Legal Tampering Period – The Losers

By Adam Walford (@touchdowntips)

Following on from Rob Grimwood’s fantastic post on the winners yesterday I’ve been tasked, quite suitably, with the pessimism, the misery, the teams who did sweet FA, or in the case of the Texans. Worse.


Texans get their pants pulled down by the Cardinals.


In one of the weirder trades of recent times the Arizona Cardinals acquired one of the best three receivers in the game for essentially a bag of chips, and not a nice bag of chips, those “baked” one’s by walkers. It’s another moves by GM/Head coach/Supreme Leader Bill O’Brien which has stymied the masses. Oh, and they then went and signed Randall Cobb on a 3 year deal to try and placate the masses. Weird.

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Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Additionally they took on the FULL CONTRACT for David Johnson, the full $10.2m contract, for a back who has struggled with injury and form since breaking onto the scene a few years ago. That’s a lot of cash for a running back especially when you’ve got one of the better pass catching backs in the league on your roster already in the shape of Duke Johnson. For the record, I like DJ and I hope he can get back to form, but it’s still a lot of cash to spend on an RB.


David Njoku has some competition, and apparently he welcomes it.


After being drafted at 29 in the 2017 draft there were high hopes for the super-athletic tight end in Cleveland, but a series of niggling injuries and being unable to get together a decent run of games has hit his stock and led his team to bring in Austin Hooper on a big money deal from the Falcons. Neither of them are really blocking TEs, so it’s direct competition, and in those cases the more expensive man usually get the bulk of it all.

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Bengals fall even further behind in the North.


It’d be remiss of me to dampen the spirits of my team and their fans even more. After being quoted by reporters as “being active in free agency” they once again sat and watched as players who’d have improved their roster immediately were picked up for decent deals, the likes of Jack Conklin to the Browns on a 3 year, 42m deal. Nick Kwiatowski to the Raiders for 13m a year both positions of need for the Bengals, and both strengthen AFC teams.

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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Ravens have also made moves over the last week which further strengthen them, bringing in Calais Campbell and Michael Brockers to add even more to their defensive line, then getting a pick back for Hayden Hurst. They’re taking full advantage of having a rookie QB on a cheap deal.

And the Steelers will be welcoming back the 400lb man at QB which might make them better at that position for next year.


Josh Allen is digging it, but I’m not too sure.


The Bills paid a whole hell of a lot to Stefon Diggs, a 1st, 4th, 5th and 6th for Diggs and a 7th round pick… It’s a lot more than I thought the Vikings would get for someone who so clearly wanted out and bitched and cried about it publicly.

The Vikings get a ton of picks and him off their payroll. Diggs gets to join a team with an inaccurate QB and probably get further frustrated further down the road. Pairing the best route runner in the league with the least accurate QB is an interesting one, hopefully for them it’s a little chicken and egg and it bring Allen up.

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Bruce Kluckhohn/AP

However, I do get the trade, there’s blood in the water with the Pats possibly losing Brady and their offensive issues on the whole. So while it’s a big payout it could work out well for them.


They gave Jimmy Graham HOW MUCH?!


Why on earth would anyone be money on Jimmy Graham? I wasn’t sure he’d get picked up at all, let alone on a 2 year, $16m deal. But Matt Nagy and the Bears seem determined to keep on paying up at tight end. One of the more perplexing moves done yesterday.

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Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

They’re also still without a functional quarterback and supposedly interested in Andy Dalton and Nick Foles. The Bengals apparently want a 3rd for Dalton, the Jags reportedly want to keep Foles (They take a big dead cap hit if he leaves so may as well keep him) Both are upgrades on Trubisky, but still. It’s not an enviable situation.

Season in Review – Buffalo Bills

By Sean Tyler (@SeanTylerUK)

Today it’s time to turn our attention to the AFC East. More specifically, the Buffalo Bills. After coming close to winning a playoff game for the first time in what seems like centuries, we assess why they fell short yet again, but will come back even stronger in 2020.


