Intriguing contract-year conundrums

By Sean Tyler @seantyleruk

2020 will see a wealth of the NFL’s top players hit their contract year on one level or another. There’s obviously Dak Prescott at Dallas, looking to get paid for four years rather than five, but we yak about Dak elsewhere on the site so let’s park him for now. The F10Y gang have also discussed Minnesota’s Captain Holdout, Dalvin Cook, on a recent podcast so again, I’ll step away.

The old timers, like Philip Rivers at the Colts, new Raiders tight end Jason Witten and fellow TE Greg Olsen, now in Seattle, will probably see out their careers one year at a time. And barring disaster, many of those under the franchise tag, from Jalen Ramsey to Chris Jones, will probably waltz right into their next big deal.

But which players have more uncertain futures? Who has everything to play for – or all to lose – this year?


Cincinnati Bengals: Can AJ rediscover the old magic?

John Grieshop/Getty Images
Status: Franchise tagged

While Cincy need to work on a deal for Joe Mixon, Adriel Jeremiah Green is the real head-scratcher. There’s a lot of speculation surrounding AJ, which isn’t surprising, given that the veteran has missed almost a year and a half with an ankle injury sustained in the first offseason training camp and, before that, turf toe. When healthy, Green has been one of the league’s best receivers and currently ranks second in franchise history in receptions (602), receiving yards (8,907) and touchdowns (63). Green hasn’t taken the field since November 2018, which is why the seven-time Pro Bowler got franchise tagged.

There’s no doubting AJ’s pedigree but the big question is, just how much will age and recent injury woes impact his performance? We’ll have to wait till mid-September to see whether he’s worth tying up longer-term in the Queen City. Turning 32 before another snap is played, his current one-year, $18 million “prove it” arrangement is eminently sensible. But should he endure another injury-ravaged campaign, there’s a distinct possibility he’ll be out the door and relying on short-term contracts for the rest of his career.

Green and the Bengals front office have been in talks over a third multi-year deal for a while now but as yet, there’s no agreement. Unless something gets inked before the 15 July deadline, he’ll be in the same boat next off-season. The Bengals rejected trade offers so they must want him around but will they commit to three or four years for a player who’s missed 29 of the last 64 games? If he gets back to his old self and clicks with rookie QB Joe Burrow, I reckon so…


New Orleans Saints: Is Jameis the heir apparent?

Status: One-year deal

As one of the league’s top runners, Alvin Kamara is likely to get (over)paid Christian McCaffrey-esque amounts of money when his deal runs out. But I’m more intrigued to see how Jameis Winston’s one-year, $1.1 million deal plays out.

The 26-year-old is coming off a 5,000-yard, 30-TD season (yeah, OK, there were 30-odd interceptions too) so if Drew Brees is unavailable at any point, Winston could make watching the Saints even more exciting – or nerve-wracking, depending on your allegiances.

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The other incumbent, Taysom Hill, was given a rather generous extension for a 30-year-old who only ranks third on the current roster for passes to Saints players, behind Brees and, somewhat amusingly, Winston himself. (Yes, Jameis has been picked off 10 times by Saints defenders while at the Buccaneers, eclipsing Hill’s seven career pass completions!). Yet Hill, whose own $21 million contract is the third-highest for a back-up QB, is also a special teams Swiss Army knife and they may have other plans for him.

We won’t know for sure whether Winston will be the immediate stand-in, let alone the long-term answer, unless Brees goes down. But, much like Teddy Bridgewater last year, things could work out well if he fills in successfully for a few games.

For all his foibles, at least Winston is a known quantity but what if he sits out the whole year? The Saints will have quite the dilemma deciding what to do with the former #1 overall pick if he stays on the bench. Brees signed a two-year, $50 million contract in March so he won’t be put out to grass quite yet, so do they sit on Jameis for another year?

I think they do. I can see him learning the ways of Sean Payton so that when Brees does finally retire, the Saints have their long-term replacement primed and ready to go.


Chicago Bears: Do they trust Trubisky?

David Banks/Getty Images
Status: Fifth-year option rejected

I think we can safely say that, in acquiring Nick Foles during the offseason and declining Mitchell Trubisky’s fifth-year option, the Bears have put their QB on notice. It’s possibly a bona fide battle for the starting job in 2020 and it’s arguably Trubisky’s to lose at this point. But given his form since Chicago traded up to take him at #2 overall in the 2017 Draft – ahead of Deshaun Watson (oof!) and Patrick Mahomes (ouch!) – he may not start all 16 games. 

Over the last three campaigns, Trubisky clearly hasn’t progressed as expected, with a completion rate of 63.4%, an average of 6.7 yards per attempt and just 48 touchdowns. He’s also struggled with shoulder injuries, which is probably another reason why the final-year option wasn’t picked up.

In short, Trubisky needs a breakout season to keep Foles off the field, and propel the Bears to a playoff spot that really should’ve been theirs last year. Even if he suddenly becomes the QB they’d hoped he was three years ago, Chicago could franchise-tag him next year, just to be sure it’s not a flash in the plan. Or they might just trade him away, with Foles waiting in the wings. However it plays out, 2020 feels like a make-or-break year for Trubisky.


San Francisco 49ers: Where’s Trent Williams’ head at?

