2018 fantasy football composite rankings: TE

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

Tiebreakers were decided by both Joe and Braxton.

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

Here are the composite tight end rankings:

Tight End Rankings: 1-10

1. Rob Gronkowski- New England Patriots

Braxton’s rank: 1

Joe’s rank: 1

2. Zach Ertz- Philadelphia Eagles

Braxton’s rank: 2

Joe’s rank: 2

3. Travis Kelce- Kansas City Chiefs

Braxton’s rank: 3

Joe’s rank: 4

4. Greg Olsen- Carolina Panthers

Braxton’s rank: 5

Joe’s rank: 4

5. Evan Engram- New York Giants

Braxton’s rank: 4

Joe’s rank: 6

6. Hunter Henry- Los Angeles Chargers

Braxton’s rank: 6

Joe’s rank: 5

7. Delanie Walker- Tennessee Titans

Braxton’s rank: 7

Joe’s rank: 9

8. Kyle Rudolph- Minnesota Vikings

Braxton’s rank: 8

Joe’s rank: 8

9. Jimmy Graham- Green Bay Packers

Braxton’s rank: 10

Joe’s rank: 7

10. Jordan Reed- Washington Redskins

Braxton’s rank: 12

Joe’s rank: 11

Tight End Rankings: 11-20

11. Jack Doyle- Indianapolis Colts

Braxton’s rank: 16

Joe’s rank: 10

12. Trey Burton- Chicago Bears

Braxton’s rank: 11

Joe’s rank: 15

13. Tyler Eifert- Cincinnati Bengals

Braxton’s rank: 14

Joe’s rank: 12

14. Benjamin Watson- New Orleans Saints

Braxton’s rank: 13

Joe’s rank: 14

15. O.J. Howard- Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Braxton’s rank: 9

Joe’s rank: 19

16. Charles Clay- Buffalo Bills

Braxton’s rank: 18

Joe’s rank: 13

17. Jared Cook- Oakland Raiders

Braxton’s rank: 20

Joe’s rank: 16

18. David Njoku- Cleveland Browns

Braxton’s rank: 15

Joe’s rank: 21

19. Austin Seferian-Jenkins- Jacksonville Jaguars

Braxton’s rank: 19

Joe’s rank: 24

20. George Kittle- San Francisco 49ers

Braxton’s rank: 23

Joe’s rank: 20

Tight End Rankings: 21-30

21. Cameron Brate- Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Braxton’s rank: 26

Joe’s rank: 17

22. Hayden Hurst- Baltimore Ravens

Braxton’s rank: 17

Joe’s rank: 26

23. Austin Hooper- Atlanta Falcons

Braxton’s rank: 27

Joe’s rank: 18

24. Eric Ebron- Indianapolis Colts

Braxton’s rank: 22

Joe’s rank: 23

25. Mike Gesicki- Miami Dolphins

Braxton’s rank: 21

Joe’s rank: 22

26. Dalton Schultz- Dallas Cowboys

Braxton’s rank: 24

Joe’s rank: 27

27. Ricky Seals-Jones- Arizona Cardinals

Braxton’s rank: 28

Joe’s rank: 28

28. Gerald Everett- Los Angeles Rams

Braxton’s rank: 30

Joe’s rank: 30

29. Vance McDonald- Pittsburgh Steelers

Braxton’s rank: N/A

Joe’s rank: 22

30. Tyler Kroft- Cincinnati Bengals

Braxton’s rank: 30

Joe’s rank: N/A

 

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2018 fantasy football tight end rankings

2018 Fantasy football tight end rankings

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

Tight End Rankings: 1-10

1. Rob Gronkowski – New England Patriots

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

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

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

2. Zach Ertz – Philadelphia Eagles

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

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

3. Travis Kelce – Kansas City Chiefs

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

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

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

4. Evan Engram – New York Giants

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

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

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

5. Greg Olsen – Carolina Panthers

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

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

6. Hunter Henry – Los Angeles Chargers

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

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

7. Delanie Walker – Tennessee Titans

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

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

8. Kyle Rudolph – Minnesota Vikings

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

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

9. O.J. Howard – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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

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

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

10. Jimmy Graham – Green Bay Packers

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

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

Tight End Rankings: 11-20

11. Trey Burton – Chicago Bears

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

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

12. Jordan Reed – Washington Redskins

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

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

13. Ben Watson – New Orleans Saints

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

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

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

14. Tyler Eifert – Cincinnati Bengals

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

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

15. David Njoku – Cleveland Browns

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

16. Jack Doyle – Indianapolis Colts

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

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

17. Hayden Hurst – Baltimore Ravens

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

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

18. Charles Clay – Buffalo Bills

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

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

19. Austin-Seferian Jenkins – Jacksonville Jaguars

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

20. Jared Cook – Oakland Raiders

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

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

Tight End Rankings: 21-30

21. Mike Gesicki – Miami Dolphins

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

22. Eric Ebron – Indianapolis Colts

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

23. George Kittle – San Francisco 49ers

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

24. Dalton Shultz – Dallas Cowboys

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

25. Dallas Goedert – Philadelphia Eagles

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

26. Cameron Brate – Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

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

27. Austin Hooper – Atlanta Falcons

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

28. Ricky-Seals Jones – Arizona Cardinals

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

29. Tyler Kroft – Cincinnati Bengals

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

30. Gerald Everett – Los Angeles Rams

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

 

