Cleat Geeks

A Much Needed Change

Photo from tampabay.com

After another embarrassing performance on defense, allowing 416 total yards of offense in a 34-29 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, the Buccaneers have fired defensive coordinator Mike Smith. The team will replace Smith with linebackers coach Mark Duffner. This was a much needed change for a historically bad defense through the first six weeks of the season, Smith’s defense ranks last in points per game allowed (34.6), last in passing yards given up (355.6), and second to last in yards allowed per game (439.8). This is a production business and we have to play better on defense. We have to play better as a football team, but we have to play better on defense” advised Koetter during Monday’s press conference. This move needed to be made to give a change to the players on defense and also to possibly save Koetter’s job.

Duffner’s defense will be on display Sunday when Tampa hosts the 2018 first overall draft pick Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland comes to Tampa after a 38-14 loss against the Los Angeles Chargers. Tampa looks to get back to .500 and snap a three game losing streak behind another strong performance by Jameis Winston. Jameis ended any quarterback controversy in the Atlanta loss by throwing for 395 yards and 4 touchdowns. Jameis will need reduce his turnover though as he threw 2 interceptions including a costly redzone interception in the loss Sunday.

The Tampa Bay running game did show some life as Peyton Barber rushed for 82 yards on 13 carries which was a season high and also caught 4 passes for 24 yards and a touchdown. The Cleveland Browns rush defense was just gashed by Chargers running back Melvin Gordon for 132 yards and three rushing touchdowns which could bode well for Tampa Sunday.  Tampa needs this win to re-energize the fan base. Let’s fire those cannons.

Meet The Bucs

Photo from bucswire.com

This week’s Meet the Bucs segment focuses on Tampa Bay guard Ali Marpet. Ali, who played his college ball at Hobart College, was drafted in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft. If you aren’t familiar with Hobart College don’t be embarrassed.  Hobart College is a small liberal arts College which makes them a Division III school. Marpet was the highest-drafted player in the history of NCAA Division III football. Tampa believed in Ali enough to trade up for him in the second round of the draft to make sure they obtained him. Ali has been a reliable and versatile starter for Tampa Bay. Last year, Tampa moved Ali to play center due to lack of depth on the offensive line. Ali was moved back to his normal guard position this year where he has excelled at making sure the Bucs quarterbacks stay upright. Tampa recently rewarded Ali for his hard work with a brand new five-year, $55 million contract extension

 

Mychal Warno

Follow me on Twitter @dynastydadmike for all things Tampa Bay and fantasy football advice. Also please follow @cleatgeeks for all things football.

Is Panthers’ D-Line To Blame For Shoddy Run Defense?

It seems like every year, the Panthers have one of these games. Last year it was the game at Chicago, in similarly dreary weather, where the Panthers looked like the better team, but just found a way to lose.  Sunday’s game at Washington was frustrating from a fan’s standpoint, not just because it was a game that the Panthers should have won, but also because it will help drive false narratives about the team. As we get into this one, let’s take a critical eye to some of those narratives and debunk them if we can.

Image result for dontari poe panthers

Let’s start with the popular scapegoat so far, the Defensive Line, and poor, poor Dontari Poe. There are multiple jokes in there somewhere, but I don’t feel like pulling them out right now. The Panthers let Star Lotulelei walk in free agency and then committed about the same dollar figure per year to Poe. I thought it would be an upgrade and give the team cap flexibility sooner. Fans on Panthers Twitter have hurled spears at the defensive line in general, and Poe in particular all season. But Poe is not a pass rusher, and we knew that coming into the season. Neither was Star. Poe’s job is to keep guards and centers off of Luke Kuechly in the run game and push guard and centers back into their QBs face so he has nowhere to escape the outside rush. Any tackles-for-loss or sacks are just gravy.

