Cleat Geeks

Broncos Hit The Road

 

The Broncos face their first road test of the season on Sunday as they travel to battle the Baltimore Ravens (1-1). The Broncos started the season 2-0, squeaking out a 27-24 win over the Seahawks in Week 1 and a 20-19 win over the division rival Raiders in Week 2. While it’s nice to be 2-0, the wins were hardly impressive.

In fact, on Sunday, the Broncos’ offense struggled to do anything in the first half. The Raiders built a 12-0 lead thanks to a bend but don’t break approach from the defense. And while the Broncos accounted for six sacks against Russell Wilson in Week 1, they mustered just a single sack against Derek Carr in Week 2 while allowing him to complete 29-of-32 passes for 288 yards and a touchdown.

But they made the plays they needed to when it mattered, including a blocked extra point by Shaq Barrett in the first half that ended up being the difference in the game. And now they face a Ravens’ team that was barely tested in their home opener and looked sloppy in a divisional loss to the Bengals last Thursday night. Flacco was sacked four times and committed three turnovers against the Bengals, something that the Broncos’ defense must seek to replicate if the team wants to win Sunday.

The Ravens will have had 10 days to prepare for the game, and get to return home, but their defense was hardly imposing in Week 2, surrendering four touchdowns to Bengals QB Andy Dalton. Case Keenum has started slowly, tossing three TDs against four INTs in two games (and adding one rushing), but his came could have looked much different. He had two touchdown passes reversed by officials Sunday, including a beautiful throw to Courtland Sutton that appeared to have been a missed call on replay. If he can have better luck, and avoid costly mistakes, Keenum can take the Broncos’ offense to the next level.

Much of that also depends on Demaryius Thomas, who struggled mightily in Week 2. He led the team with 11 targets, but grabbed just five of them for 18 yards, dropping a number of passes and eliciting boos from the home crowd in the fourth quarter. He can play better, and must if the Broncos are going to get their first road win of the season.

On the flip side, Emmanuel Sanders has started red hot. He caught 10 passes for 135 yards in Week 1 and grabbed all four of his targets for 96 yards in Week 2. He appears to have found some good chemistry with Keenum, and appears to be the Broncos’ go-to man for big plays. Also stepping up big is undrafted rookie free agent Phillip Lindsay, who ran for 107 yards on 14 carries. He leads the team with 178 yards rushing in two games, and has the third highest rushing total of any running back in the NFL through two weeks.

Fantasy Impact

Keenum hasn’t been incredible, but he’s produced decent numbers. He is QB 18 through two games, and is worthy of consideration in deep and two QB leagues, especially considering this week’s match-up. On the ground, I’m staying away from rookie Royce Freeman. He has just 99 yards in two games despite plenty of work, and is really only a value if he can find the end zone. Considering the Bengals had their best success throwing, that seems less likely. And the way Lindsay has played, I expect Freeman to cede work unless the Broncos build a lead. Lindsay is currently RB14 in PPR and should be in your lineup.

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Among receivers, Sanders is a must start. As for the rest, I think it depends on your options. I expect Thomas to be better than he was a week ago, and he and Sutton should get some opportunities in the Red Zone. But I want to see them bounce back a bit before I feel good playing them. At tight end, I liked what I saw from Jake Butt, who caught four of six targets in Week 2 for 48 yards. I expect the Broncos to keep getting him involved, and he could be an upside play in deeper leagues in a position that’s kind of a toss up.

Prediction

The Broncos are 2-0 but haven’t looked dominant. Yet I think they’ve done some good things, and I think they can match up well with the Ravens. Baltimore started hot by routing the Bills at home, but they showed their weaknesses in that Thursday night game against the Bengals. I think the Broncos will move to 3-0 with another close win.

Notable Fantasy Football Players to Sell Now

After week one of the NFL and the Thursday night game of week two, some players have had an amazing showing while others aren’t preforming up to where they’re expected. There are some players who you should try to sell now that they’re stock may be the highest it’ll ever reach, and some players that have under preformed that will more than likely turn around their slow start to the season. Of course, after one week your views on players shouldn’t change too much but like always some players have a huge spike either positive or negative and people freak out about what has happened.

There are many players who had an amazing week 1 performance that you should sell high on after such a good performance that more than likely will not repeat/continue throughout the rest of the season. Of course, Fitzpatrick is not going to go through the rest of the season and produce a ridiculously good season, but he had such an amazing week 1 performance that I’ve seen a few people take the bait and trade decent assets to acquire him hoping for that 40+ point performance again.

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Unlike QBs there are a ton of RBs that have had good week one performances that I’m sure won’t continue. For example: James Conner, Jay Ajayi, Austin Ekeler, and Philip Lindsey. Personally, I only see James Conner having very limited short term value. He had a great week one and I’m sure he will perform well until Bell comes back but then again, the instant the report that Bell shows up he loses practically all of his value, yet currently Conner holds value similar to a Jordan Howard caliber player who is an absolute stud and will be amazing for many years to come. Also, I’m sure the Steelers will go out and get Tevin Coleman or a different RB stud this offseason when Bell departs from the team at the end of the year. Jay Ajayi had a reasonable week one but took limited stats, and only had 15 carries which isn’t great for where he is valued at after week 1. If you take away those 2 TDs he only would have accumulated 6 points which is not great. But you cannot be starting a player confidently and making blockbuster trades for a guy who is so touchdown reliant. Austin Ekeler had a good week one but still has such a handicap due to him never going to be able to move up to become the starting RB or even the 3rd down back due to Gordon’s great pass catching ability. If it wasn’t for a TD and a 30 yard reception, Ekeler wouldn’t have been much especially due to his 10 touches compared to Gordon’s 24. He had a good game and might be a decent guy to keep on your bench if the benches are deep. Lastly, and most controversially Philip Lindsey has a very high amount of value yet who truly knows how this year will continue for him. You might as well just sell him for the good safe value instead of risking him being a week 1 wonder. With Booker and Freeman both there, I can only see such limited value from him and a ton of uncertainty.

