It’s been a busy free agency for NFL teams over the last couple of weeks; but a much needed and welcome distraction to everything else that’s currently happening in the world.
But what do these moves mean for your fantasy teams in 2020? Over the next two articles, i’m going to break down the winners and the losers from all of the transactions that have taken place so far.
The Arizona Cardinals pulled of a move during the free agency that left everybody scratching their heads, wondering how they pulled off such a coup. That was, of course, the acquisition of superstar receiver DeAndre Hopkins from the Houston Texans.
Kyler Murray all of a sudden now has one of the most tantalising skill set offenses in the NFL. From Hopkins to legendary Hall of Fame receiver LarryFitzgerald returning for one last year, and the emerging star of Christian Kirk alongside 2nd year hopefuls Andy Isabella, Hakeem Butler and KeeSean Johnson. The Kliff Kingsbury ‘air raid’ offense really has got no excuses to be raking up the air miles on the field in 2020.
After a QB7 rookie campaign in fantasy last year, it’s hard to think Murray will be doing anything other than improving on that. Kenyan Drake made a good enough impression since his move from Miami that he’s earned another year on this offense too, yet another reliable, tried and trusted weapon for Kyler out of the backfield.
It’s exciting times for Cards fans and this ever-improving offense, fantasy fans should be sharing this excitement for Kyler Murray, there’s no such thing as too many weapons when it comes to fantasy QB’s
Staying in Dallas was one of the best places for Cooper to keep his fantasy value. He clearly loves it there in ‘Jerryworld’, and the feeling seems to be mutual between the fans and the other players.
In his 25 games for the Cowboys, Cooper has amassed 1,914 receiving yards with 14 touchdowns; that’s 77 yards per game and a touchdown every other game (0.56 TD’s per game). For context, that’s in the same vicinity as DeAndre Hopkins’ time in Houston (78 yards per game average with 0.49 TD’s per game) and Mike Evans in Tampa Bay (80 yards per game with 0.53 TD’s per game). Both of which will be within the top 2 wide receiver tiers for 2020.
Dez Bryant had many productive seasons as a WR1 in fantasy football from his time in Dallas with Tony Romo and Dak Prescott under centre. Now it is time for Amari to step up and continue being the reliable receiving option for the Cowboys and fantasy owners in turn for the next few years.
Indianapolis Colts’ Receivers
Indy is lacking in skill position depth, but those that are there have just received a significant bump up in fantasy value with the upgrade of quarterback to Philip Rivers. Jacoby Brissett was admirable, and was far from terrible, but he wasn’t the best at getting great receiving production out of anyone not named T.Y Hilton.
Rivers in an experienced veteran who finally has a competent offensive line ahead of him to give him enough protection to provide some actual time in the pocket rather than being constantly under pressure like he was for the Chargers, especially in recent years.
I expect Indy will add to their receiving corps through the upcoming draft; but for now, T.Y Hilton cements himself as a fringe WR1 for a likely cheap price of a 4th/5th round pick, and last year’s rookie Parris Campbell will likely be in the sleeper category for analysts as the season grows closer.
If Jack Doyle remains the only pass catching tight end in Indy too, expect his value to also rise in a treacherous tight end fantasy landscape as Rivers has always produced fantasy relevant TE’s with the likes of Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry in the past.
One of my favourite sleepers already also due to the Rivers’ upgrade, is running back Nyheim Hines. The swiss army knife is Indy’s version of Austin Ekeler (see later in article for Ekeler’s 2019 production), who should see plenty of work in the passing game out of the backfield.
Cleveland Brown’s Skill Players
One of the main contributing factors for the Browns’ miserable 2019 campaign was the offensive line, or lack-of, being unable to give Baker Mayfield time in the pocket.
Jack Conklin (former Titans OT) is a massive upgrade for that line and you can only imagine Cleveland will be taking whichever stud tackle is left with the 10th pick of the 2020 draft.
These pieces may well prove to be the difference for this offense which will open up the fantasy value for all of the keys players. Nick Chubb had a great season in 2019 and was third in the NFL for rushing yards (1,494) and has 18 combined touchdowns since becoming a Brown in 2017 so we can expect that to continue. As we can with Jarvis Landry, as he once again will benefit from OBJ taking the premier defense away, like in 2019. OBJ’s production might rise once again if Mayfield is able to improve and between David Njoku and newly acquired Austin Hooper, the tight ends’ should have their week to week match-up based values too.
With all the running back moves this off-season, i don’t think any have won more so than Austin Ekeler has. Not only does he see Melvin Gordon move away (to the Denver Broncos) from the backfield and no significant replacement brought in, he finds himself in a passing offense that will be moving forward with someone new. Therefore, a bigger emphasis may be placed on the tried and trusted running game with Ekeler as the sole star.
The beauty of the situation is- even if the Chargers do bring in another running back, they probably aren’t going to be the same quality as Melvin Gordon where Ekeler was still productive enough to see him finish as the RB4 in PPR scoring (RB8 in non-PPR) last season.
The new QB in LA will likely be a rookie in from the first round, if not the veteran Tyrod Taylor who served as Rivers’ backup last season. Either way, Ekeler is going to be hyper-targeted out of the backfield and should be a top 10 PPR running back once again in 2020.
It’s an historic day in the NFL amidst all the uncertainty at the moment about the new league year and beyond with the looming hindrance of the Coronavirus outbreak with Free Agency/rookie pro days scheduled in jeopardy along with the potential postponement of the draft.
However in the past few hours and after months of negotiation, it has been confirmed that the NFL players have agreed to the terms of the new Collection Bargaining Agreement.
The deal was voted on by the players over the last 10 days and the final vote turned out in favour of passing the deal by 1019 votes to 959, as only a simple majority was required. This means just 51.5% of players voted in agreement of the change (something we know a great deal about here in the UK #brexit). More of concern though, is that only around 80% of the players voted. Reasons as to why the 20% or so didn’t remains to be seen.
Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL issued a statement, saying:
“We are pleased that the players have voted to ratify the proposed new CBA, which will provide substantial benefits to all current and retired players, increase jobs, ensure continued progress on player safety, and give our fans more and better football.”
So what does this mean for the NFL and you, the fan?