The Panthers now have 12 sacks on the season, and their adjusted sack rate is just over 6%. Those numbers put them in the bottom half of the league. While the Panthers’ sack numbers are not great, they again applied pressure to Alex Smith quite often on Sunday. Smith is a slippery veteran and gets away from pressure well. With that said, the Panthers rush got home three times, and forced at least three bad throws with pressure. Yes, they do need more sacks, but sometimes that is out of your control. As long as they continue to pressure QBs, the sacks will come.

The run defense has been shoddy at times–ok quite often, and that seems like it would fall squarely on the D Line’s shoulders. But entering Week 6, the Panthers were third in adjusted line yards, tenth in power run success against, and third in run stuff percentage per Football Outsiders. They were 27th in second-level yards allowed and 31st in open-field yards allowed. What that means is that the defensive line is doing its job–which is to keep the backers and DBs clean to make stops–but those guys aren’t making them.  Again on Sunday, the back seven let the Panthers down at least twice. Shaq Thompson was in beautiful position in his gap on an 8-yard run by Kapri Bibbs, but just whiffed the tackle, and then on the Skins’ final drive, Mike Adams had both hands on Peterson, only to see him get free and run for a first down in field goal range.  We remember some other brutal missed tackles from Rashaun Gaulden against the Giants and Donte Jackson against the Falcons that sprung big plays as well. The D Line definitely has work to do, but it is far from the lone scapegoat out there.

Speaking of Donte Jackson, let’s talk for a minute about the rookie corner. He is turning into a fan favorite, and with good reason. His three interceptions have provided a spark to the Panthers’ secondary, and his fearless demeanor is reminiscent of Richard Sherman, Jalen Ramsey, and some other top DBs. He is the top graded rookie CB in the league right now per Pro Football Focus, and top 10 overall. He looks like a guy with future All-Pro potential. Here’s why that is so important.

Image result for donte jackson panthers

Drafting guys who can start and contribute while on their rookie deal is a necessity in the NFL. The salary cap just won’t allow teams to sign a roster full of studs the way the Dodgers or Yankees can in Major League Baseball.  If a team can get 3-4 guys out of every draft that contribute, they’re doing ok.  But when a team gets a guy who can come in and immediately upgrade some position of need, and eventually be among the best at his position, while still getting paid rookie contract money, it’s like the NFL cheat code.  It allows a team to keep its other free agents, or compete for the best free agents on the open market to strengthen its weak points, and it is really the basis for building elite units.  The Jaguars did this with their defense, except it took them multiple years of Top 5 picks before it all panned out.  The Panthers have Luke and KK Short locked in through 2020, Bradberry is still on his rookie deal through next season, and so is Shaq Thompson. The foundation is already laid for a very good defense for the next 3-4 years, and by landing Jackson, the Panthers will have the money to pursue an elite edge lineman in free agency or with a first round pick, and really take the defense to the next level.  Of course, there are misses in the first round and even with the big-money free agent deals, so nothing is guaranteed, but the Panthers checked a prerequisite with Jackson.

Up next for the Panthers is a tough, tough road game at the Linc against the Super Bowl Champion Eagles. Their top running back Jay Ajayi is out for the year with an ACL–continuing a season-long trend of dodging many top RBs–and All-Pro LT Jason Peters is out with a biceps injury. It should be a good time for a get-well game for the run defense. This is not only a huge test for Carolina, but it may have playoff implications down the road when head-to-head tie breaker rules start coming into play.  The Eagles are mean up front on defense, but have struggled in coverage a bit this year, so this may be the week for old Riverboat and Norv to start slinging the pigskin around the yard all willy-nilly.

Til next week, cheers!

Sean McDermott’s Head Coaching Tenure Is Becoming Worrisome

Having coaches and personnel in charge of the Buffalo Bills that make troublesome decisions is nothing new for Bills fans. As a matter of fact, since the days of Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas and Marv Levy have ended, there has been nothing but a clown car filled with inept coaches and management types who have driven the Bills from perennial AFC contenders to perennial AFC laughing stocks.

