The 2018 NFL Draft is a few weeks away, which means that Draftmas is back. Draftmas will take a look at each NFL team heading into this year’s draft, what their needs are and who they could be targeting. Draftmas continues today with the Arizona Cardinals 2018 NFL Draft profile.
The Cardinals, like a few other NFL franchises, regressed in 2018 due to injuries. It started in game one when David Johnson suffered a broken wrist. The 2017 season ended with 17 players missing at least two games by being placed on injured reserve. Arizona, despite all these injuries, still managed to win 8 games and this franchise will have it’s fair share of challenges heading into the 2018 season.
Photo Courtesy of; NFL Draft Diamonds
Before his injury, it was apparent that this offense was going to run through David Johnson. In 2016, Johnson scored 20 total touchdowns and just over 2,000 all-purpose yards.
This offense finished the 2017 season 25th and 22nd in points and yards respectively. Carson Palmer’s injury led to more instability in offensive production (unless you’re Larry Fitzgerald).
Sadly, the Cardinals have not signed a viable bridge quarterback. While Sam Bradford is talented, it’s proven that he will struggle to play all 16 regular season games. To compete in the NFC West, the Cardinals will have to add another quarterback as an insurance policy.
Defensively, the Cardinals finished 19th and sixth in points and yards allowed respectively. This unit was in the middle of the pack for creating turnovers, tied for 16th; however, they were incredibly good on third down. The Cardinals only allowed opposing offenses to convert 35.7 percent of their third downs.
The best word to describe this defense is “solid”. Meaning, they have talent in key positions. Chandler Jones and Markus Golden can rush the passer off the edge. Patrick Peterson, Budda Baker and the newly acquired Bene’ Benwikere round out a good secondary, assuming Tyvon Branch and Antoine Bethea return healthy. There are a few positions they should look to upgrade, but with only a few picks in this year’s draft, the Cardinals will have to nail their selections.
Picks and Needs
The Cardinals are in a precarious position. They are one of the few NFC franchises without their quarterback of the future. With only four picks in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Cardinals need to add as many impact players as possible.
First Round (1): 15
Second Round (1): 47
Third Round (1): 79
Fourth Round (0):
Fifth Round (1): 143
Sixth Round (0):
Seventh Round (0):
Tackle: If you plan on having Sam Bradford as your starter, you need to protect him. Andre Smith is slated to start at right tackle since Jared Veldheer has been shipped to Denver. His play has steadily declined since 2014. an upgrade at the tackle position would benefit both Sam Bradford, and David Johnson.
Quarterback: It doesn’t appear that the Cardinals have the ammunition, or the intestinal fortitude to move up and claim one of the top-tier quarterbacks. It’s likely they will have to spend one of their later picks on a developmental prospect and keep their fingers crossed that Bradford’s health holds up.
Wide Receiver: Despite what his continued ability to amaze us, Larry Fitzgerald won’t play forever. He likely has two more seasons at most of being the most productive receiver on this team. The Cardinals need to take advantage of his remaining years and bring in a potential heir to Fitzgerald. His work ethic and attitude are rare, valuable assets that could be passed to a young wideout.
Linebacker: The Cardinals front seven of their 3-4 defense is solid. However, there is one flaw. By playing Deone Buchanon, a former safety at inside linebacker, they aren’t stout physically against the run. Hassan Reddick’s snap count decreased as the season went on, signaling he wasn’t adjusting as well to the NFL game. The Cardinals should consider a true inside linebacker with size and experience.
The prospects in this section are ones that the Cardinals will likely be able to select and are assuming their draft position(s) are not changing.
Pick No. 15: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
Photo Courtesy; Indiana Sports Coverage
The Cardinals, if they stay put, can secure the best tackle in the draft. McGlinchey is a well-rounded, experienced and polished player at left tackle.
That is if Arizona decides to play him there. McGlinchey has experience at both tackle positions and would be a great pick to protect Sam Bradford, as well as elevate David Johnson in 2018.
If they decide to go in a different direction, the Cardinals could select Rashaan Evans from Alabama.
While this might seem like a reach, he would step in and start from day one. His experience, size, and athleticism would anchor the middle of this defense. This would let Hasson Reddick focus on rushing the passer more, as opposed to being an inside run stopper.
Overall, McGlinchey makes the most sense for the Cardinals at the 15th selection given their quarterback situation.
Pick No. 47: Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
Sam Bradford has proven he can’t stay healthy for a full season, and he’s only under contract for two years. Rudolph would provide Arizona with quality depth at the quarterback decision. He would also have time to develop, which he needs, and work on some issues. Rudolph is unique in the sense that NFL teams don’t have a consensus on where he should be drafted. Some teams have him as a second-round pick, and others have him as a fifth-round pick. Because Arizona doesn’t have a plan past Bradford, it’s likely they take a chance on him in the second round.
