Category Archive: Fantasy Football

Fantasy Football News And Tips

NFL Preseason Preview: Five Games To Watch In Week Two

by Chris Corbellini
Fan Duel

If vanilla is your favorite ice cream flavor, then Week 2 of the preseason is absolutely your week.

The rush of pro football being back last weekend is long gone. After the OTAs, summer Oklahoma Drills, 11-on -11s against the scout team, and finally some game action, each club *thinks* they know what they have amongst their top-tier starters. There’s a lot of optimism to go around, from camp to camp, coast to cost. So don’t expect to see much more from those starters, or anything meaningful from the playbook — though a savvy head coach like Bill Belichick may call something unusual, just to make his opponents think he’ll use it in season.

So expect four large scoops of vanilla in every game.

Still, Week 2 holds a lot of importance for the players on the fringe of the roster. Simply put, they are playing to make their dreams come true. A 40-yard catch down the seam, a great tackle for loss on special teams … these things matter when formatting a final, 53-man roster and getting something on film for other teams to pour over. Meanwhile, some starters need to answer questions as well — which is just as important, if not more so. They have their sea legs under them now — one game is in the books — can they prove to the coaches that the consistency is there?

Preseason games can be incredibly competitive for those reasons. It’s just not all that meaningful for the marquee players. With that in mind, here’s what stood out in Vanilla-Ville:

Philadelphia Eagles at Pittsburgh Steelers (Thursday night, 7 p.m. ET)

The most intimidating figure facing the Eagles wide receiving corps will be on the sideline.

Dorial Green-Beckham stands 6-foot-5, weighs 225 pounds, and can clock a sub 4.5 40 yard dash. Those measurables, plus a few leaping touchdown catches during his rookie season, prompted Philadelphia to trade offensive lineman Dennis Kelly for the receiver this past week.

Green-Beckham will not play in this one. He’ll probably be one of those guys with his arms folded in a team t-shirt and shorts (perfect for a cutaway for TV), watching the game unfold. But his mere presence should put pressure on the incumbent receivers. For one game at least, he represents unlimited upside without stepping onto the field.

Nelson Agholor, the team’s 2015 first-round selection, is one of the hardest workers on the team, according to the local media. But it hasn’t shown on the field yet. He told that same media the Green-Beckham trade doesn’t put any further pressure on him.

That’s just adorable.

He’ll be the most scrutinized player on the field by fans, and whether they admit or not … the coaches. Likewise, Reuben Randle, a free agent pickup from the Giants, and Josh Huff, a third-round pick in 2014, are under the microscope in this one against the Steelers defense.

Atlanta Falcons at Cleveland Browns (Thursday night, 8 p.m. ET)

Can Robert Griffin III still play? He can certainly still sling it against a rush — completing a gorgeous 49-yard rainbow completion to Terrelle Pryor in the preseason opener. But can he be consistently accurate — on the run and in the pocket — in a game situation? Is this offense already his? Browns fans hope so.
NFL players are mostly an optimistic lot when talking/thinking about their starting quarterback. They have to be, otherwise the season is over before the real kickoff. To his teammates, all RGIII needs is to put together 2-3 smart, solid scoring drives in August to completely win them over. Week 2 is the perfect opportunity to do that — even without Corey Coleman (hamstring) or Josh Gordon (quad) available. Both are unlikely to play.

Chicago Bears at New England Patriots (Thursday night, 8 p.m. ET)

These teams faced one another earlier in the week and things got a little ugly. Nothing outrageous took place like an all-out brawl, but a joint practice in the August heat feels like a test of a team’s composure from Patriots HC Bill Belichick … and New England didn’t pass it. How cleanly they compete is something he’ll surely be watching closely, while the rest of us wonder where Tom Brady is.

A potential knucklehead on his roster — and a very talented one — is tight end Martellus Bennett. Bennett is a former Chicago Bear, and wasn’t always in lockstep with his QB there, Jay Cutler. If you are to believe his brother, Michael Bennett, Cutler is the worst QB in the league. Bennett also dropped a few passes last week, so there’s plenty of motivation in this one to score a long receiving touchdown — or knock over a few of his former teammates.

Speaking of pass defense … the Bears don’t have any yet. Not really. Their best option at the moment, corner Tracy Porter, got smoked by Patriots receiver Julian Edelman earlier this week. Kyle Fuller (knee) and Bryce Callahan (muscle strain) are injury question marks, so 2015 undrafted free agent Jacoby Glenn has a chance to showcase his skills here against all that shiftiness and double moves by the Pats receivers.

San Francisco 49ers at Denver Broncos (Saturday night, 9 p.m. ET)

With playoff wins under his belt and a former first-round pedigree, this was Mark Sanchez’s job to lose. Did he lose it already? Too soon to tell, but he won’t be starting against the Niners in Week 2. Trevor Siemian will be the guy for the Broncos instead.

Say it together now: “Who?”

Siemian, a seventh-round draft pick in 2015, obviously has some familiarity with the Broncos system. Still, while sitting behind Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler last year, how many reps did he get? Manning will work extra with the scout team when he can. And that means Siemian, then a rookie, probably handed him the football and ran a few routes just to help out.