The Associated Press
Status: Final year of existing deal

It’s hard to see the Niners letting TE George Kittle walk away when his deal expires, and they may also have to budget for fellow contract-year teammates Richard Sherman and Kyle Juszczyk. So for me, the main question mark facing the 49ers is Trent Williams.  

Williams has been one of the best tackles in the NFL for years, competing with the likes of Jason Peters for being top of the class for pass and run blocking. But obviously, there are alarm bells concerning his health issues last year: a pre-cancerous growth on his head led to him sitting out the entire 2019 season, due to how he felt the Redskins medical staff handled the situation.

The 49ers traded for Williams during the 2020 Draft, so what kind of player will the 33-year-old be after such a protracted layoff? Well, he passed his medical, didn’t ask for an extension and restructured the final year of his existing deal so that he could prove himself. He’s also familiar with Kyle Shanahan, a former offensive coordinator in Washington, so he should prove to be a plug-and-play, Pro Bowl calibre starter in a position of need, having joined the Niners just as Joe Staley retired. Assuming he’s OK health-wise, I can only see this working out well for both parties.


Tennessee Titans: Will Derrick Henry get paid?

Status: Franchise tagged

Derrick Henry was a contract-year conundrum this offseason so the Titans slapped him with the franchise tag (just north of $10 million) to keep him away from free agency, giving the prolific running back another 12 months’ grace.

The 25-year-old half-man, half-tank led the league in rushing yards (1,540) and rushing touchdowns (16) in 2019, and almost single-handedly carried the team through their three playoff games. But the fact that he still hasn’t earned himself a multi-year contract says a lot about how teams undervalue running backs. It also says a lot about how much the Titans value QB Ryan Tannehill, who did get paid.

So where does this leave Mr Henry? The vibe between team and player seems pretty positive: he wants to be in Tennessee and Tennessee want him so hopefully, it’s just a matter of time before he gets the pay day his services deserve.


Pittsburgh Steelers: Has JuJu lost his mojo?

Getty Images
Status: Fifth-year option declined

The Steelers have a lot of talent with a year left on the clock but they can’t afford to pay them all. They slapped the franchise tag on linebacker Bud Dupree and DT Cameron Heyward is probably due a monster, Aaron-Donald-like deal. Tackle Alejandro Villanueva could earn himself a new contract too, but RB James Conner may well leave, having taken a backwards step last year.

But what about his 2017 classmate, receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster? He needs a bounce-back season as much as anyone. In his 12 games last year, he totalled 42 receptions for 552 yards and three touchdowns – all career lows and certainly not numbers worthy of a No.1 receiver. With Diontae Johnson and James Washington showing promise, plus new draftee Chase Claypool, the odds of JuJu getting a big second contract are dwindling.

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I don’t know whether last year’s struggles were all due to the rotation of back-up quarterbacks, or if a team’s top wideout should still post decent numbers, whoever’s throwing the rock. Maybe it’s a bit of both but at least Ben Roethlisberger is back at the helm after missing most of last year. Perhaps this will help JuJu will get back to where he was in 2018: 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns, with a trip to the Pro Bowl thrown in, despite playing second fiddle to Antonio Brown.

Had he kept that momentum going last year, he might already have that extension in his pocket. But for now, the best Smith-Schuster can hope for now is a return to form and a franchise tag a year hence.


Jacksonville Jaguars: Is Fournette a bust?

Status: Fifth-year option declined

While the Bears deserve some stick for drafting Trubisky in 2017, the Jaguars are probably equally culpable for selecting Leonard Fournette at #4. With Blake Bortles (with a 11-34 record) on their books, a new QB might have been a wiser move but they aslo passed on two generational signal-callers and plumped for a running back. Even then, they picked the wrong one, with Christian McCaffrey available.

It’s easy to be critical with hindsight and Fournette is at least coming off his best season, after a terrible 2018. Despite just three TDs, his 1,674 total yards was a career high. But even when performing well, he’s not worth the big-money deal, which is why the Jaguars tried to trade him before rejecting his fifth-year option.

Without Jalen Ramsey, Nick Foles and Calais Campbell, the Jags could struggle this year. So, even if Fournette does well on an individual level, he’s still likely to end up signing a cheap, short free-agent deal with another franchise next off-season.


Los Angeles Rams: Will Cooper’s cup runneth over?

Action Images via Reuters
Status: Fifth-year option declined

The Rams have two big names playing in the final season of their rookie contracts. The first, cornerback Jalen Ramsey, will almost certainly recalibrate the value of elite CBs when a deal gets done. The other is WR Cooper Kupp.

A third-round section in the 2017 Draft, Kupp’s fifth-year option wasn’t taken up. Maybe the Rams’ miniscule salary cap space was a factor, having coughed up huge deals to Todd Gurley, Jared Goff, Aaron Donald and Brandin Cooks over the last couple of years, but it still came as a bit of a surprise to me.

Admittedly, an ACL injury ruled him out for half of 2018 but in his other two-and-a-half seasons, he’s notched 21 touchdowns and caught 196 passes for 2,596 yards (a figure boosted by the 220 he got against the listless Bengals defence at Wembley… but I digress).