ENTERING THE SEASON


Languishing in the postseason wilderness since 1999, the Bills finally returned to the playoffs in 2017, only to revert to type with a 6-10 campaign in 2018. So, coming into last season, which scenario could Bills fans expect? Was 2017 a rare high in an otherwise bleak landscape, or could their team compete for the AFC East title again in their third year under HC Sean McDermott and GM Brandon Beane?

The offseason was largely shaped by Buffalo’s numerous free trade acquisitions, including centre Mitch Morse, wideouts Cole Beasley and John Brown, and TJ Yeldon joined in the backfield by the ageless Frank Gore. Not one but two Cincinnati tight ends (Tyler Kroft and Jake Fisher) added to the influx, contradicting the common narrative that “players don’t want to move to Buffalo”.

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These recruits were complemented by a decent draft haul. Ed Oliver (No.9 overall) was picked to beef up the defensive line, guard Cody Ford was added to protect QB Josh Allen (no longer a wet-behind-the-ears rookie), while RB Devin Singletary and TE Dawson Knox were decent Round 3 and 4 catches.

Armed with this new talent, Buffalo beat the Colts, Panthers, Lions and Vikings in their first-ever undefeated preseason. Former Wasps and England rugby star Christian Wade, who joined as an exempt international player, nailed a 65-yard TD on his first carry as a running back against Indy. But for all that promise, Wade still needed time to learn the game and was shipped out to the practice squad.

Adrian Kraus/AP

DURING THE SEASON


Maintaining their preseason form, the Bills shot out of the gate. They started with back-to-back wins at New York’s MetLife Stadium over the Jets (a squeaky 17-16, having trailed by 16 in the third quarter) and the Giants (a more comfortable 28-14). The subsequent four-point win over the Bengals was notable for the aforementioned Dawson Knox rumbling over the Cincy secondary like a Chieftain tank, as well as two interceptions by CB Tre’Davius White.

Frustratingly, the Bills’ first loss came in a defensive battle with their AFC rivals from Boston. They lost 16-10 to the Patriots but in their defence, Allen did have to leave the field after a helmet-to-helmet hit. Buffalo hit back by seeing off the Titans and, after their bye week, the Dolphins, improving to 5-1 for the first time in a decade. Wedged between losses to the Eagles and the Browns (in which Stephen Hauschka missing a game-tying kick), a commanding 24-9 win against the Redskins saw the Bills equal their 2018 record of six wins with half a season to spare.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Things were going well, as the Bills ploughed on to an impressive 9-3. A three-game hot streak began in Week 11 against Miami, in which ‘Fitzmagic’ was sacked seven times and the ‘Fins were held to just 23 rushing yards. In shutting down the Broncos 20-3, Singletary recorded his first 100-yard rushing game and Gore went third on the NFL’s all-time rushing list. Then, on Thanksgiving Day, the Bills’ 26-15 win over Dallas – featuring a trick TD pass from Brown to Singletary – secured only their fourth winning season in two decades.

Unfortunately, reaching such heady heights seemed to trigger a bout of vertigo and the Bills began to wobble. Their only win on the home stretch was a 17-10 primetime victory at Pittsburgh in Week 15, with four interceptions helping to seal Buffalo’s first 10-win season this century. In their other three regular season games, however, they fell to the all-conquering Ravens, the dear ol’ Patriots again (handing them the divisional title in the process) and, more surprisingly, the Jets – although a number of first-choice guys were rested before the playoffs.

James P. McCoy/Buffalo News

Did someone mention the playoffs? Yes, the 10-6 Bills had locked up the AFC’s No. 5 seed and made the promised land again. But alas, they came up short at the first time of asking, losing 22-19 to the Texans in the Wild Card round. Buffalo ran up a 16-0 lead (with Brown throwing another trick TD, this time to his quarterback Allen) only for the wheels to fall off, leaving Deshaun Watson to mastermind a final-quarter comeback for Houston. The Bills managed to force overtime but Ka’imi Fairbairn’s game-winning FG extended the Bills’ playoff drought to 25 years…


OFFSEASON OUTLOOK


From the outside, the Bills’ 60th season seemed a pretty decent one but for the Bills Mafia, I suspect the way it fizzled out was disappointing. Nonetheless, a second playoff run in three years is not to be sneezed at, and Josh Allen showed wholesale improvements in his second season. But can Buffalo take the next step from playoff pretender to legit contender? Well, they have $90 million in cap space and nine selections in the 2020 NFL Draft, which can only help, right?

