Re-Drafting The 2019 NFL Fantasy Draft

By Dave Moore (@davieremixed)

So, the dust has settled from your league’s Fantasy Championship game.

You’re left with a bitter taste in your mouth after you took Alvin Kamara #1 overall and then wasted your second pick on Devonta Freeman.

But what if we could turn back time (without the bad hair, for all you Cher fans out there…) and redraft the 2019 Fantasy Season?


How It All Played Out


So your top five picks would’ve been something along the lines of:

  1. Saquon Barkley
  2. Christian McCaffrey
  3. Ezekiel Elliott
  4. Alvin Kamara
  5. Le’Veon Bell

Maybe swap Bell out for DeAndre Hopkins and the top four – as far as I was concerned – were interchangeable. If you got Pick 1/2/3/4 then you were taking one of those players, even if Zeke was holding out.

So how did those five + Nuk fare?

Christian McCaffrey blew everyone away as he was the only reliably functioning part of the Carolina offense for the entire season. A whopping 471.20 points left him miles ahead of the closest challenge from the list above…

Zeke Elliott: Scoring single digits just once this season he was a bright spot in a pretty woeful Dallas season as he racked up 311.70 points.

DeAndre Hopkins was impressive as always with 268.54 points despite sitting out the final game of the season against the Titans.

Alvin Kamara was nowhere near as explosive as we would have hoped for this year, hampered by injury all season he went 12 (TWELVE) weeks without a touchdown but snagging a brace of touchdowns in each of his last two games bumped him to a modest-by-his-standards 248.52 points.

Much like his NFC compatriot, Saquon Barkley struggled with injury this year and missed three and a half games. Also much like Kamara, some late season antics (94.90 points across the final three games) landed him 244.10 points overall.

Finally we come to the man who held out. The man who fled Pittsburgh. The man who landed a deal with the New York Jets to make him the second highest paid running back in the league.

I feel sorry if you took him in the first round. 215 points returned for a man touted to be an RB1. Breaking 20 points three times and just once after September. What a rough year.

BUT.

Let’s turn the clock back to those fateful late August/early September evenings. We’re armed with our Sports Almanac, what does this first round in a 10-team standard scoring league look like?

The 2019 Fantasy Football Re-Draft

With the first overall pick…Christian McCaffrey – Running Back – Carolina Panthers

For reasons above this is a complete no brainer. The man was the highest scoring player in the league by a country mile. Even in blowout defeats he still managed to rack up plenty of yards or nab a couple of scores. The guy was a monster in both the run and pass game (although those passes were essentially screens in the flat but a catch is a catch!).

Run CMC is going to be a first overall pick for a couple of years to come at least.


With the second overall pick…Lamar Jackson – Quarterback – Baltimore Ravens

Congratulations to those who had the wherewithal to draft Jackson early because frankly, I thought the Chargers had figured him out in the 2018 Playoffs by loading the box and sending as many people at him as possible.

What Baltimore did to allow Jackson to flourish was snag Mark Ingram from the Saints and draft Hollywood Brown. This opened the game up for Jackson’s wheels in a way we haven’t seen since Michael Vick.

A fine reference indeed as Jackson broke Vick’s single-season rushing record by a Quarterback and then some. He passed for over 3,000 yards and 36 touchdowns, rushed for over 1,200 and 7 scores. By the time we’d reached the end of the season he had amassed 415.68 points. Bravo, Lamar. Bravo.


With the third overall pick…Michael Thomas – Wide Receiver – New Orleans Saints

Not the Saints player we’d have expected to be drafted in the first round but with a dearth of wide-out options a combination of Drew Brees, Teddy Bridgewater and Taysom Hill found Thomas on alarming regularity. So much so that he broke Marvin Harrison’s single season reception record by racking up 149 catches for 1,725 yards but surprisingly only 9 touchdowns.

374.60 points in total, which eclipsed the total from any other wide-out by nearly 100 points.

Peculiar to be drafting just one running back from the first three picks but remember, we’ve got the Sports Almanac here so the usual rules don’t apply.

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On we go and with the fourth overall pick Dak Prescott – Quarterback – Dallas Cowboys

Hang on, another quarterback? Get out of here.

I’m afraid so. Much like Thomas, we weren’t expecting to be picking this particular Dallas player fourth overall but Dak was the length of the field away from hitting 5,000 passing yards in addition to 30 TD passes and another three with his legs.

He struggled in some games (on the road in New Orleans and in Philly) but more than made up for it with blockbuster performances against the Giants, the Redskins and the Lions. Kudos to you, Dakota, 337.78 points overall.


With the fifth overall pick… Russell Wilson – Quarterback – Seattle Seahawks

You talk about players having to carry a team (Run CMC, Dak to name but two in this list so far) and then there is Russell Wilson.

DangeRuss’ options? An injured Tyler Lockett, David Moore (although he’s my namesake he’s not ‘the guy’), an exciting but raw DK Metcalf and having his Tight Ends and Running Backs ending the season banged up or on IR.

The guy still threw for over 4,000 yards and 31 scores as he managed to extend play after play after play after play ad nauseum. He did blow hot and cold on a game-to-game basis in 2019 and suffered down the stretch, failing to score over 20 points after a 39.22 performance against Tampa in Week 9 until scraping it in the final game of the season against the 49ers which took him to 328.60 points.

So of the first five picks, three are QBs who are resetting what we traditionally looked for in a man under centre.


Which leads us nicely to the sixth overall pick… DeShaun Watson – Quarterback – Houston Texans

DSW was quietly spectacular with the true blockbuster moment coming in Week 5 as his Texans team demolished the Falcons 53-32. Watson scored 41.74 points in that game alone but his season was dealt some serious damage in Week 11 on a trip to Baltimore as we saw the ugly side of Houston.

169 passing yards. 1 INT. 1 fumble lost. No scores. 3.96 fantasy points. Ouch.

Like a lot of his fellow starters, Watson sat out the final game of the season against the Titans which also damaged his total but still enough for a cool 320.98 points. Had he not suffered so greatly against Baltimore and/or started in Week 17 he’d be jumping ahead of Wilson and Prescott for sure.

