Fantasy Football Nightmares for 2020 – Part 1

By Tim Monk (@Tim_MonkF10Y)

The 2020 NFL Draft has finished, the excitable young rookies have found their new homes and the ripple effects are in full force in the fantasy football world.

What are going to be the biggest headaches through the off-season and maybe throughout your 2020 league seasons? Here are some to just skim the surface and there are plenty more headaches out there that will make up part 2 of this series.

If you have any particular backfield or Wide Receiver room you want me to look at and guide you on, please let me know on Twitter (@Full10Yards).


Dallas Wide Receivers

CeeDee Lamb being drafted in the 1st round of this year’s draft was a jaw-dropper for everyone. He joins studs Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup in Dallas in what looks to be a case of too many mouths to feed. But is it?

The bad news is that there are very few offences ever that have supported 3 WRs in fantasy. The good news is that Dallas had the most yards on offence last year by some distance, almost amassing 7,000 of them, with 4,902 (71%) through the air.

CeeDee Lamb displays elite hands snatching his phone from woman ...
CeeDee Lamb showing elite handwork he’ll bring to the Cowboys

To create a bit more wiggle room, Jason Witten (529), Randall Cobb (828) and a few other small contributors have vacated over 1,500 yards of receiving output so even if Amari Cooper (1189) and Michael Gallup (1107) sustain their high production or get near it, the left over could more than funnel its way to CeeDee Lamb to be able to break the milestone in his first season.

Even if you bring Dak Prescott’s high watermark in passing yards from last season down by 10%, there is still viability that these 3 WR could all achieve 1,000 yard receiving seasons, something we have not seen since the 2008 Arizona Cardinals (Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston) and has only been seen 5 times in the NFL since the merger.

So where’s the problem I hear you ask? Well unfortunately, there are going to be a multiple number of weeks where 1 WR comes to the fore and scores a TD or 2 and hits 100yds, 1 has a mediocre output (say 5 receptions for 76yards) and 1 which takes a backseat (1 catch, 12 yards). THIS is your nightmare! Not being able to predict where the targets are going week to week is what will keep you awake every day of the week.

With the amount of talent in each of those wide receivers, it could be a case of “flavour of the week” every week and for players that you are going to be spending early to mid round picks on, this is not ideal. Amari Cooper will likely be the defacto #1 (at least in 2020) due to his big offseason contract that was signed, making him a $100m receiver. But are you willing to spend a 2nd round redraft pick on him with the headaches that will come attached to it when you have the likes of Kenny Golladay, Cooper Kupp, the Tampa Bay WRs (which we’ll get to shortly) and Keenan Allen?

Stock Report: Cowboys Michael Gallup On the Rise? - RotoExperts
Ron Jenkins / AP

Michael Gallup, who had an under the radar stellar second year almost seems certain to fight it out with Lamb for the 2nd look. With Lamb being a shiny new toy, you’d expect him to go drafted ahead of Gallup so there could be value in taking Gallup in the mid to later rounds.

All of these guys will have safe floors and you’d expect them to all be low WR2/high WR3 come the end of the season. But on a week to week basis, there’ll likely be more ups and downs than the bigger dipper at Blackpool.

That being said, this definitely a WR core to invest in for your Bestball leagues.


LA Rams Running Backs

With the exit of Todd Gurley, the question before the draft was whether or not they saw fit to replace their former star RB… the answer was emphatic.

Rams select RB Cam Akers with 52nd pick in 2020 NFL Draft
Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

With their first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft at number 52, the Rams selected Cam Akers out of Florida State. Will Cam Akers come in and take the bulk of the load? Probably. But the nightmare here is the decision to hold either or both of the handcuffs as it could possibly be burning holes in your benches, especially in shallower leagues.

Dynasty leagues with bigger benches, you can probably get away with holding Malcolm Brown, but what if Henderson makes a 2nd year leap? What if it turns into a hot hand approach or a nasty 3 headed monster in the backfield?

For the Akers’ truthers, they’ll point to his tape behind a poor O-line in college and still managing to achieve 5ypc along with the fact that McVay and the coaching staff already knew what they had in Henderson and Brown, yet still decided to use their first pick in the draft on him.

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However, the poor offensive line play from the Rams recently supercedes all of these backfield quandaries. If you have poor offensive line play to the tune of being ranked 31st in 2019 by PFF, it doesn’t matter how good your running back is or the volume he gets, the ceiling is already capped.

Do you want to be wasting a 1st round rookie draft pick on a guy that could be in a 3 way time share. Akers should get goal-line work which gives you a bit of hope that he’ll perform adequately in fantasy, but why give yourself the headache?


Cleveland Tight Ends

Tight Ends aren’t the most exciting of positions at the best of times, but to take the 2019 TE6 and usually reliable fantasy option Austin Hooper and slotting him into the Browns means that we potentially have 2 to choose from.

David Njoku has not pulled up any trees since joining the league and was injured for the majority of last season. THe nightmare here is primarily for Austin Hooper owners. Tight Ends generally take a few years to acclimatise to the NFL before any production is seen. David Njoku is now looking to hit that sweet spot and break out entering his 4th year and has had his 5th year option exercised by the Browns. Clearly the Browns plan to do something with him. Kevin Stefanski, the new Browns HC even had this to say:

“I think there’s an obvious skill set there. It’s a big year for David, and a lot of that is gonna be up to him and the work that he puts in to this. We have big plans for him, but it’s about for him coming back in the building and working. And then ultimately seeing if we can utilize him in role that will take advantage of his skill set.”

Kevin Stefanski – at the NFL Combine.

These two are going to be far from the Gronk/Hernandez pairing from yesteryear so that leaves you with the headache of which one (if any) could post usable fantasy points at any given week.

You need to weigh up whether Stefanski’s words about Njoku or the actions of signing Austin Hooper to a 4 year, $44m dollar deal are worth following up on.


Miami Running Backs

Of all running back conundrums, the Miami one is certainly the one that most warrants pulling your hair out over.

They signed Jordan Howard in Free Agency to a deal and then went and traded for Matt Breida during the NFL draft for a 5th round pick.

Since 2016, Howard has the third-most rushing yards and seventh-most rushing touchdowns in the NFL. Howard’s consistent touchdown production makes him one of just five players to rush for at least six scores in each the past four seasons, yet he finds himself on his 3rd team in 5 years.

During his three-year career, Breida averages an even five-yards-per-pop and he’s scored 10 touchdowns and compiled 2,463 yards from scrimmage on just 448 touches (381 carries and 67 receptions).

49ers trade Matt Breida, Marquise Goodwin to Miami, Philly
Nhat V. Meyer

In summary, Matt Breida seems to at most be the 1b here as a 5th round pick investment doesn’t say too much that he’ll come in an get the lions share. Most will be surprised that the Dolphins didn’t invest in this years draft directly for a running back, and that says to me they are more than happy to roll with Howard for the most part in what could be a a lightning and thunder approach. Jordan Howard getting early down work and Breida getting the pass catching duties (though both are sufficient at either) and a mixture at the goal line.

What this means to your fantasy teams is that they are at best, week to week flex plays. Trying to decipher who will be better in positive or negative gamescripts can help, but its not going to be that simple with these two newly acquired backs. Add in a sprinkle of Patrick Laird and my friends, you have a nightmare.


Houston Wide Receivers

Time to look at another muddling wide receiver core. This time we take a look at the Texans. We don’t need to reopen the DeAndre Hopkins wounds for Texans fans but as we are all too aware, he packed his bags for Arizona.

The replacements? Randall Cobb and Brandin Cooks through Free Agency/Trades and Isaiah Coulter in the draft. Add these to Will Fuller and Kenny Stills and you have a mess bigger than the M25 at rush hour.