The general consensus is that offensively, they’ll prioritise a physical wide receiver this offseason, despite decent production from Brown and Beasley. Buffalo needs an injection of youth and size at WR so when the Bills are on the clock at #22, expect someone like Tee Higgins from Clemson (a few mock drafts really like this pairing already) or Colorado’s Laviska Shenault Jr to be selected. Knowing the Bills’ affinity for free agency, a deep threat such as the Cowboys’ Amari Cooper might also fit the bill.

With Frank Gore’s one-year deal at an end, Christian Wade also gives the coaching staff additional food for thought at RB, especially if they can’t snare someone like LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire with a mid-round pick.

On the other side of the ball, the defence is a decent, disciplined unit. Nonetheless, a pass rusher like K’Lavon Chaisson (another of LSU’s stars) should be high on their shopping list, especially with linebacker Lorenzo Alexander retiring and two defensive tackles hitting free agency. A second corner alongside the impressive Tre’ White would make sense too.

Getty Images

So there you have it. The Buffalo Bills are a well-run outfit that looks set to use college drafts, trades and free agents to build around a blossoming young quarterback. Since Coach McDermott came to Orchard Park, things have been on an upward trend and, with a decent war chest at their disposal, fans should expect more of the same in the year ahead.

Fantasy Waivers: Week 3

By Adil Khan Deshmukh – @dillytoon

Where did the first two weeks of the season go?

We hope you picked up Terry McLaurin and John Ross over the last week as they produced stellar fantasy performances in Week 2. Let’s take a look at the guys that you should be looking to acquire ahead of Week 3.

Josh Allen – Quarterback, Buffalo Bills – owned by 30%

Image Credit: Associated Press (AP)

Week 2 was the demise of a couple of veteran quarterbacks, with Drew Brees tearing ligaments in his hand (6 weeks injury) and Ben Roethlisberger ruled out of the rest of the season with an elbow injury. So if you’re licking your wounds from losing your QB, or you’re in the business of streaming your QB, we have found your guy.

Allen is surprisingly undervalued in fantasy terms, particularly as he was the QB2 for the final 5 games of the 2018 fantasy season (we don’t count wk17). So far after two weeks in the 2019 season, he is QB12 and has come off a decent fantasy performance versus the New York Giants (22.1 points). He has thrown for over 250 yards in both games this season, a feat he didn’t achieve in his rookie year. With Allen’s propensity to scoring rushing TDs (scored in both games this season) and with a plus matchup in their home season debut versus the Bengals, look to him to be your QB going forward. 


Raheem Mostert – Running Back, San Francisco 49ers – owned by 11%

Image Credit: Associated Press

The 49ers have been sneaky good to start the season, with them starting the season 2-0. Jimmy G looks good and the running back duo of Breida and Mostert both are playing well and that’s before we get to the master of vulture Jeff Wilson. 

Mostert in week 2 rushed for 83 yards on 13 carries and had 3 catches for 68 yards and a TD. The Niners face a struggling Pittsburgh side next, who may struggle to keep the offense on the field after their spate of injuries. Mostert will have a lot of flex appeal in week 3, ahead of their week 4 bye so pick him up and reap the rewards.


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DJ Chark – Wide Receiver, Jacksonville Jaguars – owned by 22.2%

Image Credit: Bob Levey/Getty Images

Chark over the first two games has performed more than admirably, particularly as they have lost their franchise QB Nick Foles to injury. Week 1 he scored 24.6 points in full-PPR, by way of 4 receptions for 146 yards and a TD, and then followed that up with 7 receptions for 55 yards and a TD in Houston. 

The second week performance was key, as this came with the brilliantly named Gardner Minshew under centre. Now the schedule is not that kind to the Jaguars, with them facing the Titans, Broncos and the Panthers in their next three outings. Pick him up and matchup dependent stick him in your flex.


