Season in Review – Tennessee Titans

By James Fotheringham (@nflhypetrain)

Next up in our review series is the Tennessee Titans.


Before the season the Tennessee Titans were one of those teams that nobody really thought much about. They were “just a team” who were too good to be bottom of the pile in the AFC South, but behind the Texans and Colts. When Andrew Luck announced his retirement, hopes grew, but the prospect of DeShaun Watson on offence, JJ Watt on defence and strong teams in other divisions, making the playoffs via a wildcard look difficult.


The Personnel:


The Coaching team lost OC Matt LaFleur to the Packers which led to Arthur Smith being promoted from the TE coach role. Otherwise, nothing changed. Mike Vrabel was HC, Jon Robinson GM and Dean Pees DC.

On Defence the team had 5 rookies in the final roster, but mostly the team was led by veterans Jurrell Casey, Kevin Byard and Logan Ryan with developing stars Rashaan Evans, Harold Landry and Jayon Brown all stepping up. Kenny Vaccaro and Malcolm Butler began their 2nd seasons at the Titans while Cameron Wake joined from Miami.

On Offence the team added AJ Brown in the 2nd round of the draft to pair with Corey Davis (taken in the 1st round last year). They also grabbed Adam Humphries from Tampa Bay and retained Delanie Walker for another year. Walker went down very early and so Jonnu Smith and Anthony Firkser shared to load. Ryan Tannehill joined from Miami so act as backup to Marcus Mariota (who started the season with a rather short leash). The Running back duo of Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis were retained while the offensive line was improved by the addition of Roger Saffold from the Rams to join Jack Conklin, Taylor Lewan and co. Henry and Lewis were okay in 2018 but Henry only just scraped over 1000 rushing yards and his utilisation stopped him from reaching his full potential. A lot of experts doubted he’d be able to become elite but as the season unfolded, he exploded.


The Regular Season


Cast your minds back to the conclusion of week 6. The Titans had just been shutout 16-0 by the Denver Broncos to drop to 2-4. The Bills, Jags and Colts had each got the better of them and wins away against the Browns and the Falcons were the only high points. Marcus Mariota was struggling and the team as a whole only scored more than 20 points in 2 games (those in which they won) and had 3 games scoring 7 points for fewer.

During and after the loss in Denver the Titans switched QB and put Ryan Tannehill under centre and that decision was key in turning around their season. They went on to in 6 of their next 7 games to move to 8-5 and in a fight with the Texans for the AFC South. In 10 starts and 2 relief games, Tannehill would complete 201 passes for 2,742yds and 22TCs with only 6INTs. A 117.5 passer rating and completion percentage over 70% was a revelation for the Titans while he was also able to rush 43 times for 185 yards and 4TDs. This support and change in playing style caught teams off guard and gave Derrick Henry the room and licence to run.

Image Credit – Chipermc, Wikimedia

Tannehill made the team a passing threat and brought relevance to the likes of 2nd round pick AJ Brown, 2018 1st rounder Corey Davis and the Delanie Walker replacements at TE in Jonnu Smith and Anthony Firkser. Brown grew throughout his rookie season and became a serious big play threat. Even more so when Henry got into his stride. Brown managed to break the 1000yd reception plateau with 1,052 on 52 receptions, with many of them being more than 20yards. 8 TDs made him an invaluable asset and he was ably backed up by Davis and Humphries.

Dion Lewis was largely ineffective all year. With enough good passing options Lewis was left as more of a backup and a decoy while Derrick Henry ran the show. Henry never had more than 3 targets, so all his work was done on the ground, but after 9 weeks he had only had one game with over 100 rushing yards. Fantasy owners weren’t feeling to need to trade for him and even though the team was improving, nobody could foresee what was coming. In week 10 at home to Kansas City, Henry had 188 rushing yards on 23 attempts and his first multiple TD game of the season. Up to that point he’d had 644 yards and 6TDs in 9 games. This game was the turning point as the 35-32 win (mostly on Henrys back) was the start of a 4 game win streak in which Henry would amass 641 scrimmage yards and 7TDs and each of the 4 games would see him rush for over 100 yards. It was an incredible run which made them the form team going into their crunch divisional game against the Texans.  