This wide receiving core may end up sorting itself out as most of these players have been dogged with injuries. Will Fuller would kill for working hamstrings and Brandin Cooks has had multiple major concussions that his alarm bells ring 24/7. But drafting these guys prior to season start or trading for them at any time will come with the compulsory crossing of fingers.

Let’s look at investments of the players brought in;

What are the Rams' options with Brandin Cooks moving forward?
Jonathan Bachman/Getty

Brandin Cooks was traded to the Houston Texans for the 57th pick in the NFL draft, not quite the previous 1st rounders when traded to the Patriots and Rams but you have to say he could be the equivalent of Soccer’s Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink or Nicholas Anelka in terms of the amount of investment paid for a player. Considering the lack of draft capital the Texans had and currently have going forward, this is a big indication to me that DeShaun Watson and Brandin Cooks will be a constant sentence in 2020 (injuries aside).

Randall Cobb was given a 3 year $27m (almost $19m guaranteed) deal to move him just down the road from Dallas to Houston. Kudos to Randall’s agent on that one. I am reliably informed that the Houston Texan’s offence will suit Randall Cobb and could be a sneaky key contributor to this offence. So I’m all for it in the last round of PPR leagues, maybe a bit of bestball too. However, he himself has had injuries over his 10 year career in the NFL, so beware.

Talking of Bestball, that is where Will Fuller’s safest purchase can be found. He isn’t worth trying to figure out or rely on week to week and I don’t think he ever has. The former 1st round pick back in 2016 is an unrestricted free agent in 2021 and is currently in his exercised 5th year option. You have to wonder if BO’B let’s Fuller walk, especially with Houston’s lack of draft capital.

Kenny Stills isn’t going to trouble leagues unless it’s a deeper bench or unless the aformentioned teammates hit the treatment table.

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Isaiah Coulter is highly thought of here at Full10Yards HQ and the 171st overall pick in the NFL Draft from this year is yet another piece of the cake that has too many ingredients in.

All in all, I would only consider Brandin Cooks if in the mid to late rounds of draft. There will be plenty that will have written him off. Randall Cobb as a late round dart in PPR redraft leagues and Will Fuller in the alter rounds of Bestball. If you pivot these players into formats other than those listed, welcome to nightmare heaven.


Tampa Bay…everything

How things can look different after 12 months. This time last year, Bruce Arains was taking over at the helm, everyone was getting excited about an OJ Howard breakout and Jameis Winston was looking primed for a big season in a contract year.

Fast forward 365 days and we now have a new QB (Free Agency), new RB (draft) and a new TE (out of retirement) to add to the mix.

Patriots willing to pay Tom Brady $30M per year to keep QB - NFL.com
Damian Strohmeyer

Tom Brady doesn’t strike many as a guy who can support 2x 1,000 wide receivers, mainly because he was devoid of any talent on the outside for so long in New England and became the dink and dunk master. Is that what Tampa Tom Brady looks like? TB12 will be 43 when the season (eventually) rolls around. Does he still have the arm? Possibly not. Does he still have the skill? Absolutely. Tom Brady will walk into Raymond James stadium and the player’s locker room and not know what to do with all the weapons at his disposal.

For fantasy, there is the potential headache of not knowing what the change at QB means for Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. Change generally means a dip in production in first year whilst you allow for the new player to acclimatise. Tom Brady will be no different, especially with the pandemic threatening to curtail the offseason workouts and building any chemistry.

Added to the mix of hungry hippos chomping at the bit for targets, we have 3 Tight Ends. We all know the history of Gronk and Brady and we all know the history of how much Brady loves tight ends. But was that as a consequence of a lack of outside talent? What will Tom Brady’s tendencies be in this new Bruce Arians offence – a typical vertical type offence. Does Brady still have the arm for it?

If the answer to that question is no, Mike Evans could be the guy that ends up disappointing those taking him with a 2nd round fantasy draft pick. Godwin’s versatility should see him be as safe as last year.

Another factor we must bear in mind is the decision making change at the quarterback decision. For all the intereceptions Jameis threw, he made up for it with the yardage and touchdowns afterwards whilst in comeback mode. You wont have that dynamic anymore in Tampa Bay, which will directly impact possessions and total yardage through the air. Couple that with the fact that the defence should be a bit better than it was last year (through talent but also probably having to spend less time on the field thus, being a bit fresher and not as worn down and ultimately should not concede as many points).

The nightmare was there for all to see last year with Godwin and Evans generally taking it turns to post big games with the other being taken out of the game, epitomised by only one game where both scored touchdowns.

Mike Evans (left), Chris Godwin (right) 2019 production

The headache remains for 2020 and we no longer have gunslinger and interception thrower Jameis Winston to bail us out. Pass me the aspirin.

BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!

Not only do we have pass catching nightmares, we potentially also have rock carrying ones too.

Tampa Bay invested a 3rd round pick/#76 overall in Ke’Shawn Vaughn, running back out of Vanderbilt. He comes in to do battle with Ronald Jones, the much maligned 2nd round/38th overall pick in the 2018 draft.

So what’s the outcome?

One factor to key in on here is Tom Brady’s love of dump offs to the running back. This is one of the main reasons why James White, Rex Burkhead, Dion Lewis, Shane Vereen, Danny Woodhead, Kevin Faulk (the list goes on) are given more love in the fantasy world and are so undervalued in real life by fans.

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In Tampa, considering the investments, this screams time share. Whilst Vaughn is more competent at the pass blocking which gives him a good opportunity to ciphen work away from Jones even from week 1 , Jones is still learning and is improving as his career and skill sets evolve. I think both with be flex worthy players during the season, but again may be one for bestballs rather than you redraft/dynasty leagues. Vaughn kind of fits the Arians/David Johnson mould of someone that can be a 3 down back but due to his exposure going to Tampa, everyone wants a piece and it’s not a piece I am looking to overpay for. He isn’t going to be peak David Johnson, before any starts to put those two dots together.

Still, there is one silver lining: at least we don’t have Peyton Barber to worry about – probably the only Barber that won’t be in demand after Covid19 is over.


What are your fantasy nightmares for 2020? Let us know through our social media @F10YFantasy and we’ll be happy to help solve them! Watch out for part 2 over the next few weeks.

Season in Review – Cleveland Browns

By Shaun Blundell (@Shaun_F10Y)

Next stop in our whistlestop tour of the NFL 2019 season, today we head to the AFC North and breakdown the laughing stock of the NFL over the last few years, the Cleveland Browns.


entering the season

Has there ever been more hype around a team as there was regarding the Browns this past off season?

Buoyed by an encouraging end to the 2018/2019 campaign and the acquisition of a certain Odell Beckham Jr, big things were expected of Baker Mayfield in his second season behind center.

The trenches on both sides of the ball were a concern going in but the volume of quality skill players meant a first winning season of the decade was the absolute minimum expectation with playoff football being the realistic aim.


During the season

It unfortunately unravelled pretty quickly. The Titans trounced the Browns in week 1 at home was a sign of things to come.

Despite evening up their record at 2-2 with a huge road win against the Ravens no less, the inconsistencies on the team were obvious. Cue a 4 game losing streak and all of a sudden the Browns were in a hole.

Playoff hopes were reignited after wins over the Bills and Steelers but that November 14th game effectively ended the Browns season.

Myles Garrett was suspended for the rest of the 2019 season, at least, in response to the fight he participated in on Thursday.
Image Credit – Ron Schwane / AP

With the game wrapped up a mass brawl ensued on a meaningless garbage time play. It ended with Myles Garrett, who had been the Browns stand out defender on the year, swinging his helmet at Mason Rudolph. An indefinite suspension followed and with it, any realistic hopes that the browns retained of the playoffs vanished.

