Cleat Geeks

2018 NFL Draft Prospect; Kolton Donovan

Every year the NFL Draft makes college kids household names. Most of them are quarterbacks or running backs or receivers. Every once in a while someone who plays a specialty position or someone who is taken in the latter rounds becomes a household name as well. There are names in this year’s NFL Draft who we all know and we all have read and listened to at noseum. But, there are tons of college players who are immensely talented, will play every Sunday, and also have a story to tell. Today, you will get to meet one of those people, a long snapper who played his college for two different schools. And even that, has an interesting story. Kolton Donovan opened up and explained his story to Cleatgeeks. We are excited, and

humbled to share his story with all of you.

Cleatgeeks: When a kid decides he or she is going to play football, most of then dream of being a quarterback, or a running back, or a wide receiver. What made you say, “I want to be a long snapper?”

Kolton Donovan: Growing up I actually played more baseball and basketball since my parents both played D1 in those sports. So I grew up wanting to be an professional baseball pitcher like my dad was. It wasn’t until my freshman year of high school that I decided to play football and learned that my grandpa was an All-American center/snapper in his college years playing football. He would always tell me that he wanted me to be the next great Notre Dame quarterback in my childhood, but instead I picked up on snapping during my freshman year of high school and loved it. Eventually I had that opportunity to attend the University of Notre Dame, but turned it down and accepted my smallest offer from Southern Utah so I could serve an LDS Church Mission.


Kolton Donovan while playing for Southern Utah.

CG: You were raised in St George, Utah. What does a long snapper do for fun in St. George?

KD: There are a lot of things to do in St George, Utah. We have several state and national parks within an hour or two drive. There are always athletic tournaments going on since it is warm the majority of the year and several football fields to snap on. Also the Virgin River is a great place to go to cool down and go skim-boarding. But my favorite was hiking up to Dixie Rock that overlooks the city.

CG: St. George was named after George A. Smith, an apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Being raised in an environment where over 70% of the population are LDS, what role has religion played in your life?

KD: Religion has played a large role in my life. Even though I lived in St George during my high school years, I moved around a lot throughout my young years. I wasn’t always in or around highly populated LDS areas and in a way that was a blessing because I had to learn about religion for myself and stand up for what I believe in. I can take comfort in a lot of things because I know there’s a God who loves me and all of His children. I am the man I am today because of my religion and I’m very grateful for that.

CG: The St. George community has produced 4 NBA players, 3 MLB players and 4 NFL players including Cincinnati Bengals and New England Patriots running back Corey Dillon. What would it mean to you to be added to that list?

KD: It would be amazing to be added to that list. There has been some great talent and athletes to come out of St George so it would be an honor to be in that list with them. Pine View High School and my coach (Ray Hosner) have never had an athlete in the NFL so I hope I can be the first one to represent them with that honor.

Kolton, and his loving, supportive family.

CG: What 3 people have had the greatest impact on your life? Why?

KD: First and foremost it has to be my parents. They raised me to be who I am today. They taught me right and wrong, how to work hard, and to help those who need it. I wouldn’t have this opportunity without their own hard work and belief in me. – My grandpa Donovan because he has always been my role model and hero. He worked harder than anyone I know and has left an uplifting impression on everyone he met. He always believed in me. – Ray Hosner because he taught me there is so much more to football than just playing it. It is about the people around you and the lives you are able to impact that matters the most.

CG: You were a graduate transfer from Southern Utah. You were hurt in your first game wearing a Wyoming jersey. And without playing another snap you were allowed to dress for your final regular season game. Were there people who felt that you did not deserve to dress because you did not “earn” that right on the field? How did you handle that opposition?

KD: There probably were people who thought that I didn’t deserve to dress in the bowl game and that’s okay. I don’t let things that are out of my control concern me. I was blessed to have the opportunity to wear the Wyoming uniform one more time and I’m very grateful for that. I will always be thankful to Wyoming and Cowboy Nation for allowing me the opportunity to finish out my college career as a Cowboy.

CG: Where are you at in your rehabilitation? Are you 100%? Should an NFL team label you an injury risk? Why or why not?

KD: I am nearly done with my rehabilitation and feeling great! I will be ready to go for mini camp and training camp. The surgeon who operated on me is one of the best in the business. He has operated on several NFL, NBA, and even Olympic athletes. Many of which are still playing their sport today and performing at a very high level. With that being said, I wouldn’t say I am an injury risk at all.

An 18 year old Kolton on his LDS Mission trip.

CG: What is a graduate transfer?

KD: A graduate transfer gives an athlete, like myself, an opportunity to continue their education (by pursuing a masters degree after obtaining their bachelors degree) that wasn’t offered by their original institution.

CG: What was the biggest thing you learned under coach Craig Bohl at Wyoming?

KD: Coach Bohl is one of the great football minds I’ve been around. He is very knowledgeable about the game and will be a hall of fame coach someday because of everything he’s accomplished. He taught me to learn football from an outside the box perspective to I can understand the whole game instead of just special teams.

CG: Have you been able to talk to Jesse Hooper, who looks as though he is going to be the next Cowboy’s long snapper as of yet?

KD: Yes, I actually got to help with the recruiting of Jesse. I knew who Jesse Hooper was because I am from Utah like he is and not very many long snappers come out of Utah. He messaged me last year introducing himself and sent his film over too. He was really good and so I sent his film over to the recruiting office. He will do a great job at Wyoming and excited to see what he does there.

CG: While at Southern Utah you were able to do at a young age what most of us never get to do, go on a mission trip. How old were you? Where did you go? How did that experience effect your life today?

KD: I was 18 years old when I was called to serve in the San Antonio/Austin, Texas mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was a great experience for me even though it was really hard. I got to perform service projects for the poor and needy. I helped people find peace during hard times and trials. I got to meet a lot of amazing people and learn things I couldn’t have learned in other ways. I’m also still in contact with a lot of people I met on my mission. Those lessons I learned have helped me grow and mature into the man I am today.

CG: You mentioned that you helped in the recruitment of Jesse Hooper. You also seemed really touched by your coaches. Do you think coaching is something you may pursue down the road?

KD: I love football and I love coaching/helping young players. My grandpa was a Hall of Fame high school coach in Montana so I feel like it is something that would come naturally to me too. So coaching is definitely a possibility, but I would definitely like to keep playing football for a while before I have to make that decision.

CG: What is a quality that you have that can’t be measured on a test or in the gym that every NFL team should know about?

KD: My biggest quality is my heart and the love I have for the game. There are many things that can be measured but it is impossible to open up someones chest and see what kind of heart they have. I have loved this game for a long time and I love it even more today. I love training and working hard, I love being out at practice, and I love being playing in games, especially in pressure situations.

CG: Complete this sentence for me. I want to be drafted by an NFL team that…….

KD: Will give me a chance and let me compete.

CG: If there is a kid reading this who is considering being a long snapper. What advice would you give that child?

KD: It is all about reps and the desire. If you believe you can do it, then you can do it. Every day is going to be a battle and a struggle, but don’t focus on the hardships instead focus on what this will do for your in the future. Work hard and don’t take a single day for granted. Most importantly though, have fun and love it.

CG: Give me an example when you were forced to overcome an obstacle, and how that challenge has made you a better man today.

KD: I would say my ACL injury was a decent obstacle I had to overcome. It took a few days to let it sink in before I realized that I had a real opportunity with this. I focused my mindset more on the perspective of “this isn’t a setback, but rather a great opportunity to learn and grow in the game of football and life”. There were a lot of things I was able to do that I never really had the time to do before like watching more film, helping teammates, observing coaches and their coaching strategies, hit the gym hard, and start working towards the NFL Draft. I wanted to get better and learn more about this game and this gave me a great chance to do that. I can honestly say that it didn’t stop me or slow me down, but instead helped me learn and grow in ways I didn’t think were possible.

CG: Who is the best teammate you have ever played with that no one knows who they are.

KD: One teammate I will never forget is KC Rawlinson. He was a senior and my roommate at Southern Utah University during my freshman year. He was an older (mid-late 20’s) military guy who worked harder than anyone I knew in the program. He walked on to the team and only played special teams, but everyone admired. In fall camp we had a military lecture and we were all given dog tags that said “THUNDER’ on them. Which stood for “Train Hard, Utilize Nutrition, Do Extra, and Rest”. This all came from KC and everything he did for the program. He ended up winning the “Tip of the Spear” award at the end of the year for his fearlessness on special teams and most feared by opposing teams.

CG: When an NFL team drafts you. What are the top 5 characteristics they are going to get from you on day 1 and everyday thereafter?

KD: 1. A drive for excellence 2. Passion for the game 3. First guy in and last guy out mentality 4. High character on and off the field 5. Desire to always win

CG: After the draft, and you officially make an NFL roster, who are the first 3 people you are going to thank? Why?

KD: My parents will be the very first people I thank because they have sacrificed so much and have believed in me ever since I started to play football. I wouldn’t be here without them. – My high school coach Ray Hosner because he always fought for me and gave me the opportunity to continue playing football past high school. – My snapper coach Ben Bernard because he always believe I could become an NFL long snapper. He’s spent several hours working with him and helping me become the best I could be. He is why my snapping dream is possible today.