Image Credit – Walker Kinsler, Wikimedia

The week 15 head to head was critical as it effectively decided whether then Texans would win the division or whether the Titans would overhaul them. With the Steelers currently in the wildcard spot, whoever lost would be in a scrap to make the post-season. The Texans were off form, totally the opposite to the Titans but DeShaun Watson and co secured a 24-21 win. the Titans were left scrapping with the Steelers for the final wildcard and a loss to the Saints (with Derrick Henry missing from the line-up) the following week proved not to be critical as the Steelers loss to the Jets gave Tennessee the jump on them based on strength of opponent. The Titans then had a simple “Win and in” game against the already playoff bound Texans. An easy 35-14 win against a below strength Houston sealed the deal. A 9-7 record and with the 2nd wildcard spot they’d go in as the 6th seeds in the AFC.


The Post-Season


If seeing the Patriots lose the Dolphins and fall into the Wildcard round (much to the benefit of the Chiefs) wasn’t surprising enough, then what happened at Gillette Stadium certainly was. Very few analysts gave the Titans a chance. They squeaked in on the last day as the final wildcard, have Ryan Tannehill as their QB and weren’t a top 5 defence. Meanwhile the Patriots have Brady and Edelman, a top 3 defence and Belichick in control. 

In the regular season Derrick Henry totalled 1,505 rushing yards on 303 attempts and a (tied) league leading 16TDs. In the post season, he looked unstoppable. He had 34 attempts for 182 yards and a TD against the Patriots, while the defence stifled an increasingly annoyed Patriots offence. Ryan Tannehill only completed 8 passed (from 15 attempts) for 72 yards and a TD but that was all he needed. Anthony Firkser caught the 12 yard pass in the first quarter before Henry took in in from the 1 yard line just before half time to see the Titans into a 14-13 lead. A stalemate second half was finally broken when Logan Ryan picked off Brady with 9 seconds left and took it to the house to cue wild celebrations nationwide.  

Image Credit: Will Newton/Getty Images

The upset against the Patriots was incredible and many anti-Patriot fans were quick to get behind them, but very few people would have said they had a chance against the top seed Baltimore Ravens and Lamar Jackson. Once again, the Titans proved the world wrong. Derrick Henry again would star with 30 rushes for 195 yards at 6.5yrds per carry. He did get a TD, but it was neither rushing, nor receiving. A 3 yard loop ball to Corey Davis on a trick play was probably the moment where the game was won. The defence held, what some argue was the most potent offence in the NFL, to just 12 points while on offence Ryan Tannehill got them over the line without really doing much.

Tannehill only completed 7 passes, but 2 of those were touchdowns. First to Jonnu Smith to set the tone early and then followed up by Kalif Raymond as they took a 14-0 lead. 2 Field goals for the Ravens brought them back into it but the trick play from Derrick Henry to Corey Davis took the wind out of the Ravens. Only minutes later Tannehill was rushing the ball in himself and at 28-6 with less than 20 minutes to go, it was over. The Ravens would get one back through Hayden Hurst, but it was too little too late.

The AFC Championship game against the Chiefs wasn’t the matchup expected on most people’s brackets, but with the Titans on form and Patrick Mahomes being Patrick Mahomes, it was going to be fun to watch. A heavy run offence vs a heavy pass offence and in the end, despite the Titans taking 10-0 and 17-7 leads, the Chiefs did what they have done so often, and scored a succession of TD’s to swing the balance in their favour. A Greg Joseph field goal and a Derrick Henry 4 yard TD run gave the Titans a perfect start to the game. The response from Mahomes to Hill kept it tight but the 10 point lead was restored when lineman Dennis Kelly caught a pass from Tannehill when labelled as an eligible receiver. Another trick that worked a treat.

After that, it became the Patrick Mahomes show. 4 TD’s in 12 game minutes including a short pass to Hill, a dazzling run, a rush from Damien Williams and a 60 yarder to Sammy Watkins finished off the Titans. At 35-17 with 7:33 left on the clock it was a mountain to climb. Tannehill did get another TD to Firkser but with the team behind, he was being forced to throw more. He had 209 yards and 2 TDs with no INTs but with Derrick Henry limited to under 70 rushing yards the Chiefs got the job done and would go on to the Superbowl.


Conclusions


At no point in the season did anyone truly think the Titans would be in the AFC Championship game. They just kept surprising people and after years of not realising his potential, Derrick Henry has finally shown how elite he can be. No shadow from Demarco Murray, no split responsibilities with Dion Lewis and a QB that is capable of running and providing an alternative which keeps the opponents guessing.