Further inconsistent play, riddled with baffling coaching decisions and play calling mean the Browns finish the decade as the only NFL team without a winning record. 


offseason outlook

It feels like it is said every off season, but make no mistake this is a huge one for the browns. A coaching change already in the books with Vikings OC Kevin Stefanski replacing Freddy Kitchens. Not quite the veteran presence to control the locker room and stamp out the indiscipline that is required but we’ll wait and see.

They still have unquestionable young talent throughout the roster in the likes of Nick Chubb (NFL rushing leader), Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward and assuming no trades, they will bring back OBJ and Jarvis Landry again.

Image result for baker mayfield
Image Credit: Stacy Revere/Getty

The bigger question is who is Baker Mayfield? The cocky and arrogant gunslinger who let his play do the talking in year 1, or the often sulking, off target and off timing thrower we saw in year 2.

The offensive and defensive line should be the priority in the off season. The tackle positions on the offensive line have been a liability all year and 2 quality starters are required there. On the defensive side, it is a case of adding quality depth to the 4 starters, assuming Myles Garrett is reinstated into the league. The browns are likely to move on from a few higher earners in Damarious Randall and Christian Kirksey so look for another aggressive off season from the front office.

Many of the reasons for optimism at the start of this campaign roll over into next year. The Browns have a young core to build around and with the right guidance and additions on the lines, should be primed for a nice bounce back campaign.

This is the Browns though, so please, don’t quote me on that!

Half-Term report – AFC/NFC North

It’s just about the half way point in the NFL regular season. Sad times.

In this series of articles, we take a look back over those 8 glorious weeks of pigskin action and also project how the 2nd half of the season will play out.


AFC North

By Shaun Blundell (@Shaun_F10Y)

Current Standings

  1. Baltimore Ravens 5-2
  2. Pittsburgh Steelers 2-4
  3. Cleveland Browns 2-5
  4. Cincinnati Bengals 0-8

*BALTIMORE RAVENS*

Midseason grade: B+

How has it gone so far?

The Ravens came flying out of the blocks with bug wins against the Dolphins and Cardinals. Back to back defeats to the Chiefs and the Browns raised questions about if this team was “for real” but a subsequent 3 game winning streak including an impressive road win in Seattle sees the Ravens with a healthy lead in the division. 

Lamar Jackson is on historic pace for yards on the ground and has shown progress throwing the football in year 2. The defence isn’t as feared as it once was but still ranks highly and is 11th against the pass and 2nd against the run respectively.

Rest of Season Outlook

It’s fair to say that the schedule stiffens for the Ravens down the stretch. With games to come against opponents with a plus 500 record in the Patriots,Texans, Rams, 49ers and Bills. A weak division means this commanding lead would appear to be extremely secure however with a divisional game against each opponent and the lowly Jets providing the other contest. Even on a “worse case scenario” basis you have to fancy the Ravens getting to at least 9-7 from here and that should be ample to win the division.

Regular Season Record Prediction: 10-6 – Division Winners


*CLEVELAND BROWNS*

Midseason grade: D

How has it gone so far?

The product has certainly not lived up to the preseason hype. Steamrolled by the Titans and 49ers along with close losses to the Rams and Seahawks the Browns face an uphill tussle to get back to relevance in the division. A defeat coming out of the bye week to the Patriots has again raised questions about discipline and preparation 

A big road win at Baltimore was the lone bright spark on what has been a disappointing campaign. The promising end to the 2019 season seems like a distant memory and Baker Mayfield appears to be regressing in year 2.

Rest of Season Outlook

Ironically despite the record, everything is still in play for the Browns. The schedule is such that 5 divisional games remain and as stated earlier, they have won the only game of such nature to date. The plan will be to go 6-0 in the AFC North and hope that tie breakers enable them to find a way into a wildcard berth. For that to happen though they need to improve massively, reducing turnovers and penalties, a category that they lead the league in with an average of 10 per game.

The talent is there, can they turn it around?

Regular Season Record Prediction: 7-9 – Miss Playoffs


*PITTSBURGH STEELERS*

Midseason grade: C

How has it gone so far?

Smashed by the Patriots on opening night and losing your starting quarterback part way through your 2nd game isn’t exactly the way the Steelers drew up the plans for this season. The reality is though that the Steelers season was probably over before it had even really began following the QB injury. Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges have anchored the squad to some respectable performances and with a turnover differential of plus 7 they are getting opportunities within games.

Big names JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner have struggled to reproduce anything close to what they did a year ago and the offence lacks weapons outside these 2. Defensively the rank middle of the pack but an in season trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick signals intent to improve the playmaking on the back end.

Rest of Season Outlook

Similar to the Browns in that the division schedule is heavily back loaded so 4 games still to play in that regard and an opportunity if they can build momentum to make a late run. Difficult to trust that Mason Rudolph will be able to get them there however. Ranked 30th in both team passing and rushing there just isn’t enough production from this unit. The defence ranks 6th in points allowed so the Steelers will stick around in games but its hard to see anything better than a 500 record at this point.

Regular Season Record Prediction: 6-10 – Miss Playoffs


*CINCINNATI BENGALS*

Midseason grade: E

How has it gone so far?

A record of 0-8 will pretty much answer that question. With the worst record in the NFL at the week 8 stage the Bengals can’t get any worse. Ranked 28th offensively and 27th defensively, unfortunately there is not an obvious quick fix as the poor play is on both sides of the ball. 

Offensively AJ Green has not been able to dress after picking up an injury in the preseason and Joe Mixon has not been able to get anything going on the ground. Defensively the pass rush has been a little non-existent with only 9 sacks and they have not taken the ball away with any regularity.

Rest of Season Outlook

There are some winnable games on the schedule with games against the Browns, Dolphins and Jets all on the horizon so nobody should be panicking around a 0-16 season just yet. Unfortunately for the Bengals, wins will now likely only hinder draft capital as the season is well and truly lost. 

The remaining games need to be used as an assessment of the roster and a decision needs to be made with regards to the long term future of Zach Taylor. The Bengals are very likely to pick high in the upcoming draft and now that Ryan Finley is in the driving seat, his performances over the back nine will determine how high up in the rounds they take their next QB (if at all).

Regular Season Record Prediction: 2-14 – Top 3 pick

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NFC NORTH

By Chris Todd (@ctdk1980)

Current Standings

  1. Green Bay Packers (7-1)
  2. Minnesota Vikings (6-2)
  3. Detroit Lions (3-3-1)
  4. Chicago Bears (3-4)

*GREEN BAY PACKERS*

Midseason grade: A

How has it gone so far?

One of the most intriguing storylines to follow at the beginning of the season was the union of new HC Matt Lafleur and franchise QB Aaron Rodgers, so far the results have been good with the offence improving with every game.

In the early part of the season, it was the defence that was leading the team, DC Mike Pettine’s unit looking vastly improved from the previous year. Free agent signees Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith have contributed hugely, added to standout corner Jaire Alexander and leading tackler in the NFL Blake Martinez, have led to a unit that may have conceded yards but has stood up when needed.

Given the injury suffered by leading receiver Davante Adams, Rodgers has entered one of his hot streaks at precisely the right time.

Rest of Season Outlook

The Packers look well set for a playoff run, time will tell whether it will take them all the way to Miami in February. With the head to head wins vs all their division opponents thus far, they are looking quite rosy to maybe even push for a wildcard round bye.

Regular Season Record Prediction: 12-4

*MINNESOTA VIKINGS*

Midseason grade: B

How has it gone so far?

Behind the leading rusher in the NFL in Dalvin Cook, the Vikings have bulldozed their way into the playoff discussion. Beyond this though, there has been some discord within the group, notably receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen expressing frustration with the offence. Kirk Cousins’ improved play of late has helped to quell these noises, with Diggs especially going on a tear of late to the tune of 453 receiving yards in the last 3 weeks. The defence has continued to perform at a high level throughout, with Danielle Hunter, Everson Griffen and Eric Kendricks particularly impressing.