Pick No. 79: Oren Burks, LB, Vanderbilt
Deone Buchanon doesn’t have the size of a normal inside linebacker, and Hasson Reddick’s more natural position is that of an outside pass rusher. Burks would fill a need and serve as a good value in the third round of the draft.
The Arizona Cardinals are in a tough spot. They will have to nail their draft picks and stay healthy to keep pace with the Rams, Seahawks, and the surging 49ers.
Make sure to tune in tomorrow for the Baltimore Ravens 2018 NFL Draft profile.
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Kirk Cousins is set to officially become a free agent next week. In today’s NFL, quarterback is the one position where a high level of play is vital to any chance of success.
However, this is also a team sport. Cousins has thrown for over 4,000 yards in three consecutive years in addition to 52 touchdown passes and just 25 interceptions in the last two seasons.
It was the defense that held the Redskins back during the Cousins era. They gave up over 30 points seven times last year. It is very difficult for any quarterback to overcome that.
Still, Cousins’ numbers combined with the fact that he will be just barely 30 years old by the time the 2018 season starts make it easy to see why Cousins is one of the more highly coveted free agents in recent memory. There is a case to be made for him ending up with each of his four most serious suitors.
New York Jets: Money
The shelf life of a professional athlete is much shorter than that of the rest of us mere mortals. No athlete should ever be blamed for simply taking the most money when they have a choice about where to play.
Cousins may very well do that, but that is the only reason he would end up in New York. All you need to know about where the Jets stand at the moment is that Vegas set 3.5 as its over-under win total for last year. The Jets overachieved and still won only five games.
Cousins is very good, but he is not Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady. His addition alone does not turn a bad team into a team that is a lock to make the playoffs and perhaps go further.
The Jets desperately need to find their long-term answer at quarterback, but Cousins already knows what it’s like to be a productive player that is held back by a bad supporting cast.
However, New York easily has the most financial flexibility of the four teams said to be most interested in the soon-to-be ex-Redskin. There has even been some chatter about the Jets offering Cousins a fully guaranteed contract. If it really is just about the money for him, he will be wearing green this fall.
Arizona Cardinals: Face of the franchise
With the exception of a few really talented holdovers like Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu, Arizona is basically starting over as a franchise. In fact, they do not have a single quarterback under contract for next year for rookie head coach Steve Wilks. So, Cousins is obviously appealing.
Teams should always draft and acquire players with their quarterback in mind, but some are not that smart or simply don’t have the luxury of a proven commodity at that position. If Cousins goes to Arizona, he has the benefit of a largely blank slate. It is reasonable to assume that Cardinals management may even ask him for input regarding free agency and the draft. The entire franchise rebuild would revolve around Cousins. Arizona is the only place that could offer him that type of scenario.
There is already some semblance of a system in place with the other three teams. After the Redskins spent the last handful of years refusing to give him a long-term commitment and building around him in a way that made no sense, it is not difficult to see why this situation could intrigue Cousins.
Denver Broncos: Bring a proud organization back
Like the Jets, Denver also went 5-11 last year. Not all five-win teams are created equal though.
Unlike the Jets, Denver has two outstanding pass catchers in Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas. Also, despite getting a little long in tooth, the defense is still very good in Denver and was top-10 in most categories last year.
However, when you use three quarterbacks and have the second-worst turnover margin in the NFL, you are not going to win many games. Cousins alone would solve a lot of Denver’s issues.
Again, this is different from the Jets. They got decent quarterback play last year and still went 5-11.
Photo from Fox Sports
There is also the Elway factor in Denver. At his core, Elway is still a legendary quarterback. Do not let the suit or the fact that he is now running the franchise he once played for fool you. Elway can relate to Cousins in a way no other executive can.
Cousins is not a legend yet. However, Elway will no doubt try to convince him that he knows how to turn him into one. Peyton Manning was a legend before he ever came to Denver, but a similar sales pitch has already worked once for Elway.
Lastly, if Cousins were to go somewhere other than Denver, his roadblocks to a division title could include Rodgers twice a year, Brady twice a year for at least a couple more years and the loaded NFC West. With reigning division champion Kansas City already overhauling its roster, no such roadblocks exist in the AFC West.
The Broncos’ playoff drought only stands at two seasons. However, for a franchise that has spent most of the last quarter-century in the mix for the playoffs and Super Bowl every year, it feels like 20. Cousins just might be the safest and quickest way to get this franchise back on track. Thus, he would no doubt receive the red carpet treatment in Denver.
Minnesota Vikings: The best shot at a Super Bowl
Minnesota’s roster is so good that career journeyman Case Keenum was able to guide it within a game of the Super Bowl. The defense is young and good. It ranked in the top 10 against both the run and the pass last year.