Image result for kolton donovan wyomingCG: On October 30th you tweeted out from your official Twitter account, “Small minded people will always be small minded, so always be the bigger person.” What did you mean by that?

KD: Throughout the journey of life (and sports even), there will always be people who tell you what you can and cannot do. People say that so they can get a reaction from you or try to prove they are right because they couldn’t do it themselves. But instead of listening or taking offense, be the bigger person. Don’t hate them for it, but instead show them that it is possible. Be the person who encourages others and tells them “Hey, anything is possible if you believe and work hard for it”. Lift people up and encourage them because there will be a lot of great things that come from it.

CG: Where will you be and who will be with you during the 2018 NFL Draft?

KD: I will be in Texas with my wife. I’ve already apologized to her several times because I’ll probably have my phone on and checking it all the time. She’s been super supportive of this whole process and I’m very grateful for her.

CG: Give me something that is not sports related, that is on your bucket list.

KD: I would love to go to Ireland someday. My family is Irish so I would love to go there to see where my family is from, what life was like, and learn from the people there. I have a lot of respect for my family history and would love to learn more about it.

Authors Note; if you would like to see Kolton and the other talented college athletes perform, Wyoming’s pro day will be broadcast on the NFL Network tomorrow at noon EST.

The Free Agent 5: Best Signings

Hello guys, welcome back to the last rendition of The Free Agent 5 series. The free agency flurry has ceased, the smoke has cleared and we finally know where some of the top talents in the league are going to call home for the next few years. As always, it was full of surprises and unexpected circumstances. In this final edition, I will be breaking down what I think the top 5 free agent signings were. Going to blow my own trumpet a little, a lot of my predictions seemed to bear fruit, especially in my QB edition.

Oh… also, I do apologise for being slightly quiet over the last week or two, had a crazy amount of work to do. Anyways, less stalling, let’s count down my top free agent signings.


HT:6’6              WT325             Age:26             New Team: Jacksonville Jaguars

Andrew Norwell one was of the best guards in the whole entire league last year, the fact he was allowed to get to free agency was a surprise. However, the Carolina Panthers elected not to resign or tag Norwell, and the Jags benefitted from this decision. Not to mention, so did Norwell, who is now the highest paid guard in the league signing a 5-year $65.5 million dollar deal.

I love this signing and as much as I berate Blake Bortles, this team immediately became much better on offence with the signing of Norwell. It was a much-reported storyline going into last season that the Jags wanted to run the ball LOTS, culminating in the drafting of Leonard Fournette no. 4 in the 2017 Draft. How do you give your high priced running back the best chance to succeed? You sign an elite road-grader up front. Norwell has been ranked in the top 15 guards in the each of his first 4 seasons, but 2017 he took the next step, getting voted to be a 1st team all pro. Norwell was the only guard in 2017 with at least 200+ pass block snaps without a pressure, not only great in the passing game, he was the no.1 offensive line mean in run block success percentage. The Jags just got better up front on offence and with their defence, they have to be favourites in the AFC.



HT: 6’3             WT:210            Age: 24            New Team: Chicago Bears

This was my first ever prediction for Cleat Geeks and I managed to guess right. I really like this pick up by Chicago, with the signing of A-Rob, Taylor Gabriel and Trey Burton, they have started to give Mitchell Trubisky every single chance to succeed. Obviously, Robinson was the most high profile of the pick-ups. I won’t talk too much about him as a player, but instead urge you to go and read the Free Agent 5: Receivers.

Robinson coming off a torn ACL has elite upside and can give Trubisky a legitimate threat on the outside. However, it all depends on how his knee holds up, but we are all hoping for the best, as Robinson has the potential to be the next great receiver and the league is so much more fun when he is playing lights out.



HT: 6’3             WT:195            Age: 29            New Team: San Fransisco 49ers

Wow. In terms of needs to signing ratio, this is the best free agent pick up for the whole year. Although this happened before the official start of the year, I couldn’t leave Sherman out of this list, the signing was too perfect. Sherman’s 2017 was cut short by a torn Achilles and has had some complications since, but the fact that he was able to sign means that there should be no real concern for his long-term health.

Obviously, this is a great signing not only because Sherman is one of the best cornerbacks of the last 5 years, pioneering the ‘Legion of Boom’, but it also fills a massive hole for the 49ers. San Fran’s draft has completely opened up and they can take the best player available. You either love or hate Sherman with his antics and bravado off the field, but there is no way you can doubt his talent. What is also great is that Sherman will be playing the Seahawks twice a year…. That IS going to be fun.



HT: 5’9             WT: 186           Age: 25            New Team: Houston Texans

Mathieu hasn’t really been the same since his 2nd torn ACL in his mightily impressive 2015 campaign. However, he is still young and still has all the ability to be one of the better defensive backs in the league. Mathieu wouldn’t take a pay cut in Arizona, he backed his ability to be worth a lot more than anything Arizona was willing to give up. This ended up in Tyrann being cut and the Texans were on the receiving end and signing Mathieu to a 1-year $7 million deal, for what it is worth, I believe this is a steal.

The Texans had a massive need in the secondary, and I think Mathieu’s versatility will make him extremely valuable. Add this to one of the best front-7s in all of football, with JJ Watt, Whitney Mercilus and Jadevoen Clowney, Mathieu could reap on the rewards with his unique playmaking ability and knack to be around the ball. Good one Houston.



HT: 6’3             Weight: 295      Age: 27            New Team: Minnesota Vikings

With Kirk Cousins being the marquee signing for Minnesota the signing of Sheldon a few days later went somewhat under the radar. After an ultra-promising start to his career, off the field issues had a part to play in Richardson’s fall from grace. He was then traded to the Seahawks and had some promising moments, but nothing near to what we are used to seeing from him. I think Minnesota is one of the best places for Richardson to have gone, he goes to an already loaded defensive line and his addition makes it even more scary. He has proven that he can be a dominant force, so here is hoping that he can rekindle the Richardson we all want him to be.

As for the team, the Vikings defence is one of the better in the league and that starts up front. This being said, whilst they have all the star power in the world, their depth proved to be an issue and they fell off towards the end of the year and throughout the playoffs. Case and point is the Eagles game, ironically enough the Eagles’ depth on the d-line is the golden standard. With the signing of Sheldon, the Vikings are extremely close to that golden standard.



Well, that wraps it up for this edition guys, I hope you enjoyed reading it. Short but sweet end to my first series of articles. Don’t forget, hit me up on twitter @edmardon23 with any feedback, would love to hear from you.



Photos from


NFL Dynasty Surefire Sleeper

Everybody knows, or should know that Wide Receivers are, or should be, the top pick in dynasty. They last much longer in the league than Running Backs. This year, guys like Odell Beckham Jr. and Deandre Hopkins are the top options at 1.01. However, they likely won’t be the 1.01 in 2020. But there are loads of young wide receivers out there everyone thinks could be the next big thing. Cameron Meredith and Corey Davis are two examples of this. Both of these players have great upside, and have the ability to be a great receiver, but neither of them are the guys who will actually be the next star though. The one who will make the jump is Kenny Golladay. Now, anybody who knows me, or simply follows me on twitter, knows that I have overwhelming love for Golladay. There is a reason for this however, besides my blinding Detroit Lions fandom. Buy low on him now like I have, before it’s too late and he’s helping another owner take your money year after year.

Image result for kenny golladay college

Photo by; Detroit Free Press

Kenny Golladay was a college football stud. During his sophomore season at North Dakota, he led the team with 69 catches. These 69 catches turned into 884 yards and 8 touchdowns. He also added a 64 yard punt return for a touchdown. The impressive stats of that 2013 season earned Golladay a bit of D1 attention, which eventually resulted in a transfer to Northern Illinois. After sitting out the 2014 season due to the NCAA transfer rules, he proceeded to light up the MAC conference. In the 2015 and 2016 seasons, Kenny caught 160 passes for over 2,200 yards, and 18 receiving touchdowns. He also carried the ball 29 times for an average of 7.1 yards per carry, and 3 rushing touchdowns on top of the impressive receiving stats. At the NFL Combine, Kenny Golladay measured at 6 foot 3.75 inches, and weighed in at 218 pounds. Despite being such a big player, he ran a 4.50 40 yard dash, and his hands measured at an impressive 9.75 inches, which is the same size that Calvin Johnson measured when he participated in the combine. These eye popping collegiate statistics, and impressive combine measurements, inspired the Lions to spend a third round draft pick in the 2017 NFL draft on him.