Rest of Season Outlook:

With the talent throughout on the defensive side of the ball, and if the offensive line can support Dalvin Cook, this team can compete with anyone. They’ll need continuing support from Kirk Cousins though, where for some, the questions remain. They’ll need to settle the score with the Packers in the return fixture and also negotiate a tough stretch immediately starting with the Chiefs and then the Cowboys. Negotiate that, they could look at a first round bye.

Regular Season Record Prediction: 11-5



*DETROIT LIONS*

Midseason Grade: C

How has it gone so far?

The Lions have been competitive in every game this season and could easily find themselves right in the mix for a playoff spot. However, poor execution at crucial times have led to a middle of the pack record. They have lost late leads in 2 of their losses to the Chiefs and the Packers as well as in the tie with the Cardinals, with redzone inefficiency plaguing them in the Packers loss in particular.

There have been high spots for the team with QB Matthew Stafford having a very good year. Kenny Golladay and Kerryon Johnson have also been playmakers this year before the latter’s injury, TJ Hockenson has hinted at what might be to come from the TE position too.

Perhaps surprisingly, given HC Matt Patricia’s pedigree, the defence has been the bigger issue. They have struggled especially against the run, where Mike Daniels’ injury has been especially problematic.

Quandre Diggs’ recent trade to Seattle has been met with scepticism too, depriving the back end of the defence with one of their key players.

Rest of Season Outlook

Judging by the 2 teams that preceeded them in this Half-Term report, it is probably a long shot that the Lions taste January football this year, but as a long term view, the Lions fans must be optimistic about some playoff football sooner rather than later. That being said, their schedule does not look too tough with games against Oakland, a double header vs the Bears along with tussles against the Broncos, Redskins and Buccaneers.

Regular Season Record Prediction: 8-7-1


*CHICAGO BEARS*

Midseason grade: D

How has it gone so far?

The expected step forward for the Bears offence in the second year of HC Matt Nagy’s reign has yet to come to fruition. The offence currently ranks 27th in PPG, with both the run and pass games struggling to get out of second gear.

While QB Mitch Trubisky has yet to prove his pedigree as a starting calibre player at this level, playcalling has also been an issue at times. The coaches have seemed to go away from the run too early at times, placing too much pressure on the young signal caller. While Trubisky’s development is crucial to the future success of the Bears, at the moment the best chance of success would surely involve committing fully to the rungame and using Trubisky to take judicious shots downfield to keep the defences honest.

The defence is still performing at a very high level (if not quite the league leading unit of 2018), Mack, Trevathan, Floyd, Goldman, Clinton-Dix, Fuller et al are still a fearsome unit, although lineman Akiem Hicks is a big loss after his loss to IR following his elbow injury.

It wouldn’t be a Bears season without kicking troubles either, following Eddy Piniero’s potential game winning missed kick in week 8.

Rest of Season Outlook

While this team certainly could go on a run, they have a hard road back to the playoffs with games remaining against fellow NFC playoff hopefuls Eagles, Packers, Cowboys, Rams. Possibly the best case scenario for the Bears would be that week 17 at the Vikings ended up a playoff eliminator, they have a lot of work in front of them to get that far.

Regular Season Record Prediction: 7-9

Full10Takeaways – Week 4

By Shaun Blundell (@Shaun_F10Y) and Lawrence Vos (@NFLFanInEngland)

Week 4 is done and dusted! It goes so quick! Before you get ready for the waiver wires in fantasy and don your NFL shirt to go to the Wembley game, here are the main stories to take away from last weekend’s action!


The New Monsters of The Midway

Image Credit – Quinn Harris / USA Today

We knew going into the game at Soldier Field on Sunday that the strength of both the Vikings and Bears lied on the defensive side of the field. We left the game without a doubt that one of those defences is far superior to the other and that defence belongs to the Chicago Bears.

The loss of Vic Fangio has not led to any drop off as Chuck Pagano is marshalling a defence that is the most loaded in the league. On pace for 32 takeaways, 2nd in the league for sacks and 2nd in the league for pts allowed per game this unit as awesome.

Khalil Mack is obviously the star but bear in mind they did this Sunday without Roquan Smith and Akiem Hicks, the sky is literally the limit for these monsters.


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Run CMC

Image Credit – Eric Christian Smith / AP Photo

He probably will not win it, but, Christian McCaffrey should be considered for MVP honours. Remember what MVP stands for? Is there any single player more valuable for their team than the Panthers running back?

Playing in a ridiculous 98.3% of the offensive snaps so far on the season, McCaffrey once again was the offence on Sunday. A career high of 37 touches produced 93 rushing yards on 27 carries and 86 further yards through the air on 10 catches. The all important touchdown was also produced inevitably by CMC as the Panthers improved to 2-0 without Cam Newton.

Carolina is proving it can survive without their grandma impersonating quarterback, they will keep everything crossed they don’t have to deal with life without #22.


Step Away From The Kliff Edge

Image Credit – Chritian Peterson / Getty Images

Remember when we were excited to see what Kliff Kingsbury would bring to the NFL? A promise of an air raid offence, ran at speed that defences would have no clue of how to stop it.

Well that was the advert at least.

The reality? How do I put this politely? A bit of a snooze fest. Yes the Cardinals run a lot of plays, that is backed up by the fact Kyler Murray is averaging 42.5 pass attempts per contest so far in his short (no pun intended) NFL career. The problem is the lack of explosiveness, it’s all a bit too safe, a bit too dink and dunk.

Of course the problem for the Cardinals is that’s all well and good until you get behind on the scoreboard as was the case again this weekend. They are not built to play from behind and the supposed revolution is certainly yet to materialise.


Feed The Chubb

Image Credit – John Kuntz / cleveland.com

It took 4 weeks but the “real” Browns showed up in Baltimore. Powered behind a career day from Nick Chubb, Cleveland dominated the Ravens by a score of 40-25 to take the early lead in the AFC North.

Chubb gashed the Ravens for 165 yards and 3 scores on the ground and unsurprisingly with that level of production on the ground, Baker Mayfield looked the best has all season in this one. Jarvis Landry also has a career day with 167 yards receiving as the much talked about group finally produced.

All of a sudden things are looking up in NorthEast Ohio and the talk of Freddie Kitchens being in over his head and Baker Mayfield being overrated will be silenced for a week.

If the Browns continue with this formula they should be the team to beat in the division, as the saying goes “feed the Chubb and he will score”.


Vontaze- Far From Burfict

Image Credit – Justin Casterline / Getty Images

In quite possibly the shortest ever takeaway….. Goodbye and don’t ever come back! How on Earth this guy was made a team captain I will never know. His shot on Jack Doyle was disgusting and the league has rightfully acted by suspending him for the remainder of the season. Fingers crossed he never sees a field again!


Clever Trevor earns his Spurs

Image Credit: AP Photo/AJ Mast

Staying with the Raiders, when the Green Bay Packers traded WR Trevor Davis to the Raiders after Week 2 the transaction barely made a ripple. Now it’s making a king size bar of Fruit and Nut.

In the first quarter of the Raiders Week 4 victory over the Colts Davis returned a punt one yard but remained on the field. Chucky must have been impressed by Davis’s running ability when he faced him in the 2019 pre-season, as he gave the former Cal star the handoff on first down. The result a spectacular 60 yard rushing touchdown and a 14-0 lead. Brought in as a return specialist Davis is no replacement for AB but he has an excellent opportunity to impress.

The development continues for Davis at Tottenham Hotspur’s new ground on Sunday against an opponent he will be very familiar with from his former NFC division. Davis may be a gadget player, but if he continues to make highlight package plays then we could see his role expand. Not a bad debut to make in Silver and Black.


