2018 fantasy football composite rankings: WR

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 wide receiver rankings:

Wide receiver rankings: 1-10

1. Antonio Brown- Pittsburgh Steelers

Braxton’s rank:1

Joe’s rank: 1

2. DeAndre Hopkins- Houston Texans

Braxton’s rank: 2

Joe’s rank: 2

3. Odell Beckham Jr.- New York Giants

Braxton’s rank: 3

Joe’s rank: 4

4. Julio Jones- Atlanta Falcons

Braxton’s rank: 5

Joe’s rank: 3

5. Michael Thomas- New Orleans Saints

Braxton’s rank: 4

Joe’s rank: 6

6. Keenan Allen- Los Angeles Chargers

Braxton’s rank: 7

Joe’s rank: 5

7. A.J. Green- Cincinnati Bengals

Braxton’s rank: 6

Joe’s rank: 7

8. Davante Adams- Green Bay Packers

Braxton’s rank: 8

Joe’s rank: 8

9. Mike Evans- Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Braxton’s rank: 9

Joe’s rank: 9

10. Tyreek Hill- Kansas City Chiefs

Braxton’s rank: 10

Joe’s rank: 10

Wide receiver rankings: 11-20

11. Larry Fitzgerald- Arizona Cardinals

Braxton’s rank: 12

Joe’s rank: 11

12. Alshon Jeffery- Philadelphia Eagles

Braxton’s rank: 11

Joe’s rank: 13

13. Adam Thielen- Minnesota Vikings

Braxton’s rank: 15

Joe’s rank: 12

14. T.Y. Hilton- Indianapolis Colts

Braxton’s rank: 14

Joe’s rank: 14

15. Doug Baldwin- Seattle Seahawks

Braxton’s rank: 16

Joe’s rank: 15

16. Amari Cooper- Oakland Raiders

Braxton’s rank: 17

Joe’s rank: 16

17. Demaryius Thomas- Denver Broncos

Braxton’s rank: 18

Joe’s rank: 17

18. Golden Tate- Detroit Lions

Braxton’s rank: 20

Joe’s rank: 18

19. Pierre Garcon- San Francisco 49ers

Braxton’s rank: 19

Joe’s rank: 24

20. Brandin Cooks- Los Angeles Rams

Braxton’s rank: 13

Joe’s rank: N/A

Wide receiver rankings: 21-30

 21. Marvin Jones- Detroit Lions

Braxton’s rank: 25

Joe’s rank: 19

22. Jarvis Landry- Cleveland Browns

Braxton’s rank: 23

Joe’s rank: 21

23. Julian Edelman- New England Patriots

Braxton’s rank: 22

Joe’s rank: 23

24. Allen Robinson- Chicago Bears

Braxton’s rank: 26

Joe’s rank: 20

25. Josh Gordon- Cleveland Browns

Braxton’s rank:21

Joe’s rank: 27

26. Robbie Anderson- New York Jets

Braxton’s rank: 24

Joe’s rank: 25

27. JuJu Smith-Schuster- Pittsburgh Steelers

Braxton’s rank: 27

Joe’s rank: 26

28. Devin Funchess- Carolina Panthers

Braxton’s rank: 28

Joe’s rank: 30

29. Stefon Diggs- Minnesota Vikings

Braxton’s rank: N/A

Joe’s rank: 22

30. Randall Cobb- Green Bay Packers

Braxton’s rank: 29

Joe’s rank: N/A

 

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wide receiver rankings

2018 fantasy football wide receiver rankings

When it comes to fantasy, wide receivers can be some of the most volatile players on a weekly basis. Even players at the top of the league can have games where they record less than 10 points. So if you’re going to spend a first-round pick on a wide receiver, they better consistently be seeing double-digit targets between the 20’s and one or two red zone targets per game. Let’s find out who fits that description in the first edition of my 2018 fantasy football wide receiver rankings.

Wide Receiver Rankings: 1-10

1. Antonio Brown – Pittsburgh Steelers

Antonio Brown is the only player to finish in the top three in targets since 2015. He’s an absolute monster. Brown has what we all want in a player, the workload of a running back and the upside of a wide receiver. The 2017 season was the first time Brown didn’t score double-digit touchdowns since 2014. There are some minor concerns about Brown heading into this season. Todd Haley is no longer the offensive coordinator, and Ben Roethlisberger is another year older, and more susceptible to injury. However, there is no disputing Brown is the unquestioned number one option at the wide receiver position.

2. DeAndre Hopkins – Houston Texans

By the end of 2018, DeAndre Hopkins might have something to say about my last statement. Apart from Brown, Hopkins is the only other player to finish top three in targets since 2015. All the while, he’s been doing it with sub par quarterback play, not a future hall-of-famer like Roethlisberger. We saw a taste of what Hopkins did last season with Deshaun Watson. During that stretch, he averaged 9.8 targets, 6.3 catches, 91.83 yards, and one touchdown per game. At that rate, Hopkins would have the best year of his career, and it may be enough to unseat Brown atop rankings like these.

3. Odell Beckahm Jr. – New York Giants

Despite the inconsistency of his quarterback, OBJ ranks inside the top five heading into 2018. Even though he’s coming off an injury, it occurred on a freak play and did not result in the tearing of any muscles. So, he will likely not suffer from the confidence issue that most player do when they are recovering (I also find the notion he’ll lack confidence to be laughable based on what we’ve seen). He’ll be playing with an improved running game and offensive line, which will alleviate some attention he receives from opposing defenses. But what makes OBJ so incredible, is his ability to seemingly score from any point on the field at any time.

4. Michael Thomas – New Orleans Saints

Although he plays in a run-first offense, Michael Thomas is the unquestioned number one target of Drew Brees. Thomas will likely see more single coverage this season as a result of the success of New Orleans’ running attack in 2017. So, even if he isn’t seeing the volume of other players on this list, the efficiency and quality of the targets he’ll receive will help bridge that gap. The only other perceivable knock on Thomas is his red zone usage, as the Saints like to pound Mark Ingram, or exploit a mismatch with Alvin Kamara.

5. Julio Jones – Atlanta Falcons

Julio Jones scares me. I have to rank him this high because of his talent, production, and quarterback. However, there are a few major red flags. One, he’s injury prone. Two, he’s wildly volatile, maybe even the most volatile fantasy player of all. He can have 10 catches for 200 yards and 2 touchdowns, or 3 catches for 36 yards and zero touchdowns. Three, his team inexplicably ignores him in the red zone and goal line. And four, he’s unhappy about his contract. It’s not being publicized, but Jones is currently the eighth highest paid receiver behind players like Jarvis Landry and Sammy Watkins. I don’t think this will cause Jones to hold out, but it’s been reported that he is not happy with the situation. I’d be cautious taking Jones in the first round if you’re in a 10 or 12 team league.

6. AJ Green – Cincinnati Bengals

2017 was not a good year for AJ Green. He had a career-high in single digit-fantasy performances with seven (according to standard and .5 point ppr scoring). Green also acted out of character this year with that outburst against Jalen Ramsey. Green appears to be in line for a bounce-back season. Cincinnati has made upgrades to their offensive line and should have a more productive running game. Both would allow Green more time to get downfield, as well as provide him with more single coverage situations.