Most of those pieces will be back next year. Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen have both emerged as top-flight pass catchers. Rookie running back Dalvin Cook had 354 rushing yards in just four games before suffering a season-ending knee injury last year. Assuming he comes back healthy, Minnesota’s offense could be even more lethal next year.
Photo from Pro Football Talk
Keenum nearly doubled his career touchdown pass total last year. He is also in position for a huge free agency payday. However, his performance in the NFC Championship, along with a few boneheaded throws that let New Orleans back in the divisional playoffs, were apparently enough to ensure that payday will not come from Minnesota.
Cousins with the Vikings immediately puts Minnesota in the first two sentences of any Super Bowl conversation for the upcoming year. At least in the short term, it is the only realistic destination that offers that for Cousins. So, the pitch writes itself.
There will always be teams desperate for a decent quarterback in the NFL. What makes the chase for Cousins so interesting is that wherever he ends up says a lot more about Cousins himself than the teams vying for his services.
Featured image from ganggreennation.com
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Wide receiver is, in my opinion, the easiest position to predict in DFS. Why? Because this is the only position where you can expect a 1 on 1 matchup. For example, there is no single linebacker that shadows a running back, or a defensive linemen versus a quarterback. Those players are competing against the oppositions’ unit of players, not just one. Given this information, here are the players with the toughest match ups in my wide receiver edition of week four DFS don’ts.
Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree: $7,500 and $7,400
We know how this story goes. You love drafting these two in seasonal fantasy, but, you know they are almost useless twice a year. As of today, both these players have the questionable tag. While neither are on track to miss Sunday’s contest, they won’t be 100%.
Health aside, the numbers are not great historically for either player. Since 2015, Crabtree has never scored double digit fantasy points against the Broncos. His highest scoring effort is 7.4 points. In that same time span, Cooper has had one game in which he’s scored double digit fantasy points. However, Cooper also recorded a zero in 2015 when playing at Denver.
In my opinion, this is the beauty of DFS. We can identify this nightmare match up for the Cooper and Crabtree and choose not to play them. Let’s all be smart and avoid watching Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. lock down the Raiders’ wide receivers. There are plenty of better options to consider that won’t be on my week four DFS don’ts list.
Pierre Garcon: FanDuel Price $6,600
Pierre Garcon will have one of the NFL’s toughest defensive backs shadowing him this Sunday (Photo Courtesy of; Gird Iron Experts)
Pierre Garcon is coming off a monster game against the Rams last Thursday night. Sadly, he’s has no chance to produce a similar result this Sunday. Garcon has one of the toughest match ups in the NFL this week, as he will be shadowed by Patrick Peterson.
Peterson has been great for years; however, this year has been even better. Quarterbacks are electing to avoid Peterson altogether. In three weeks, Peterson has only been targeted a total of three times. According to Jeff Ratcliffe at Pro Football Focus, Peterson has only been targeted three times when shadowing an opponents wide receiver.
Garcon has been a reliable receiver for multiple quarterbacks this decade. However, Garcon does not possess elite size, speed, or quickness. Meaning, he has no edge over Peterson in any physical facet of the game. If you want exposure to this game in DFS, look for Marquise Goodwin who will see a lot of Justin Bethel, a player who has been repeatedly exposed this season. Patrick Peterson has placed another player on my week four DFS don’ts list.
Marvin Jones: FanDuel Price $5,700
This is the third straight week that a wide receiver facing Xavier Rhodes is on my DFS don’ts list. You can read more about how good Rhodes is here, because I won’t be repeating stats. Rhodes in the last two weeks, has faced Antonio Brown and Mike Evans. While he hasn’t shut them down completely, he kept both out of the end zone and did not allow them to produce double their value for DFS purposes.
If Rhodes can play with two of the league’s best, I’m pretty damn sure Marvin Jones is going to get blanketed this weekend. Now, he won’t be on Jones for every snap. But, it’s likely he will shadow Jones for 70-80% of his offensive snaps. You could pivot to Kenny Golladay at this point, since he exploded in week one where Jones was being shadowed by Patrick Peterson. If you want to have a profitable DFS weekend, stay away from Rhodes. Jones, along with Cooper, Crabtree, and Garcon have landed on my week four DFS don’ts list.
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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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 ninth installment, containing players 20-11.
20. Eric Berry, S, Kansas City Chiefs
Eric Berry (Photo by youtube.com)
Berry is a winner in every sense of the word and his ability to come back after beating cancer and still being one of the best safeties in the NFL, is incredible. In 2016 Berry totaled 77 tackles, nine passes defended, four interceptions, a forced fumble and two touchdowns.