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Just like the RBs, there are a ton of WRs that have a fair amount of value that you should try to move and get some better players. Some players I would try to move while they have some good value would be: Desean Jackson, Ted Ginn, Emmanuel Sanders, Kenny Stills, and Quincey Enunwa. With most of these players my biggest question is consistency as the year continues. Before the game Desean Jackson wasn’t even listed as the WR2 for the Bucs, he was listed to be tied with Godwin but continued to have a great game, but then Jackson got hurt which has always been an issue in his career as well as a severe doubt that the Bucs will have another game this year that replicated their week one let alone to continue this for multiple games. Ted Ginn played a great game with a fair number of targets and a touchdown. But with all of the other options the saints have and the high doubt that they’ll score that very high total of points again makes me have a ton of concerns about him. Emmanuel Sanders has a high chance of continuing to be viable as the season progresses but after such an amazing game I personally just don’t see him putting up such amazing stats again. He is week to week startable player for a team with weak WRs but the trade value for him is very high after such a great performance. Kenny Stills has always been a decent WR to have on the bench in my opinion, but he’s always been a guy who produces 2-4 amazing games and then 12-14 Bad to average games. It has always been a struggle to determine the games he is going to perform well in, and with Parker coming back the reliance on Still should go down some. Lastly Quincey Enunwa is on my list to sell now. He had an amazing game that has drawn a ton of looks from fantasy owners for has availability in most leagues. But I see him as a high upside player with a very low floor. In that game he played well but Robby Anderson didn’t as well as Kearse coming back I see him losing some touches. With a rookie QB there are so many questions around him and I feel you could get some great value off of him so you should take the smaller risk and move him for a reliable piece.

Dbacks Loose Bholz For Season

Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo announced after Friday night’s game at Minute Maid Park that right-hander Clay Buchholz was diagnosed with a flexor strain in his right arm, a similar injury to the one that bothered him off and on for years before eventually requiring surgery last year. With this announcement also came the harsh words no Diamondback fan wanted to hear, Buchholz’s season is finished.

How about we start by giving the Diamondback’s front office, and Buchholz a big pat on the back for signing a minor league deal in May and then promptly going RECORD in 16 starts with a 2.01 ERA.

Buchholz underwent an MRI on Friday in Phoenix and met with team physician Dr. Gary Waslewski. During a start last year, Buchholz’s flexor tendon detached and brought a bone fragment with it. He had issues with the flexor dating back to 2015.

Buchholz was a late scratch from Thursday afternoon’s game at Coors Field. He got most of the way through his pregame warmup session before feeling tightness in his elbow. The Diamondbacks turned instead to right-hander Matt Koch, who gave up four runs in three innings.

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As for Buchholz’s next start – scheduled for Tuesday against the Chicago Cubs at Chase Field – that, too, could go to Koch, though Lovullo said the club hadn’t made any decisions.

“I think that’s the obvious choice if and when we need that spot,” Lovullo said. “We’re creatively trying to work through that right now to figure out what our best options are.”

 Speaking of what the Diamondbacks options are, Buchholz is set to hit free agency at the end of the year, meaning he might have thrown his last pitch for the Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks should get Taijuanan Walker back sometime early next year, and of course Patrick Corbin will be a free agent as well.

Can Matt Koch be the spark that the Diamondbacks need to propel them into the postseason? Or will he just be the final nail in their regular season coffin?

Todd Gurley Outside Top 5 What?!?!?!?

Every year there are a couple of players that are worthy of the Number one overall pick, tends to be 2-3 guys mostly two for debate. This year it is a little different; there are a total of 4 worthy names that could go number 1 without debate, and all should be expected to finish top 4 unless an injury. But what if I could convince you that only one will be outside the top 5 with ease and then increase your chances from 25% to 33% of getting the projected number one fantasy player? That player is Todd Gurley: I will be giving you all the three main reasons why he shouldn’t go number 1 and technically outside the top 4 but we all know worse case he is going number 4; my biggest issue is trying to sway your mind not to pick him until 4 and the other three are poised to have a greater season.

Team Scheme

Sean McVay has been calling plays since 2014 as Redskins Offensive Coordinator, and each year has favor passing way more than running. In 2014, he ran the ball 42% of the time versus passing the ball 58%, then in 2015, he ran the ball 44% to passing the ball 56%. Then in 2016, he posted his highest passing rate, which was 62% versus running the ball 38%. I want to highlight the jump from 2015-2016 as a crucial jump that should be looked at more deeply. As we can recall, 2015 was Kirk Cousins true season as the starter, so it could be Sean babying him into his system as the starter until he can get the full grasp of the playbook, and then once he is comfortable with the offense, have him be the number one guy on the team leading the team. With the jump in play calling Kirk saw a decrease in TDs from 29 to 25 but saw an increase in yards with an additional 751 passing yards. Now let’s look at 2017, which the Rams posted a 53% passing rate versus 47% rushing rate. Does that look familiar at all? Kirk’s first year as a starter under McVay posted a 56% passing rate, now Goff’s first year under McVay posted a 53% passing rate, should we see an increase in 2018 as well? I believe at the lowest we will see a 55% Vs 45% rate but am expecting something closer to 57% versus 43% due to Sean McVay pass-friendly scheme.  What does all this mean to Gurley’s production?  Last year Gurley has 61% of all the rushing attempts on the team (including Goff scrambles) so if we say he keeps that rate, and the Rams run close to the same amount of plays and we use the 57% Vs 43% scheme rate projection he will have 255 rushing attempts which is 22 fewer attempts plus if we assume he runs at the same average it would lead to 103 less rushing yards, which would give him less the 10 points then lest then this year.