7. Keenan Allen – Los Angeles Chargers

Keenan Allen, unlike AJ Green, had a career year in 2017. He played in all 16 games for the first time, and the results were great. Allen finished with top five in targets, catches, and yards. Hopefully he will increase his touchdown output in 2018. However, he still had more touchdowns than Michael Thomas and Mike Evans, who were consensus first and second round picks.

8. Davante Adams – Green Bay Packers

I want to put Davante Adams higher on this list; however, he’s had a bit of an injury history. Like Allen, he’s only had one season in which he played all 16 games. Since he’s not the physical specimen Allen is, he ranks just beneath him. Adams is in line to be Aaron Rodgers number one target, which is great. But, something tells me Green Bay will make an effort protect Rodgers by running the ball, as they did with success during his absence. Adams could very easily jump players like Allen, Green, and Jones if he sees a true number one’s volume.

9. Mike Evans – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Conversely, I’d like to rank Mike Evans lower on this year’s wide receiver rankings. I had 100 percent exposure to him last year in fantasy leagues and was not pleased with this output. But, I learned from my mistake so it wasn’t a total loss. What keeps Evans from being higher is his inability to make plays after the catch. Evans averaged 1.6 yards after the catch. At his height, he would average more yards after catch if he simply fell forward every time he caught the ball. This severely limits Evans’ upside, and hampers his effectiveness between the 20’s.

10. Tyreek Hill – Kansas City Chiefs

Tyreek Hill impressed many last year by being more than a speedster and developing into a wide receiver. Kansas City was able to deploy him all over the field and become less predictable as an offense when he’s out wide or in the slot. Hill has the upside of a Jones, Beckham, and Brown, but has since built up his output floor. While Patrick Mahomes may seem like an upgrade, his accuracy and effectiveness at the NFL level is still unpredictable. Given this fact, I don’t think I’d take Hill until the third round.wide

Wide Receiver Rankings: 11-20

11. Alshon Jefferey – Philadelphia Eagles

What makes Alshon Jefferey a surprisingly valuable asset, was his effectiveness with both Nick Foles and Carson Wentz. So, we won’t have to worry if Wentz isn’t available week one. The Eagles deployed Jefferey in the redzone as well as deep down the field. While he’s not the most consistent game-to-game, he plays in a great prolific offense with two capable quarterbacks.

12. Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona Cardinals

Larry Fitzgerald somehow figured out a way to finish top five in targets, second in catches, and top 10 in yards. He managed to do this with multiple quarterbacks throwing him the ball, and, without the threat of David Johnson to take attention away from him. Fitzgerald will be a player I’m targeting this season, especially if I have a volatile or injury prone wide receiver as my number one.

13. Brandin Cooks – Los Angeles Rams

Brandin Cooks might be the luckiest receiver in NFL history. He’s played for Sean Payton, Josh McDaniels, and now, he gets to play for Sean McVay. Cooks is incredibly talented. Other than Randy Moss and Larry Fitzgerald, no player had more catches, yards, and touchdowns through their age 23 season. Cooks looks to add to his historically great start in Los Angeles. I’m of the belief that this whole offense will take a step back. Also, Cooks’ volume will likely be unpredictable until the fourth or fifth game of the season.

14. T.Y. Hilton – Indianapolis Colts

Disclaimer, T.Y. Hilton’s place on these wide receiver rankings are assuming Andrew Luck is the week one starter. We all saw how incredibly explosive Hilton could be in the right matchup. However, we also know that Hilton can disappear in any given game. Hopefully, Luck’s return will raise his floor and make him a value on draft day. Like my theory with Fitzgerald, I would shy away from Hilton if I have a volatile number one like Jones or Hill.

15. Adam Thielen – Minnesota Vikings

If last year didn’t establish Adam Thielen, at a minimum, top 20 receiver, then I don’t know what will.  Thielen finished top 10 in catches and top five in yards in an offense led by Case Keenum. He’s not a bad player by any means, but Kirk Cousins is objectively superior. With the return of Dalvin Cook, and Mike Zimmer’s overall disdain for throwing more than necessary, it’s likely he won’t see the same volume. However, Thielen proved he can score from anywhere on the field and run a complete route tree.

16. Doug Baldwin – Seattle Seahawks

This is a pivotal season for Doug Baldwin. Despite Russell Wilson leading the NFL in touchdown passes, Baldwin was only able to snag eight of them. He also had his lowest output in terms of catches since 2015, and yards in 2014. It’s likely he will have a regression to the mean in those categories, but, will it be worth the draft pick you used to acquire him?

17. Amari Cooper – Oakland Raiders

Everyone remembers that Thursday night game against the Chiefs in which Amari Coper went unconscious with 11 catches for 220 yards and two touchdowns. Sadly, that game made up about 30 percent of his production for the entire season. There’s honestly no telling what his production will be with Jordy Nelson and Jon Gruden’s new offensive scheme. Unless Cooper I can get Cooper as my third receiver, I’ll likely take a pass on him.

18. Demaryius Thomas – Denver Broncos

I haven’t decided how I feel about Demaryius Thomas and this Denver offense yet. Case Keenum will no question be the best quarterback to lead this team since Peyton Manning. Hopefully reports from training camp won’t inflate Thomas’ value before draft season. Thomas is a player who has big-play upside, it’s just a matter if Keenum’s line will hold up and allow him to connect on the deep and intermediate routes.

19. Pierre Garcon – San Francisco 49ers

Pierre Garcon should be a target of everyone who drafts a boom or bust player in their first two rounds. Garcon is slated as the number one receiver in this offense. Marquise Goodwin could cut into his volume, but he’s a deep threat and not as polished as a possession receiver. Not to mention, Goodwin suffered a brutal concussion at the end of last season. Garcon could have one of his best years since leaving Indianapolis, even with his advanced age.

20. Golden Tate – Detroit Lions

Tate is another example of an underappreciated fantasy asset. Since coming to Detroit, he’s never had less than 90 catches, 800 yards, and four touchdowns. What truly makes Tate valuable, is his run after catch ability. Last season he finished fourth in yards after catch with 6.9. It’s unclear whether or not new head coach Matt Patricia will alter the offensive philosophy from featuring Matt Stafford as a high volume passer. However, Tate’s track record shows us that he will maximize every opportunity given to him.

Wide Receiver Rankings: 21-30

21. Josh Gordon – Cleveland Browns

Josh Gordon’s position in these wide receiver rankings has nothing to do with football. It’s great that he’s back in the NFL, but in no way should he be viewed as a top 15 player at his position. Last season, when everyone in the DFS community was pounding the table on Josh Gordon against the Packers as a “must play”. He didn’t completely disappoint, as he scored 14.4 points. But, I paid $1,000 less for his teammate Corey Coleman, who scored 14.7 points that day. The moral of the not so humble brag is that you cannot depend on Josh Gordon. If he proves he can put an entire season of productivity together, he’ll rise up the ranks quickly.

