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.

Supply Lines – LSU Cornerbacks

Welcome to our newest series over here at Full 10 Yards College Football – This is Supply Lines. 

 

The college football landscape is dominated by certain schools and one of the biggest reasons for that is recruitment from high schools. Success then multiplies this – as a team becomes more successful, more high school players want to attend that college or university and therefore is further entrenched as a powerhouse school.

The NFL loves these schools as it’s like buying a product from a named brand, a market leader, which is obviously more trustworthy that a lesser brand, or indeed, a lesser football programme.

Ozzy Newsome, the ex-General Manager of the Ravens was notorious for picking Alabama players, for example.

This phenomenon has also become more specialized – it’s become a positional now. How Many times have we heard arguments or seen polls on social media asking which school is DBU or Wide receiver U, or similar?

Some schools have simply become the place to be if you’re a highly touted high school player who plays a certain position. It’s obviously with good reason; these schools obviously coach these certain positions well, maximising the top talent and giving them the best preparation for the next step – The NFL. The NFL then drafts players of those positions and it all perpetuates itself further and supply lines are created.

In this new series, I’m going to be looking at those schools and the players who are next off the conveyor belt and how they compare to their predecessors.

First up, Louisiana State University cornerbacks.

LSU really have spoilt us in terms of how many corners they’ve supplied to the NFL in recent times and what’s more, they quality of corner that they’ve supplied at that! LSU really have a strong claim on the title DBU… I’m staying out of it and leaving people to argue amongst themselves about the giving of titles, however I will talk about their corners.

I know, I know… LSU could claim to be linebacker U, or even some other positions too… I’m even taking their safeties out of the equation here, so don’t get getting in my mentions with Jamal Adams and Tyrann Mathieu. LSU is a true factory of talent, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

If we go back to the legendary draft that occurred in 2011, we have the Arizona Cardinals selecting 5th overall and taking Patrick Peterson, cornerback out of LSU which I feel like is the modern landmark from which LSU’s claim on the DBU title stems.

Pat Pete has been one of the premier corners in the NFL ever since he entered the league but it’s LSU where his legend began.

Starting 13 games as a true freshman, as a 5-star recruit and he just got better and better throughout his time in Baton Rouge, I mean, you don’t get to wear the #7 jersey for LSU unless you’re someone pretty special. The current incumbent, safety Grant Delpit is probably going to be a top 10 pick in the 2020 draft and will be another worthy owner one of the most highly thought of jerseys in the whole of college football.

Anyway, back to corners…

After Peterson, it didn’t take the NFL very long at all to get back to LSU corners. In 2012, the Dallas Cowboys moved up in the draft and then used the 6th overall pick to add, Morris Claiborne to their ranks. I know NFL fans will point to the injuries when talking about Morris Claiborne but he was a superb player for LSU; a Jim Thorpe award winner, as the best defensive back in the country and also a unanimous All-American. Oh, and he disproved the theory that he was only good because he played opposite Patrick Peterson by winning the SEC defensive player of the year in 2011.

Injuries and inconsistencies hampered Claiborne and he’s unfortunately never reached the heights of his college days in the pros.

After Claiborne, LSU sent Tharold Simon and Jalen Collins to the league in 2013 and 2015 respectively, then a pair of corners in 2016, Rashard Robinson and Jalen Mills… I mean, every school doesn’t knock it out of the park every year but that’s still two Superbowl champions in Simon and Mills and every team needs depth, right?

This minor drought didn’t last long either… Tre’Davious White was taken with the 27th overall pick in 2017 by the Bills and is still the most criminally underrated corner in the league. He just does not get talked about amongst the top guys, maybe because he barely gets thrown at anymore… In his rookie year, White registered, 4 picks and 18 pass deflections, in 2018 that dropped to 2 INT’s and 8 PBU’s whilst being targeted on a mere 12.9% of Bills pass plays. I guess that’s the NFL’s way of telling someone that they’re worried about throwing their way… and he’s only going to get better on a Bills defense which doesn’t get enough love.

Next off the production line was Donte Jackson, who recently narrowly missed out being crowned the unofficial fastest player in the NFL by finishing 2nd in the 40 Yards of Gold race by the tiny margin of 0.05 seconds from Marquise Goodwin… Not bad when you consider that Goowin is an actual Olympic sprinter. 