So it felt a little bit refreshing when Sean McDermott was hired as the head coach prior to the 2017-18 season. He seemed like a no-crap kind of coach. He stressed trusting the process, a phrase that Bills fans would recite both ironically and un-ironically throughout the course of the season. But ultimately, we felt like he repaid our loyalty when he helped lead the Bills to a 9-7 record, second place in the AFC East (forever behind the New England Patriots) and their first playoff berth in nearly 20 years. Sure, they lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars is a largely ugly AFC Wild Card Game, but this was the playoffs! It just felt good to be involved again.

Credit: SB Nation

And then things started tumbling downhill.

The decision to draft Josh Allen — as polarizing as it was — doesn’t fall on McDermott, but the rest of the quarterback controversy certainly does. A.J. McCarron, brought in via trade, flamed out so spectacularly that he was shipped out before the regular season even started. And Nathan Peterman. Good lord, Almighty, Nathan Peterman. It was something close to stunning that Peterman was brought back after the debacle against the Chargers last season — four interceptions in the first half — but could at least be somewhat understood because Peterman is still young and sometimes young quarterbacks struggle.

But the second the first half in Baltimore ended in week 1, with Peterman looking totally inept on his way to a pair of interceptions, that should have been his last day in the NFL. It was painfully clear that he just doesn’t have the ability to play in this league. But he was kept around. As Allen’s backup, it was fine. Hopefully, we’d never have a need to see him again. That lasted all of five weeks, thanks to a late hit that left Allen with an elbow injury during last week’s tilt in Houston.

Enter Peterman.

credit: ESPN.com

In perhaps the most expected moment in the history of everything, Peterman demolished a sterling effort by the Bills defense with the most comically ugly pick-six of all-time. We all knew it was coming. Hell, Peterman probably knew it was coming. And the interception on the final drive was just the poop icing on the turd cake.

So you would think that, in the wake of that soul-crushing defeat thanks to Peterman’s ineptitude, surely that would be the last time we’d see Peterman, right? But McDermott announced that he wasn’t certain who would start in week 7 against Indianapolis, saying that he “had to review the film”. Maybe he’s just protecting Peterman and not throwing him directly under the bus, but the fact that Peterman is even on the roster after that is amazing.

The move to newcomer Derek Anderson for the Colts game isn’t great — he’s thrown eight passes since the beginning of last season — but as long as it’s not Peterman, it pacifies the Bills faithful. But the fact that McDermott even came out and defended the embattled quarterback felt telling enough.

Going forward, McDermott will have the scrutiny ratcheted up with every decision. That comes with the territory when you handle the Peterman situation as it has been handled. Hopefully, going forward, he can get something north of atrocious until Allen comes back and won’t waste outstanding efforts from his defense.

But the heat might already be on Sean McDermott.

Tomahawks and Touchdowns: Week #7 Preview

The Kansas City Chiefs lost their first game of the season last week. The New England Patriots beat the Chiefs 43-40 on a last second field goal. The loss moved their record to 5-1. The Chiefs remain at the top of the conference because they are the only team with fewer than two losses. It was a tough loss for the Chiefs but there were some good takeaways in the game.

The Chiefs offense struggled to start but had a good second half that put them back in the game. Patrick Mahomes threw four touchdowns in the second half after starting the game with two interceptions. He finished the game with 352 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. Mahomes performance in the second half helped rally the Chiefs back from a 15-point deficit at halftime. Mahomes was tested by the Patriots defense but adjusted in the second half and put the Chiefs in position to potentially win the game.

Image result for armani watts chiefs

Last week the Chiefs defense struggled against the Patriots offense. They gave up 500 total yards to New England. The Patriots won the game on 65-yard drive in the final three minutes. Part of the reason for the poor performance were injuries to starters. Rookie safety Armani Watts was a big loss for the Chiefs. Watts was placed on injury reserve after undergoing core muscle surgery. He only had five tackles and one sack this season but he was starting to see more playing time because of the injuries at safety. Eric Berry and Eric Murray also missed the game because of injuries. The injuries on the defense played a big role in the loss last week.