Demarcus Robinson – Wide Receiver, Kansas City Chiefs – owned by 1.1%

Image Credit: Arizona Daily Star

The human cheat code. Yes, you know who we’re talking about – Patrick Mahomes. He elevates guys on his offense from relative unknowns to fantasy superstars. 

Week 2 was the turn of Demarcus Robinson to ‘ball-out’ with an incredulous 6 catches for 172 yards and 2TDs. Four of the Chiefs receiving corps scored over 10 points in full-PPR and with Tyreek Hill out for an unknown period of time we can expect the targets to remain spread as Mahomes continues to blitz the league. Week 3 brings the matchup against the Ravens, who just let Kyler Murray throw for 349 yards on them. Robinson was on the field for 69% of snaps so look to him to provide your x-factor in the coming weeks.


Greg Olsen – Tight End, Carolina Panthers – owned by 58.7%

Image Credit: JASON E. MICZEK AP

The old man is back to producing fantasy performances! If you are one of those that do not own Kelce, Ertz, Kittle or Andrews; you’re probably scrambling to find the guy who will obtain a reasonable number of points at the TE position. In week 2, Olsen had a stat line of 6 receptions for 110 yards for a massive 17 points in PPR.

This has all happened whilst Cam Newton has been nothing short of disappointing with his inability/refusal to move around the pocket. Next up for the Panthers is a trip to Arizona and their swiss cheese defense in relation to covering the tight end. In the first two weeks, they have given up 131 yards/1TD to Hockensen and 112 yards/1TD to Andrews. Look to Olsen to provide that matchup specific stellar performance when you’re in need.

Pick It Apart; Josh Allen

Pick it Apart!

The Draft is in the books and the dust has settled. But how well did your team do in the first round?

We are taking a look back at every selection in the first round and giving you the lowdown on the pick; Was it a reach? Was it a steal? We’ll tell you and give you the impact for fantasy football….

Pick: #7

Player: Josh Allen

Drafted by: Jacksonville Jaguars

Grade: A-

Analysis: It’s funny how you can be shocked and also not surprised with one pick. Yes, Jacksonville are renowned for their defence and how shutdown it can be. Also, their offence is not all that, even with Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles joining the ranks (let’s not also forget about the mighty Geoff Swaim, people). Everyone kind of expeting TJ Hockenson to fill this slot but I guess the talent of Josh Allen won through here for Doug Marrone and the front office. Allen, an overlooked 2 star recruit who was only just a Kentucky grad after a late offer used that as his inspiration to be the best form of himself that he could be, earning team captain honours in 2018. Allen has overcome a lot from his youth; often being sent home from school due to his hygiene, being bullied because of a speech impediment and crying numerous times. Now, he is one of the most feared pass rushers coming in to the NFL and I think his attitude, the way he has carried himself through his life and his desire to be the best is what makes Jacksonville a great destination. I say that because great players always have space made for them on any team. Jacksonville had needs on offence and there were plenty of options available to them, but they still decided to go with Josh Allen.

His knocks are his short arm length (47th%ile at combine) and his small hands (1%ile!) but this is not going to stop him getting to Luck, Watson and Mariota (maybe) on a stacked defence. He brings a wide variety of talents along the line and is a guy who can get to the QB in a straight line or round the bend. He has a variety of moves which he executes to a good level, can set an edge and also is adept at dropping back in to coverage if required.

In summary, the Jags are getting an elite athlete, who can fulfill a number of duties along the line and is another jewel in the crown of this defence which may just find it’s mojo again in 2019. He will fill roles at SAM linebacker and an edge rusher on passing downs, he’ll slot in just fine in the NFL.

But, is it enough to say it was the right pick when there were other needs on offence?

Fantasy Football Impact:

Jacksonville are a perennial top 3 defence in fantasy football, Josh Allen will help keep the Jags at the forefront of people’s mind when picking defences in the double digit rounds. Working opposite Yannick Ngakwoue, they have just had a new delivery of sacks in Sacksonville.