With other players on the Chiefs’ defense getting hurt the last few years, Berry has been the best player on the defense. This season, Kansas City should have a good defense once again with a lot of their players healthy. They employ the bend don’t break mentality, so they give up a lot of yards (5,896), but not a lot of points (19.4). With Berry coming off one of his best seasons as a pro and a good defense returning, he will prove once again how good of a safety he is .
The Chiefs are fighting to make it to an AFC Championship Game or Super Bowl and if they get there, Berry will be a major reason why.
Comments: “This man can do it all. Beating cancer and beating down his opponents. This Chiefs defense has been great and will continue to be great while he is roaming the field.”- Robert Hanes
19. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees (Photo by denverpost.com)
There are a lot of quarterbacks on this list, but they may not be as important to their teams as Brees is to the Saints. He was 37 in 2016 when he threw for 5,208 yards, 37 touchdowns and 15 interceptions on 70% completion and will be 38 going into this season.
People have predicted that Brees would fall off for years now, but he keeps producing. He had his fifth 5,000 yard passing season last year and also recorded his second highest passing yards per game in his career. The Saints do lose Brandin Cooks, who they traded to the Patriots, but Brees still has Michael Thomas, who shows some real potential. Brees has done a lot more with a lot less.
Brees might start slowing down a little bit, but even if he does, his stats will still blow other quarterbacks out of the water.
Comments: “There is nothing bad I can say about Dree Brees other than he is aging. The fact of the matter is he is still producing. He should be higher on this list just because I think he is a better quarterback than Matt Ryan. He will have another season in which he passes for 5,000 yards and become closer to being the all-time passing leader. -Matthew Hagan
18. A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
A.J. Green (Photo by cbssports.com)
Because of injury, Green had his first season of under 1,000 receiving yards in 2016. He only played ten games and still amassed 964 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Had he played a full 16 games and kept up his average receiving yards per game, he would have finished with a whopping 1,542 receiving yards.
The Bengals had a down year and only had Green on their offense as a dynamic playmaker. For the 2017 season, they have added John Ross and Joe Mixon to bring some life to the offense. Tyler Boyd had an impressive rookie year and will try to build on that in his second season. If Andy Dalton has time behind a shaky at best offensive line, he will find Green, much like he has since their rookie seasons in 2011.With a speedster in Ross on the other side of the field, Boyd in the slot and Tyler Eifert in the middle, Green should see more single coverage than last season with Brandon LaFell as the second leading receiver on the team.
Green has some offensive reinforcements this year, which should really open up the offense and allow him to have a great year.
Comments: “When healthy Green is a lock to put up great numbers, even though he sees double coverage most of the time” – Dylan Streibig
17. Joe Thomas, OT, Cleveland Browns
Joe Thomas (Photo by sportingsorta.com)
It is unfortunate that Thomas has played on the Browns his whole career and hasn’t had an opportunity to win anything. He is one of the most consistent players in the NFL. In his first ten years in the league, he has never missed the Pro Bowl and has six All-Pro team appearances.
The Browns won’t be expected to win the division this year, but they should be much improved. Thomas will continue blocking for Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson and hope that the passing attack that ranked 28th in the league improves. The starting quarterback may change, but they will have Kenny Britt, Corey Coleman and David Njoku as their main targets.
Thomas will continue to do his job at an elite level, but it once again will not result in a good win total for the Browns.
Comments: “This man is extremely loyal and I hope that Browns fans truly appreciate that. He has been a top 3 LT for years and has done it with bad everything else around him. Cleveland finally has good o-line pieces around him which could put them as a top offensive line for the first time in Thomas’ storied career”- Robert Hanes
16. Patrick Peterson, CB, Arizona Cardinals
Patrick Peterson (Photo by patrickpeterson21.com)
Peterson made the Pro Bowl in his rookie season of 2011 and hasn’t looked back. He has six straight Pro Bowls and has made the All-Pro team three times. Last season he recorded 50 total tackles, six passes defended, three interceptions and a fumble recovery.
The Cardinals defense gave up the fourth least passing yards per game in 2016 and Peterson was a big reason why. They will be without Tony Jefferson, who signed with the Ravens, so a lot will fall on the shoulders of Peterson and Tyran Mathieu. Peterson will be required to shut down opponents’ best receivers and will do a great job once again.
At age 28 Peterson will be in his prime and ready to roll for the 2017 season.
Comments: “Peterson is consistently one of the best corners in the NFL. He shuts down opponents’ best receivers and is a ball hawk when the ball is thrown his way. This season Peterson will once again prove to be a premier talent at corner.”-Joe DiTullio
15. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
Le’Veon Bell (Photo by espn.com)
The only problem with Bell is his ability to stay on the field, as he has only played 18 games in the last two seasons. Part of the reason he misses games is injury, the other being a suspension. In his 12 games, last season Bell had 105.7 rushing yards per game and nine total touchdowns.
