NFL Droughts

By Richard O’Brien (@richard_obs)

In the wake of Liverpool winning their first Premier League since it’s conception and 30 years, 58 days since their last league title, sporting droughts have been a hot topic as of late.

Whether you are looking to forget Liverpool’s title or a fan looking for some optimism in what seems like the dark age of your favourite franchise, we’ll take a look at the longest droughts which are set to be broken in the upcoming season.


The Cleveland Browns


19 Year Playoff Drought


Let’s get the obvious one out of the way, the Cleveland Browns.

As is reminiscent with the aforementioned Liverpool side, the Browns found themselves turn from a historic franchise winning a combined 4 NFL championships under the likes of legendary Jim Brown and co, to frequently finding themselves as the butt of the joke for verging on the past two decades.

As every NFL fan knows all too well, the drought of the Browns has been characterised not only by its length, but the extraordinary and spectacular failings of the team.

Baker Mayfield and post-hype Browns: Why big improvement should be ...
Mark J. Rebilas 

Whether that be the winless season or last season in which the Browns were hyped up by many to be Superbowl contenders, only to put themselves out of playoff contention by winning only 2 games in the first half of the season.

Whilst the Ohio based organisation does have a reasonably difficult schedule, being in a tough division and having to play at Dallas and Tennessee, now seems as good a time as any to make their first playoff appearance since the 2002 AFC Wildcard game.


The Dallas Cowboys


26 Year Championship Drought


Replacing the Browns as the most hyped up team heading into the new season, the Cowboys’ fans look to be rewarded for their wait with an NFL championship come February.

Although there are still question marks over the contract dispute between the organisation and their franchise quarterback Dak Prescott, everything else appears to be in order for America’s team to reclaim their perch. Much to the relief of Dallas fans worldwide, Jason Garrett has left the helm after a decade in the role of Head Coach. Garrett was replaced in the offseason by Mike McCarthy who coincidentally won his only Superbowl ring with the Green Bay Packers the same season that Garrett took over the role as Head Coach of Dallas.

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Aside from coaching, although this was often the focal point of Dallas’ fans frustrations over recent years, the initial eye test is that the organisation has drafted well securing Ceedee Lamb as the heir apparent to Michael Irvin to join an already stellar offense.

Although I’m still sceptical about the Cowboys chances to win it all, primarily because of the hype and lingering taste of the failure to meet expectations in the past, the aspirations are certainly still there from many.


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers


14 Year Playoff Drought


Likewise, the Bucs have been an exciting and intriguing prospect for many fans heading into the 2020 season. The Buccaneers previous season was as much reminiscent of a roller coaster as any regular season can be.

From defensive highs like franchise record and league leading sacks from Shaq Barrett’s 19.5 sacks to the lows ranking 29th in overall defense. And of course, the offense. The rollercoaster effect was usually the cause of former first overall pick Jameis Winston who threw for over 5,000 yards and over 30 touchdowns, a feat many Hall of Fame QBs failed to achieve, but also threw 30 interceptions and set the record for 7 interceptions returned for touchdowns.

NFL: Tom Brady gets fresh start, Bruce Arians vies for legacy
Carmen Mandato / Getty

However, there were signs of life under new head coach Bruce Arians and with the high profile additions of former Patriots duo Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, the Bucs look set to make their first playoff appearance since 2007.

Whilst some of the more optimistic fans have pointed to experienced, serial winners in Brady, Gronk and Arians as evidence of a possible title, whether that be divisional or a Superbowl ring, playoffs are certainly within reaching distance.


Buffalo Bills


26 Year Divisional Title Drought


On the face of it, the New England Patriots’ stranglehold on the AFC East appears to be over. Although the Patriots are still making attempts to hold their title as the top dogs in the division, with the addition of Quarterback Cam Newton to a 1 year deal, the Bills are looking to claim their first divisional title since 1995.

The Bills ended the 1995 regular season with a record of 10 wins and 6 losses, a record they will be looking to match at the very least in the upcoming season. The team’s defense ranked 3rd overall in 2019, and whilst the 2019 pro bowler and interception leader Tre’Davious White grabs the spotlight, the Bills have consistent quality throughout their defense.

Jordan Poyer: Buffalo Bills' defense is 'the best I've ever been on'
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Where the team has looked to improve the most this offseason is the other side of the ball, by adding wide receiver Stefon Diggs this past offseason in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings which cost them their 2020 1st round pick among some other deal sweeteners.