Is Kupp special enough or productive enough to hit pay dirt? Well, his 1,161 regular season receiving yards (12th) and 10 touchdowns (second) were certainly up there with the best in 2019. Sure, he faces some fresh competition from rookie Van Jefferson and a plethora of undrafted free agent WRs, but I’d expect Kupp to have another solid season and sign a deal that keeps him in LA.


Atlanta Falcons: Is it too early to write off Gurley?

Status: One-year deal

After being let go by the Rams in March, Todd Gurley II found a new home in Atlanta just 24 hours later. Largely driven by concerns over his troublesome left knee, the brevity of his $6 million deal – it’s just for a year – marks quite the comedown from the 2018 deal that made him the highest-paid RB in NFL history: $60 million over four years. The fact that LA were willing to let the 25-year-old go, despite the massive hit in dead-cap money, speaks volumes. Ludicrously, despite not having to fork out a roster bonus, the Rams will still be paying Gurley more this year ($7.5 million) to play for the Falcons than the Falcons will!

In five seasons with the Rams, Gurley rushed for 5,404 yards and scored 58 touchdowns; he also caught 218 passes for 2,090 yards and 12 more TDs. He was 2017’s NFL Offensive Player of the Year but by the end of 2018, things had gone sour in LA. Then, last year, Gurley rushed for a career-low 857 yards and while questions about his knee persisted, Rams coach Sean McVay swore he was healthy and eventually called himself an idiot for not giving him more touches.

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So will Gurley’s homecoming of sorts – he’s a product of the University of Georgia – enable him to earn himself a longer, more lucrative deal? It feels like a crucial year for HC Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff as they target the playoffs so if they get there, even partly due to Gurley, the next contract shouldn’t be an issue.

With a wealth of talent around him – Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and Hayden Hurst – Gurley doesn’t need to be superman. He just needs to stay healthy, and give Atlanta’s anaemic, 30th-ranked running game some life support. As a replacement for the outgoing Davonta Freeman, Gurley could just be the man to save the day.

Banner image credit: Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy Football Nightmares part 2

By Tim Monk (@Tim_MonkF10Y)

Welcome back to part 2 of the Fantasy Nightmares series. If you are one that enjoys having sleepless nights and are good mates with Freddy Krueger, this article is going to suit you down to the ground. You can find the first installment of this article here, where I took a look at some other examples of Running Back rooms or Wide Receiver groups that are going to cause more than their fair share of sweats in 2020.

Be sure to let us know on Social Media Channels what your Fantasy Football nightmares are for 2020 and maybe i’ll put together a part 3 of this horrifying series. @Tim_MonkF10Y or @F10YFantasy is where you can find us.


Denver Running Backs


Why cant simple things be left simple?

Phillip Lindsay, their undrafted FA running back who has shot to fame in the NFL with back to back 1,000+ rushing seasons, looked to have a stronghold on the backfield going in to 2020. With him in said backfield was Royce Freeman, who totalled 752 all purpose yards on 175 touches of the rock. We knew the roles, we knew the production levels…everything was as Hear’say once sung, “pure and simple”.

In 2020 however, it’s going to get a bit murkier in the backfield.

Enter Melvin Gordon, last year’s running back holdout perpetrator. The 27 year old running back out of Wisconsin comes in to the fray with a chip on his shoulder and out to prove his worth. Melvin Gordon is a talented running back held in high regard throughout the league, but if you look at his impact in the league since being drafted #15 overall in 2015, it doesn’t make for pleasant reading and is yet another reason why running backs find themselves in relative contract poverty.

https://widgets.sports-reference.com/wg.fcgi?css=1&site=pfr&url=%2Fplayers%2FG%2FGordMe00.htm&div=div_rushing_and_receiving&del_col=3,4,5,11,12,13,14,15,19,21,23,24,25,26,30,32&del_row=1

For a variety of reasons as shown above in his career stats, Gordon has only completed 1 full season in which he totalled over 1,000 yards on the ground, the only time he’s been able to accomplish that feat thus far in his career. Only once (2018) was Gordon able to muster over 4 yards per carry (not great bob) and got completely cast into the shadows with Austin Ekeler’s breakout year in 2019, even when he came back with his tail between his legs during the middle of last season. Despite all these underwhelming achievements on his CV, the Broncos decided to hand Gordon a 2 year $16m deal. So what do we do with this backfield?

Looking at the contracts of the backfield between the top 2 on the depth chart in greater detail helps unravel some clues. The contract for Gordon is a bit more team friendly in year 2 in terms of dead cap ($6.5m), which indicates to me that the Broncos could ride with Gordon this season to their heart’s content meaning Gordon gets the biggest slice of the pie and Lindsay getting sloppy seconds and Royce Freeman potentially being the 2020 version of the 2019 Devontae Booker.

I doubt that using Rookie QB Drew Lock’s contract to help pay for Melvin Gordon over the next 2 years will be awarded most shrewd investment in building a Super Bowl winning team, but seeing as though their 2019 star Lindsay is on just $755,000, I can see why they might want to try out the Melvin Gordon experiment. Keep your eyes peeled for any new deal that may come Lindsay’s way (don’t bank on it), but it is telling that the Broncos decided to go out and pay Gordon the money they did, instead of giving it to Lindsay who’s been there and done it twice since getting on the field.