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Kerryon impressing please

Image Credit: Getty Images

Sid James, if he would have been a Detroit Lions fan, would have plenty of reasons to unleash his trademark cackle in years past at a moribund running game in the Motor City, but it’s all change now.

Once considered a laughing stock, and even cursed since the shock retirement of Hall of Fame RB Barry Sanders, Detroit went a stupendous 70 games without a 100-yard game on the ground from an individual player. That was finally called to a halt in 2018 when Kerryon Johnson finally reached the century mark. Week 4 2019 saw Johnson have his third 100+ yard game in just 14 career contests.

If he remains injury free Johnson can establish himself as a top 10 NFL RB. 26 carries at almost five yards a carry against the Chiefs will be pleasing Coach Beardtricia. Johnson had been having a rough start to the season, failing to reach a ground-based half-century between weeks 1-3.

This game may not have resulted in a Lions win, but it shows Kerryon is reliable and on his way, if the climate controlled dome wind goes in his direction, for a 1,000 yard plus rushing season.


Somebody is melting away their window of opportunity

Image Credit: Associated Press

There is a QB who is second in the NFL in passing yards, has recorded four consecutive 300+ yard performances, is third in TD passes thrown and is completing over 70% of his passes. This is the same QB who leads the league in interceptions thrown and has managed a maximum of 24 points in four games to date. Stand up, or in the case of a rookie led offensive line, sit down on your backside Matt Ryan.

There is no denying Ryan is a savvy veteran passer who knows how to move the ball, is accurate, and calm in the face of pressure, but 1-3 is not what Falcons fans were expecting. Ryan was one period of greatness from a Super Bowl win just three years ago, and expectations were high coming into the 2019 season.

Ryan is being let down by a sub-par running game especially Devonta Freeman who is yet to find the end-zone through the ground or in the air, and is averaging a six-year career low 3.3 yards a carry. The Falcons have winnable games coming up, but they need the running game to mirror Ryan’s consistent output.

The irony of Matty Ice needing to warm up the rest of the team is not lost, but he needs to cut out the interceptions and quickly. When you have Julio Jones catching the ball you know there is a game-breaking threat available on any play.

The weapons are in place for a team to be performing better than the 1-3 record they currently boast at the quarter point, let’s just hope Ryan goes full Elsa in October.


More tanks than an aquatic superstore

Image Credit: Kirby Lee / Associated Press

The narrative before the season was that the Miami Dolphins would be tanking for Tua (Tagovailoa) and nothing has been done on the field to contradict that position. The only problem is there are three other teams vying for absolute dreadfulness and possibly a shot at the number one pick in the 2020 NFL draft.

The single most disastrous team in the NFC is the Washington Redskins, who gave their rookie QB Dwayne Haskins his first NFL regular season outing in Week 4. Poor Haskins looked out of place and frankly befuddled by a Giants defense that scares nobody. Three interceptions in relief of Case Keenum will be a hard debut game to forget for Haskins.

In the AFC the Bengals and the Broncos are also winless. At least Joe Flacco is helping Denver to be competitive. Devastating last second field-goal losses in Week 2 (v Chicago) and this past week against Jacksonville will be hard to cope with. In Ohio the Bengals are back bungling. The red rifle Andy Dalton has suffered 19 sacks in four contests and seems to be struggling making reads and avoiding pressure. Dare it be mentioned, but is it time to give fourth-round rookie Ryan Finley a shot in the stripy helmet before the mid-point of the season?

The Dolphins are still favourites to finish the season 0-16, but this is going to be a bizarre race to the finishing line with a Redskins team that will be matching Miami week by week for on-field inadequacy.

The fact they play each other in Week 6 will be entertaining, with the winner losing their grip on the keys to the tank.


Singing the praises of two superb secondaries

Image Credit: Associated Press

When you make Tom Brady look like a backup and hold a potential league MVP to no touchdowns then you need to be recognised for doing your job well.

Both the Buffalo Bills and the New Orleans Saints secondaries excelled in Week 4, one in a six-point loss and one in a two-point win. Perhaps the biggest single difference maker was the Saints third-year corner Marshon Lattimore who punished Cowboys number one WR Amari Cooper all day. Cooper caught a season low 62.5% of balls thrown his way, had his lowest yards per target (6) and was held under 10 yards a catch for the first time in 2019.

Often corners and safeties get recognised for big plays such as the Rams Marcus Peters who returned the pigskin to the house against the Buccs on Sunday just a few plays after being burnt alive by Mike Evans for a 60 plus yard score. However, it is the performance that might not show up on the individual’s defensive stat sheet, but is instead reflected in the game’s final outcome that is the true definition of excellence.

Between the Saints and the Bills secondaries we could be looking at a couple of All Pro’s and at least four Pro Bowl nods. When you hold Tom Brady under a 50% completion rate you deserve a cheer, and was it not for the injury to Josh Allen this could have been a week where secondaries clearly decided the fate of their team.

It’s no surprise the Bills and the Saints are both 3-1. This is a passing premium league, so if you can neutralise the primary threat you stand a good chance of being alive when it comes to January.

The Browns need their “Hollywood Receiver”

Article by Shaun Blundell – @Shaun_F10Y

A fine effort from the Browns on Sunday Night Primetime was undone by one of the league’s most reliable duos.“Jared Goff complete to Cooper Kupp”, rinse and repeat. It was an all too familiar tale as arguably the league’s best slot receiver had a field day against the depleted Browns secondary, missing all 4 of its assumed starters. The Rams have a fabulous trio of weapons with Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods to compliment the aforementioned Kupp and the Rams have been consistently good on offense since the dawning of the Sean McVay era. Watching the game with my orange and brown tinted lenses I couldn’t help but think to myself “wasn’t this supposed to be what we looked like this season?”

Three weeks in and the Browns have simply stuttered on offense. Short of the opening drive drive of the season against the Titans that provided so much hope and optimism it’s been tough going for Baker and co. Through 3 games the combined stat line for Baker reads 62/109, 805 yards, 3 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. It’s a full 7% drop in terms of his completion percentage from last season and essentially a flip on TD to INT ratio. Whichever way you dress it up, it hasn’t been great. So just what has gone wrong since that season opening drive?

Image Credit – David Richard / AP

That leads me back to the Goff and Kupp connection. Most quarterbacks develop a favourite target, think Phillip Rivers to Antonio Gates, Peyton Manning to Marvin Harrison, Tom Brady to anyone! That security blanket that is always there when all else fails, the connection to bail the quarterback out when a play breaks down. When it comes to Baker Mayfield the sample size is small, but without doubt his go to guy is Rashard Higgins. When was the last time we saw Higgins effectively on the field? The opening drive of the season. 

Higgins was targeted 3 times on that opening drive and caught 2 balls including the big catch of 35 yards to set the Browns up for Dontrel Hilliards rushing score. He has built up a rapport with Baker stretching all the way back to last training camp when he worked exclusively with the number 2 offense. Think back to camp this year, OBJ and Jarvis Landry were effectively wrapped in cotton wool and didn’t play a snap in preseason. Antonio Callaway turned up out of shape and is still serving his 4 game suspension. Damion Ratley spent most of camp injured. The other receivers, Jalen Strong, Ish Hyman, DJ Montgomery, Derrick Willies all either cut, placed on IR or the practice squad.

Baker is having to build chemistry on the fly in a real game environment. I was frustrated at the lack of preseason game time the “starters” received and the early results have vindicated that frustration. There is no denying the obvious talent that OBJ and Jarvis posses but it doesn’t just work overnight and they need complementary pieces to garner some defensive attention away from them as well. The 2 receivers the Browns did add at the end of camp Tawan Taylor and KhaDarel Hodge have been almost exclusively used on special teams.