Jackson had some ups and downs as a rookie last year but is slated for a bigger role in the Panthers D in 2019. Jackson will be looking to build on his four interceptions as well as his snap count next season.

That brings us up to present day and a certain Andraez Williams… you all might know him better as Greedy.

In the spring, Williams actually fell further than a lot of experts expected but you probably won’t hear the Cleveland Browns complaining. Williams is a long and lean, press-man cover who should form a dynamic pairing with Denzel Ward. I’m looking forward to seeing what Greedy produces this year, I include myself in those who had Williams going much higher than the middle of the second round but perhaps a perceived lack of effort during the last college season, led to that fall.

That may worry Browns fans who still remember Justin Gilbert. Gilbert was drafted much higher, 8th overall but had similar work ethic and concerns about his love and passion for football.

This leaves us looking to the future and to one, Kristian Fulton. It sort of reminds me of the scenario that I mentioned towards the top with Patrick Peterson and Morris Claiborne. Fulton was the younger of the pairing with Greedy Williams and is now left as the senior player and has to come to the fore like Claiborne did back in 2011. A date to circle early on in the college football season will be week 2, when LSU travel to Austin to play the University of Texas, which could match him up against Collin Johnson… Get comfy for that one because sparks could fly. Fulton is a mirror and match, man coverage guy, the kind that is popular with NFL front offices, especially given his athletic ability. Who knows, maybe if Fulton puts in a classy 2019 season, he will be the Patrick Peterson to Greedy Williams’ Morris Claiborne?

 

 

Keep your eyes peeled next week for the next installment of Supply Lines, next week we’ll be on the offensive side of the ball.

Follow @Full10YardsCFB on Twitter

 

Ready To Pounce – Five rookies in fantastic positions 

By Lawrence Vos (@NFLFanInEngland) – 26 June 2019
We all know the mega-stars drafted early who are already projected as starters and are being projected to be wearing rookie achievement crowns come the end of the 2019 season. Some of you will draft these guys in the latter rounds of a traditional fantasy draft, and some will be high on waivers.
But what about those guys that are not big names, but are one injured colleague away from having a significant impact in the upcoming fantasy season?
Here are five names of rookies who are not necessarily the big names but are in an idealistic situation to have major fantasy success if the giant chocolate chip and maple pecan cookies, that they were persuaded to buy from a doe-eyed six-year-old girl scout, crumbles their way.
I’m not recommending you draft them all, but I am recommending that you monitor the waiver wire for these names like a hawk.

Alexander Mattison – RB – Minnesota Vikings
Big things are predicted for Dalvin Cook in his third season leading the Vikings backfield if he can stay healthy. Cook’s problem is he has only played in 15 of 32 regular season games. In addition, the Vikings moved on from backup RB Latavius Murray and instead opted to go down the draft route. Alexander Mattison is not a household name, but the third-round pick can be someone that could be an instant plug-and-play success. The former Boise State star opted to try the NFL after just three seasons in college, just like former smurf-turf Super Bowl winner Jay Ajayi. Mattison’s last two NCAA games saw him rush over for 200 yards in each contest. Mattison is a hard-nosed runner who has never missed a game. A fluent Spanish speaker and former wrestling champion Mattison has brains and brawn and is in an ideal place to make a big initial impact.

Benny Snell – RB – Pittsburgh Steelers
Another Junior who elected to enter the NFL draft a year early. Snell joined a select club in 2018 as one of only four running backs in SEC history to rush for over 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons. Not bad considering one of those four is Herschel Walker. With the Steelers RB James Connor being possibly the biggest breakout star of 2018, Snell has landed in a place where the immediate pressure is off him, but this situation is one hit from being back-stage to the spotlight. Snell owns a plethora of University of Kentucky records, and just in case you are wondering why the name Snell rings a historic NFL bell (not a LeVeon named one) his great uncle is Matt Snell (who ran for 121 yards in the Jets upset win over the Colts in Super Bowl III).

Josh Oliver – TE – Jacksonville Jaguars
Unlike Mattison and Snell, Josh Oliver has a legitimate shot at being the Jaguars starting tight-end from Week 1. The 6ft 5 inch Oliver played at the rather innocuous San Hose State Spartans and did nothing worth noting until his senior year. His competition in Duuuuuuval is none other than former Cowboys tight-end Geoff Swaim. With Napoleon Dynamite oops sorry Nick Foles now leading the offense the Jacksonville tight-end spot should see a boost and with Leonard Fournette due a significant bounce-back this is ideal spot for Oliver to be one of those rare fantasy relevant rookie tight-ends. Evan Engram bucked the trend a few seasons ago proving rookie tight-ends can make a difference, and Oliver has the physical toots to catch 50 balls plus in the Florida sunshine.