Well, fans of the Dallas Cowboys and Tennessee Titans look away now as it also means that there is no longer the facility to use both a franchise tag AND a transition tag meaning things could get quite interesting for Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Byron Jones, Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry. Rumour has it that the league is considering delaying the start of the new league year in order to allow these teams to usher along negotiations with their respective parties.
It has been announced the salary cap for the upcoming season is $198.2m, a rise of just $10m. This is expected to shoot up over the next couple of years once the extra revenue streams and TV deals start leaking their money into the bloodstream of the NFL.
Looking a bit further into the future and the 2020 season, you will likely see a new playoff format come in to effect, with 7 teams now advancing to the playoffs from each conference and consequently, only the #1 seed from both the AFC and NFC will get a first round bye. Whilst unlikely, if all the dominoes fell the right way, this could actually see 1 division provide 4 playoff teams.
Fast forward to 2021, this is where the league could exercise it’s right to move to 17 regular season games (with the last pre-season game making way) , and thus trigger the upper echelon of player revenues to 48.5%, a 0.5% increase from season where 16 games are played.
Some other bits of cornerstones surrounding the new CBA which will take effect in 2020:
Changes to the league’s drugs testing and disciplinary process has tweaks including the allowance of Marijuana for the players for usage under self medicating. However, where no suspensions will come in to effect, there is a possibility that the fines replacing the suspension could essentially mean that a player misses a game cheque but still being allowed to play in a game. This is important for player bonuses on contracts and qualifiers on thresholds on extra contract bonuses for players.
Minimum salaries are now increased which filters through to practice squads, meaning those players at the bottom end of rosters have more money in their pockets sooner.
Expanded game day rosters moves from 46 to 48 (one of which must be an offensive lineman).
Players at the higher end of the play scale have publicily voiced their disapproval at the deal and you have to wonder whether or not there may be some repercussions from the big names of the NFL (I’m not suggesting a holdout, but you have to wonder if there are any loopholes that will allow the Russell Wilsons or JJ Watts to miss time without punishment.
The crux of the matter is though, that the NFL and it’s players have an agreement in place which will run through to 2030, which means good news for the majority including the millions of fans across the globe.
The fallout however, is only just beginning.
Who will Dallas and Tennessee franchise tag? How will Free Agency and the players entering it be affected? And will the leagues stars have a trick up their sleeve to show their dissatisfaction? How will the coronavirus affect the next few weeks and months and possibly the season? Make sure you keep those eyes peeled to find out and keep it here at Full10Yards.
We have reached the half way point folks. Week five this weekend and we can slowly start to see the playoff picture taking place. Teams who looked like high flying certs at the start of the year have now fallen, and those who got off to slow starts look to be on the rise.
SEATTLE @ HOUSTON
A game which is heavily favoured for a Houston win is also a must win for the 1-3 Dragons. The Roughnecks sit atop all rankings with a 4-0 perfect start to the season and they can thank their star Quarterback for getting them there. PJ Walker has shone brightest of anybody in the league so far and having thrown for 987 yards and 12 TD’s he leads the way for Quarterbacks in the league.
Last week Seattle made a change at QB. Brandon Silvers was benched in favour of BJ Daniels who entered the game against St. Louis and gave the Dragons a bit of life. I don’t think he has what it takes to get them over the line against Houston this week but I do think moving forward he will be a better fit for the offense. Seattle need to figure out a solution for their run game. The three headed rushing monster they had been attempting to go with just isn’t working. It’s time they place their trust in Kenneth Farrow and build an offense around him and Daniels.
Expect to see a lively hometown crowd cheer on their undefeated Roughnecks in a game which I expect will result in a double digit win for the home side.
Prediction: Seattle 15 – 32 Houston
NEW YORK @ DALLAS
This game is going to come down to whichever backup quarterback steps up to the plate best. Luis Perez and Philip Nelson will suit up for the Guardians and the Renegades respectively. Two 2-2 teams facing off in Dallas, where the Renegades are yet to register a win this season, will both be hoping to get on the right side of the win/loss scale.
New York had an important bounce back win against the Wildcats last weekend in the meadowlands after losing their two previous games. As for Dallas, well they were on the wrong end of the score line in last weeks “Texas Throwdown” when they lost to the Roughnecks.
Both teams will need to help their QB’s the best they can, scheming easy throws and perhaps looking towards their run games. Dallas may rely heavily on the work of Cameron Artis Payne or TE Donald Parham who have both been producing well on offence over the past couple of weeks.
I favour the Renegades at home in this one, but will say that if either team opens up a two possession scoring advantage, I don’t see them being caught.
Prediction: New York 20 – 24 Dallas
ST LOUIS @ D.C
The sudden collapse of D.C from 2-0 to 2-2 over the last two weeks caught the attention of just about everyone. Cardale Jones’ perfected recorded as a starter was shattered and the overall on field product turned to dust. Two games on the road in a row resulted in two losses and now DC returns to Audi Field to face a Battlehawks team who has been on the ascendency since week one.
St Louis have won their last games convincingly, bouncing off the home town energy in the Dome. Its obvious St Louis has missed their pro football and they are showing a passion toward the Battlehawks and they have ever so gracefully repaid them. Jordan Ta’amu has been consistent at a high level for pretty much the whole season and based on both teams current form, it is going to take one hell of a performance from DC to stop St. Louis.
It will be interesting to keep tabs on how D.C perform being back at home as opposed to being on the road. They were perfect at home before losing two straight while on their travels. Similarly it will be telling of the commitment of the XFL fan bases to see how they turn out to support a struggling Defenders team.
If Ta’amu and the Battlehawks hit their rhythm early then I can see this becoming a runaway victory.
Prediction: St. Louis 29 – 15 D.C
TAMPA @ LOS ANGELES
A defining game in both teams seasons. The opportunity to move to 2-3 after both earned their first victories of the season against the aforementioned Defenders. The crazy yard gaining Tampa offence will hope to keep their winning formulae going as they travel cross country to face the Wildcats.
400 yards offence has become somewhat of a benchmark for the Vipers despite only having one win but it is fair to assume they are one or two pieces away from everything falling perfectly into place for them and allowing them to rack up more wins. As for LA, well the waters are slightly murkier. The team’s identity is still not clear after their opening losses, a shock win against D.C and then a somewhat disappointing loss against a struggling Guardians team.