Broncos running backs showed room for improvement in 2019
Matthew Stockman / Getty

The conundrum we have to try and unpick here is who fills what role; Gordon is capable both on the ground and through the air. Lindsay is excellent on the ground and Royce Freeman is more of the pass catcher tasked back.

Putting numbers in to the equation, Denver amassed 1662 yards on the ground (ranked 20th in the NFL). Drew Lock came in for the last 5 games as a rookie and ranked 22nd in the league in terms of total rushing TDs (11). The team were inconsistent at best and finished 7-9. You’d have to think that you can extend the ceiling of the teams rushing stats with a step forward from Drew Lock and better O-Line play. Only 7/16 games in 2019 did the Broncos manage to surpass 100 yards on the ground, despite being ranked 14th in the league for rush attempts

On the face of it this looks to be a fantasy nightmare, and it could still prove to be considering draft prices (Melvin Gordon currently being drafted as RB12 at the back of the 2nd, Lindsay much cheaper in the 8th), the contracts and the current ADP tell you what you need to know for this backfield. Investing that draft capital on Gordon as the RB12 though is as risky as it gets.

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The good news for those at the 2/3 turn though is that you will already have a stud RB from your first round pick. If Gordon falls to those at the 3/4 turn, where WR or possibly TEs have been taken, it could potentially be a shrewd investment if the contracts are the biggest indicator on who will get the lion’s share of work in this backfield. If the contracts lie, this is where your nightmares will come to haunt you.


Pittsburgh Steelers Wide Receivers


This is a nightmare that even Freddy Krueger wouldn’t want a part of. Firstly you have the question at Quarterback: Is Super Bowl winning stalwart Ben Roethlisberger going to be fit and is it going to last for 16 games. The nightmare starts before the season starts here because you have to decide whether or not you trust Big Ben to start and complete the season. I have my doubts but let’s assume that he does, there is a chance that the nightmare becomes the stuff dreams are made of.

Ben Roethlisberger needs surgery, out for the season
Matt Sunday – DKPS

In seasons that Big Ben completed at least 15 games from 2012, his fantasy finishes have been #3, #9 (15 games), #6 and #9. He has averaged 305 fantasy points over the course of those 4 seasons and was the reason behind Antonio Brown being a top 4 WR between 2013-2018 and current WR JuJu Smith-Schuster a top 16 QB in each of his first two seasons.

We know it’s in the locker, but is the locker there to be opened?

Part 2 of the nightmare are the Wide Receivers themselves.

Gone are the days of guaranteed production from Antonio Brown and his successor JuJu Smith-Schuster has had a tough go of it sans “AB” throughout his shot at being “the guy” in 2019. I appreciate that he had Mason Rudolph and a professional Duck caller at QB, but “elite” WR find ways to get it done, no matter the signal caller is under Center. JuJu ended up as WR66 (!), mainly due to his 4 games on the sidelines at the back end of the season. Even so, he was a top 10 WR just once (vs Miami) and a WR2 on 2 further occasions. This after finishing the WR8 in 2018. Looking at Matt Harmon’s Reception Perception, this further illustrates JuJu’s struggles. He fell below the 24th percentile in success rate vs. man coverage and the 12th percentile in success rate vs. press for the third-straight year.

Simply put, JuJu is not your go to WR1 on the outside who will just dominate. He needs a certain type of role, preferably from the slot, where he lined up for 63% of snaps in 2019. The good news for JuJu fans is that there are plenty of candidates in the WR room with him to allow him to move there on a more regular basis.

Dionate Johnson, their 2019 3rd round pick showed flashes in his rookie year with 59 receptions, 680 yards and 5 touchdowns with the aforementioned below average QBs (good enough for a WR41 finish in half ppr leagues where he would have been a waiver wire pickup and had 5/16 games as a WR2 or better, 2 of which were in the last 4 games of the season).

NFL: AFC Divisional Playoff-Jacksonville at Pittsburgh Steelers
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

Chase Claypool is this year’s shiny new toy. As a 2nd round selection you’d have to figure he is battling to be James Washington’s replacement. Washington, a previous 2nd pick himself in 2018 probably wont be a threat to the other guys mentioned and likely to be no more than a bit part player despite tripling his output from year 1 to year 2, but he and Claypool have a role to play.

So you get 2 nightmares for the price of one with the Pittsburgh WR with the QB being the collapsing floor on the noose block for all of these guys. If Big Ben stays healthy you can expect perhaps up to 2 WRs returning a healthy profit from their potential ADPs as it stands. However, if Big Ben goes down once more (and maybe for the final time) and the trap door lever gets pulled, all of these WRs are going to hung from a fantasy perspective.

Current prices for the WR show JuJu at a heavily discounted 6th round price, though I’d expect that to rise come drafting in redraft leagues in August. Diontae Johnson is next best in the 10th round – again, expect that to rise a tad as the months pass and we get some conductors selling tickets for carriages on his hype train. You’ll also have James Washington and 2020 2nd round draft pick Chase Claypool in the mix, with the latter likely getting more than a few darts thrown at him if camp shows potential promise.


Carolina Panthers Wide Receivers


If you thought Pittsburgh was difficult and 2 nightmares for the price of 1 was bad enough, let’s take a trip to Charlotte, North Carolina. We have 3 variables coming into effect for 2020.