Being a tall receiver, and being drafted by the Lions, fans such as myself inevitably compared Kenny Golladay to the legend that is Calvin Johnson immediately. It didn’t help to calm the comparisons that Golladay was explosive in his first game. In Detroit’s season opener against Arizona, he caught 4 passes on 7 targets for 69 yards and two 4th quarter touchdowns to give the Lions the lead, and the win late in the game. Golladay went on to have several other explosive games in the 2017 season. However, he never could quite break the 100 yard mark. He may have had a chance to had he not missed 5 games due to a hamstring injury in the middle of the season. Injury put aside, when all was said and done, through 11 games Golladay caught 28 of his 48 targets, putting him at about a 58.3% catch rate. To put that in perspective, his teammate Golden Tate led the NFL with a 76.7% catch rate, and Larry Fitzgerald finished 15th with a 67.7% catch rate. Those 28 catches were turned into 477 yards, which works out to just over 17 yards per catch, and 3 touchdowns. Now those numbers may not seem huge, but they’re not bad for a rookie receiver who was arguably the fourth or fifth option on his team and missed 5 games. Golladay also consistently showed that he was a deep threat. He caught 6 passes of 30+ yards, and looked explosive after the catch. He made some ridiculous grabs in tight coverage, showing some of that Calvin Johnson type ability. When you combine the solid numbers with how good he looks when you actually watch him play, you’ll have no doubt that Kenny Golladay really is the next big thing.

#ManCrush Monday Series: David Johnson

This is the first of a series of articles that will all include the hashtag #ManCrush in which I will highlight specific players that I have fallen in love with in terms of fantasy football and why I am excited about their 2018 season and beyond. 


The 2016 season was the year that I started my first dynasty league with friends from college and through randomization I was granted the second pick for the startup draft. Odell Beckham Jr. was taken with the first overall pick. While it may seem like I would have had a tough decision between backs like Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley, and Le’Veon Bell or receivers like Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, and DeAndre Hopkins, I had my eyes set one one person only: DAVID JOHNSON.

The first time the NFL, and myself, got a look at David Johnson was in week 1 of the 2015 season against the Saints. After a knee injury took starter Andre Ellington out of the game late in the third quarter, the backfield was left to veteran Chris Johnson, who the Cardinals had not signed until mid-August, and rookie David Johnson, a third-round pick out of Northern Iowa. Chris Johnson helped chew the clock as Arizona maintained a slight lead, but managed only 37 yards on 10 carries. As the clock ticked down under two minutes, David Johnson came in to relieve the elder Johnson. On his first NFL play, he took a pass in the flat and burst up the sideline on route to a 55-yard touchdown to seal the win for the Cardinals.


Johnson’s next NFL touch came the following week against the Bears, this time on special teams. To open the game at Soldier Field in Chicago, Johnson took the kickoff deep in his own end zone and weaved his way up the middle to the 25 yard line before turning on the jets on what ended up as a 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Later in the game, he added a rushing touchdown to become the first player to score a rushing, receiving and kick-return touchdown within his team’s first two games of the season since Willie Galimore of the 1958 Chicago Bears.

Fast forward to week 13 where, after Chris Johnson suffered a fractured tibia in week 12, David Johnson got his first NFL start. He did not disappoint. In a division win over the St. Louis Rams, Johnson carried the ball 22 times for 99 yards and added 21 yards and a touchdown through the air on two catches. Johnson put up a similar stat line in week 14 (19-92-0-5-31-0) against the Vikings before exploding for 229 total yards and three rushing touchdowns against the Eagles on a career-high 33 touches.

All in all, David Johnson finished the 2015 season with 581 yards and 8 touchdowns on 125 carries to go along with 36 receptions for 457 yards and 4 touchdowns. He was a major part of the Cardinals 13-3 regular season, although even his best couldn’t overcome the turnovers that Carson Palmer made in their eventual defeat in the NFC Championship game.

I went back and looked at his combine numbers and highlights. What really sold me was Amazon’s original series All or Nothing: A Season with the Arizona Cardinals. If you don’t yet see why I was so confident drafting him going into 2016, start reading this article from the top again, and make sure you click the links this time.

In 2016, Johnson picked up right where he left off, giving the Cardinals and fantasy owners everything they had hoped for and more. In the first year of my dynasty league, he carried me to a 12-1 record and a fantasy championship. Over the first 15 games of the season, Johnson had over 100 total yards in every single game. He surpassed 2,000 total yards and scored 20 total touchdowns, the first player to do so since 2006 MVP LaDainian Tomlinson. In just his second year, despite the Cardinals 6-8-1 record, Johnson was in the conversation for both Offensive Player of the Year as well as MVP, and had a chance to become only the third player in NFL history to have both 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving in one season, drawing comparisons to Marshall Faulk. However, in the final game of the season, Johnson left the game with an apparent knee injury in the first quarter after being tackled awkwardly by the Rams’ Alec Ogletree and Eugene Sims. This brought his season to an end.

Following recovery and rehabilitation for his sprained MCL, Johnson was ready to go at it again in 2017, determined to reach the mark he nearly eclipsed the season before: 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving. Unfortunately, his season ended almost before it began. In week 1, Johnson suffered a dislocated wrist that he would ultimately not come back from. I actually attended the week 1 game in Detroit, and my hopes for a repeat championship went right out the door with the Cardinals’ hopes for a rebound season.

So now we wait to see what happens in 2018. Johnson’s wrist will certainly be fully recovered by training camp if it isn’t already, and we know what he is capable of. If you forgot, here‘s a reminder.

The main point of discussion is the coaching changes. Bruce Arians has been replaced by new head coach Steve Wilks, who had success as a defensive coordinator and assistant head coach under Ron Rivera in Carolina in 2017. He has assembled his coaching staff led by new defensive coordinator Al Holcomb, who worked under Wilks as the Panthers’ linebacker coach, and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, who has experience both as an offensive coordinator and head coach. Their main goal was to address the quarterback position, as they had none under contract. The coaching staff, along with general manager Steve Keim, was aggressive free agency, and although they missed out on Case Keenum and Kirk Cousins, they were able to land both Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon. They will most likely add another quarterback in the draft as well.

Regardless of who the Cardinals start at quarterback, Johnson will be the foundation of the offense. Wilks acknowledges the fact that the NFL is a pass-happy league, but says “…there’s nothing more demoralizing to a defense than being able to run the ball.” Johnson is one of the best dual-threat backs in the league and will allow the Cardinals to establish the run and open up the passing game as well, taking what the defense gives them. The return of Larry Fitzgerald also significantly improves the outlook of the offense. The 34 year old future first-ballot Hall of Famer is coming off a third straight season of 100+ catches and 1,000+ receiving yards and will help out a new quarterback as well as reduce the number of stacked boxes Johnson faces.

I know I’m excited to have David Johnson back, and the Cardinals are too. Don’t forget about him when you are drafting this fall.

Thanks for reading, find me on Twitter @brad_petrowitz and send me any thoughts or questions you may have!


Who Are The Bills? Who is McCarron? What Will They Be Together?

Whenever an NFL team needs to acquire a new franchise Quarterback, they either acquire him through free agency or in the NFL Draft. Several teams including Minnesota, Washington, and Denver found that star veteran Quarterback from the start of the 2018 Free Agency. There are other teams taking a much more difficult and complicated approach to finding their franchise Quarterback of the future. For the Buffalo Bills, they might have found their day 1 starting Quarterback for the 2018-2019 NFL season, but they will be still looking for their franchise Quarterback of the future.

Last Wednesday, the Buffalo Bills signed former Cincinnati Bengals backup Quarterback A.J. McCarron to a 2-year, $10 million contract. McCarron signed with Buffalo after being held out of trades and after winning grievance from Cincinnati after originally being a restricted free agent. Buffalo was aiming for high-caliber free agent Quarterbacks such as Drew Brees (resigned with New Orleans) and Case Keenum (signed with Denver) but were more interested in possibly acquiring a Quarterback in the 1st round of the 2018 NFL Draft. For Buffalo to acquire a passer like McCarron shows that Buffalo is not out of the running to draft an elite, young Quarterback but also showing they are looking to make themselves a legitimate playoff contender.


A.J. McCarron isn’t the Quarterback that Buffalo wants but still needs

Last season, the Buffalo Bills got to the playoffs for the first time in 17 years with an offense that was underwhelmingly explosive. The Bills were 22nd in points per game (18.9), 31st in passing yards per game (176.6), and 29th in total yards per game (302.6). QB Tyrod Taylor was the starter in 42 of the 44 games he played in the three seasons he was there at Buffalo. While Taylor help bring Buffalo to an incredible season last year and ended the longest playoff drought in pro sports, the Bills are looking to expand on their success. The Bills traded Taylor to the Cleveland Browns for a 3rd round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. The Bills avoided having to pay more money including a $6 million roster bonus to Tyrod and were likely going to cut him. Buffalo ended up picking up A.J. McCarron, who was Cleveland Browns Head Coach Hue Jackson’s preference of a free agent Quarterback.

While McCarron was not the backup Quarterback turned future franchise Quarterback that Aaron Rodgers and Jimmy Garoppolo were, McCarron is not your typical backup Quarterback. McCarron took over for Bengals starting Quarterback Andy Dalton when he broke his hand around the end of the 2015-2016 NFL season. McCarron played 7 games and started 4 of them officially taking over in the middle of the 1st quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers toward the end of the regular season. McCarron accounted for 854 passing yards on 79 completions (out of 119 attempts), for an average of 7.18 average yards per pass, 6 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, a QBR of 53 and a passer rating of 97.1. A.J. helped take the Bengals into the playoffs in the Wildcard Round against their rivals in the Pittsburgh Steelers. In the Wildcard Round, McCarron passed for 212 yards on 23 completions (out of 41 attempts) for 1 touchdown and an interception. The Bengals would have gone to beat the Steelers but a Jeremy Hill fumble and two separate 15-yard penalties from LB Vontaze Burfict and CB Adam “Pac-man” Jones basically gave Pittsburgh the game-winning field goal.