Winston Moss will have to “Give it to his players RIGHT NOW!” (See week 4 sound bites to get that reference) if he has any hope of them getting something out of this game. Better play calling will be required this week as the Vipers will almost certainly try to lock down Tre McBride knowing full well he’ll be the main target with Nelson Spruce still out.
A tough one for the home team and a golden opportunity for the road team.
Prediction: Tampa 30 – 24 LA
Hope you enjoyed this shortened format. How do you see this week’s games panning out? Let me know on twitter @MichaelLavery98
Following an exciting opening weekend of football, the XFL train rolls into week two and it’s time to break down each of the games one by one. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out or brand new XFL Podcast with myself and Shaun from the Full10 Yards family where we talk all things XFL breaking it down for you in audio form!
Last week’s predictions got off to an average start, guessing 2/4 winning teams correctly. As always I will have my predictions at the end of segment. Disagree with any? Let me hear it on twitter @MichaelLavery98
GUARDIANS @ DEFENDERS
The first game of week two is between two teams who were able to secure a win in week one and it provides an opportunity to open up the season 2-0 and taking an early stronghold on the Eastern Conference.
The Defenders will want to build on an impressive opening week, carrying on dominant play across all three phases of play. Quarterback Cardale Jones will be hoping to maintain his perfect record as a starter as they welcome in Matt McGloin and the New York Guardians.
Carrying on from last week, it will be interesting to see if Defenders HC Pep Hamilton steps up his aggression levels when it comes to some of the calls he has to make mid game. Last week the Defenders were successful on 1/3 1PAT tries and went 1/1 on 2PAT tries. Perhaps something that the DC staff will want to look into and adjust going forward and as a result we may see more 2PAT attempts from the Defenders.
They will be coming up against a strong Guardians defense who last week won the turn over battle against a poor Tampa Bay Vipers. I can’t imagine this will in any way deter the Defenders and their air attack which worked seamlessly last week, but we may see DC return to the run game. Last week the team rushed for only 68 yards and 28 of which were provided through by the quarterback. 40 yards total rushing for a game indicates a very on dimensional offence and I think we will see Pep Hamilton trying to scheme open some bigger run plays.
As for New York, they will be hoping Matt McGloin can continue on from their opening weekend victory and keep the team playing at an efficient level. One thing worth noting, in terms of travelling as a “road” team this week, the Guardians will have significantly less distance to travel than all other teams on the road this week, something which will undoubtedly benefit them when it comes to game time and how fresh they feel. This is in comparison to the Dragons who last week had to fly cross country to face a Defenders team who benefited from being at home. The Defense in New York will be hoping for similar production turnover wise but will want to clamp down on the amount of yards they allowed against them as Cardale Jones and the Defenders will not be as incompetent in the redzone as the Vipers were last week.
These two teams combined for over 50 points last week and would indicate in every way that we are in for an offensive battle. D.C averaged 5.3 yards per play where New York averaged 5.0. Neither team was overly successful on 3rd down last week – NY going 1/10 and D.C converting only 5/15 but both had 100% records on 4th down. How will the teams adjust for that this week?
Prediction: Guardians 21 – 26 Defenders
GAME TWO: VIPERS @ DRAGONS
Both of these teams had disappointing losses in week one but for different reasons. Seattle were unfortunate not to stay in the game with a chance to tie or go for the win in the 4th quarter. Tampa however, were just very poor when it came to redzone efficiency and didn’t manage to get into the redzone. They will hope to bounce back this week but will face a difficult task travelling cross-country to play in Seattle – a notoriously difficult city to play in as a visitor.
During the week, Seattle announced they had already sold 25,000 tickets for this week’s opener and after an additional 1,000 tickets were put on sale this week they were reported to have “Sold out very quickly”. Typically raucous and intimidating, it will be insightful (in terms of league interest levels) to see what kind of crowd shows up to CenturyLink Field on Saturday.
As for the on field product, Seattle will be hoping to benefit from similar production levels from wideout Austin Proehl. Last week Proehl had 5 receptions for 88 yards and 2 touchdowns and by all accounts had a decent game. His quarterback, Brandon Silvers will hope to cut down on the turnovers and have a cleaner performance. He threw 3 touchdowns but also had two picks in the loss against D.C.
Tampa will need to get on the board early this week and quiet the crowd if they want to get anything from this game. Benefiting from the league’s leading receiver, Daniel Williams, he had 123 yards receiving and will hope to produce similar numbers this week but the team as a whole failed when it came to redzone production. Yes they had nearly 400 yards of offensive (394 total) but as the saying goes “Drive for show and putt for dough”. Last week the Vipers couldn’t finish and that’s the difference between winning and losing.
As of Friday it was announced that quarterback Aaron Murray would not start week two due to injury, but the team made no official announcement whether Quinton Flowers or Taylor Cornelius would assume the starting role this Saturday.
Prediction: Vipers 17 – 29 Dragons
GAME THREE: RENEGADES @ WILDCATS
Frustrating results in week one for both the Renegades and Wildcats will test their strength as a team when it comes to week two.
Dallas were the only team to lose at home in week one, perhaps a damaging result in terms of team moral, but, a welcome boost will have come this week in the form of the announcement that Landry Jones will start at quarterback for the Renegades this week having spent last week on the side lines. His professional calibre will be a welcome addition to the huddle this week as they look to take advantage of a Wildcats team who have had defensive problems this week with the announcement that their defensive coordinator Pepper Johnson had been fired.
The Wildcats will be hosting the game at the Dignity Health Sports Park – an arena we are used to seeing filled with opposing team supporters when it’s the Los Angeles Chargers playing at home. Will we see a different side to the LA football fandom this week as the Wildcats prepare to host their home opener?
Neither side was able to get the ball moving with any meaningful rhythm last week as their offenses stalled out on numerous drives. The Wildcats were shut out in the second half against the Roughnecks – a tough look on a team where fuses seem to be short in regards to personnel shifts. Both teams did however start with their back-up quarterbacks and this week we will hopefully be treated to the full spectacle of QB1’s. Chad Kanoff missed practice due to injury and Josh Johnson was upgraded to limited.
