XFL WEEK ONE PREVIEW

By Michael Lavery (@MichaelLavery98)

Football is BACK!

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
 HeightWeight40 Yard DashHand Size
Andrew Luck6’ 4”234lbs4.6710”
Cardale Jones6’ 5”250lbs4.819 ¾”

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.

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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.

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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!

Where Do They Go From Here; LA Chargers

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

Today we take a look at the LA Chargers. Don’t forget to check out our AFC West podcast where we talked with a fan from every team in the division!

How Did Last Season Go?

If you offered the Chargers a divisional round game loss to the Patriots, they’d probably accept that this is kind of where they should be. That said, I (Tim) was particularly high on them going in to the season that I had some of my hard earned on them. The Chargers were one of the more balanced and complete teams in the AFC if not the NFL last season and just succumbed to a typical Patriots January performance in a game that just got away from them early.

Hunter Henry going down before the season started was never going to be ideal and continued their flirting with Antonio Gates. Hopefully, that will not be repeated in 2019 (sorry Antonio, we love you, but you’re like 50 years old and slower than Jason Witten was taking to commentary).

The Chargers’s loss to KC in week 1 turned out to be pivotal in the end, but actually uncharacteristically started quite hot going 7-2 in the first 9 weeks with their only losses coming in Los Angeles (@Rams).

The Chargers ended up 12-4, tied with KC but lost the tiebreaker which may or may not have been crucial. We’ll never know.

They ended having both a top 12 offence and defence in terms of yardage and points allowed which confirms their status as one of the more well rounded teams.

In terms of personnel, on offence Mike Williams finally repaid the Chargers with being healthy and producing on the field after being a 1st round pick. Williams was able to chip in with 11 touchdowns (1 rushing) on 43 targets, a ratio that is probably unsustainable to repeat in 2019. Keenan Allen pretty much had a replica season from 2017; over 1000 yards on around 100 receptions and 6 TDs. More importantly, his previous injury issues seem to be well and truly behind him. Finally Tyrell Williams had a nice complimentary role in the offence, but seemingly not enough to warrant a bigger contract and will not be returning.

In the backfield, Melvin Gordon was the teams top TD scorer (no surprises there) but did miss 4 games due to injury. Austin Ekeler had himself a nice season, stepping in when required but also forcing his way to earn more snaps in this offence.

Overall, I think the Chargers 2018 can be seen as a success but 2019 will be the year where they will be expected to make an even deeper push in January and play a February game.

Quick word on the defence – Derwin James had a fantastic rookie season and was in the conversation for DRO. 3.5 sacks, 75 solo tackles and 3 interceptions confirming his status as one of the steals of the 2018 1st round. Joey Bosa came back for the 2nd half of the season and picked up where he left off. One of the top defences in the league and have age on their side so look for this to continue in 2019.

Housekeeping

LA Chargers own the 28th pick in the first round along with pick 60 (2nd round), 91 (3rd), 130 (4th), 166 (5th), 200 (6th) and 242 (7th)

Chargers have about $10m in cap space at this moment.

Outgoings

Tyrell Williams was expendable for the money that was available on the open market. Right place right time for him. Jason Verrett’s injury history came back to bite him and was let go. Defensive Tackles Philon and Liuget along with safety Addae were the other names looking for a new home.

Incomings

Not many glaring needs for the Chargers but Tyrod Taylor is the new backup to Rivers and Thomas Davis was a surprising addition to the defence though he will bring masses of linebacker experience.

Outlook for Next Year

Going to be looking at going 1 or 2 better than 2018 with this squad and anything less could perhaps see Anthony Lynn under fire.

It will be a case of hoping one or 2 things fall their way luck wise to be able to get there. Both sides of the ball are young enough but experienced and talented enough to say that this team should be contending for the next few years and anything less is a failure.

Prediction

I think the Chargers have to be considered as one of the top 3 teams in the AFC and I fancy them to make the AFC Championship game this year. Whether they win or not is not for me to say as I have a soft spot for them so will be slightly biased. They have the talent, they have the pieces on both sides of the ball, it’s just about going out there and doing it.