I’m getting fed up of these Quarterbacks being drafted. Running Backs, where are you?

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With the seventh overall pick…Aaron Jones – Running Back – Green Bay Packers

That’s better. Jones topped 1,000 yards and had just as many scores (19) as Run CMC.

When he was hot, he was scorching. He scored 53 points against the Vikings across two games, bagged a hat-trick against the Panthers in Week 10 and had over 200 total yards in a 41.60 game against the Chiefs.

His true diamond game though, was the four-score (and seven years ago) game against the Cowboys in Week 5 as he hit 49.20 points. The man would win fantasy matchups on his own.

He would also cost you. He had games with 4.90, 3.90 and 3.80 points but such streakiness was emblematic of the Packers season, despite their reaching the NFC Championship Game.

He was still good for 314.80 points and such a year has definitely moved him much higher up draft boards for 2020.


With the eighth overall pick… Ezekiel Elliott – Running Backs – Dallas Cowboys

The fact we have two Cowboys players on here lays bare how badly their offensive superstars were let down this year.

Zeke didn’t really have the blockbuster games of Run CMC or Aaron Jones but he didn’t have the troughs of Jones either. He scored single digits just once this year and was just so consistent for the Cowboys and anyone’s fantasy team.

He got at least one touchdown on ten games this year and the games he didn’t score in he had sufficient yardage to carry him into double figures. Just stunning reliability from a man who had been holding out all summer but thankfully didn’t go the way of Melvin Gordon or Lev Bell.

An impressive 311.70 points for Zeke and I expect this to increase next season as the Cowboys are going to be better coached under Mike McCarthy (see: the cowardice of the game against the Patriots).


With the ninth overall pick… Austin Ekeler – Running Back – Los Angeles Chargers

This is a surprising one seeing as Melvin Gordon’s return would have surely indicated a drop-off for Ekeler but whilst it is true his point-age did decline after a strong first month (39.40, 23.30, 15.10 and 29.20 points) that is just as attributable to the Chargers falling off a cliff and just being horrible for the majority of the year.

For a running back in that team to get a total of 309.00 points across a season is superb and he’s been rewarded with a new four-year deal. Good for you, Austin. Go get paid!

If the Chargers draft a QB to be their starter for 2020 then I’d expect Ekeler to maintain this sort of scoring. Keep him in mind for a late first round/early second next season.

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With the tenth overall pick and the final pick of the first round… Jameis Winston – Quarterback – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I kid you not. #30For30’s Jameis Winston.

The man is the NFL equivalent of Arsenal’s David Luiz. He is absolute box office material and I love watching the guy play purely for entertainment value.

He threw for over 5,000 yards and 33 touchdowns but had 30 (THIRTY) INTs. Seeing him throw that 30th INT (a pick six to end a dismal Bucs season in a 28-22 overtime defeat to the Falcons).

The true epitome of Winston’s season was the London game against Carolina where he threw five INTs, one touchdown but still had 400 passing yards!

He ended with 305.36 points overall and was the tenth and final person who scored over 300 points across the season.

I am not expecting Jameis to be a starter next year but I really, really hope he is because at times his connectivity with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin was brilliant. He could be a sleeper later in your 2020 draft but purely for entertainment value he is the tenth overall pick of the Re-Drafted 2019 NFL Fantasy Draft.

Full10Lookahead – Week 6

By Tim Monk and Lawrence Vos

Eau de Toilet Bowl

Image result for dolphins vs redskins

In the game widely regarded as the #tankbowl, Bill Callahan takes charge of his first game as interim head coach of the Washingotn Redskins as they take on the Dolphins.

Many will see the loser of this one in prime position to bag that lucrative #1 spot in the 2020 draft but you could argue that the #1 pick is needed by one of these teams more than the other.

Miami have a plethora of early picks in the next few years after some trading that has gone on from the Dolphins front office but Washington are in a bit of a mess.

Seemingly lacking in direction, focus and with barely any foundations in which to build this team on for both sides of the ball, Washington and their fans probably wouldn’t mind a terrible performance here to get ahead in the race for #1, even if that means it gives them the ability to acquire more picks by trading back from the 1st overall selection which will be highly sought after next year.

Miami do not have much more talent on their roster but have the war chest of picks in order to ease the pain the Dolphins fans are currently suffering and hopefully the light is at the end of the tunnel.

I think Washington’s tunnel may have caved in.

There once was a time that the Washington Redskins and the Miami Dolphins were NFL powerhouses. The teams were gritty, and won games by using a dominant running game to outmuscle opponents and break their will.

In fact the two teams have met twice in Super Bowls, once in the 70s and the second time a decade later. The results were split, the 1972 Dolphins ended up undefeated and the 1982 Redskins survived a strike-shortened season to lift the trophy thanks to the irrepressible RB John ‘The Diesel’ Riggins. Fast forward to 2019 and you have debatably the most pitiful NFL matchup since the woeful games of the 2018 0-16 Dan Orlovsky led Detroit Lions. Even they managed a fairy-tale ending as the Lions DE Cliff Avril went on to win a Super Bowl ring with the Seattle Seahawks.

Either Case Keenum or Josh Rosen will be responsible for their once-proud franchise falling to 0-6 with absolutely no end in sight. Redskins new interim head-coach Bill Callahan will be feeding Adrian Peterson the rock faster than a five-year old after consuming a selection box at a Christmas Day game of Hungry Hippos. The Dolphins will be looking for absolutely anything to stick, including any balls throw in the direction of UDFA WR Preston Williams. If rubbernecking is your thing, and you like to slow down at a motorway car crash then get your dash cam at the ready as the footage from this game will be a live recording of a crime against football. It should just about be a Redskins win (there I said it and thus the curse begins) but who is to say that Washington GM Bruce Allen is huge military fan. After all he may like a ‘tank’ as much as the Dolphins ownership.

When these two teams met in Super Bowl VII one of the greatest mistakes ever was committed when Dolphins kicker Garo Yepremian had a kick blocked, and instead of doing anything sensible he passed the ball right into a Redskins player who ran it back for a touchdown.