22. Julian Edelman – New England Patriots

Julian Edelman will start week one. He suffered his injury during the preseason last year, so he’ll be more than prepared to dominate out of the slot. My hope is that Edelman slides on draft day because of his injury and his perceived lack of production. Last season wasn’t the first time he missed multiple games due to injury, so there is a risk that he could get hurt again. Not to mention, the Patriots love getting fantasy players’ hopes up just to crush them. I’ll certainly have Edelman on my list of players to be targeting.

23. Jarvis Landry – Miami Dolphins

Jarvis Landry was a target monster in Miami. Whether that trend continues, remains to be seen. If Baker Mayfield was set to start week one, I’d have Landry higher on the list. Mayfield is substantially more accurate than Taylor, and attacks the middle of the field well. As soon as he becomes the starter, Landry’s value will increase.

24. Robbie Anderson – New York Jets

If Robbie Anderson can go the rest of the summer and not threaten to sexually assault a police offer’s wife, I’ll be happy (if you want to laugh I encourage you to look up his exact wording). Anderson emerged as the number one receiver with Josh McCown at the helm. Hopefully, that will continue when Sam Darnold inevitably gets the start. Anderson’s combination of height, speed, and run after the catch ability make him dangerous, even if he’s playing on a below average team with average quarterback play.

25. Marvin Jones – Detroit Lions

I feel like I’m saying this about a lot of players in this range, but I want to target Marvin Jones. As the second, or co-number one option on the Lions, Jones had more than 60 catches, 1,000 yards, and accumulated nine touchdowns. This, in large part, is a bi-product of Stafford and the high volume of pass attempts. However, Jones sees most of the team’s red and green zone targets. Stafford loves throwing fades to Jones and assuming Stafford’s volume stays the same, Jones will be a good value.

26. Allen Robinson – Chicago Bears

I have no idea what to do with Allen Robinson. He’s the unquestioned number one in Chicago, but, believe it or not, he’s downgraded from Blake Bortles. Mitchell Trubisky, to this point, doesn’t give me the confidence that Robinson will see the volume or the production of a number one receiver.

27. JuJu Smith-Schuster – Pittsburgh Steelers

JuJu is a good player, but he’ll likely be over-drafted relative to other players at his position because of the team he plays for. Volume is so important for wide receivers. So why should we consider JuJu as a top 20 option if he has to compete with Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell for touches? His talent is undeniable, but his involvement in the offense will be unpredictable with the new offensive coordinator.

28. Devin Funchess – Carolina Panthers

I’m retroactively regretting ranking Funchess this low. Even though he finished with less than 70 catches and 1,000 yards, he caught eight touchdowns and had to compete with Kelvin Benjamin for almost half of the season. Despite Greg Olsen coming back and the addition of DJ Moore in the draft, Funchess could be in line for his first 1,000 yard season.

29. Randall Cobb – Green Bay Packers

Cobb, for the first time in two seasons, is the projected number two for the Packers. The organization clearly values what he can do and featured him in the offense even when Nelson and Adams were on the roster. Cobb’s injury history keeps him from being higher in these rankings.

30. Will Fuller – Houston Texans

Wrapping up the top 30 is Will Fuller. Fuller isn’t particularly special. In my opinion, he’s a less skilled version of T.Y. Hilton. But, he plays in an offense with a quarterback that isn’t afraid to target him deep, and across from one of the NFL’s best receivers.

 

Featured Image courtesy of; Youtube.com

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2018 fantasy football WR 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 WR rankings:

Wide receiver rankings: 1-10

1. Antonio Brown- Pittsburgh Steelers

Brown has totally proven himself over the last couple of years and will be the first wide receiver off the board in most drafts. He finished second in scoring last season, but sat out the last two games of the season. Brown did have some off games last season (five games of under 10 fantasy points) but did enough in other weeks to make up for it.

2. DeAndre Hopkins- Houston Texans

The leading fantasy receiver last season was DeAndre Hopkins. He has proven that it doesn’t matter which quarterback is playing, he still produces. Hopkins will be hoping that Deshaun Watson is healthy though, as three of his top four performances were with the rookie under center. With Watson improving in year two, Hopkins should be near the top of most fantasy rankings.

3. Julio Jones- Atlanta Falcons

Jones finished sixth among receivers last season and that was with Steve Sarkisian, who couldn’t figure out how to get him the ball properly. He also was coming off of a foot injury that led him to sit out of offseason workouts. While Sarkisian is still there, Jones will now have Calvin Ridley lining up with him and Mo Sanu. He is simply too talented not to give the ball to. Sarkisian needs to spend his offseason figuring out how to get the most of his players, Jones included, or he will be out of a job.

4. Odell Beckham Jr.- New York Giants

He only played four games last season before getting injured but was able to rank fourth among receivers in those four weeks. If Beckham can get healthy and stay healthy he will produce. He will be aided by the fact that the run game will be better, which will keep defenses honest.

5. Keenan Allen- Los Angeles Chargers

2018 fantasy football wr rankings

Keenan Allen (Photo by nbanflnobody.com)

Last year was the first season in which Allen has been able to play in a full 16 game schedule and he shined. Allen finished fourth in fantasy points last season with help from a few very good weeks. With Mike Williams coming back healthy and the offensive line being more healthy at the start of the season, Phillip Rivers will not only have more time to read defenses, but will have more options to throw to, as teams can’t solely focus on stopping Allen.

6. Michael Thomas- New Orleans Saints

Thomas finished eighth last season and continues to get better every year. He also has Drew Brees throwing him the ball and a lot of bad secondaries to go up against in the NFC South. Since his rookie season, only Antonio Brown has more fantasy points than Thomas at the wide receiver position. Expect more big things to come for Thomas this season.

7. A.J. Green- Cincinnati Bengals

He finished 10th last season and that was without too many viable receivers on the roster. John Ross and Tyler Boyd should have increased roles in the upcoming season, but it is hard to tell with Marvin Lewis coached teams. Tyler Eifert and Tyler Kroft should create a good tight end tandem. This means that there will be less focus on Green. The offensive line will also be vastly improved from last season, meaning Andy Dalton will have time to hit him on more deep balls.

8. Davante Adams- Green Bay Packers

Without Jordy Nelson on the roster anymore, Adams is unquestionably the go-to-guy for Aaron Rodgers. He was just outside the top ten in fantasy scoring last season and should see a huge bump up with Rodgers being healthy as well. Randall Cobb, Jimmy Graham and some young receivers will help keep double teams off of Adams.

9. Mike Evans- Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Evans disappointed fantasy owners last year, finishing 20th overall. While it wasn’t a great season, he still managed to get 1,000 receiving yards. If Jameis Winston can take another step forward this season, Evans should move back up in the final fantasy scoring ranks.

10. Tyreek Hill- Kansas City Chiefs

Hill finished fourth in scoring last season but now has to deal with a new quarterback. Pat Mahomes has potential but needs to improve his accuracy. The reason Hill stays in the top 10 is that they can get him the ball in so many ways and once he has it, he’s a threat to take it all the way. Expect a decrease in production, but not by too much.