I had my money on them last year, they will again in 2019.

Fantasy Football

Rivers – perennially underdrafted – double digit rounds – QB 1

Melvin Gordon – mid 1st round pick – RB1

Austin Ekeler – double digits rounds -RB3/4 – PPR sleeper

Keenan Allen – late 2nd/3rd round pick – low WR1/high WR2

Mike Williams – 6th round area – WR2 ceiling

Hunter Henry – 5th/6th Round – TE1

 

Podcast 59 – Week 11 preview, Thanksgiving look ahead

Welcome in to the week 11 review episode!

We recap all of the games including the barnstormer in LA (no not the Chargers game)!

We give you are stinkers/stonkers and Jason Garret Corner candidates from last week but also look ahead to the triple header on Thursday for Thanksgiving and give you some waiver wire adds for the business end of the fantasy season.

It’s Tuesday so of course it’s everyone’s favourite NFL Quiz – The Full10Questions.

Our very own Adam Walford joins us and also relays some of the value ahead of the Thursday games too!

2018 Fantasy Football Industry Mockstravaganza – 4.12

Pervious pick at the 4.11 spot by the IDP Guys Brian of JuJu Smith-Schuster breakdown can be found here

After what seemed an age for our set of picks to return, 1 thing is for certain, we are taking an RB here with 1 of these 2 picks at least.

I always find that when it is your pick in the 4th round, it is a good idea to take a look at the draft board. Look at the state of play for each GM. Has anyone gone Zero RB or Zero WR? I have found that in all drafts, at some point there are runs at each position. Picking on or near the turn you either start those runs or are on the receiving end of them (and if you are, zig when other zag).  Looking at the board, all teams except three excluding ours have 2 RBs and 2 WRs on their rosters. Those three teams that took a TE both have 2 RBs and 1 WR in their squads at our pick.

This means to me that the WR left on the board are in a slightly higher tier and have more value than the RBs on the board.

At RB, Mark Ingram, Dion Lewis and Marshawn Lynch are the next three on my list, where as at WR, we have Brandin Cooks, Josh Gordon and Chris Hogan. I am not interested in any Tight Ends in this round as the big 3 have gone and I am simply going to wait for one to fall to me.

In a vacuum I would normally take a WR here and then follow it up with a RB. That being said, in full PPR those WRs are not target monsters and I feel that taking these guys at this position is too much of a reach.

Cooks could be very boom or bust despite me being very high on him this season. The Rams would not have paid Cooks like they have if they weren’t going to favour him in the passing game. Josh Gordon may not even start week 1 and Dez Bryant is sniffing around there in Cleveland so I am happy to let him go and probably regret it later in the season. Chris Hogan is another that should be peppered early on in the season but could take a back seat when Edelman returns in week 5.

Therefore that leaves us with a RB to take.

Dion Lewis feels like a bit of a reach at the end of the 4th round despite being the guy catching passes in what looks to be an improved offence from last season, Marshawn Lynch doesn’t really catch out of the backfield.

With the 12th pick of the 4th Round, The Full10Yards Podcast selects….Mark Ingram

ingram

Ingram has a 4 game suspension to deal with, hence the discount. If he was playing a full 16 games, he would be a 2nd round pick in drafts.

Ingram has averaged over 1000 yards the last 2 seasons on the ground and totaled 18 touchdowns. Add to that , 104 receptions for 735 yards and 4 touchdowns in the air, Ingram is going to be overlooked a hell of a lot in PPR because everyone assumes it’s exclusively Kamara’s role in the offence. It’s not.

Ingram gave you at least RB3 or better numbers 13 out of the 16 weeks last season, therefore it’s pretty much lock it and load it. He had 7 RB 1 finishes in that span so the ceiling is there in this offence.

Yes it isn’t great we only get to play him in the league for 1 week in the first 6 (week 6 bye) but when he is back, we will have 2 RB 1s in our team heading towards the fantasy playoffs. even if we start the season 3-3, this leaves us in very good shape.