I expect this to be a surprisingly fun watch and based on their quarterback status will give the edge to the visitors.
Prediction:Renegades 31 – 22 Wildcats
GAME FOUR: BATTLEHAWKS @ ROUGHNECKS
The final instalment this week comes from TDECU stadium in Houston. Both teams riding high of the momentum of impressive opening weekend games, they will hope to take the next step on Sunday by securing another win.
St. Louis successfully navigated a road win in a tricky victory against Dallas, and Houston flexed their muscles beating the Wildcats by 20. Roughnecks quarterback, PJ Walker will be eager to prove that last week wasn’t just a one off and that he is talented and capable enough to perform at such a level, week in, week out. As for the Battlehawks, it is the hope of team Head Coach Jonathan Hayes that his quarterback, Jordan Ta’amu, can continue to get it done under centre. We also saw a clear commitment to the run game last week as the Battlehawks stuck with it and tried to wear down the Renegades defence. 191 yards on the ground last week, including 77 from Ta’amu.
It was announced during the week that the first ever XFL Championship game will be played at TDECU stadium, perhaps a somewhat motivational and inspiring announcement for the Roughnecks players as they hope to gain home field advantage in the biggest game of the year.
The Battlehawks will be hoping to get through this week with a win and return home to St. Louis with a perfect record and hopefully play to an electric fan base who will be more than ready to have a hometown team once again.
In my opinion I think this will be the game of the week, a tough job for the Battlehawks on the road and a proud Roughnecks team looking to defend home turf, I’ll give the edge to the team who displayed the most star power and flare in week one.
That’s a sentence you’re not used to hearing in February, right?
This time of year is usually the beginning of a seven month drought which sees us clutching on to any form of relevant and somewhat interesting football news. Hypothetical trades, mock drafts, and record predictions for teams in the new season, which we all know doesn’t always go to plan (I’m talking to you, Adam Rank).
But finally, after a lot of build-up, exciting rules announcements and the occasional familiar name being thrown into the mix… It’s time for the XFL.
The following is a preview of each of the opening four games followed by my own personal predictions for the games which at this point are complete stabs in the dark but worth a go anyway.
Seattle Dragons @ D.C Defenders
The opening game of the second installment of XFL football comes from Audi Field in Washington D.C where the Dragons take on the Defenders. Both of these teams are the second professional football team in their respective cities, something which could be worth looking into regarding attendance and fan support.
The Defenders are being led by Cardale Jones at quarterback, someone who is already being touted as the potential league MVP before it even kicks off. Jones spent a short time in the pro’s, mostly as a backup or a third stringer. He was drafted 139th overall by the Buffalo Bills in 2016 but has never played more than a half of professional football.
His career stat line: 6/11 98yds, 0TD, 1INT 46.0QBR
D.C Head Coach Pep Hamilton is more than qualified to lead this team to multiple victories this year. He has years of experience working as a positional coach in the NFL for several teams and was the Colts Offensive Coordinator for two years from 2013-15. The significance of this is that during that time he worked closely with Andrew Luck, someone who he also coached during his time at Stamford.
Why exactly is this important? Well for the success Luck had in his short NFL career, I don’t think it would be a bad idea for Cardale Jones to pick the brain of his new HC. Luck and Jones also have extremely similar measurables, something Hamilton might hope to take advantage of and craft Jones into a Luck style player.
Comparison: Luck v Jones
40 Yard Dash
The Seattle Dragons signal caller goes by the name of Brandon Silver. Silver has no NFL in game experience despite trying out at the New Orleans Saints rookie minicamp and spending a month as a member of the New York Jets. He did however play for the Memphis Express in the short while that the AAF existed. He sat behind Johnny Manziel as a backup before taking over the starting job after a Manziel injury.
His AAF Stat line: 80/125 799yds, 4TD, 2INT, 86.1QBR
Despite not being the most decorated player at his position, he is at least being coached by someone who knows how to lead a franchise. Former Seattle Seahawks lefty QB; Jim Zorn.
Zorn was the Seahawks quarterback for the first eight years of the franchise’s existence. He made it a weekly habit of finding NFL Hall of Famer Steve Largent in the end zone and now they are both members of the Seattle ring of honour.
In his professional coaching career he has been an assistant and also spent one year has the Head Coach of the Washington Redskins (08-09). Jim Zorn Washington revenge game, anybody?
What is key is that Zorn will know exactly what the city of Seattle will want to see from their Dragons. He knows the city, he knows the fans, he knows the seriousness and with that I think he will have the Dragons performing at a high level all year.
This should be a great game to kick off the season, the fireworks and hoopla of the rebirthed XFL will no doubt add to the festival like occasion and hopefully there will be fireworks on the field too. Explosive plays, new kick offs and extra point rules all to be seen this weekend.
Prediction:My week one stab in the dark prediction is for Seattle to win a crowd silencer on the road in D.C with a final score of 34-17.
Los Angeles Wildcats @ Houston Roughnecks
The late slot on Saturday takes us to TDECU stadium in Houston where the Roughnecks will host the Los Angeles Wildcats. The 40,000 seater arena is the battleground for the first primetime matchup of the season.
Houston Quarterback P.J Walker, who played is college ball at Temple, is, by his own admission an undersized quarterback. At 5’ 11” and only 214lbs he draws the pro sized comparison to Russell Wilson and a quick look at his tape shows his footballing ability is similar too. Walker has excellent escape ability when he feels pressure and can get the job done either by rushing or make accurate throws on the move. Despite having this ability to avoid pressure, he doesn’t force early departures from the pocket and when complimented by good protection has the time needed to step into throws and successfully complete the long ball. Something ex-Texans receiver Sammie Coates will be happy about as he makes his return to pro football in Houston. But, when Walker does take off running he has the talent to make defenders look stupid.
The Roughnecks will be running a “Run N’ Shoot” style offence. A pass heavy scheme, it is hoped that Walker can find his receivers deep down field often and force teams to meet their high scoring targets if they have any hopes of winning.