Image result for a.j. mccarron

Photo by; CBS Boston

Since then McCarron has not had many opportunities to play because of the health of Andy Dalton. McCarron was close to being traded to Cleveland last season, but the Browns failed to get the paperwork in time for the trade to be official. Despite the lack of experience, McCarron has the mechanics and the talent to be a starting Quarterback in the NFL. McCarron has fewer attributes to worry about overall than other former free agent Quarterbacks such as Sam Bradford (health concerns), Matt Cassel (age), and Matt Moore (inconsistencies).


Buffalo could still pick their franchise Quarterback in the 1st round of the 2018 NFL Draft

With the addition of A.J. McCarron, the Bills currently only have two Quarterbacks on their roster. Nathan Peterman was a 5th round selection (171st pick) in last year’s 2017 NFL Draft and was highly inconsistent in the multiple times Head Coach Sean McDermott benched Tyrod Taylor for him. In the 4 games he played, Peterman passed for 252 yards on 24 completions (out of 45 attempts), an average of 5.14 yards, 2 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, a QBR of 12.1, and a passer rating of 35.4. On November 19th against the Los Angeles Chargers, Peterman was called to lead the Bills but ended up throwing 5 interceptions and accounted for only 66 yards, a QBR of 0.3, and a passer rating of 17.9. In a short season, Peterman has proven that he cannot be the franchise Quarterback.

Image result for nathan peterman bills

Photo by; Bills Wire

Buffalo will be continuing to start over in HC Sean McDermott and GM Brandon Beane’s 2nd season with the Bills. Despite having McCarron on their team, the team will be looking to draft an elite-level rookie Quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft. Having McCarron instead of Tyrod Taylor not only gives the Bills more flexibility on money but also properly grooms the rookie Quarterback that the Bills are expected to draft within the first 2 rounds. The Buffalo Bills have 4 picks in the first two rounds with the first coming in at #12 after trading LT Cordy Glenn to the Cincinnati Bengals (another player they were likely going to release). The Bills do have opportunities to draft a Quarterback at #12 but the market for them is extremely high especially after the New York Jets traded from the 6th pick to #3 where the Indianapolis Colts held the pick.

If the Bills trade up to #2 (currently held by the New York Giants) for UCLA QB Josh Rosen, McCarron might not have too much of an opportunity to play as much as he would like to. Rosen is more pro-ready than the other Quarterbacks in the 2018 Draft class. He could likely take over for McCarron in the 2nd half of the 2018-2019 season if selected by Buffalo. If the Bills luck out at #12 or trade up slightly to either #6 where the Colts are now or #9 to the San Francisco 49ers, then Wyoming QB Josh Allen or Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield could be available. McCarron might play a full regular season and possibly the playoffs if this were the case. This is all speculation of how much playing both McCarron and the potential future franchise Quarterback will get. This season for sure is a big indication of the Bills training and growing at a steady pace but they are still determined to win now.


Buffalo will replicate the Quarterback grooming that Chicago and Kansas City did last year

Image result for Mike Glennon Mitchell TrubiskyIf the Bills decide to go with a Quarterback in the 1st round of the 2018 NFL Draft, they will try to keep him off the field as much as they can so that he doesn’t get thrown into the wolves early. This is a big reason they got A.J. McCarron for a 2-year deal so that they can have him play quickly and then possibly help lead a soft transition to the high-level. This is an older style of Quarterback grooming in the NFL that has been rapidly trending with two teams using this last season. The Chicago Bears used it with veteran Quarterback Mike Glennon then the team slowly transitioning to Mitchell Trubisky (the 2017 NFL Draft 2nd overall pick). The Kansas City Chiefs also used this tactic with veteran Alex Smith playing most of the regular season and the Wildcard Round against the Tennessee Titans and rookie Patrick Mahomes II (2017 NFL Draft 10th overall pick) playing the last game in the regular season. Both the Bears and the Chiefs moved on from Glennon (free agency) and Alex Smith (traded to Washington) leaving their 2nd-year Quarterbacks to start the 2018-2019 NFL season.

This is a tactic that the Buffalo Bills are expected to utilize with McCarron and their potential rookie Quarterback this upcoming 2018-2019 NFL season. While McCarron has risks of non-experience, he is a great candidate to help with the transition of a rookie Quarterback like Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, or Baker Mayfield. The Bills are not risking much with A.J. McCarron as their possible starting Quarterback, for now, if he is struggling heavily in the regular season then they will put him behind the rookie Quarterback. If McCarron is an absolute playmaker for the Bills, then they will have a great trade piece for an NFL that needs an experienced and efficient veteran Quarterback. McCarron is a low-risk but a possible high-reward Quarterback if Buffalo utilizes him correctly and the team acquires the right Quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft. Bills fans are asking GM Brandon Beane to trade up to get the Quarterback of the future, but they are also cautious of the past number of times they have tossed J.P. Losman, Trent Edwards, and E.J. Manuel into early playing time. A.J. McCarron is the Quarterback that the Bills need to help the most before and after the Draft to ensure that the rookie QB is groomed and trained properly. McCarron will get a chance to try and win the starting job but right now, he is getting the full support of Beane because of his competitive spirit. This is an attribute that will be very useful for them as they geared towards another playoff run and possibly afterward if Buffalo decides to trade McCarron for a high price.


2018 NFL Drafting Needs; NFC North

Nothing beats a bit of draft speculation straight after one of the best Superbowls of all time, right? I’ll be going through the draft needs of every NFL franchise, and now I’m 75% done with this, the NFC North edition!

Minnesota Vikings – CB, DT, C

The ‘nearly-men’ of the NFL last season, following a death-defying, last-second touchdown, and then a soul-destroying defeat a week later to the eventual Champions; the Vikings must be feeling like they’re very close to making it to the big game, and possibly even winning it. Dalvin Cook will hope to be ready in time to start week one, money to spend on a quarterback and only Joe Berger and Tom Johnson considered urgent contract situations, the future is bright in Minnesota.

Potential picks:

30 – Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa

2017 was an insane year for Jackson, with a ridiculous playmaking rate, allowing a lowly 41% completion rate when defending the pass. Elite instinctive player with good height and arm length. He’s drawn to the ball rather than the man with fantastic handling skills, which figures given his history as a receiver. Loves the attention that comes with the big plays but works hard at the same time in order to improve. There is however, a huge concern for me. He’s started 14 games. What’s to say 2017 isn’t an outlier. If you look at the stats, which will be below this paragraph, it has to be considered his absolute ceiling. An experienced quarterback will be able to manipulate him into a route misread. Tackling isn’t a strength either making Josh Jackson a low floor, high ceiling prospect but very alluring based on upside.

2017 stats – 13 games; 48 combined tackles (0.5 for loss); 18 passes deflected; 1 forced fumble; 8 interceptions (2 for TDs); 1 kick blocked

62 – BJ Hill, DT, NC State

Athletic guy who plays mostly inside. Good burst and anticipation. Uses his instincts well and is able to notice pre-snap movement and adjust accordingly. Stamina is above-average so BJ Hill may be able to play more snaps than most within a DL rotation. Solid tackle production in his college career so far. Has shown a tendency to get caught out by double-teams. He’ll need to work on his body control and balance on contact. More strength will be required at the point of attack in order to make it at the next level.

2017 stats – 13 games; 57 combined tackles (5.5 for loss); 3 passes deflected; 1 forced fumble; 3 sacks; 1 blocked kick

94 – Austin Corbett, C, Nevada

An intelligent and strong player; Corbett plays with good awareness and instincts, combined with technical ability. Only played at tackle in college so will have to adapt in order to play center. Leg drive isn’t the strongest and his allows defenders through too often due to poor hand placement. This may be another reason to bring him in as a center. I highly doubt he’ll be an NFL tackle or even guard, but the Vikings could sure use him in the middle.

Detroit Lions – RB, DT, LB

I can’t be the only person anticipating a busy off-season in Detroit? I’m also highly intrigued to see how highly-coveted HC Matt Patricia does in his new role – a role he fully deserves. At the time of writing, They have Travis Swanson, Darren Fells, Tahir Whitehead, Paul Worrilow, Tavon Wilson and Nevin Lawson out of contract, as well as several other areas of need. It looks like Frank Gore may sign, and between us, my bold prediction is that Gary Barnidge makes a return to the NFL at tight end.

Potential picks:

20 – Sony Michel, RB, Georgia

One of my favourite prospects in this year’s draft, Sony Michel is the better of the two highly-promising running backs coming out of Georgia. He’s decisive and has the intelligence to make decisions quickly, avoiding taking unnecessary risks and finding the most efficient path. Huge home-run potential. His ability to burst through linebackers quickly gives him a huge advantage and his vision will allow him to get extra yardage regularly. He also happens to be a very competent blocker as well which will always go down well with NFL coaches. He may need to work on his catching technique – he hasn’t had any real issues with drops but could catch the ball more cleanly, especially under NFL level pressure.