It’s easy to pick up a plug and play running back for those weeks Ingram is missing so I have no qualms about picking up Ingram, but understand why people may call this a reach and would’ve opted for Lewis. Someone like a Peyton Barber or Chris Carson would be perfect. Let’s hope they get to us in the later rounds.

Want to know who we paired Ingram with? Find out here….

Podcast 15 – Let’s get divisional

Good friend Lee Wakefield (@wakefield90) joins us as we take an early look at how the divisions could play out this year. We also run the rule over some end of season awards and decide whether or not Saquon Barkley is a shoo in for Offensive Rookie of the Year but also, why are the Quarterbacks so low in price?

(PS- Apologies for the sound difficulties you may hear in this podcast).

Balling with the Best

Haven’t done an article for a little while so whilst I wait to depart for my second Britball game later today which pits the Clyde Valley Blackhawks hosting the West Coast Trojans, I have been thinking about doing something of this ilk, looking at Bestball (also known as MFL10s) and looking at who to target in the later rounds.

We’ll do a couple in each skill position and I would love to hear your alternatives.

Get in touch @full10yards on social media (and follow/like/subscribe to the podcast).

For those that are unaware of this more modern approach to fantasy football, it is a format with pretty much 1 rule – just draft.

All you need to do is draft your players, and the site that hosts your bestball league will pick your optimum lineup each week. Simple.

No more stressing about whether to play Jamison Crowder or Isiah Crowell in your flex spots each week (though if they are your choices…yikes) nor which QB or Tight End to stream. You simply draft a squad of players, ensuring you have depth at each position.

This is mainly catering for bye weeks; Bestball the only format where you should be looking at bye weeks as you get further in to the draft because there is no waiver wire or trading available in this format. Picks are usually made via a slow email drafting format mechanism (default is usually 8 hours per pick but is customisable depending on your game host) so you also don’t need to worry about getting all of your league managers together for a few hours to do a live draft.

Myself personally, I enjoy the roster management aspect of fantasy football. I enjoy having to make the decisions that can win or lose me weeks. Whilst I enjoy drafting and can see the appeal to those that just want to watch the football rather than their apps to see the scores in their fantasy league, it’s just not for me.

That said, there are certain players that suit Bestball and here are a few players that I think suit Bestball the most in each position.

Just before we start, here are a few tactics you should ensure you deploy in Bestball leagues.

  • Draft 3 Quarterbacks – if you draft 2 QBs, and 1 gets injured (like Ryan Tannehill did last season in my bestball league), you are going to lose points when your other QB is on a bye, leaving you at a severe disadvantage.
  • Draft a top tier TE at least. I say this because the flex position can also be filled by a Tight End, so even selecting 2 top TEs can give you the edge over the rest of the field. Someone like a Travis Kelce/Zach Ertz paired with a Delanie Walker/Kyle Rudolph would probably be ideal. You probably want to employ a similar tactic as with QBs, draft 3. There are some late round TEs that can score you points this year including ASJ, Ben Watson (massive sleeper alert) and Cameron Brate.
  • Remember it’s full PPR format. This changes a lot in both Bestball and normal leagues. Your players get 1 point for every reception they have, making possession receivers and passing down backs more relevant in fantasy football.
  • Ensure you have a mix of high floor and high ceiling players. Doing my fest Bestball last year, in hindsight, I probably should have gone for higher ceiling players. My usual modus operandi is to generally draft safe floor players to ensure i dont end up bottom. Whilst this serves a purpose in roster management leagues where you can sneak wins some weekas, in Bestball, you can get found out because usually, 3 or 4 players will always score higher than you thus, not actually giving you much chance of winning. Therefore in the early rounds, get your studs in each position that have huge ceilings. Compliment that with the higher floor guys in the later rounds and you’ll have a recipe for success. Ensure there is a balance there as picking to many volatile players in terms of conistency can see you sky high in 1 week, but then propping up the table the next.