It is absolutely possible that the only scorers on Sunday are defensive players. 


Can Cousins continue chucking?

Image result for kirk cousins
Image Credit: Icon Sportswire (Getty Images)

There was definitely a focus on making sure the Cousins throwing narrative was chucked out of the window vs the Giants. The Big Blue defence provided a timely opportunity for Cousins to quell the detractors (which included some of his teammates) of the fully guaranteed signal caller as he was able to have time in the pocket and throw multiple touchdowns in a game for the first time since week 16 last year.

Will that continue as they welcome the Philadelphia Eagles?

Whilst they aren’t quite as bad as the Giants defence, they are no world beaters either due to injuries. It will be interesting to see if Cousins continues to throw as much as he did last week or whether they revert back to type and hand the ball off to Cook.


Watson vs Mahomes

Image result for deshaun watson patrick mahomes
Image Credit: Kevin Jairaj /USA Today sports

2 quarterbacks that always put on a show get it on in week 6 with the Texans travelling to the recently Colt conquered Arrowhead stadium.

Both QBs combined account for just under 3400 yards so far this season and when they are healthy, they are definitely up there as the most exciting players to watch with the ball in their hands.

Mahomes is a bit dinged up, a feeling that Watson knows oh so well after having to resort to bus as a means of transport to and from games last season. Watson wasn’t actually touched by the Falcons last week so it’s possible this is the healthiest Watson will feel all season. The Chiefs’ defence isn’t the greatest, nor is the Texans, so we should get a shootout here in an all AFC clash.

On one of the rare occasions, Mahomes and the Chiefs have to bounce back from a defeat.


jack in the box

Image Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

People are starting to question the credentials of the 2018 #32 overall pick after a couple of poor performances.

A trio of interceptions on Sunday saw him fail his fantasy owners and now everyone is wondering whether or not Lamar Jackson has actually improved in his 2nd year.

First few games were plain sailing and as it turns out, against 2 very poor teams. Now that he’s faced a few tougher defences (and Arizona), things aren’t looking as rosy in the Baltimore garden.

We’ve mentioned on the NFL podcast before that he’ll have these questions to answer for pretty much every week of this season because of the nature of his play and the polarising opinion he gives the analysts and that will continue this week as he faces a Bengals team that should provide some respite for Jackson and his fans as a QB of similar ilk in Kyler Murray just got the win in the Jungle and a decent rushing performance.


Sunday Night Footb-oh

Image Credit – Joe Sargeant / Getty Images

Prior to the start of the season, the Steelers and Chargers were two teams expected to make the playoffs and produce an entertaining game.

Fast forward to now and this game looks like it’s not even worth the paper it’s written on.

Pittsburgh down and out for the 2019 and now down to possibly their 3rd QB after Mason Rudolph got walloped against the Ravens whilst the Chargers have whimpered so far this season losing last time out to Denver at “home”.

I think it’s fair to say that only the fans of these two teams will watch this one in the UK in the early hours, purely because I don’t think there are any Chris Collinsworth fans. Now here’s a guy who can get on your nerves…


Showcase showdown in London 

Image result for white hart lane nfl
Image Credit: Pitchcare.com

I haven’t got the intestinal fortitude to check if this has happened before in a regular season contest in England. This Sunday’s clash between the English noobs the Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers features three current major statistical category leaders.

The leading rusher, the leading tackler and the leading sack master all belong to teams who will be competing in the 26th NFL London matchup. Most surprising or impressive depending on your lens is Shaquil Barrett the Buccaneers edge who leads the league in sacks with 9 so far in 5 games. Not far behind him is the Panthers DE Mario Addison with 6.5 to his name.

What makes both of these feats truly impressive is that neither actually were drafted by any of the 32 teams. Addison bounced around three teams (Bears, Colts and Redskins) in his first two years before being signed by the Panthers in 2012. He has a solid 52 sacks in his career. Barrett, who has a Super Bowl ring from his stint with the Denver Broncos, had only started 15 games in four seasons at Mile-High, notching his best sack total of 5.5 as a rookie. Now he stands alongside the legendary Jets pass rusher Mark Gastineau (who sported a fine moustache) with the most sacks ever in both the first three and first four games in a season.

To see both players coming over to play at the impressive Tottenham Hotspur stadium will be a highlight for the 60,000 fans this Sunday. 


Fools Gold or real prospects? 

Image Credit: Tony Avelar/AP/Shutterstock

The Jimmy Garoppolo led San Francisco 49ers have been patient, they have had a plan and GM John Lynch and Head Coach Kyle Shanahan are starting to show that they know their way around a football field.

Both the GM & HC signed epic six-year deals just days apart in 2017, and vowed to bring back the 49ers to a time when they were as dominant as the New England Patriots are right now. The plans to progress were seriously scuppered in 2018 when both QB Jimmy Garoppolo and highly-touted RB Jerrick McKinnon both got injured. McKinnon is still crocked but Jimmy G has been kept upright and his team are now 4-0. No they have not faced the likes of the Saints or Bears yet, but to be the last undefeated NFC team is still an achievement.

The 49ers travel to L.A. on Sunday to play the reigning NFC champion Rams. This will be a true test if the 49ers are the real deal or a shiny lump of pyrite. The dual punching power of a bruising running game, made up of Matt Breida and Tevin Coleman is arguably the best backfield pairing in the league, and this is only enhanced by the lead blocking of the NFL’s top fullback Kyle Juszczyk. Jusczyzk to his credit can catch the ball too as evidenced by his 6 snags so far.

Being able to draft the premier defensive chess piece in this year’s draft in the form of Nick Bosa (Joey’s not so little brother) has helped a lot, but this is a team that boasts the league’s number one rushing attack (200 yards a game) and the second highest scoring offense (31.8). Not even laid-back Californian surfer dude types would have projected the 49ers to be undefeated heading into Week 6.

This is not the 49ers of old, but spending years shining the shoes of, and carrying the clipboard for Tom Brady looks to be paying dividend. 