Wide Receiver rankings: 11-20

11. Larry Fitzgerald- Arizona Cardinals

The ageless wonder continues to be a great option in fantasy football. He was top 10 in scoring last year and now will now have a new quarterback. If Sam Bradford is the starter, he will hit him on short routes and let Fitzgerald run after the catch. If Josh Rosen gets the nod he will need to rely on Fitzgerald early and often. Fitzgerald will produce with whatever quarterback is throwing him the ball.

12. Adam Thielen- Minnesota Vikings

With Case Keenum having his career year, Thielen also excelled. Now he has Kirk Cousins, who hasn’t had great receivers to work with throughout his career. They have already started to work together and Thielen should post similar, if not better, numbers than last season.

13. Alshon Jeffery- Philadelphia Eagles

Jeffery tore his rotator cuff and may not be ready for the start of the season. He finished 15th last season while playing very sparingly over the last two weeks of the season. No matter who is throwing passes on the opening day of the season, Jeffery is a solid WR2 play.

14. T.Y. Hilton- Indianapolis Colts

He had a bad season without Andrew Luck, ranking outside of the top 20. With Luck seemingly coming back this season, Hilton should move up higher in draft boards. The offensive line is now built to protect Luck and the Colts being conservative with his injury recovery, should mean he stays healthy.

15. Doug Baldwin- Seattle Seahawks

Baldwin is now one of the only decent targets that Russell Wilson can throw to with Jimmy Graham, Paul Richardson and Jermaine Kearse all leaving the team in recent seasons. He should get a lot of targets and be a decent WR2 if Wilson can stay healthy behind a bad offensive line.

2018 fantasy football WR rankings

Amari Cooper (Photo by silverandblackpride.com)

16. Amari Cooper- Oakland Raiders

Cooper struggled last season and didn’t produce. With Jon Gruden now taking over, a healthy Derek Carr and an offseason to get things straight, Cooper should start living up to his potential again. The field should be wide open with Jordy Nelson and Martavis Bryant flanking him.

17. Demaryius Thomas- Denver Broncos

A new quarterback in Denver in Keenum should increase Thomas’ productivity. He finished 23rd last season without good quarterback play, so a healthy bump up the projections should be expected. If Keenum has a season that is even slightly close to his season last year, Thomas will star.

18. Golden Tate- Detroit Lions

Tate has over 90 catches in the last four seasons and is a model of constant production. He is in the last year of his deal, meaning he will want to produce. Matt Stafford targets Tate over one more time per game than his running mate, Marvin Jones Jr.

19. Marvin Jones- Detroit Lions

He doesn’t get as many targets as Tate, but he makes the most of them and finished fifth in scoring last season. He will likely regress to the norm this season and shouldn’t be drafted as the fifth overall receiver this season. He fits in better as a WR2 than a WR1.

20. Allen Robinson- Chicago Bears

Robinson has new digs in Chicago and will be Mitchell Trubisky’s number one target. He’s used to performing with a quarterback that didn’t always play well and should help Trubisky’s development. His 2015 season will give a lot of hopes to fantasy owners this season.

Wide receiver rankings: 21-30

21. Jarvis Landry- Cleveland Browns

The Browns might have some semblance of a passing offense with Tyrod Taylor. Landry is a catch machine who is another receiver used to playing without the best players at quarterback. If the running game can keep the offense balanced, Landry shouldn’t see much dropoff in production.

22. Stefon Diggs- Minnesota Vikings

Diggs has morphed into the second best receiver on his team but still is capable of making big plays. He finished 17th last season and should finish in a similar range depending on how he vibes with Kirk Cousins.

23. Julian Edelman- New Orleans Saints

One of Tom Brady’s favorite targets returns from injury and will need to regain his quickness. Brady’s familiarity with Edelman and Brandin Cooks leaving should open up opportunities that Edelman has had in the past.

24. Pierre Garcon- San Francisco 49ers

Garcon is the number one receiver for the 49ers and his ranking will be very dependant on Jimmy Garoppolo improving. The soon-to-be 32-year-old had a season-ending injury, but should be able to reclaim his place as the team’s most productive receiver.

25. Robbie Anderson- New York Jets

There is no question about Anderson’s talent on the field, but he has off-the-field issues that make him a risky pick. He finished 16th in scoring last year and if he can stay on the field, will produce again this season.

2018 fantasy football wr rankings

JuJu Smith-Schuster (Photo by yahoo.com)

26. JuJu Smith-Schuster- Pittsburgh Steelers

He had a breakout season last year and now Martavis Bryant is gone, making him the undeniable number two target. The 18th wide receiver from last year may not have quite as good of a season with teams being able to scout him for a full season, but he is worth a pick in the middle rounds of most fantasy drafts.

27. Josh Gordon- Cleveland Browns

Gordon is another receiver that needs to stay on the field and can be a solid pick for fantasy. He too will benefit from the skill position players the Browns acquired this offseason.

28. Emmanuel Sanders- Denver Broncos

The 2017 season was disappointing for Sanders due to injuries and bad quarterback play. Keenum is the key here, as if he plays well Sanders should have a much better 2018.

29. Chris Hogan- New England Patriots

Hogan had a shoulder injury that left him unable to compete for the last seven games of the season (Hogan had one catch over that span). He was a great fantasy option last season and now Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola are gone.

30. Devin Funchess- Carolina Panthers

Funchess and Greg Olsen will be Cam Newton’s first options this season, but there is more help around them now. He will continue to use his size to create matchup problems with just about every secondary in the league.

 

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Fantasy football waiver wire week 14

Waiver wire pickups for Week 14 and the playoffs

Congratulations! If you are taking interest to this article, that means you most likely made your leagues’ playoffs.

It was an interesting fantasy season. We’ve seen unlikely fantasy stars such as Alex Smith of the Kansas City Chiefs emerge as a weekly starter as the top quarterback for the first eight weeks. We also saw Ezekiel Elliott get suspended at the stretch of the season. Even the last week of the season, we saw a crazy end with Smith, Josh McCown and Blake Bortles as top finishers at quarterback while Tom Brady and Matt Ryan delivered single-digit numbers.

The biggest headline in fantasy was injuries. Big names like Aaron Rodgers, Odell Beckham Jr., David Johnson, Andrew Luck, Julian Edelman and others suffered injuries either before the season or midway through.

The big storylines go on and on, but there are more important things to cover as it is playoff time. The purpose of this article is to start the playoffs right by making decisions to advance to the next week, even if you earned a first-round bye. Here are the top waiver wire pickups for the start of the playoffs.

Running Back Peyton Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Fantasy football waiver wire week 14

Peyton Barber (Photo from NFL.com)

With Doug Martin missing time due to a concussion, many expected Jacquizz Rodgers to be the main back. However, it was Peyton Barber who led the way with 23 carries for 102 yards with a team-high 41 receiving yards on four catches. He racked up the first 100-yard rushing game for the Bucs this season. No one expected that.

If Martin is not available, Barber should continue to get carries and take over as the top dog in the Bucs’ backfield. If Martin does make a return, expect Barber to be the second back after his performance against the Packers.

He is set to be a RB2 as they play the Lions, who rank 28th against running backs.

Running Backs Theo Riddick and Tion Green, Detroit Lions

Ameer Abdullah’s neck injury opened things up in the Lions’ backfield as both running backs found the end zone. Theo Riddick gained 62 total yards on nine carries and five catches while Green had 51 yards on 11 carries.