Featured image from USA Today

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

2018 fantasy football TE rankings

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

Tight End Rankings: 1-10

1. Rob Gronkowski- New England Patriots

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

2. Zach Ertz- Philadelphia Eagles

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

3. Travis Kelce- Kansas City Chiefs

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

Greg Olsen catching pass

Greg Olsen (Photo by panthers.com)

4. Greg Olsen- Carolina Panthers

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

5. Hunter Henry- Los Angeles Chargers

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

6. Evan Engram- New York Giants

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

7. Jimmy Graham- Green Bay Packers

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

8. Kyle Rudolph- Minnesota Vikings

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

9. Delanie Walker- Tennessee Titans

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

10. Jack Doyle- Indianapolis Colts

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

Tight End rankings: 11-20

11. Jordan Reed- Washington Redskins

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

2018 fantasy football TE rankings

Tyler Eifert (Photo by wcpo.com)

12. Tyler Eifert- Cincinnati Bengals

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

13. Charles Clay- Buffalo Bills

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

14. Benjamin Watson- New Orleans Saints

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

15. Trey Burton- Chicago Bears

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

16. Jared Cook- Oakland Raiders

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

17. Cameron Brate- Tampa Buccaneers

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

18. Austin Hooper- Atlanta Falcons

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

19. O.J. Howard- Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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

20. George Kittle- San Francisco 49ers

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

Tight End rankings: 21-30

21. David Njoku- Cleveland Browns

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

Vance McDonald Steelers

Vance McDonald (Photo by steelers.com)

22. Vance McDonald- Pittsburgh Steelers

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

23. Eric Ebron- Indianapolis Colts

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

24. Austin Seferian-Jenkins- Jacksonville Jaguars

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

25. Mike Gesicki- Miami Dolphins

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

26. Hayden Hurst- Baltimore Ravens

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

27. Dalton Schultz- Dallas Cowboys

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

28. Ricky Seals-Jones- Arizona Cardinals

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

29. Ryan Griffin- Houston Texans

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

30. Gerald Everett- Los Angeles Rams

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

 

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Kansas City Chiefs 2018 NFL Draft profile

The 2018 NFL Draft is less than one week 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 2018 Kansas City Chiefs NFL Draft profile.

Summary

Kansas City Chiefs 2018 NFL Draft profile

Patrick Mahomes (Photo by arrowheadaddict.com)

The Kansas City Chiefs won 10 games and the AFC West last season but lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Tennessee Titans. It was a good season for the Chiefs, but there have been and will be more changes to the roster before next season starts.

The offense ranked in the top 10 in both passing and rushing yards per game and sixth in points per game at 25.9. Alex Smith led the offense last year, but has been traded to the Washington Redskins. That means Patrick Mahomes will take over. The gun-slinging rookie passed for 284 yards and an interception in his only game of last season. He will have to step up big time in his second season.

Mahomes will have some of the fastest receivers in the game to throw to between Tyreek Hill and newly acquired Sammy Watkins. On the inside, Travis Kelce is one of the best tight ends in the game and should act as a safe set of hands for Mahomes to throw to. Kareem Hunt had a fantastic rookie season and will be back to provide a good running game and a solid receiver out of the backfield. The offensive line will need some bolstering before through the draft.

The defense was average last season ranking 15th in points per game allowed at 21.2. Through offseason moves, the defense will also look a little different next season as well.

Marcus Peters was traded for draft picks. Kendall Fuller and David Amerson were both acquired this offseason and will start at the corners. Eric Berry will return from his torn Achilles to play safety. It is difficult to come back physically from this injury so he’ll have to rely on his instincts more than ever. Outside of him there isn’t much safety talent on the roster.

Anthony Hitchens was brought in from Dallas to play one of the inside linebacker positions, while Reggie Ragland mans the other. Dee Ford and Justin Houston are good pass rushers from the outside linebacker spots. Chris Jones is a good 3-4 defensive end, but more is needed on the defensive line.

A lot has changed with the Chiefs, but with the right moves in the draft and new faces living up to their potential, they can make the playoffs once again.

Picks and Needs

The Chiefs have eight picks in the 2018 NFL Draft, but are without a first-round selection this year.

First round (0 picks):

Second round (1): 54

Third round (2): 78, 86

Fourth round (2): 122, 124

Fifth round (0):

Sixth round (1): 209

Seventh round (2): 233, 243

Offensive needs:

Guard- Zach Fulton is now a Texan and needs to be replaced. If they want Hunt to have another successful season, they need to find a good, physical guard in this draft.

Tackle- Eric Fisher hasn’t lived up to expectations after being the first overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. He likely won’t be replaced in this draft, but a developmental tackle might be selected to eventually take over.