In the preseason opener, Simian went 7-of-12 for 88 yards. In this one, he runs with the 1s. The Broncos would love to be able to make a definite decision on their open QB battle by the third preseason game — and then generally keeping their starter out of harm’s way. So this is Siemian’s best chance to make an in-game impression.

The 49ers, meanwhile, are hoping to see more from Blaine Gabbert this weekend.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Jacksonville Jaguars (Saturday night, 7:30 p.m. ET)

On paper, judging from last year, this one doesn’t look all that exciting. But both these teams are young and eyeing a rise up the standings. There’s actually some pride at stake here.

Yes, really.

Two potential studs to watch will be Jaguars rookies Myles Jack and Jalen Ramsey. Jack, who has impressed thus far, could play against the Buccaneers first team at middle linebacker, just to see where he is, and then keep him out there for a stretch. It’s still Paul Posluszny’s defense, but preseason is where you give a rookie a larger workload and hope he plays mistake free.

Ramsey (knee) is not a guarantee to play due to a spring injury. He didn’t play in the first game against the Jets. But the safety participated in a joint practice against the Bucs this week, and would love an in-game crack at his former FSU teammate, Jameis Winston.

Winston. Ramsey. Jack. Blake Bortles. Allen Robinson. Dante Fowler Jr. There’s a lot of talent here. One of these teams could be ready to make a jump.

Permanent link to this article: http://sportsgnome.com/2016/08/18/nfl-preseason-preview-five-games-to-watch-in-week-two/

Fantasy Football Draft Strategy Suggestions To Take You To The Top

by Will Carroll
Fan Duel

Some Draft Strategy Suggestions To Take You To The Top

It’s getting to that time where if you’re having your Fantasy Draft party, you’re not too early. Waiting as long as you can, to let everything settle on the positional battles and to avoid the heartbreak of injuries, is still the smart play but it’s hard to get the whole gang together. I’m sure you have all your information all set up. You’ve got Numberfire’s Draft Kit, maybe an old school magazine, and a head full of facts, but here’s a couple strategies to put in your back pocket. Don’t have too many beers and forget them!

ONE OUT OF THREE GO DOWN

Al Davis said “the quarterback must go down.” In Fantasy, you’ll learn quickly that in nearly every year, one out of the top three players goes down with injury. That may change this year, since historically the top three picks are all running backs. This year is very different, so it will be interesting to see whether the rule of thumb holds true. What it does tell you is that if you have one of the top three picks, you should draft positively. That means there should be a guy you want, not taking a guy who falls to you because he’s rated highly. If you don’t believe in Odell Beckham, don’t take Odell Beckham. You can trade out of the pick in almost every league, which is often a smarter move.

DON’T HANDCUFF RUNNING BACKS

Running backs aren’t plug and play. If Frank Gore or Todd Gurley goes down, the next guy in isn’t going to give the same production. While running backs are devalued in the modern NFL, that means there’s often even less value in the backups. With committee situations, it makes even less sense. Picking Jay Ajayi and Arian Foster is likely to leave you with the equivalent of one player. You’ll be guessing at TD touches, which can get you addicted to Maalox pretty quickly. It’s a better strategy to pick the known. If you lose one runner, you’ll have others. Depth is the key, not making sure you have the backup to a guy who’ll probably be splitting carries anyway. Handcuffing is a dinosaur strategy that stopped making sense about 2005, unless you’re Christian Grey.

PAIR JIMMY GARAPPOLO WITH A ROOKIE OR BACKUP

If you want to get really bold and you believe that the New England Patriots will be fine for the first four games, there’s an opportunity to go “Quarterback Zero” and pick up Jimmy Garappolo late, then pair him with a younger quarterback like Jared Goff. You could be super-bold (bordering on reckless) and go with Paxton Lynch, but it’s probably better to take a falling but stable QB. Derek Carr and Kirk Cousins are ranked at the low-end of QB2’s by Numberfire, which surprises a lot of people given their production. It’s a deep year for QBs, so don’t overspend for anyone but the best. Bonus: the Garappolo/Brady combo isn’t the worst idea and it could be available late, but it almost guarantees you’ll need to waiver in a QB during the Week 9 bye, which could hurt your roster.

KNOW, DON’T GUESS

This seems basic, but I see players – even good players – ignoring this rule all the time. Is Eddie Lacy losing weight a good thing? Is Jamaal Charles really back from his ACL surgery (and how did he perform in the early weeks last time this happened)? Is David Johnson healthy and will Bruce Arians really give him 25 touches this season? If you have a target sleeper or that player you just have to have, can you make a good case for it, or are you going on your gut? There’s a lot more ways to screw up a fantasy draft then there is to get it right. If you can’t tell yourself in one short sentence why you’re picking a player, don’t.

Permanent link to this article: http://sportsgnome.com/2016/08/18/fantasy-football-draft-strategy-suggestions-to-take-you-to-the-top/

Explaining The Latest NFL Scandal: Will Matthews, Peppers, and Harrison Get Suspended?

by Will Carroll
Fan Duel

Explaining The Latest NFL Scandal: Will Matthews, Peppers, and Harrison Get Suspended?

The NFL finds itself knee deep in scandal again. We’re barely out of Deflategate and now we have … well, thankfully there’s no -gate attached to this one yet. Let’s hear it for Al Jazeera making that tough at least. But what is this latest scandal and why could it cost several NFL stars, including Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers of the Green Bay Packers and James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers, a suspension? I’ll try to answer the big questions:

How did this all start?