Can someone tune up Le’Veon Bell

Image result for leveon bell
Image Credit: Michael Owens / Getty Images

After a year spent on his sofa chewing on sunflower seeds and experimenting no doubt with himself as the protagonist in a Madden Franchise, Le’Veon Bell returned to the NFL with a new team, a new attitude but an old goal, to win a Super Bowl. So far this is as likely as the Miami Dolphins going on an 11 game winning streak.

The New York Jets are languishing in the cess pool that is the lower half of the AFC East. Without a win, without a starting quarterback and averaging under 10 points a game is classic Bruce Coslet territory (an old and unsuccessful Jets head coach in the 1990s). Behind a poor offensive line Bell is averaging under three yards a carry, has zero rushing touchdowns and is only barely being tolerated by fantasy owners because he is projected to end the season with a whopping 108 catches.

If this was any other season the Jets would be the lowest power ranked team, but even they are unable to sink to the levels of ineptitude on display in South Florida. Sam Darnold, the saviour, is due to return to action after his bout of Mono in a tough contest against a crest-fallen Dallas Cowboys team who will be wanting to prove to doubters that the incredibly slow start against Green Bay was an anomaly. Bell when on fire is a sight to behold. His 2017 running style was a unique blend of power, patience and incredible vision, mixing snake hips with poisonous tongue darts between defenders. Bell at the moment is more komodo dragon than slippery lizard.

After the Cowboys allowed four touchdowns to Aaron Jones in Week 5 the Jets will at least go into this Week 6 matchup with some degree of hope, along with Sam Darnold at the wheel. Look to Bell to maintain his short passing route production, but ultimately enter Week 7 without a team victory in sight.


Third becomes first after Mason mashed

Not one to stay up for, but it is worth noting undrafted rookie Delvin Hodges will make his first start in Sunday Night Football for the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Hodges got a $1000 signing bonus and initially made the team because the Steelers traded backup Josh Dobbs to the Jaguars in September. Undrafted quarterbacks have performed miracles – the likes of Kurt Warner, Jake Delhomme and Mike Tomzak have all reached Super Bowls.

In Tomzak’s case he won a ring backing up Jim McMahon on the legendary 1985 Bears team, and for Kurt Warner he got a ring starting against the Tennessee Titans. Mason Rudolph, deputising for an already injured Ben Roethlisberger, suffered a horrific hit in Week 5 but managed to get up after minutes of collective breath holding. The NFL may be doing some things wrong but the concussion protocol is being taken dead seriously now, unlike in the past when players would be back far earlier that they should have been.

Nothing is expected from Delvin Hodges against a Chargers team that still cannot find a way to post a winning record in the first half of a season, but 2019 it seems is a year that will go down as one that saw unknown quarterbacks take centre stage and perform admirably. Hodges could be the man to spark Steelers WR Juju Smith-Schuster back to life after a somewhat soggy start to the season.

Without Antonio Brown (remember him) as his partner in crime prevention JuJu is looking like a rather distressed Robin, and not even the good one from the 1960s TV show, he looks like the Chris O’Donnell version who wore the red nipple-protruding chest piece.

The Chargers are going to have to face life without QB Philip Rivers at some point soon, so this is a much needed win that would put them at 3-3 and still in contention for a Wild-Card berth come the Winter. 

Full10Lookahead – Week 1

In a new weekly feature, here are our 10 top things we are most looking forward to this week in the NFL.

-Zeke and destroy-

IMAGE CREDIT: Getty Images

Ezekiel Elliot, the newly $90m, 6 year contracted running back.

Will his offseason away from the team in Cabo turn in to rustiness and on field lack of rhythm and chemistry with Dak? Probably not, especially seeing as though Tanner Lee was flown out to Cabo for Zeke to get the requisite reps. That being said, it’s been far from ideal for the Dallas Cowboys with contract stories literally in every position group in their team. Dak and Amari Cooper will probably be dealt with next offseason now judging by the other contracts that were settled over the past few weeks but now it’s time for America’s Team to get on the field and put away the Giants.

If they can put all of it behind them, there is Super Bowl calibre team here. Regardless of how well they do this season, surely all eyes are on how Zeke slots back in to the operation of this offence.


-How Charged up is the LA running game-

IMAGE CREDIT: Associated Press

L.A. Chargers GM Tom Telesco has stuck a marker in the Californian sand with a refusal to negotiate RB Melvin Gordon’s contact until the season is complete. A bold move, but you don’t want such a big distraction as you start a season with QB Philip Rivers in the twilight of his Hall of Fame worthy career.

With Gordon still disgruntled and not reporting this means the powder-blue ball pounders will be Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson. Ekeler has proved to be a quality plug and play, but the real excitement lies with Jackson and his burst.

The Chargers are a balanced team that are pretty safe locks for a playoff spot, and if Ekeler and Jackson can find early rhythm then they will be saying “Melvin who?” by January.


-Chiefs grabbing Shady-

IMAGE CREDIT: James Wooldridge

K.C. head coach Andy Reid helped LeSean McCoy to become a superstar in Philadelphia, and now the two are reunited. Grabbing McCoy, who was unceremoniously cut by the Buffalo Bills, is a move that will be making Chiefs fans scratch their heads.

For fantasy fans they will be doing more that scratching, they will be pulling clumps of hair out. RB Damien Williams proved he can manage the spotlight and is a quality ball-catcher. Darwin Thompson has shown too that he can pound the rock, but now you add in a veteran back who is on the downward spiral.

Reid will reignite McCoy’s career as will being in the same huddle as Patrick Mahomes. So tough to project his immediate impact, but stay tuned Week 1.


-I’ll take a Big Mack-

IMAGE CREDIT: USATSI

Khalil Mack was on his way to making Aaron Donald sweat for the Defensive Player of the Year, was it not for a small injury that slowed him down a tad.

Mack was the biggest news of the start of the 2018 season, and twelve months later he has a year of better appreciating his surroundings in Chicago. The Bears defense is the best unit in the NFL, and with tackling machine Roquan Smith by his side Mack is going to be gunning for 20 sacks in 2019.

I can see the Bears v Eagles in the NFC Championship, and pray to the spirit of George Halas that Mack’s outstanding play is not crippled by another double-doink. 