Pittsburgh’s offense is going to be a juggernaut once again with the talent they have returning. Ben Roethlisberger will be back after contemplating retirement. He will have Antonio Brown, who will be ranked in one of the next 14 spots, and a few other good targets to throw to, helping keep the offense balanced. The offensive line has been solid the past few years and will open up holes for Bell.
Adversaries can’t stack the box against Bell because of how talented the rest of the offense is, meaning that he has a chance to put up a lot of big numbers in 2017.
Comments: “It is comical that Bell is ranked this low. Bell is clearly the best running back in the NFL and a top five player. He was the first player in NFL history to average 100 yards rushing and 50 yards passing. Averaging 150 yards from scrimmage is straight stupid. If this was my list he would be much higher.” -Matthew Hagan
14. Derek Carr, QB, Oakland Raiders
Derek Carr (Photo by twitter.com)
Carr will have to recover from his broken leg that knocked him out of last season, but he has had an impressive first three years as a pro. If he can keep on progressing and help the Raiders win some meaningful games, the sky is the limit. In 2016 he threw for 3,937 yards, 28 touchdowns and six interceptions in 15 games.
The biggest thing Carr has done since arriving in Oakland is help increase the win total. In his first year the Raiders won three games, seven the second year and they won 12 of the 15 games he started last year. The offense should continue to be dynamic with one of the best offensive lines in football. They also have Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree as good targets for Carr. The offensive line will block well for Marshawn Lynch and any other back Oakland plans on using, which will help create the balance that offensive coordinators love.
The Raiders will have a great offense once again and Carr will be the trigger man making things happen in 2017.
Comments: “Let me get this out of the way, Derek Carr is a stud. But, is he a top 15 player in the league right now? No, he still has to prove that he can do this consistently. He has plenty of potential and showed last year he can get the job done. If he can do that again this year, then he will be deserving of a top 15 spot.”-Robert Hanes
13. Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
Rob Gronkowski (Photo by washingtontimes.com)
Injuries are the only thing holding one of the greatest tight ends to ever play the game back. He hasn’t played a full 16 games since his second year in the NFL, but did play 15 games in 2015. He had eight games played in 2016. In those eight games he had 540 receiving yards and three touchdowns.
If Gronk is healthy he can have a big year in 2017. The Patriots added Brandin Cooks, another outside threat. Defenses will have to make up their minds about double covering Gronk, or one of the other productive receivers. The defenses will likely choose to double cover Gronk most of the time and he will still make them pay. If they focus their attention on one of the receivers, Gronk might have a career day.
Health is the biggest concern with this ranking, but when he is healthy Gronkowski is one of the best players in the NFL.
Comments: “One can only wonder how much higher Gronk would be on this list if he could stay healthy. If he can for the rest of his career he will easily go down as a top 5 TE of all time.”- Robert Hanes
12. Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons
Matt Ryan (Photo by twitter.com)
Ryan had the best season of his career in 2016 and it really isn’t even close. He took the Falcons to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1990s and won the MVP award. On top of that, he threw for 4,944 yards, 38 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
The Falcons’ offense will be dynamic again in 2017. Julio Jones, who will be ranked within the next 11 players, is one of the biggest matchup problems in the league. Mohammed Sanu also provides a good option. The offensive line is good and will protect Ryan well enough for him to survey the field. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman do a good job running the football and Freeman adds the ability to catch out of the backfield.
He may not win the MVP in 2017, but Ryan will be the man in charge on one of the most high-powered offenses in the NFL.
Comments: “I’m of the minority that Matt Ryan gets too much love. I am not a believer in him as much as others. He has been gifted with talent around him. He is a solid quarterback but I think he is a fringe top 25 player.” -Matthew Hagan
11. Luke Keuchly, LB, Carolina Panthers
Luke Keuchly (Photo by si.com)
It is unfortunate that Keuchly had concussion problems and missed six games, but he still had a good year that resulted in his fourth Pro Bowl. He also has three appearances on the All-Pro first team. In ten games last season Keuchly had 102 tackles, two sacks, six passes defended and an interception.
Keuchly’s versatility makes him great. He has great instincts that allow him to play the run and is one of the best cover linebackers in the NFL. Carolina’s defense wasn’t good last season, ranking 25th in scoring. Having Keuchly for a full year will drastically change that number for the better. They allowed 24.6 points in games he played and gave up 27.8 points per game without him. With all key players back and healthy and Julius Peppers on board, the Carolina defense can vastly improve.
If Keuchly is able to play he will be a top player in the NFL without a doubt.