The news network Al Jazeera America (which has since closed) did an investigation into performance enhancing drugs, called “The Dark Side.” They met and filmed a man named Charlie Sly at a clinic in Indianapolis. Sly bragged that he supplied several athletes with performance enhancing drugs, including HGH and a compound called Delta-2. After the documentary aired, Sly quickly recanted his statements, saying he exaggerated and was trying to sell products. Sly also discussed other substances, such as ipamorelin, adderall, and toradol.

What players are involved?

In addition to Matthews, Peppers, and Harrison, there are three other players that are under investigation. Mike Neal is a free agent who was previously with the Packers and Dustin Keller was a TE with the Jets. There was also an investigation into a retired quarterback named Peyton Manning. There are also several athletes from other sports, including Ryan Howard, Ryan Zimmerman, and Taylor Teagarden, a retired MLB catcher. Teagarden admitted use and was suspended.

Wait, I thought they cleared Peyton Manning?

The NFL exonerated Manning and his wife after an interview. The NFL also interviews Charlie Sly and the owner of the clinic where Sly operated. At that point, the NFL said they found no evidence of wrongdoing. The league is no longer actively investigating Manning, but if new evidence comes up, they could re-open things against Manning even though he has retired.

What are these drugs that the players are accused of taking?

HGH is human growth hormone. It is a hormone present in all humans and is directly tied to the growth of the body during puberty. Synthetic HGH was created in the 1980s and can be used to treat idiopathic short stature — kids that don’t grow. There is very little scientific evidence that HGH has any performance enhancing effect in mature adults. It might help Simone Biles reach five foot (if she wanted) but it wouldn’t help James Harrison play football.

Delta-2 is a prohormone very similar to DHEA. There’s no reason for an NFL or MLB player to take Delta-2 instead of DHEA since DHEA is not a banned substance. It is legal in the US and has been an odd exception to drug testing since it began. Congressional ties to the supplement industry, specifically Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, have kept this loophole open despite DHEA being banned by WADA.

Would they have shown up on a drug test?

Yes. The NFL tests for HGH, as does MLB. This requires a blood test and due to several factors, including a short detectable period, very few have ever been caught for use and none in the NFL. Delta-2 (or Delta-2-androst-17-one) is a prohormone that is a metabolite of DHEA, which is tested for. There’s some question on whether or not the DHEA test would cause a positive if someone was taking Delta-2, but DHEA is not banned by US pro sports, due to it being a legal supplement. DHEA is banned by WADA. Delta-2 is now specifically banned by both the NFL and MLB.

How long could they be suspended?

Ironically, making the argument that deflating footballs was equivalent to taking PEDs might set a precedent for Roger Goodell. While there is wide discretion for Goodell setting discipline, it would most likely be four games. Only Mike Neal has a previous known drug positive, so it would be hard to extend this past a one-positive penalty for the others. Neal could take a longer suspension.

Would the suspensions hold up, or would this be years of court time again?

Goodell’s wins in court over Tom Brady and over Adrian Peterson in recent years have given the league precedent to work with. The players and the NFLPA have been very resistant to interviews, claiming that the league doesn’t have the authority to force their participation. Harrison has offered to be interviewed at his home and has submitted an affidavit. It looks like this one is headed to a showdown and quite likely, the NFL, the NFLPA, and the affected players will end up back in court over both the requirement to be interviewed and any resultant suspensions.

Permanent link to this article: http://sportsgnome.com/2016/08/17/explaining-the-latest-nfl-scandal-will-matthews-peppers-and-harrison-get-suspended/

Historic 2017 Running Back Class Has NFL Looking For Top Pick at Devalued Position

by Will Carroll
Fan Duel

Historic. Loaded. Unprecedented.

That’s what scouts and executives are saying about the anticipated running back draft class coming into next year’s NFL draft. However, finding a fit for a position becoming less and less valued in the modern NFL isn’t quite as easy as knowing how good these players are.

The first key is the class is anticipated, not guaranteed. Almost all the top RB talent involve underclassmen, who could choose to go back for another year if they don’t have a big season or if they get advised to go back in hopes of being a higher pick the following year, when there’s simply not as much competition. Several of these players, with the right production and set of circumstances, could end up the no. 1 overall pick.

After speaking to a handful of scouts and executives and checking online opinion, the class is a bit tiered. If the draft were held today, Leonard Fournette (LSU) would be the top ranked, but not by much. The big, bruising running back fits with almost all NFL systems and his durability is a major plus. Just behind him is Dalvin Cook (FSU), who could put up better numbers than Fournette due to the quality of the team around him and a slightly more favorable schedule.

“I like Fournette’s size,” said one NFL exec involved in his team’s draft. At 6’1″ and 230 pounds, Fournette can run between the tackles and challenge linebackers for the extra yards, but also has plus-plus speed. Recorded at 4.35 in high school, Fournette has gone faster than that.

There’s no question the size/speed combo will have a lot of teams looking, but comparisons to Herschel Walker and Adrian Peterson are also ratcheting up expectations.