Terry McLaurin – WR Washington Redskins
The Redskins wide-receiver production in the past couple of seasons has been akin to eating American cheese, bland, unimaginative and very disappointing. Since the departure of DeSean Jackson (now back in the NFC East for a second stint with the Eagles) and Pierre Garcon the Washington wide-receivers have failed to impress. The supposed future star Josh Doctson’s career has never taken off and Jamison Crowder is now catching passes from Sam Darnold in the Big Apple. This leaves the door wide open for anyone who can show consistency. The Redskins drafted Terry McLaurin from Ohio State to re-join his signal-caller Dwayne Haskins in an NFL uniform. Haskins is not guaranteed the starting quarterback Week 1 but right now he will be targeting McLaurin early and often in camp. Someone has to step up for the Redskins and whilst later pick Kelvin Harmon could become a red-zone vulture, hopefully its McLaurin who will be establishing himself as a reliable PPR option and a potential cheap DFS consideration.

Hunter Renfrow – WR Oakland Raiders
Fans, colour commentators and team-mates alike will be focussed on the hands and route running of Antonio Brown in the Silver and Black (still the best looking uniform in the NFL).
Doubling Brown or putting a team’s top corner on him will leave the slot more open for the Raiders and this is where Renfrow can become a PPR monster. The former walk-on has had an amazing college career with Clemson, winning two National Championships, catching the winning score from Deshaun Watson in the 2017 title game. At 5ft 10inches Renfrow is the archetypal slot dude, and likely someone Bill Belichick had on a draft list (on this note watch out for Patriots second-year slot wideout Braxton Berrios – you have been warned). Renfrow can establish his credentials in the return game before he does anything impactful in the Raiders offense. Clemson coach Dabo Swinney described Renfrow as ‘Clark Kent’, but he has the opportunity to be a short Superman in Oakland.

Honourable mentions, and guys you should be monitoring;

  • Kelvin Harmon – WR Washington Redskins
  • Trayveon Williams – RB Cincinnati Bengals
  • Caleb Wilson – TE Arizona Cardinals (Mr Irrelevant).

BAFA National Leagues Week 10 Roundup

Saturday 15th & Sunday 16th June – by Thomas Rowberry

Week 10 of the BAFA National Leagues saw some of the more surprising results of the season, as well as eight shutouts. Saturday’s action saw the Manchester Titans go into Tamworth and walk away with a shock 21-0 against the Phoenix. You can check out our Britball podcast from Monday where we chat to the Titans QB about it all! A big game in the Prem North next weekend when the Manchester Titans host the Merseyside Nighthawks.

Saturdays action saw seven shutouts with Merseyside, Leicester, Clyde Valley, Leeds, Norwich, Bristol and the London Blitz B team all holding their opponents to a goose egg. In what was considered a big game in an extremely tight NFC 1 South the Lancashire Wolverines came from a 14-6 halftime deficit to beat the Shropshire Revolution on a made 2pt conversion.

East Kilbride keep rolling and look certain to quickly jump back up to the Prem North after a convincing victory over the Glasgow Tigers. Similar comments apply to the Clyde Valley Blackhawks in the NFC 2 North.  Full results below.

RESULTS

Saturday 15th June

Prem North
Tamworth Phoenix 0 – Manchester Titans 21

SFC 2 South
Jurassic Coast Raptors 6 – Bournemouth Bobcats 44

 

Sunday 16th June

Prem North
Merseyside Nighthawks 20 – Sheffield Giants 0
Leicester Falcons 10 – Edinburgh Wolves 0

Prem South
Farnham Knights 28 – Kent Exiles 13
London Olympians 7 – London Warriors 54

NFC 1 North
East Kilbride Pirates 39 – Glasgow Tigers 7
Gateshead Senators 7 – Yorkshire Rams 53

NFC 1 South
Lancashire Wolverines 22 – Shropshire Revolution 21

SFC 1 Central
Berkshire Renegades 6 – Sussex Thunder 17
Oxford Saints 17 – Portsmouth Dreadnoughts 36

SFC 1 East
Wembley Stallions 32 – Colchester Gladiators 6

NFC 2 North
Darlington Steam 0 – Clyde Valley Blackhawks 30

NFC 2 Central
Leeds Bobcats 44 – Knottingley Raiders 0

SFC 2 East
Norwich Devils 3 – East Essex Sabres 0
East Kent Mavericks 30 – Maidstone Pumas 19

SFC 2 South
Hastings Conquerors 0 – London Blitz B 39

SFC 2 West
Bristol Apache 28 – Cornish Sharks 0

Pick It Apart; Kaleb McGary

Pick it Apart!

