Season in Review – Baltimore Ravens

By Shaun Blundell (@Shaun_F10Y)

In another installment of our NFL series looking back at the 2019 season, it’s time to put the Baltimore Ravens under the spotlight.


entering the season


The shiny new toy of the NFL, Lamar Jackson had a full offseason as starter to help aid his progression. After committing to Lamar Jackson the talk of the off season was could the Ravens be sustainable in their offensive style. An excellent end to 2018/19 came crashing down in the playoffs as the Chargers appeared to show everyone how to stop the offence.

Several key pieces left on the defensive side of the ball as the the defensive turnstile gate was in full swing with the likes of Zadarius Smith going out, but Adding Earl Thomas was a major coup to provide some quality play and veteran leadership in the secondary.

The first season in the post Ozzie Newsome era appeared to be one of offensive development and defensive rebuilding.


during the season


59 points in their opening game of the season was a pretty decisive answer to how this offence would look. Lamar Jackson had time in the pocket and threw to wide open receivers and the ground game looked impressive.

Image result for lamar jackson vs dolphins
Image Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The next few weeks saw some close contests with the ravens losing 2 games in that stretch, but the season really got its jolt in week 7. Travelling to Seattle the Ravens dominated by a score of 30-16 and then never looked back.

A demolition job of none other than the New England Patriots followed in the following week as the Ravens staked their claim on being the class of the AFC.

The offence then put up 49 against the Bengals, 41 against the Texans and 45 against the Rams in an impressive stretch of production. A huge week 13 win against the 49ers kicked off December and 3 more routine wins wrapped up the number 1 seed in the AFC for the first time in their franchise history. The stellar play in all 3 phases of the game rewarded the team with an impressive 12 pro bowl selections.

Image Credit – Patrick Smith/Getty

Lamar Jackson unanimously won the MVP award as he broke the single season rushing record for a QB, whilst improving his passing game to the point of being a legitimate dual threat by having the most passing touchdowns in the regular season.  The Baltimore Ravens were 1st in points per game scored and 3rd in defensive points given up.

With a 1st round bye secured, it was a shock to everyone when they fell to the Tennessee Titans at home in the divisional round, with some people questioning whether Lamar Jackson can do it in the big games.


OFFSEASON OUTLOOK

The exciting thing for the Ravens is that they have a young core to continue to build around offensively. Lamar Jackson will be paired with Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown for years to come and young running back Justice Hill has flashed when spelling Mark Ingram for a series here and there. The future of Greg Roman seems to be secure for another season as he was overlooked for any open HC vacancy, which will be music to the ears of Ravens fans. He and John Harbaugh were winners at the NFL Honours night, picking up Assistant Coach and Coach of the Year respectively.

Defensively, the Ravens will look to get some younger pieces into the group as veterans Earl Thomas and Marcus Peters (acquired this season) can’t go on forever. Adding a veteran pass catcher on the outside would also not be a surprise

The Ravens look primed for a sustained few years of ultra competitive football. Defenses have yet to find a way to consistently stop Lamar Jackson and company and until they do it is hard to look past these Ravens.

The obvious concern is an injury to Jackson. He is such a unique player and the ravens deserve praise for tailoring everything around him but could anyone else be successful in this scheme?

F10Y 2019 Divisional Playoffs takeaways

by Lawrence Vos (@F10YRetro and @NFLFANINENGLAND)

DID that really just happen?

Photo caption: Rantsports.com

Not sure if I had too much coffee over the weekend and started hallucinating but I swear I just watched an NFL game where the road team went 21-0 by the end of the first quarter, then allowed their opponents to score 28 in the second, before allowing a further 23 second half points, resulting in a 20 point loss. That doesn’t happen in the real world does it? That’s a Madden score when your cousin has unlocked a cheat code after playing possum for a quarter. Believe it or not it was what happened when the Houston Texans travelled to K.C. to take on the Chiefs on Saturday. Not all playoff loses have the same magnitude or embed the same emotional scars, but this game will take a lot of recovery time for the Texans, especially QB DeShaun Watson and head man Bill O’Brien, who will have to take it right on the chin (where incidentally a small family of sparrows have nested).

King Henry looking for more than the rushing crown

Photo credit: David Boclair (SI)

It’s pretty much in the can that Lamar Jackson will win the NFLs Most Valuable Player award for his incredible season, 13 wins in 15 starts and his destruction of the QB single-season rushing record, but in the cold light of day the most valuable player in the entire league is not a Ravens one. Titans RB Derek Henry, with help from a superb offensive line, are all still alive in the playoffs, and will not be daunted by a third consecutive road playoff game. Baltimore’s 14-2 record and number one seed meant nothing on Sunday as Henry ploughed, slashed, pummelled, drove, and executed his will over the Ravens, becoming the first RB in NFL history to have three consecutive 180+ yard rushing games. Already the newly anointed owner of the 2019 NFL rushing crown, and unlikely to get the regular season MVP award, the man with a beavers tail sticking out of his helmet is 120 minutes away from winning a Super Bowl MVP.

4th and own goal 

Photo credit: Billie Weiss/Getty Images

When you enter the playoffs having gone 8-8 of 4th and 1, and the opportunity arrises to go 9-9 on these plays in a home playoff game that you are losing, but only by a TD, then its understandable to be brave. On their own 45 Coach Harbaugh decided to make s statement in the opening play of the second quarter. Problem was Lamar Jackson didn’t get any kind of exquisite block, and he was stuffed for no gain. On the very next play the Titans dialled up a miracle and Kalif Raymond picked up the receiver, or to put it another way the receiver connected with the ball. That two play series effectively ended the game there and then as the Titans didn’t need the last two touchdowns to win – they had the W when they went 14-0 up. Unlike some other AFC team that melted worse than that flying white guy in Raymond Briggs The Snowman the Titans defense stayed strong all game. 

By the time the Ravens packed their playoff bags they managed to fail to convert their second, third and fourth 4th down conversions. 

Miami motivation for revolutionary Ryan

Photo credit: Jeremy Brevard – USA TODAY Sports

There is no doubt about it, stats lie. You can make a series of stats paint a masterpiece or a dirty protest, depending on the contextual angle you adopt. Let’s look at Titans QB Ryan Tannehill’s passing output in Tennessee’s two playoff games. In two full contests Tannehill has passed for 160 yards on 15 of 29 completions and thrown an interception. In those same three contests Tannehill has thrown three touchdown passes, gained two wins (his first playoff victories) and thrown the single most important touchdown in the 2019 playoffs. When the former Dolphins passer struck gold, following a Ravens failed 4th and 1, and hit Kalif Raymond (pictured above) for his first post-season catch of his career, it was single-handedly the point the air came out of the Ravens magnificent ambition balloons. After that completion, with just 7 seconds gone in the second quarter, Tannehill only competed three more passes all game, as King Henry and the Titans defense locked down the W. Ryan is now one game from going back to Miami to play in the Super Bowl. Just let that sink in.  

RETRO – The under 100 club 

Photo credit: Malcolm Emmons – USA TODAY Sports

Throwing for under 100 yards as the starting QB (playing the vast vast majority or all snaps) and winning in the playoffs is nothing new. Back in 1974 Terry Bradshaw  the Pittsburgh Steelers signal caller won the AFC Championship against the Raiders and then Super Bowl IX with passing performances of 96 and 96 yards (17 of 36). It gets better/worse as two quarterbacks played every offensive snap of their respective victories whilst managing to throw for under 35 yards. The first time this occurred was unsurprisingly in the 1970s as Bob Griese led the Dolphins to a 27-10 win by going 3-6 for 34 yards. The second time this happened was incredibly in 2010 by none other than Joe Flacco. He led the Ravens to a 33-14 Wild Card win against the New England Patriots. Flacco’s stat line that day was 4 of 10 for 34 yards and 6 runs for 5 yards. 