It’s hard to say what they need to concentrate on in the off season since the only thing that stopped them was the brilliance of Patrick Mahomes. They had a good young secondary who are learning fast, a pass rush which maybe could use a fresher set of legs (but are still playing to a high level) and some good special teams’ players. On offence, if Henry stays healthy and the likes of Davis and Brown keep developing and the Smith/Firkser combo can evolve into the long term replacements for Delanie Walker then it’s hard to suggest what else they can do. The O-Line is great, and Ryan Tannehill has been a revelation. The big decision is whether the Titans see him as their future. Tannehill is a UFA this off season and it will depend on contracts and cap space whether he returns. I’d be very keen to keep him on as low level deal as he is willing to take if I was the GM. The foundations of something great are there. I’d like to see Tannehill to AJ Brown for another year.

New Orleans Saints v Tennessee Titans
Image Credit: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

After the loss to the Chiefs Dean Pees announced his retirement (again) and so the team will need a new defensive co-ordinator next season. Their defence was a big reason why Derrick henry was able to be so dominant. There is still room for improvement as they gave up 20+ points on 8 occasions in the regular season and they need to figure out a way of stopping Mahomes, but the signs are positive and maybe a the new DC can tip them over than edge.

It will be interesting to see how they cope next season with the new weight of expectation and teams targeting Henry and Brown, but if you are a Titans fan then this has been a season to remember and you have some exciting times ahead. #TitanUp      

Balling with the Best

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quarterbacks

Dak Prescott – Dallas Cowboys

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

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

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

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

Philip Rivers – Los Angeles Chargers

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

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

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

Running Backs

Kerryon Johnson – Detroit Lions

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

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

But hear me out,

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

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

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

Tevin Coleman – Atlanta Falcons

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

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

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

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

Honourable mentions: Matt Breida, Austin Ekeler, Rod Smith

Wide Receivers

Mike Williams – Los Angeles Chargers

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mo Sanu – Atlanta Falcons

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

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

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

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

Honourable mentions : Randall Cobb, Mike Wallace, Nelson Agholor

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

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

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…

NFL Draft 2018: Round 1 Analysis: Picks 1-10

First things first: I just about managed to break even on the NFL draft bets. Had Vita Vea fell 1 more place to the Redskins (who would have taken him as they also took a defensive tackle…annoying), it would have been fairly profitable.

As it was my first experience of watching the draft (watched on Sky Sports, who had the NFL network coverage) was fairly enjoyable..more so had it been profitable I suppose.

Things started badly with Baker Mayfield going first overall, when I pinned my Sam Darnold colours to the mast and was fairly dismissive of the Saquon Barkley to the Giants pick, which I still believe was a bad decision by the Giants and it will be interesting how the rest of their picks pan out addressing the holes on the defence and to this point, not picking a QB (and still havent at the end of round 3).

The NAP selection was an ultimate sweat, with it taking the Ravens trading in to the last pick of the first round to select Lamar Jackson. I really tilted when the Patriots passed on him twice and figured that the bets were all going to go down the pan, but luckily, we got out of jail.

I think next year, I will just sit and enjoy the draft and enjoy it for what it is. I found that with the draft, because the possibilities are endless, it is impossible to be happy with just a single bet or 2 and always try and find an angle that is not there and end up hedging all over the place. If I do end up having a bet next year (let’s face it, it’s likely), it may just be simple bets like total number of QBs/WRs/etc to be drafted in the first round. No long accas, no predictions on the first 3 picks etc.

Anyway, moving to the point of the article, the analysis of the first round. This will also be in a podcast coming your way later in the week where Lee Wakefield will join me to discuss the NFL draft, focusing on the first few rounds.

The accolade of the first overall pick in an NFL draft for 2018 was decided when the Cleveland Browns picked Baker Mayfield, confirming the stories coming out on the day and a few days before. I was quite surprised that Baker did not attend the draft in Dallas actually,  especially considering he was a lock for a top 5 pick (further to that point, why is it not mandatory for the top 10 picks (or assumed top 10 picks) to be in the house for the draft. Are there any rules or is it just a location thing? Answers on a postcard please.

