Slot Machines

By Lawrence Vos – @nflfaninengland – 25th July 2019

It’s somewhat fitting that the global marketing machine that is the NFL is soon to have a presence in the city that never sleeps, where day is night and night is day, where it seems people actually have tried to break the will of chefs at an ‘all you can eat’ buffet, and where Mike Tyson’s tiger once got stolen by an orthodontist.

Las Vegas is the home to the grandest casinos and the brightest lights, along with an abundance of slot machines. In fact, it is estimated the region is home to around 200,000 slot machines. The biggest win from one of these machines was just under $40m by a software engineer from Los Angeles.

So why the gambling references in a fantasy football article you say? Well if we are to talk about slot machines, especially ones that can yield the jackpot then let’s examine 10 of the top NFL slot machines, just before you go looking for a 3rd or 4th wide receiver in your upcoming PPR (points per reception) fantasy drafts.

On our visit to Sin City let’s also stop-off at a diner or two and play the 5c machine by the broken payphone and see if we can get a few bucks worth of cheap fantasy slot action too.

To add some show-time flair let’s commence my personal countdown, sung by none other than the nippletastic Janet Jackson, who is only a few days from a two-month residency in yes, you guessed it, Las Vegas (in fact for just $4,102 per person you can get a VIP banquet ticket !!!).

Now I’m not dismissing the likes of Adam Humphries talent but unfortunately he has gone to the team where wide receivers die (the Tennessee Titans) so he does not make my top 10.

10) Braxton Berrios – New England Patriots

Berrios may not have caught a regular season ball in his short NFL career, but he landed in perhaps the single greatest place to develop, under the tutelage of Tom Brady and Sith Lord Belichick. Drafted in the 6th round of the 2018 draft Berrios was a fan favourite at ‘The U’, where he caught clutch touchdowns and established himself as potential replacement material for the likes of Danny Amendola or Julian Edelman if he ever made the pros. It was inevitable that he would end up with the Patriots, and with Edelman currently side-lined with a thumb injury this is Berrios’s opportunity to fight for a place on the 53-man roster. 

9) Trey Quinn – Washington Redskins

Unless you are a hard-core Redskins fan or you have some love for the 2018 Mr Irrelevant (the person drafted last) then you may not be familiar with this guy. Another product of the SMU wide-receiver factory that has produced the likes of Courtland Sutton, Emmanuel Sanders, Aldrick Robinson and Cole Beasley, Quinn is in a position to explode onto the NFL scene in 2019. He will likely have two quarterbacks throwing to him early in the season, which may not help in terms of building confidence. Quinn made a small cameo as a rookie, scoring once in a three-game stint in November and December. The stage is set for a huge upsurge in production – possibly 70 catches for 750 yards and 7 scores, but only if he can stay healthy for at least 15 games.

8) Randall Cobb – Dallas Cowboys

Not quite a Swiss Army knife, but not far off, Randall Ladonald Cobb II has been darting his 5ft 10-inch frame around NFL fields since 2011, starting 100 games and gaining over 5,000 yards on 470 catches. Cobb has been listed as a RB/WR back in 2012, but manning a slot position is the reason he is still around, and in a game of SwapSlot he now replaces Cole Beasley in Dallas. Cobb had a quiet 2018, in part due to injury, and is expected to bounce back in 2019 catching balls from Dak Prescott. Not necessarily great expectations for Cobb in Dallas, as Amari Cooper will look to put up All-Pro numbers in 2019, but he can carve out a quality role and hope for 60-70 catches and around 5 touchdowns.

7) Jamison Crowder – New York Jets

It was always a case of ‘next season he will be a breakout beast’ but it never quite happened in Washington, so the Redskins cut ties and Crowder ended up in the snazzy new Green of the New York Jets in free-agency. Before injury cut short his 2018 season Crowder had averaged 64 catches a year, and also had a cameo role as a returner, but occasional dazzling displays have never gained the momentum to move him into the realm of a fantasy stud. Now in the Big Apple and catching the pigskin from second year passer Sam Darnold we could finally be witness to a Crowder breakout that has been threatening for almost half a decade. With Darnold’s safety blanket Chris Herndon suspended and LeVeon Bell drawing coaches’ attentions Crowder roaming the slot could be an awfully familiar sight for Jets fans by the time the white stuff makes an appearance.