2017 stats – 14 games; 1,227 yards on 156 touches (7.87 YPC); 16 TDs

96 yards and 1 TD on 9 receptions

51 – Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan

Now, before I start…yes, I am aware that before ANY of the prophecy below can come true, Maurice Hurst will need to be medically cleared. For the purposes of my article, I am assuming that Detroit luck out and get a first round talent at 51 overall because of the fear in relation to the heart irregularities which came out of the combine. Hurst has good initial quickness and aggression. He manages to find a way to sneak through the blockers and toward the quarterback or ball. His speed is accompanied by good footwork and this allows him to adjust his positioning and angles well. He’s a little small compared to other defensive linemen, at college and NFL level and so will have to close the gap on stronger blockers to avoid trouble. He would definitely be more effective in a 4-3 defence, but let’s just say Matt Patricia knows how to run a good defence.

2017 stats – 13 games; 61 combined tackles (14.5 for loss); 2 passes deflected; 5 sacks; 1 forced fumble; 1 blocked kick

82 – Shaquem Griffen, LB, Central Florida

My new favourite linebacker? Who wasn’t entirely awestruck with Shaquem’s combine performance? Incredible. Matt Patricia will love his character and the fact he is capable. Good athleticism, great intelligence and clearly, the ability to adapt. He’s a punishing hitter and disruptive in several ways across the field. Will be a very good fantasy football player as he fills up the box score. Good technique. He’ll need coaching to improve his tackling technique as he can go in a little high and this may allow tackles to be broken. He will be somewhat limited by his physical limitation (for those who don’t know, he doesn’t have a left hand) but I think he is fully deserving of a place on an NFL roster.

2017 stats – 13 games; 74 combined tackles (13.5 for loss); 3 passes deflected; 7 sacks; 1 interception;2 forced fumbles; 1 fumble return (for a 20 yard TD

Green Bay Packers – CB, WR, DE

In 2017, Packers fans had to endure the majority of the season without Aaron Rodgers. From 2018, they will have to watch their team sans Jordy Nelson. They have signed Jimmy Graham who will certainly provide a red-zone threat; and generally they don’t have too many contracts to extend, with Jahri Evans, Davon House and Morgan Burnett the only guys out of contract. It remains to be seen whether the Packers will look to build for the future or go ‘win now’, but the below picks will help them achieve either.

Potential picks:

14 – Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

Elite athletic ability, with the patience and technique to make him an instant starter in the NFL. True ‘lockdown’ corner. In fact, over the last two years, he has allowed a completed pass less than one-third of the time he is the targeted cornerback. Excellent disruptive ability and can keep up with the receiver in most situations. Reminds me a lot of Chris Harris at Denver, so that is the level we’re dealing with here. His build is a bit smaller than average and visually at least, he appears small in coverage against bigger receivers. He would immediately start as a slot cornerback with a view to moving him outside after some NFL experience and coaching, but a solid pre-season could see him go outside straight away.

2017 stats – 13 games; 37 combined tackles (2 for loss); 15 passes deflected; 2 interceptions; 2 blocked kicks

45 – DJ Moore, WR, Maryland

Size, speed, and a good teammate. These are three ringing endorsements from coaching staff for whom DJ Moore played at Maryland. He was the go-to guy there, using his quick feet and acceleration to great effect. He can be trusted by a quarterback to make plays. Lethal on screen plays and took on punt return duties in 2017. He will need some coaching to ensure he’s as competitive as a route runner as he is after the catch as he fails to gain enough separation at times. On 50-50 balls he loses more often than he wins. I think he has it in him to really focus once drafted, work on the areas his coaches ask him too and confidently play his play into the hearts of the Green Bay fans.

2017 stats – 12 games; 80 receptions for 1,033 yards and 8 TDs;

61 rushing yards and 1 TD on 5 touches (12.2 YPC);

15 punt returns for 153 yards

76 – Rasheem Green, DE, USC

It may be optimistic to think Rasheem Green will; still be available at this point but you never know. Green is tall and once he bulks up, will have a very intimidating frame to work with. Explosive bursts at point of attack with violent, aggressive tendencies against the blockers initial contact. His overall strength and body control needs work, but this is normal when going for early draft eligibility. Can be slow to find the ball on occasion. Needs to learn how to trick his opponent as he is easy to read at times. With the right coaching, Green will be a top defensive end in the NFL, but patience may be required initially.

2017 stats – 14 games; 43 combined tackles (12.5 for loss); 4 passes deflected; 10 sacks; 1 forced fumble

Chicago Bears – CB, WR, G

Definite signs of improvement already for Chicago. Allen Robinson, Trey Burton and Taylor Gabriel are significant upgrades on Kendall Wright, Dion Sims and Kevin White. They have an ever-improving, young defence as well as a solid coaching setup. Mitchell Trubisky should have much more fun out on the field in 2018, but let’s see what else the Bears could achieve via the draft…

Potential picks:

8 – Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB/S, Alabama

Arguably the best defensive back in this year’s class. Eats, sleeps and breathes football. A big-game player with the utmost competitiveness, Minkah Fitzpatrick is a franchise player. Can play all over the secondary and even in nickel linebacker roles. Excellent blitzer, and home run ability if he makes an interception. Also elite playmaker on special teams. An NFL coaches dream. He’s not the finished article just yet, but there really isn’t much to work on. Think Jamal Adams or Budda Baker.

2017 stats – 13 games; 60 combined tackles (8 for loss); 1.5 sacks; 8 passes deflected; 1 interception; 1 forced fumble; 1 blocked kick

39 – Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

Chicago improved their offensive weapons on the outside in free agency; now they get their slot guy. Christian Kirk is well-built and strong. He has a fantastic work ethic and runs slant and whip routes excellently. Great hands and able to catch the passes which aren’t 100% accurate. Good after-catch ability which translates into punt/kickoff return skill. He isn’t the quickest but I think he fits well in a Nagy system as a pure slot guy.

2017 stats – 13 games; 71 receptions for 919 yards and 10 TDs;

31 rushing yards on 4 touches (7.75 YPC);

10 punt returns for 191 yards and a TD;

22 kickoff returns for 490 yards and a TD

105 – Will Clapp, C, LSU

Will Clapp is the right build for an NFL center and also has experience playing guard in college so if needed he could handle reps there in the NFL. He’s competent when it comes to blocking. Very intelligent and has good awareness of space particularly in pass protection. He may not start right away as he will need to work on his technique but eventually he could become a good addition to Trubisky’s protective unit.




*2017 stats from

Brees Resigning With Saints Sets Up Present & Future Success

With many NFL teams looking for their franchise Quarterback from free agency, there is one team that has secured their own. On Tuesday, the New Orleans Saints and Quarterback Drew Brees agreed to a 2-year contract worth $50 million with $27 million guaranteed. The new contract also depicts a no-trade clause and a 1-year team option to ensure that Brees will likely finish his stellar career with the organization.

Despite being 39-years old, the future first-ballot Hall of Fame Quarterback is still playing at an extremely high level of play. Last season, Brees passed for 4,334 yards on 386 completions (out of 536 attempts) for 23 touchdowns, only 8 interceptions, a QBR of 61.1, and a passer rating of 103.9. Drew Brees set an NFL record last season by accounting for a season-high completion percentage of 72%.

Image result for drew brees wallpaper

Brees was a highly regarded free agent Quarterback but was not mentioned to the level of Kirk Cousins (now with the Minnesota Vikings) because of his intendment to resign with New Orleans. He was being looked at heavily by the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills to set up a win-now situation for their teams. Brees was originally offered a $60 million guaranteed contract from an AFC team before the resigning on Tuesday. That team was likely the New York Jets due to their large salary cap space to make for a push after they lost out on acquiring Kirk Cousins.

Drew Brees signed a contract that will give the New Orleans Saints more salary cap space to acquire more talented veteran players. Some of those players being CB Patrick Robinson from the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, S Kurt Coleman from the Carolina Panthers, and ILB Demarco Davis from the New York Jets. The Saints are also looking to acquire more big names like DT Ndamukong Suh after they had to release DT Nick Fairley. New Orleans was also looking to acquire WR Jordy Nelson (Green Bay) and former Saints TE Jimmy Graham (Seattle) before they sign with the Oakland Raiders and the Green Bay Packers respectively.

There will be much work to be done still outside of free agency. The Saints will be busy looking for young players to acquire in the 2018 NFL Draft. Among the positions needed for a combination of youth and talent are LB, TE, a #2 WR, and an OT (after the retirement of Zach Strief). The Saints might also want to look into acquiring a potential franchise Quarterback in the later portions of the Draft. With Drew Brees back as the #1 Quarterback, he will have the opportunity to give New Orleans another Super Bowl run as well as lead and teach the potential new Quarterback.