Can you Adams and Eve it the Pack are back

Picture credit: Clutchpoints.com

The Green Bay Packers have been criticised as the worst 13-3 team ever, barely mustering wins week after week. Now they are the 14-3 Packers after another just about good enough performance against the Seattle Seahawks. One Packers star to shine brightly was WR Davante Adams who led all Divisional Games receivers with 160 yards, on 8 catches. His two touchdowns were the difference makers in the game, and the first time he has caught a pair of six pointers in the post-season. We know the Seahawks secondary is not the finest, after the dissolution of the Legion of Boom. One former legionnaire, the not shy Richard Sherman, now with the San Francisco 49ers, will be licking his lips as he waits for Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams to travel over to the West Coast for the NFC Championship.

A-ROD on the brink of a TITLE SHOT

Picture credit: Jflanland.blogspot.com

Wrestling fan and Packers QB Aaron Rodgers wants a chance to pin down his second Super Bowl ring, and after forcing the Seahawks to tap out he is one game away from a title shot. Rodgers will now enter his fourth NFC Championship this weekend, having won his fifth Divisional round playoff contest. He did suit up in the 2007 NFC final but this was in the third year of the apprenticeship he was serving under Brett Favre, and he didn’t get on the field. Rodgers has faced the Bears, Seahawks and Falcons in the conference championship games, and in the three games scored 21, 20 and 21. In his 18 playoff games Rodgers threw his lowest amount of completions (16) in the home win at the weekend, but that doesn’t really matter when you convert 9 of 13 third downs. In his 15th season Rodgers is easily the oldest starting QB left with a shot to lift the Vince Lombardi trophy, can he dial one up from the top rope or will he be suplexed into submission by Bosa and co. ?

GOLD RUN – CAN I HAVE A ‘W’ PLEASE BOB

Photo caption: Cbssports.com

Amongst all the bonkers momentum shifts, mind bending play calling and chaotic turnovers that took place in the Divisional Playoffs there was one team that emerged from the battlefield like Bruce Willis in Unbreakable, mildly perspiration but without a scratch or a bruise on their collective bodies. The San Francisco 49ers looked calm and composed, and with the exception of a late second quarter interception by Jimmy Garoppolo, ruthless in their efficiency. When you hold Dalvin Cook and the impressive rookie Alex Mattison to a team total of 21 yards, execute six sacks, and don’t allow a second half point, you become the Super Bowl favourite. For a team that had not made the playoffs from 2014-2018 this was a statement win and also Jimmy G’s first as a starting QB. He already has two Super Bowl rings without taking a single snap in either big game. Staying in California the Niners now remain the only #1 seed still alive. As someone who lived through a significant period of time of San Francisco dominance, including watching four Super Bowl wins, I’m not sure I can deal with another Gold Run. Might be time for me to take a ‘P’.

RETRO – Divisional playoffs 50 burgers

Photo credit: Stephen Jaffe/AFP/Getty Images)

Following the Chiefs firing up the playoffs grill and cooking a 50 burger (51) on the Houston Texans I was curious to see who had served up a similar culinary treat in the Divisional round of the playoffs in the Super Bowl era and scored over half a century. Surprisingly Mahomes and co. were the fifth team to exceed 50 points in the final eight stage (see below). Just imagine being a Jaguars fan 20 years ago as your team went up 41-0 in the first half, in only their fifth season of existence. This was a team that also went 24-0 up early, but unlike the Texans they didn’t take their foot off the playoff points pedal. The opposing QB that day – none other than Hall of Famer Dan Marino.

Jaguars beat Dolphins 62-7 (January 2000) 

Raiders beat Oilers 56-7 (December 1969) 

Cowboys beat Browns 52-14 (December 1967) 

Redskins beat Rams 51-7 (January 1984) 

Chiefs beat Texans 51-31 (January 2020) 

Thanks FOR THE MEMORIES

Picture credit: Halilsrealfootballtalk.com

Two big requirement announcements this week, one inevitable, and one on the Andrew Luck scale of shock. Happy trails to TE Antonio Gates who leaves the NFL with the most touchdown catches in league history for his position. Gates was an outstanding route runner, sticky handed and a favourite of Philip Rivers for many years. Gates only won 5 playoff games in his career and bizarrely only scored post-season touchdowns in his first and last of 12 playoff games. The much more surprising news was the retirement of Luke Kuechly the outstanding Carolina Panthers LB. The 9th overall pick of the 2012 has called it a day after 8 seasons, 1,092 tackles and one Super Bowl appearance. Kuechly may have announced his retirement but he does have to make one more decision, does he suit up one last time with his team mate Christian McCaffrey for the 2020 Pro Bowl?

Full10Takeaways – Week 12

By Tim Monk and Lawrence Vos

Garrett of my pub!

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Image Credit: Adam Hunger / AP

Jason Garrett, the bane of Cowboys’s fans since 2011, has come under fire yet again this season for his conservative play calling and coaching decisions. This is mainly in relation to his decision to kick a field goal when down a touchdown with just over 6mins to go in the 4th Quarter.

This isn’t the first time this has happened, and you only actually have to go back 2 weeks where it was exactly the same situation against the Vikings.

Some will point to the fact that despite the conservative nature of playcalling, Dallas has a chance to win the game on their final drive which would have rendered this conversation to be a little less under the spotlight.

However, when you play the better ranked teams or when you are up against it and need a spark, you just have to push down on the throttle. Jason Garrett simply did not do that.

Everyone is aware of the coaches that are more conservative than the Tories (#politicsjoke) and there is a reason why the Dallas Cowboys HC has his own special segment on our NFL podcast to highlight instances of poor HC decisions.

If you switched the coaching staff from both teams, the Cowboys would have won by 30 as the Cowboys have elite talent on their roster worthy of a double digit team. The coaching style and quality of Garrett however, is of a top 3 draft pick team.

This is why they are 6-5 and a middle of the road team and Jerry Jones is not happy. But until he Cowboys move on from Garrett, they will NEVER win a Super Bowl.


Turning on the JETS

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Image Credit: Adam Hunger / AP

Yes, the Jets have not had the most formidable of opponents the last 3 weeks but even so, the way they have gone about their business has been impressive and it’s a timely morale boost to their 2nd year QB Sam Darnold.

The Jets 34-3 mauling of the Oakland Raiders was perhaps their most impressive of the three most recent games as the Raiders are legitimate playoff/wildcard contenders and the reason being that they did it on both sides of the ball.

Darnold finished with an impressive 20/29, 315 yards 3TDs and 0 turnovers, a problem that’s dogged him since he has been in the league. He finally got Robby Anderson more involved and Ryan Griffin has been a great addition to the team leading to the front office inking him to a 3 year, $10m deal this week.

Next on the slate is the Bengals and the Dolphins. Expect the Jets to keep rolling not just in the NFL but for the start of your fantasy playoffs too.


Bengals go back to D’oh-lton

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Image Credit: Frank Victores / AP

Zac Taylor has announced that the team will be going back to Andy Dalton as Quarter Back for the rest of the season taking over from Ryan Finley, who started 3 games.

Finley has consistently struggled to push the ball downfield and accuracy has also been an issue with just a 47% completion rate on 87 pass attempts which has accounted for 2 touchdowns, 2 interceptions and 3 fumbles. He failed to reach 200 yards passing in any of the three games and has a 62.1 passer rating, 17 points below that of Dalton’s this season.

It’s clear that the team who have a 2 game “lead” for the #1 overall pick in 2020 have done their evaluation of Finley and you can expect Finley to never see the field in a Bengals Jersey again unless it’s through injury or suspension.

The low level production filtered through to the players as Tyler Boyd recently expressed his displeasure at a lack of targets from the 2019 draft pick which led to him being fed in the game against the Steelers. Fellow WR AJ Green has been MIA for the season and you have to wonder if their QB selection had anything to do with it, look out for AJ Green to make a miraculous recovery and return to the field catching passes from Dalton.