6) Anthony Miller – Chicago Bears

No not the second last criminal to be executed in Scotland (look it up), and no not the son of former Chargers legend with the same name, Anthony Miller the Bears second round pick from 2018 went a little under the radar in his first professional season. 33 catches were par for the course for a rookie, a huge dip considering his junior and senior seasons at Memphis yielded 191 catches for a smidge under 3,000 yards and 32 scores. The Bears were locked on grabbing Miller and traded up to grab him, and his seven rookie touchdowns were a pleasant surprise, they in fact led the Bears and were the most by a rookie since Willie Gault in 1983. Miller will be stronger and more confident in 2019 and will enjoy his trip to London, where he will be able to show a global audience that he is going to be a star.

5) Cole Beasley – Buffalo Bills

If Cole Beasley was a cartoon character he would be Scrappy Doo, as he is a hairy fighter who fights for every yard. Another free agent signing, moving from the warmth of Texas to the chill of upstate New York and the Buffalo Bills. Josh Allen was a fantastic fantasy rookie, surprising everyone with his legs, but now he has weapons, including John ‘Smokey’ Brown, All-Pro returner Andre Roberts and Beasley, who will become a snuggle blanket. With breakout candidate Robert Foster and Brown running the medium to long routes Beasley will be that 8 yards and a smack in the mouth kinda guy, and every team needs one. Beasley won’t set the stats sheet on fire but he will keep it simmering throughout 2019 with 75-85 catches and around 800 yards.

4) Dede Westbrook – Jacksonville Jaguars

I have taken part in a bunch of PPR (Points Per Reception) drafts so far and this guy seems to be one of my mid to late round picks that I simply can’t avoid. With a legitimate, but still erratic, quarterback Nick Foles now taking the reins in Jacksonville now is the time for Westbrook to make his first Pro-Bowl appearance. 16 games in 2018 and 66 catches was a big step in the right direction for a guy who made three playoff appearances as a rookie (in 2017) but failed to make any significant impact in those postseason contests. Now Westbrook can move that production up by 1.5x and push for an eye-popping 90 catches and over 1,200 yards. Not a big name now but give it a year and he will be a legitimate 2nd round fantasy pick.

3) Cooper Kupp – Los Angeles Rams

Blighted by injury, Kupp tore his ACL in a Week 8 game last season and missed the Rams playoff run, including a trip to the Super Bowl, where he was sorely missed. Jared Goff had a torrid time against the Patriots and the lack of a wily fox in the middle of the field was apparent. Now recovered Kupp has a high ceiling, and 2019 could see him catch between 90-100 balls. In half a season he managed 40 catches and a very respectable 14 yards a catch. He caught 73% of passes thrown and caught touchdowns in 5 of his 8 outings. Kupp is a terrier and his FCS college statistics gained at Eastern Washington are in fact legendary, that legendary that he has 6,464 yards in four seasons, more than Jerry Rice. Kupp is waiting to replicate his college production in the NFL and keeping injury free he can lead the Rams in targets, receptions and touchdowns in 2019.

2) Jarvis Landry – Cleveland Browns

Not so much a YAC (yards after catch) monster as he is a ball magnet, Landry does the dirty work, the 6-yard buttonhook on 3rd and 5. With OBJ taking up the mantle of the superstar wide-out in amongst the Dawg Pound, you can’t ask for any more than someone who runs beautiful routes and is not afraid to operate in the trenches. Landry has 481 catches in his 5-year career, mostly by playing disciplined football. If London had a 2020 franchise they could not do much better in the slot than grabbing Jarvis Landry and his superglue hands. Landry boasts the most receptions in the first four years of a career in NFL history, including two seasons with over 110 catches. Simply put Landry is on target to break NFL all-time catching records if he continues this pace. With Baker Mayfield throwing him the ball who is going to bet against him becoming the fastest player to 1,000 catches by 2023. (Incidentally the record is held by former Colts great Marvin Harrison who did it in 167 games.)