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Photo Creds= LA times

Overall Team Talent

 

The team that most the most moves in the past off-season would hands down be the LA Rams, and they added a lot of talented players but also added a lot of high ego vocal players to the team as well. The biggest offensive acquisition the team made was: Brandin Cooks, which is a speedy young Wideout who has posted 3 straight thousand-yard seasons for 3 out of 4 seasons in the NFL as well. Also, if we account for the slot specialist Cooper Cupp, plus Robert Woods, there could be a solid 3 headed monster, plus the third-year number one overall pick finally getting his feet under him in the NFL and making large strides to become better every day. Now, the team has more talent than It has ever had. At QB, Jared Goff, RB Todd Gurley, WR Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and Cooper Cupp, TE Tyler Higbee, and Gerald Everett, and finally the number two back Malcolm Brown. First Malcolm Brown posted a 3.9 average last year as the Rams number 2 and could be poised for a couple more carries which could help or hurt Gurley overall production. The last big move is Brandin Cooks, the Rams had 0 receiver eclipse 1,000 yards last year, but now with Cooks on the team, we could finally see Cooks get 1,000 yards again due to his talent and the attention to Gurley all game. Todd Gurley had 788 receiving yards last year but now with a more pass-heavy offense and a more comfortable Goff, we could see more deep passes and fewer dinks down the field which overall would hurt Gurley’s overall production and see fewer targets which then would cause fewer opportunities. Overall, I would expect him to be in the 600-650 zone of receiving yards due to his explosiveness but could be at the 45-50 reception zone which is close to 20 fewer catches.

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Photo creds= Bleeding green nation

Strength of Schedule

In 2017 the LA Rams average rush defense against Fantasy RBs was 11.5, which means they faced near the top-tier rush defenses more times than not. Even with that hard schedule he would go on to be the top back in fantasy and help up well against the competition and competed at a high level. When we look at his 2018 schedule, he will face an average rank of 10.4, which is whole team difference in defense points allowed versus RBs. If you looked at last year’s 10 versus 11 the difference in points would be .34 points but then times 17 would make it be 5.78 fewer points, then last year. Of course, the strength of defense should be a minimal factor investigated when trying to predict a player’s performance but also not ignored completely. With all of that of being said, playing a stronger level of defenses and having way more film on the scheme they are running, and how they will utilize the whole team will make it seem like the opportunities overall decrease.

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Photo Creds= Pro Sports Backgrounds

My Take: Many of you all may be asking, who’s your top 5 then? Its pretty simple, I have Zeke being the number one back regardless of team talent and such, and the QB play, because when looked in-depth Dak is a great QB when Zeke is on the field. At my number two I got Bell due to regardless of his contract issues and such, he going to ball out once he’s on the field, and the reason for being number two is the same as last year, slow start and him not being a viable option late season due to Steelers having everything locked up. My number three is going to be David Johnson due to being one of the best dual-threat players the league has to offer and being hungry to come back with a vengeance. My number 4 right now is Melvin Gordon due to many reasons, one being whole team talent and finally starting to develop a great O-line and being under a very friendly rushing scheme with Lynn being known to love running the ball first. My RB5 is Kamara due to him being so explosive and having no Mark in the field for the first four weeks, and with Brees aging, they may lean the defense and run game, even more, this upcoming season. Finally I want to say, I’m not saying Todd will be a bust this upcoming season, but I do see this season being a “Down” season for him due to all of the factors that were stated above, I see him finishing in between 6-8 for RBs which is a great finish regardless, but when accounting for his ADP it would be seen as a bad year for him.

 

All stats came from CBSsports and make sure to check the Twitter page out @FutureofFantas1 and feel free to look at the podcast @futureoffantasyfootball on YouTube

Top 10 Fantasy Football Running Backs

In fantasy football, running backs are way more important than you think, there’s an abundance of great receivers but only a few great backs out there. Positional value is key in fantasy football, the difference between an RB1 and RB2 is huge, I’m here to give you my top 10 rb’s for the upcoming season and a sleeper to keep an eye on.

Sleeper pick – Nyheim Hines 

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Nyheim is a quick, crafty back from North Carolina State. It’s widely believed that the Colts are going to go with a running back by committee this season and the Colts starting running back Marlon Mack, is currently battling injuries. Hines speed and pass catching abilities is what wowed the Colts, he’s worth a late round flier, especially in PPR leagues. 

 

10. Dalvin Cook

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Cook had an amazing start to his rookie campaign rushing for 354 yards on 74 carries (4.8 ypc) and hauling in 11 receptions for 90 yards in four games. Unfortunately his season was ended short by an acl tear in week four. I expect Cook to pick up where he left off and to be even more efficient than last year with a better QB in Kirk Cousins alongside him. 

9. Leonard Fournette

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Another 2017 rookie sensation makes the list coming in at number nine. Leonard Fournette was one of the most consistent fantasy running backs last season scoring at least 13 fantasy points (Standard ESPN PPR scoring) in 11 of the 13 games he played in. The power back out of LSU will more also be of a focal point in the Jaguars offense with their two top receivers, Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns leaving this off-season. 

8. Melvin Gordon

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Gordon has been one of the most versatile backs since entering the league in 2015. He had career highs in rushing yards with 1105 and receiving yards with 476 last season. Each season Gordon’s rushing attempts and targets have steadily increased, 221 combined in 2015, 311 in 2016 and 367 in 2017. If they increase again in 2018 he’ll be in the top five discussion but even if he gets similar looks to 2017 he’s a reliable RB1 option. 

7. Kareem Hunt

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Hunt was an absolute workhouse last year, leading the league in rushing with 1327 yards on 272 attempts with eight touchdowns. The Chiefs will be rolling into the season with new, second year quarterback Pat Mahomes, if the gunslinger lives up to expectations Hunt may be even more dangerous. Andy Reid has stated be wants to get Hunt more involved in the pass game.