Fronted by Head Coach June Jones, a former NFL QB and HC for the Atlanta Falcons, Houston will be hoping to deliver key blows early in this game and take advantage of playing at home. Jones won the CNN/Sports Illustrated National Coach of the year award back in 1999 before going on to take on several roles as an assistant in both college and pro teams.
Something to watch in the future: Jones stepped in as interim Head Coach of the San Diego Chargers after the now New York Guardians HC Kevin Gilbride was fired. Perhaps something to keep an eye on in the week 6 fixture between Houston and New York.
The visiting Los Angeles Wildcats have a veteran NFL journeyman at the helm. Josh Johnson has been a member of 13 teams since being drafted by the Bucs in the 5th round of the 2008 draft. A cousin of Marshawn Lynch, he played college football at San Diego. Perhaps an indication of his pedigree at his position, the Detroit Lions attempted to resign Johnson in November 2019 but the XFL denied this request.
Wildcats Head Coach Winston Moss was a professional linebacker for the Bucs, LA Raiders and Seahawks. He worked up 20.5 sacks and 3 interceptions during his career. A defensive minded coach, he will undoubtedly have his hands full this weekend but will be hoping to lean on the talents of his players to execute his game plan and slow down the Roughnecks attack.
Prediction: I think this will be one of the closer games of the weekend but I see the home team coming out on top. Houston wins it: 26-21.
Tampa Bay Vipers @ New York Guardians
Moving into the early slot on Sunday and we will get to see the first instalment of the Tampa Bay Vipers and the New York Guardians. Being played at MetLife this game is sure to have all the feelings of a regular football Sunday.
Guardians Head Coach Kevin Gilbride will be hoping to get his team off to a fast start in the league. Overseeing operations in New York as a play caller he will be hoping his team leave their mark as a smash mouth, run you over style football team, something which is always associated with teams playing in the meadowlands.
He will no doubt be confident that his team can pile up the wins, the Guardians start the season with seasoned pro, Matt McGloin under centre. A former raider who knows all about playing tough.
His Career Stat line: 13 Games Played 7 Started 161/277 1868yds, 11TD, 11INT 75.3QBR
I’m not entirely confident in McGloin’s ability to shine as the star of this league, but I do believe he will be more than capable of managing in-game situations at an effective and professional level and guiding this team to victory. That said, if he doesn’t perform, the New York fans will have no problem in letting him hear it.
Making the trip up the east coast is the green and yellow of the Tampa Bay Vipers. Spearheaded by Head Coach Marc Trestman and Quarterback Aaron Murray, the team travels to New York in the hope of returning to Florida with a season opening win.
Murray, a former Georgia Bulldog was a 5th round pick in the 2014 NFL draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. After bouncing between teams for a number of years, he took up a role as the QB for the Atlanta Legends of the AAF before coming to Tampa in the hope of being the cities best quarterback (30INT Jameis Winston shouldn’t be too hard to beat).
His Head Coach, Trestman, has an impressive history of coaching. Over 39 years he’s been with 10 NFL teams as either an assistant or a coordinator and has had his fair share of coffees elsewhere too coaching in both college and the CFL.
This should be a gritty game, with both teams trying to make some noise in the early Sunday window and gain some attention before week 2. A tough one to call so I’ll give the benefit to the team with a QB who has NFL experience and are playing at home.
Prediction:Guardians 27-20 Vipers.
St Louis Battlehawks @ Dallas Renegades
Potentially the best game of the weekend slot, aptly left to the primetime Sunday evening slot. A city left in the lurch without pro football since 2015, St. Louis fans were beyond hurt when the rams left them and have been crying out for football since. The Battlehawks fans will have to wait until week 3 to see their team play at home but I don’t think that will stop them from travelling to Dallas show support to their team.
Dallas is a footballing hub, the Cowboys have been calling themselves America’s team for what feels like forever and the entire city of Dallas lives for the sport. The Renegades will count as the State of Texas’ 4th pro football team, but they will have no intentions of being known as such. They want to be number one and behind quarterback Landry Jones they are in great shape to do so.
Jones is the forefront of this offense and he will hope to lay down a marker for the standard at which other teams aspire to be at. He was the first player to be selected for the XFL at the start of the team’s allocation process.
Jones’ professional career saw him drafted by the Steelers with the 115th overall pick in the 3rd round of the 2013 draft. A competent backup, he even saw some playing time in the playoffs, relieving an injured Ben Roethlisberger in the 2015 wild-card game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Roethlisberger would eventually return to the game but it is a credit to Jones and his work as a backup that he was ready to go when called upon. I think we can expect to see a great player coach chemistry with the Renegades. Jones and HC Bob Stoops worked together during his time in college. They will need to bring their “A” game in order to stop a resurgent St. Louis side who will be wanting to prove the point that pro football belongs in their city.
The Battlehawks are entering this game with quarterback Jordan Ta’amu and Head Coach Jonathan Hayes. Wanting to implement their status as winners from the start they will have to lean heavily on the knowledge of their HC and the veterans in the team with pro experience such as ex-Seahawks running back Christine Michael. In his career, he amassed over 1,000 rushing yards off 254 carries over a period of 4 years.
First special teams mention of the day, Marquette King, ex-Raiders punter makes his return to football for the Battlehawks in the hopes of re-igniting his career.
A primetime showdown to round out week one of the new XFL season, a game I think will come down to wire. Fourth quarter plays will be crucial and coaches aggression strategies on their PAT attempts will be important in determining a winner. I’ll side with the home team in this one but wouldn’t be surprised to see the visitors get a win.
Prediction:Renegades 28-26 Battlehawks.
So there you have it, the week 1 preview is at a close. Let us know your thoughts on the XFL by tweeting us @full10Yards on Twitter. Whether you love it, hate it or aren’t even going to watch it, we want to know!
The sight of a coach drenched in Gatorade and a field covered in ticker tape usually signals no football for 7 whole months. Yes we have the combine, free agency and draft to get excited about but nothing beats the excitement of an actual game. The AAF had a brief cameo last year but hopefully football fans we have a more permanent spring offering starting up on Saturday as XFL kicks off. 8 new teams, some interesting tweaks on rules and a UK home to watch it all on, here’s a preview to get you in the mood.