Stop Interfering!

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - NOVEMBER 24: Head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints challenges a play against the Carolina Panthers during the first quarter in the game at Mercedes Benz Superdome on November 24, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Image Credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images

Pass Interference became a challengeable element this season after the Saints were, let’s face it, robbed in last year’s NFC title game against the Rams.

This season, it’s not stayed away from the front pages of the NFL news outlets.

PI not being overturned enough, inconsistent ruling on it and has led to many teams, fans and players not understanding exactly what is or isn’t worth challenging.

The game between the Panthers and Saints nearly allowed PI to rear it’s ugly head once more as the Panthers challenged a non PI call which was overturned to a PI penalty. You can imagine how irate Sean Payton was at the overturn, something that has happened on less than 10% of the time so far this year.

The Saints though, were able to overcome with a little bit of Slye help and the win could end up being the difference between the #1 seed or the #2 seed and now gives the Saints huge momentum and morale boost as they look forward to extracting revenge against the Falcons on Thanksgiving night.


Derrick Henry Szn

Image Credit: AP Photo/Mark Zaleski

It’s almost December, that means Christmas is coming.

It also means it’s Derrick Henry time.

In games Derrick Henry has played after November 10, he has racked up a whopping 1493 yards, averaging 5.74yards per carry and scored 16 touchdowns.

He is definitely a polarising player in terms of fantasy football and even at the head coaching level as previous Head Coaches have seemingly refused to put the rock in his hands.

You cannot argue his production as the season wears on though and anyone entering their fantasy playoffs will hope for Henry to continue the trends on the ground.


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Socially inept

Image Credit: Patrick Semansky / AP

On the verge of your first win as a rookie NFL quarterback you can excuse doing a Thurman Thomas and maybe losing your helmet, but to do what the Redskins Dwayne Haskins did was inexcusable. With eight seconds left in the game and the Detroit Lions looking for a miracle Jeff Driskel was picked off for a third time.

Meanwhile Haskins was wandering the sidelines and borrowed a fans ‘cellphone’ to take a selfie. As Haskins was increasing his Insta profile poor old Case Keenum had to run onto the field to take the victory kneel.

We all know crazy things happen at the end of NFL games, but for Dwayne Haskins his pursuit of socialness will far outlast his first professional victory in NFL history. 


Lineman’s dream comes true 

Image Credit: Getty Images

“It was all a dream…” is a famous opening lyric from a Biggie Smalls song, it was also what happened to Tampa Bay Buccaneers DL Vita Vea who hauled in a touchdown pass against the Atlanta Falcons. Talking of biggie size frames Vea became the heaviest NFL player to catch a TD since 1950. at 347lb the behemoth first round draft pick was all kinds of excited when he hauled in the 1 yard score from Jamies Winston.

We all love seeing the big guys get some love and Vea’s score was particularly pleasing and helped the Buccs to gain a win against the in form Falcons.

To compare Vea against one of the most famous big guys to have an offensive cameo every now and then he weighed 12lb more than William ‘The Refrigerator’ Perry. 


ABC its as easy as 1-2-3-4-5. 

Image Credit: Michael Reaves / Getty Images

It feels wrong even making a humorous reference to the dethroned King of Pop, but when one commentator blurted out ‘that’s a Jackson Five’ after Ravens QB Lamar Jackson tossed his fifth TD of the game against the Rams it did raise a small chuckle.

LJax is making an awfully convincing march towards the NFL MVP award after yet another jaw-dropping performance both in the air and on the ground. With another blowout victory in the can Lamar could unwind and watch his older backup Robert Griffin III steer the ship in the final period.

By the time we hit the end of the 2019 regular season it’s likely the 2020 NFL Record and Fact Book (well PDF) will need a new #8 annex. 


Making a big moustake

Image Credit: Clutchpoints.com

Down by 32 points at one point against the dictionary definition of an average NFL team the Jacksonville Jaguars coaching staff must be seriously wondering if they made a mistake bringing back Nick Foles into the starting lineup.

Since his return Foles led teams have lost by a combined 42 points. Yes Gardner Minshew had a poor outing at Wembley, but the buzz he generated up to that point was at a Lin-Sanity type level. Nobody I saw walking up Wembley way a few weeks ago was dressed up like Napoleon Dynamite, but there were plenty of Fu-Man-Chu moustaches.

The Jaguars season, currently boasting a 4-7 record, is all but over so why not throw Minshew back in the spotlight. The Jags have three winnable games and two that they could play spoilers. #Unleashthemoustace 


10 carat Gold

Image Credit: Robert Reiners / Getty Images

With 12 weeks in the books only two teams have reached 10 wins. One was predictable and one certainly wasn’t.

In the past 5 seasons prior’s to 2019 the San Francisco 49ers registered 25 wins – averaging five wins and exactly zero playoff performances. Under head coach Kyle Shanahan and most likely the single most impressive offseason the Niners already have the same amount of wins they managed in 2017 and 2018 combined. It’s going to be the single best divisional race to the finish in the NFL as the 49ers will go toe to to with the Seahawks for the division and home field advantage.

Jimmy G and top target TE George Kittle looked magical against the Packers, but the Niners D is the real reason for such a superb season. If only that pesky Russell Wilson wasn’t around San Fran would still be undefeated. Roll on the rematch in Week 17. 

Full10Takeaways – Week 7

By Tim Monk (Tim_MonkF10Y)

Week 7 is in the books. 2 teams going into the weekend undefeated remained so and a future hall of fame QB had himself a career day.

Lot’s of stories, lots of stats, so let’s get them injected in to your eyeballs.


Rodger that


Image Credit: Jeffrey Phelps / AP

If I said to you that Aaron Rodgers had a career day, you have to think of some pretty big numbers considering how glittering it has been thus far.

As a Cowboys fan, I have seen plenty of stellar performances from the Packers’ #12.

Sunday against the Raiders, Rodgers lit up the Black Hole for 25/31 429yds, 5 TDs and an extra one on the ground. It was the first time ever, a QB for the Packers posted a perfect passer rating and was the first time Rodgers had posted a 400+ yard passing game and 5TD combination.

For fantasy owners, he posted his 2nd highest score and the most since 2011 with a score of 43.76pts.

We mentioned last week that this Packers team looks pretty decent and Rodgers had not even really got going yet.

Now he’s gotten going, the league best be on notice.


There may be Trub-les ahead


Image result for mitch trubisky
Image Credit: Stacy Revere / Getty Images

This Bears offence…yikes.

Prior to garbage time yesterday, Cordarelle Patterson’s 102yd kick off return was more yards than the offence had been able to muster.

There boos were deafening inside soldier field, the fans have no confidence at all in their franchise QB.

The Bears have yet to put up 300 yards of offence in ANY game this season and it’s not hard to see why.

What was probably the cherry on top for the Bears, Sean Payton on the other sideline put on yet another clinic on how to use all the tools at your disposal to go and win a game. No Cook, no Kamara, no Brees, no problem.

The problems are all with Matt Nagy and the Chicago Bears offence.


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Hush by Rush


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Image Credit: Steven Bisig

Lamar Jackson once again finds himself in our articles, in the spotlight of the NFL highlight reel and at the forefront of defensive co-ordinator’s nightmares.

Whilst you can try and account for his designed run plays, Lamar Jackson was like Harry Houdini in Seattle, scrambling for 86 yards, the most by any QB this season and a record high for Jackson.

Multiple times, the Seahawks defenders thought they had him pinned down for a loss, only for Jackson to get loose from the straightjacket and speed down the field for big chunk plays.

Century Link field is not an easy place to go to with the #12 screaming down on to the field but Lamar Jackson had long drives, which caused the stadium to hush somewhat.