The Chiefs week #7 game will be against the Cincinnati Bengals at home on Sunday night. It will be their third primetime game this season and their second straight on Sunday night. The Chiefs last played the Bengals in 2015. The Bengals won the game 36-21. The Chiefs have not beaten the Bengals since 2007. The Bengals are 4-2 this season and in first place in the AFC North. Both defenses have struggled this season and it should be a high scoring game. The Bengals and Chiefs are in the bottom five in the NFL in total yards per game and passing yards per game. The key for a Chiefs win will be putting up big numbers in the passing game. It should be a good match-up between two teams competing for a playoff spot.

Broncos Blast Cardinals

 

“I wouldn’t say it’s a must win, but we’re going to kick their ass, though.” -Von Miller

Von Miller is the Broncos’ best player. He’s an incredible talent and the heart that drives the engine on defense. That’s why he was the Super Bowl 50 MVP. But Broncos fans are used to him letting his play do the talking. That changed on Tuesday. In a press conference, following the team’s fourth loss and second straight game allowing more than 200 yards to a single rusher, Miller showed some fire. He offered a bold proclamation about Thursday’s tilt with the Cardinals.

And Thursday night his team backed it up. The Broncos came out with fire and more like the team that fans thought they’d see when the season began. The Cardinals (1-6), with dysfunction on offense and defense and a rookie quarterback still out of his depths, aren’t the class of the NFL. But a 45-10 win does plenty to boost confidence of Broncos nation and help embattled head coach Vance Joseph breathe a little easier, this weekend at least.

It’s been a season of record-setting, so it makes sense that the Broncos set marks again Thursday night. Todd Davis and Chris Harris, Jr., each had INTs returned for touchdowns. It’s the first time the Broncos have had two INT returns for touchdown in a game since 1989.

Offensively, Emmanuel Sanders continued his incredible season with two more touchdowns. The first was on an end around where he took the ball, rolled out and connected with Courtland Sutton on a 28-yard touchdown pass. He later caught a 64-yard touchdown pass from Case Keenum. With the passing TD, Sanders became the first Broncos’ receiver to score a touchdown rushing, receiving and passing in a season.

But everything began with Miller, and the game ended with Miller, who was a one-man wrecking crew. He hit Josh Rosen five times, sacked him twice, forced two fumbles and recovered one himself. He personally delivered on his promise to play better, and is starting to look like the defensive player of the year candidate that fans know and love. And his partner in crime, rookie Bradley Chubb, continues to shine, too. Chubb added two sacks of his own Thursday, with the team accounting for six. In short, Denver’s defense scored two touchdowns, grabbed five turnovers and kept Rosen under near constant pressure.

And about those rushing woes, David Johnson recorded 39 yards rushing on 14 carries, and the Cardinals amassed just 69 yards rushing on 21 carries as a team.

It was a big night, offensively and defensively, and now the Broncos have 10 days to prepare and show it wasn’t a one-time thing as they battle the red hot Kansas City Chiefs in Arrowhead on October 28.

News and Notes:

  • Phillip Lindsay continues to look like one of the best among a group of fantastic Broncos’ rookies. He rushed for 90 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, starting with a 22 yards scamper on his first carry and adding a 28-yard TD run.
  • Sanders threw that touchdown to Sutton, but also caught six balls of his own for 102 yards and a touchdown. He’s looking like one of the best receivers in the NFL in 2018.
  • Brandon McManus made his lone field goal attempt Thursday, a 41-yard kick. He also made all six of his extra points. Quietly, McManus has been one of the best Broncos this season, a perfect 11-for-11 on field goals and 18-for-18 on extra points.