The Teams and Coaches
Dallas Renegades – Bob Stoopes
Houston Roughnecks – June Jones
LA Wildcats – Winston Moss
Seattle Dragons – Jim Zorn
New York Guardians – Kevin Gilbride
DC Defenders – Pep Hamilton
St Louis Battlehawks – Johnathan Hayes
Tampa Bay Vipers – Marc Trestman
With 8 new teams, rosters needed to be formed. The XFL player allocation process was held in multiple phases, separated by position groups. Each XFL head coach submitted a list of their preferred quarterbacks, with the league assigning one quarterback to each team prior to the draft as “tier 1” quarterbacks. The remaining players were drafted by position group using a traditional “snake format” with each team given 90 seconds per pick.
Phase 1: Offensive skill positions
Phase 2: Offensive lineman
Phase 3: Defensive front 7
Phase 4: Defensive backfield
Phase 5: Any remaining players
Teams drafted 71 players, with a requirement to be cut down to 52 for opening weekend kickoff.
Notable Players Selected
At quarterback, there are a couple of former household names from big-time programs, including Landry Jones from Oklahoma and Cardale Jones from Ohio State. Both men spent time as back-ups in the NFL so will be keen to prove their worth leading the Dallas Renegades and DC Defenders respectively.
In the offensive skill positions familiar faces Matt Jones, formerly of the Washington Redskins and former Carolina Panther Cameron Artis-Payne will be carrying the rock out of the backfield. 2 former AFC North receivers will see the field as ex Steeler Sammie Coates and ex Cleveland Brown, Antonio Callaway suit up.
On the defensive side of the ball, former 1st and 2nd round NFL draft choices Matt Elam and Rahim Moore will team up together in Dallas. Kony Ealy who recorded 3 sacks in Superbowl 50 has signed on with Houston. Nick Novak will be a recognizable name on special teams, whilst Scooby Wright III wins quite simply the most memorable name prize.
The 10-week regular season starts Saturday, February 8, less than a week removed from the Superbowl, with the DC Defenders hosting the Seattle Dragons, followed by the Los Angeles Wildcats traveling to Houston for a game against the Roughnecks.
The XFL’s first weekend continues on Sunday, February 9, when the New York Guardians host the Tampa Bay Vipers and concludes later that day as the Dallas Renegades host the St. Louis BattleHawks. Additional regular-season highlights include home openers for Seattle on February 15, Los Angeles on February 16, Tampa Bay on February 22, and St. Louis on February 23. The 2 biggest US markets, New York and Los Angeles, meet only one time on February 29, when the Wildcats take on the Guardians at MetLife Stadium. The first of two Texas intrastate match-ups between the Roughnecks and Renegades follows on March 1 in Dallas.
Following the regular season, the top two teams in each division will square off for the right to play for the league championship on Sunday, April 26. The East Final is scheduled for Saturday, April 18, and the West Final will be held Sunday, April 19. The first-place team in each division will host its respective division final.
UK fans will be able to catch coverage of the games across the BT sport network or via ESPN player.
The New Rules
When the XFL kicks off on Feb. 8, the new league will feature exciting gameplay innovations that are designed to deliver a faster pace of play and more action. With 5 Gameplay Innovations, 5 Timing Changes, and 5 Common Sense Rules, the league is building on traditional football while preserving its authenticity.
25-Second Play Clock | Comeback Period | Running Game Clock | Timeouts | Replay Rulings
5 Common Sense Rules:
One Foot Inbounds | Ball-Spotting Official | Coach-Player Communication | Simplified Illegal Man Downfield | Shorter Halftime
Check out this useful summary video via youtube here.
Time To Get Excited
In summary, its more football to enjoy and I’m really interested to see how some of the new rules play out. The XFL appears to have learned from its previous failings and has the financial backing to be a success. I would suggest you pick a team and have a bit of fun for the next 12 weeks, its surely better than refreshing twitter to see which free agents your NFL team has overpaid for.
Crunch time! This week we are treated to the NFL being spread out over the weekend with 3 games on Saturday with huge implications as the Rams travel to the 49ers and the Bills try to upset the applecart in New England.
On Sunday, the SkySports offering serves up some fantastic matchups where New Orleans continue to chase for a 1st round bye against a Titans team effectively already in the playoffs. Plus, it’s the battle for the NFC East as Dallas travel to Lincoln Financial Field to face the Eagles in a winner takes all matchup.
Winners progress, losers go home. Ladies and Gentleman, welcome to week 16 in the NFL.
BATTLE FOR THE EAST
Fierce rivals Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia get it on to essentially decide the winner of the #4 seed for the NFC playoffs. Both teams have underwhelmed this year for a variety of reasons, but it all comes down to this 60 minute game of football.
A win for the Cowboys, they are confirmed champions. A win for the Eagles and assuming a week 17 win against the Giants, they are in too. The Cowboys are the healthier, more potent team this season as judged by their week 7 hammering at At&T stadium. They will also be buoyed by their dominant performance last week at home to the Rams but form goes out of the window in these types of games.
Do Dallas and Jason Garrett have the cajones when it’s all on the line? Usually not, but can they still get the job done against an Eagles team that have been on the ropes more than the Sunday washing.
The coaching and talent on the Eagles are a testament to even be in with a live shout of still winning the division, but it’s also an indictment on how poor the division has been. Still, someone must win it and become the #4 seed for the playoffs, who’s stepping up?
Buffalo-ad of this!
Buffalo travel to Foxboro’ this weekend in another pivotal divisional clashe.
A win for the Bills sees a very interesting week 17 indeed. If Buffalo win out, they will take the #1 seed regardless due to conference record tie breaker and that is one hell of a carrot dangled in front of Josh Allen and Sean McDermott. They will be in bullish (or Billish perhaps?) mood after their win away at Heinz field on SNF and it’s now a question of whether they can step up to the plate once more.
Their week 4 meeting saw the Bills blow their chances a little, Josh Allen left with a head injury and still had a few drives to go and beat them late in the 4th quarter. They’ll certainly have to execute better than they did back in September but I feel this Bills team has come quite far since that game. The Bills match up quite well against New England and we don’t need to go over the offensive struggles that Brady and Co. have experienced this season.