-Pats Old Guard try to repeat the trick-

IMAGE CREDIT: Jim Davis

New England will start the defence of their Super Bowl crown with the visit from the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night, and will do so with the oldest roster in the NFL when young players have seemingly never been so valuable.

In todays salary cap age, the ability to keep cost controlled draft picks is seen as a vital way to remain competitive. However, the Patriots have seemed to eschew that school of thought recently. Arguably the only impactful players playing on their rookie deals are running back Sony Michel and guard Joe Thuney, although they will no doubt hope that this years class headlined by messrs Harry and Winovich and one of last years first rounders, tackle Isaiah Wynn, will make an impact following a rookie season curtailed by an Achilles injury sustained in camp.

It seems Bill Belichick is forever zigging while the rest of the league zags, the rest of the league looks to get quicker, stronger and more athletic he is relying on know-how and experience to take them back to the Super Bowl. Even today, surrounded by the electrifying technicolour highlights of Mahomes, Barkley etc few would bet against them doing just that.


-Kliff, Kyler and the air raid offence-

IMAGE CREDIT: Mark J Rebilas

In Glendale on Sunday evening the Arizona Cardinals will try to take their franchises first baby steps back to viability as a contender when they welcome the similarly rebuilding Detroit Lions to the University of Phoenix Stadium.

Attention will certainly be focused on how rookie HC Kliff Kingsbury and no. 1 pick Kyler Murray perform in the first test of the pass-happy, hyperactive Air Raid offence. While its fair to say elements of the scheme have been a staple for many teams over the past few years, the Cards have made it clear they will ride or die with their youngsters for better or worse this year.

With a fresh receiving core including Christian Kirk and rookies Andy Isabella and Keesean Johnson, complemented by old reliable Larry Fitzgerald and star running back David Johnson, hopes are high in the desert that the road back to competitiveness starts here. And if not, it will certainly be fun to watch!


-Rams try to avoid Super Bowl hangover-

IMAGE CREDIT: Rich Pedroncelli (AP)

Sean McVay will try to pilot his teams path back to the Super Bowl beginning with a cross country trip to Charlotte to face Ron Rivera’s Carolina Panthers. While last years offence was, for large parts of the season unstoppable, they seemed to run out of steam as the season reached its most crucial phase.

Over the season the Rams were the second highest scoring offence in football, only behind the remarkable Chiefs led by MVP Patrick Mahomes, however over the last month of the regular season their PPG decreased by over 10 points capped off by the 3 point performance on the biggest stage at Super Bowl LIII.Young receiver Cooper Kupp went down with an season ending injury and when star running back Todd Gurley was hampered by a knee injury by the latter stages of the season, the Rams overall effectiveness on offence seemed to go with him. 

Has the rest of the NFL caught up to Sean McVay’s scheme or will the Rams be back lighting up the scoreboard this year? Any team boasting the talents of reigning DPOY Aaron Donald, Andrew Whitworth, Aqib Talib, Eric Weddle, Jared Goff, Robert Woods etc plus the hopefully back to full health Gurley and Kupp should be challenging in the very competitive NFC.


-OBJ = Odell’s Browns Jersey-

IMAGE CREDIT: AP Photo/Ron Schwane

It really wasn’t a dream…..OBJ will be wearing orange and brown to kick of the 2019 NFL campaign.

The sensational trade that shook the NFL back in March has been the standout moment in a summer full of positive vibes out of North Eastern Ohio and at last we get to see the on field product on Sunday. OBJ has been wrapped in cotton wool throughout the offseason, practising sparingly and not seeing any preseason action so all eyes will be on how quickly he establishes a connection with Baker Mayfield.

The Browns host the Titans looking to win a season opener for the first time since 2004, here’s hoping!


-Ring that Bell!-

IMAGE CREDIT: Associated Press

So Le’Veon Bell didn’t win any additional money from his contract holdout, but did he win by preserving his body?

The running back will see the field for the first time in over 18 months when the Jets open up against the Bills on Sunday in New York. Bell has always had a patient running style but would have been afforded superior line play during his time with the Steelers. Will he be able to transition this style to his new surroundings or will we see him bouncing to the outside more regularly?

Despite plenty of optimism of growth in the second season of Sam Darnold, the Jets may only go as far as Bell can carry them.


-Time for a new Colt hero?-

IMAGE CREDIT: John Minchillo/AP

Jacoby Brissett, what an opportunity you have in front of you.

You may argue he had this chance in 2017 when as the full time starter for the year he led the Colts to a 4-12 record, but don’t underestimate how much better this overall Colts team is now. He will have arguably the best O-line in football in front of him with Quenton Nelson leading the group in his 2nd year. He has a nice array of options in the passing game to throw to and a committee approach at running back should see the Colts very competitive.

Once considered a potential heir to Tom Brady, I’m looking forward to seeing Brissett grasp his chance this time around.


Top 10 NFL games to look forward to in 2019

By Tim Monk (@Tim_MonkF10Y) 7/7/2019

Only single digit weeks now until the NFL season begins. Hurrah! So I decided to have a bit of a look at the games this season and start building up a bit of hype!

The NFL regular season is 256 games in total. I’ve tried to whittle it down to the top 10 games that are going to be the most anticipated. Bias dictates that these are all wrong unless your team is in involved in the rankings, but let’s be honest, no-one is excited about Miami @ NY Giants in week 15…nor will it be flexed. Moving on:

Listed in Week Order as quite frankly, I don’t want to provide a countdown. I’m already behind the 8 ball with the games I’ll miss out.

Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears – Opening Kickoff Week 1

Chicago could be the opening night for Aaron Rodgers’ “Flip the Bird to the NFL” Tour.

This game of course is the first game of the 2019 regular season which only annoys Patriots fans so that’s fine. Seriously though, this could kick the season off with a bang and it will be fascinating for many reasons; Are the Bears here to stay? What is the impact of the defection of Adrian Amos to the Packers? Is the Packers’ defence improved enough to get them back to January football?