Defensive needs:

Edge Rusher- Houston is aging and Ford didn’t have as good of a season as last year. Outside of these two there isn’t much in terms of a pass rusher on the roster.

Nose Tackle- Xavier Williams was signed, but if he doesn’t work out another nose tackle will be needed.

Safety- Berry is coming off the Achilles injury and the rest of the safeties on the roster aren’t great.

Targets

Kansas City Chiefs 2018 NFL Draft profile

Orlando Brown (Photo by Sbnation.com)

Second round: 

Pick No. 54: Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma

Brown had a bad combine, but his tape over the last few seasons at Oklahoma was good. He has been falling down most mock drafts, but if he falls to the Chiefs, they can select him and develop him into a solid left tackle. A good left tackle will be needed to protect Mahomes as he develops.

Third round:

Pick No. 78: Tim Settle, DT/NT, Virginia Tech

Settle is another prospect that didn’t have the best combine, but could be a steal in the draft. He is the perfect fit for the Chiefs’ 3-4 defense at nose tackle. With better technique and a little more quickness, Settle can become a solid player at the NFL level.

Pick No. 86: Frank Ragnow, C/G, Arkansas

Ragnow can play either guard or center, but can start right away in the right situation. This fits an area of need for the Chiefs and could pay off big time if he plays up to his potential.

 

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Patrick Mahomes Kansas City Chiefs

2018 is a make or break season for the Chiefs

One move that has not gotten enough attention this NFL offseason is Kansas City’s decision to send quarterback Alex Smith to the Redskins. The trade was constructed during Super Bowl week. Maybe that is why it seemed to fly under the radar.

The franchise is now in the hands of second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The former Texas Tech gunslinger has a big arm and lots of raw talent, but here are the reasons why he and the entire Kansas City organization are perhaps under the most pressure in the entire league.

Alex Smith was effective in Kansas City

Smith is a prime example of what many fans and even those within the NFL tend to forget these days. The most important thing is winning games, and there is more than one way to go about doing that.

Patrick Mahomes Kansas City Chiefs

(Photo from espn.com)

He was not blessed with a rocket arm, computer like mind or outstanding ability to scramble. This means he has never put up video game numbers like 30 touchdown passes or 5,000 passing yards in a season. Therefore, he has always ended up being replaced for a more eye-catching talent.

However, Kansas City never posted a losing record under the guidance of Smith in five seasons and made the playoffs four times. The former first overall pick never threw more than eight interceptions in a season with the Chiefs. Moreover, last season was his best in many ways. He posted career highs in passer rating, passing yards and touchdown passes.

It is clear that the Chiefs made the choice to replace Smith after their long stretch of playoff heartbreak continued last year. Like any other quarterback, Smith has benefited from being surrounded by some outstanding talent over the years both on the field and on the sidelines. At the end of last year though, some of that supporting cast let Smith down.

Last year’s playoff loss had almost nothing to do with Smith. Only Andy Reid and then offensive coordinator Matt Nagy know why they only ran the ball a handful of times in the second half despite having a 21-3 halftime lead. Throw in a defense that suddenly could not figure out how to stop Tennessee from running the ball down their throat and that is why the playoff heartbreak continued. After a loss like that, changes need to be made, but there is a fine line between that and taking risks that some might call unnecessary.

Smith is being replaced by a total unknown

There is no such thing as a “rebuilding mode” in the NFL. You are either winning or losing. The Chiefs have spent the majority of the last five years winning, but have yet to make a real run at a Lombardi Trophy.

Keeping Smith around would have guaranteed this team being in the mix in December in the upcoming season. Who knows what can happen from there. The rest of the AFC West is not particularly good at the moment.

Instead, the Chiefs chose to replace perhaps the biggest reason why the franchise has won 51 games over the last five years with a guy who has made one career start. When it is spelled out like that, you get a better idea of the magnitude of the gamble Kansas City is taking.

Patrick Mahomes Kansas City Chiefs

(Photo from bleacherreport.com)

We all know what an inexact science evaluating young quarterbacks is. Anyone who tells you that they have any idea if Mahomes can succeed as a long-term starter in this league after a single start is lying.

Some might argue that the only way to see if Mahomes can play is to make him the starter, but Kansas City had a more proven commodity in their building in Smith. If you have a more proven commodity that is still playing reasonably well, it is difficult to replace him with an unproven commodity at any position. To do so at quarterback when Smith was not costing the Chiefs a fortune is almost unheard of. Even the great quarterbacks experience some growing pains early on.

The Chiefs cannot afford growing pains

Mahomes will have the advantage of being surrounded by a deep stable of running backs and two elite pass catchers in Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. If new acquisition Sammy Watkins can stay healthy, the Chiefs could have one of the most talented supporting casts in the NFL. The defense will look a little bit different, but should still be pretty good.

This is a team built to win now and should not be trying to develop a young quarterback. For the bold move to be deemed a success, Mahomes needs to lead the Chiefs as far for further than Smith ever did. That means getting to the playoffs and winning a game or two in his first year as a starter. Anything less than that, and some heads could roll in Kansas City.