Lamar Jackson is now 6th in rushing yards in the NFL amongst all players this season. 6th and is well on course to smash the 1000 yard mark.

Michael Vick’s record of 1039 is not looking like a difficult ask either.

I think his body though will appreciate the Week 8 bye. Rest up, champ.


Melvin Gor-done?


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Image Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel /USA Today Sports

Melvin Gordon bet on himself, and it seems to be a losing bet.

If you asked Melvin Gordon or even the Chargers “what would be the worst case scenario this year with the holdout?”, how it has played out so far wouldn’t be far off.

As per Evan Silva (@evansilva),  75% of Melvin Gordon’s carries (27/36) have gained 3 yards or less and had 2 fumbles. 11 of his 14 targets have gained 3 yards or fewer. All of Melvin Gordon’s plays since his return have averaged a gain of just 2.3 yards and only 4 plays where he has gained a first down.

This has culminated in a 0-3 record since his return and you have to wonder whether or not Melvin Gordon is a trade candidate in the next few weeks. On his current showing, there is no way the Charger’s pay him anything close to the going rate, especially with Austin Ekeler, who is making just over $550,000 this season.


Moore woes for KC?


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Image Credit: Justin Edmonds / Getty Images

Matt Moore will be the QB for Kansas City for at least the next few weeks.

On a fateful quarterback sneak on TNF against the Broncos, Patrick Mahomes dislocated his patella and thankfully that’s all that happened. Whilst it was a freak occurrence and is desperately unlucky (Madden curse continues!), Andy Reid now has to prepare for a few games with the 2007 undrafted rookie out of Oregon State.

To date, Moore has less than 1000 pass attempts, a rating of 81.2 and a 46-36 TD-INT ratio. It’s fair to say the 35 year old will not be what Patrick Mahomes is, but Andy Reid is a master at getting QBs to do what they need to with a bit of time and prep. This is a HC that made Alex Smith look like a world beater.

The red hot Packers come to town on Sunday Night Football so it will be a baptism of fire. Andy Reid will have his work cut out to try and devise a plan to take the W here. Luckily for the Chiefs, their divisional rivals are (knee) capped.


Don’t go Chase-ing my heart


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Image Credit: Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports

If you fielded Arizona Cardinals backup RB Chase Edmonds in fantasy this week, chances are it was probably because you had to or it was in a bestball format. His 3 touchdowns, all over 20 yards in length was just the 5th time that this has occurred.

David Johnson played just 3 snaps against the Giants and apparently was never intending to see the field despite being made active on Sunday. It’s hard enough to get any appreciation in the NFL in any sphere, but annoying fantasy players isn’t a recommended approach.


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How very patriotic


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Image Credit: Robert Deutsch/Reuters

This Patriots’ defence….oh boy.

Before we get in to the details of what can only be described as a suffocating defence, let’s take a moment to commiserate those that would have lost their fantasy matchup despite being in a winning position when playing Sam Darnold at QB…

Right, there we go.

This was the 2nd occassion THIS SEASON that New England scored 30+ points and shut out their opponent after their thrashing of the Jets 33-0 on Monday Night Football. New England have now outscored opponents 223-48 (both lead league by the way), allowed only 1 passing TD Allowed and are 1st in YPG Allowed (223.1) and PPG Allowed (6.9) this season.

If you have them in fantasy, they are currently the 4th highest scoring player in the god damn game, posting double digit scores in every game this season.

They currently have 18 INT so far this season, a mark not bettered since the Packers in 1996. Why do i bring this up? The Packers beat the Patriots that year in the Super Bowl.

Yes they have had one of the easiest schedules (looking at you, AFC East) and it does get a bit harder, but this defence was epitomised when cameras cut to Belichick huddling in and laying the law down with the defence….24-0 up before halftime.

Oh, and they just traded for Mohammed Sanu.

Good luck, everyone else.


Maher-ful kicking display


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Image Credit: Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports

Brett Maher became the first Kicker in NFL Super Bowl era to kick 3+ 60 yard Field goals and the first ever to do it in back to back games.

The ups and downs of a kicker are well documented (another doink this weekend too!) and Brett Maher certainly has more thrills than a creeky rollercoaster. One thing that isn’t in doubt though, is his mentality and his self belief. The 63 yarder against the Eagles on SNF would have been good from 66 yards and I have a funny feeling that Maher is going to eclipse Matt Prater’s current record of 64 yards.

A lot was made in Cowboys Nation when he took over from Dan Bailey, hopefully his leash will be just a tad longer, which is always nice for a kicker.


San Fran-6-and-0


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Image Credit: Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports

If you go back and watch the game in 40 or the highlight, make sure to wear waterproof attire, because this one was wetter than a 10year old goldfish.

It wasn’t pretty and it’s one of those games that only come round every couple of years, but the 9ers did what they had to do. Win, and win ugly.

This game was only 2hrs 36 mins in duration, the shortest game since week 16 in 2009 when the Patriots smashed the Jags in the same amount of time.

Whilst this will help fuel some skewed stats that sound impressive, even the most stubborn have to doth their cap to the 49ers start. The pick of them being (as per @NFLReasearch) that the 49ers have allowed 98 pass yards in their last 2 games combined, which is the 3rd-fewest pass yds allowed by the 49ers in a 2-game span in the Super Bowl era & the fewest in a 2-game span by the 49ers since Weeks 8-9, 1977 (62 pass yds).


Cousins and Vikings


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Image Credit: Rick Osentoski /AP

It’s amazing what an apology and a bit of play action passing can do to your team.

Captain Kirk makes yet another appearance in the takeaways after another stellar performance (with the assist of some lovely catches, tipped cap to Adam Thielen).

The $84m guaranteed signal caller:

  • Leads NFL in yards per pass attempt (9.1)
  • Leads NFL in passer rating (114.3)
  • Ranks 5th in TD passes (13) and 4th in completion rate (69.8%)

In his last 3 games, he became the first QB in NFL history to have over 300 passing yards and a QB rating of over 130 and also became the first Vikings QB since Dante Culpepper to throw for 4TDs in consecutive games.

With the defence playing how it is, this team SHOULD be going deep in January, unless normal service either with paly calling or Captain Kirk himself resumes.

Until then, he has a revenge game on Thursday Night football againast the hapless Redskins.

Full10Takeaways – Week 2

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

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Hungry for more? We’ve got some more takeaways for you to digest looking back at week 2 in the NFL…

Heisman Hullabaloo

Image Credits: Associated Press

Week 2 saw two Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks pitted against each other, as Kyler Murray faced the red hot Lamar Jackson.

There appears to be a pattern developing from both teams, with Baltimore dominating early and Arizona dominating late. The single biggest play of the game was not a touchdown or turnover, it was a frozen rope from L-Jax to rookie wide receiver Hollywood Brown, a 41 yard sideline streak on 3rd and 11 in the 4th quarter. That play alone dispels the myth that he has no touch on his passes. Murray was again let down by a non-existent running game in the desert, David Johnson was a pathetic 7 carries for 14 yards and 1 catch for 1 yard.

The Murray Show is a prime time viewing experience but without any resemblance of a running game it’s going to be an exhausting season with far more Sports Centre highlights than wins.

Gold – always believe in your Jimmy G

Image Credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers are named and kitted out to remember the 1849 Gold Rush, when folks flocked to California in pursuit of something special, that was hidden amongst the rocks.

The 49ers are already starting to shine, after a quiet but highly efficient 2-0 start.  72 points and two road wins is a fantastic start against any opponent, and following that up with a home opener against a spluttering Steelers team this could be the most under the radar 3-0 team in the league.

Last season Jimmy G only lasted three games, now he is hoping for a post-season berth. Perhaps the biggest indicator of success is the fact Garropolo has only been sacked once all season, but the news that perennial Pro Bowl tackle Joe Staley is out for up to half the season is a huge blow. The Niners will need to find a replacement immediately to fill a huge hole.