Image Credit – John Kuntz / cleveland.com

There are obviously other legitimate questions for the Browns to answer. The offensive line, particularly at the tackle position has been poor. The poor play appears to have left Baker with zero trust or confidence in the guys up front and he is now bailing out of clean pockets as he is feeling footsteps that aren’t even there. The tight end position could do with an upgrade, and in my opinion that is regardless of the status of David Njoku. It may be an unpopular opinion but I haven’t seen enough from him into his now 3rd season to convince me he will turn into anything other than an extremely physically gifted athlete.

The playcalling question probably deserves an article all on its own but I will keep it simple. Freddie Kitchens may or may not be the problem, but it is on him to provide the solution. If that means handing duties over to Todd Monken then so be it. His offense in Tampa was certainly not the issue in Florida last year so he shouldn’t be afraid to hand over the reigns. Whoever is calling the plays, I would expect things to get better as the season progresses as everyone adjusts into a new system.

Despite all of this the Browns enter Sunday Night against the Ravens with an opportunity to take the divisional lead, so it certainly isn’t all doom and gloom. This is the last game without the legitimate deep threat that Callaway will provide to the offense (expect Taylor to be cut then) and Higgins has a shot to be back as early as this week, being called at the time of writing this article “day to day”. I’m still holding out hope that Dorsey swings a trade to bring Trent Williams over from the Redskins to sure up the line and who knows maybe talk Gronk out of retirement to come and play tight end?

The last point was obviously in jest but I don’t think the Browns are a million miles away. If Baker can be reunited with his comfort blanket I’m sure we will all feel much better about things. A precise route runner, Higgins has become an extremely valuable part of the wide receiver core, and as the saying goes “you don’t know what you have got until it has gone”.

Image Credit – Ron Schawne / AP Photo

Full10Lookahead – Week 3

By Tim Monk (@Tim_MonkF10Y), Lawrence Vos (@NFLFanInEngland) and Shaun Blundell (@Shaun_F10Y)

Get your binoculars out folks, it’s time to look ahead to week 3 in the NFL.

Up 2, No good?

Image Credit – Bobby Ellis / Getty Images

2 weeks in and we only 9 teams are left chasing the perfect 16-0 season.

There are some familiar names there with the Chiefs, Patriots, Rams and Cowboys all sitting pretty, but heading into week 3 there are 5 other teams who have yet to taste defeat. Looking ahead to the week 3 slate of games I predict that the Ravens perfect start ends against the aforementioned Chiefs and despite the Saints QB worries I see them handling the Seahawks who have won their 2 games by just a combined 3 points so far. The 49ers, Packers and Bills however, open their matchups with great chances to all move to 3-0.

You would have had pretty good odds on these teams all being undefeated after 3 weeks and maybe it’s just a reminder that sometimes you have to look past stats because I’m not confident that any of those teams are particularly good.


The $84 Million Mistake

Image Credit – Dylan Buell / Getty Images

What is up with Kirk Cousins?

After a week 1 performance where he threw for less than 100 yards on just 10 pass attempts, he was nothing short of woeful in week 2. After throwing 2 interceptions and fumbling twice against the Packers the pressure is on for a bounceback performance against the Raiders. Cousins has even admitted himself that if he continues to play so poorly he will not stay the starting quarterback for much longer. That seems unlikely though considering he is guaranteed $60 million over this year and next as the only way out of that contract is to find a trading partner.

Just checking the market for an overpaid below average quarterback…….yea, not that hot.

The Vikings need to continue to pound the rock and wish away the next 15 months until they can stop overpaying at the QB position.

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Primetime in Cleveland

Image Credit – Adam Hunger / AP

The Browns took care of business on MNF but it’s safe to say that the level of competition increases quite dramatically for SNF.

If you want an indicator of how bad the Browns have been in recent times, Sunday will mark their 1st appearance on Sunday Night Football for 11 years. The home opener against Tennessee saw the hyped up Browns completely fall flat ahead of high expectations and although expectations for Sunday are somewhat tempered in comparison they will not want to put on a show in the national spotlight. It’s a tough assignment against an impressive Rams team however, and Aaron Donald will be licking his lips at the prospect of taking on the Cleveland offensive line.

It could be a rough night for Baker Mayfield and company for the 2nd time in 3 weeks or could it be the offseason hype begins to be released on the biggest of regular season stages?


Game of Jones

Image Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images

Here we go, first NFL start for Quaterback Daniel Jones, the #6 overall pick out of Duke in the 2019 draft.

Much scrutiny over the offseason on the selection and now it’s time to see whether or not the pick was justified.

Can the Jones be a competent enough QB at this early stage?

He performed well in his pre-season action; on 34 passes he had416 yards at a 85.3% completion percentage, 2TDs and 0 INTs. That’s even with the wide receivers at his disposal.

The boy has some wheels and is actually and under the radar athlete, something which may help unlock a bit more production out of this offence that is leaning so heavily on Saquon Barkley, their 2nd overall pick in 2018. But we don’t need to talk about that.

This is probably the end of the road for Eli Manning, now being benched for the second time after the Geno Smith debacle in 2018. The 2 time Super Bowl winner, with a  current starting W/L record of 116-116, will probably not see the field unless there is an injury to Jones.



Saints or Sinners

Image Credit: David Grunfeld NOLA.com

Talking of QB changes, there will be one in New Orleans in week 3. Of course, not by choice. Drew Brees right thumb got Donald’d and will now miss the immediate future.

We mentioned in our takeaways about Teddy B’s offseason decision bearing fruits, but now it’s time to put up or shut up for the 2014 32nd overall QB out of Louisville.

Not an easy game to start with as the Saints travel to Century Link field to face the 12 and then the Saints have a home game to face the red hot Cowboys in Week 4.

Bridgewater needs to lean on Kamara and Thomas, as the saints have done in recent times and try and get out of the stretch without Brees at .500 in order to stay in contention.


Myles better than anyone else

Image Credit: John Kuntz Cleveland.com

The Cleveland Browns have been known to make some truly godawful first round draft picks, but this has changed over the past two seasons with some big names who are helping transform a franchise from a Sports Illustrated side note to a front cover pin-up.

Part of that turnaround is thanks to 2017 number one pick Myles Garrett, who to date has recorded 5 sacks in two 2019 games. If he keeps up this phenomenal pace he could reach a record-setting 25 sacks in a season. Garrett joined Redskins defender Ryan Kerrigan to pay tribute to the WWE legend Shaun ‘The Heartbreak Kid’ Michaels with his post sack pose. Garrett may be a wrestling fan, but the XFL can only dream they will attract a defensive superstar that performs at 10% of the rate of Garrett.

NFL legend Lawrence Taylor was a participant in a WrestleMania back in day, and who would put it past the chiselled torso of Garrett one day stepping inside the ring. 


Frank-ly I’m speechless

Image Credit: Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News

There is a scene in Rocky IV when late on in the fight a deflated Ivan Drago turns to his trainers and says: ‘He’s not human, He’s like a piece of iron.” Quite an apt description of Buffalo Bills running-back Frank Gore, who at 36 is still churning out fantasy relevant performances.

His 19 carries for 68 yards and a touchdown (his first since the end of 2017) in week 2 against the Giants proved that Gore will actually out-live cockroaches if there was a nuclear holocaust tomorrow. 14,836 yards rushing from someone who was drafted with a reputation for being fragile is remarkable.

Gore is going to be a solid fantasy waiver wire pickup, as he is on a team that likes to run the ball, and has teams dedicating time using a spy to cover Josh Allen. Gore can realistically top 75 yards against the Bengals in week 3. The single most awe-inspiring stat we have to ponder though is, that with 434 more yards, this season he will pass Barry Sanders, just stop to think about that. 