The signs of the Patriots dynasty finally meeting its death, whilst historically have been greatly exaggerated, seem as comprehensive as they will ever be. Now, the position is there for the Bills to take the mantle as the top team in the AFC East for the first time in 25 years.

For me, the only question that remains is whether Josh Allen will continue improving and making the necessary leap required heading into his third season to make the Bills the new beast from the East.

The Dak Prescott Saga

By Richard O’Brien

The key story within the NFL this offseason, COVID-19 aside, has been the contract dispute between the Dallas Cowboys and their star Quarterback, Dak Prescott. The deal, or lack of, has received plenty of attention and speculation, with many members of the media portraying the negotiations as a clash of titans pitting Jerry Jones against the former fourth round pick. With that being said, we’ll look at the ongoing saga and the stage that has been set for the 15 July deadline for long term deals.


First of all, let’s look at the rumour. Reported by Chris Simms, the supposed rejected deal was a 5 year, $175 million contract which would have made Prescott the second highest annual earner slightly behind Russell Wilson. If this report is to be believed, Dak would receive $35 million per year. Simms also claimed the quarterback out of Mississippi State would be roughly on par as the highest earner in guaranteed money in line with the $110 million which Jared Goff received.

Following this claim by Simms, Prescott was met with harsh criticism for declining the proposed deal on grounds he wanted “north of $45 million in his final year”, but on further reflection, the saga may not be as clear cut as this.

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The key issue raised with the report of Chris Simms is the source. Prescott and his team were, up until this point, declining the opportunity to discuss with the media. Since this leak was made by Simms, the implication made by Prescott’s agent is that someone, on behalf of ownership or not, leaked a deal to exert public pressure onto Dak during negotiations.

To support this claim, Ian Rapport, an NFL insider, tweeted that both the team and Dak’s agent argue these claims are false and that the key issue is the length of the deal. Prescott wants a 4 year deal, whereas the Cowboys want to settle on a 5 year deal.

Another issue raised with the deal is guaranteed money. If the major contract deals of the past few years are anything to go by, guaranteed money is the key component of any player contract within the NFL. Whilst total figures of contracts appear extortionate, in reality the players usually receive a fraction of this amount depending on performances and injuries.

The annual figure of around $32.5 million to $35 million has been widely agreed as an accurate representation of what the former MSU Bulldog has been promised, and is owed. But the guaranteed money is more hazy. Although Simms claimed Prescott had been offered a similar amount to Goff, at around $110 million, this figure has been refuted since the report of Simms.

Many NFL experts believe the real figure to be much lower than this, leading to the franchise quarterback to reject the deal. Given that Prescott has only earned $4 million from his rookie contract given that he was a fourth round pick, it is only fair that he is now searching for a more attractive payout now.


To summarise what we know so far, a leak from within the Cowboys organisation inflated figures to exert pressure on Prescott to take a deal less financially lucrative. But, in reality, money isn’t necessarily the sticking point in the deal, but more accurately what percentage is guaranteed and the length of the contract.

Cowboys' Dak Prescott breaks silence on death of George Floyd ...
Tim Heitman

With that being said, it’s time to look at the stage which has been set. As the 15 July deadline inches closer, will a deal be done? There are plenty of those who doubt an agreement with be made with the two time pro bowler.

It has been argued that if the Cowboys genuinely believed Prescott to be their franchise quarterback he would have been payed last year and that Andy Dalton would not have been signed. Other notable draftees from the 2016 NFL Draft, Jarred Goff and Carson Wentz, were payed last offseason. And in addition to this, Dalton is a starting quality quarterback who could fill in for a disgruntled Prescott.

Whilst these arguments do have some validity to them, I do have my reservations about this case. Firstly, the Cowboys were in another contract saga this time last year with the Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliot who was threatening to sit out the season. Moreover, with regards to Andy Dalton, the move is a logical, precautionary move.

Bengals sound like they'll do right by Andy Dalton on his way out
Sam Greene

Whilst a side effect of the deal may be pressure put onto the former Rookie of the Year, I don’t believe this to be the sole focus of the deal. Firstly, to be able to sign a starting caliber quarterback to a 1 year $4million deal is an excellent business move. Prescott is yet to miss a game for the Cowboys. Take into account the Steelers’ season in 2019, Jones will be keen to avoid the scenario in which a talented team capable to making the playoffs is derailed by an injury. Prescott will miss a game at some point through injury, it is inevitable. But Jones has planned for this eventuality by signing Dalton.