That is a tough position for Mahomes to be in, even though he has a supporting cast that most quarterbacks around would kill for. The weight of the world is on his shoulders this upcoming season.

 

Featured image from sbnation.com

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Week 9 DFS don'ts

Week 9 DFS don’ts: Report card

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

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

Quarterback: 4/6

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

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

Running Back: 4/6

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

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

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

Wide Receiver: 4/6

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

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

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

Tight End: 3/5

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

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

Kicker: 1/3

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

Defense: 2/3

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

Overall Score: 18/29

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

 

Featured image from Grizzly Bear Blues

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week 9 DFS don'ts

Week 9 DFS don’ts: Tight end

In week eight we saw some of the leagues most productive tight ends take a step back. Zach Ertz and Rob Gronkowski managed to score, but only produced 11.4 and 14.2 respectively. While that’s great for seasonal fantasy teams, those point totals don’t get it done in DFS given their high price. Other players like Hunter Henry and Austin Seferian-Jenkins came up short. Let’s figure out which land mines we need to avoid in the tight end edition of week 9 DFS don’ts.

Travis Kelce: FanDuel Price $7,000

Kelce is in a unique position. He plays on a great offense crafted by Andy Reid and executed to near perfection by Alex Smith. This offense features one player at each position that is fantasy relevant; however, that doesn’t always mean they will produce. For example, Kelce had a great game Monday against Denver. For most DFS players, we knew it was a great spot for him. The way to beat Denver is to attack the middle of the field and avoid their corners.

Conversely, Kelce had a great matchup against the Raiders and their weak secondary and did not produce. Instead, it was Tyreek Hill’s turn to produce. Essentially, Reid designs new plays each week for certain players instead of just targeting them in the normal context of their offense. For example, they would continually flex out Kelce and have three wide receivers to the opposite side. This would force a safety to play one-on-one with Kelce and that’s the formation that he was able to score on.

Statistically, Kelce has been inconsistent week to week. He has three single digit point outings, including a 0.6 point game against the Chargers. He’s gotten more consistent since week five; however, he faces a Cowboys secondary that has been stingy against tight ends. Byron Jones, will likely be guarding Kelce this weekend. He’s currently ranked as a top 50 safety overall according to Pro Football Focus, but is a top 25 safety purely in coverage. This is more of a gut feeling than anything else. After quiet games from Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill, I think those players see the majority of the production this weekend. Travis Kelce makes his first appearance in this series on my week 9 DFS don’ts.

Jimmy Graham: FanDuel Price $6,200

week 9 DFS don'ts

Jimmy Graham has been a touchdown machine the last two weeks, but is his success sustainable moving forward with Paul Richardson and Tyler Lockett carving out larger roles? (Courtesy of 247 Sports)

Ughh Jimmy Graham. He was the bane of my DFS existence in week 7. He should have posted a 20 plus point game, but his hands did not allow him to. In week 8, Graham managed to benefit from an awful chop block by Thomas Rawls, which also took away points from my Rusell Wilson to Paul Richardson stack. So, without a fluke penalty, Graham is only targeted four times and loses at least 6.5 points as a result of that one play.

To be fair, Graham is immensely talented as a pass catcher despite his recent woes with drops. And, he plays on an offense with absolutely zero threat of a run game. His placement on the week 9 DFS don’ts list is simply because there are better options in this price range.

Evan Engram is only $100 more expensive and is the number one pass catching threat on his team. You could also pivot down to a Jack Doyle or Jared Cook. It’s evident that Doyle has earned the trust of his quarterback, and Cook has a great matchup Sunday night against the Dolphins.

Ryan Griffin: FanDuel Price $5,200

This pick falls in line with my Cody Parkey reminder in yesterday’s piece. If you are paying down at tight end please don’t waste your time with Ryan Griffin. Deshaun Watson has established that he wants to throw the ball down the field to his wide receivers. Since DeAndre Hopkins see more than 30% of Watson’s targets, there simply isn’t enough opportunity for Griffin at this point. Yes, he has a great matchup against this Colts secondary, but then again, so does every Texans pass catcher. Better options in this price range include Vernon Davis at $5,400 and Ed Dickson at $4,900. Griffin joins Kelce and Graham on my week 9 DFS don’ts list.

 

Featured Image Courtesy of Kansas City Chiefs

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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NFL MVP and Coach of the Year Candidates

The smell of pumpkin is in the air, the leaves are starting to fall and Halloween stores are getting ready to sell out. It’s October, and we are already a quarter of the way done with the NFL regular season. If the season ended today, the following players and coaches would be in line to earn the NFL’s biggest awards.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

Kareem Hunt

Imagine if Spencer Ware didn’t get injured in the preseason. We would have been missing out on some miraculous numbers to say the least. Kareem Hunt is just flat out special. After fumbling on his first ever NFL touch, Hunt has turned into a monster.