Many analysts have New Orleans picking 2016 Heisman Trophy winning Quarterback Lamar Jackson in the 1st round. This pick by many analysts knowing that Drew Brees was likely going to resign. New Orleans has too many needs to address to before they can settle with a potential future franchise leader in the 1st round. Some 2018 Quarterback prospects for New Orleans to evaluate and possibly select are former Washington State Cougars QB Luke Falk (3rd round level), Richmond Spiders QB Kyle Lauletta (3rd round level), or Memphis Tigers QB Riley Ferguson (4th or 5th round level).

Brees resigning with New Orleans makes them an immediate threat in the NFC as the leader of one of the most explosive offenses last season. The Saints were 5th in the league in passing yards per game (261.8) and 4th in points per game (28) last season. The restricting of his contract allows for more veteran players to be acquired which will also help the Saints in the long run as well. Brees training a 2018 rookie Quarterback with a newly acquired teammate in QB Tom Savage will also be crucial. Both Falk and Lauletta have strong passing qualities that matches the playing style of Drew Brees. If trained properly, Falk or Lauletta would be a great project for Brees and the Saints to groom and make into their own as Brees will eventually retire.

The Roar: Lions’ Sign 11 Free Agents Including Blount

It’s been a relatively busy first week of free agency for the Detroit Lions as they’ve signed or resigned a combination of 11 players, including LeGarrette Blount, who signed on the dotted line on Friday night.

Blount is coming off back-to-back Super Bowl championships and has been part of three of the last four championship teams. Two with the New England Patriots and one with the Philadelphia Eagles, who captured their title last month.

Detroit hasn’t had a running back drive for a 100-yard game since Reggie Bush accomplished the feat during the 2013 campaign. Last season, in a Week 4 match-up against the Los Angeles Chargers, Blount had 16 carries for 136 yards.

In eight seasons of work in the National Football League, Blount has ran for 100+ yards in 15 regular season games and two play-off games.

Blount’s services will be an improvement to Detroit’s running game that consists of Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, Dwayne Washington, Zach Zenner and Tion Green.

The run game isn’t solved, but the Lions took a step in the right direction on Friday night. You can expect more of the same from Detroit’s brass, especially with the draft rounding the corner.

Who Were The Other 10 Free Agents Signed?

The Lions addressed their defense first, signing a pair of linebackers — Christian Jones & Devon Kennard — and cornerback DeShawn Shead.

“I’ve obviously watched what he’s done in New England for a long time and always had admiration for the style of defense that he has and the type of players he develops and things like that, so I’m excited for the opportunity and I have a great first impression,” Kennard said. “Great guy, great energy and he has the right mentality so I’m excited.”

The Lions also added depth to their offensive line, signing unrestricted free agent guard Kenny Wiggins. Wiggins started all 16 games for the Los Angeles Chargers last season.

In addition to signing new players, the Lions also re-signed several of their own free agents. Check out the full list below:

  • Long snapper Don Muhlbach
  • Defensive end Kerry Hyder Jr.
  • Safety Tavon Wilson
  • Linebacker Nick Bellore
  • Cornerback Nevin Lawson
  • Quarterback Jake Rudock
  • Running back Zach Zenner

Tomahawks and Touchdowns: Sammy Watkins Signing

NFL free agency kicked off this week and the Kansas City Chiefs have already made some big moves. The most important so far has been the signing of wide receiver Sammy Watkins. The Chiefs lost Albert Wilson in free agency to the Dolphins and were in need of a free agent wide receiver. The Watkins signing will add talent to a wide receiver group that needed more depth.

Image result for albert wilson kansas city chiefs

The Chiefs signed Watkins to a three-year, $48 million dollar contract. $30 million of the contract is guaranteed. The cap hit for the Chiefs will be highest in the second and third year of the contract. It is an expensive contract for a wide receiver but if he is reliable with the Chiefs the contract will be valuable.


Watkins was drafted fourth overall in the 2014 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. He played his first three years in NFL with the Bills before being traded last season to the Los Angeles Rams. Watkins had a strong rookie season but has struggled to stay healthy throughout his NFL career. Last season with the Rams Watkins had 593 yards with eight touchdowns. Overall he has averaged 763 yards and over six touchdowns per season.


In week #12 of the 2015 season Watkins had a big game against the Chiefs as a member of the Bills. He recorded 158 yards and two touchdowns. The Bills lost the game 30-22 but the performance is a good example of his potential if he stays healthy.

Image result for sammy watkins rams

Photo by; Downtown Rams

Watkins should play a big role on the Chiefs offense next season. They were in need of a reliable primary receiver and Watkins should fill that role. Watkins has durability concerns but if he stays healthy he could have a good career in Kansas City. The Chiefs will now have Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Sammy Watkins as receiving targets for second year quarterback Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs could be one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFL next season.


Overall the Watkins signing should benefit the Chiefs. It is an expensive deal but if he produces it could dramatically improve an already strong offense. The signing also frees up options in the draft. Drafting a receiver is not a big need and the Chiefs will be able to focus on other positions. Signing Watkins is a risk for the Chiefs but it was one they needed to take to improve the team.



How to Structure Your Dynasty League Team For Success

Just like an NFL team, dynasty owners need to evaluate their team every year and set themselves up for sustained, long-term success. As a dynasty league commissioner and league champion, I would like to offer my suggestions on how to build each position group. My recommendations will be based mainly on the roster structure of my own leagues, but I will also offer some more general comments.

My main league that I run is a 10 team, 0.5 PPR, dynasty IDP league that has 35 roster spots and 2 reserve spots. We start 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 R/W/T flex, 1 K, 1 DL, 1 LB, and 1 DB. After a 12-1 championship season in the first year of this league, the loss of David Johnson hurt me in 2017. Still, I’m very happy with this team and it fits my format below fairly well, but obviously I am a bit biased. I’ll have the first pick in each round this season, but no picks in the first two rounds.

My second team that I recently took over this past week is in a 12 team dynasty league with 32 roster spots but 25 max keepers and 3 reserve spots. We start 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 R/W/T flex, 1 K, and 1 DEF. I still have some work to do to make that team look the way I’d like it to. I’ll have the 12th pick in each round of this year’s draft.

For each position, you want to have as many top players as possible, obviously. However, this is not usually feasible. A more attainable goal is to have one top-X player at each position, X being the number of teams in your league. For example, since my main league has 10 teams, I would like to get at least one top-10 player at each position. From there, you want to have a player(s) to fill each category I will lay out below. Keep in mind some players may cover multiple categories and give you a little more freedom.


Quarterback (QB)

Depending on the size of your roster, I recommend having at least two (2) quarterbacks, and no more than four (4). You want to have youth wherever possible. Players I own are highlighted in red, blue, or purple (both), depending on the league.

Coming into 2018, Patrick Mahomes (15) will lead the Chiefs offense with some explosive playmakers at his disposal

Top-X Starter

At the quarterback position, having a top-caliber, high-floor, high-ceiling guy that’s able to score 15+ points per week consistently is very valuable. In 2017, the top 10 scoring quarterbacks were: Russell Wilson (SEA), Cam Newton (CAR), Alex Smith (KC, now WAS), Tom Brady (NE), Carson Wentz (PHI), Kirk Cousins (WAS, now free agent), Philip Rivers (LAC), Matthew Stafford (DET), Drew Brees (NO, now free agent), and Ben Roethlisberger (PIT). Perennial top-10 quarterback Aaron Rodgers (GB) only played in 7 games in 2017 due to injury, and 2016 NFL MVP Matt Ryan (ATL) still made the top 15 last season. These players produce in a variety of ways, whether it be throwing for 300+ yards and multiple scores each game, or using their legs as true dual-threat players.

Young, Promising Starter

In real-world terms, this is what we would call your “franchise quarterback”. This is a player who is young (under age 28) and has shown solid development and potential as a starting quarterback in the NFL. Carson Wentz falls into this category, as well as being a top-10 starter from 2017. Other members of this category include Jared Goff (LAR), Dak Prescott (DAL), Marcus Mariota (TEN), Blake Bortles (JAX), Derek Carr (OAK), Jimmy Garoppolo (SF), and Jameis Winston (TB). These players may have their ups and downs, but they will be the ones to take over as the aging veterans start to show declines in production or retire. Andrew Luck (IND) is another player to watch, but with his injury history and the fact he will be 29 when the season starts, he may not be worth the investment.

Sophomore or Rookie Development

If the 2017 quarterback class wasn’t discussed enough, the 2018 class has surely made up for it. Without knowing yet where they will land, this years prospects certainly have the potential to be very good. The top 5 (Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield, and Lamar Jackson) could all have starting jobs within the next three seasons, and some will be given a chance from day 1. If your roster allows for it, take a chance on one of them and see what happens. If you’re not quite ready for that, Deshaun Watson (HOU), Mitchell Trubisky (CHI) and Patrick Mahomes II (KC) will both have starting roles in 2018 and they are all still in their early 20’s.