The Buffalo Bills Quarterback Situation Continues to Devolve

There’s really no point in recapping the Bills’ 20-13 loss on Sunday to the Houston Texans. It was unbelievably frustrating and I don’t need to waste 500+ words to tell you what we all know: the defense is really good and the offense is really bad.

Instead, there’s much more to cover with the developing (or devolving, however you choose to look at it) quarterback situation that’s going on in Western New York. Let’s rewind a bit, shall we? Entering this season, the situation looked to have direction to it. The Bills had acquired AJ McCarron to be the starting quarterback. Nathan Peterman, and all the ugliness of his four-interception debut against the Chargers last season, would be the backup. And 2018 seventh overall pick Josh Allen would ride the pine and learn until such a time when he would be ready to step into the role of starter.

Credit: Reddit.com

But none of that went according to plan. McCarron was bad in the preseason, got hurt and then was traded before the regular season ever started. The Bills went with Peterman for the opener in Baltimore against the Ravens. He would complete 27.7% of his passes and throw two more interceptions before being yanked for the definitely-not-ready Allen. The job has been Allen’s ever since. Allen has looked like a rookie: he shows incredible potential, fitting the ball into tight windows while avoiding the constant rush he faces, even hurdling defenders while showing a surprising ability to scramble. But he’s had his missed reads, overthrows and interceptions, too.

Things got muddied even further on Sunday against the Texans. Allen got hit on his throwing elbow Sunday, forcing him to leave the game. Peterman stepped in and looked like he might be ready to prove all the haters and losers wrong, throwing a pretty touchdown pass to Zay Jones to give the Bills the lead. But following a game-tying field goal by the Texans late, Peterman managed to Peterman himself so hard, throwing a hideous pick-six that cost the Bills a hard-fought victory. To make matters even worse, he managed to throw a second interception to close out the crushing defeat.

credit: ESPN.com

Word is that Allen’s injury is now worse than first expected. He’s suffered an injury to his ulnar collateral ligament, better known as the ligament that baseball pitchers usually need repaired via Tommy John surgery.  Undergoing treatment on the sideline, Allen looked to be in a huge amount of pain and his return is hugely in question, though it seems very likely that he will not be in the lineup against the Colts on Sunday.

With the recent addition of veteran Derek Anderson to the mix, coupled with Peterman’s wretched performance, it seems pretty cut and dry that head coach Sean McDermott would go with literally anyone but Peterman, right? HOLY GOD, I CAN’T BELIEVE HOW WRONG THAT LAST STATEMENT IS. McDermott actually made the statement that he’d have to review the tape before deciding who would start week 7 against Indianapolis.

McDermott has to look at the tape to decide if he should start a guy known for crippling interceptions. McDermott has to look at the tape to decide if he should start a guy with 10 interceptions in 82 career attempts (that’s an absolutely staggering 11.4 percent interception rate for you numbers guys). Understandably, rumors have started to make the rounds that McDermott might lose the locker room and that his job could be in danger if he sticks with Peterman. Gee, I wonder why that narrative would exist?

I get things from McDermott’s perspective. He doesn’t want a losing record on his resume after leading the team to its first playoff appearance in two decades. It’s especially hard to call this season a wash in the face of the performance the defense has been putting out of late. But this offense is an abomination. Allen never stood a chance of having an outstanding season because there is no talent at wide receiver, LeSean McCoy’s production has fallen off a cliff into the Mariana Trench, and the offensive line couldn’t stop a pass rush consisting of angry grandmothers. They are not going to make the playoffs. Hell, they probably won’t win five games. Sometimes you have to call a spade a spade.