First up change in the Head Coach and coaching setup. Matt Rhule comes over from Baylor where he spent the last 3 years and is coming off an impressive 11-1 final season in College ball, falling to Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship game. Matt Rhule, the 5th Carolina HC in Panthers history taking over from Ron Rivera brings a experience in turning teams around. Baylor went from a team with a bad reputation both on and off the field and change the entire culture, culminating in a championship appearance.

Matt Rhule: After rebuilding Bears & Owls, can he rebuild the ...
Mark Dolejs

A change in HC generally means a change in offensive co-ordinator and that Rhule (sorry) applies here. Joe Brady, passing game co-ordinator also jumps the CFB ship from National Championship winners LSU, no less. It’s well documented how impressive the 2019 LSU season was when winning it all and is a fundamental reason why joe burrow went from mid round pick to #1 overall in this year’s draft. It’s an intriguing mesh Rhule and the Panthers have put together but change is hard to overcome in year 1 of any scheme in any level of this sport.

Part 2 of the nightmare is the change in quarterback. Teddy Bridgewater was much maligned during 2019 when deputising for Drew Brees when he sat on the sidelines with a thumb injury, this despite going 5-0 in the games he started. The Panthers organisation opted to sign Bridgewater to a 3 year $63m deal which in today’s quarterback salaries is peanuts. Bridgewater is known as a dink and dunk quarterback who will not push the ball down field. However his yards per attempt (7.1) are around the middle in terms of league rank, but does average outside the top 32 with an average of 6.2 yards on depth of target (Brees around the same mark with 6.4yds).

Panthers OC Joe Brady on Teddy Bridgewater: 'He lights up the room'
Jonathan Bachman / Getty Images

Teddy Bridgewater has only completed one full season as a starter, which was back in 2015 and threw for 3,231. That’s not a lot of yardage to go around. However, if you extrapolate Bridgewater’s 5 games out over the course of last season with the Saints though, you get to well over 4,000 yards. That eases the pain somewhat.

The nightmare you have to try and erase from your mind is whether Teddy Bridgewater will have enough production to return the value for these Wide Receivers. I have my doubts.

Next comes the real nightmare though, the Wide Receivers themselves. Let’s start off with the easy bit;

Most people will be envisioning a pack of wolves trying to live off of Teddy Bridgewater’s yardage and targets. That being said, you only have to look back at last season and see that DJ Moore is going to get his no matter what. Carolina trotted out Kyle Allen and Will Grier last season with Cam Newton down yet DJ Moore still managed to record 87 receptions for 1,175 yards and 4TDs. It’s safe to say that the upgrade at QB for this year will see DJ Moore easily surpass the century milestone and notch a few more scratches on the endzone goalpost. Averaging at just shy of 6 receptions per game, it’s safe to say that DJ Moore could be bulletproof and well worth the 4th round investment for those that have gone RB heavy. Dare I say it you COULD trot him out as your WR1. He is currently going around the Calvin Ridley/Allen Robinson/Robert Woods area of drafts. Lock DJ Moore in for 100-110 receptions, 1,200 yards and around 7TDs plus some small rushing shrapnel. This is good enough for a WR1 return and would’ve nabbed WR 4.

But what to do with the others?

Carolina Panthers wide receiver competition expected to be fierce
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Curtis Samuel, their other main protagonist last season didn’t fare so well in a struggling offence. 54 receptions for 627 yards and 7 TDs (1 rushing) when many were particularly high on him. He is now competing with Robby Anderson, who interestingly, Matt Rhule coached in college at Temple in 2016.

Robby Anderson is another whom we are all waiting for monster numbers. Let’s face it, he was never going to get what we all wanted in New York because Todd Bowles and Adam Gase were not good Head Coaches and the teams they ordered out on to the field every Sunday were way below average. Anderson has never reached the 1,000 yard season landmark in his 4 years in the league and is unlikely too here change that record in 2020. Yes these 2 guys are cheap as chips, but you are going to continually be pulling your hair out when they will let you down more often than not in roster management leagues.

To tie the knot on the Panthers’ fantasy options, Christian McCaffrey will ciphen a heavy % of the targets and Tight End Ian Thomas could make a bit of a step forward this season with no Greg Olsen.

It has all the hallmarks of chasing points with these two WR so Bestball may be the best route to go with these guys. In a team where, as Keane put it “Everybody’s changing”, back DJ Moore and leave the rest of the headaches to someone else.


LA Rams Tight Ends


As soon as you see the word Tight End, you know there is a nightmare attached to it. We have 3 to contend with here in the Rams half of Los Angeles. Their uniforms may be “bone” ugly and so is trying to unravel this position group for fantasy purposes.

We have Tyler Higbee, Gerald Everett and 2020 4th round pick Brycen Hopkins. We can readily push Hopkins aside but don’t be surprised if you hear his name a couple of times out of the gate. Hopkins found the redzone regularly, especially in his final college season at Purdue and totalled 61 receptions for 830 yards and 7 celebrations in the endzone. He was named to the first team All-Big 10 and was named Kwalick–Clark Tight End of the Year, the one they all want to win. He could be the classic case of you think your guy has scored a touchdown for fantasy to win you the week, only for Scott Hanson to call out Brycen Hopkins name. We’ve all been there.