Comments: “Luke Keuchly is the best pure linebacker in the NFL. He has great athletic ability and instincts, which he uses to his advantage. His instincts help him near the lead in tackles in the NFL every year he is healthy. The athletic ability helps him cover. He is also a very cerebral player that raises the level of play of the entire defense when he is on the field.”-Joe DiTullio
Dez Bryant has struggled with injuries and in-season battles in the past two years. Bryant was once a top five receiver in fantasy. From 2012-14, he finished in the top five in fantasy points in the receiver group. But with struggles with injuries and a transition to a new Dallas offense and quarterback, will Bryant return to being the elite fantasy player that he was early in his career?
Throw up the X: 2011-14
After his rookie season, Bryant came to life. In 2011, Bryant became a top option for Tony Romo behind Jason Witten. He finished with 63 receptions, 928 yards and nine touchdowns. He finished in the top 20 that year in fantasy for receivers.
The following season, Bryant broke onto the scene. He had his first season over 1,000 yards and had over 90 receptions and double digits in touchdowns. He finished in the top 10 in receptions (92), yards (1,382) and receiving yards per game (86.4). His 12 touchdowns were top-three. Bryant finished third in fantasy that season.
Dez Bryant and Tony Romo (Photo by: zimbio.com)
In 2013, he had another solid season. He saw his targets spike from 138 to 160. He finished in the top five in fantasy again under receivers and his 93 receptions ranked eighth. His 13 touchdowns again ranked third.
Bryant did see a small decline in receiving yards with 1,233 and his receiving yards per game (77.1) that both ranked outside the top 10.
However, Bryant did perform in the top two inside the 10-yard line of the red zone. He led the league in targets (16), receptions (11) and touchdowns (9). He finished second in yards (38) and target percentage (43.2).
Bryant developed into a red zone weapon and also ranked in the top 10 in receptions (13) and target percentage (29.9) inside the 20-yard line. He was also second in touchdowns with 10 inside the 20.
2014 was probably Bryant’s best fantasy season to date. He finished third in fantasy points among receivers, his third top five finish in a row. He led the league in receiving touchdowns with 16. Bryant also improved his receiving yards (1,320) and receiving yards per game (82.5), which ranked eighth and 10th respectively.
He did have less receptions (88) but averaged 14.3 fantasy points per game, a career-best that season which ranked third. He also had his best PPR fantasy points per game at 19.8. Bryant also doubled his catches of 20-plus yards with 22 that ranked fifth in 2014.
In those four seasons, Bryant totaled 4,863 yards and 50 touchdowns. During that time, just Calvin Johnson, Antonio Brown, Demaryius Thomas and A.J. Green had more yards than he did. His touchdowns were the most during that timeframe, and no other receiver had more than 43 touchdowns.
Injuries and quarterback issues: 2015-16
Dez Bryant (Photo by: whatthebuc.net)
Before the season, Bryant resigned with the Cowboys on a five-year, $70 million contract that included $45 million of guaranteed money and a $20 million signing bonus.
In a game against the Giants on Sep. 13, 2015, Bryant had a foot injury. The x-ray revealed a fracture in the foot that required surgery. He returned in week eight and struggled, getting two receptions for 12 yards.
In a season in which he struggled with health issues, he caught 31 passes for 401 yards and three touchdowns. Before the injury, part of Bryant’s success was having Tony Romo as the quarterback. They only played three games together in 2015 as Romo had a back injury.
Bryant played with two other quarterbacks (Matt Cassel and Kellen Moore) that season. All of his three touchdowns came from a different quarterback. On Jan. 6, 2016, he underwent foot and ankle surgeries.
In 2016, his favorite quarterback in the preseason went down with another back injury and rookie Dak Prescott became the starter. It proved again that Bryant missed Romo as the quarterback as he and Prescott only connected on 16 of their first 41 targets in their first five games together.
This led to inconsistent fantasy numbers, as Bryant had just three games with 10 or more points, but two games with less than two points. He also missed three games with a knee injury. However, removing week 17 where they played only one series, Bryant and Prescott came to life.
In the final eight games including the playoffs, Bryant had 66 targets, 43 receptions, 646 yards and eight touchdowns. That’s a 65.2 percent completion rate. It seemed that Bryant came back to being the receiver he once was.
Dez Bryant (Photo by: sbnation.com)
In 2017, there is some concern regarding Bryant. Besides adding no receiver help to complement him, Bryant will face Janoris Jenkins twice, Josh Norman twice, Aqib Talib/Chris Harris Jr., Patrick Peterson, Marcus Peters, Desmond Trufant, Jason Verrett/Casey Hayward and Richard Sherman.
In the two matchups with the Giants last year, he was held to just two catches for 18 yards on 14 targets and fumbled once that clinched the Giants win in the second meeting.
The last time he played against Sherman, he totaled just two catches for 12 yards on six targets.
And expect Norman to shadow Bryant this year after not doing so in 2016. In the first three games for Bryant, he plays the Giants at home and then goes to Denver and Arizona on the road. We could see again early season struggles for him.