1) Julian Edelman – New England Patriots

If Tom Brady is the goat then Edelman is the ferret, wriggling into places that seem impossible to reach, making clutch catch after clutch catch. What more can be said for Edelman than winning a Super Bowl MVP award, one that he fully deserved in a game that even Patriots fans won’t want to watch ever again. Edelman has already written himself into Hall of Fame contention, and on that front is a published children’s author to boot. With Rob Gronkowski retired (well temporarily) Edelman will be the leader of the skill players both on and off the field. Providing his thumb injury heals nicely in August Edelman could produce a season for the ages with 100-110 catches and around 1,150 yards. Tom Brady may not be human, and that cyborg mentality has rubbed off on Edelman who has made more clutch catches than Ben Stokes and the rest of the England cricket team put together.

Where Do They Go From Here; Denver Broncos

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 Denver Broncos.

Don’t forget to check out the AFC West podcast where we talked to Sam Lane and Stocks from 5yardrush and got their thoughts on them!

How Did Last Season Go?

The Case Keenum experiment didn’t bear all the fruits for John Elway and Broncos Country.

They put themselves in a position for a wildcard berth at 6-6 but 4 straight (humiliating) defeats to 2 teams picking in the top 4 of the 2019 draft and 2 divisional rivals cost them. What else cost them was a 3-6 start before their bye week giving them too much to do in hindsight.

Bottom half in the league in terms of yards and points on offence tells you how well Case Keenum’s Broncos did. Only scoring more than 25 points twice all season against an out of sorts week 1 Seattle Seahawks at home and the Cardinals –  a team who were the worst in football. Keenum himself has a season QB rating just pushing over 80…not the Minnesota Case Keenum, that’s for sure.

A bright spot on offence was the running backs, where Philip Lindsay burdst on to the NFL scene as an undrafted rookie. Bumping out draft pick Royce Freeman and dust collector Devantae Booker to surge to the top of the depth chart. Anyone taking a punt on him in the early weeks of fantasy football waiver wires were beaming.

Emmanuel Sanders had a good season despite his age nearing the number where father time comes calling. Injury curtailing his career so I guess in a way, father time caught up. It remains to be seen whether he will be the same again in 2019. Draft picks Courtland Sutton and DeSean Hamilton showed flashes at times to the point where the Broncos were happy enough to send Demaryius Thomas to the Texans for a bag of dust.

The defence looks a shadow of it’s former Super Bowl winning self and home field advantage is ever present at mile high. That said their first round draft pick Bradley chubb had himself a good season (I guess you should being picked at no.5 overall) and allowed Von Miller to continue doing his thang. The pair combined for 26.5 sacks in 2018, breaking Broncos records all over the shop.

Housekeeping

The Broncos own pick 10 in the draft but it’ll be decent odds they pick from that spot come the end of April. Elway loves a case of the itchies.

The Broncos also own picks 41, 71, 125, 148, 156, 182 and 237.

Cap wise, the Broncos have around $11m available at this moment.

Outgoings

As mentioned, Demaryius Thomas was let go for that bag of dust which has now flown away to New England via the Texans (and a trip to the hospital).

The Case Keenum project was shut down after 1 year and other names that have left Mile High include Center Matt Paradis, corner Bradley Roby and TE Matt LaCosse

Incomings

If you ask Elway, Joe Flacco is entering his prime so is a massive upgrade on Keenum in that respect (ooook). Kareem Jackson comes over from Houston along with CB Bryce Callahan and RT Ja’Wuan James

Outlook for Next Year

The young pieces on offence will be hoping Joe Flacco is that upgrade on Case Keenum ad many will look to Sutton and Hamilton to come to the fore in the passing game and for Lindsay not to be hampered by his serious arm injury that curtailed his impressive 2018 rookie year.

Surely though, the pairing of Miller and Chubb on the edges of the defence will be the cornerstone to the Broncos winning games. A tough division, a tough schedule too with the AFC South and NFC North not making things too easy in their quest for a wildcard berth (nor does their 3rd place finish giving them the Browns and Bills (away) as their other fixtures outside their division). Sorry fans.

Prediction

For me personally, I am not sure how the Broncos will be contenders again under Elway whilst he keeps whiffing at the GM position.