These two teams met on primetime in week 1 last year on Sunday Night Football and Rodgers once again broke the hearts of the Bears fans, overcoming a 20-0 hole from late in the 3rd. Whilst that’s not quite Patriots vs Falcons levels, it was still pretty awesome to see the fireworks late on and Rodgers working his magic including that 75yd Randall Cobb TD pass.

If we get anything like that on opening night, the long offseason wait would already have been worth it.

Indianapolis Colts @ LA Chargers – Week 1

Both teams had a playoff win last season, and both fans will expect a few more this season. In what COULD be a dress rehearsal for the AFC Championship game come the end of January 2020, we get to see what shape two of the main protagonists in the hunt are in for this week 1 tussle. These teams were top 10 last year in both Points for and Points allowed. The Colts will be hoping to get off to a better start than they did last year whilst the Chargers have a history of starting slow except for last year. Who starts hot in the Stub Hub? Can the Colts defence take another step forward? Is this the year Anthony Lynn and the Chargers put it all together? Is this the AFC title game come January?

Game Pass lovers please pray this one won’t succumb to the Sky Sports blackout.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ New England Patriots – Week 1 (SNF)

In the first time since the early 2000s, the defending SB champions won’t be playing on opening night (see above). The Patriots are however, playing on the first Sunday Night football. Hosting the Steelers, the 2 AFC juggernauts go at it straight out of the gate and there are question marks to be answered by voids left on both teams. Can Pittsburgh survive without Bell and Brown (and Jesse James of course!)? What does a Rob Gronkowski-less Patriots look like? Add in to the week 1 hype and the fact that at this point we want all of the football stuffed down our throats, this will be a game that is eagerly anticipated. Week 1 makes up almost a third of this list. NFL is back with a bang, baby.

New Orleans Saints @ LA Rams – Week 2 (SNF)

This one will have 99% last year’s NFC Championship game footage and 1% 2019 week 2 game time if TV Broadcasters have their way. The rumblings over the PI challenge change has rumbled all the way through the summer and Vegas will be prop bet crazy for this one (as will the fans…insert Futurama Fry take my money meme). If the Saints have still not picked up their broken, stomped on hearts before this game starts, they may be sorry yet again with QB1 Blake Bortles Jared Goff looking to shake off his poor end to last season.

On the field, the Saints will want to confirm their dominance and lay down a marker in what could be Drew Brees final season and this potentially will be his last visit to South California, the place where it all started for him with the Chargers (ok, it was San Diego at the time).

The Rams will want to show that they are the dominant team in the NFC again in this game and lets not forget that both these teams were fighting for the #1 seed last year after being head and shoulders above the rest. It’ll also be a good indicator to see if both teams have plugged the losses they suffered over the offseason (Ingram/Unger/Suh etc)

McVay vs Peyton, Brees vs Goff, Kamara vs Gurley/Henderson/Brown. It’s gonna be a goodun’.

Chicago Bears @ Oakland Raiders (London) – Week 5

The Khalil Mack Bowl in the 1st NFL game at White Hart Lane (Tottenham Hotspur’s purpose-built NFL Stadium). What else is there to say?

Well, the Oakland Raiders didn’t travel too well to London last year. Gruden hates flying, they didn’t schedule the travel well from the front office and the Raiders could still be in rebuild mode. They have added a few nice pieces but I think that it could take another year or so before the Raiders are a noisy neighbour to the Chiefs and Chargers. Ranked bottom 10 in total offence and defence last year, they may fear the majority of their fixtures in 2019, but not as much as this one.

Mack and his Bears will be looking for a mauling here but it will be interesting to see the progression of Mitch Trubisky or if there is any and whether the Bears can stay hot. They have the talent to do so and they have Matt Nagy who took like a duck to water as a Head Coach last year. BUT, they have lost a few pieces on both sides of the ball, Vic Fangio has gone to Denver and this is a team that ranked 21st in Total Offence last year.

Baltimore Ravens @ Seattle Seahawks – Week 11

2 games in Week 11 that are worth circling here. First up, we have another grudge match.

It’s perhaps not quite the Khalil Mack bowl, but Earl Thomas returns to the Hawk’s nest at Century Link Field to face his former team. It’s fair to say there was bad blood here with the way things ended for Thomas in Seattle and the whole contract situation, but there is more to this game. These two are expected to fight for divisions let alone Wildcard berths so this cross-conference battle has way more than the Earl Thomas storyline that the broadcasters will feed us in the 1st half. Expect this one to be a slobberknocker two with the two heaviest running games from 2018 going at it and you will have to use more than your fingers and toes to count the bruises that the lineman suffer in this one. One for the throwbacks, one for the old school NFL fans with the ground and pound. Should be a fun one.

Kansas City Chiefs @ LA Chargers – Week 11 (MNF)

Monday Night Football doesn’t always offer us the tastiest of games (or broadcasts, let’s be honest) but this one is the pick of the bunch.

It will have divisional and seeding ramifications as well as the usual head to head tiebreakers. These 2 served up two good divisional games last year (remember the Charger’s win in Arrowhead last season with the 2-point conversion?) and you have to expect more of the same here. LA at home never have the advantage but are now accustomed to playing at the Stub Hub which saw them banish the ghosts of their usual sluggish starts. Will Tyreek Hill be back at this point? Probably, which is unfortunate.

Kansas City Chiefs @ New England Patriots – Week 14

Pretty sure UK fans will lose this one to the Sky Sports Blackout farce so set your VPNs to Venezuala or Brazil or whatever you can in order to get this game on the TV.

Brady. Mahomes. Belichick. Reid.

Potentially seeding ramifications with this one for the postseason and it will be interesting to see what Mahomes has learned from the AFC title game from just a few months ago.

Tyreek Hill will (hopefully not) be back for this game and if he isn’t, you have to wonder how the Chiefs have fared to this point. This game may be more difficult for the Chiefs being at Foxboro in December but this one will be just as much a slobberknocker as the last time these two teams met.

Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles – Week 16

Many will expect this one to decide the division. The winner could be home and hosed for the playoffs whilst the other could still be scrambling for a wildcard spot.

Dallas swept the Eagles last season so Wentz and co will be looking to put that right. Well, if Wentz is still healthy at this point.