Obviously, it is extremely rare for a non-quarterback to win this award. Of the last ten winners, Adrian Peterson is the only running back to win the award. Peterson won in 2012, when he rushed for over 2,000 yards. Through four weeks, Hunt’s 502 rushing yards has him on pace to be a 2,000-yard rusher.

Hunt is averaging a league-leading 125.5 yards per game on the ground. His 659 yards from scrimmage have him on pace to shatter the all-time record for yards from scrimmage in a season. That’s right, Hunt is on pace to reach 2,636 yards, which would eclipse Chris Johnson’s record of 2,509.

Hunt is averaging 7.4 yards per carry, which has never been done through four weeks when a running back has at least 50 carries. He is also nearly impossible to tackle, as his 25 broken tackles leads the NFL. The best stat about Hunt is, if we only counted his second half rushing yards, he would still lead the NFL in rushing. The Chiefs have yet to lose a game, and although Alex Smith looks good, Kareem Hunt is the main reason for their success.

Todd Gurley

NFL MVP coach year candidates

Todd Gurley can do it all for LA (Huffington Post)

Because of Kareem Hunt, Todd Gurley is not getting nearly the amount of love that he deserves. Yes, people are talking about the Rams and Sean McVay changing the culture, but what Gurley is doing is absolutely remarkable. Not only is he dominating on the ground, but Gurley also is playing like an elite receiver.

Gurley is second in rushing yards, second in rushing touchdowns, second in rushing yards per game and first in first downs converted. He is more efficient on the ground than last year, and his receiving numbers are up there with legit number one wide receivers.

Gurley is fourth in receiving touchdowns, tied for 20th in catches, and is top 25 in terms of receiving yards. Through four weeks, Todd Gurley has more receptions than Julio Jones, Demaryius Thomas and T.Y. Hilton.

The former Georgia star is on pace for 80 receptions, which would shatter his previous high of 43. His seven total touchdowns lead all players. Gurley is making Jared Goff look like a franchise quarterback.

Tom Brady

Unfortunately, Tom Brady cannot play both sides of the ball. The Patriots defense, which has allowed more total yards than anyone in the league, is the real reason why the Pats sit at 2-2. Brady is doing just fine. He currently sits first in passing touchdowns with 10, is second in passer rating, first in passing yards and first in adjusted yards gained per pass attempt. Brady also has yet to throw an interception.

This is all without his favorite target, Julian Edelman, who is done for the season. The 40-year-old legend is playing out of his mind, and shows no signs of slowing down. For the Patriots’ sake, let’s hope their defense doesn’t end up in the history books as one of the worst defenses of all time. No seriously, New England is on pace to dethrone the 2012 Saints record for most yards allowed in a season.

Aaron Rodgers

Arguably the most gifted quarterback in league history, Aaron Rodgers is off to a superb start, and he has his Packers at 3-1. Rodgers is no stranger to this award, winning it back in 2011 and 2014. In 2014, Green Bay started out 2-2 and Rodgers had nine touchdowns. This year, Rodgers has 10 touchdowns, and is completing 66.9 percent of his passes, which would be his third most efficient season in his career.

Rodgers is tied with Brady for passing touchdowns, but also has been sacked 15 times, which is third most in the league. If Rodgers wants a shot at a third MVP, the Packers better learn how to protect him. In his two MVP seasons, Rodgers was sacked 36 and 28 times. He is on pace for 60 in 2017.

AP COACH OF THE YEAR

Sean McVay

NFL MVP coach year candidates

Sean McVay and the Rams sit atop the NFC West at 3-1 (Washington Post)

This time last year, the Rams were also 3-1. In the next 12 weeks, they would go on to win only one more game. For some reason, this year’s 3-1 feels a little different. The youngest head coach in the NFL has changed the culture in Los Angeles.

In 2016, the Rams finished dead last in points, yards and first downs. Under McVay, they are currently the highest-scoring offense and fifth in the league in yards. Everyone assumed Jared Goff would be a bust, and now, in a legit offense, he looks like a franchise guy. Todd Gurley is being used in the passing game, and Tavon Austin is finally running plays that best fit his style and skillset.

After going into Dallas and winning, it will be interesting to see if the Rams can beat Seattle this week, as they have defeated the Seahawks in their last three home matchups. McVay is the clear frontrunner for this award, as he took over a middle school offense, and has the Rams atop the NFC West.

Andy Reid

Andy Reid has a track record of regular season success, so this comes to no surprise. The only undefeated team left, Andy Reid has the Chiefs playing great all-around football. It will be interesting to see if Kareem Hunt and Alex Smith can continue to play essentially flawless football, but Reid has clearly put these men in position for success.

The shovel pass to Travis Kelce seems unstoppable and Reid knows exactly when to use it. Smith and Hunt will most likely come back down to Earth, and Kansas City’s defense is not great, but they are 4-0 and Andy Reid has not mismanaged a game yet with a timeout call.