A win for the Patriots will secure the #2 seed too and how many times have we seen before that New England just get the job done? New England have won the last 6 between the sides and you have to go back to 2014 when Buffalo last beat a Tom Brady led Patriots (though he did exit with an injury in that one!).
NFC 1st round bye shuffle
The #1 and #2 seeds have shuffled around between Seattle/San Francisco/New Orleans and Green Bay over the past couple of weeks and the jostling will continue this weekend. The current #1 seeds have a straightforward task against the Cardinals, whilst the 49ers will have to be on their toes against the Rams. New Orleans face a tough trip to Nashville and Green Bay travel to Minnesota in a key NFC North matchup.
If results go their way, the Seahawks could potential have their hands firmly placed on the #1 seed if results go their way which will be huge for Russell Wilson and the members of the 12 to ensure they can create a hostile environment in the playoffs and seal that homefield advantage.
HitchViking a ride into the playoffs
The Vikings with a win in either of their last 2 games secure a playoff berth. Problem is they have to face old foes and divisional rivals in the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears. They are at home which will help as they enjoy one of the bigger advantages with homefield.
In the 2 away games against those teams however, they only managed to must 22 points collectively and that is just not going to get the job done. This is what Kirk Cousins was brought in for, paid all that guaranteed money for; games like this.
Without Dalvin Cook who is nursing an injury and resting before helping them in the playoffs or rookie Alexander Mattison who is also struggling to be fit for the game, Kirk Cousins is going to have to step up and lead this team to victory.
A win, an the monkey starts to climb off of his back. A loss, and there is huge pressure on him in week 17 against the Bears.
battle for a top 3 pick
With Cincinnati taking on the Dolphins and the Redskins facing the Giants, the current top 4 picks in the 2020 draft face off on Sunday. It is always interesting to see how the teams down “that end” play and how much they really put in to the game.
Whilst the Bengals can win without affecting their position at #1 overall, the other 3 teams could see themselves cause detrimental ramifications should they win a game. These games will be nothing more than a “look at the result after the game” types of affairs, but for the fans of the respective teams, i guess it’s nice that the fans will still be biting their nails during the game, even if it’s for different reasons.
Three Griers for Will!
Carolina turn to their third QB of the season as 2019 3rd round pick Will Grier enters the fray. Kyle Allen seemingly not the answer for the Panthers front office and David Tepper, Grier has 2 games to show what he can do.
He faces a Colts team that is there for the taking and a New Orleans Saints team which should have something to play for. Quite a contrast in matches will mean ample sample sizes for the team’s scouts and evaluators to see whether he could be the answer and not theoft injured Cam Newton.
Whilst we wont know until late in the offseason who will be the starter, Will Grier has the chance to make a lasting impression and put down a marker for next training camp. At the very least, he can stop the Panthers from drafting a QB or signing one in Free Agency….
the afc #6 a steel?
It seems to be a straight shootout now between Pittsburgh and Tennessee for the #6 seed in the AFC. The Steelers have the easier schedule with the Jets and Ravens to come, the Titans have the better QB but face New Orleans and Houston. Both defences are pretty stout, perhaps the edge going to Pittsburgh but the Titans have the better running game and the healthier team. Pittsburgh have the tie breaker on Tennessee so effectively just need to beat the Jets to punch their ticket to Arrowhead.
Whichever team makes it will be a heavy underdog going in to what is likely to be Kansas City. Considering both teams’ journies this season, I think they will take just the chance to cause an upset in January (the Titans have previous vs the Chiefs!).
you’re quinn denial, dan
Dan Quinn was a hot favourite to be handed his P45 on black monday, but after the handful of decent performances by Matt Ryan and the Falcons including their most recent victory as time expired against the 49ers, it’s now a bit more up in the air.
The Falcons are 5-9, which is still a bitter disappointment comparing it with pre-season expectations, but they’ve won 4 of their last 6 including 3 divisional wins on top of the 49ers victory. divisional wins have slightly more weight put on them due to their importance so if the Falcons are able to beat the 5-9 Jaguars and the depleted 5-9 Buccaneers, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility Dan Quinn comes back next year.
He’ll definitely be getting “Blank” stares until the season and he walks in for his performance review…
is drew a lock for denver qb?
Drew Lock has performed well in his first 3 starts as Denver Broncos QB; A divisional win against the Chargers to go with a road victory against a playoff team. His last start against the Chiefs can be written off due to the weather and uncomfortable surroudings but all in all, the 2nd round pick from this year’s draft has probably outperformed his expectations when coming in, he was quite a raw prospect.
John Elway has never been the most convincing with his selections in the draft so far, especially at QB, but Drew Lock is looking like he fits over in Mile High. Whilst his completion % is low and his interceptions were not pretty, both lending to his gunslinger mentality, there are certainly some tools there for Lock to fine tune over the offseason and potentially be the answer at QB over in Denver.
With the weapons at his disposal sure to be added to during the offseason to compliment the running game, Drew Lock and the Broncos may not be in that bad of a position to challenge for January football come 2020.
A big tell will come against the Detroit Lions, as we will see how he responds to that rough game against Kansas and the criticisms he would have endured this week.
You will have noticed that however hard you try it’s impossible to avoid watching the Detroit Lions or the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day. The day is seen as a North American event, where families get together and consume vast amounts of turkey, candied yam and cranberry sauce whilst fighting for the best spot in front of the tv to watch some gridiron.
What you may not know is that these festivities would not have been possible without the intervention of none other than King Henry VIII. As part of the 1536 English Reformation, which saw the Church of England break away from traditional Catholic rule, Henry VIII drastically reduced the number of national English church holidays from 147 to 27.
Some people, called Puritans, wanted to further purify the church by eliminating more holidays, including Christmas and Easter, and replace them with Days of Fasting and Days of Thanksgiving. One of the earliest English ‘Days of Thanksgiving’ was in fact called in 1588 after victory over the Spanish Armada.
By 1607 these Puritans, who were being persecuted for their beliefs, moved to a more free Holland, but just 13 years later, fearing their children were becoming too Dutch, decided to emigrate to America, after obtaining a land grant north of Virginia, to be called New England.