Baker Mayfield for me, was always going to be my best bet at the QB that is likely to be the most successful out of the “Big 4”. Sam Darnold also ticked a lot of boxes, but if you have followed the blog or my social media, we love Baker Mayfield. He will be exciting to watch and Cleveland will be a fascinating team to follow in the 2018 season (really hope they are the “Hard Knocks” or “All or Nothing” team next year. Baker has a perfect QB to learn from in Tyrod Taylor and hopefully, Baker will be able to compete for the starting job, but ultimately sit for a year. There will be no pressure to put the guy in and I think if Cleveland were clever (not always the case), they would use Tyrod this year to ensure that the offensive line is perfect for when Baker steps in and steps up to the plate.

For fantasy, he will have a good floor with his running ability and his accuracy, and I don’t think the landing spot in Cleveland will kill his ceiling either. He will have weapons and a pair of safe hands in Jarvis Landry (if he stays past 2018).

The only thing restricting him from thriving will be Hue Jackson, the Head Coach. Whilst they have some weird play calls coming from him ( remember the few 4th down calls last year to try and win games instead of kicking field goals against the Jets), he is simply not what that organisation needs. I’m not overly enamoured with his coaching style, his culture and how he has stayed in a job whilst winning only 1 game in 2 years is truly a miracle. Their misses on QBs in the last few drafts are comical, choosing the likes of Kizer and Kessler over Deshaun Watson and hell, even Mitch Trubisky.

I really hope for Baker’s, the Cleveland Browns and the NFL’s sake, that their #1 pick in the 2018 draft will not fizzle out and kill his talents and his style of play.

Pick number 2 in the draft is the one that will forever divide opinion until we have the hindsight to know whether it was a good call or a bad call by Dave Gettleman and the New York football Giants. Saquon Barkley is now a Giant and was argued beforehand as one of the best prospects at Running Back for the past 15 years. That’s a pretty high accolade when coming in to the league. The New York Giants arguably had bigger needs than at running back (though, that was also a need considering their current depth there) but they decided that he was the best player in the draft, and they selected him. Whilst it will take a little while to pan out and see how he does in this offence, I think it is now even more intriguing as to how the Giants go about the rest of their draft.

They signed Nate Solder from New England, which is a good move for the offensive line (and they subsequently selected Will Hernandez in the second round) but their defensive needs up front with the exit of Jason Pierre-Paul was the main reason why I thought that Bradley Chubb should have been selected here. Whether or not the new GM Gettleman and new HC Pat Shurmur feel like they will take the “we’ll score more than you” approach this year or they just wanted to sort out the running back position once and for all, it’s undeniable that Saquon is the “name” of the draft and it will alleviate some media pressure and ensure that people still wanted to queue an hour for parking beforehand to turn up to MetLife stadium and drink overpriced beer. Things could turn sour quite quickly however, and I have likened to Barkley in this offence like a Ferrari in rush hour, not going anywhere.

A main criticism of Barkley going in to the draft was the fact that he rarely put his head down and gained the tough yards, instead opting for tippy tapping around in the backfield to find a hole. This may lead to some poor ypc averages for Barkley if Solder and their draft picks cannot sort out the lanes or blocking for their new running back. As there are a lot of haters on this pick, it will need to reap rewards fairly quickly otherwise a lot of people will turn quickly in New York and it wont take much for that to happen. Overall, if I were a Giants fan, I think I can trust Gettleman and Shurmur with the dealings here and it’s just fortunate that Ben McAdoo is no longer there.

From a fantasy perspective, Barkley will get a full workload from the get go. His pass catching ability will mean that he will likely go in the first round of your fantasy drafts.

It would surprise to see Barkley easily surpass 1000 yards, but the touchdowns may not be there as much as people expect. It will be imperative that Nate Solder helps that offensive line hugely and elevates the play of those around him (along with any players they accumulate in the draft).

Moving to pick 3 by the New York Jets, they sure did hit the jackpot. With hindsight, they got exactly what they would’ve wanted from pick 3, the choice of QB. Darnold, Allen and Rosen were sitting there waiting and they were proactive in deciding that they wanted to choose their destiny in the draft. With the Giants seemingly happy to not go a Quarterback in the first round, they guaranteed themselves either Baker Mayfield or Sam Darnold. And that has to be a big win for the franchise. Darnold ticks a lot of boxes and will likely be successful in the league for a long time, something the Jets have looked at settling at the Quarterback position since Ken O’Brien. Like the Browns, the Jets have struggled to have a competent QB for more than 2 years in succession and set their stall out early in the offseason when trading their 2nd Round picks with the Colts to move up to 3. The back office will be in danger of losing their positions at the end of the season should this one not work out but I believe they have selected correctly here (Josh Allen could have been a disaster here). Like the Giants, the Jets have a few other holes to plug in the draft and I am sure that they will all be tailored around ensuring that Darnold has the best chance to succeed (mainly because they don’t have a lot of picks left, with no pick in round 2).