Ok, I think we’ve covered the basics, now on to those that are decent plays in the later rounds

Quarterbacks

Dak Prescott – Dallas Cowboys

Now I know a lot of you are scared of Dak Prescott. The WR corps, the interceptions in the back half of last season, I get it. But let’s look at last season from a fantasy perspective.

Dak was a top 12 QB for 8 out of 16 games last year, including his first 6 games in a row. In fact, his 4 top 5 finishes in fantasy were bettered only by Cam Newton, Russell Wilson and Carson Wentz.

To further this, if you take out the weeks where Zeke wasn’t available to the team, Dak finished as a Top 12 QB in 7 out of 10 games. Not bad for someone who isn’t even being drafted in most leagues. Zeke is back and Dallas have made an effort to get their Offensive line sorted in terms of depth, adding Connor Williams and Cameron Fleming in the draft and Free Agency respectively. Add to that, Zack Martin signing a huge extension to ensure that the are all there for the foreseeable, things are looking up in terms of opportunity for decent scores in fantasy football. He is great with his feet, giving you the extra 2 pts for his rushing touchdowns which has totalled 6 in each of his first 2 seasons in the league as well as his average of over 300 rushing yards.

Again, the beauty of Bestball is that you dont need to predict when Dak has a good game so selecting him as your 3rd Quarterback in the late late rounds of your draft is a shrewd move for this year, as there are lots of players willing to swerve. I’ll have him ALL day.

Philip Rivers – Los Angeles Chargers

Whilst the 35 year old offers nothing with his mobility or feet, Rivers too is someone perenially overlooked in fantasy. Rivers was a top 12 quarterback for 11 out of 16 weeks last season, althought only making the top 5 twice. Rivers is a great compliment to any of the other QBs you select in the draft because if they have a bum week, Rivers is more than likely going to save you from a disastrous week. Sure, he has the odd game here and there that involves multiple turnovers, but again, you aren’t trying to find the matchups that suit in Bestball. Hunter Henry injury does leave a bitter taste in the mouth a little bit, but Rivers is accustomed to working with limited options.

Mike Williams should be able to show why he was a first round pick last year, returning from his multiple injuries and the rest of the Wide Receivers have been there multiple years now, not forgetting Melvin Gordon’s abilities out of the backfield and Austin Ekeler too.

Rivers is someone in the high floor category rather than high ceiling, which is what the stats are suggesting from last year, but Rivers has always performed well in fantasy football and he should be on your teams this year considering the low draft capital.

Running Backs

Kerryon Johnson – Detroit Lions

Alvin Kamara was the steal last year and whilst there are a multitude of nominees for this year’s Alvin Kamara type of find, at this point in the season, it is just nothing but a dart throw for all of the rookies. The reason I go Kerryon Johnson in this spot is purely potential. Kerryon can be a 3 down back and whilst most people groan about the selection, there is no-one last year that I have seen that was beating the drum about Alvin Kamara so you have to be speculative. No-one wanted anything to do with Kamara for the first 6 weeks of last season with Adrian Peterson and Mark Ingram mudding the backfield and I see a lot of similarities here.

Kerryon has to not only beat out perennial underachiever Ameer Abdullah (which wont be too hard as I see Abdullah being cut and finding a home elsewhere), but also Free Agent signing LeGarrette Blount. The 2 time Super bowl winner from the last 2 years joins the Lions ranks and with Matt Patricia coming over from New England to be the head coach, these two will know each other well. Add to that 3rd down/passing back specialist and PPR machine from the last 5 years Theo Riddick, I totally understand if you don’t want anything to do with Johnson.

But hear me out,

Reports from OTAs and murmurs from beat reporters in Detroit is that they LOVE Johnson.

His final year in college saw him rack up 285 carries for over 1300 yards and 18(!) touchdowns at Auburn. He is a big, powerful runner and is elusive for his speed and isn’t afraid to put his head down and bulldoze through tackles. Something Ameer Abdullah simply wouldn’t do (also supports the signing of Blount, who is a similar type of runner so he is someone to learn from).