He has missed 22 games in two seasons. He is also in a run-heavy offense with a great offensive line and a premier running back. The defense in Dallas hasn’t improved, especially in the backfield which could lead to Prescott throwing the ball more if they have to play catch up. That would benefit Bryant but the game plan will be to run the ball to protect Prescott.
But how good will Prescott be if he has to throw to win? That’s a question for another article.
Bryant is a top-10 fantasy receiver that should be drafted somewhere in the third round. Be cautious with his durability, and Prescott worries me this year as he is my top bust for quarterbacks. In some leagues he will be a top receiver for most teams, but he’s a high-end WR2 with a ceiling as a middling WR1.
Featured image from reddit.com
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Every year the NFL has its share of surprising teams. People often talk about who has the potential to go from worst to first. However, one team was a victim of regression. The Arizona Cardinals entered the season with high expectations coming off their NFC Championship appearance in 2015. After a 7-8-1 finish, the Cardinal faithful are still wondering, what on earth happened?
2016 Evaluation – offense
In 2015, the Cardinals had a prolific passing attack. They specifically had a great down field passing game, which is something that didn’t carry over in 2016. There are two main reasons for this drop off in production. The first is the emergence of David Johnson as an elite offensive player. This doesn’t necessarily mean they ran the ball more though. In fact, the 2015 Cardinals ran the ball 452 times versus 399 in 2016.
The usage of David Johnson in the pass game is what led to the decrease in downfield production. Johnson is uniquely talented, but rarely was he running routes further than 10 yards down the field. This would explain Carson Palmer’s decline in yards per attempt from 8.7 in 2015, to 7.1 in 2016. The difference is even more staggering when looking at the adjusted yards per attempt: 9.1 in 2015 to 6.9 in 2016.
With another off-season under Bruce Arians and the current personnel, can Carson Palmer reassert himself as one of the best down field throwers in the NFL in 2017? (Courtesy of; Heavy.com)
We know David Johnson impacted the downfield passing game, but how much of the decreased production falls on Carson Palmer? Palmer had 65 completions of 20+ yards and a staggering 15 completions of 40+ yards in 2015. In 2016, Palmer’s production decreased sharply with only 48 completions of 20+ yards and 6 completions of 40+ yards.
Palmer was also sacked 15 more times in 2016, which absolutely impacts production. However, this kind of decline in production has more to do with attempting to throw the ball downfield, rather than protection breakdowns. As a whole, the Arizona Cardinals offense was still productive, finishing sixth in points and ninth in yards. With minor upgrades at certain positions like right guard and tight end, this offense can easily ascend back to its 2015 greatness.
2016 Evaluation – Defense
Calais Campbell earned All-Pro honors this year headlining a top-tier Cardinals defense (Courtesy of; NBCSports.com).
While the offense took a step back in 2016, the Cardinal’s defense was still productive. They finished 14th in points allowed and second in yards allowed this season. Compared to finishing seventh in points allowed and fifth in yards allowed the previous year, there wasn’t much of a drop off. This defense has play makers at every level like Calais Campbell, Chandler Jones, and Patrick Peterson among others. Unfortunately, injuries kept this unit from excelling with players coming and going at different points in the season.
There are two positions in particular that could use an upgrade. Those would be cornerback and defensive end. In fairness, any corner playing opposite Patrick Peterson will be targeted heavily. However, players are expected to improve with more playing time. Marcus Cooper was above average against the run, but that’s not what corners get paid to do. Hopefully Tyvon Branch and Justin Bethel can return healthy next season so that Cooper’s role on defense is limited.
Frostee Rucker needs to be upgraded or needs a reduced role in this defense as well. Rucker played mostly in their base defense, but was still a liability against the run. Arizona often featured their nickel package with Markus Golden playing defensive end. This would put Tyrann Mathieu in the slot with the ability to make plays against the run. The nickel package of Arizona is their best defense because of the range their secondary players possess, as well as their pass rush ability.
In my opinion, Arizona is just as good as Seattle. They just have a different style of player at the quarterback position that can’t mask other offensive holes. Russell Wilson is able to extend plays and avoid rushers and Carson Palmer can’t. Palmer is perfectly capable of stepping up and moving in the pocket, but when pressure is coming from the middle, he isn’t as mobile. The Cardinals need to secure the middle of their offensive line, specifically at right guard. Earl Watford, a tackle by trade, played the position in Evan Mathis’ absence. Sadly, Mathis is not under contract for the 2017 season and is 35 years old. The Cardinals could resign Mathis, or they could look to add depth through the draft.
