg Olsen’s durability. Olsen has been a pro for eight years, and in each of the last seven, Olsen has played in all 16 games. To add to his toughness, Olsen has started all 16 games in each of his last four seasons.

Greg Olsen is also Cam Newton’s favorite face to throw to. Last season, Olsen reached his career mark in targets with 129. Two seasons ago, he had 126, even with Kelvin Benjamin playing in all 16 games. The Miami (FL) product has led the Panthers in receptions in each of the last three seasons, proving he’ll get a high volume of targets this season.

The most exciting and safe argument for Greg Olsen has been his consistency. Consistency is the name of the game when I select players to receive the Surefire Stamp of Approval, and Olsen fits the bill. Olsen’s best seasons have been in each of his last four. In those seasons, he’s finished as the eighth-highest scoring tight end or better, including being the fourth-best tight end for two seasons in a row.

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2013 69 REC, 843 yards, 5 TD
2014 73 REC, 816 yards, 6 TD
2015 77 REC, 1,104 yards, 7 TD

I would suggest drafting Olsen over Rob Gronkowski as your starting tight end. He’s got a lot better value in terms of ADP, being selected at the 41st pick on nfl.com and espn.com. You’ll be able to stock up on other positions before selecting Olsen with your fourth(ish) pick.

3. Jordan Reed

Jordan Reed celebrated this offseason by signing a 5-year, $47M extension. Washington hasn’t thrown around money like it grows on trees either, as they’ve been stingy with paying Kirk Cousins top dollar. This shows that the front office in Washington is confident in Reed leading the tight end position for years to come for the Redskins.

The money Reed received is likely due to his breakout season in 2015. He finished with 87 catches for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns. Reed looks to use 2016 as a springboard to elite status. After finishing with the third-most points among tight ends last season, Reed can cement himself as a top tight end with another big year.

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Don’t be surprised to see Jordan Reed get a lot of red zone targets. (Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

The fun part about Reed is his touchdown scoring potential. He had the third-most red zone targets last season, totaling 23. Brandon Marshall (25), Antonio Brown (24), and Gary Barnidge (24), were the only players who had more targets, and Marshall was the only one with more touchdowns (14). Reed reached paydirt 11 times, which was tied for first among tight ends.

There is some concern with his ankle issues, but other than that, Reed will be a high-quality and safe draft pick. The University of Florida product will always be Kirk Cousins’ favorite red zone target, which gives him ample opportunities to have consistent and quality fantasy performances.

4. Delanie Walker

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Delanie Walker is the only consistent receiver in Tennessee. (Photo: Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports)

The last player to earn the Surefire Stamp of Approval in our Surefire series is Delanie Walker. Walker’s career has taken off since joining the Tennessee Titans three seasons ago. He’s played in 15 games in each of his three seasons as a Titan, and his playing time has amassed strong numbers for the Central Missouri State product (go fighting Mules?).

With Walker consistently staying off the injury report, he’s been able to accrue at least 14 games in every season except for his rookie season. That said, he’s been able to finished as the 12th, 8th, and 5th tight end in 2013,2014, and 2015, respectively.

Walker also dominates red zone targets on his team. He saw 17 red zone targets last season, seven more than the second-highest target receiver. Walker also caught 14 passes in the red zone, an astounding 10 more than the second-highest receiver.

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2013 60 REC, 571 yards, 6 TD
2014 63 REC, 890 yards, 4 TD
2015 94 REC, 1,088 yards, 6 TD

A starter for the last three seasons, Walker has also seen his best three career seasons each year since 2013. Last year, he caught 94 balls. That was first among tight ends, and more than Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green, and Allen Robinson. Walker’s 1,088 yards were more than Amari Cooper, Sammy Watkins, or Eric Decker. Walker simply needs to maintain the numbers he’s put up in recent years, and just add a few touchdowns to his statline.