6. Saquan Barkley

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Saquan Barkley often drew comparisons to Barry Sanders at Penn State. The 2017 All-American had 1,903 yards and 21 touchdowns in 13 games. Now it’s time for him to show everybody what he’s got, the lone rookie on this list should receive a ton of touches. Saquan and Odell have potential to be one of the deadliest RB/WR combo’s in the league.

5.David Johnson 

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David Johnson is undoubtably one of the best dual threat backs in the league but he missed nearly the entire season last year with a broken wrist. Arizona will also have a new starting QB in either Sam Bradford or Josh Rosen. Coming off an injury and having a shaky Qb alongside him make him a slight risk with an early pick but Johnson is a touchdown machine who rushed for 16 and caught four touchdowns his last full season in 2016. Don’t be afraid to take Johnson but give my third and fourth ranked rb an extra look first. 

4. Alvin Kamara

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       Alvin Kamara is the fourth running back on this list from the 2017 draft class and probably the biggest surprise from last year. The third round pick out of Tennessee won Offensive Rookie of the Year, in quite a stacked class. New Orleans high powered offense lead by future Hall of Famer Drew Brees was taken to a new level with Kamara’s explosiveness, Mark Ingram is suspended for the first four games of the season so Kamara will see an uptick in touches to start the year.

3. Ezekiel Elliot 

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Playing behind the best offensive line in the NFL has its advantages and Zeke being the great running back he is makes for him to be a perennial top back. While only playing 10 games in 2017 he still managed to rush for 983 yards and seven touchdowns. With all the talk of suspension behind him, Zeke is slotted to be a top three back this year, his duel threat ability even warrants some number one pick talk. 

2. Todd Gurley

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Todd Gurley had a phenomenal bounce back last year, leading the league in rushing touchdowns with 13, rushing for 1,305 yards and catching 64 passes for 788 yards. Sean Mcvay brought a new scheme into Los Angeles and it worked amazing, Gurley was miles ahead of any player in fantasy last year. He also showed his ability to be a pass catching back last year, which is a huge addition to his game. 

1. Le’veon Bell

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Gurley and Bell are 1a and 1b for me, it was very difficult to pick one over the other but I had to give Le’veon the nod. Bell has had his fair share of off-season headlines with hold out threats but don’t let that scare you. He’s in a contract year and if he wants to get paid as the top back in the NFL he’ll need to play his absolute best. Le’veon is a huge part of the Steelers dynamic offense, he had 321 rushing attempts (most in the league) and was targeted 106 times as a receiver. His extremely high usage and efficiency make him not only the number one running back in Fantasy Football but the number one player overall. 

What did you think of the list? Anyone to high? Anyone to low? Anyone on the list who shouldn’t be? Should we have included someone else on the list? Let me know in the comment section below and keep an eye out for our top ten lists of WR’s, QB’s and TE’s in the near future!

THE PACK: Headlines & Analysis From Pre-season Week 2

Welcome back Packers fans! With me writing this next article, that means we are one week closer to the regular season opener against the rival Chicago Bears at Lambeau on Sunday Night Football!

There was plenty of storylines for the Packers in the news this week, not to mention the 51-34 victory over the Steelers on Thursday. I’d like to touch on a few headlines I found intriguing and look at how our roster is shaping up at this stage of the season.

MACK TO THE PACK?

Rumors surfaced earlier this week about the possibility of Green Bay making a move to acquire All-Pro OLB/DE Khalil Mack, whose contract negotiations with the Raiders are going absolutely nowhere as his holdout continues. The Packers could certainly use an elite pass-rusher like Mack, who has accrued 40.5 sacks in his first four seasons in the league and has yet to miss a game. The offer the Packers would likely make if they were to pursue Mack would come from their 2019 draft capital, from which they have a 1st round pick of their own as well as another 1st rounder acquired from the Saints. It’s impossible to say at this point if the Raiders would go for an offer like this, but as one of the most cash-poor teams in the NFL, it is unlikely they will be able to sign Mack to the type of long-term mega-deal he is looking for.

The main issue for the Packers, if that trade were to be made, is that they don’t really have the cap space either. With them “creeping” closer to a new deal with QB Aaron Rodgers that will likely make him the highest paid player in NFL history, they wouldn’t be able to also support the highest paid defensive player in NFL history and still put a team on the field. For right now, I think the cost-controlled assets in the two 1st round picks will be more valuable for the Packers going forward, but if they wanted to make a bold move and compete for a Super Bowl right now in the stacked NFC, Mack would certainly be a difference maker. Another factor they may influence any decisions is that there have also been rumors that the Bears may have interest in Mack, and the Packers certainly don’t want to have to face Mack twice a year.

THE HARD TRUTH

Aaron Rodgers’ told it like it was, calling the performance of his three rookie receivers in practice prior to last week’s game against the Titans “piss poor.” Despite any positives we may have seen from the Packers’ rookie receivers in that game, there have been plenty of growing pains, mistakes, and mental lapses as well that do not bode well for them. As I mentioned last week, Rodgers is one of those quarterbacks that you have to impress with your performance in order to earn his trust and respect. He will be the one who misses WR Jordy Nelson the most. He’s a competitor, and if you want to be on the field with him, you have got to make the plays that need to be made and do your job, no matter what position, but particularly the skill positions of running back and wide receiver. He softened his stance with comments this week, saying it was “nothing personal” and as a leader “you try to inspire.” These three rookies certainly didn’t come to play against the Steelers, as they combined for 2 catches and 27 yards on 8 targets. There are still a few openings at receiver for the Packers behind Davante Adams, but no one has stood out yet.

“16” that Rodgers mentioned in his comments is second-year fan favorite Jake Kumerow out of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He and WR DeAngeo Yancey have progressed, at least in Rodgers’ eyes. Kumerow had 3 catches on as many targets Thursday, with the majority coming on an 82-yard touchdown from QB DeShone Kizer. Kumerow also had 3 catches and a long 52-yard touchdown last week, but now has been diagnosed with a shoulder sprain. The wide receiver snaps will be something to look at in next week’s dress rehearsal if Aaron Rodgers plays more than a single series.