What’s even more infuriating is what Peterman had to say after picking his team up like friggin’ Bane and snapping their collective spirit over his knee. Here’s what he had to say after the loss Sunday:

At the end of the day I know where my true identity lies: in Christ. …Being a child of God, basically. Not finding my identity in football. Just trying to find it in who I really am. I love this game and put everything I have into this game, but can’t let it define me”

Let me start by saying that it’s great for him that he has such conviction in his faith. What I take umbrage with is the fact that he just kind of blows this off with something that is one thousand percent not related to the fact that he is a garbage football player. Just come out and say something to the effect of “it sucks, I hate letting my team down, I need to be better” yada, yada, yada. Don’t drop a quote like that because it literally does not matter.

So that’s what we’re facing heading into the match up with the Colts on Sunday. We have arguably the worst quarterback in the history of the Bills (if not the league) or a 35-year-old who has only thrown eight regular-season passes since the beginning of last year. And somehow, one of these is an absolute slam dunk compared to the other. Glad to see the life of a Bills fan goes right back into the toilet after only a year reprieve.

Whoever starts week 7 (and god help us all if it’s Peterman), I just want to preemptively say that I feel bad for the defense. They’ve come to play the last four weeks and have been met with interceptions and ineptitude for support more often than not.

But hey, at least the Sabres are fun to watch sometimes, right?

Win, Lose or Draw Tonight, McCoy Should Be Relieved of Duties

Whether the Cardinals win, lose or draw against the Denver Broncos (2-4) this evening, Mike McCoy needs to be relieved of his duties as Arizona’s offensive coordinator. The writing is on the wall, and has been for some time now already.

In their loss to the Minnesota Vikings last Sunday, the Arizona Cardinals converted of their third down opportunities. They were 0 for 10 in that regard. Not only does the Cardinal offense rank last in most offensive categories, including, but not limited to, plays, 3rd down conversions, rush yards, they are also second to last in points, pass yards, & pass TD. The worst part about it is that they haven’t shown any growth at all from Wk-1 to Wk-6. As evidenced by the lack of converting even one third down last Sunday. We are six weeks into the season and the Cardinals are one of two teams (Buffalo) that have yet to have a 300-yard passer, 100-yard rusher or 100-yard receiver.

The 21.9% third down conversion rate is the worst in the NFL since 2010. The 1,323 yards by the Cardinals through six games is the lowest amount through the first six games of a season in the NFL since 2009. Arizona has yet to even break 300 total yards as an offense. Last week in Minnesota, they put up a season best 268 total yards. That’s not going to cut it in any league.

One could argue that there would be no better time to make a move at replacing the OC than tomorrow morning.

Image result for byron leftwich cardinals

AZCentral.com

After tonight’s game, the Red Birds have 11 days off before the 49ers come to town. After that, they have another 14 days to prepare before heading to Arrowhead to take on Patrick Maholmes and the Kansas City Chiefs, thanks to the Bye week. That would give QB coach Byron Leftwich – or whoever else they would promote or hire to take over the OC gig – nearly a full month before taking on one of, if not the most, high-octane offenses in the NFL. If the Cardinals have any chance in that game they’re going to need to put up points (and probably a lot of them) to try and keep up with Chiefs head coach Andy Reid and his prolific offense. In between those 25 days from the Bronco to the Chief game, AZ will take on SF, which would be a good opponent for the new OC to start with.

Ironically enough, the Broncos are the same team that fired Mike McCoy as their OC after Week-11 last season. That was less than a full calendar year after the Chargers fired him as their head coach.

There’s no other way to put it, the 2018 Arizona Cardinals, especially the offense, have been a dumpster fire up to this point in the season. While the Broncos are the only team that has given up more rush yards on defense than the Cardinals, it wouldn’t be surprising if they can’t find a way to exploit it tonight. The fact remains, Arizona currently ranks 29th in the league in rushing attempts, yet they rank first in runs right up the middle in between the guards.

Unless McCoy can pull a rabbit out of his hat against Denver tonight and set season highs in nearly every offensive category – don’t hold your breath – it’s time for the Arizona Cardinals to move in a different direction. And no, that does not mean trading away key players like recent reports have suggested the may do. First and foremost, before even considering moving a Patrick Peterson, David Johnson, etc., they need to move on from Mike McCoy and his antiquated playbook/playcalling. The fans, players, organization and most importantly, rookie franchise QB Josh Rosen deserves better.