Jim Caldwell

Last year, the Lions defense ranked 28th in takeaways and 31st in passing touchdowns allowed. Approaching week 5, Detroit is first in takeaways, and fourth in passing touchdowns allowed. They haven’t played scrubs either. These are stats against guys like Matt Ryan, Eli Manning and Carson Palmer. Detroit is one yard away from being undefeated, and if their defense can keep playing like this, the Lions could surprise a lot of people. Great start for Jim Caldwell.

 

Featured image by Sporting News

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Chiefs Patriots fantasy football

What we learned about the Chiefs and Patriots in fantasy

We saw the unexpected on the opening night of the NFL season. The Kansas City Chiefs exploded in the second half and won 42-27 against the defending champion New England Patriots.

From a fantasy football perspective, we saw quarterback Alex Smith and rookie running back Kareem Hunt go out on a tear along with wide receiver Tyreek Hill. While this gives hope for fantasy owners to start Chiefs offensive players more then they did in the preseason, I warn those owners not to expect this on a weekly basis. For those who are worried about the Patriots offense, don’t panic.

Patriots Defense most of the Blame

As I say again, the Patriots were looking like the typical Patriots in the first half. Then things changed in the second half. Part of that is because of the Patriots defense.

Chiefs Patriots fantasy football

Tom Brady (Photo by: usatoday.com)

Their defense isn’t anything special, unlike their offense. They finished 19th in fantasy points in 2016.

They added cornerback Stephon Gilmore this offseason to play alongside Malcolm Butler. They also have Dont’a Hightower at linebacker. It’s not a great defense, it’s a good defense.

They were liked by many this week because of the matchup. The Chiefs aren’t known for an explosive offense, especially in the passing game, which finished 19th in yards per game.

They had a rookie running back starting the game. The Pats made defensive plays in the first half getting a fumble recovery. Then the Chiefs made big plays, including two deep passes for touchdowns. This made the offense play catch up with a group Brady hasn’t played with much.

Don’t panic about the patriots offensive players

I don’t think the Patriots playing catch up is the reason for some of the struggles. They did it down 28-3 in the Super Bowl. I think some of it is because of Brady having different targets he’s not used to yet.

He didn’t have Julian Edelman, someone he relies on. Brady did have Rob Gronkowski, who was a non-factor with two catches for 33 yards. He did do well with Danny Amendola, who had six catches for 100 yards and Brandin Cooks caught three passes for 88 yards. Cooks proved he can be a dependable WR1. As for Amendola, he suffered a concussion, which seems repetitive because he does well and gets hurt all the time.

Chiefs Patriots fantasy football

Mike Gillislee (Photo by: bostonherald.com)

As for the running backs, Mike Gillislee was the man, scoring three times on 45 yards. Rex Burkhead got the first two snaps, but he only played eight more snaps the rest of the game. James White had a decent performance, rushing the ball 10 times for 38 yards while hauling in three of his five targets for 30 yards.

All in all, four running backs combined for 34 touches in Week 1, and that could be reality all season. Gillislee is the one to own, but White should be a must-own too, especially after getting 10 rushing attempts.

Keep in mind they have a guy named Bill Belichick. The genius will find a way for this not to happen again. I also stress the fact they did play a defense who finished second in fantasy points for defense/special teams.

Don’t expect this from the Chiefs offensive fantasy players every week

I think this is understood, saying the Chiefs won’t play like this every week. But let’s give credit where it’s due. Smith, Hunt and Hill were dominant this week. Again, don’t expect this week in and week out.

Smith may have had the best game I’ve seen a quarterback have against the Patriots in a while. He completed 28 of 35 passes for 368 yards and four touchdowns in Thursday’s win. He also completed two 70-plus-yard touchdown passes and rarely seemed flustered the entire night.

This doesn’t make Smith a must-start every week, so don’t get your hopes up. All you need from players is one good week and he gets more looks. This makes receivers like Hill and Travis Kelce more dependable given Smith’s play. Given the right matchup, he could be a start for teams with quarterback troubles.

Chiefs Patriots fantasy football

Kareem Hunt (Photo by: sbnation.com)

Hunt owners were frighted when he fumbled on his first run, something he didn’t do at all in college. He didn’t let that rattle him like many other rookies though. He went on a tear and racked up 246 yards of total offense: 148 rushing yards on 17 carries with a touchdown and 98 receiving yards with two more scores on five receptions.

It’s safe to say running back by committee is toned down a bit. This is his job now. Though this might end up Hunt’s best game of the season, so we shouldn’t overreact and expect him to be an elite back just yet. Hunt should be a high flex play or RB2 play for weeks to come.

Hill had seven receptions on eight targets for 133 yards and a touchdown on Thursday. He also carried the ball twice for five yards. It’s safe to say Hill exploded in the first game. He looked impressive, burning corners to get open deep down the field and hauling in passes in traffic. Hill is a solid WR1 for now as he has silenced his critics for the time being.

It’s just Week 1

In conclusion, it’s just week 1. We see players who we expect to do well struggle and the unexpected from some players. Don’t read too much into what you saw from Thursday’s game. There’s many weeks still to go.