Arguably 2 of the most talented teams in the NFL let alone the NFC will be battling it out just a few days before Christmas. I’ll be hoping that Santa gives Dallas an early Christmas present with a little division title under the tree all wrapped in a nice blue ribbon. Dallas are looking for back-to-back playoff berths for the first time in over a decade whilst Philly will be looking to ensure their SB win wasn’t a flash in the pan and that they rule the East.

Pittsburgh Steelers @ New York Jets – Week 16

By this point in the season, we’ll know exactly whether or not the move for LeVeon Bell was a good one. It’s more than likely the Steelers will be nearer the playoffs than the Jets at this point, but what if LeVeon Bell could stop the Steelers reaching the playoffs by helping his new team get the victory at home? Headlines are there to be written; “Bell ends Steelers SB hopes”.

It’ll be championship week in Fantasy too. Get the trophies and the popcorn at the ready.

 

So there you have it, obviously hard to fit 256 games into 10. Well, 240 if you take out the Miami fixtures (sorry for the hate guys!). If you feel there are any outrageous omissions, please let me have the heat! @Full10Yards on the social or you can bring your angry mob to me personally at @Tim_MonkF10Y.

Now we wait…

 

Where Do They Go From Here; NY Jets

After our divisional season review podcasts, we are now looking to the future and asking where each franchise goes from here. We put ourselves in the chair of being GM or the owner and going over what moves we would make in order to win a Superbowl, make the playoffs or just regain some pride…

Today we take a look at the New York Jets.

Don’t forget to check out the AFC East podcast where we talked to Ian Roach and got their thoughts on them!

How Did Last Season Go?

On the positive side, Sam Darnold’s rookie season arguably got stronger as he acclimatised to the NFL. On the negative side, there were more turnovers from the Jets than a bakery after a delivery. After their week 6 win vs the Colts, the Jets had a 3-3 record, unfortunately in the subsequent 10 gameweeks, they only mustered 1 more win vs Buffalo. The schedule wasn’t the kindest to be fair. The Jets were bottom 10 in both points for and against whilst most of their stats see them in the bottom half for pretty much everything…not good. Ultimately, this is why Todd Bowles lost his job.

Housekeeping

New York Jets once again have the 3rd pick in the 1st round of the draft. They don’t have a 2nd rounder after trading up in the 2018 draft. But have 2 3rd rounders and picks in round 4,5 and 7.

The Jets were one of the wealthiest teams heading in to Free Agency and despite being very active, still are top 10 in cap space available with $26m.

Outgoings

Apart from Bowles at HC, there was a lot of names heading out the exit door in New York. RBs Bilal Powell and Isiah Crowell,  WR Jermaine Kearse and QB Josh McCown.

Elsewhere Mo Claiborne & Buster Skrine (CB), James Carpenter (G) and kicker Jason Myers were other notable names that wont be in the Gang Green in 2019.

Incomings

Lots! Well you need to with all of the names going the other way.

Mr Taco Adam Gase is the new head coach and comes over from division rival Miami.

LeVeon Bell was the big splash at RB and he’ll run behind former Raider Osemele. Jamison Crowder comes in to the slot in a slightly surprising move considering they already had Enunwa. Another big name signing is linebacker CJ Mosley from the Ravens. Anthony Barr was supposed to be there too but apparently felt sick to his stomach at the thought of being away from Minnesota.

Outlook for Next Year

Some big questions for the Jets in 2019 include; How quickly can LeVeon Bell hit the ground running? Has Sam Darnold taken a step forward?  If both of these are positive storylines for the Jets in 2019, it’s not out of the question that the Jets make the playoffs. The weak AFC East is not as perhaps weak as 2018 (except for Miami) so opportunities are there. Their schedule is easier than last year with the Raiders, Jags, Bengals and Giants all on their slate.

Prediction

If Bell hits the ground running, and Darnold cuts out the picks, the Jets could be a sneaky playoff team in 2019. I think it may be one more year before they are considered regular playoff contenders but we all remember when Mark Sanchez entered the league. Could be a team that gets hot from nowhere and surprises a few people.

Fantasy Football

Sam Darnold – undrafted – low QB2

LeVeon Bell – late 1st/2nd Round pick – low RB1

Robby Anderson – 7th/8th Round pick – WR3

Jamison Crowder – double digit rounds – WR3/4

Chris Herndon – double digit rounds / undrafted – low TE1 – *Sleeper alert*

Free Agency Bonanza

A bonanza episode needs a bonanza cast and that’s what we have with Charlie from Ice the Kicker along with Murf and Stocks from 5yardrush.
We chat about the news including Gronk’s retirement before we get into the meat on the bone of Free Agency.
Differing opinions on Nick Foles but Murf and Tim share their opinion on breakfast cereals in Put The Mockers On It.
We go through all the big Free Agency Deals and ask the big questions before Ste from Cover2TV tackles the quiz!
We round off by letting you know the exciting things coming your way in the next week!

Where Do They Go From Here; Pittsburgh Steelers

After our divisional season review podcasts, we are now looking to the future and asking where each franchise goes from here. We put ourselves in the chair of being GM or the owner and going over what moves we would make in order to win a Superbowl, make the playoffs or just regain some pride…

Today we take a look at the Pittsburgh Steelers. Don’t forget to check out the AFC North podcast where we talk to a fan and get their thoughts on them!

How Did Last Season Go?

Well, where can you start other than Le’Veon Bell? Decided he wasn’t being paid enough and wanted to stay healthy and fresh for 2019. Whether or not that pays off remains to be seen (personally, I think it’s unlikely) but one this is for sure, the next man up James Conner did admirably in his absence. Conner’s 2nd season went to the tune of 4.5 yards per carry on 215 attempts including 5 games of 100+ rush yards plus 55 receptions totalling just under 500 yards and 13 total touchdowns (not exactly going to help Bell’s value is it?). That all in 13 games this season, so room for more…I think the Steelers have no qualms about waving off Le’Veon Bell.