Broncos Seek To Halt Skid

 

Four in a row. That’s what the Broncos have done. After starting 2-0 for the sixth straight season, the Broncos have lost four games in a row. Last season, a historic eight-game losing streak tanked the season. At 2-4, having dropped four in a row, the Broncos are in danger of heading that way again. And now they get to face the Arizona Cardinals on a short week.

It hasn’t been a great season for the Cardinals, either. They have new coaches and rookie Josh Rosen is still learning the NFL game. Aside from a win in San Francisco in Week 5, the Cardinals have stumbled. They come into Thursday’s home tilt 1-5, among the worse records in the NFL. But they still have David Johnson, and that might be enough.

The Broncos, in addition to losing four straight, have been historically bad against the run the past two games. They allowed Isaiah Crowell to run for 219 yards, a career high and Jets franchise record, on just 15 carries in Week 5. In Week 6 at home, while they held the Rams’ passing game in check, the Broncos allowed Todd Gurley to run for a career high 208 yards. And with only three days between games, there wasn’t much time to work on a good fix.

The Cardinals haven’t been good this season, but Johnson is an all world running back who’s starting to find his form. He got into the end zone for the Cardinals in Week 6 and now returns home against a reeling rush defense in Denver. If they can’t contain him, Johnson could make it a long night for the Broncos.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals’ defense allowed Latavius Murray to go for 155 yards on Sunday. The Broncos are averaging 5.3 yards per carry through six weeks, so if the coaches can commit to the run, it could be a good night for rookie Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman. But given the recent splits, that could be a big if. And if the Broncos’ losing streak extends to five games, it’s going to be a long 10 days before the Broncos head to Kansas City to face the red hot Chiefs.

Fantasy Impact:

  • It’s hard to feel great about the Broncos’ passing game, however Emmanuel Sanders has been a solid WR2 and Demaryius Thomas, especially given bye weeks, has been a decent flex of late. Case Keenum, while not being a great NFL quarterback, has been decent for fantasy the past two weeks, and the Cardinals’ defense isn’t what it once was. He might be a streaming consideration in deep 2 QB leagues.
  • I like both Lindsay and Freeman as starts this week. I know Freeman disappointed last week, but this should be a better match-up and he should be relatively fresh after getting less than 10 carries Sunday. If the Broncos can keep it close, or build a lead, they can keep it on the ground. And Lindsay provides explosive burst in the rushing and receiving game, showing he doesn’t need a lot of touches to return flex-worthy value.
  • If you are in a deep league and desperate, Courtland Sutton remains an interesting dart throw. He had a long gain on Sunday, and had a TD catch in Week 5. He’s getting plenty of snaps, and only needs one or two to salvage an OK deep league flex day.

Royally Yours: AAA Omaha Storm Chasers Season Recap

The AAA affiliate Omaha Storm Chasers finished the 2018 season with a record of 66-74. They finished in third place in the Pacific Coast League Northern Division. It is their second straight third place finish. The Oklahoma City Dodgers won the division nine games ahead of the Storm Chasers. The Storm Chasers had an average year but had some top prospects by the end of the season.

Image result for Nicky Lopez omaha storm chasers

Photo by; Omaha-World Herald

Nicky Lopez was called up to the Storm Chasers in June after starting the season with the AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals. In AAA Lopez had a .278 batting average and seven home runs in 57 games. Lopez is considered one of the Royals top ten prospects. He could be an opening day starter for the Royals in 2019 if they make big trades in the off-season. Whit Merrifield and Adalberto Mondesi should be the starting middle infielders but they could be on the trading block if the Royals opt to rebuild their farm system. Lopez is a talented player that will likely see playing time at some point next season.