The same holds true for Dalvin Cook. Cook isn’t quite as big (5’11”, 201 lbs) or quite as fast (4.46), but he produces on the field. He has had some off-field issues, but teams can address those pre-draft. “Cook’s numbers will be great at Florida State, but he’s not Jamaal Charles,” said one scout. “He’s got the potential and the college production, but he’s going to need the right situation in the NFL. Put him with a bad team and he’s not going to make that team good on his own.”

The next name is where things get a bit less locked in. Christian McCaffrey has the production and the pedigree (his father, Ed, was a longtime NFL receiver), but his size (6’0″, 201 lbs) is a concern for some. Some think he’ll end up more of a Wes Welker than an Adrian Peterson. He may well end up sitting beside Fournette and Cook at the Heisman ceremony, but there are more questions about system for McCaffrey.

“He’s bigger than you think, but he doesn’t look it,” said one scout. “Looking at his film, it’s all there, but somehow you come out thinking it’s not. I think the problem is that there’s no good comparable in the league right now.” McCaffrey is also a top return man, with speed (4.37-second 40-yard dash) and a burst even Fournette and Cook don’t have.

Beyond the clear top three, there’s a number of other prospects who could enter the draft. Coming off ACL surgery, Nick Chubb (Georgia) took over for Todd Gurley, who’s success in the NFL in the same system and off the same injury will help Chubb answer some team’s questions. Chubb’s production might be held back, given he’s coming off major knee surgery and has Sony Michel, another top RB, sharing carries. (Michel isn’t expected to come out this year.)

There are other backs who are clearly going to go high in the NFL draft beyond these top four. Shock Linwood (Baylor) is expected to get a lot of looks, but the system and off-field issues at Baylor may push him back, especially if the team shifts out of the high-powered attack they had under Art Briles.

Royce Freeman (Oregon) is highly thought of, but the Oregon system hasn’t produced top runners. Samaje Perine (Oklahoma) might have a lower profile than the top three, but his production has been better than most. He’s got size (5’10”, 235 lbs) and speed (4.5), plus he’s put up 427 yards in one game as a Freshman! “Perine’s as good on field as the top four,” said one scout. “He’s more Frank Gore, a strong bell-cow back, but someone’s getting a good one low in the first.”

With all this to choose from, which teams need a running back? At the top of the draft, there’s always some question. The last top runner picked, Trent Richardson, will scare some off. Expect a QB or two at the top, followed by Myles Garrett (Texas A&M), the pass rushing monster who could go first overall.

There are eight teams that most of my sources thought would end up with a high enough draft pick and a need: Miami, San Diego, Cleveland, New Orleans, Detroit, Tampa Bay, Indianapolis and Oakland. Some, like San Diego and Cleveland, will probably spend their picks on other needs, but the rest will be looking hard at these RBs. “There’s no way New Orleans doesn’t try to trade up for Fournette,” said one exec. “Maybe all the way to 1-1.” Fournette is a New Orleans native and would fit the system perfectly.

Two expected Miami and Detroit would also look at Fournette, then default to Cook. “Ajayi and Foster are going to end up a disaster for [new Head Coach Adam] Gase, so he’ll plug that gap quick,” said one scout. Cook would also be a great fit for Tampa Bay, where he could reunite with Jameis Winston, though the team has Doug Martin. “He’s cheaper and better,” said a scout.

McCaffrey is the interesting one. While he could conceivably go to almost any of these teams, many pointed at Oakland. “He’s the opposite of what you’d expect from an old school Raiders pick,” said one scout. “He’s smart, well spoken, a good kid. He’s finesse and speed. Plus he’s pretty local coming out of Stanford. Heck, if they move, he’s a kid you don’t worry about in Vegas.”

Another thought he’d be the perfect fit for Indianapolis. “Gore’s not the answer and you know the Colts love Stanford kids,” said the exec. “You give Luck one more weapon out of the backfield and I think he’ll be a good real running back, not a hybrid.”

This class of running backs is historic and unprecedented. It’s also extremely talented, but confusing to find fits. Good running backs who should have long, productive careers, could fall to the second round like last year, when Heisman winner Derrick Henry fell out of the first round and into the laps of a team that didn’t have a clear need for him. We have almost a year to see how this all plays out, but once it does, the NFL will have its biggest infusion of rushing talent in over a decade.

Permanent link to this article: http://sportsgnome.com/2016/08/16/historic-2017-running-back-class-has-nfl-looking-for-top-pick-at-devalued-position/

5 Things That Happened in NFL Preseason Week 1

by Jessica Kleinschmidt
Fan Duel

5 Things That Happened in NFL Preseason Week 1

No, you weren’t dreaming. There were football games on your television screens last week and throughout the weekend. They didn’t exactly count for anything and we got to see some fresh faces take the field, but it’s nice to know football is right around the corner.

A lot happened during the first set of preseason games. Let’s take a look at some of the happenings that went down as we gear up for the football season.

Braxton Milles Does Braxton Miller Things

Braxton Miller’s transition from the quarterback position to wide receiver in college is looking like it was a smart move.

When the Houston Texans took on the 49ers, Miller extended for a catch close to San Francisco’s side line. He had a strong performance in the win over the 9ers snagging balls left and right during the second half of play. Miller will make a nice home for himself on Houston’s offense this season.