Big call for Big Len but Big bust

Image Credit: Getty Images

The Jaguars will face the Texans at Wembley in their divisional rematch, here’s hoping the game is a better matchup than this forgettable encounter in Week 2.

Well almost unforgettable, as this game came down to a botched two-point conversion when Leonard Fournette failed to take a handoff the required two yards for paydirt. Until that point the NFL’s new moustachioed maestro Gardner Minshew had been conducting the Jaguars orchestra to perfection. Then Doug Marrone decided to opt for the triangle player to play the tune, and he hit a bum note. Music to the Texans fans ears, who have now moved to 1-1.

The Jaguars are still failing to impress and this is frustrating the hell out of their star defensive player Jalen Ramsay who has been quoted this week to say he just wants to ‘f%&*king win’. No one blames him, and whilst Minshew is a media darling and a cult hero, he is not winning games and that is all that matters.

Buffaload of this!

Image Credit: Associated Press (AP)

Buffalo are now officially the front runners to challenge the Patriots in the AFC East;

Miami, well are Miami. New York just lost their star QB until further notice whilst the Bills are quietly going about their work.

Yes, they didn’t beat much in the form of the Giants and their back-to-back “road games” were in the same stadium not far from home. But all you can do is do your job and beat what is in front of you. No fuss, no hassle. After their first drive ended in a punt, 3 straight touchdowns for the Bills was enough to get the W. Josh Allen had a much cleaner game; No turnovers (after 4 last week), over 8yds per attempt, completing passes to 8 different receivers

They have a solid Defence and enough of offence (though we’ll have to monitor Devin Singletary’s injury) to make it to the post season, especially when the other likely middling teams such as the LA Chargers, Pittsburgh, Cleveland are stuttering.

I’m not expecting a divisional challenge as such to the Patriots, but they are certainly building towards being the team that will have first dibs on divisional title aspirations when Belichick and co come back to the field.


Steelers digging a Pit for themselves

Image Credit: Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

The roses are wilting in Pennsylvania and is Mike Tomlin a dead man walking in terms of head coaching tenure at the Steelers?

A deflating loss to the Seahawks which in a vacuum cant do too much in the way of wildcard hopes, but now at 0-2 they are staring down the barrel already with the injury fallout. Long road trip west next week to face the 49ers which is not too far from the crime scene of their shocking defeat last year against the Raiders.

You cannot overstate the importance of this game and a loss here for the Steelers and they are already done if they aren’t done already;

The back end of the schedule is not too difficult with matchups against Dolphins, Bills, Jets, Cardinals and Colts along with 2 divisional games vs the Bengals but if they are 2-4 going in to the week 7 bye, they may struggle to make the postseason. Add in to that the loss of Big Ben for the season with an elbow injury, James Conner is nicked up and the defence being even worse than the offence. I’m not saying the final nail is in the coffin yet because i think Mason Rudolph is serviceable, but the Steelers franchise landscape as we know it could be all change and Mike Tomlin may be about to throw in the terrible towel.

On a more positive note, Steelers #1 WR JuJu Smith-Schuster became the youngest player to reach 2,500 career receiving yards in NFL history, previously held by randy Moss (per NFL Research). Might take him a bit longer to get the next 2,500 though…


Pack mentality

Image Credit: Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Even at this early stage, the Packers take a strong grip of the NFC after their dominant 1st quarter performance vs divisional rivals, the Minnesota Vikings.

TD throws the Jamaal Williams and Geronimo Allison complimented with a TD run by Aaron Jones saw the Packers blow away the Vikings D in the first home game for the Packers.

From that point on, the Packers always had the number of the Vikings and just whittled down the time on the game clock.

It could however, have been a different story if Kirk Cousins was not picked off late in the 4th at the Green Bay 8 yards line on a pass intended for Diggs. The throw itself was very reckless; 1st down, scrambling to the right, on the back foot and lofted in to double coverage. Not a good decision.

This is another row to put into the table of “Times Kirk Cousins didn’t show up in big games” database. Throw the ball away and dial up another play. Redzone turnovers are brutal in this league.

With the win, the Packers now have not only a game cushion over their 2 fiercest division rivals, but also a win, meaning that at worst, they can only split the series with the Bears and the Vikings should Head to head come in to play at the end of the regular season. Judging by the performances of the 3 teams so far, it probably wont.


Injuries Are A Real Kicker

Image Credit – Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

The LA Chargers would have been a popular Superbowl pick for many in the off season , 2 weeks in and that looks like a very optimistic prediction.

A team that feels as though it has to deal with more injuries than any other in the league has once again been struck with the dreaded curse and is missing key players in Derwin James, Hunter Henry, Russell Okung. Following the game against Detroit on Sunday we may be able to add Joey Bosa and Adrian Phillips to that unwanted list and I haven’t even mentioned Michael Badgley yet.

Why is the kicker significant? Well despite all of the injuries and a generally sloppy game the bolts still could have escaped Ford Field with a victory if they had a solid kicking performance but they left 6 points on the field with 2 missed field goals.

It would be harsh to criticise a punter stepping in whilst Badgley recovers but if the Chargers are serious about a deep playoff run then surely they should bring in a specialist!


Real Life Madden

Image Credit – Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

“He scores when he wants,” the chant heard in many a UK football stadium should be aimed squarely at Patrick Mahomes.

278 yards and four touchdowns would be a decent stat line by the end of the game but that was what Mahomes delivered in the 2nd period as the Chiefs quickly erased a 10 point deficit with the most productive quarter of play delivered by a QB since Drew Brees way back in 2008. The last 5 passes that he attempted to close the quarter covered 42, 32, 43, 27 and 39 yards respectively with 3 of those bombs finding the endzone. Arguably his best pass was one thrown back across his body and was called back by penalty, had it stood he would have had over 300 yards in the quarter.

Last week it was Sammy Watkins lighting up the secondary, this week it was Demarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman. Moral of this story…. Mahomes is nothing short of incredible, whoever is lining up at wide receiver for the Chiefs he puts up video game numbers.
A real treat for the fans in the coliseum, who witnessed the final game where the baseball dirt was present on the field. Small victories.


Why Draft A Top 10 Clipboard Holder?

Image Credit – Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Interceptions, poor play and regression. Unfortunately for fans of the Giants and the Dolphins, they are the 3 things that initially spring to mind when I think about Eli Manning and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Another disappointing Sunday saw more touchdowns thrown to their respective opponents as opposed to their own teams. The real frustration here though is that nobody is really surprised!

Every man and his dog has seen Eli get worse and worse over the past few years and as fun as the occasional flash of Fitzmagic is, it happens far too infrequently for a starting quarterback.

Look at the side-lines and the potential starting quarterbacks of the future are standing there holding clipboards. Josh Rosen was a top 10 pick a year ago and Daniel Jones was the Giants first rounder this year, finally it’s time for Jones to get on the field when it matters, surely it’s time for Rosen too?

ANYONE GOT CHANGE OF A DOLLAR?

Image Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Couple of teams need a Quarterback! Injury at the starting QB position is the most brutal and immediately scuppers your chances of winning a Super Bowl. They are called backups for a reason. Teddy Bridgewater, who turned down a chance to start in Miami and preferred to stay patient in New Orleans has finally got his chance after years of turmoil and seemingly made the right choice (and only choice; it would have done even if he never played for the Saints because you don’t want to be in South Florida at the moment).

Brees is expected to miss around 6 weeks with the thumb injury which is causing Brees to not even be able to grip a football. Yikes.

The 32nd pick in the 2014 draft out of Louisville has a 17-12 record as a starter, 57% completion percentage and a 29-23 TD:INT ratio thus far in his career. He now gets the chance to show everyone if he still has it and is more than just a backup.

The New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers and potentially the Carolina Panthers may have their secondary signal callers in action this weekend. The Fantasy waiver wires will be burning this week!