As for which back to have, there is no wrong way to go depending on the league. Riddick is a better pick for PPR leagues and Green is better for standard leagues. Either way, both should have a solid day splitting reps against the Buccaneers run defense, which has yielded high rushing averages and lots of touchdowns over its last three games.

Look for Riddick to have more upside in fantasy especially with many banged-up backs and receivers. He has flex value in standard leagues. For Green, he should continue to be the preferred option around the goal line.

Wide Receiver Marquise Goodwin, San Francisco 49ers

Fantasy football waiver wire week 14

Marquise Goodwin (Photo from ninersnation.com)

With Pierre Garcon out for the year, Marquise Goodwin in the last four games has gained 68, 83, 78 and 99 yards, good for an average of 82 yards per game. Even with the switch at quarterback, Goodwin remained the top target for Jimmy Garoppolo. Along with that 99-yard outing against the Chicago Bears, he caught all of his eight targets. It seems Garoppolo has possibly found his No. 1 target for next year, and this is a good way to the end the year for Goodwin.

He has great matchups in the next two weeks against the Houston Texans, who rank 27th against receivers, and the Tennessee Titans, who are right in front of the Texans against receivers. This makes him a viable WR3/flex start the next two weeks.

Wide Receiver Jermaine Kearse, New York Jets

This could go either way, but Jermaine Kearse is worth a look for depth. He has at least eight targets in each of his last three, and at least 15 fantasy points in each of his last two. Against the Chiefs, he caught nine of his 10 targets for 157 yards. Its evident that Robby Anderson is the top target, which make defenses try to limit him and put softer coverage on Kearse. Josh McCown has no problem leaning on Kearse in their pass-heavy offense.

He has three tough games ahead of him against the Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints and the Los Angeles Chargers, all ranked 12th or higher against receivers. The matchup next week against Denver isn’t the worst matchup as the Miami Dolphins torched them with 35 points. Dolphin receivers caught 11 passes for 165 yards and a touchdown.

Quarterback Josh McCown, New York Jets

My dark horse pickup, especially with the injuries to Tyrod Taylor and Matthew Stafford, is Josh McCown of the New York Jets. He had another solid fantasy day with multiple touchdowns in a high-scoring game against the Chiefs.

In his last eight he has posted double-digit points with over 20 points in his last two. He ranks as the 14th quarterback in fantasy this week according to Fantasy Pros, which is better than Alex Smith, Derek Carr and Jameis Winston, who are all on fantasy teams. Now he mostly picks that up with some garbage time, but the Jets have been a solid team all season at 5-7 within playoff contention. McCown continues to defy the odds and gets better as the season progresses.

McCown should be a QB2 on fantasy teams just in case, especially if you have Taylor and/or Stafford. Like Kearse, he isn’t a bad matchup against Denver.

 

Featured image from theintelligencer.com

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Jimmy Garappolo trade: 49ers absolutely win deal

On Monday night, the 49ers stole Jimmy Garappolo from the New England Patriots. The Patriots received a second round pick from San Francisco, but most believed Garappolo was worth a first. A second round pick for a possible franchise quarterback is an absolute steal. By the way, to put this pick into perspective, three recent second round quarterbacks have been Geno Smith, Christian Hackenberg and DeShone Kizer.

What this means for the 49ers

At 0-8, it appeared the 49ers would wait this season out and go for Kirk Cousins, or draft a young quarterback. San Francisco had no idea what the Redskins were going to do with Cousins, and going into the season, the 49ers were one of the 10 youngest teams in the league. With the average age of a 49er being around 25 years old, it makes complete sense to go after a 26-year-old.

Jimmy Garappolo trade

While only starting two games, Jimmy G looked like the real deal (SBNation)

Additionally, coach Kyle Shanahan really likes Garappolo. Prior to the 2014 NFL Draft, Shanahan ranked Derek Carr and Garappolo as the best quarterbacks in the draft. However, don’t expect him to play right away. San Francisco is without both of their tackles on the offensive line, and it is going to take time to learn the playbook. Realistically, Garappolo could play following their bye, which would give him three weeks to prepare.

In 17 career games, and two starts, Garappolo has been essentially flawless. He has thrown five touchdowns, zero interceptions, completing passes at 67 percent and a passer rating of 106.2.

Last season, Garappolo’s yards per attempt was 8.0, which would be good for fifth in the league in 2017. His 113.3 passer rating would be second behind Alex Smith. Obviously, it is an incredibly small sample size, but 49ers fan should feel ecstatic.

Future of San Francisco

As far as the future of this team, don’t let their winless record fool you. The 49ers are a young defense who can turn out to be very special. Solomon Thomas, who is battling an MCL sprain, has looked like the real deal in his rookie season. DeForest Buckner is arguably the 49ers best defensive player, and he is just 23 years of age. Former first round pick Arik Armstead had 16 tackles and 1.5 sacks before injuring his hand against the Washington Redskins. Don’t forget about Reuben Foster, who has also been battling injuries all year.

The offense has enough weapons for Garappolo to find early success. Carlos Hyde has been extremely effective as both a runner and pass catcher in the offense, while Pierre Garcon is up to 500 yards receiving through their first eight games. Speedster Marquise Goodwin is a perfect deep ball threat for Garappolo.

In his press conference, Garappolo exclaimed how he is “thrilled to be here” and “eager to get out there and show what I can do on a Sunday.” Garappolo also touched on how he could not be happier to be a member of this team.

As far as future schedule looks, it won’t get any easier next season for San Francisco. They will be facing, on the road, Green Bay, Kansas City, Seattle, Minnesota and the LA Rams. While it may take some time, Jimmy G and the 49ers could be a perfect fit. The best part is that San Francisco will still have a top five pick in this year’s draft, and might have found their quarterback for the next ten years.

What this means for New England

To be honest, this move is quite the head scratcher. It would be one thing if the Patriots did not like Garappolo and thought he wouldn’t pan out, but that is just not the case. The Patriots loved this kid, and viewed him as the Aaron Rodgers to Brett Favre. If Brady goes down, their season is over.

An important message to note is that Bill Belichick would have absolutely considered trading Tom Brady after this season. However, Brady and owner Bob Kraft are extremely close, and Albert Breer, reporter for the MMQB.com, claims that Belichick “probably knew the Kraft family was not going to allow him to trade Tom Brady.”

Jimmy Garappolo trade

Were Kraft and Belichick on the same page for this move? (Boston Herald)

Whatever the case may be, Tom Brady is 40 years old. Although he looks good, it just doesn’t make sense to trade the future away, especially when the franchise believed he has serious potential. Joe Montana, Peyton Manning and Brett Favre, one way or another, were all forced to cut ties with their original teams and play somewhere else.

New England is usually ahead of the curve when it comes to trading players away at the right time, but I guess when you are dealing with the GOAT, things get complicated. Something tells me Kraft’s relationship with Brady got in the way of how Belichick wanted to do business.