No Luck

Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck did not suit up for the preseason matchup against the Buffalo Bills, and the reasoning had to do with Rex Ryan.

Irsay earlier tweeted to Colts fans saying it’s “a long preseason” and there are two home games in the next couple weeks which Luck will be named the starter as opposed to that night.

Ryan of course wasn’t too happy about being called out via Twitter especially by someone he’s referred to as a friend.

Chip Kelly Era Looks Strong

It was three years ago when Chip Kelly’s offense made it’s mark on the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles. Kelly is now taking over the 9ers offense and it seems to be working out in his favor.

With 302 yards of total offense in the first half, and the team moving up and down the field on nearly every drive with Blaine Gabbert in the pocket, it seemed as though Kelly can go to bed with a bit of extra confidence. Just wait until Kap’s at the quarterback position and gives teams a run for their money.

Eagles Early Struggles

During Thursday’s preseason game against Tampa Bay, Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz suffered a hairline fracture in his ribs after feeling some discomfort.

According to head coach Doug Pederson, after his injury the team decided to limit him during practice to wait for a CT scan as a precaution.

“We decided to limit him throughout the remainder of practice and, as a precaution, sent him for a CT scan after practice,” Pederson explains in an interview with NFL.com. “The scan revealed a hairline fracture in his ribs. We do not know an exact timetable for his return, but we hope to have him back before the end of the preseason.”

Wentz went on to say his ribs were sore, but he “feels alright.” He can currently throw, but there is still discomfort there according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport.

RG3 Lights Up, Then Dims

Remember Robert Griffin III? He, along with the Cleveland Browns are doing everything they can do to erase the haunting memories Johnny Manziel has left with the team.

During his first play from scrimmage, RG3 long tosses to Terrell Pryor for 49 yards, and all looked well in the world.

Unfortunately, the rest of the game didn’t favor the Browns as they took on the Packers. Griffin finished the game with 4 of 8 for 67 yards.

At the end of the game the quarterback told the media he needs to work on protecting the ball better which means leaving little to no interceptions and there is still plenty of room to make big plays.

The Browns fell to the Packers 17-11.

Permanent link to this article: http://sportsgnome.com/2016/08/15/5-things-that-happened-in-nfl-preseason-week-1/

Tyrod Taylor’s Contract Extension Means There are Few Landing Spots for Big QB Class in 2017

by Will Carroll
Fan Duel

Tyrod Taylor’s Contract Extension Means There are Few Landing Spots for Big QB Class in 2017

Tyrod Taylor signed a very interesting extension with the Buffalo Bills just before their first preseason game. The contract structure is its own story, but Taylor’s likely long-term lock-in with the Bills makes next year’s draft class, loaded with quarterbacks, even more interesting.

Last year, the Rams and Eagles both traded up to get to the top two quarterbacks and it’s looking like this could be the new normal. So few teams in the NFL need quarterbacks – even project quarterbacks, which are tough to draft in even the second round – that it could turn the draft on its head. Those few teams that do will either have to trade up to get the premium player or play a very stressful game on draft night.

First, let’s meet the possible draftees. While the NCAA season has yet to play out, there’s five big names expected to draw a first round grade. DeShaun Watson (Clemson) and Brad Kaaya (Miami) are expected to be the first two QBs off the board, but Chad Kelly (Ole Miss) and C.J. Beatheard (Iowa) come with NFL pedigrees. Others, like Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma) and Cooper Rush (Central Michigan) will get consideration through the Combine. Many will also be watching Davis Webb (California), who backed up first pick Jared Goff.

On the other side, we have the teams who will need QBs. Cleveland might have an answer in Robert Griffin III, but if he’s not, they won’t wait another year to get a QB. They would be thrilled with any of the top four, given all would fit Hue Jackson’s offensive tendencies.

It’s much the same case in San Francisco, where there’s a battle between Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert. Neither will hold back a young QB unless they have an absolutely magical 2016 in Chip Kelly’s system. Watson’s mobility would be especially well suited for Kelly, but it’s unclear if they would give up enough to move up or if they’ll be bad enough to “earn it” on their own.

What other teams need even a backup or project quarterback? The Dallas Cowboys have been the eternal answer here, but Dak Prescott is at least an intriguing project. If Prescott can win the trust of Jason Garrett, it’s unlikely the Cowboys would take anyone aside from a plummeting late-round pick at QB. I don’t see it happening.

The Bills could be in the hunt, if Taylor doesn’t play well and is dropped. It’s hard to read what they might do, because if Taylor is gone, Rex Ryan might be as well. That could lead to a full rebuild. In that case, the team would have been pretty bad and in line for a high draft pick. Chad Kelly would have to get a lot of consideration, given how beloved his Uncle Jim is in Buffalo. Kelly’s long list of off-field issues probably push him down.

Chicago might look beyond Jay Cutler if they have another year without playoff football. They could dump Cutler and move on with a new young QB and if so, CJ Beatheard is someone scouts love, on and off the field. He’s the grandson of legendary NFL exec Bobby Beatheard, so there’s little worry about being able to handle the role.

The New York teams, both the Jets and Giants, might take a look, especially in the second round. While the Giants are set up for the near term with Eli Manning, they don’t have a strong heir in place and with Peyton retired, Eli is going to at least start thinking about hanging up his own cleats in the near future. The Giants could go with a longer term project like Rush, who projects much like Carson Wentz. The Jets will have a more immediate need, unless they want to go through another one-year contract with Ryan Fitzpatrick.