In all likelihood, and if history is anything to go by, a deal will be made before the 15 July deadline.

Jerry Jones loves a star, and Prescott certainly is one. He has not only become the face of America’s team, but also of the NFL as a whole. As well as this, history shows Jones is willing to arguably overcompensate his star quarterback, as seen with Tony Romo.

Tony Romo "Done" Playing Football
Jerome Miron

Heading into the 2013 season, and with one playoff win under his belt, Jones signed Romo to a 6 year $110 million contract making him a top 3 earner in the league. Likewise, Dak is looking for a market setting deal despite having only 1 playoff win in his professional career as well. And finally, with the organisation in contention for their first Superbowl since 1996, the argument is that Jones would not risk this prospect before the season has even begun due to a dispute with the face of the franchise.


Ultimately, the saga between Prescott and the Cowboys which has lasted nearly a year by now will end one way or another come 15 July. Although I expect Jones to give way on either the percentage of guaranteed money or length, one thing is clear, the NFL is watching. With little else going on and the fact that Prescott will receive either record sums or the opportunity to join a team of his choosing, this is surely set to be a saga which shapes the NFL.

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.

Five teams that nailed the 2020 NFL Draft

By Sean Tyler @seantyleruk

From the record-breaking television ratings to the lack of technical issues, the NFL’s first virtual draft was an undoubted success (unless you’re a Green Bay fan). Like a bizarre episode of Through The Keyhole, we also saw inside the homes of the star players, and the makeshift war rooms of the general managers and coaches: Kliff Kingsbury’s huge villa, Dave Gettleman’s basement and Mike Vrabel’s total madhouse. As I alluded to earlier this week, some teams left us with more questions than answers but here’s a quick round-up on who ‘won’ the 2020 NFL draft.


BALTIMORE RAVENS


Most analysts concur that Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta and Head Coach John Harbaugh knocked this draft out of the ballpark, with A and A+ grades being handed out like candy. They made their 10 picks count with good value on both sides of the ball and didn’t seem to reach. Instead, they waited for the likes of LSU linebacker Patrick Queen (#28) to fall into their laps, as well as Ohio State running back JK Dobbins and speedster WR Devin Duvernay on Day 2.

Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Queen should make an impact in the heart of the defence with his sideline-to-sideline speed, especially after Patrick Onwuasor and Josh Bynes left in free agency. Texas A&M’s Justin Madubuike also had many a pundit purring, with the defensive tackle getting snaffled at pick #71 despite being widely predicted to go in the 30s.

Alongside Mark Ingram, Dobbins should give yet more oomph to their league-leading rushing offense, while linebacker Malik Harrison and guard Ben Bredeson add depth across the board. Baltimore also picked up a couple of late steals, with receiver James Proche, who logged almost 4,000 receiving yards and 39 receiving touchdowns over four seasons at SMU, and Iowa safety Geno Stone, rated by both Move the Sticks’ Daniel Jeremiah and PFF’s Mike Renner as the best value pick of the final round.

Baltimore were exceptional last season and didn’t have many needs. But even so, they improved even more over the weekend, staying neck and neck with the Chiefs as the team to beat in the AFC Conference.

In short: they smashed it.


DALLAS COWBOYS


When drafting, the big question that faces every team now and again is whether you go for the best player available or fill your biggest need. The Cowboys entered the 2020 draft with the league’s top offense and obvious needs in defence, yet opted to spend their first-round pick on Oklahoma wide receiver CeeDee Lamb. Bullseye.

Alonzo Adams/AP

Lounging around on his quarter-of-a-billion-dollar super-yacht, team owner/president Jerry Jones must have been laughing into his champagne cocktail when he picked Lamb at #17. Arguably the best receiver in this loaded class, there was no way he should have been the third off the board. With the ‘Boys having signed Amari Cooper to a $100 million extension, Lamb probably wasn’t on the radar but taking him was a no-brainer: Christmas came early in Texas. Preventing their receiver-needy rivals in Philadelphia from securing his run-after-catch abilities was just the icing on the cake.

Only then did Dallas move on to address their two main areas of need, cornerback and defensive tackle, and they did so with great value picks. Stefon’s lil’ brother Trevon Diggs, mocked by many to go (to Dallas, as it happens) on Day 1, landed in the second round to help fill the void left by CB Byron Jones. Oklahoma’s huge defensive lineman Neville Gallimore also came a day later than many expected. Steals? All three picks border on daylight robbery.