Boston sports fans are extremely blessed, but also might not be ready for life after Brady. Keep in mind that from 1989-1993, the Patriots never won more than six games in a season. The Celtics did something similar to New England, when they held onto Bird, Parish and McHale too long. After their success, the players aged, and Boston went 22 years without winning a title. They were unable to reach the playoffs from 1995-2001. Letting past success get in the way of the future leads to situations like the Celtics.

To remind Patriots fans, and NFL fans, how hard it is to find a franchise quarterback, I have constructed a list of all the quarterbacks who have won at least nine games in three different seasons. All of course, part of the same franchise. As you’ll see, it could take years before New England gets back on track once Brady is gone.

Players with at least three 9-Win Seasons with Franchise (# of seasons)

Arizona/St Louis Cardinals

Jim Hart 1974-76 (3)

Atlanta Falcons

Matt Ryan 2008- (6)

Baltimore Ravens

Joe Flacco 2008- (6)

Buffalo Bills

Jack Kemp 1964-1966 (3)

Joe Ferguson 1973-1981 (4)

Jim Kelly 1988-1995 (6)

Carolina Panthers

Jake Delhomme 2003-2008 (3)

Chicago Bears

NONE

Cincinnati Bengals

Ken Anderson 1973-1981 (4)

Boomer Esiason 1986-1990 (3)

Andy Dalton 2011-2015 (5)

Cleveland Browns

Otto Graham 1950-1955 (5)

Frank Ryan 1963-1967 (5)

Bill Nelsen 1968-1971 (3)

Dallas Cowboys

Roger Staubach 1971-1979 (7)

Danny White 1980-1985 (4)

Troy Aikman 1992-1996 (5)

Tony Romo 2007-2014 (3)

Denver Broncos

John Elway 1984-1998 (9)

Jake Plummer 2003-2005 (3)

Peyton Manning 2012-2014 (3)

Detroit Lions

Bobby Layne 1952-1956 (3)

Matthew Stafford 2011- (3)

Green Bay Packers

Bart Starr 1961-1966 (4)

Brett Favre 1993-2007 (12)

Aaron Rodgers 2009- (7)

Houston Texans

NONE

Indianapolis Colts

Johnny Unitas 1959-1970 (5)

Bert Jones 1975-1977 (3)

Peyton Manning (11)

Andrew Luck 2012- (3)

Jacksonville Jaguars

Mark Brunell 1996-1999 (4)

Kansas City Chiefs

Len Dawson 1962-1971 (5)

Alex Smith 2013- (3)

LA/San Diego Chargers

Dan Fouts 1978-1981 (4)

Stan Humphires 1992-1995 (3)

Philip Rivers 2006- (6)

LA/STL Rams

Roman Gabriel 1967-1970 (4)

Kurt Warner 1999-2001* (2 (Went 8-3 in 2000) )

Miami Dolphins

Bob Griese 1970-1977 (5)

Dan Marino 1984-1998 (8)

Minnesota Vikings

Fran Tarkenton 1973-1976 (4)

New England Patriots

Steve Grogan 1976-1979 (4)

Drew Bledsoe 1994-1997 (3)

Tom Brady 2001- (15)

New Orleans Saints

Bobby Herbert 1987-1992 (3)

Drew Brees 2006- (5)

New York Giants

Phil Simms 1984-1993 (7)

Eli Manning 2005- (7)

New York Jets

Joe Namath 1967-1969* (2 (Three winning seasons when regular season=14 games) )

Vinny Testaverde 1998

Oakland/LA Raiders

Daryle Lamonica 1967-1972 (4)

Ken Stabler 1974-1979 (6)

Rich Gannon 2000-2002 (3)

Philadelphia Eagles

Ron Jaworski 1978-1981 (4)

Randall Cunningham 1988-1992 (4)

Donovan McNabb 2000-2009 (6)

Pittsburgh Steelers

Terry Bradshaw 1972-1980 (6)

Neil O’Donnell 1992-1995 (4)

Ben Roethlisberger 2004- (9)

San Francisco 49ers

Joe Montana 1981-1990 (7)

Steve Young 1992-1998 (6)

Seattle Seahawks

Dave Krieg 1984-1990 (3)

Matt Hasselbeck 2003-2007 (3)

Russell Wilson 2012- (5)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NONE

Tennessee Titans/Houston Oilers

Dan Pastorini 1975-1979 (3)

Warren Moon 1989-1993 (3)

Steve McNair 1999-2003 (4)

Washington Redskins

Joe Theismann 1979-1984 (3)

Mark Rypien 1989-1992 (3)

 

Featured image by Boston Herald 

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week four DFS don'ts

Week four DFS don’ts: Wide Receiver

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

week four DFS don'ts

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.

 

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Featured Image Courtesy of NBC Bay Area

San Francisco 49ers

Bay Area hope: The Rebuilding San Francisco 49ers

The preseason is not a reliable indicator of regular season success in the NFL. The 2008 Lions went undefeated in the preseason, then went on to be the first team to go winless in a 16 game regular season.

However, sometimes little snippets of games can give viewers both good and bad indicators about a team. This preseason, there is a team whose rebuilding process may not take as long as some people think.

Ever since Richard Sherman tipped away San Francisco’s Super Bowl hopes a few years ago, the 49ers franchise has cratered. They are coming off a pair seasons with just seven combined wins.

Richard Sherman

Photo:: sbnation.com

Rookie head coach Kyle Shanahan and new general manager John Lynch certainly have their work cut out for them, but they have made tremendous strides.

The third preseason game is the so-called “dress rehearsal.” San Francisco traveled to Minnesota last week. The 49ers starters ran the Vikings out of the building for a half.

Brian Hoyer was brought in to stabilize the quarterback situation while the 49ers look for the next young guy. Only time will tell if rookie C. J. Beathard can be that guy. For now though, Hoyer has a chance to guide this team to being very competitive very quickly.

Hoyer is not the kind of guy that a fan base is going to rally behind and buy his jersey, but he can get the job done under the right circumstances. He has been around for almost a decade, has a winning record as a starter and 18 more career touchdown passes than interceptions. There is zero pressure on Beathard to go out and resurrect this franchise right now. That is a beautiful thing.

Also, the 49ers have done a better job putting talent around Hoyer than people realize. Running back Carlos Hyde seems healthy and rejuvenated after getting lost in the shuffle last year. He has managed to put up almost 1800 total rushing yards in his first three seasons despite injuries and organizational dysfunction.

Wide receiver Pierre Garçon was also brought in via free agency and had his best statistical season in 2013 in a Redskins offense that was coordinated by Kyle Shanahan. Garçon also has not missed a game since 2012. Staying healthy and being productive is a rare but great combination to have for any wide receiver.

Honestly, it does not take much to turn an offense from laughable to decent in the NFL. At minimum, you need a serviceable quarterback, a running game that can take some pressure off the quarterback, and a reliable pass catcher or two. For the first time in a handful of years, the 49ers have all of those things in place.

Brian Hoyer

Photo: nfl.com

On defense, the 49ers lack big names outside of linebacker Navarro Bowman, but that unit punctuated the relevant part of its preseason by shutting out Minnesota in the first half. Thanks to the ineffectiveness of Chip Kelly’s offense, they spent more time on the field than any other defense last year. That will not happen again this year. That alone should make for a significant improvement.