So let’s focus on the 2 names we are more familiar with and probably helped you win some titles last season. The Rams started homing in on their Tight Ends as the season wore on and between weeks 5-10 Gerald Everett produced 4 top 10 finishes at the positions. As Higbee went down with injury missing 3 games from week 13, Higbee stepped up and produced weeks of TE1, TE5, TE3, TE9 and TE1, averaging 17.1pts in half PPR leagues.

Tight End finishes taken from UDK

Now that they’ll both (assumedly) be healthy heading in to 2020, is there room for both to succeed?

The short answer is no, so which one is more likely to be more reliable next season?

Looking at some datapoints when both were healthy in 2019, Gerald Everett got the nod (or at the very least the best of it) in terms of targets and snap %. However, looking at off-season actions, Tyler Higbee (27 years old) was rewarded with a 4year $29m deal with over half in guarantees whilst Gerald Everett (25 years old), is on the last year of his rookie deal. It’s not to say that Everett won’t re-sign , but indications are that they like what they have in Higbee, perhaps drafted Hopkins to replace Everett once the season is up.

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Cost wise, Tyler Higbee will cost you a late 7th round pick, which screams recency bias, whilst Everett is looking like he’ll be undrafted in most startups/redraft leagues.

The 7th round also sees TEs Evan Engram, Hayden Hurst and Hunter Henry in the vicinity so you have to weigh up whether Higbee is worth that investment. Me personally, I’ll take Hurst and Henry or just wait until later on a punt the position. One saving grace though for Higbee buyers is that Jared Goff tied for the most attempts in 2019 with 626. He managed to get 4,638 yards out of those attempts and 22 TDs.

With no more Todd Gurley catching dumps offs and perhaps more of an allegiance to 12 personnel formations, you could see the Tight Ends contributing on a fairly regular basis for a position that doesn’t need much production to help you win any given fantasy week.


Baltimore Ravens Running Backs


I know what you are shouting at me; How can one of the most dominant rushing attacks be a nightmare to choose from. Well let me tell you.

Let’s get the running back  Quarterback out of the way first.

Lamar Jackson had an historic year with his legs accounting for 1,206 yards or 36% of his teams rushing yards in 2019. 36%! He finished 6th in the season total rushing yards leaderboard, yes that’s including Running Backs. You’d think that the guys in the backfield would be in production poverty but the 30year old former Alabama and Saints RB Mark Ingram finished 14th on that same leaderboard and had himself yet another 1,000+ yard season along with 15 total touchdowns despite edging ever more closer to the running back production cliff. Gus continued his bus tour to the tune of 711 yards and 2019 rookie Justice Hill played a small part too.

The headache this year comes in the form of 2nd round pick JK Dobbins. Clearly, he is the successor to Mark Ingram when he hangs up his battered cleats, but what is his impact in year 1? Does he come in a devour a big chunk of Mark Ingram’s production and push him off the cliff? Or does he get eased in more as the season wears on?

Where will Ohio State's J.K. Dobbins be taken in NFL Draft 2020 ...
David Petkiewicz

Running backs not named Frank Gore or Adrian Peterson (and Mark Ingram I guess you could add) don’t have a long shelf life so there is a big question mark about what these guy’s stats will look like come the end of week 17. JK Dobbins will have the rookie hype train with carriages packed to the brim and that’s baked into the current 7th round ADP price you are currently paying.

If the status quo remains, that price is only going to increase, or as Status Quo fans may say “Down Down”. Mark Ingram is currently going around the end of the 4th/start of the 5th round at the moment and again will be a target for those who have gone Zero RB or have not been looked upon by the RB gods in drafts as they try and squeeze the lat bit of juice out of the former Heisman trophy winner.

You could assume that Lamar Jackson’s watermark for rushing yards will not be surpassed in any of his future years, meaning that there are some ceded yards to go to the backfield but it will most likely be a full committee as Dobbins takes over the reins from Mark Ingram (you can leave Gus and his bus at the station and he will likely fizzle out and be decommissioned).

Lamar Jackson 2020 MVP hopes: How ex-MVPs have fared after winning ...
Robert Hanashiro / USA Today Sports

I envision a smaller pie to eat from in this rushing attacked and I’ll go and stick my neck out and say that it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that NO Ravens RB achieves 1,000 yards on the ground this season (I think Lamar will make it back to back seasons barring injury), meaning that I’d rather take the upside of JK Dobbins taking over earlier than the Ravens may want him to a few rounds later than Mark Ingram and especially a few more rounds earlier than Lamar Jackson will be going this year.

One extra thought before I leave this backfield – If Lamar Jackson gets injured, perhaps both Ingram and Dobbins could go over 1,000 yards so you could argue there is a bit of a bittersweet scenario there.

Comeback Players in 2020

By Kieran Patterson (@DCCYTFootball)

Ben Roethlisberger – QB, Pittsburgh Steelers


After missing almost the whole 2019 season due to injury Ben Roethlisberger is poised for a big comeback.