Rewriting the draft textbook, the Cowboys also picked up Utah edge rusher Bradlee Anae with pick #179 (90 picks later than predicted by Mel Kiper of EPSN). I saw a comparison with Maxx Crosby recently, which means he should be a viable replacement for the departed Robert Quinn. They also snatched up another corner in Reggie Robinson, adding depth in a weak spot, and Wisconsin’s Tyler Biadasz, arguably this year’s top center. If he can stay healthy, he could step straight in for the retired Travis Frederick.

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After a disappointing campaign in which they didn’t seem to want to win the NFC East, despite the stuttering Eagles handing them chance after chance, Dallas are shaping up nicely to boss the division in 2020. Jones can now start to focus on getting Dak Prescott’s deal inked. With a mouth-watering trio of targets at his disposal – Lamb, Cooper and Michael Gallup – it’s time to keep the franchise QB (and his bank manager) happy.


MINNESOTA VIKINGS


Vikes GM Rick Spielman is probably still resting up after selecting a massive 15 players in the 2020 NFL Draft, the biggest haul since the seven-round format was introduced in 1994.

He did a great job addressing the team’s needs, particularly in the first three rounds. To replace wide receiver Stefon Diggs, he used the 22nd pick to take LSU’s Justin Jefferson. Jefferson can play out wide or in the slot, and should give Kirk Cousins a tasty option alongside Adam Thielen, if his 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns last year are anything to go by.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

They then moved down a few spots, giving #25 to the 49ers in return for the 31st and two later selections, but still found another would-be star in TCU corner Jeff Gladney. Minnesota then double-dipped to take Cameron Dantzler (#89) to boost a depleted cornerback room missing Xavier Rhodes, Mackensie Alexander and Trae Waynes, while Ezra Cleveland should add useful depth at left tackle.

A total of 11 picks on Day 3 brought several more decent pick-ups, including James Lynch, a defensive tackle from Baylor, Oregon LB Troy Dye and defensive end Kenny Willekes.  

Boom. Job done.


CINCINNATI BENGALS


Who knows if any trade offers were received and rejected but with the first pick in the draft, the Bengals held fast to secure their quarterback of the future and their franchise poster boy.

Joe Burrow was the obvious choice, having just completed the best college football season by anyone, ever. He starts from the get-go as the incumbent QB, Andy Dalton, was finally released (while I was writing this article) after a lack of trade interest. If Burrow’s success at LSU is any guide, the 2019 Heisman winner could eventually end Cincy’s three-decade playoff win drought and have the Who Dey Nation eating out of his hands. I bet they’re already planning a statue outside Paul Brown Stadium.

Associated Press

After last season’s struggles, just picking the Ohio native makes Cincinnati a winner in this draft. Admittedly, he can’t reverse their fortunes alone, so it’s just as well de facto GM Duke Tobin and HC Zac Taylor kept their foot on the gas. Mirroring the 2011 draft when they picked AJ Green and Andy Dalton in the first two rounds, they paired Burrow with WR Tee Higgins with the first pick of Day 2. The 6’4” jump-ball specialist notched 1,100 yards and 13 touchdowns in his final season at Clemson, and has been compared to Green, his new teammate (and favourite player). Higgins may even replace the franchise-tagged wideout in time.

With the only slight gripe being a (misguided) belief that their O-line didn’t need help, three of their five remaining selections were used to beef up their underperforming linebacker corps. Cincinnati opened Round 3 with Logan Wilson, who excels in pass coverage, while Akeem Davis-Gaither is a one-man highlight reel who might see some special teams action early doors. The Bengals chose a third linebacker in Purdue’s Markus Bailey with their final pick. Touted to break the Top 100 before suffering a season-ending ACL injury last season, Bailey may yet prove to be a real find, if he can stay healthy.


TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS


Let’s face it. Before Cincinnati was even on the clock, Tampa had probably won the offseason, having replaced turnover merchant Jameis Winston with GOAT Tom Brady, and then enticed TE Rob Gronkowski out of retirement for one last hurrah alongside his ol’ pal. But the Buccs complemented their trade prowess with a strong draft, focusing on giving their new (but old) QB some much-needed O-line help and more offensive weapons.

In Round 1, Tampa traded up one place to #13, coughing up their 14th and 117th picks to the 49ers, to ensure Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs, arguably the draft’s top tackle, was theirs. He wasn’t expected to drop that far after storming the Combine, so I bet the Buccaneers did some last-minute big-board shuffling.