One thing is for sure, they will be talking about this draft for years to come in New York… because it could be the year the Jets surpassed them and became a better team (not the team with the best players), all because the Giants didn’t go QB and the Jets did.

Fantasy-wise, Darnold should slide straight in to the lineup and is one for dynasty leagues as this team are kind of still in rebuild mode. Robby Anderson could miss a lot of time, if not the whole season. Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins has left and only Terrelle Pryor has joined the ranks at this point.

The first shock of the draft happened at pick 4; No the Browns didn’t trade back and they didn’t pick Bradley Chubb. The Browns select Denzel Ward, the Corner from Ohio State. Not too much to discuss here from a fantasy perspective but it was surprising to most people that they didn’t go Chubb to partner their #1 pick last year in Myles Garrett and have a loaded front defensive line.

Chubb didn’t have much longer to wait in the draft, however, and was immediately selected at pick 5 by John Elway and the Denver Broncos. He partners Von Miller to bolster back up that defence. The way that the first 4 picks turned out proved to be decisive, as the Bills reportedly had a trade in place for the Bills to come up to pick 5. But as Chubb was there, Denver cut the deal off and selected Chubb so clearly they felt he was going to be picked by the Giants or the Browns, too.

Quenton Nelson is now a Colt in the most non-surprising pick of the draft at number 6. He will be a multi year pro bowler and will have the job of protecting Andrew Luck for years to come. You would expect the Colts to continue to fill their cheese grater of a squad with their multiple 2nd round picks.

The Bills finally managed to get in the top 10 at pick 7, selecting Josh Allen in what will be a meticulously analysed pick in the next few years. Many suggest that Allen is the most likely bust candidate from the top 4 QBs that were selected. He looks to be a Buffalo type player, has a crazy strength arm and will be erratic, but Buffalo will likely still be a run first team this season, mainly due to the lack of weapons for Allen to throw to. He isn’t touchable in fantasy, maybe not even in dynasty leagues due to his errors and how prone he is to errant passes. Buffalo on the whole aren’t going to be a goldmine for fantasy, and that includes LeSean McCoy. That said, the arm strength Allen possesses, may just about keep the defences honest, something Tyrod was never really able to do.

Chicago boosted their linebacking depth with Roquan Smith in a move most saw coming at pick 8, whilst San Francisco went offensive line at pic 9 with Mike McGlinchey, ensuring that their star QB doesn’t hit the deck much.

Chicago, who overhauled their offence in the free agency, should continue to bolster the front 7 in the draft. The 49ers have similar needs to the Bears, but decided against addressing that in the 1st round.  For fantasy purposes, these 2 defences will be middle of the road defences and will rely a bit on their respective offences staying on the field, scoring and putting the pressure back on the opposing teams offences, rather than their own defence.

Pick 10 saw the Arizona Cardinals possibly beat Miami to the punch, trading with Oakland and selecting the final QB of the big 4. Josh Rosen will sit behind Sam Bradford (until he gets injured) and will be a nice fit there in desert county. Similar to Buffalo, Arizona will need to give Allen some WR to throw to in the coming years, especially with Larry Fitzgerald likely retiring after this season. Don’t be surprised if Arizona address the WR position later in the draft.

So there are the first 10 picks in the draft covered. Below are the best and worst picks of the rounds:

Best Pick: Quenton Nelson – Indianapolis

The Colts have a long way to go in order to fill their gaps on both sides of the ball, but Quenton Nelson falling to 6, who could be a future Hall of Fame type player is a great start.

Worst Pick: Josh Allen

May be a cop out here, but Josh Allen could have fallen to them at 12 and Josh Allen is possibly the riskiest proposition of the big 4 QBs. Likely to start early in the season, if not week 1, Allen will have a steep learning curve to overcome if he is to avoid being the next Nathan Peterman.

Picks 11-21 will be up sometime Sunday evening.

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