Let’s not forget that Detroit traded up in the 2nd Round to go get him too! This was when Matt Patricia was already at the Lions so it’s not as if you can say that Patricia isn’t tied to this guy. I think you’ll see a handing of the torch at some point in the season, with Blount taking the early weeks of work whilst Kerryon gets accustomed to the league, but as a potentially double digit draft pick, give me this guy. I think the stars will align for Kerryon fairly early on and it wouldn’t even surprise me to see him be the lead back by Week 1.

Tevin Coleman – Atlanta Falcons

Now Tevin Coleman is not exactly a double digit round pick but his value is great in most leagues, especially this year.

Coleman is in the final year of his contract, and is likely to find a new home next season, possibly being the 2019 Jerick McKinnon, so the motivation is there for Coleman.

He was also very efficient through the air last year, having the 3rd highest average amongst running backs behind Todd Gurley and Chris Thompson. Coleman on the whole is a very efficient player for fantasy. He always makes the most of his opportunities and always finishes his runs hard. He scores plenty of touchdowns too for someone taken in the 6th, 7th or 8th rounds (currently the 30th RB off the boards according to fantasyfootballcalculator). Coleman finished as an RB2 or better 10 out of 16 games last season and for someone you can potentially draft as your flex spot or RB3 bye week plugger, Coleman is a guy you should be keeping an eye on in drafts.

The offence regressed back to the mean last year after the dizzy heights of 2016 and I do think they can improve on 2017 certainly, if maybe not quite repeating their heroics of Super bowl year.

Honourable mentions: Matt Breida, Austin Ekeler, Rod Smith

Wide Receivers

Mike Williams – Los Angeles Chargers

Mike Williams missed the majority of last season so a lot of this has to be taken on trust.

The 2017 first round pick enters his second season after suffering a herniated disc in his spine in last year’s offseason, and was unable to muster a finish better than WR45 in half point PPR last season (go figure).

Williams is another that is being undrafted or is a last round dart flyer in most leagues.

The case for Williams however, is that he has the ability and skillset to thrive in this offence, even with Keenan Allen starting 16 games (we’ll come on to that shortly). Philip Rivers has been able to support multiple high end WRs in fantasy football over the years and I don’t see how Tyrell Williams and Travis Benjamin are more than bit part players. THe lack of Tight end opens up a whole host of opportunities in this offence and I see Williams as the main beneficiary. The 6 foot 2+ WR from Clemson is a big play guy which is illustrated by his College stats, aveergaing over 15 yards per reception over the 4 years there. Whilst he had his injury troubles in Clemson, when he was on the field for any length of time, he was able to produce. I don’t worry about his ability to transfew his pass catching skills to the NFL, it’s just the injury worries that could leave you disappointed this year.

The same can be said for Keenan Allen however, who was finally healthy for all 16 games last season, but if Allen is unable to repeat that, Mike Williams could become a league winner in fantasy.

His motivation is the chip on his shoulder to prove everyone that he was worth of the first round pick in 2016 (and has as such, been vocal about it) and I am excited to see how it plays out for the former 7th pick overall in his 2nd year in what should be a higher than average offence.

Mo Sanu – Atlanta Falcons

Mohamed Sanu was an unsung hero last year for the Falcons, posting 5TDs and over 700 yards from 67 receptions playing second fiddle to Julio Jones.

Similar to Coleman, I have picked Sanu on the potential that the Falcons offence can reclaim their 2016 form (almost) and that the arrival of Calvin Ridley helps spread this offence out even more.

Sanu was able to compile 8 top 30 finishes last season and that is a decent return for someon that is pretty much undrafted.

The division is an offence heavy one so there are plenty of opportunities for Sanu to post big numbers more frequently than most that you find at this point in drafts and as a last round dart throw, you can do a lot worse than Sanu.

Honourable mentions : Randall Cobb, Mike Wallace, Nelson Agholor

There is an early look at some people I like in Bestball this year. I deliberately haven’t gone Tight end or defences, as I will cover that later on in the summer.

Again, if you have anyone that you feel I should have included, get in touch!!