GAME RECAP

Even with the uptick in scoring that we have seen this preseason already, mainly due to the NFL’s new and highly controversial tackling rule, the Packers took it to a new level against the Steelers, putting up 51 points with contributions on both side of the ball. Veteran CB Tramon Williams took an intercepted rookie QB Mason Rudolph and took it to the house on the first play from scrimmage, and rookie CB Josh Jackson added another pick-six early in the second half off QB Josh Dobbs.

Rodgers found his new toy TE Jimmy Graham for a touchdown on his first and only series. A slew of other tight ends contributed for the Packers as well, including Lance Kendricks, Mercedes Lewis, Robert Tonyan, and Emanuel Byrd. Tight end has not been a position of consistent production or use for the Packers in recent years, but the Packers are hopeful that the connection between Rodgers and Graham can get to the level Graham had with QB Drew Brees in New Orleans and add another dimension to the offense. Rodgers has been raving about Graham, which is the opposite of his comments towards his other receivers.

Feeding off of my article from last week, the projected starting running backs again left much to be desired on their limited snaps, averaging 2.0 yards per carry. RB Ty Montgomery showed terrible ball security with a fumble on a kick return. RB Jamaal Williams exited the game with an ankle injury, which luckily was only minor. Aaron Jones is already suspended for two games to start the season, and if Williams injury lingers into before week 1, Montgomery will likely carry a larger load and be spelled by whatever backs make the final roster and are available, whether it be their preseason leading rusher Joel Bouagnon, sophomore Devante Mays (currently dealing with a hamstring injury), or recently added LeShun Daniels. The Packers offense has looked explosive through the air, but they have the toughest strength of schedule for 2018 and will need to be able to establish a solid running game to keep defenses honest and be able to eat away at the clock and close out close games on the ground.

LB Oren Burks looked good and led the Packers with 6 tackles for a second straight week. As a 3rd round pick, it is promising to see him fill the void left by LB Jake Ryan’s season-ending injury. What’s more impressive is that he is able to take charge of the huddle with the second-team with Blake Martinez off the field, and he has been able to pick up on defensive coordinator’s Mike Pettine’s complex scheme. Take a look at this highlight for just a taste of what he can bring to the table this year.

Even with the Packers making plays on defense in this game, they still have some work to do, as they allowed an average of 5.6 yards per carry and could not slow down rookie WR James Washington, who, to his credit, made some outstanding catches, racking up 114 yards and two touchdowns on just five receptions. The final score of 51-34 moves the Packers to 2-0, and they will face the Oakland Raiders next Friday night, hopefully without Khalil Mack.

See all of the game highlights here.

 

Check back all season as I cover the Packers, and follow myself @bradpetrowitz and @cleatgeeks for articles from across the NFL! DM CleatGeeks if you’re interested in writing yourself!

The Key to Drafting Like a Champion

It’s that time of year again where football is on the TV and everyone is very excited to once again see their favorite team go out there every week and play a great game. Not only is football making everyone this excited, but it’s that time of year where everyone is drafting their Fantasy Football teams and trying to figure out who will be the next breakout star and who will disappointingly under-perform their expectations heading into the season. With many new faces on new teams and ageing stars potentially going to begin their stages of regression, this season of fantasy football has the potential to be very interesting and a ton of fun to watch it play out!

This is the part where everyone has a differing opinion on how they will make it to their fantasy championships which is totally okay due to there being no right or wrong answer. It’s time to set up your draft strategy! There are many different strategies people tend to go with. One of the most popular and most talked about is the 0RB strategy mostly in those PPR leagues. This tends to stem from a mid to late draft position and has provided many mixed results. But personally, I tend to go the opposite route, I prefer the 0WR strategy. For my explanation and advise for this strategy I’m going to be talking from the view point of someone drafting in a later spot in a 12-person draft (around 10th overall) in a .5PPR 1Qb/2RB/2WR/1TE/1Flex league set up. Take my advice with a grain of salt of course, there WILL be many curveballs thrown at you in your draft and you need to be able to adapt well in these situations.

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From the 10th spot with my strategy you should be able to start off with a very solid RB with top 3 upside. The player I’m referring to is Melvin Gordon. He gets a solid amount of volume not only from his rushes but he is also one of the main receiving options for the chargers meaning he’s a solid duel threat option to have in a .5ppr setting. Then in the second round from the 13th pick there is another RB who is very similar but is coming off an unfortunate injury named Dalvin Cook. He had an amazing showing last year when healthy and says he’s 100% and ready to reenter this season with a new QB who loves his check down passes to his RBs. From selecting 2 RBs to begin the draft you’ve assured what I consider the main point producing positions in RB and now you can take shots at the stud WRs remaining meanwhile the talent on the board for the RB position has taken a huge dive from Cook and Jordan Howard down to Joe Mixon and Mckinnon. All the while stud WRs like Larry Fitzgerald, TY Hilton, and Doug Baldwin should still be remaining. Although going RB heavy is deemed as an unpopular move, but more importantly it is an effective one due to how important the top RBs are and the value you can follow up with at WR. You gain yourself the edge by taking your chances at 2 RB1s and leave yourself the choice at 2 potential high WR2s-WR1s as well, maximizing the fantasy production you should be able to expect from your team.Related image

Starting round 5 you should mainly just be selecting the top available option left on the board that you feel you need. In that round I tend to take another decent RB who I should expect to be a RB2 and then follow up by loading up on some WRs with high potential. But an important factor I want you to notice is I still haven’t selected a TE yet. Usually the stud TEs tend to go through rounds 3-5 which helps you a ton while drafting. While they pick TEs you can go right ahead, and snag higher producing skill positions and get a TE who should be a solid performer as well but at a lower cost. This year I’m personally high on Jordan Reed/Vernon Davis, Davis Njoku, and Jack Doyle. But is one of the main studs like Kyle Rudolph or Delanie Walker falls to the 7th round I consider that a must take due to the value you’re receiving from that pick. Around 10 or so is where I start looking at QBs that I really like. Holding off on the QB is a great move but seeing a handful of the top QBs selected makes you slightly anxious and could lead to a poor compulsive decision. As we saw from last year QBs like Alex Smith who are taken to be backups can come out and preform great and not be too far off of the production as a top level QB like Aaron Rodgers.  Lastly, for those of us in leagues with Kickers and defenses, hold off till the last two rounds to take those due to the unpredictability of those positions and the little value they do contribute to your team overall.