Aside from the backfield, the Steelers, perennially a hot/cold team were exactly that again this season; The Steelers got themselves off to a slow start, with an opening weekend tie with the Browns leading to a 1-2-1 record after 4 games. They then turned on the afterburners and won their next 6, taking them to 7-2-1. Then the Steelers steeled and had losses to Denver and Oakland (on top of losses to New Orleans and LA Chargers) in their final 6 games to somehow miss out on the playoffs. The Oakland one in particular was a vintage away Big Ben/Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers type of performance. Absolutely no right in losing a game of that stature, away to one of the worst teams in football but unfortunately, it is no surprise that this happened. Another statistic showing beautifully the hot and cold Steelers; They had 8 games where they scored 28+ points but 7 games with 21 points or less (averaging out on the season at 26.8pts per game).

Housekeeping

Pittsburgh own the 20th Pick in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd rounds this year, I think predominantly they will look to bolster the defence that isn’t what it once was.

Let’s not forget, they could add to their draft picks if they are able to deal Antonio Brown for something decent but that remains to be seen. Maybe they’ll use the picks acquired in the Brown trade to find his replacement, too.

In terms of Free Agency, Pittsburgh have around $20m of cap space, but I expect that to fluctuate throughout the offseason depending how they wrangle the AB trade and some other pieces.

Outgoings

Antonio Brown will dominate all the headlines as he heads for the Heinz Field exit door and Le’Veon Bell will have a new home in 2019, but there are a few other names that may not return in 2019. Offensive lineman Ramon Foster and Marcus Gilbert along with Tight End Jesse James could see a fairly different offensive line to the one that has been so dominant for the past few seasons. Heyward-Bey, Grimble and Hunter at WR are all Free Agents too but you may see 1 return from that group. On defence, Ryan Shazier, still recovering from that awful injury, leads the list in terms of cap value.

Incomings

With not the biggest salary cap to wiggle around, the Steelers need to be smart in this year’s draft (certainly need to do better than the 2018 draft haul)

Needs at Corner are there for everyone to see; 2016 draft pick Artie Burns was benched during the 2018 season so I would assume that this would be their primary focus. A swarming linebacker too will be high on the priority list.  Players at Corner that will appeal to the Steelers include Byron Murphy (Washington) and Deandre Baker (Georgia) whilst Devin White (LSU) will have Mike Tomlin’s ears pricked up at Linebacker (hopefully he’ll be more successful in the NFL than Kevin White).

After selecting James Washington in round 2 last year, I would be surprised if the Steelers use an early pick on another WR despite the departure of Brown, but the Steelers have a long and successful history of drafting WR….

Outlook for Next Year

Steelers fans and owners’ aspirations are obviously a deep run in the playoffs, the growth of James Washington at WR (and let’s not forget Juju ascending to the WR1) and James Conner in the backfield, but anything short of that could see Mike Tomlin’s tenure called to an end but every circus tour has to end soon…

The offence is still a talented one and Big Ben is still around for another year or 2 at least (despite some of his hissy fits reminiscent of a 4-year-old who has just had their electronic device taken away) and if they are smart with their 2018 draft picks on defence, could yet be the favourite to usurp New England from their AFC throne after all.

Prediction

Due to the circus like fanfare that follows the Steelers each year, I am predicting that the arrow is going to point downwards for a few reasons;

I think Big Ben and the Steelers struggle without their 2 foundations from the last number of years in Bell and Brown and in a division where the Browns and the Ravens have some momentum about them, the Steelers could easily see themselves on the outside looking in again this season.

Their defence may be their Achilles heel again this season as well as the customary Mike Tomlin away performance to a poor team. The Steelers may be putting the “terrible” in the terrible towel in 2019 if they don’t sort their act out in that locker room and address the culture that Tomlin has allowed to manifest there.

The Steelers are like Netflix UK; A place where all the stars aligned and was the place to be with all the household names, but then one or two pieces moved away to go on their own and you now wonder where that leaves everyone else and the choice is starting to look a bit thin.

Fantasy Football

Once a goldmine for fantasy points, you may struggle for depth for fantasy football this year; Big Ben will have his backers, especially after passing for the most yards in 2018. I’ll pass though (pun intended) due to my fears he could cliff dive next season with the mass exodus at the skill positions. I am only really interested in 1 guy here. No, it’s not James Conner and no, it’s not JuJu (mainly because his fan base is bigger than the capacity of the mall he played in the other day will consequently see him drafted at an inflated price). It’s James Washington. There will be some leagues where he falls to a ridiculous round and will be a value. Washington could be a guy that goes in the 5th round or the 10th round depending on the casualness of your league. If he is still there in round 7/8, he is a guy that you may want to snap up before someone else does. Especially if Pittsburgh don’t bring in another WR.

The reason I won’t be a James Conner or a JuJu buyer this year is probably because of price and the fact that there will be a player I would rather have instead. James Conner (RB7 in 2018 in standard scoring) at the back of the first could look good paired with an Elite WR, but the likelihood is that Joe Mixon will be sniffing around the same part of the draft, and I will always take him over Conner. JuJu (WR9 in standard scoring in 2018) is going to go around mid to late 2nd round due to his WR 1 status in the offence but again, you have guys like Tyreek Hill and Mike Evans around here. I just would rather have those guys before as I want to see JuJu do it on his own vs the #1 CB against him each week. On the positive side for both, they’ll be the undisputed workhorses at their positions for the team and Big Ben consistently delivers for his pieces on offence.

Ben Roethlisberger – Late rounds in drafts – low end QB1

James Conner – late 1st round pick – RB1

JuJu Smith-Schuster – 2nd Round pick – WR1

James Washington – mid to late rounds – WR3 – potential value in drafts.

Vance McDonald – Late rounder/undrafted – TE2

 

 

Exit Interviews – AFC North

AFC North time in our mammoth review series.
Ravens – @chibsRSR
Steelers – @DFF_JamesH
Browns – @UK_Browns , @all32Shaun
Bengals – @trequartbeasta (@bengalsUK)
As said in the pod, Ravens segment was recorded prior to Flacco and Crabtree stuff soooooo yeah.
Thanks to those that participated for the podcast!
Enjoy!