Serviceable Veteran

If you still haven’t acquired the number of quarterbacks you desire, there are still a few players to look for in the event that your starter is injured. Although they are older and their production may be mediocre, players like Joe Flacco (BAL), Andy Dalton (CIN), and Eli Manning (NYG), and Tyrod Taylor (BUF, now CLE) should be available or cheap to get. Depending on how free agency and trades shakes out, Sam BradfordCase Keenum, Josh McCown and Nick Foles could all make it into this category as well.


Running Back (RB)

Depending on the size of the roster, I recommend having at least six (6) running backs. You want to have plenty of depth because injuries are common. You also want to have youth wherever possible. Players I own are highlighted in red, blue, or purple (both), depending on the league.

David Johnson (31) will look to return to his 2016 form this season after missing nearly all of 2017 with a dislocated wrist

Top-X Starter

Just like with quarterbacks, having a top “bell cow” running back to plug into your lineup regardless of matchup will help your fantasy team and reduce the stress of over thinking who to start. Players who have prominent roles in both the running game and passing game consistent because they aren’t as affected by game script. If your league awards points per reception (PPR), three-down backs are even more valuable. Last year’s top 10 scoring running backs were: Todd Gurley (LAR), Le’Veon Bell (PIT), Alvin Kamara (NO), Kareem Hunt (KC), Melvin Gordon (LAC), Mark Ingram (NO), LeSean McCoy (BUF), Leonard Fournette (JAX), Dion Lewis (NE, now free agent), and Carlos Hyde (SF, now free agent). David Johnson (ARI), who had over 2000 scrimmage yards and 20 total touchdowns in 2016 missed the majority of the 2017 season with a wrist injury. Overall, these top backs are able to receive a large majority of their teams running back touches and should be able to score 8-12 points each week. Any more than that is just a nice bonus to make up for any players who don’t perform well in a given week.

Solid Second-Tier Running Back(s)

Ideally, you would like to have another running back to play in your second spot also ranked in the top-X range, but if this is the case, you are usually deficient at another position or were fortunate with your acquisitions and draft in recent years. If you are in a 10 team league, a more realistic goal is to have your second running back fall in the top 20 scorers. Quickly, the next 10 scorers at RB in 2017 were: Christian McCaffrey (CAR), 2016 leading rusher Ezekiel Elliott (DAL), who missed time in 2017 due to suspension, Jordan Howard (CHI), Duke Johnson (CLE), Devonta Freeman (ATL), Lamar Miller (HOU), Jerick McKinnon (MIN, now free agent), Alex Collins (BAL), Frank Gore (IND, now free agent), and C.J. Anderson (DEN). Even if you have #1 and #20, their combined production each week should keep you competitive at the running back position. If you can add a few more from the top 30, it certainly won’t hurt.

Young, Promising Starter(s) or Backup(s)

When you are building depth, you want running backs that will be able to contribute to your team, whether it be in the flex slot or the running back slot during a bye week or should your regular starter suffer an injury. These players have usually been in the league 3-4 years and have climbed up to the top one or two spots on their team’s depth chart. They may also be playing at a high enough level that the starter ahead of them may be released in the near future, which would give them an increased role. With the Titans releasing DeMarco Murray, third year former Heisman trophy winner Derrick Henry will assume the starting role, and will only be 24 at the start of the season. Besides some of the backs that have made into the other categories above, other young backs to consider are Jay Ajayi (PHI), Isaiah Crowell (CLE), Tevin Coleman (ATL), Ameer Abdullah (DET), Giovani Bernard (CIN), Kenyan Drake (MIA), Javorius Allen (BAL), and T.J. Yeldon (JAX).

Sophomore or Rookie Development(s)

The last two years have been great for running backs taken early in the draft. Elliott, Howard, Kamara, Hunt, Fournette, and McCaffrey have all been able to make an immediate impact. Others may be primed to breakout this year, including Joe Mixon (CIN), Dalvin Cook (MIN), Elijah McGuire (NYJ), Marlon Mack (IND), Wayne Gallman (NYG), Aaron Jones/Jamaal Williams (GB), Samaje Perine (WAS), and Peyton Barber (TB). The 2018 class is led by Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, but has quite a few running backs that could find success early. Although these players may not end up in or currently be in the best situations, and may not be producing at as high of a level as others, you have to remember this is a dynasty league, and you’re here for the long run. Pay attention to free agency and retirements. Suddenly the guys that you took a chance on will (hopefully) be creeping up the depth chart.

Clear-cut Handcuff

The notion and value of the “handcuff” running back is debated in the fantasy community. For teams that have a star running back, their replacement will not be found in one person. Take David Johnson for example in 2017. The Cardinals acquired Adrian Peterson, but they still used four other backs to help fill the void left in their backfield. There is no sense in really owning any of these guys unless one of them truly emerges a favorite. There are only a few players not previously mentioned that I would personally consider owning if I had the starter in front of them as well: Latavius Murray (MIN), Chris Ivory (BUF), LeGarrette Blount (PHI), and Tarik Cohen (CHI). One last note, just based on my personal biases: stay away from the Seahawks backfield altogether.


Wide Receiver (WR)

SAME AS RUNNING BACK. Depending on the size of the roster, I recommend having at least six (6) wide receivers. You want to have plenty of depth because injuries are common. You also want to have youth wherever possible. There are certain players that become better fantasy options in PPR leagues, so know your league settings. Players I own are highlighted in red, blue, or purple (both), depending on the league.

Mike Evans (13) had a “down year” in 2017 and still surpassed 1000 yards receiving

Top-X Starter

Every quarterback has their go-to receiver. Being a go-to receiver leads to more targets, which usually leads to more fantasy points. Each of the top 10 receivers from 2017 led their respective teams in receiving, and half of them had over 100 receptions, which is phenomenal for PPR leagues. In order, they were: DeAndre Hopkins (HOU), Antonio Brown (PIT), Keenan Allen (LAC), Tyreek Hill (KC), Jarvis Landry (MIA, now CLE), Michael Thomas (NO), Julio Jones (ATL), Larry Fitzgerald (ARI), Adam Thielen (MIN), and Marvin Jones (DET). For as many opportunities as there are in today’s pass-heavy NFL, it certainly pays to have No. 1 guys like these to put into your lineup each and every week.

Solid Second-Tier or Third-Tier Wide Receivers

Similar to running back, you want to have your next two or three wide receivers be solid WR1 or WR2 options. Some teams may even be able to support three fantasy-relevant receivers. Because there are so many receivers in the league, players in this range may extend all the way to the top 50 receivers in your league. There are still 22 teams with a go-to option that didn’t happen to make the top 10 above, and at least half the all teams have a clear No. 2 option that is worth having on your team. A.J. Green (CIN), Brandin Cooks (NE), Doug Baldwin (SEA), Davante Adams (GB), Mike Evans (TB), Alshon Jeffrey (PHI), Amari Cooper (OAK), T.Y. Hilton (IND), Allen Robsinson (JAX, now CHI). I won’t name them all. Another word of advice: While you can certainly have them on your team as a sort of “handcuff”, I wouldn’t recommend starting two receivers from the same team, as they are unlikely to both produce consistently, unless their quarterback is averaging 400 yards per game.

Promising Depth Chart Climber

Young receivers are not always given the opportunity to start right away. They may be factored into four-wide sets, but otherwise may only see the field during the week at practice. Sooner or later though, guys will earn more playing time and find themselves moving up to that third spot on a team’s WR depth chart. Sometimes this transition period can take a few years. Be on the lookout for statistical trends that may be indicative of this transition and buy these receivers while their price is still low. Chemistry development between quarterback and receiver is another important factor, especially is you want to receive even a glance from Aaron Rodgers (GB).

Other players that may be worth taking a flyer on are those who join new teams and assume a starting role. New system, new teammates, and new opportunities may lead to fantasy success that hadn’t been seen before, like in the case of Jermaine Kearse following his move from the Seahawks to the Jets. Pairing Sammy Watkins (LAR, now KC) with the arm of Mahomes may bring him his best season yet.

Sophomore or Rookie Development

Fill the rest of your WR bench slots with young sophomores and rookies with potential that may even start out as a WR3 or higher. Last year, JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT), Cooper Kupp (LAR), Keelan Cole (JAX), Chris Godwin (TB), and Kenny Golladay (DET) were able to make significant contributions. Top 2017 prospects Corey Davis (TEN) and Mike Williams (LAC) dealt with injuries for most of the season, but will look to breakout this year. The 2018 class, including Calvin Ridley (Alabama), Courtland Sutton (SMU), D.J. Moore (Maryland), Christian Kirk (Texas A&M) and others, will be looking to be drafted early and earn their place on the field for Week 1 as well.


Tight End (TE)

Depending on the size of the roster, I recommend having at least two (2) tight ends, and no more than four (4). You want to have youth wherever possible. Players I own are highlighted in red, blue, or purple (both), depending on the league.

Hunter Henry (86) is a rising star at the tight end position

Top-X Starter

After the top tier of tight ends, the position drops off in terms of consistent production. While you only need to start one tight end and it won’t be the biggest loss if you can’t get one of the big names, having Rob Gronkowski (NE), Travis Kelce (KC), or Zach Ertz (PHI) is a plus. The rest of the top 10 consists of Evan Engram (NYG), Jimmy Graham (SEA, now free agent), Delanie Walker (TEN), Kyle Rudolph (MIN), Jack Doyle (IND), Cameron Brate (TB), and Jason Witten (DAL).