Did you have that change of a dollar?

Fantasy: Start ’em/Sit ’em

by Adil Khan Deshmukh – @DillyToon

The long wait is over, Fantasy Football is BACK! Week 1 is upon us, so you can forget about who you’re going to draft because now the importance is on who will be in your lineup! That’s where we come in as we’ll bring you our brilliant insight week-by-week that’ll lead you to a fantasy championship.

Let’s dive right into the starts and sits for week 1. 

Start ‘Em

QB – Lamar Jackson – Baltimore Ravens vs Miami Dolphins

This is less a measure of the major upside that Lamar Jackson has and more focused on how pitiful their opposition this week is. To put it bluntly, the Dolphins are probably the worst team in football without a down even being played in the regular season.

The firesale has taken place and the Dolphins are clearly tanking for the number 1 pick. The Ravens will be able to run the ball a lot, with a lot of the yards coming from QB scrambles by Lamar and his lightning speed. Lamar will have been a player that you would have taken later on in your drafts – don’t hesitate to stick him in week one with this juicy matchup!

RB – Austin Ekeler – Los Angeles Chargers vs Indianapolis Colts

With one RB saga ending in Dallas, the Chargers are still no closer to seeing whether Melvin Gordon return to the side. Whilst Austin Ekeler is not a RB1 like Gordon, he is most definitely a serviceable running back; particularly in PPR leagues.

Whilst the Indy defense is strong, the prospect of many check-downs from Rivers to Ekeler will enamour himself to you by slotting him as an RB2 or your flex.

WR – Kenny Golladay – Detroit Lions @ Arizona Cardinals

Kenny G could well be a WR1 this week! The match-up versus the Cardinals and their pitiful defence is juicy. For those that will say the Lions will be a run first offense, you aren’t far from the truth.

Photo Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

However, the run will just open up the passing game and the Lions will romp home to an opening win in Glendale. Kenny G isn’t the only target in town with the able Marvin Jones Jr on the opposite side and this will provide the perfect foil for him to hit big.

TE – Jared Cook – New Orleans Saints vs Houston Texans

Cook has just come off a very good season with the average Derek Carr and now he’s accompanied by the future HoF QB Drew Brees. Cook will be the team’s third option on passing downs with the monstrous Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara ahead in the pecking order. The Texans have been susceptible to being worked over by tight ends and this weekend will prove no different with Cook obtaining a healthy amount of points.

Sit ‘Em

QB – Kyler Murray – Arizona Cardinals vs Detroit Lions

Sorry to Kyler Murray enthusiasts and those who drafted him, he’s going to struggle this week. This is not to knock the man himself but the five men who will be in front, charged with protecting the diminutive QB.

He’s going to be running for dear life as the pocket collapses over and over again. Murray will not be a QB1 this week, thus pulling him out of the running for your start/sit considerations. 

RB – LeSean McCoy – Kansas City Chiefs @ Jacksonville Jaguars 

It will be extremely tempting to start Shady having joined Andy Reid and his high powered offense. However, I would exercise extreme caution this week as he has not had enough time to engrain himself with Mahomes and the rest of the offense.

There’s no denying that McCoy could well have a resurgence this year despite his falling metrics, but one should wait to see whether he really clicks rather than just risking it.

WR – Josh Gordon – New England Patriots vs Pittsburgh Steelers

The Flash is back for the umpteenth time, and hopefully for his sake he’s back in the league for the foreseeable future. However, despite the lack of credible receiving options outside of Julian Edelman (and the running backs), one should avoid starting Gordon this week.

Photo Credit: Matt Stone/ Boston Herald

Why is that you ask? Belichick and the Pats are notorious for being the death of many a fantasy team and it’s likely Tom Brady could spread his passes to relative unknowns, sending your fantasy dreams into nightmares. Josh Gordon is one to keep an eye out for but to leave firmly on your bench this week.

TE – Eric Ebron – Indianapolis Colts @ Los Angeles Chargers

The major upside to Ebron’s game left with much of the Colts fans’ Super Bowl hopes last weekend at Lucas Oil. Luck is gone and the way this offense will operate will be different enough for Ebron’s plethora of red zone targets to be reduced substantially. He was a TD monster last year and you cannot see that happening with Jacoby Brissett under centre, especially in week 1.

The Running Man

By Lawrence Vos, 26 May 2019

No I’m not taking about underrated Arnold Schwarzenegger movies, but for a bonus point can you give me the connection between this movie and NFL rushing folklore?

For those of you who didn’t have to Google that one of Arnie’s victims (Fireball) was former Cleveland Browns legendary running back Jim Brown I congratulate you, and for those of you who did I hope you enjoyed adding this to your NFL trivia arsenal.

That was 1987, when a survival-based reality gameshow was a forerunner for the likes of The Hunger Games. Fast forward to 2019 and arguably the best survival-based reality show on our screens now is the NFL.

The Running Man focussed on a very fit human-being, wearing a bright costume, relying on team-mates to help him navigate pitfalls and escape from tough adversaries on-foot (with the exception of Dynamo who was arguably the worst villain in cinematic history. He was 340lb, sang opera, drove a dune buggy and wore an armour plate covered in LEDs.)

Avoiding trouble and helping to lead a team to victory is a very similar set of pursuits to that of a running quarterback in the NFL.

In 2019 we have a top tier of five starting quarterbacks who can be categorised as rushing quarterbacks and then a second tier of five who can be described as mobile but not rushing quarterbacks. Note I am only putting starters in these tiers. The likes of L.A. Rams backup Blake Bortles (a respectable and surprising 365 rushing yards, 6.3 yards a carry and a first down on almost half his runs in 2018) do not count.

Tier-1
Josh Allen, Kyler Murray, Lamar Jackson, Cam Newton, Deshaun Watson.

Tier-2

Patrick Mahomes, Marcus Mariota, Dak Prescott, Mitch Trubisky, Jameis Winston.

Tier-1 Rankings

So let’s look at Tier-1 and see how they rank for 2019 fantasy draft purposes.

5 – Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals

Murray, the number one overall pick in this year’s draft is a phenom before he even steps onto an NFL field. The Cards pushed all their chips into the middle of the table for the former Oklahoma signal-caller, they even traded away Josh Rosen, their first round pick from 2018, to the Dolphins, to avoid any talk of competition. Murray won the 2019 Heisman Trophy for a remarkable 2018 season which included breaking the 1,000-yard barrier on the ground. The problem with projecting Murray’s impact in the NFL in 2019 is not due to the height issue (standing at 5f 10 inches) it’s more his track record. Murray originally began his college career in 2015 at Texas A&M. In his freshman year Murray served at the backup to Kyle Allen (now backup to Cam Newton in Carolina) before getting playing time when Allen performed poorly. Murray ran for 335 yards and a single score, but was again relegated to the bench by the time the Aggies reached the Music City Bowl. Keeping it all very incestuous Texas A&M lost that Bowl game to Louisville 27-21, going down to game MVP Cardinal quarterback Lamar Jackson (more later) who had 226 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns, including a 61-yard effort in the second quarter. Another quirk from that game was that two scorers for Texas A&M are now Murray’s target team-mates – WR Christian Kirk and converted TE Ricky Seals-Jones. Murray didn’t see action in 2016 as it was criteria of his transfer to Oklahoma, and in 2017 he had one start as back-up to none other than 2018 first overall draft pick Baker ‘wake up dangerous’ Mayfield.

Prediction

Already anointed as the Cardinals starting quarterback Murray will be looking to use his feet to keep drives alive and find his former college colleagues, as well as feeding future Canton enshrine Larry Fitzgerald. There will be a significantly increased workload for running back David Johnson in terms of dump-offs and screens, who will look to get 2,000 all-purpose scrimmage yards himself.

2019 projection – 431 rushing yards, 6 touchdowns.