New Orleans is the final team with a clear need in the near term. Drew Brees’ contract could be an issue, but it’s unlikely he’ll leave for another team. Retirement would be an issue and the team wouldn’t be ready for that in 2017. It’s a worst-case scenario, but one that would push the team to trade up for one of the top guys. While Sean Payton is known as a QB guru, he hasn’t done it in a while. They would also likely need a ready QB who could fit into their system. Kaaya would appear to be the best fit for that, though we’ll have to see how he deals with the new system at Miami.

It’s a very complex situation that will take time to play out. There’s two seasons at two levels, plus the chances of trades or names popping up the way that Paxton Lynch did last season. About the only thing that’s clear now is that finding the right matches for what lines up as a deep and talented class is not going to be simple.

Permanent link to this article: http://sportsgnome.com/2016/08/15/tyrod-taylors-contract-extension-means-there-are-few-landing-spots-for-big-qb-class-in-2017/

Training Camp Battles: Colin Kaepernick vs. Blaine Gabbert

by Jessica Kleinschmidt
Fan Duel

Training Camp Battles: Colin Kaepernick vs. Blaine Gabbert

Training camp for the NFL is officially under way which means countless Vines spread across your timelines showing a few seconds of your favorite guy and what he is bringing to the season. It also shows the battles between starters. Who will be your go-to guy, and who will be riding the pine pony, holding a clipboard for most of the season.

The first competition we are going to take a look at is the battle of Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert. The two are fighting for the start position of 49ers quarterback after an interesting 2015 season.

Half of the starts went to Kap while the other went to Gabbert last year. Their starts were split right down the middle and when taking a look at the numbers it looks like the more successful situation went towards Gabbert. A sentence a lot of us wouldn’t be expecting to say looking back a couple years.

In eight games, Gabbert tallied a 63.1 completion percentage accumulated 2,031 passing yards and 10 touchdowns.

In the same amount of games, Kaepernick threw with a 59% completion percentage with 1,615 yards and six scores.

So the numbers are there and show Gabbert’s the favorite in that aspect. We know Chip Kelly has taken over which means the running game comes into play. Kaepernick is insane in this aspect coming out of the pocket and running the ball down the field on his own. A career 1,842 rushing yard guy with 11 touchdowns, it’s safe to say he’s the winner when it comes to rushes. His read-option was proved to be strong when he took over for Alex Smith a few years back.

Don’t get me wrong, Gabbert definitely proved himself last season with everything that was going on, and despite his athleticism, the thought of someone not named Kaepernick as the starter doesn’t sit right.

You and I ultimately don’t make the decision on the starter, but at the moment it looks like the 2nd-round pick in 2011 will be getting most of the snaps this season. Adjust your lineups accordingly.

Permanent link to this article: http://sportsgnome.com/2016/08/12/training-camp-battles-colin-kaepernick-vs-blaine-gabbert/

Six NFL Backup Quarterbacks Who Might Not Be Backups For Long

by Alan Goldsher
Fan Duel

Six NFL Backup Quarterbacks Who Might Not Be Backups For Long

Back in the day, the vast majority of NFL teams headed into training camp with their starting quarterback position solidified. Not only that, but the starter was legit, unquestionably the best signal-caller on the roster.

Today, not so much.

Look at what’s going on in Denver, where Mark Sanchez (meh) and Trevor Siemian (who?) were named co-starters (say what?). Look at what’s going on in Cleveland, where troubled Robert Griffin III landed the gig over $4.3 million man Josh McCown. Look at what’s going on in New England, where future Hall of Famer Tom Brady was overtaken on the depth chart by Jimmy Garoppolo. Oh, wait…

The Broncos and the Browns are far from the only teams whose quarterback situation is—or should be—in flux. Here are six backup QBs who’d better stay sharp, because the man ahead of him on the depth chart is, well, you know:

Chase Daniel

Team: Philadelphia Eagles

Starter: Sam Bradford

Why He Should Stay Ready: Two words: Short leash. Last season, Bradford played well below his pay grade, tossing 14 picks (eighth in the NFL) and 19 touchdowns (not eighth in the NFL). If he falters—which some would say is all but a given—it’s likely that first-year head coach Doug Pederson won’t hesitate to deploy the steady eight-year veteran. Daniel–who’s only thrown one career interception in 77 attempts–will likely see the field before anybody on this list. Except maybe…

Jared Goff

Team: Los Angeles Rams

Starter: Case Keenum

Why He Should Stay Ready: The case against Keenum (see what we did there?) is far more damning than that against Bradford, if only because Keenum has far less experience than Sam (16 games versus 63). Unless the 28-year-old Texas native has something in him that nobody’s yet seen, Goff could be the starter by Week 5…especially since Rams coach Jeff Fisher has made it clear that he won’t tolerate any “…7-9 [expletive deleted].”

Brian Hoyer

Team: Chicago Bears

Starter: Jay Cutler

Why He Should Stay Ready: Last season while in Houston, Hoyer was, at times, brilliant. (Right about now, fantasy football players who feasted on his telekinetic connection with DeAndre Hopkins are simultaneously nodding and patting themselves on the back.) In his 11 games, the always underappreciated 30-year-old from Michigan State put up a 60.7 completion percentage, threw 19 touchdowns with only seven picks and compiled a solid 91.4 quarterback rating. Good stuff.