Solid Second-Tier Tight End

Because teams in the NFL have either gone to using multiple tight ends or hardly using a tight end at all, consistent options are hard to come by. After your starter, you just need someone to be able to fill in in case of injury and on bye week. Jordan Reed (WAS) and Greg Olsen (CAR) are great options, if they can stay healthy. Try to get someone in the top 20 range. Tight end is a position that some even consider streaming, which I would not be opposed to if you’re without a top-X starter.

Young, Promising Development

Tight end is one position where it is commonly known that rookies rarely find success. However, if you hold on long enough, you might strike gold. The best example is Hunter Henry (LAC), who has consistently cut into the snap count of future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates over the past two seasons and may finally force him into retirement with a solid 2018 season. 2017 and 2018 both have been noted as having some of the best tight end prospects in recent memory, so find a guy you like and hold on to him for a while. Look for other teams that use their tight ends frequently and have aging starters that will need a youthful replacement in the near future, like Dallas, Baltimore, and Tennessee.


Kicker (K)

Depending on the size of the roster, you really only need one (1) kicker, and there will always be someone available as a bye week fill in. Players I own are highlighted in red, blue, or purple (both), depending on the league.

Jake Elliott (4) lifted the Eagles to a win over the Giants with a 61-yard field goal as time expired

I’m not going to spend much time here. Find a kicker on a team with an offense that will score touchdowns and get into field goal range consistently each week. Don’t waste time streaming kickers each week, just find a guy and stick with him unless he really isn’t producing. If you find a good one, let the Chargers know where to find him. After his 61-yard game winner in week 3, I picked up rookie Jake Elliott (PHI) and haven’t looked back.


Team Defense(DEF)

This is for traditional, non-IDP leagues. Keep scrolling for IDP leagues. Depending on the size of the roster, you really only need one defense, but having a second defense with a different bye week than your main team will avoid having to “stream” defenses. Teams I own are highlighted in blue.

The Jacksonville Jaguars had a historically good defense in 2017

Top-X Team

In 2017, the Jaguars were the defense to own, and with their youth, they seem to be the team to own going forward as well. Defenses can vary greatly, but if you can find a team that can consistently force turnovers, get after the quarterback, and keep opposing offenses from scoring more than 17 PPG, keep them. I own the Vikings who fit this description pretty well. I also own the 49ers, who are one of the teams on the rise heading into 2018, especially with their recent addition of Richard Sherman.

Other Options

One of the most popular positions to “stream” is team defense. Based on the matchup each week, you can acquire and start a team likely to score more points against of lower quality opponent. However, if your league has a waiver budget or transaction counts, this can be a risky method. I’m personally not a fan of streaming defenses, but I have done it when necessary and plenty of people have success doing it.


In addition to reading the information below, also check out my article Keys to IDP Success: OPPORTUNITY.

Defensive Line (DL)

This is for IDP leagues. Team defense (DEF) is above. Depending on the size of the roster and how many IDPs you start, you want at least enough starters at one backup at each position. You do not want to hold onto too many IDP players because there are so many and quite a bit of variability. Players I own are highlighted in red.

Demarcus Lawrence (90) tied for second in the NFL in sacks in 2017 with 14.5

Top-X Player

For the defensive line position, the majority of the top scorers are defensive ends that rack up points on sacks and tackles for loss, rather than interior lineman. Most are young and given the opportunity to play 75% or more of their team’s defensive snaps. From top to bottom, the top 10 from 2017 were Cameron Jordan (NO), Calais Campbell (JAX), Khalil Mack (OAK), Joey Bosa (LAC), Demarcus Lawrence (DAL), Jadeveon Clowney (HOU), Melvin Ingram (LAC), Jason Pierre-Paul (NYG), Cameron Heyward (PIT), and Yannick Ngakoue (JAX). You don’t want to reach too much for IDP in drafts, but I would still recommend grabbing a top guy before they are all gone.

Solid Second-Tier Defensive Lineman

Due to the variability of IDP scoring settings, top scorers can vary, so I won’t list the next tier, but as with offensive positions, you want your next defensive lineman to be a solid player capable of stepping and producing in for you rather than just a random pickup at the last minute. Look at their stats and look for consistent production, not huge weeks followed by goose eggs. I chose to make IDP a priority and fortunately own two of the top 10 players, so I am not concerned here heading into 2018.

Young, Promising Development

As I mentioned, the top scorers are usually young defensive ends that have the motor to keep them on the field and give them more opportunity to make plays. Look for top picks from recent drafts like Myles Garrett (CLE) or the upcoming draft like Bradley Chubb (N.C. State) to keep on your bench until they enter the top tier themselves.


Linebacker (LB)

This is for IDP leagues. Team defense (DEF) is above. Depending on the size of the roster and how many IDPs you start, you want at least enough starters at one backup at each position. If you have IDP flex slots, linebackers are typically the most consistent, highest scoring defensive players. You do not want to hold onto too many IDP players because there are so many and quite a bit of variability. Players I own are highlighted in red.

Bobby Wagner (54) has averaged nearly 10 combined tackles per game since entering the league in 2012

Top-X Player

For the linebacker position, the majority of the top scorers are 4-3 middle linebackers who pile up tackles working sideline to sideline, as well as a few high-profile pass rushers that can score in the same ways as the top defensive ends. On average, they play 95%of their team’s defensive snaps. From top to bottom, the top 10 from 2017 were C.J. Mosley (BAL), Bobby Wagner (SEA), Blake Martinez (GB), Demario Davis (NYJ), Deion Jones (ATL), Joe Schobert (CLE), Wesley Woodyard (TEN), Christian Kirksey (CLE), Luke Kuechly (CAR), and Telvin Smith (JAX). You don’t want to reach too much for IDP in drafts, but I would still recommend grabbing a top guy before they are all gone. For those of you that follow the work of IDP guru Gary VanDyke (@HBogart27) here at CleatGeeks and elsewhere, he is a huge advocate for Deion Jones as the top dynasty linebacker going forward.

Solid Second-Tier Linebacker

Due to the variability of IDP scoring settings, top scorers can vary, so I won’t list the next tier, but try to find a second linebacker that gets a high volume of tackles so that he has a consistent floor that you can count on. I chose to make IDP a priority and fortunately own two of the top 10 players, so I am not concerned here heading into 2018.

Young, Promising Development

To fully take over a middle linebacker role as captain of the defense may take a few years, but when it happens, these players don’t lose that spot very easily. Jarrad Davis (DET) will look to progress even further in 2018 after a strong rookie year. Roquan Smith (Georgia) and Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Tech) will both likely be drafted in the first round and could be difference makers early in their careers.


Defensive Back (DB)

This is for IDP leagues. Team defense (DEF) is above. Depending on the size of the roster and how many IDPs you start, you want at least enough starters at one backup at each position. You do not want to hold onto too many IDP players because there are so many and quite a bit of variability. Players I own are highlighted in red.

Keanu Neal (22) has developed a reputation as a big-hitter, with eight forced fumbles in his first two seasons combined

Top-X Player

For the defensive back position, the majority of the top scorers are safeties that frequently play closer to the line of scrimmage and help in run support. Defensive back fantasy production can vary quite a bit by game script, for example if these safeties are forced to drop into coverage and play conservatively rather than aggressively blitzing off the edge. Even if you see familiar faces, there will almost certainly be new members of the top 10 each year. In 2017, the top 10 in my league were Reshad Jones (MIA), Adoree’ Jackson (TEN), Keanu Neal (ATL), Jordan Poyer (BUF), Kevin Byard (TEN), Landon Collins (NYG), Desmond King (LAC), Sean Davis (PIT), Devin McCourty (NE), and Glover Quin (DET).  You don’t want to reach too much for IDP in drafts, but I would still recommend grabbing a top guy before they are all gone.

NOTE: My league gives points for return yards, which helped Adoree’ Jackson make it into this group.

Solid Second-Tier Defensive Back

Due to the variability of IDP scoring settings, top scorers can vary, so I won’t list the next tier, but try to find a second defensive back that is also a safety that gets a high volume of tackles for the position rather than relying on interceptions or defensive touchdowns. To plug Gary VanDyke again, his article here highlights teams using sub-packages with three safeties that may lower IDP opportunities relative to teams that do not employ this formation. I chose to make IDP a priority and fortunately own two of the top 10 players, so I am not concerned here heading into 2018.

Young, Promising Development

Defensive backs entering the NFL these days are versatile and have the ability to play cornerback, safety, and linebacker. Players like Jabrill Peppers (CLE), who was not used properly last year, may be able to break out in 2018 if their teams take advantage of their strengths in all three phases. Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama) and Derwin James (Florida State) are both in the conversation to be taken in the first 10 picks of 2018 and could provide a versatile defensive weapon for their new team and yours.


Thank you for reading my takes on how to structure your team at each position. Hope it can help you find success!

Find me on Twitter @brad_petrowitz and feel free to send questions or thoughts my way!


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