Don't Give Up On Ben Roethlisberger Just Yet | FiveThirtyEight
Joe Sargent / Getty

While I’m not a fan of this man, he’s undeniably a great player and given the problems the Steelers had with their quarterback situation last year, I’m sure most Steelers fans want to see him back. Even though Duck Hodges is undeniably one of the best personalities in the sport, his play isn’t quite up to scratch.

I’m a betting man so my money is on Big Ben winning the comeback player of the year with the weapons around him.


Todd Gurley – RB, Atlanta Falcons


Atlanta Falcons landed the former first round running back, giving him a one year deal worth $5.5 Million.

Now this is more of a risky pick given Gurley’s history with injuries, but provided he can stay healthy, Gurley will want to prove what a mistake the Rams made by dropping him the way they did.

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The Atlanta Falcons have a ton of weapons going into this season, so look for Gurley to be a big part of this offence and, health permitting, make a big comeback.


Baker Mayfield – QB, Cleveland Browns


Baker Mayfield was, to put it bluntly, a complete shambles last year. After a record-breaking rookie season Mayfield was poised to come in and bring the Browns their first winning season in years. He sadly flopped. You knew by midseason that hacks like Colin Cowherd were foaming at the mouth watching the Browns struggle to put it together come game time, despite their stacked roster.

Ravens defense 'holds' attention of Browns' Baker Mayfield ahead ...
Ben Margot / AP

The biggest reason for the Browns underperformance was having a first time head coach trying to manage a team full of talent and strong personalities. Oh, and instead of getting an extra piece for their offensive line, they just added OBJ and gave up a first round pick. Never change, Cleveland. Never change.

Mayfield has the talent to be a top tier quarterback in the league, and provided he gets the right attention in camp and stays away from filming so many endorsement deals, I see Mayfield being a serious contender for comeback player of the year in 2020.


Mathew Stafford – QB, Detroit Lions


Until his unfortunate injury last season, Matthew Stafford was looking like one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. He ranked 8th amongst quarterbacks in Pro Football Focus grading from week 1 to week 9; no small feat.

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Now factor in all the weapons this offence has. TJ Hockenson, Kenny Golliday, Danny Amendola and now D’Andre Swift (Top receiving running back in the draft) among others.

If Stafford can start the season strong, and even string together some decent wins for the Lions, there’s no reason we can’t see Stafford take this award home for a second time. Honestly, Stafford has a good a chance as any.


J.J. Watt – DE, Houston Texans


It’s a shame that a man like J.J. Watt has been so unlucky with injuries. One of the best defensive players in the league and, before Aaron Donald came along, probably the best pass rusher, it’s fitting that the only person that can slow down J.J. Watt is J.J. Watt.

Texans' J.J. Watt unsure of how much he will play vs. Chiefs
Bob Levey / Getty

Provided he can stay healthy next year as the Texans push for another run at the playoffs, he’s going to be a force. It would be really great to see the former Walter Peyton man of the year award winner add a comeback player of the year award to his collection.

At 31, Watt’s days in the NFL may soon come to a close, so a return to form would be a fitting conclusion to a storied career. Watch for J.J. to leave it all on the field this year if he can stay healthy.

The craziest proposed NFL trades that never happened

By Kieran Patterson (@DCCYTFootball)

With the news coming out about the Cleveland Browns reportedly turning down the Seattle Seahawks offering up Russell Wilson for the first round pick they used to draft Baker Mayfield, I thought it would be a great idea to look back at other proposed trades that would’ve shaken up the NFL landscape.

How many of these do you remember? If there are any you think are missing, please hit us up over on Twitter @Full10Yards!


Aaron Rodgers to the Oakland Raiders

Back in 2007, Aaron Rodgers was still backing up Brett Farve in Green Bay when the Raiders put Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss on the trade block. Aaron Rodgers for Randy Moss would’ve been a hell of a trade. The reason this trade didn’t go through?

NFL rumors: Packers trading away Aaron Rodgers to Raiders? - nj.com
Matt York / AP

Green Bay wanted a first round pick and Moss for Aaron Rodgers. Moss ended up landing in New England and not only setting multiple records with Tom Brady but going 16-0 in THAT regular season.

Rumours surfacing once again about Aaron Rodgers and whether or not he will start and finish his career at Lambeau Field. Are the Raiders FINALLY gonna get to see A Rod?


Ben Roethlisberger to the Oakland Raiders/St. Louis Rams.

Now this one might be surprising to anyone who doesn’t keep up with the off field stories of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger is far from the perfect teammate; he consistently airs team dirty laundry on his radio show, he thinks he’s the GM and not just a player and struggles to get on with most of his star players.

This isn’t just hearsay though, it’s well documented and this is why I think there’s weight behind this trade. In 2010 it was reported that the Steelers organization was fed up with Big Ben and his behavior that was causing trouble inside the organization and were looking at offers.

The Steelers approached Oakland and offered them Ben and the number 18 pick for the number 8 pick. Oakland said no. They also approached the St. Louis Rams and offered to trade Ben for Sam Bradford who had just completed his rookie year…the Rams said no, and that was that. Big Ben stayed in Pittsburgh and continued to annoy and alienate teammates.

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Dan Marino to the Oakland Raiders

(I mean seriously? I promise this is the last Oakland one…or is it?)