I truly hope I was able to help with the breakdown of my draft strategy and was able to offer you some valuable information that you will be able implement!

Redraft Fantasy Football: Wait For It…

With week two of the 2018 NFL preseason under way, that can only mean one thing, we are entering the heart of draft season for redraft leagues! As most dynasty startup drafts have wrapped up throughout this chaotic off-season, I too will be shifting my focus for the purposes of this article to redraft formats. Fantasy football minds will never agree on when to take certain positions during the draft process. We often see the “Zero RB” advocates and their cries are followed by supporters chanting “Load up on running back early!” While neither of those options will be discussed in this article, we will be focusing our efforts on the value available at the position of quarterback beyond the first 9 rounds (assume 12 team, 1 QB, 4 point passing TD leagues).

You can certainly choose to reach on a quarterback and take one off the board in an early round, but especially in a one quarterback league, you will see throughout this article why that might not be your best route come draft day.

Dating back to the 2013 season, there is ever-growing parity throughout the quarterback position. Below is a breakdown of all quarterbacks with an ADP earlier than the 10th round of drafts from 2013 to present, as well as their end of season position ranking.

Drafted Position 2013 EOS Rank 2014 EOS Rank 2015 EOS Rank 2016 EOS Rank 2017 EOS Rank
QB1 Brees 2 Peyton 4 Luck 28 Newton 17 Rodgers 29
QB2 Rodgers 22 Brees 6 Rodgers 7 Rodgers 1 Brady 3
QB3 Peyton 1 Rodgers 1 Peyton 34 Wilson 11 Brees 9
QB4 Brady 14 Stafford 15 Brees 6 Luck 4 Ryan 15
QB5 Newton 3 Luck 2 Roethlisberger 20 Brees 3 Wilson 1
QB6 Ryan 15 Brady 9 Brady 2 Brady 15 Carr 19
QB7 Stafford 7 Ryan 7 Wilson 3 Roethlisberger 18 Mariota 18
QB8 Kaepernick 9 Foles 29 Ryan 19 Palmer 19 Winston 22
QB9 Luck 4 Cutler 14 Romo 42 Bortles 9 Cousins 6
QB10 RGIII 18 Romo 11 Bradford 24 Eli 21 Newton 2
QB11 Romo 10 Newton 17 Tannehill 17 Rivers 14 Luck N/A
QB12 Wilson 8 Rivers 12 Stafford 9 Carr 10 Roethlisberger 11
QB13 Eli 21 Kaepernick 16 Eli 10
QB14 Vick 35 Wilson 3

As you can see, 2013 and 2014 both saw multiple end of season top 4 quarterbacks taken as one of the first 3 quarterbacks in each draft. Since then, there has been a greater level of uncertainty when taking a quarterback so early. Below is a graphic showing all quarterbacks with an ADP between the 10th and 15th rounds from 2013 through 2017.

2013 EOS Rank 2014 EOS Rank 2015 EOS Rank 2016 EOS Rank 2017 EOS Rank
Dalton 5 RGIII 36 Rivers 12 Cousins 5 Rivers 8
Roethlisberger 11 Dalton 18 Newton 1 Tyrod 8 Prescott 10
Cutler 23 Roethlisberger 5 Bridgewater 23 Stafford 7 Stafford 7
Palmer 17 Palmer 31 Palmer 5 Winston 16 Dalton 17
Schaub 33 Tannehill 8 Flacco 26 Dalton 13 Wentz 5
Flacco 19 McCown 28 Kaepernick 31 Mariota 12 Eli 23
Bradford 29 Flacco 13 Tyrod 16 Prescott 6 Palmer 32
J Freeman 44 Cutler 21 Ryan 2 Cutler 27
Alex Smith 13 Mariota 22 Fitzpatrick 29 Tyrod 16
Tannehill 16 Carr 14 Tannehill 27
Rivers 6 RGIII 35
Manuel 28 Osweiler 28

We have seen a total of 12 of the last 24 top 12 drafted QBs not finish the season as such. On the other hand, there have been 10 quarterbacks drafted between the 10th and 15th rounds go on to finish as a QB1 (again, 12 team leagues) in the past 2 seasons. With this data available, why do we continuously torture ourselves by taking a quarterback early in 1 QB formats with the position seemingly getting deeper every season?

Below (End of Season Ranking vs. Total Fantasy Points) shows the drastic change of the quarterback landscape since 2013, revealing a disappearing gap between top tier quarterbacks and your average, run of the mill QB2s. The difference over the course of the season between the top 2 QB average and QB13-16 average was a staggering 141 points in 2013. That number has dwindled to a mere 88 points in 2017. Quarterbacks have been taken slightly later in redraft drafts year after year, but that is not to say some people are still stuck in their ways.

End of Season Ranking 2013 2014 2016 2017
QB1-2 384 351 361 321
QB3-5 291 313 312 288
QB6-10 271 282 270 267
QB11-12 258 266 259 256
QB13-16 247 253 256 233
QB17-24 186 196 231 201

With all this information available, let’s discuss two quarterbacks that are being taken early in 2018 and two alternatives that are available much later in the draft at a far greater value.