For 2019, this division is going to be too hot for Denver with KC and LAC in prime position for an assault on the Lombardi Tophy. With Oakland being a wildcard and making some positive moves, don’t be surprised to see the Broncos bottom of this division and picking top 10 again in 2020. Once again, sorry fans.

That being said, their home field is decent enough advantage for a few wins a season and whilst the Broncos may not be on primetime much this season, we see them first up in the HOF game vs Atlanta.

I think they max out at 7 wins, and that’s generous of me. Be thankful.

Fantasy Football

Joe Flacco – Joe Flacc-no

Philip Lindsay – likely to be overdrafted but unsure what round – injury dependant.

Royce Freeman – potential hold in dynasty if Lindsay struggles to return.

Emmanuel Sanders – mid to late rounds (injury dependant) – WR 2 ceiling

Courtland Sutton – Later rounds – WR3

DeSean Hamilton – shallower league perhaps undrafted – WR4 with upside.

 

 

Where Do They Go From Here? Texans

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 Houston Texans.

Ben Rolfe joined us to talk about the Texans’ season in our AFC South Exit Interviews podcast a few weeks ago, why not go and check that out too?

How Did Last Season Go?

Well, a story of two halves really (well, 1 quarter and three quarters to be exact).

First 4 games, the Texans were staring down the barrel of 0-4 until Frank Reich hands them an overtime victory with one of the more questionable decisions of the year, going for it on 4th down inside their own territory and who’d have known that at that point both teams would’ve made the playoffs. That sparked a 9 game win streak to put them in control of the division. A few wobbles at the end vs those pesky Colts and the Eagles but it was a fairly comfortable division title in the end for DeShaun Watson and co. 11-5 gave them the #3 seed when at moments, it looked as though the Texans could snatch the #2 seed.

However, they were to meet the Colts once more at home and were comfortably beaten in the Wildcard round.

If you asked Texans fans what they would take at the start of the season, you’d probably be looking at around what they achieved, maybe a divisional round game.

Housekeeping

The Texans have picks 23, 54, 55, and 86 in the first 3 rounds of the draft.

After the Free Agency Frenzy, the Texans have the 3rd most cap space (excluding Clowney’s Franchise Tag) at this point.

Outgoings

Not much in the way of outgoings for the Texans.

Make your own mind up on whether that is good or bad.

Demaryius Thomas has been cut…moving on.

Incomings

A few ins for the Texans, mainly on defence. Two CBs in Boddy-Calhoun and Bradley Roby are in, as is Safety Tashaun Gipson. Expect the Offensive Line to be beefed up in the coming weeks and months to help DeShaun Watson take less than the record setting 62 sacks (hopefully no bus journies to Jacksonville next season).

Outlook for Next Year

DeShaun Watson enters his third year as the signal caller and they will have to face a division winner’s schedule. They’ll be expected to sure up the offensive line for their franchise QB and also hope for more health from the likes of breakout star Coutee and Will Fuller in order to keep Hopkins, one of the best in the league, free from double coverage. If all these things happen and the O-Line improves, expect another divisional title for Houston and as a real shot in the dark, DeShaun Watson in the conversation for MVP *John Cena Audience GIF*

Star DE JJ Watt is getting into the back nine of his career so will want to keep making lasting impressions for the City which he holds dear to his heart but it is going to be a tricky division once again and it will most likely come down to the divisional games vs the Colts to decide division winner (don’t @ me Jags fans).

Prediction

Even before we know what the offensive line is going to look like in Houston, it would be a fairly big shock if the Texans don’t make the playoffs in 2019 but with such a tricky division, they’ll need Watson and Hopkins to be at their best and the Offensive line to not be a cheese-grater. As a whole, the top half finishes for offence and defensive ranks stand them in good stead despite the few injuries here and there that they had so I think they get to 9 wins… just depends if that is good enough for a playoff berth. Looking forward to seeing if they face the Colts in a week 17 tussle.

Fantasy Football

DeShaun Watson – mid round draft pick – around the QB4-8 range

Lamar Miller – 5th round pick – RB2

DeAndre Hopkins – 1st round pick – WR1

Will Fuller – 6th round pick – low WR2/high WR3

Keke Coutee – late round flyer – WR4 with WR 3 upside

9 Disappointing Fantasy players in 2019

Hey everyone, it’s my newest blog from the fantasy world!