Is overtime a crime? 

When you are in an era where a current NFL head coach is nicknamed ‘Riverboat’ then you know that teams are taking more risks than they used to.

Week 2 saw two games take more twists and turns than Jeremy Wade trying to reel in an arapaima. Two games in particular saw both head coaches gamble (in one case due to a penalty) and go for two point conversions to take the lead in games:

One worked (Flacco to Sanders) and one didn’t (Fournette running in quicksand) but in both cases an extra-point would have tied the game.

We know that the extra-point is no longer automatic, but it appears there is a trend to try and kill games off early without going for a fifth quarter. With speculation rife that the NFL move to an 18 game regular season the chips-in attitude will get even greater. Overtime is a great spectacle and can bring some truly memorable plays.

The trend by coaches to try and end a game in regulation in week 2 may come back to bite them. In the case of Jaguars head-coach Doug Marrone it could be a decision that costs him his job. 


What a lovely Spread!

There have only been 11 occasions in recent times where an NFL team is favoured by 20 or more points against the spread. Those teams are 2-9 in terms of covering. Beware if you are betting these games!

The Cowboys face the Dolphins at home, who were whooped by New England by 43points in week 2 and are now even more talent poor after the exit of their 2019 1st round pick, Minkah Fitzpatrick.

New England have another opportunity to whoop another division rival after beating the Dolphins as  the Jets come to town and are down to their 3rd string signal caller.

Regardless, you should be able to get through your survivor and last man standing picks this week comfortably with both Dallas and New England.



So there you have it folks, week 3 is on the horizon and you are all filled in on the latest stories making the headlines. If you enjoy these articles or if there is something you think we can improve on, we’d love to hear it so let us know via DM @full10yards on Twitter or using the contact form on the website.

Enjoy your week 3 NFL action!

#NFL100Memories – 6/100

The Night Santa Claus Came Early – By Shaun Blundell (@Shaun_F10Y)

Being a fan of the Cleveland Browns doesn’t always lead itself to masses of happy memories in recent times. Fans of the team will tell you that you need an awfully thick skin and often a great sense of humour to be able to survive week to week. But every cloud has a silver lining and for us in the dawg pound it means cherishing even the smallest of positives.

Image Credit – Jason Miller/Getty Images

Christmas Eve 2016, the Browns coming in at 0-14 host the San Diego Chargers inn their final home game of the campaign. Only a trip to Heinz field left on the schedule and the Browns never beat the Steelers! This was it, realistically, the final chance to avoid a winless season to join the infamous 2008 Detroit Lions side in going 0-16.

Being Christmas Eve I had made sure the kids were in bed early for the visit of the big man overnight and I settled in for the game. Just over 4 minutes on the clock and the Chargers had waltzed down the field and Antonio Gates was in the end zone. The feeling of inevitability was impossible to prevent and even the Christmas tipple wasn’t helping.

It’s the hope that kills you though! The Browns hadn’t read the script and powered by 2 rushing touchdowns from Isiah Crowell found themselves 20-10 up halfway through the 3rd quarter. Throughout the season there had been some competitive games and surely it was about time they found a way to get over the line. Queue the comeback……..

Image credit – Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

An 11 play drive covering 75 yards was punctuated with Tyrell Williams finding the end zone and all of a sudden the 2 score game was once again in the balance. I had seen this movie many times before and I didn’t like the ending that was about to play out in front of me. The good guys were about to lose yet again despite the promise of success throughout.

The 4th quarter seemed to take an age with neither team able to move the ball with any consistency. It had the feeling of a slow death though as the Chargers gradually won the field position battle. It culminated in Britton Colquitt having to punt from the Cleveland 3 yard line with just 5 and a half minutes left on the game clock. A punt return set the Chargers up on the Browns 33 yard line and in a position to strike.

The defence held and out trots Josh Lambo to tie it up. Maybe we will win it in overtime? At least we haven’t conceded a touchdown. Hang on a minute, it’s been blocked! Big Jamie Meder gets his paw up and rejects it. Just over 3 minutes to run out the clock and we have done it, just 2 first downs…..more hope.

3rd and 7, only the 2 minute warning to come, convert and it’s over. Kessler drops back……sacked! Of course he was, we can’t win, even at Christmas we don’t get nice things. Ball punted away, just under 2 minutes for Phillip Rivers to lead the inevitable game winning drive. I turned to “Santa’s tipple” that the kids had left out and decided it was better for me to drown my sorrows than it was for a bloke driving a sleigh.

Every second seemed to take an eternity to tick off the clock despite the Chargers having no timeouts. 3 incompletions in a row though and its 4th and 10, just 1 more stop. Rivers takes the snap and of course finds Antonio Gates for 25 yards. I knew it was inevitable, ball spiked still 45 seconds to go. The next 45 seconds though were a complete blur.

Because the ball was spiked it was already 2nd down and a botched snap brought up 3rd down. Rivers of course found Antonio Gates, again but he was shy of a 1st down. The Chargers couldn’t clock it as it was 4th down and Rivers legs it off the field screaming for the field goal unit to get on. The clock that had felt like it was running slow seemed to go into even slower motion as bodies were running everywhere, but of course they got the kick off just in time.

Image Credit – Ken Blaze – USA TODAY/SPORTS

IT’S NO GOOD! Off to the right and the Christmas miracle had indeed been realised. The sense of relief, the sense of shock and the sense of unrivalled joy hit me all at once. I screamed that loud at the sight of that ball missing the uprights I quite possibly woke up every kid in the street but I didn’t care. My team had won and in that moment 14 weeks of misery was forgotten. The infamy of a losing season was no more, because surely it would never get so close to realisation again. Oh………..

Full10Lookahead – Week 2

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Week 2 is already here folks. Time flies when you are having fun!

Hope everyone enjoyed their stay at overreaction town, now it’s time to depart for context city, where hopefully you’ll be able to see some indicators as to what was the real deal and what were outliers from last week.

Here are 10 things we are looking forward to this week in the NFL:

Me-Cam-ical Issues?

Cam Newton’s Pass attempts vs LA Rams

The Panthers QB will be looking to rectify a performance from week 1 that was classic Cam. Some good plays but also a few errant and shocking high passes.

66% completion rate is about where Cam has been with Norv Turner pulling the strings but if it wasn’t for Christian McCaffrey, these numbers would not be great at all. You could argue that this is now the offence the Panthers will employ going forward.

As per next gen stats, Cam only attempted 1 pass over 20 yards in the week 1 game vs the Rams which agrees with the narrative that the offence is going to show similar results this season. Yes he attempted around 40 passes, but if they are averaging on 5 yards in the air, is it really a proper NFL throw?

The players they have in McCaffrey, DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel suit the style they are trying to enforce on other teams but I think this merely could be covering over some cracks. Is this the play style because of Cam’s shoulder or is this a coincidence?

The problem is, every team needs a vertical threat; if it becomes too predictable and similar to the chart above, Christian McCaffrey may struggle to be as efficient as he has been thus far because teams will just load the box and ask Cam throw longer passes. Below is DJ Moore’s routes run vs the Rams, not even an indication that there was an interest in throwing deep. Unfortunately, i dont have Curtis Samuel or Greg Olsen’s routes run because i feel these would probably be a bit more vertically orientated.

DJ Moore routes run vs LA Rams

Back to Cam though, the reason I say all this is and that it is something we are intrigued in seeing in week 2 is that we still probably require further confirmation that Cam’s shoulder is #fine and that his play is not restricted by the multiples surgeries endured over recent years. We’d all love to see him at least attempt a few more deeper passes right?

What wont help is a short week this early on in the season so all eyes will be on Cam in Thursday Night Football as we try to ascertain whether or not everything is ok with #1.