Walker is a less talked about and less drafted tight end. He’ll still be taken in every draft, but he won’t be taken as high as the aforementioned tight ends. He’s being taken as a low TE1 right now, which is great value. If you want to wait on a tight end until Walker, it could be a great plan. You’ll be able to really pad your other position groups before going tight end.

 

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Several Redskins Poised For Breakout Seasons

Entering 2016, the Washington Redskins will prepare to face off against some of the league’s best teams – Bengals, Steelers, Vikings, and Packers.  After clinching the NFC East for just the second time in the 21st century, Washington is that mysterious wild card team that could be amazing or a fluke this year.  Furthermore, several Redskins are poised for breakout seasons.

 

Kirk Cousins

First and foremost, Kirk Cousins is set up in a terrific position to succeed.  He is surrounded by a talented receiving corp with depth that most coaches dream about.  Some, in fact, are saying that Washington’s receivers are the best in the NFL.

When you provide a quarterback with wide receivers DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Jamison Crowder, and first-round draft pick Josh Doctson, and tight ends Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis, the result should be a dominant passing game that rips apart defenses.  And that’s not even factoring in up-and-rising stars Ryan Grant, Rashad Ross, and Niles Paul.

Cousins passed for 4,166 yards in 2015, a franchise record, as well as 29 touchdowns to just 11 interceptions.  If the offensive line can protect Washington’s potential savior at quarterback, he should have no problem picking apart defenses with his array of weapons.

Kirk Cousins celebrates after rushing for a touchdown against the Bears.

 

Matt Jones

Starting running back Matt Jones is another player the Redskins are banking on to be great.  Jones has some cons to his game but also an upside that his coaches are positive will shine through.  Though Jones missed three games to injury, started zero games, averaged just 3.4 yards a carry, and lost four fumbles in 2015, he also ran for three touchdowns and proved to be a shifty receiving outlet.

He logged 19 receptions for an impressive 304 yards and another score.  In fact, the Redskins’ longest play from scrimmage came on a screen pass against the Saints where Jones outran everyone to the end zone for 78 yards.  If he can protect the ball and prove his durability as an every down back, there’s no reason why Jones’s numbers won’t skyrocket in 2016.

Matt Jones breaks a tackle against the Rams.

 

Jordan Reed

It goes without saying, but Jordan Reed has developed into a top three receiving tight end in the game.  In Washington’s four game winning streak to close out the season, Reed was unstoppable, catching 29 passes for 378 yards and five touchdowns in the three and a half games he saw action (Reed was held out in the second half in the season finale against Dallas).  His only downside?  Staying healthy.  Reed has not played a full 16 game season in his brief three year career.  But if he is on the field, expect a pro bowler at tight end.

Jordan Reed catches a touchdown pass against the Dolphins.

 

Preston Smith

There were questions surrounding outside linebacker Preston Smith’s work ethic last season.  Early reports indicate that that is not an issue anymore.  Smith lead all rookies in sacks with eight, including five in the final three games.  He also tackled Aaron Rogers in the endzone for a safety in a wild card game against Green Bay.

Paired with pro bowler Ryan Kerrigan, another bright young stud, Smith should wreak havoc on defense this season.  He is an every down outside linebacker that can play against the run and rush the passer, and with a solid rookie campaign under his belt, he is another Redskin poised for a great year.

Preston Smith tackles Matt Cassel of the Cowboys.

 

Will Compton

If there was ever an underdog now starting on the Redskins, it’s inside linebacker Will Compton.  Signed as an undrafted free agent in 2013, Compton has worked his way into the starting lineup as he enters his fourth season in Washington.

Coaches and teammates alike are now praising Compton for his leadership skills and improved play.  Compton started 10 games in 2015, registering 96 tackles.  He also recorded his first NFL sack in week 16 against Philadelphia and his first interception a week later against Dallas.  He is quick, smart, aggressive, and energetic.  It truly is looking like another playoff-bound year in our nation’s capital.

Will Compton breaks up a pass intended for the Eagles’ Zach Ertz.