Week 9 is in the books and today we are looking at the top 9 (with 9 weeks completed, get it?!) disappointing Fantasy Players so far. You have probably got in your own minds some players that haven’t performed on your team and you are thinking you will never ever play those players again dropping them in disgust. We all have those cursed players but you know in a year or so you may just be tempted and cast your eye over them. It happens every year!

Imagine this, you get the first overall pick this year and opt for Le’Veon Bell and then follow that pick up with LeSean McCoy and then you hit Gronk… Yep, I’d be pretty mad too… That happened to my pal and he has been playing catch up ever since… sad times *evil laugh*.

Anyway, let’s get a bit more cheerful and continue on in our quest of mediocrity or just down right stinkers, in no particular order my top nine players that have been disappointing in 2018 season* in the standard scoring format.

  1. Matt Stafford in at number one currently ranked at 20 of QBs – he has scored over 20 points on two occasions and despite quite a porous defence, the Lions are still attempting to get a run game going. Fumbling and being sacked (10 TIMES this past week against the Vikings) are creeping in the game repertoire and it’s not a good look fantasy wise.
  2. Running Back Lamar Miller (RB22) has only posted up 3 weeks of over 10 points and being the only real running threat, this should be more. With Deshaun Watson slinging the ball like he does though we can’t really blame poor Lamar for this lack of production, the Texans just have better options out wide.
  3. Mr Consistent, consistently bad, Keenan Allen is next with just 3 games over 10 points and one touchdown this year. Woof. And he is not worth trying to pick up for the run ‘just in case’ he has a tough run of fixtures to round off the year.   
  4. Kyle Rudolph makes the list despite the TE friendly QB in Kirk Cousins. Rudolph is not getting the looks even with a weakened Vikings Running game, although admittedly the return of Cook will strengthen that. But this means that Kirk might not be throwing as much and Rudolph will lose the shine on his red nose even more.
  5. Gronk gets on the list, a great first outing and then disappointment. Niggling injuries admittedly have hampered production but what I don’t get is why he says ‘he is good to go’ when clearly he is not and the stats show that. 1 touchdown this season and in a weakened TE field, Gronk is ranked 11th. Just awful.
  6. Larry Fitzgerald (apart from the last two weeks) hasn’t produced averaging around 3.5 points per game to week 7. This is just isn’t very fantasy friendly.
  7. Mark Ingram, probably a harsh inclusion being suspended for 4 games but his 5th game offered so much promise with 2 TDs and we all thought he was back… but after that, the following three games have shown us that Kamara is the number 1 in the backfield and that is hugely disappointing to those that stashed him in rounds 4/5 of the draft.
  8. Russell Wilson has been another I think could be considered a little disappointment this year. He just doesn’t seem to have that impact that he used to and is not rushing as much. Maybe I am being a little harsh, but his biggest week has been 23 points and only topped 20 points two other times and these were marginally. Think the magic has been lost.
  9. I am a Skins fan but I’m putting the whole Skins offense on this list. All apart from Peterson who has shown flashes of brilliance. There is not one offensive weapon that you can rely on to produce. Personally, I can’t wait to see Derrius Guice there, we need him and could be a great fantasy player next year… That concludes the list! This also is not to say that the above players won’t have a great last few games but to this point they may have burnt you, I apologise on their behalf. 

    Which player has disappointed you most this season? Let us know! 

    *This list doesn’t include Le’Veon Bell, that would be too obvious. I hope he find it in his heart to apologise to the millions who spent their first pick on him.

Let me know of any players I have missed by getting in touch on Twitter @ScottfMackay or maybe get in touch with the podcast @full10yards where there is currently a free Larry Fitzgerald jersey to be won!

Podcast 12 – My Team My Thoughts – Bears

We “Bear Down” with Luke Campbell in this episode.

I am wearing a special shirt just for this episode and get Luke to guess which former Bears player is on the back of my non Bears jersey.

We talk about the intriguing prospect of the Bears offence in 2018 under Matt Nagy and we play a game of JoHo vs others close to him in terms of rushing yards last year. Can Luke be the first to get the full house?

I also explain how i got trolled by our version of football…