With the 13th pick in the 2017 draft, the Cardinals have a lot of options. Marlon Humphrey and Adoree Jackson could reinforce an already strong secondary. Corey Davis could serve as the successor to Larry Fitzgerald and potentially help the Cardinals return to attacking defenses downfield. Solomon Thomas could address their need at defensive end and has experience in the 3-4 defense. The point is, they could go in a variety of directions, all of which could greatly impact their franchise moving forward. I would like them to address their offensive line with a significant investment, but there isn’t a guard that warrants selection at the 13th spot.
The Cardinals proved this year that they can compete with and beat Seattle. With a few adjustments in personnel and refocus on the downfield passing game, this team can retake the top spot in the NFC West.
Post Season Prospects
I’ve already made it clear that this is a playoff team. Just for some perspective, here is how the Arizona Cardinals stack up to the 2016 postseason teams in the most important statistics.
We’ve outlined how the Cardinals have slightly regressed this season. As a whole, they are still an effective offense. To make the playoffs, and win playoff games, you can’t have glaring holes on your team. Every playoff team this postseason were at least top 15 in two or more of these offensive categories. Clearly, the Cardinals meet that criteria and are an above average NFL offense that can still improve if they have a good draft and make smart free agent choices.
It’s one thing to be top 15 in two or three of these critical criteria, but the Cardinals are top 15 in every significant metric. This defense was the reason why they were able to beat Seattle on the road and neutralize them at home to force a tie. The points allowed metric can be affected by the offense. If they turn the ball over or give the defense bad field position, then teams are going to score more points. Despite the impact the offense had on points allowed, they still finished in the top 15. The Cardinals are in great shape defensively, they just have to stay healthy for the majority of the 2017 season.
This team is poised to make another postseason push. Having a top 15 draft pick will only help this team reach its potential, but they have challenges looming. The Arizona Cardinals have over 15 players who are free agents. They must make smart decisions on what players to re-sign and what players they can replace in the draft. If free agency is handled correctly and the draft is a success, this team will absolutely challenge Seattle for the top team in the NFC West. Next season, I like the Arizona Cardinals to finish 10-6 and win the division.
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This is the Sunday where the NFL gives out the second most important t-shirts and hats. It’s Conference Championship Sunday! The Panthers are hosting the Cardinals. The Patriots will host the Broncos. By seeding, these are the two best teams in the NFC and AFC. Let’s start on the NFC side of the bracket.
Coutesy of, sportsinfo.co
Two of the best defenses in the whole league the Arizona Cardinals and the Carolina Panthers. Both teams have one of the elite corners in the game. The Cardinals have Patrick Peterson, a corner that has been playing at an elite level since he has been in the league. The Panthers have Josh Norman, who is now emerging into that elite category.
On the offensive side of the matchup, the Panthers love to run the ball with either Cam Newton or their two Pro Bowl backs Mike Tolbert and Jonathan Stewart. While the Cardinals love to throw the ball around. The only real parallels the two teams have is that they have QB’s that are at the top of their game. Both QB’s were number 1 overall picks in the draft, before this season have been selected to two Pro Bowls, and both have won the Heisman Trophy. Carson Palmer being somewhat of journeyman this being his third team in his career and enduring many ACL injuries and he is now getting rewarded for his hard work and dedication. Since Cam Newton’s car crash in the latter part of last season, he has been on a terror putting up crazy numbers ever since and playing winning football. Now this year he only had one loss and is the leading candidate for the MVP.
Prediction: I predict the game to have a good bit of points. Around a 28-24 point game, coming down to a game winning TD on the last drive of the game. The winner being…the Cardinals! It would be a perfect gift to Larry Fitzgerald. He is really one of the best role models this game has seen. In this offense, one of the best receivers in this game is used as a blocker. He is the shining examples of a hard working team first kind of player.
Courtesy of, afcchampionshipgame2016.net
It’s the NFL’s version of Magic-Bird, it’s Tom Brady-Peyton Manning. Brady has 11 wins in their 16 previous meetings. And this is going to be the 17th meeting this Sunday. On this Sunday, Peyton wants to get his first win against Tom in championship games. Tom Brady has won the only two times they have played for the AFC title.
As always, Tom Brady’s offense is almost solely wrapped around his right arm throwing the ball. But this year in Denver, the offense is solely on Peyton’s ability to hand the ball off to a running back and his ability to not throw interceptions. It is also a little different because their personal integrity is being questioned. Tom and his role in Deflategate and Peyton being accused of using PED’s. Brady is having one of his best seasons to date, while Manning has had a season he would rather forget. He is tops in the league in interceptions thrown and is coming off an injury.
Prediction: I predict the tides will turn on Tom Brady and Peyton’s Broncos will be victorious. This is one of Manning’s best defenses and best run game in his career and both are better than Brady’s defense and run game this time. I see the game being a score like 31-17 or 38-24, a 14-point game. Brady will be under constant pressure and will have a turnover or two. Peyton will then be in position to get his second Super Bowl Ring and tie his brother.