Getty Images

In the third round, they turned to skill positions, collaring Vanderbilt running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn (#76) to beef up their backfield before diving into the deep wide receiver class to come up with Tyler Johnson (#161). Johnson’s Minnesota teammate, safety Antoine Winfield Jr. (#45), is a versatile ball hawk could yet turn out to be one of the best snares over the three days. For added spice, his dad was a Pro-Bowl defensive back who intercepted Brady in 2001 when playing for the Bills.

If Bruce Arians deploys the battle-weary Gronk sparingly, alongside his other tight ends OJ Howard and Cameron Brate, the Buccaneers could be a team to watch next season.


HONOURABLE MENTIONS


INDIANAPOLIS COLTS GM Chris Ballard filled a lot of needs, even without a first-round pick (traded for 49ers DT DeForest Buckner, which won’t do them any harm). Second-rounder Michael Pittman Jr. from USC could become a top receiver, while explosive RB Jonathan Taylor – averaging 2,000 yards a year over three years – is a hot prospect, despite some concern about the tread left on his tyres after his heavy workload in Wisconsin. A day later than many predicted, the 6’6” Washington quarterback Jacob Eason got picked up in Day 3. The big-armed gunslinger won’t play next year but, under HC Frank Reich, he’ll be groomed to take over from Philip Rivers in due course.


The MIAMI DOLPHINS had 14 darts – including three first-rounders – and most hit the target (though they did use one on a long snapper). Despite some pre-draft smoke and mirrors, GM Chris Grier and HC Brian Flores selected Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa first. Who knows if his injury woes are behind him but the Dolphins had to take the risk on the most naturally talented QB out there. His hip injury was bad luck but it made him available at #5, an equivalent slice of good fortune after Miami didn’t quite #TankForTua. Tua will line up behind a shiny new offensive line including another Round 1 pick, tackle Austin Jackson, and while cornerback Noah Igbinoghene was one of Day 1’s biggest reaches, they got better value in later rounds with DE Jason Strowbridge and edge rusher Curtis Weaver. Outside the draft bubble, acquiring Kyle Van Noy, Shaq Lawson, Byron Jones and Matt Breida only increases the sense that Miami will be much, much better next year.

Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY

Earlier this month, I suggested going best defensive player available for a few rounds might be a wise tactic for the CAROLINA PANTHERS. Well, whaddya know? Despite having a new offensively minded Head Coach in Matt Rhule, GM Marty Hurney used all seven of his picks on defence, including a big ol’ run stuffer in Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown (#7) and athletic Penn State DE Yetur Gross-Matos (#38). Later on, they traded up to the last pick in Round 2 to get safety Jeremy Chinn, while cornerback Troy Pride Jr. was also good value in the fourth. The moves they made in free agency – replacing Cam Newton with Teddy Bridgewater and adding Jets receiver Robbie Anderson – should also reinvigorate the team’s offence, making the Panthers a contender again.


I also liked the high-risk, high-reward approach of the ARIZONA CARDINALS. Picking at #8, GM Steve Keim somehow ignored the team’s needs at offensive tackle and went for Clemson linebacker/safety hybrid Isiah Simmons. It might have been a risk (especially having shipped out their second-round pick in the DeAndre Hopkins trade) but 63 picks later, the ace in the pack came up when they snaffled Houston left tackle Josh Jones. After standing out at the Senior Bowl, there was some Day 1 hype about him but he fell… and fell… and fell. Apparently, Kliff Kingsbury even called Jones’ college coaches to ask if there was something he ought to know about. Some steals feel like pick-pocketing but getting Jones in Round 3 was a ram-raid.

Fantasy: Free Agency Period – The Winners

by Rob Grimwood – @FFBritBaller

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.


Kyler Murray


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 Larry Fitzgerald 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.

Photo Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

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


Amari Cooper


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.

Photo Credit: SI .com

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.


Austin Ekeler


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.

Photo Credit: Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press

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.

CBA approved by NFL players

By Tim Monk (@Tim_MonkF10Y)

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.

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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.

XFL Week Five Preview

By Michael Lavery (@MichaelLavery98)

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.


GAME ONE:

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


GAME TWO:

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

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GAME THREE:

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


GAME FOUR:

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

XFL WEEK TWO PREVIEW

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.

Prediction: Battlehawks 22 – 35 Roughnecks