As for the eternally (and oftentimes justifiably) maligned Cutler, his numbers were better than Hoyer’s—64.4 completion percentage, 21, TDs, 11 picks, 92.3 QBR—but only slightly. Cutler’s former tight end Martellus Bennett pointed out, “I’d be open and he’d throw into double coverage,” and if those infamous double coverage boo-boos lead to pick-sixes, don’t be surprised to see Hoyer chucking bombs to Alshon Jeffrey sooner rather than later.

Josh McCown

Team: Cleveland Browns

Starter: Robert Griffin III

Why He Should Stay Ready: Is Griffin a hard-luck victim of multiple tough breaks or is he simply a hot mess? First-year Browns coach Hue Jackson is praying to the football deities it’s the former, because if it turns out Griffin lost his mojo when he jacked up his knee in 2013, the hapless Browns will have wasted time, effort and money on yet another failed quarterback experiment.

At 37, McCown is hardly the Browns’ future, but if Griffin falters, he could be the perfect placeholder until Cleveland snatches up Chad Kelly or C.J. Beathard in the 2017 Draft. Josh watchers will recall that in 2013, while filling in for an injured Jay Cutler, McCown was a beast, in one game against a decent Dallas defense, throwing for 348 yards and connecting on four touchdowns. Josh might be all that’s standing between the Cleveland Browns and 3-13. Or 2-14. Or 1-15.

E.J. Manuel

Team: Buffalo Bills

Starter: Tyrod Taylor

Why He Should Stay Ready: In his first year as a full-time starter, Taylor put up some quality passing numbers, to the tune of 3,035 yards, 20 touchdowns and six interceptions, with a quarterback rating of 99.4. Manuel, on the other hand, was intercepted on three of his 52 passes, which is exactly how you don’t make the most of your few opportunities.

Despite Taylor’s solid play, the Bills finished the season at 8-8 and weren’t anywhere near ending their 15-season playoff drought. If at, say, the halfway point of this season, Buffalo sits at 4-4 or 3-5 and Taylor isn’t setting the world on fire, coach Rex Ryan—who’s unafraid to shake things up—could give Manuel a taste.

Matt Moore

Team: Miami Dolphins

Starter: Ryan Tannehill

Why He Should Stay Ready: Last year, during Miami’s ugly 6-10 season, Tannehill was brutalized in the press—the Sun-Sentinel dubbed him one of the 10 most disappointing Dolphins, while NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal said, “Tannehill isn’t able to change the plays at the line of scrimmage, and he’s shown no ability to improve the talent around him.” Even worse, at least one of his teammates’ wives flat-out hated the guy, that being cornerback Brent Grimes’ Twitter-centric spouse, Miko.

First-year Dolphins coach Adam Gase will probably give Tannehill a fair amount of latitude, as he’s far more physically gifted than journeyman Moore. However, if the Dolphins get off to a lousy start—and with three of their first four games coming against Seattle, New England and Cincinnati, that’s a distinct possibility—it would shock exactly no one if somebody in the Miami organization said, “You know what? It’s time.”

Permanent link to this article: http://sportsgnome.com/2016/08/11/six-nfl-backup-quarterbacks-who-might-not-be-backups-for-long/

NFL Preseason Week 1: Five Games to DVR While You’re Watching the Olympics

by Matt Hevia
Fan Duel

NFL Preseason Week 1: Five Games to DVR While You’re Watching the Olympics

The NFL season is now officially back!

Technically it was supposed to be back last week, but someone used the wrong paint on the field in Canton, the game was canceled, everyone lost their minds over it…you know the deal. Thankfully, everything turned out fine because the Olympics were on, so football fans were able to kill time between the botched Hall of Fame Game and today by watching the Team USA roll over the rest of the planet in both swimming and gymnastics.

Thanks for the help, Team USA.

And now, here we are. It’s August 11th and we have an entire weekend of preseason football on our hands, one that you’ll probably halfheartedly pay attention to on your phone while watching the Olympics. That said, there are a few storyline-rich games that you should DVR and watch after you’re done chanting USA in your living room. Here they are.

1. Eagles-Bucs

This one is easy. You need to check out two things. First, soak in the sight of Doug Pederson on Philly’s sideline instead of Chip Kelly. That’s going to feel a little weird, I think, because for some reason, to me, it felt like Chip Kelly was the coach of the Eagles for 25 years.

And second, you’re going to want to see this guy…

Will Wentz impress? Will Bradford outdo him? Will they get into an argument on the sideline and start throwing clipboards at each other? All good questions, and all three will be answered tonight.

2. Saints-Pats

For me, there’s one reason to watch this game…

Jimmy Garoppolo.

Some Pats fans seem freaked out about him starting, while others feel like it doesn’t matter who New England starts—they’ll still win. I’d have to agree with the latter school of thought. If the Pats made Matt Cassel into a household name, I’m sure Jimmy G will be just fine. They’ll probably go 3-1 before getting Brady back.

Also, I may have lied about there only being one reason to watch. There’s another reason. Mark Ingram. Don’t sleep on him this year when putting together your fantasy team.