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

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

Pick: #31

Player: Kaleb McGary

Drafted by: Atlanta Falcons

Grade: B

Analysis:

Lee doesn’t like this pick, do you? One person that will like the pick is Matt Ryan.

The Falcons trade back in to the first round to pick up their 2nd offensive lineman of the round to go with Christian Lindstrom. Whilst O-Line wasn’t their biggest weakness last year, it certainly could be a strength going in to the 2019 season.

I’m quite surprised that they moved up to go and get the OT from Washington, especially with guys like Jawaan Taylor, Greg Little, Cody Ford and a whole host of offensive lineman still there plus added on top of that, the talent at Corner.

Let’s focus on McGary for a second;

He’s 6”7 (!), 317lbs, ran just a smidge over 5 seconds in the 40 yard dash and in general, his combine was good.

He was a conference defensive player of the year and first team all-conference at Tight End (wonder what his odds are to catch a TD in 2019) in high school. That carried over into College, with first team accolades coming at him left right and centre.

He has a strong character built up from all the personal adversity he has gone through; medical conditions and family issues among them.

He isn’t the most athletic, as determined by his combine and film so you could see him go from Tackle to Guard. He isn’t the quickest going laterally but could be a good run blocker going forward with the right coaching. Whilst he wont be an every down guy in year one, he has the potential to be, which is the reason why the grade is a B where you should be picking someone with a higher ceiling and safer floor at the back end of the first round. The Falcons must have seen something in him in order to trade back in to the first round giving up their 2nd and 3rd rounders, though.

Fantasy Football Impact:

McGary’s impact on fantasy is an indirect one. Opening up the holes for Devonta Freeman and *shudders* Ito Smith. He’ll also be tasked with keeping last year’s fantasy QB2 upright.

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.

Pick It Apart; Jeffrey Simmons

Pick it Apart!

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

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

Pick: #19

Player: Jeffrey Simmons

Drafted by: Tennessee Titans

Grade: B+

Analysis:

It didn’t feel right giving the Titans an A- for this purely because they got the injury discount.

Baked in to that as well is the fact that who knows whether Simmons will have the same juice and explosiveness on the edge. Uncertainty causes doubt, just look at the strength of the pound and Brexit. That being said, if Simmons was a full go and 100%, he would easily be a top 6 picks, well top 7 because you know…the Giants.

The Mississippi State defensive tackle is regarded as one of the most talented in this draft class and was considered a five star recruit coming out of Noxubee County High School. Simmons choose Mississippi State over Alabama and Ole Miss and his production increased each year through college. Unfortunately, Simmons tore his ACL whilst training for the draft so it’s unlikely that we will see him in 2019. When he does return, he’ll slot quite nicely in this Titans defence that is ridiculously underrated. After investing in linebackers Harold Landry and Rashaan Evans in 2018, this Titans defence has plenty of upside, youth and talent.

But what does Simmons bring on the defensive line?      

The 6”4, 300+lbs pass rusher is an impressive physical specimen, with lots of power and strength who will be a handful for double teams, let alone man to man.

On the flip side though, there are character concerns. In March 2016, he pleaded no contest to simple assault after attacking a woman (why? Just why do people do it?) but has been “out of trouble” since.

All in all, if Simmons can come back from the ACL tear and regain his elite talents, this could be a home run pick for the Titans and a pick that could see their defence be a stellar one for the foreseeable future. They’ll need him to be elite, with the depth at the position not great and other injuries there too.

Fantasy Football Impact:

Simmons certainly wont be troubling draft boards or IDP leagues this season, you have to wonder if he ever will considering the position he plays. In standard leagues, the Titans pose themselves as undrafted types, but that is an error on the GMs part because I think the Titans will keep opposing teams to low scores (3rd best in pts allowed, 8th best in yards allowed) and they have good turnover abilities on the back end. A sleeper pick for me.