4 – Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

Cam is not mortal, he is built like a Greek god, and is close to indestructible. 4,808 rushing yards and 58 touchdowns in his first eight seasons is nothing short of Hall of Fame numbers for a quarterback. Newton has missed just five games in his career, and his ground total is 150th in NFL history, for ALL players, and 14th amongst ALL active players. After arthroscopic surgery earlier in the year, to fix a lingering throwing arm injury, Newton is being eased back into action at OTA’s (organised team activities) in May, but will be fighting fit for September.  

He missed two games in 2018, but using his average rushing yards per-game this would have equated to 558 ground yards, which would have put him above 2018’s #3 rushing quarterback Deshaun Watson. Newton is now joined by one of the top three overall running backs in the NFL in the form of Christian McCaffrey, who will take away carries and scoring opportunities from the former number one draft pick. Newton has averaged 110 rushing attempts over the past three seasons and whilst his attempts in 2018, under new offensive co-ordinator Norv Turner, was the second lowest in his career, it’s no cause for concern as he nearly reached his statutory half-century.

Prediction

Cam has rushing the football in his DNA and no coach will be able to remove that. Defences, especially those in his division, are used to this form of torture, but any average linebacker is going to lose the war of attrition. Newton is consistent and although his rushing touchdowns hit an all-time low in 2018 (4) he can still provide that fantasy scoring boost that Brady, Brees and even Mahomes are unable to.

2019 projection – 525 rushing yards, 5 touchdowns

3 – Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans

Entering his third season, Deshaun Watson has learnt a lot, but unfortunately for him he has been sacked a lot. In 2018, his first season playing all 16 regular season games Watson was sacked a rib-crushing 62 times (the Texans were the only team to allow over 60 sacks). This can be attributed to two main factors – Watson holds onto the ball too long, but he is doing so in-part as he is contemplating scrambling out of the pocket and finding a crease or a rushing lane. Watson managed a very respectable 551 yards on the ground and 5 scores in 2018, but part of this output was generated as he was trying to make the most of a collapsed pocket or a blown block by a running back. Despite taking snaps in front of five colanders with legs Watson made the 2018 Pro-Bowl and proved that he can command a team and stay injury free. In fact, he was the first player in NFL history to have 4,000+ passing yards, 25+ passing touchdowns, 500+ rushing yards, and 5 rushing touchdowns in a single season. The former College National Championship winner (2016) had one 1,000-yard rushing season at Clemson (2015) losing to powerhouse Alabama in the Championship game (where he ran for 43 yards and a score).

Prediction

Watson needs to remain upright for longer, but he also needs to be smarter with his feet. The Texans wisely drafted two offensive linemen in the first two rounds of the 2019 Draft (Tytus Howard #23 overall and Max Scharping #55) to relive some pressure but like Cam Newton Watson is a smooth natural runner with excellent instincts to find space. Houston’s new offensive coordinator Tim Kelly is a quiet in-house appointment. This is Kelly’s sixth year in the Texans offense, having served as tight-ends coach the last two years (fun fact Kelly’s brother Dennis is an offensive lineman for the Tennessee Titans). Coach Kelly will be asked to further develop Watson, so expect much of the same and a small increase in Watson’s ground scores.

2019 Projection – 580 yards rushing and 8 touchdowns

2 – Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills

Perhaps the biggest fantasy surprise from the 2018 Rookie quarterback crop was Josh Allen. Despite the Bills deluded decision to start Week 1 with Nathan Peterman as their starter, in a 3-47, yes 3-47 loss to the Ravens, that experiment was shorty canned and Allen became the #1 in Week 2. Where Allen excelled was his fast feet. In his three years at Wyoming Allen ran for a solid but unspectacular 767 yards and 12 scores, averaging a pedestrian 3.2yards a carry. As a result, not many people were prepared for Allen’s 631 yards rushing, 8 touchdowns and two NFL records between Weeks 12-14 (first quarterback to rush for at least 95 yards in three consecutive games and most rushing yards by a quarterback in a 3 game span –  335). Allen only started 11 games (and played in 12) as a rookie, so by the magic of averages he would have gained 841 yards, the sixth greatest rushing output by a quarterback in NFL history. Allen was let down by a very average skill group in 2018, which has since been boosted by wide-receiver free-agent signings Cole Beasley and John Brown and rookie running back Devin Singletary. As the unquestioned starter Allen can become a fantasy monster, not only by rushing but by having better targets across the field. Watch out for fellow second-year player wide-receiver Robert Foster who can surpass 1,000 yards and eight scores himself.

Prediction

Allen is one of those rare breed of players that has transitioned from a smaller college team to become a starting NFL signal-caller. He joins current starting quarterbacks like Joe Flacco (Delaware) Derek Carr (Fresno State) and perhaps the best example – ‘Big Ben’ Roethlisberger who hailed from Miami of Ohio. Allen is in a position to get the Bills into a Wild Card position in the next two seasons, something mobile passer Tyrod Taylor managed with Buffalo in 2017. With a 16 game slate Allen can shine, and that includes over 700 yards on the ground.

2019 projection – 757 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns

1 – Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens

We have been here before back in 2012 when slight-framed but much-hyped first round draft pick Robert Griffin III rushed for 815 yards in 15 games. The 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year sustained a second injury of the season against the Seahawks in the playoffs that season, and since then he has rushed for 855 yards and three touchdowns over the next five seasons. Now Jackson’s backup in Baltimore RG3 is a cautionary tale of taking a young but slim-built quarterback and letting him run a lot early. L-Jax who did not run a 40 yard-dash at the 2018 Scouting Combine is arguably faster than RG3 and up there with the fastest NFL starting quarterback ever, Michael Vick. Vick, despite his jail time, managed an incredible rushing total in 13 playing seasons, gaining 6,109 yards including a mind-bending NFL quarterback rushing record of 1,039 yards in 2005. L-Jax has the skills to actually break this record, and with 16 games and no Joe Flacco on the sidelines watching his every move, it is possible this happens in 2019. L-Jax gained 695 rushing yards in 7 starts as a rookie, and extrapolating that to a full season would equate to 1,270 yards, which would obliterate Vick’s record.

Prediction

It’s not sustainable to expect Jackson to run for almost 1,300 rushing yards, but if we look at his 7 starts (546 rushing yards) and extend that out to 16 games, at 78 yards a game, that 1,248 in a season. The Ravens will be hell-bent on developing L-Jax as a passer, but they will no doubt allow him to display his ghost-like rushing ability. His His 4,132 rushing yards in college (including Bowl games) ranks 109 all-time for ALL players, including running-backs, so we are talking about a special talent. Providing he can stay injury free, which he has managed for the past three-years, L-Jax can deliver the greatest rushing season by a quarterback ever.

2019 projection – 1,115 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns.

Passing the Baton – Which rookie QB sees the field first?

So draft season is finally over, the rookies have had their mini camps and will now be joined by their veteran colleagues to battle for starting positions and roster spots. There were 5 Quarterbacks selected in the first round of the draft this year, which means there are 5 QB’s around the league who are looking around and seeing someone who is there to take their job. What I’m going to do is take you through how long I think it’ll take for each of the 5 rookies to see the field.

I’m approaching this without taking past or potential injuries into account. I’m not a doctor, nor can I predict the future.

 

Baker Mayfield

Tyrod Taylor has already been named as starter for the 2018 season by Hue Jackson and he’s even gone so far to say that the plan is for Baker to sit the whole season. I think this is a smart plan, however I’m not too sure how clever it was to announce it to the world. He’s put pressure on himself and his coaching staff by backing Taylor to deliver, which owners sure fire thing.

Cleveland have been desperate to find a franchise Quarterback and have been for many years. Because of this they’ve have broken young QB’s in the past by throwing them in when they’re simply not ready to play. John Dorsey went out and signed Tyrod Taylor to guard against this happening again, despite wanting to draft a possible franchise saviour soon after.