Da do Ron Run Run da do Ron Run

IMAGE CREDIT: MONICA HERNDON

Arguably the single most disappointing rookie performance by anyone drafted in the top two rounds of last year’s draft was Tampa Bay’s Ronald Jones II, who recorded 44 yards at 1.9 a pop in the whole season. Already Jones has almost doubled his performance with 75 yards on the ground in Week 1 (at 5.8 a carry) along with an 18-yard catch. If Jones keeps up this rate of rushing he can end up with 1,200 yards of ground and pound.

The Buccaneers face the Panthers in Week 2, a team that gave up over 150 yards rushing and two scores to the Rams combo of Gurley and Brown. Jones may not be listed as the starter but if his contributions remain positive then he will take carries away from Peyton Barber. Buccs fans will likely be in for another season of mediocrity but they could have bit of a dusty gem that is starting to sparkle in the Florida sunshine.


Don’t You Forget About Me!

Image Credit – Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

It’s easy to forget that Sammy Watkins came off the draft board earlier in 2014 than both Mike Evans and OBJ. The former Clemson star has often been out performed when compared to his peers in the same draft class, but maybe, just maybe 2019 will be different. Watkins exploded out of the gate on Sunday with a 9 catch, 198 yard, 3 touchdown performance. Showing plenty of breakaway speed to pile up yards after the catch, he was the best friend of Pat Mahomes to open up the season. With the news that Tyreek Hill will miss 4-6 weeks through injury, Watkins is in a prime position to remind everyone of the talent he possesses for a red hot Chiefs offence that will surely have too much for the Raiders. Let’s see if his week 1 performance wasn’t just another tease of his brilliance and he can find some consistency.



Hype Train Derailed?

Image Credit – Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports

Freddie Kitchens wanted to know how his team would handle adversity, He gets his wish in week 2. Humbled by the Titans in a week 1 blow out, the eyes of the nation will be looking for a response on Monday Night Football. The talent in the skill positions offensively appears to be in place but can the Browns find a way to keep Baker Mayfield upright? He was harassed all throughout the opener as the obvious preseason concern was exposed by Cameron Wake and co. One storyline that has slipped under the radar in this one, is the fact that the Jets DC is now Gregg Williams who was actually the man in charge of the Browns during their renaissance in the 2nd half of last year. He will be out to inflict more misery on his former employers after not securing the job permanently. With the Rams ahead on the week 3 schedule could we already be talking about a must win game for the off seasons most talked about franchise?


Time to call a Gardner

IMAGE CREDIT: Getty

After winning a Super Bowl by coming off the bench in the regular season, the irony is not lost in Jacksonville, as the Jaguars starting quarterback Nick Foles is now the one injured whilst his backup is now in the spotlight. The big difference here is the guy in the spotlight is the 2019 version of Nick ‘who the hell is that’ Mullens.

Gardner Minshew bounced around three colleges in four years of eligibility, starting at tiny Northwest Mississippi Community College (who gave us Damon ‘Snacks’ Harrison) and ending up at Washington State, helping them to 11 wins in 2018. The Jaguars drafted Minshew in the sixth round of this year’s draft, and we all know what happened to a certain gentleman who got drafted in the sixth round. Minshew’s surprise debut was special, 88% completion rate, two tds and almost 300 yards in the air.

Minshew will be an underdog against the Texans, but we have seen they are vulnerable in the air (Brees torched them for 370 yards in Week 1) so this suddenly becomes a fascinating contest where we get to see if the grass is greener when you use a Gardner.


I’m arriving on a Jet plane

The Antonio Brown saga has taken a turn this week that is beyond any form of joke, but  keeping this strictly on the field the Jets are now part of this extrapolated storyline after the Patriots traded Demaryius Thomas to the Big Apple, the green ones of course.

Thomas comes into the Jets just as the incredibly unlucky Quincy Enunwa is put on season-ending I/R with a recurrence of a neck injury that cost him the 2017 season. Thomas is four years older than Enunwa and is more prone to dropping the ball, but the important factor of chemistry will be eased by the fact Demaryius was coached by Jets head coach Adam Gase when he was receivers coach and offensive coordinator in Denver from 2010-2014. Sam Darnold and Enunwa had worked on exclusive routes together and now it will be a case or re-establishing part of the offensive game-plan.

The Jets face the Burst Bubble Browns in Week 2 and they match-up well against Cleveland. It might only be Week 2 but the loser here goes 0-2 and starts facing a lot more scrutiny. Worth staying up for in the unsavoury hours of Tuesday morning to see how this one plays out.


Best Of A Bad Bunch?

Image Credit – Aaron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

They say that defence wins championships, the Broncos will be hoping that statement rings true based on the state of their quarterback room. Joe Flacco looked as advertised in week 1, not the worst quarterback in the league but immobile (always) and inaccurate (at times).

Vic Fangio, the former Bears DC who will surely have a perfect game plan to get the best of the Bears at home whilst also trying to confuse Trubisky with disguised coverages, I expect a turnover feast.

Both sides need to bounce back from opening week defeats and maybe for one of the few times this year, Denver will get superior quarterback play.


Sh*tcago?

IMAGE CREDIT: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Talking of Chicago, many folk in Illinois including Matt Nagy, were not happy with the way the Bears performed on opening night.

“3 points is ridiculous” said the Bears HC after the game and he’s right. You do not win games scoring 3 points.

How will he, Trubisky and the Bears team rebound?

It gets even spicier once you realise that they travel to Denver, an already difficult away destination to get a W from. Why is it spicy? They not only travel to a hard and hostile environment, but they also travel to play a team whose HC is Vic Fangio, a guy who will know a hell of a lot about the team after being their DC last year.

Other storylines include how will the Chicago backfield work in the rotation? Will they lean to their defence once again to try and get a win on the road?

More importantly, are Chicago in trouble??

As for Mitch Trubisky, you want to give young guys time and we shouldn’t forget he only started 13 games in college but the fact is he still looks like a rookie in year 3. Several of his passes give opponents chances for picks, particularly when he throws across his body to the left.

Lot’s of intrigue in this one, just like a cabaret (Chicago reference).


DOING THE BARE MIN-IMUM

IMAGE CREDIT: AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn

Staying in the NFC North, a tasty game for the eyeballs at Lambeau.

This game is another one of those that the fully guaranteed Vikings QB Kirk Cousins has to try and get the monkey off his back in the sense that he can’t do it when it matters.

Only attempted 10 passes in week 1, so his arm is going to be sore and you would expect him to throw more in this one.

Packers squeaked a win at Soldier field on opening night whilst the Vikings could not have been more dominant vs a fancied Falcons team.

A win for a the Cheeseheads here wouldn’t mean at the very worst, split records against their divisional rivals, something Minnesota probably need to avoid to have a chance at winning the division or perhaps even a wildcard spot.

The same fixture last year ended in controversial tie with 2 missed Field Goals both at the end of the game and 2 in OT, multitude of bad referee calls on hits. It had everything. The final spice in the melting pot.

If Minnesota get the win here, it’ll be another “really unique” thing for Cousins this season.

Remember, dont do the wave!

Revenge time!

IMAGE CREDIT: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

Every angle has been covered about the notorious non PI call from last year’s championship game (wonder if Paddy Power will do a special on whether a PI call will be reviewed).

Luckily for the Rams, this isn’t back at the scene of the crime but judging by LA’s fanbase, there will be a lot of Saints fans in the stands with referee uniforms on.

Can emotions stay in check for the Saints? Can Goff and company put the saga to rest? And will there be any more incidents as bad as that one back in late January?

Both of these teams met in a classic in the regular season too and this one should be no different. Two high powered offences with great players and playcallers. One for the everyone to sit down and enjoy on the late slate of games. Both will no doubt be expecting to make the post season and likely write in another log of this recently fierce rivalry.