Image result for drew brees

Photo by; CBSSports.com

Drew Brees has been a fantasy player’s dream at quarterback over the last what seems to be centuries. Since at least 2010, Brees has never produced a season outside of QB9. With 2017 being one of his most consistent seasons on a week to week basis, he also saw his lowest touchdown output since the 2003 season, with only 23. While I am sure there will be some regression to the mean in 2018, a reinvigorated running game might throw a wrench in his return to top tier status. As a result of such a strong commitment to the run in 2017, Brees saw his fewest pass attempts (536) since 2009. Even though Sean Payton has said the Saints do not plan on increasing Alvin Kamara’s workload and while Mark Ingram is suspended through the first 4 games of 2018, you would think this would bode well for Brees and the passing game. However, I expect Sean Payton to run Ingram into the ground after returning from suspension, as he is an unrestricted free agent heading into the 2019 season. While Drew Brees has been nothing short of remarkable throughout his career, his current ADP of 6.11 (QB5) seems to be a bit expensive and I believe similar weekly consistent production can be had 4 rounds later.

For more of a bargain, we don’t even have to leave the NFC South. Matt Ryan, currently being drafted in the 10th round at 10.01, is more than capable to produce not only similar end of year numbers, but also similar week to week consistency as Drew Brees. While not nearly as dominant as his counterpart, Matt Ryan has been able to produce 5 top 8 seasons in the last 8 years. Ryan has also seen a continuous improvement over the last 4 years in terms of week to week consistency. As I have thoroughly discussed in previous articles, I believe coefficient of variation is a very telling statistic in showing week to week consistency. Coefficient of variation is simply the standard deviation divided by the average. The closer to zero, the more consistent a player is. Matt Ryan has posted constantly improving coefficient of variations of 37.77, 33.37, 27.96, and 25.92 from 2014 to 2017. To put this in perspective, Drew Brees has only posted 2 seasons with a coefficient variation under 30 dating back to 2010. With the 3rd highest ranked offensive line in 2018 (according to PFF), the addition of 1st round pick Calvin Ridley, and more familiarity with 2nd year Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator, Steve Sarkisian, Matt Ryan can yield a nice return for owners in 2018 with his current ADP of 10.01 (QB12).

Image result for matt ryan falcons

Photo by; BloggingDirty.com

Next, we will look at a quarterback that has not been taken later than QB6 since at least 2013, and that would be Tom Brady. As with Drew Brees, by no means am I saying that neither Brees nor Brady won’t have a strong 2018, but I do believe that by waiting on quarterback that can net similar production, you are at an advantage by scooping up a position player in early rounds. In the last 5 seasons, Tom Brady has only met or exceeded his ADP in 2 of those seasons. Brady is currently being drafted as QB3, which puts him at 5.11. By pulling the trigger this early on a quarterback, even one as great as Tom Brady, you are passing up on valuable starting assets, such as Kerryon Johnson, Corey Davis, Marquise Goodwin, etc. Especially if you are in a league with deeper starting requirements, players like this are critical in helping you make your way to the playoffs. While the great Tom Brady is coming off of a fantastic end of season ranking of QB4, there is a quarterback with eerily similar numbers that is currently being taken 5 rounds later.

Philip Rivers is currently being taken as QB13 at 10.02 overall. Last year, Rivers finished as QB7 with a similar resume as Tom Brady. Below is a breakdown of some key numbers comparing the two quarterbacks.

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Photo by; NBC Sports

Year QB Rank Player G Total Points Average CV QB1% QB2% QB1+2%
2017 4 Tom Brady 16 291.9 18.24 38.46 68.75% 25.00% 93.75%
2017 7 Philip Rivers 16 270.5 16.91 37.39 68.75% 18.75% 87.50%
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Photo by; ClutchPoints.com

As you can see, both finished as high end QBs with 11 QB1 weeks each. Both ended 2017 with a below average coefficient of variation within 1.07 points of each other and were within 22 total fantasy points of each other throughout the entire 2017 season. Amazingly, Rivers was able to finish 2017 as a QB1 despite being pressured as often as he was. According to PFF, his guard, Kenny Wiggins, gave up the most pressures of any guard in the NFL (41) and Spencer Pulley ranked last among all centers in the NFL with 38 QB pressures. While we might not see an improvement in 2018, it’s reassuring to know that Rivers can be successful despite his offensive line woes. With a plethora of weapons to support Philip Rivers, waiting until the 10th round to take a quarterback will be a sound decision in your 2018 redraft league draft.

While both Tom Brady and Drew Brees might have yet another spectacular season, there’s no need to reach for a quarterback in a one quarterback league. Being taken at 5.11 and 6.11, respectively, it’s a much wiser investment to draft a position player at this point in the draft than dumping stock into a quarterback with how deep this position has gotten throughout the years. Hold off…wait until the 10th round and grab that value from 2 quarterbacks that you can be confident in giving you weekly consistency and have proven to be a QB1 in the past. Wait for it, and you’ll be happy that you did.

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Connect on Twitter: @TheBauerClub

 

Data Sources:

www.fantasyfootballcalculator.com

www.ffstatistics.com

www.profootballfocus.com

www.pro-football-reference.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Underrated QB

Underrated QB

Player A finished 2015 season with 4,166 receiving yards/ 48 rushing/ 69.8% completion rate/ 29 touchdowns.

Player B finished 2015 season with 4,208 yards/ 141 rushing/ 61.9 % completion rate/ 24 touchdowns.

Player A finished 2016 season with 4917 yards / 96 rushing/ 67% completion rate/ 25 Touchdowns.

Player B played 13 games in 2016 due to an injury. Using the average – 3676 yards / 67% Completion rate/ 30 touchdowns. Good to note, this player had over 4K yards & 27 TD’s in 2014.

 

Which QB would you rather have?

Player A = Kirk Cousins

Player B = Ryan Tannehill.

Obviously I’d draft Kirk Cousins ahead, but Ryan Tannehill may be one of the most under-rated Quarterbacks in the League. Before you run away laughing, let me explain my crazy theory.