The brilliance of Kyle Shanahan cannot be overlooked, he has elevated every healthy quarterback he has ever worked with. He is a big reason for Matt Ryan’s MVP campaign last year and the rookie of the year campaign of Robert Griffin III in 2012. Much like his father who is a Super Bowl winning head coach, he knows how to put his players in the best position possible to succeed.

The playoffs might be a stretch for San Francisco this year, but they could flirt with .500. That would be quite an accomplishment considering where they were just a few months ago. The 49ers fan base has two things it has not had for a while, hope and optimism.

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2017 NFC West division preview

2017 NFC West 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 ado, here is the 2017 NFC West division preview.

4: San Fransisco 49ers

Last season: 2-14

Strength of Schedule: 20

John Lynch made a statement in the NFL Draft. He knows what he is doing and plans on building a championship defense. The picks of Soloman Thomas and Rueben Foster are prime examples. The problem is that the 49ers need lots of talent to actually be competitive. San Fransisco ranked in the bottom of every defensive category and a few young players aren’t going to turn them into a top NFL defense right away.

2017 NFC West division preview

(Photo Credit: USA Today)

The defense is going to struggle against the run. After ranking 32nd last season, the only way to go is up but again, two rookies aren’t going to take them from 32nd to the top of the mountain.

As teams run all over the 49ers, the defense will get worn out and teams will be able to pass against them as well. With a bottom third defense, it will be difficult for San Fransisco to win games.

Offensively, the 49ers will struggle because of a bad offensive line. Pro Football Focus is predicting the 49ers to have the 27th ranked line in the NFL. This will mean tough sledding for running back Carlos Hyde. Brian Hoyer has been given the reigns at quarterback but is barely an average quarterback.

Hoyer also has no real threat to throw the ball to outside of Pierre Garcon. Teams can load the box to stop the run and will not have to worry about getting burned by the pass. The predictability of the offense will make it hard for them to win games. The 49ers are clearly heading in the right direction but will not show it with wins this season.

Prediction: 2-14 (0-6), miss the playoffs

3: Arizona Cardinals

Last season: 7-8-1

Strength of Schedule: 23

Carson Palmer showed signs of decline last season at age 37. He went from 35 touchdowns down to 26. Palmer also threw more interceptions as his total increased from 11 interceptions in 2015 to 14 last season. Father Time is undefeated and this season Palmer will feel the effects even more.

2017 NFC West division preview

(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

The rest of the offense is pretty solid. David Johnson is one of the top three running backs in the NFL and will be the workhorse. It won’t be far-fetched to say Johnson will have 1,000 yards both on the ground and through the air.

Larry Fitzgerald is back for his 14th season to lead the Cardinals’ receiving corp. Outside of Fitzgerald, there is a lot of inconsistency with the receivers.

Arizona has had a very good defense for the last couple of seasons but there are a few unknowns this year. Losing Calais Campbell and Tony Jefferson really hurt.

There is still plenty of talent but the key pieces of Campbell and Jefferson may prove too big of losses. If they can’t replace these players the defense will regress. The Cardinals will also have a rookie linebacker, Haason Reddick, starting at inside linebacker.

Special teams were a weak link for the Cardinals last season. They must improve in all facets in order to win more games but there isn’t much to look at yet in the preseason to determine whether or not this has improved.

Facing Arizona is going to be a tough game for any opponent but for now, because of an old quarterback and restructured defense, the Cardinals are going to be a team that hovers around .500.

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

2: Los Angeles Rams

Last season: 4-12

Strength of Schedule: 17

Adding Wade Phillips as a defensive coordinator is going to make all the difference for the Rams this season. The Rams’ defense was much better than some of their rankings due to an offense that was rather pedestrian. Los Angeles gave up the ninth fewest yards in the NFL last season at just 337 yards per game.

2017 NFL West division preview

(Photo Credit: https://px1sports.com)

Wade Phillips has had plenty of success as a defensive coordinator and most recently with the Denver Broncos. With players like Robert Quinn, Michael Brockers, Conner Barwin and Aarond Donald (still in the midst of a holdout), Phillips will be able to create massive amounts of pressure on the quarterback.

Alec Ogletree and Mark Barron are pretty solid linebackers who can fly around the field to make tackles.

Trumaine Johnson is one of the best corners in the league and safety Lamarcus Joyner is an up and coming star as well. The secondary has all the makings to round out this defense and turn it into a top five unit.

Now, everyone knows how talented this defense is but the Rams will only go as far as the offense can take them. Los Angeles ranked near the bottom of every offensive category last season. To upgrade the offense, the Rams signed Andrew Whitworth to replace Greg Robinson. This is a colossal improvement at left tackle, which will really help out Jared Goff and the running game.

Speaking of the running game, Todd Gurley is on a mission to prove that last season’s down year was just a fluke. The Rams will need to run the ball well in order to be successful because it takes pressure off of Goff.

The passing game already featured dangerous weapon Tavon Austin but there were a couple more moves made to give Goff plenty of firepower in the passing game. Los Angeles drafted Cooper Kupp, signed Robert Woods and most recently, traded for stud receiver Sammy Watkins. There is no excuse for Goff to play poorly with an improved offensive line, a workhorse running back and a receiving corp filled with speed and playmakers.

With the additions made on offense, a new defensive coordinator that can turn this defense into elite and a fairly easy schedule, the Rams will be in contention for a playoff spot this season.

Prediction: 9-7 (4-2), wildcard candidate

1: Seattle Seahawks

Last season: 10-5-1

Strength of Schedule: 25

The Seahawks have one of the easiest schedules heading into the season. They might need it with the worst rated line in the NFL. Despite having such a bad offensive line, the Seahawks made the playoffs. They were unable to progress deep into the playoffs though. The offense has to improve in order for the Seahawks to become Super Bowl contenders once again.

2017 NFC West division preview

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

Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy are going to attempt to bring a great running game back to Seattle. Russell Wilson is good but the identity and key to success have been being able to run the ball. If the Seahawks do so successfully, they will be one of the most feared teams in the NFL.

Jimmy Graham is still an unstoppable red zone threat. The chemistry between Graham and Wilson has seemed to improve the more they have played together and it will lead to a big year for Graham.

The other receiving threats, Doug Baldwin and Paul Richardson, provide different playmaking abilities that compliment each other well. Baldwin is a quick receiver who can make plays both vertically or by turning a short completion into a long gain. Richardson can make spectacular catches on the outside as a deep threat.

Russell Wilson is the engine to this offense and he doesn’t get enough credit. Without him, this team wouldn’t make the playoffs. He makes good decisions on when to run and rarely turns the ball over. As long as the Seahawks have a viable running game, Wilson will have another Pro-Bowl caliber season.

The heart and soul of this team is the Legion of Boom. Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor are back to lead this defense to a top three ranking. With these three men patrolling in the secondary, teams will earn everything they get through the air because nothing comes easy against them.

The linebackers are solid as well and are headlined by Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. Up front, the Seahawks have head hunters. Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril were the only pair of defensive ends to make the Pro-Bowl. They get constant pressure on opposing offenses making it easier for the rest of the unit to play balls to the wall.