399 years ago the famous Mayflower voyage of 1620 set off from Southampton in September, with 102 passengers, including William Mullins from my home town of Dorking in Surrey, and it arrived at Cape Cod in November.
The passengers, known as the Pilgrim Fathers, are described in history as a symbol of early European colonisation of what would become the USA. Just one year before, in 1619, a smaller group of Pilgrims who made it alive to Charles City County, declared they would forever celebrate the arrival as a day of thanksgiving. Two years later this day was celebrated by Pilgrims together with Native Americans, especially as it was a terrific harvest.
Fast forward to 1863 and it was the 16th President Abraham Lincoln who declared Thanksgiving an official holiday, thanks in part to a 40 year campaign led by author Sarah Josepha Hale, the lady who penned ‘Mary had a little lamb’. Lincoln made it law that Thanksgiving was the last Thursday in November.
In 1939 President Franklin D.Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving to the second-last Thursday, and in 1941 he signed a joint resolution to change Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday. Playing American football on Thanksgiving goes back to the late 19th Century, with the likes of college teams Yale and Princeton playing a recorded game in 1876.
The first official NFL Thanksgiving Day games were played in 1920, with the majority of teams now dead and buried, including the Detroit Heralds, who lost 0-28 to the Dayton Triangles.
The tradition of the Detroit Lions playing Thanksgiving games began in 1934, a 16-19 loss to the Chicago Bears, the legendary Bears back Bronco Nagurski throwing the winning score to Bill Hewitt, one of the last NFL players to refuse to wear any form of headgear.
Back in the 1930s NFL teams had autonomy on when they would play on a game week. Lions owner George A.Richards, who owned a local radio Station called WJR, negotiated a deal with NBC to carry the game live across the radio network nationally. The decision to move the game was huge success, both at the University of Detroit Stadium, with a then record crowd of 26,000 in attendance, and on the national airwaves.
The second traditional Thanksgiving Day team, the Dallas Cowboys, began their Turkey Thursday streak in 1966, just six seasons after joining the NFL as an expansion franchise. The Cowboys agreed with the NFL that they would only host a Thanksgiving game if they were guaranteed future games on the same day. This tradition only lasted nine years, as then commissioner Pete Rozelle swapped out the Cowboys for the St Louis Cardinals in 1975 and then in 1977.
The Cardinals lost the two games by a combined 59 points so the Cowboys came rushing back to fill the slot, and from 1978 the Lions have hosted an early Thanksgiving game and the Cowboys have hosted a later Thanksgiving game. Ever eager to make the NFL bigger and better this two-game tradition expanded to three in 2006, to include a juicy game, often a marquee divisional rivalry game. It doesn’t take a genius to work out the Lions have played the most Thanksgiving Day games (79), and also have the most wins (37) and losses (40). The Cowboys are inevitably second with 51 games, 31 wins and 19 losses.
The 2019 Thanksgiving Day games feature the Mitch Trubisky and Khalil Mack led Chicago Bears travelling to the Motor City, the playoff bound Buffalo Bills flying to Dallas to play the Super Bowl 37 and 38 matchup, and the New Orleans Saints line up in Atlanta against a red-hot Falcons team (for two of the last three weeks!). The Saints are one of a small handful of NFL teams who are undefeated on Thanksgiving, and in case the game feels familiar it was the Falcons who hosted the Saints in the 2018 primetime Turkey twizzler.
It’s always a bonus to get extra NFL coverage, so make sure you leave work early on Thursday and grab a Turkey sub on the way home. It may start off with a bit of a burnt offering, but it should end with a sweet treat in the late game. Just such a shame that Fox decommissioned the rather handsome Galloping Gobbler award in 2016 (incidentally a joint win by the Cowboys Dak Prescott and Zeke Elliott).
As a little bonus here are ten things you didn’t know about Thanksgiving NFL history:
The first NFL Thanksgiving Day game were played on November 25 1920. Six games were played, half the teams failed to score a single point, and one contest between the Columbus Panhandles and the Elyria Athletics ended in a 0-0 tie.
The Chicago Bears hold the NFL record as the only team to have played in the first and to play in the next Thanksgiving Day contests. That’s a 99 year history as they first played in 1920 as the Decatur Staleys.
Only one NFL team has never played a regular season NFL game on Thanksgiving Day. The snub belongs to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who joined the league as an expansion team in 1995.
Four current NFL teams, and ten defunct teams, are undefeated on Thanksgiving Day. The Baltimore Ravens and New Orleans Saints are 2-0 and the Panthers and Texans are 1-0.
The most points scored by a team on Thanksgiving Day was by the Miami Dolphins – 55 – in a crushing win over the St Louis Cardinals. on November 24 1977. Dolphins QB Bob Griese tossed 6 TDS on just 15 completions, with three scores caught by WR Nat Moore.
The highest scoring professional Thanksgiving Day game was held in 1962, between two AFL teams, the Denver Broncos and the New York Titans (who became the Jets two years later). The final score was 46-45 and the winner was caught by the Titans WR Art ‘King Pin’ Powell.
Thanksgiving Day 2012 was the date the infamous ‘butt fumble’ took place. The New York Jets QB Mark Sanchez, in fight or flight mode, ran directly into the rear end of one of his offensive linemen and coughed up the ball to the Patriots, who ended up scoring 49.
In the 21st century every NFL team to have played a game has scored points. The last team to fail to score on Turkey Day was the 1999 Miami Dolphins, who lost 0-20 to the Dallas Cowboys.
Just five Thanksgiving Day games have gone into overtime, since the fifth quarter was introduced to regular season games in 1974. The most recent O/T contest, in 2011, was won by the Houston Texans 34-31 over the Detroit Lions. Matt Schaub led Houston on the winning drive.
The triple-header Thanksgiving NFL format only began in 2006, with a non-Lions/Cowboys prime time evening matchup. The first of these juicy games was won by the Kansas City Chiefs 19-10 against the Denver Broncos. K.C. kicker Lawrence Tynes scored 13 points.
So there is a look back at one some history in the the NFL, we’ll start to be doing more here at the Full10Yards in our Retro branch which will launch in the new year. Head over to Twitter and follow @F10YRetro and @NFLFanInEngland for updates when it kicks off!