There’s many things still to come for the 2017 fantasy season. One bit of advice that I can give is enjoy it.

 

Featured image from si.com.

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NFL top 100 players 2017: 40-31

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 seventh installment, containing players 40-31.

40. Jordan Howard, RB, Chicago Bears

NFL Top 100

Jordan Howard (photo by sports.yahoo.com)

Howard had a great rookie season for the Bears that not a lot of people saw coming. He didn’t get to play in week one and got limited carries in weeks two and three before bursting onto the scene in week four with 111 rushing yards against Detroit. He finished 2016 with 1,313 rushing yards and six touchdowns.

Year two will give Howard the opportunity of more reps in practice and more carries in games, which should both help his productivity. Howard goes into 2017 as the lead back and will get a chance at a full season as the starter. He has some good blockers up front in Cody Whitehair, Josh Sitton and Kyle Long (#57). Most teams will be focusing on trying to stop him because Alshon Jeffrey left in free agency and Mike Glennon and Mitch Trubisky are unproven.

The focal point of the offense will be Howard and after a good rookie season, he will have to carry the load for the Bears’ offense.

Comments: “If he was on a better team his ranking might be higher. That being said he had a great rookie year. If he can repeat it expect to see him climb up quickly.”- Robert Hanes

39. Fletcher Cox, DT, Philadelphia Eagles

NFL Top 100

Fletcher Cox (photo by mcall.com)

After making his second straight Pro Bowl in 2016, Cox will be looking to have another good year in 2017. He finished the 2016 season with 43 total tackles, 6.5 sacks, two passes defended, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.

Cox isn’t one of the first guys who come to mind when thinking of the best defensive players in the NFL, but not everything he does shows up on the stat sheet. He is good against the run and he tag-teams with Brandon Graham (#65) to give the Eagles a very formidable pass rush. The Philadelphia defense has gotten much better since Chip Kelly left, but Cox was even productive when he was the head coach.

There are a lot of uncertainties in the NFL, but if Fletcher Cox is on your team, you feel confident that there will be a disruptive force in the middle of the defensive line.

Comments: “It doesn’t always show up in his numbers, but Cox is a player that makes the rest of the defense better due to how much chaos he causes. He could be ranked higher and it would be justified.”-Joe DiTullio

38. Matt Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions

NFL Top 100

Matthew Stafford (Photo by nypost.com)

Stafford takes some heat for being a gunslinger, but he had a very good year in 2016, without his favorite target Calvin Johnson, who elected to retire rather than play for the Lions. His 2016 campaign led him into some MVP discussions, which should have Lions’ fans optimistic about 2017. Last season he threw for 4,327 yards, 24 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions.

Although he doesn’t have Johnson anymore, Stafford does have some unique weapons. Golden Tate and Marvin Jones Jr. provide two good targets, albeit not great. His running backs, Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah can both catch passes out of the backfield to help Stafford out. The offensive line didn’t stand out last season, but the Lions did sign T.J. Lang to help bolster it.

The post-Calvin Johnson era started off with a playoff berth and a good season from Stafford, so more good things should be expected in year two.

Comments: “Stafford had an MVP type season in 2016. He showed better decision making without Calvin Johnson on the field. How the Lions made the playoffs last year is beyond me. Stafford was a magician for Detroit and elevated their level of play. The Lions probably won’t make the playoffs in 2017, but Stafford will be a good quarterback once again.”-Joe DiTullio

37. Marshall Yanda, OG, Baltimore Ravens

NFL Top 100

Marshall Yanda (Photo by baltimoresun.com)

Interior offensive linemen are often forgotten, but Yanda has been very good for a long time. He only played in 13 games, but still made his sixth Pro Bowl team. Yanda has moved all over the offensive line during his career but has been dominant since settling in at guard.

While the rushing offense hasn’t been good the last few seasons, it isn’t because of Yanda’s blocking. He helped Baltimore rank in the top half of the league in sacks allowed. The passing offense will be good once again, but the Ravens will likely struggle on the ground in 2017.

Yanda will once again be fighting an uphill battle on the interior of the offensive line trying to get the run offense going, but he will do his job well.

Comments: “Offensive lineman never truly get the love or recognition they deserve. Yanda is right up there with Zach Martin as the best guard in all of football. He deserves to be in the top 15 and maybe even the top 10.” -Matthew Hagan

36. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

NFL Top 100

Travis Kelce (photo by chiefs.com)

Kelce has turned into one of the best tight ends in the NFL over the last few seasons. In 2016 Kelce led all tight ends in receiving yards with 1,125 on 85 receptions and four touchdowns. On an offense that isn’t seen as the most dynamic, Kelce has helped make it productive.

The Chiefs’ offense is going to look different in 2017 without Jeremy Maclin and Jamal Charles, which will mean Kelce, along with Tyreek Hill, will be the focal points of the offense. Alex Smith is known for liking to check down and Kelce is able to get open and get yards after the catch, making it a perfect fit. If the Chiefs are successful on offense in 2017, Kelce will be a main reason why.