Due to the consistency of this defense over the past five seasons, it is safe to assume the Seahawks have a top three to five defense. Pair that with an offense that will have an improved running game and Pro-Bowl quarterback means the Seahawks will win the division and be one of the best teams in the NFL.

Prediction: 12-4 (4-2), divison champion

 

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2017 fantasy football wide receiver rankings: 40-31

This class of wide receivers is deeper than it has been in years for fantasy football. You can win your league with two stud running backs in the first round and take one of these wide receivers as your number one, so pay attention to this list if you’re going to take two running backs.

 

40. Randall Cobb (Green Bay Packers): In 2015, when Jordy Nelson suffered a season-ending knee injury, the demand for Randall Cobb was high. He was the No. 1 wide receiver on a high-powered Packers offense, but he didn’t live up to expectations.

He followed up his disappointing 2015 season with an even more disappointing 2016 season. Cobb had 610 receiving yards and six touchdowns, and less catches per game last season than any season since 2014.

Mike McCarthy wants Cobb to get more involved in the Packers’ offense, but with a healthy Jordy Nelson, an emerging Davante Adams and a recently acquired Martellus Bennett, targets are going to be hard to come by. Don’t draft Cobb too early, but if the price is right take him.

39. Jeremy Maclin (Baltimore Ravens): The Chiefs made the surprising move to cut Maclin this offseason. He ended up signing with the Ravens on a two-year deal. Jeremy Maclin had a disappointing season with the Chiefs but is in line for a lot of targets this season with Baltimore.

After losing their core of receivers and recently losing tight end Dennis Pitta, Jeremy Maclin is the new No. 1 receiver in Baltimore. He’s playing with a reliable (and elite, debate that in the comments if you must) quarterback in Joe Flacco, but there are some things that make Maclin unreliable.

He ranked in the bottom half of production and efficiency last season and has dealt with his fair share of injuries. He ranked 62nd in receptions and 69th in receiving yards. I have high hopes for Maclin given his current situation in Baltimore, as he has a chance to regain his No. 1 wide receiver status.

2017 fantasy football wide receiver rankings: 40-31

http://prod.static.ravens.clubs.nfl.com

38.  Pierre Garçon (San Francisco 49ers): Pierre Garçon had a bounceback season with the Washington Redskins last year. Quietly, he was one of the most productive receivers in the league last season. He ranked 16th in the league in receiving yards with 1,041 and 17th in receptions with 79. He’s now joining a revamped 49ers team led by quarterback Brian Hoyer.

Not only was Garçon one of the most productive receivers, he ranked in the top half in efficiency. Pierre Garçon was the 13th-ranked receiver in terms of yards per target and that number can increase during Garçon’s tenure in San Francisco.

All in all, I didn’t agree with his choice to leave Washington, but I do think Garçon will surprise people and keep up his production next season.

37. Devante Parker (Miami Dolphins): The long awaited breakout of Devante Parker came last season, kinda. Parker had a nice year, with 744 receiving yards and four touchdowns. He has drawn criticism from head coach Adam Gase and hasn’t fully emerged as the big receiver everyone thought he would be.

Standing at 6-foot-3, Parker should be catching more touchdowns than he did. He had only seven end zone targets which ended up as four touchdowns, which is weak for his size and role in the offense.

With Kenny Stills and Jarvis Landry on the Dolphins’ roster, there’s limited space for targets for Parker. He needs to emerge as a big end zone threat to make some noise in fantasy this season.

36. Eric Decker (Tennessee Titans): I don’t think Decker would make this list if he was still on the Jets. Riddled by injuries last season, Eric Decker never got the chance to do anything noteworthy for the Jets. But in 2015, we saw the Eric Decker that we expected. He was one of the most productive receivers in the league ranking in the top half in categories such as receptions, receiving yards, total touchdowns and fantasy points per game.

Now he heads to Tennessee to play alongside Demarco Murray and Marcus Mariota. The up-and-coming Titans offense has their new No. 1 receiver and Decker has the opportunity to regain his status from 2016.

2017 fantasy football wide receiver rankings: 40-31

https://nbcprofootballtalk.files.wordpress.com

35. Willie Snead (New Orleans Saints): Willie Snead has found success early in his career in the NFL. Snead has eclipsed 850 yards and 65 receptions in both of his seasons in the NFL so far. Playing with elite quarterback Drew Brees, Snead was the number 2/3 wide receiver for the Saints but now things have changed.

Brandin Cooks is gone but the emergence of Michael Thomas has put Snead as the No. 2 receiver. Snead won’t flash anything special in terms of efficiency and production, but one thing he is, is reliable. His reliability is what makes him so intriguing, as he’s a lock to gain 900 yards and five touchdowns. Take him as a No. 2 receiver or flex and love the numbers.

34. Desean Jackson (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): Another old face in a new place. Desean Jackson almost played a full season last year and was as explosive as ever. Jackson eclipsed 1,000 yards for Kirk Cousins and has the opportunity to be even better this year.

Most likely lining up in the slot and returning punts, Jackson has big play ability written all over him. Playing with Mike Evans and Jameis Winston, the new look Bucs have a high-powered offense and a lot of potential.

When healthy, Jackson can put up big yardage, but the only issue with him is he won’t have the touchdowns that the stud wide outs will have.

33. Brandon Marshall (New York Giants): From one New York team to the next, Brandon Marshall finds himself in a good situation with the New York Giants. He is the No. 2 wide receiver behind the top tier, two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Eli Manning.

Last season didn’t go as planned for Brandon Marshall but he’s a big bodied, reliable receiver with something left in the tank. The Giants pass on 62 percent of their plays and Marshall has the opportunity as the No. 2 receiver to see tons of targets and big plays in the red zone. The Giants weren’t great in the red zone last season, as they were successful on 51 percent of their plays, but Marshall will help in that category. Expect double digit touchdowns from Marshall this year.

2017 fantasy football wide receiver rankings: 40-31

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32. Kelvin Benjamin (Carolina Panthers): Everyone is down on Kelvin Benjamin this season and I don’t know why. He missed his sophomore season with a torn ACL, and didn’t quite rebound like everyone thought he would. He still had 941 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Those numbers were only slightly worse than his impressive 2014 rookie campaign. Keep in mind that the entire Panthers offense was out of sync last season.

Now the revamped offensive line and a healthy Cam Newton makes KB an intriguing fantasy player this year. Still the No. 1 receiver in Carolina, Kelvin is a monster and has the opportunity to be a stud this year.

31. Stefon Diggs (Minnesota Vikings): Diggs broke out as the No. 1 receiver for Minnesota last season. He had 903 yards and three touchdowns in 2016. Stefon Diggs ranked in the top 15 players in the league in terms of receptions with 84 and fantasy points per game with 13.

The Vikings did a lot to revamp their offense by bolstering the offensive line and adding rookie running back Dalvin Cook. Teddy Bridgewater won’t be under center for the Vikings this season, as he recovers form his a knee injury. Diggs won’t have double digit touchdowns due to a lack of looks in the red zone, but 1,000 yards is very possible as he is a clear WR2.

 

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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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