Image result for Richard Lovelady omaha storm chasers

Photo by; Minor League Baseball

Reliever Richard Lovelady had a great season with the Storm Chasers in 2018. The left-handed pitcher had a 2.47 ERA in 73 innings pitched and nine saves. Lovelady spent the entire season in AAA. He led the team in saves for the season. Lovelady has progressed quickly in the Royals system. He was a 10th round pick by the Royals in the 2016 MLB Draft. The Royals bullpen struggled last season and he should be an option to be on the opening day roster. The Royals do not have a solid closing pitcher entering the 2018 season and Lovelady could be an option.

Image result for frank schwindel omaha storm chasers

Photo by; MiLB.com

Frank Schwindel is not a top prospect for the Royals but he had a very good season with the Storm Chasers in 2018. He spent the entire season in AAA and finished with a .286 batting average and 24 home runs. He hit 12 more home runs than his closest teammate. Schwindel is a first basemen that will probably not start the season on the Royals roster. Ryan O’Hearn and Hunter Dozier appear to be their top two options at first base. The Royals decided not to call him up in September because of limited playing time. Schwindel had a great season but is in a tough spot on the Royals roster.

Next season the Storm Chasers should see some top prospects play with the team. Seven of the Royals top ten prospects finished the season with the Single-A Lexington Legends or AA Northwest Arkansas Naturals. The Royals have a lot of young players that are moving quickly through the system and Omaha will be the last stop before they hit the majors.

Broncos Drop Fourth Straight

 

There was a moment near the end of the first half, with the Broncos trailing 13-3 and just a few seconds left, when the crowd let out a roar. Chad Kelly, backup quarterback, stepped on the field. All he did was kneel down to take the game to the locker room, and it was only because starter Case Keenum was being evaluated for a concussion. But on a cold, snowy Sunday in Denver, it was a sign of hope to fans desperate to see a spark.

The Broncos showed some spark in the second half. Emmanuel Sanders, Demaryius Thomas and Courtland Sutton all had 40-plus yard receptions. Bradley Chubb, the No. 5 overall pick in April, had three sacks, and Von Miller added 1.5 sacks. And the Broncos hung tough, closing the lead to 23-20 with just under 1:30 left in the game. But in the end it wasn’t enough. The Rams moved to 6-0, and the Broncos dropped to 2-4, losers of four straight games.

And for a team that was once 2-0, and had entered the team with playoff hopes, there are more questions than answers. And not much time to get things fixed before their next contest, a Thursday night game in Arizona.

It was a game of highs and lows, as has been the case for much of the season for Denver. The offense kept it close, and Keenum tossed two touchdowns and threw for more than 300 yards. But he also threw an interception for the sixth straight game, and neither rookie Royce Freeman nor rookie Phillip Lindsay was able to do much on the ground.

On defense, the Broncos held the high-scoring Rams to 23 points, and recorded five sacks. Jared Goff was held without a touchdown pass, and to barely 200 yards. But the Broncos allowed a 200 yard rusher for the second week in a row, as Todd Gurley went for a career high 208 yards and two touchdowns.

Now the Broncos have a short week to lick their wounds, both physically and metaphorically, before trying to halt their skid in Arizona.

News and Notes:

  • Emmanuel Sanders needed three receptions to record his 500th career catch heading into Sunday, and he got it. He finished with seven receptions for 115 yards and a touchdown.
  • The Broncos played the hottest home game in team history on September 16, and less than a month later Sunday’s game was the coldest home game in October since 1969. It’s been a wild weather season for the Broncos and the season is only six weeks old.
  • The Broncos’ rushing attack cooled Sunday, as Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay combined for just 40 rushing yards on 13 carries. Lindsay did add 48 yards on six receptions to salvage his fantasy day.

GET YOUR  ON!

If you like this site or just simply want to school your friends because you got the information first.  

Join us on the field! Click on any of the links below.