He is entering his fifth season in the league and has already made two Pro Bowls and an All-Pro team, but he isn’t done yet.

Comments: “I would pay a lot of money to see Kelce with Brady, Rodgers, Brees or any other top quarterbacks in the game. He is a beast and it is unbelievable that he puts up these numbers with Alex Smith. He is rated pretty well although I do think with a better quarterback he could be even better.” -Matthew Hagan

35. Vic Beasley Jr., OLB, Atlanta Falcons

NFL Top 100

Vic Beasley Jr. (photo by si.com)

In his second year in the pros, Beasley developed into a great player that helped lead the Falcons to the Super Bowl. He led the NFL in sacks with 15.5 and added 39 total tackles, six forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one touchdown.

Beasley improved a lot from year one to year two and a lot should be expected of him in year three. He does have a lot of areas of his game to improve, but Beasley is great at the main thing he was drafted to do: sacking the quarterback. His ability to do that made the Falcons a much better team in 2016.

He has a lot to build on in 2017 and if he continues to get to the quarterback, he will rise up this list.

Comments: “The single biggest reason for Atlanta’s run to a near Super Bowl win last year was an improved pass rush. Beasley will have to lead the defensive charge again this year for the Falcons to go one step further” -Dylan Streibig

34. Zack Martin, OG, Dallas Cowboys

NFL Top 100

Zack Martin (Photo by dallascowboys.com)

Martin has been a great player from day one in the NFL. In his three seasons he has made the Pro Bowl each year and has been an All-Pro twice. He has been a key part on one of the best offensive lines in the NFL since his rookie season in 2014.

Dallas had the second most rushing yards in the NFL in 2016, in large part thanks to Martin. In addition to blocking for a great rushing offense, Marting helped the Dallas offensive line give up just 28 sacks, which tied for seventh in the NFL in 2016.

He hasn’t missed a game in his NFL career thus far and in 2017 he will continue to open up gaping holes for the Cowboys.

Comments: “Martin is the best guard in the game and could even be ranked higher than this, but interior offensive line play isn’t appreciated. He hasn’t missed a start in his three seasons and has helped make the ground game explosive for the Cowboys.”-Joe DiTullio

33. Travis Frederick, C, Dallas Cowboys

NFL Top 100

Travis Frederick (Photo by insidethepylon.com)

Back to back Cowboys’ offensive linemen make the list. He has been in the league for four seasons, made three Pro Bowls and one All-Pro team. During his first four seasons Frederick has evolved into one of, if not the best center in the NFL.

While he similarly helped the Dallas rush offense, Frederick really helped get rookie quarterback Dak Prescott acclimated to the NFL. He made all of the checks for the offensive line and no doubt helped take a lot off of Prescott’s plate. A center’s biggest job is to make checks and to be the smartest offensive lineman in the unit and Frederick has that down.

Frederick will continue to make good checks and block well in 2017.

Comments: “Frederick was seen as a reach by the Cowboys when they selected him, but he has been superb so far in his career. He is the best center in the game and even Dak Prescott has made comments about how smart Frederick is. He anchors one of the best offensive lines in football.”-Joe DiTullio

32. Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers

NFL Top 100

Cam Newton (Photo by nydailytimes.com)

If this list were based on 2016, then Newton may not be as high. The 2017 season gives Newton an opportunity to rebound from his lackluster season. He finished 2016 with 3,509 passing yards, 19 touchdowns and 14 touchdowns on 52% completion. While his passing numbers were bad, Newton’s rushing numbers were the lowest in his career as well.

He should be helped by new members of the offense in 2017: Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel. Greg Olsen will continue to be a threat at tight end, but there are some concerns about Kelvin Benjamin, who is trying to cut weight. The new weapons, along with the old ones, should help Newton get better, but he will need to play like he did in 2015 to be considered one of the best in the league again.

Newton and his new weapons will get on the same page and make the Panthers’ offense return to its 2015 form.

Comments: “I am sick of all the Cam Newton haters. Newton came into the NFL shattering passing records for young quarterbacks. He has changed the Panthers organization, won an MVP and led his team to a Super Bowl appearance all in just six seasons. Cam is better and deserves to be much higher on this list” -Matthew Hagan

31. Kam Chancellor, S, Seattle Seahawks

NFL Top 100

Kam Chancellor (Photo by bleacherreport.com)

He only played in 12 games in 2016, but Chancellor still had a huge impact. In 2016 he had 81 total tackles, eight passes defended and two interceptions.

Chancellor has had continued success at strong safety for the “Legion of Boom”. He helped Seattle rank eighth in passing yards allowed. He can cover tight ends well and help stop the run. Receivers are conscious of where Chancellor is at all times so they don’t get hit by one of the most powerful tacklers in the league. The key for Chancellor is staying healthy as he missed the four games in 2016 and missed five in 2015.

In 2017 Chancellor will once again be making receivers aware of his presence with his big hits and his good cover skills.

Comments:His defensive backfield teammates are flashier, but Chancellor is the heart and soul of “The Legion of Boom” – Dylan Streibig

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