As you can see, these stats are similar in some ways. They both have proven they are able to keep a 4k yard average with over 25 TDs.  I believe injuries have hurt the performance for both of them. Neither QB has had good luck with an Offensive Line and as well haven’t had the best WR core. Of course, Tannehill had the knee injury and I am assuming he is now 100% healthy.

What will it take for Ryan Tannehill to take the next step?

Image result for ryan tannehill dolphins

Photo by; USA Today

Captain Kirk had to move to a new team with better support… I really think if Miami can keep a healthy and performing O-Line, Ryan will step up to the next level. Miami now has a triple threat running back crew, 1st round pick (D Parker), a huge redzone threat TE (Gesicki), and a promising defense.

Could Ryan Tannehill be the next Kirk Cousins?

I will leave it for you to decide with my favorite Tannehill stat – 44 Quarterbacks have achieved a Perfect Game, having a single game passer rating of 158.3. Tannehill is one of those quarterbacks. His completion percentage was 94.7% which is the highest among all 44.

 

Tyler Watson

@DynastyDadTyler

Playoff Preparations

 

Playoff season is almost upon us and there a few things you need to be paying attention to for your fantasy season. Players on pitch counts, teams in contention sitting their starters, but always one thing we talk about around this time is going to be: who are the young players who are going to be called up I need to be paying attention to? So let’s get to it.

OFFENSE

Vladimer Guerro Jr. – There’s one name everyone is talking about, and that’s the son of BDV (Big Daddy Vladdy). Vladimer Guerro Jr. has had a historic season, batting .400 (that’s batting average, not obp) with 18 home runs across AA and AAA. He has busted his way into our hearts much like Juan Soto. BUT! I will say I do have one hint of caution with Vlady Jr. He’s been in the minor leagues for just 2 years! That’s such a short amount of time, I’m always very cautious with these players as the minor leagues usually take a bit longer for teams to figure out a player’s weakness. So it can be that it’s not that Jr. doesn’t have weaknesses, but they just haven’t been figured out. Hopefully Jr. turns into the next Soto, but still, for future seasons, I’m a little cautious with Jr. and even still with Soto. I do have some hope for Jr’s future seasons though because of one thing – he’s the son of BDV. And that sort of tutelage can help a struggling player get through tough times. I’m obviously not saying Soto can’t continue his brilliance, but all I’m saying is to be cautious with these players who have such limited time in the minors. Because of Jr’s unique pedigree, I’m going to say, get some shares of him now, as he’s sure to be called up soon!

Eloy Jimenez –  This was my guy for 2018 as far as prospects go. I have more faith in Eloy hitting the ground running even than I do with Vlady Jr… but the problem is… those White Sox. They are trying my patience waiting on him! I know they want to hold off to keep control of him, but he’s batting .330 with 21 home runs! This guy is the real deal, and while I do believe the league will make some adjustments to him for next year, I’m really excited for him this year. Again, you can quote me (for this season only) I think Eloy is going to be as good or better than Vladimer Guerro Jr. stats-wise when he’s called up. They both can be monsters, but Eloy is I believe a bit more polished and I think he’ll adjust immediately to MLB pitching for 2018.

PITCHING

Josh James – James is the expected replacement for Lance McCullers now that Lance has gone down. James has been extremely impressive in the minor leagues with a stat line of 3.27 in 104 innings with 44 walks and 160 ks. However he’s had a few struggles lately giving up 3 earned runs in the last 3 starts. On top of that, the walks are not what you’d like. Consider however, over those 3 starts, his walks weren’t too bad (1, 1, 2) which might indicate his recent struggles are tied to him trying to throw more strikes. That happens sometimes when management says walks are what’s holding them back from the majors. So Josh James is a bit of a mystery, where he could be great, or he could really struggle when promoted. So far, I’ve liked how pitchers have been handled by Houston though as we’ve seen hard throwers such as Verlander and Cole really excel in this system, and Josh James also is a hard thrower. Still, the walks could be a problem, so don’t get too attached, but if you’re looking for a high upside prospect, he’s probably the one.

Taylor Widener – Ahhh, finally a name you may not have heard of. Well, perhaps you should have. Widener has been wrecking the minor leagues with a 2.49 era in 119 innings, 151 ks and only 36 walks! All things being equal, he could be my favorite pitcher to excel once promoted to SP. The only problem is, it’s IF he gets promoted and IF it’s as a SP. He’s with the Diamondbacks, who have also been a great club for improving pitchers, however, there isn’t an obvious spot for him to slide in. Clay Bucholz is probably the most likely choice, but while he’s pitching as well as he is, they’re unlikely to make that move while in a race. All the same, Widener is a great talent and is worth following in case someone struggles or an injury occurs.

*Tyler Glasnow – Yeah, he’s not a rookie, but he’s been reborn! And I wanted to put him in this article as I’ve been a believer in Glasnow for awhile. I was nervous that he’d never be as valuable as he could be when the Pirates moved him to the bullpen, but after being traded, he’s getting stretched out, ironically with Tampa Bay, which says something about how much they believe in this guy. Glasnow has changed his approach with his fastball and it’s made all the difference. He originally was attempting the Pirates philosophy of pitching low in the zone, but you could tell if you watched him, he never had much confidence with that strategy, and that’s what he’s said since moving to Tampa. And if you watch him now, he seems to have all the confidence in the world. But most importantly, he’s not walking guys! That was often considered the biggest issue, and now that he’s seemed to have improved his control, he’s looking like a top tier pitcher. Now Glasnow’s next start may be against Boston, and they’re very good at hitting the fastball, and making pitcher’s pay for their mistakes, so I’m not particularly confident with that start, but if he’s available, pick him up! You don’t have to start him vs. Boston, but his K numbers are too valuable not to take a chance on him even if he struggles down the line.

Good luck in the playoffs!

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