3. Browns-Packers

This is a road game for the Browns but I wish it weren’t, because for the first time in forever the people of Cleveland are feeling incredible about their sports teams, so it would have been cool to see how they welcomed RGIII to town.

It probably would have sounded a little something like this…

There have to be tons of former Browns quarterbacks who wish they were new to the team when fans were feeling this optimistic, so RGIII, don’t take their well wishes for granted. Also, make sure you thank LeBron James on a daily basis for putting you in such a favorable situation.

4. Cowboys-Rams

We probably won’t see Ezekiel Elliott, but we will see the Rams back in LA, in front of what I imagine will be a raucous crowd. We’ll also get to see the first overall pick in the draft, the man who got exposed by HBO’s Hard Knocks for not knowing where the sun rises and sets, and the guy who will deprive us of experiencing “Hollywood” Case Keenum on a weekly basis this fall, Jared Goff.

Just remember, Rams, every play counts, even in preseason. Jeff Fisher will NOT go 7-9 this season. (Warning: Salty Language)

5. Texans-49ers

And finally, the Texans and 49ers. Houston has some new pieces to boast, but this one will be watch-worthy mostly because Chip Kelly is at the helm for San Fran, and needs to choose a starting quarterback—either Blaine Gabbert or Colin Kaepernick.

Oh boy.

So far, neither QB is making the choice an obvious one.

I think this decision is a coin flip, one where you’re mad if you get heads or tails. Good luck with that, Chip.

And that’s that. Enjoy Week 1 of the NFL preseason, and remember, the second half of these games are basically practice squad scrimmages. Unless you’re into that kind of thing, you can probably go back to watching the Olympics by halftime.

Permanent link to this article: http://sportsgnome.com/2016/08/11/nfl-preseason-week-1-five-games-to-dvr-while-youre-watching-the-olympics/

5 Fantasy Football Rookies Who Will Make an Immediate Impact in 2016

by Matt Musico
Fan Duel

Brace yourselves…fantasy football is coming.

NFL training camps are in full swing, the preseason is about to get underway and the first regular season game of 2016 is officially under a month away — everything we’ve been waiting for over the past few months is finally happening. Took long enough, right?

Whether you’re gearing up to play some one-week fantasy football on FanDuel or gathering information for this year’s season-long draft, it’s important to have as much information about as many players as possible. That’s easier to do with proven veterans who have been in the league for a couple years, but it’s a little tougher with rookies.

Some first-year players come in with a whole lot of hype, but don’t have as much opportunity to make an impact as others. That’s not the case for the five rookies below — given the current makeup of the team they’re playing for, these guys should get plenty of opportunities, which is one of the most important things to consider in fantasy football.

Jared Goff, QB, Los Angeles Rams

Technically, the top overall pick from April’s draft is second on the QB depth chart behind Case Keenum according to head coach Jeff Fisher, but do any of us really think that’s going to last? The shift is apparently already happening a week after Fisher’s initial comments, as Goff’s reps with the first-team offense are continuing to increase.

After moving from St. Louis to Los Angeles and making a huge trade for the no. 1 overall pick just to select Goff, this organization probably wants to showcase him from the start. Basically, I’ll believe Keenum is the Rams’ Week 1 starter once he takes the field after the opening kickoff.

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

As we’ve seen over the past couple seasons, it’s a lot of fun for running backs to run behind Dallas’ offensive line. Not only did DeMarco Murray put up a career year in 2014, but the oft-injured Darren McFadden also gained 1,089 yards and averaged 4.6 yards per carry with the Cowboys last season. McFadden will still be around and Dallas brought in Alfred Morris via free agency, but that won’t stop Elliott from being a major contributor in the backfield.

For right now, it seems like the only way Elliott could not make as big of an impact as we’re expecting is if he’s sidelined by injury. He’s already had an issue with his hamstring during camp, so it’s worth monitoring his progress.

Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans

The Titans didn’t acquire DeMarco Murray from the Philadelphia Eagles to keep him on the sideline, but drafting Henry this past spring should give them a good one-two punch in the backfield. While his first day of rookie mini-camp was a little rough, he’s making progress and continually getting better.

With his tremendous size (6’3″ and 238 pounds), he was built for the goal line and could at least swipe quite a few touchdown opportunities from his fellow running back.

Sterling Shepard, WR, New York Giants

It looks like Victor Cruz will finally be returning from a torn patella tendon that’s kept him sidelined for more than a season, but chances are he won’t be the same wide receiver he was before the injury. So, quarterback Eli Manning can truly only depend on Odell Beckham Jr. at the moment.

Even if Cruz returns and is more productive than expected, Shepard will probably still have plenty of chances to contribute since New York led the NFL in snaps (862) and pass attempts (569) with three or more WRs on the field in 2015.

Laquon Treadwell, WR, Minnesota Vikings

All eyes will be on Stefon Diggs and whether or not he can build upon a solid rookie campaign in 2015. But after him, Teddy Bridgewater’s options in the passing game get a little thin, so Treadwell shouldn’t have a problem getting some looks from his signal-caller.

Permanent link to this article: http://sportsgnome.com/2016/08/10/5-fantasy-football-rookies-who-will-make-an-immediate-impact-in-2016/