Taylor is a perfectly capable starter in this league, he’s experienced, everyone knows his strengths and weaknesses; he’s not going to turn the ball over and can extend plays and drives with his legs but he isn’t going to make a tonne of big throws or win a game on his own.

Taylor has been equipped with more than adequate weaponry this off season and on paper, the Browns’ offense looks like it could cause some problems for other teams. If the offense ticks over, puts points on the board and Cleveland win a few games, the pressure will be off and it’ll just be up to Baker to soak up knowledge and be a good teammate.

Mayfield will play in the pre season and playing against backups, he’ll probably look pretty good and get a lot of people excited. This will put pressure back on Jackson and on Taylor. If Taylor doesn’t perform, fans will be calling for the number 1 overall pick and Jackson will be on the hot seat. Mayfield being the competitor he is, he’ll be planning on getting on the field as soon as possible but this all comes down to coaching and pressure. How will his pan out?

I think Cleveland will be much improved this season and I think they’ll win at least 6 games but their schedule is pretty tough the start off. With this in mind they’ll be out of the playoff race between week 12 and 14, so when the games become meaningless, they’ll probably test the waters with Mayfield.

 

Prediction: First start, week 13 vs. Texans.

 

Sam Darnold

The path to the field feels easier for Darnold in comparison to Mayfield as his situation in New York sees him pitted against an aging veteran and a player who is returning from a major knee injury.

Josh McCown to me, is a non-factor in this QB battle and was brought in more for his leadership and mentoring skills inside the locker room. Todd Bowles did name McCown as the starter but that was prior to drafting Darnold and September is still a long time away.

So it boils down to Darnold vs. Bridgewater. Teddy’s surgically repaired knee was something he “wasn’t comfortable talking about” in March and has only just made it back to the practice field. Bridgewater is only guaranteed $500,000 of the $6 million contract, so if the knee doesn’t check out, he might not even make the team and his career is most likely done.

I’m hoping that the knee is fine and if that’s the case the former Viking almost certainly has the inside track to the starting job. Bridgewater has done it in the NFL and performed at a good level, if he can do so in white and green, he’ll be an upgrade on what the Jets have been fielding at Quarterback recently.

On the other side of the battle, Sam Darnold was rated by many as the best QB available in the draft and he was widely tipped to be taken with the first overall pick. So he’s clearly talented but like the rest of the 2018 QB class, he’s got his flaws. In college he turned the ball over far too much and I’m sure Todd Bowles and the Jets coaching staff would prefer to sit him for a while whilst he works out the kinks.

However like Hue Jackson, Bowles will be coming under fire from fans and the media if the Jets have a stuttering start. There will be clamour to throw Darnold in to try to kick start the team and jolt them into life. Since the supporting cast is pretty poor and it’ll be throwing Darnold to the wolves a little bit and be asking too much of his improvisational skills but it may the the last roll of the dice from Bowles.

I don’t see the Jets making much noise this season, their schedule is pretty favourable to start off, with winnable games early. In the flip side, those teams will be looking at the Jets and thinking the same.

 

Prediction: First start, week 9 vs. Dolphins

 

Josh Allen

So this is where it gets really interesting. Josh Allen is the least pro ready of all of the first round QB’s but he also has the least competition for the starting role.

As the veteran, A.J. McCarron has the inside track and Bills officials have actually said that to begin camp, Allen will start as QB3 on the depth chart, ahead of Nate Peterman. Yep, this isn’t a great Quarterback situation in upstate New York.

Whilst it’s usual for the message coming from Head Coaches to be that the veteran player will start, I kind of believe this one.

The lack of a star QB and the lack of talent across the offence as a whole plays into McCarron’s hands in terms of his chances to play. McCarron has been in the building longer, so he’s had more time with the play book so therefore should pick up quicker, plus the game should also be “slower” for McCarron too. Nathan Peterman had a horrible debut in Los Angeles but at least he’s been a pro for 12 months and knows the play book. On the flip side of this, Allen really needs to spend at least a year working on a lot of aspects of playing the position and learning how to be an NFL player as opposed to being in college and having class to deal with alongside football.

Sean McDermott should know this and we shouldn’t see Allen until 2019 at the very earliest. It will also be up to McDermott to resist the temptation to throw Allen in too early as a first round pick in the event that things are turning sour. The Head Coach shouldn’t be on the hot seat at any point throughout the season so this should help the situation and Allen’s development in the long run.

McCarron will likely play the whole season barring injury and barring Buffalo being a complete mess. His deal is a 2 year deal but it’s structured in a way that the Bills can get rid of him after 12 months without too much of a financial penalty.

 

Prediction: First start, week 1, 2019 season.

Josh Rosen

From the least pro ready to the QB who is most pro ready. Josh Rosen endured a mini slide on draft night but the Cardinals did well to trade up to the 10th overall pick to claim their man under center for the foreseeable future. Standing in his way are Mike Glennon and the oft injured Sam Bradford. I feel like Rosen could bypass both of his veteran colleagues during the pre season and wrap up the starting job. I am going to go out on a limb and say that he will do exactly that too. Here’s why…

So firstly, Mike Glennon was quickly displaced by Mitchell Trubrisky last season in Chicago and I think Rosen is a better QB now than Trubrisky was a year ago. So personally, I don’t see Glennon as much of a factor, I see him as the likely QB3 on this team. The Cardinals said they were going to be aggressive in drafting a QB and they were and brought in Bradford to compete, they brought in Glennon for if Bradford gets hurt.

So on to Bradford; he’s certainly a talented guy but he’s just not been healthy enough throughout his career, which is a real shame but it’s just the way it goes for some players. How healthy is he currently? How much permanent damage has been done? Will he ever be the same as he once was? These are all big question marks hanging over him at this stage. He’s obviously fit enough to pass a physical but is he just a ticking time bomb? Lots of questions.

Then onto Rosen. He slid mainly due to character concerns but unless he completely hates the game of football and isn’t committed long term to being a pro, is it unusual for a young man to have other interests? Not really. A lot of people who know him or know of him say stuff along the lines of, coaches have to challenge him intellectually. Well, New Arizona Offensive Coordinator, Mike McCoy runs quite a complex system, which is a variation of the West coast offense. So that should keep Rosen’s mind from wandering. Like I said, I think we’ll be seeing the new era start early in the desert.

 

Prediction: First start, week 1 @ Redskins.

 

Lamar Jackson

I think it was quite telling that Baltimore traded back into the first round to select Jackson and therefore have the 5th year option built into his rookie deal – they see him and their offense with a long term view.

When you look at Joe Flacco, you’ll see a prototypical Quarterback; tall, strong, big arm… you look over at #8, Lamar Jackson, he’s the completely different… he’s tall but lean, he’s mobile and he looks more like your modern day signal caller.

Joe Flacco is on his way out, he’s probably got a year or two left but his days are numbered. So is the offense too, that’ll be left behind with Flacco. Jackson being drafted signalled that a new era is imminent in Baltimore.

This total remodel of the offensive side of the ball will take time though and that’s a good thing for Jackson too. He’s got his flaws that he himself recognises and the fact that Flacco is entrenched as the starter gives everyone the time to work on the future whilst the present ticks along.

Baltimore won’t want to ostracise their Superbowl winning QB just yet either so all this points towards a season on the bench for Jackson in 2018, if not beyond. Obviously if Flacco gets hurt they will incorporate some elements into the offense which play to Jackson’s strengths, because they will be forced to throw him into the deep end in the event that Flacco’s troublesome back flares up, for example.

The Ravens also made a nice move bringing in Robert Griffin III too. RGIII will probably be used as a mentor for Jackson as a mobile QB and once Flacco is gone, they will then have two QB’s with similar styles – More long term thinking in Baltimore, something good teams do well.

 

Prediction: First start, mid 2019 season.