In 1989, the Miami Dolphins had a very average 8-8 season leading them to another year of missing the playoffs. This wasn’t something Don Shula was happy with so they he thought the best course of action would be to change the signal caller, who was legendary quarterback…Dan Marino.

From Dan Marino to Dion Jordan – the Best and Worst of Miami ...
Andy Lyons / Getty

Shula managed to secure a verbal agreement with Raiders Al Davis but last minute the deal fell through, why? Shula got cold feet and upped the asking price for Marino. Twice. The price was too steep, even for Davis. Miami and Marino still never managed to win a Super Bowl.

It’s one of the one things Marino would be remembered for the one of the best quarterbacks to never win a Lombardi.


Eli Manning to the Jacksonville Jaguars

Going into the 2017/2018 season the Jags were really not happy with their Quarterback situation Blake Bortles wasn’t really cutting it.

Eli Manning retirement: Former Giants coach Tom Coughlin, GM Ernie ...
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars needed a solution so they looked north to New York and set their sights on Eli Manning. The 2 time Super Bowl champion had been playing to put it lightly…terrible, but the Jags liked Manning for his Super Bowl experience and his former coach Tom Coughlin was running the Jacksonville front office.

Why didn’t this happen? Blake had a decent season which killed the interest in the trade from the Jags end. Shame Bortles went back to his usual self next season and the “Sacksonville” era was over before it even got started.


Odell Beckham Jr. to The Los Angeles Rams.

A couple of years before he got shipped out to Cleveland for a 1st round pick and Jabrill Peppers the Rams showed serious interest in Odell Beckham Jr.

What did the New York Football Giants want for the spectacular wide receiver? They asked the Rams for two 1st round picks and the Rams only wanted to give them one.

That’s a high price but the Browns eventually paid a similar price giving the Giants a 1st round pick and a 1st round player in Peppers. OBJ has yet to shine in Cleveland would the same thing have happened in LA?  


Antonio Brown to the Buffalo Bills

Okay, so this did/didn’t happen but everyone (kinda) remembers where they were when this went down. It was reported that the Steelers had agreed to send AB to the Bills

Twitter did it’s thing once it turned out that this wasn’t going to go through. Antonio Brown ended up being traded to the Oakland Raiders (why always Oakland?) but even then, he didn’t see the field in a Raiders Jersey, being “set free” to eventually wind up in New England for a game before unceremoniously leaving the league and trying to return ever since.

Fantasy: Dynasty Sells

By Andy Goddard (@Godsy1985)

NFL Fantasy – Dynasty Sells

Image credit: Jim Brown – USA Today Sports

Derrick Henry RB – Tennesse Titans


First on my list of dynasty sells is Derrick Henry. Henry drove the Titans to the 2019 playoffs with his powerful running and it appeared that defenders were scared to try and tackle him. In fact, during one run, Henry used Baltimore Ravens safety Earl Thomas as his lead blocker when a devastating stiff arm spun Thomas around! Henry rushed for 1540 yards  and 16 touchdowns in the 2019 regular season, eclipsing his best ever season by nearly 500 yards! He then backed this up with another 446 yards and two touchdowns during the 2019 playoffs. So why does he make the ‘sell’ list?

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In my opinion, Henry has reached the ceiling and with that, his maximum value. I would certainly be putting the feelers out there to see exactly what you can get for him. Henry has been in the league for 4 seasons and whilst he has been improving year on year, he will not eclipse last seasons performances. Before 2019, Henry had a best season of 1059 yards and 12 touchdowns and in the previous 2 seasons hadn’t reached 1000 yards and only managed 5 touchdowns each year.

There is no doubting that Henry is one of the better running backs in the league at this moment in time but when playing dynasty, you need to capitalise on players at their maximum value. I think Henry’s first three seasons are a better representation of what you can expect if you hold onto him. Don’t expect him to clock up over 1500 yards each year. Get the value now as someone is always desperate for a running back and will no doubt overpay for someone like Henry!


(Image credit: Katharine Lotze – Getty Images)

James Conner RB – Pittsburgh Steelers


At the beginning of last season, James Conner started as the 8th running back taken in the draft (on average) and has now fallen to an average draft position (ADP) of running back 22! The main issue here is health. In 2019 Conner played just 10 games and rushed for a measly 464 yards with a longest run of just 25 yards. There was a lot of hype and expectation on Conner when he took over from Le’Veon Bell and he produced a good year in 2018, rushing for 973 yards and adding 497 receiving yards.

James Conner is still rumoured to be the starting running back for the Steelers franchise (according to Steelers GM Kevin Colbert) which means that he will still have value now. If you are of the belief that he won’t regain the form of 2018, then his value will only drop. If you aren’t sold on him I would consider using him as trade bait. If you want to keep him, he is a third running back at best right now.


(Image credit: Matthew Stockman – Getty Images)

Phillip Lindsay RB – Denver Broncos


Phillip Lindsay is one of the most frustrating players in fantasy football. You can watch the highlights and think he is lighting it up every week but if you delve into the stats he just wasn’t consistent enough. Lindsay will get 20+ points one week and 3 the next! He has value though. If you look at the seasonal stats he has amassed over 1000 yards in each of his first two seasons with 1037 and 1011 yards respectively.

In my opinion, he won’t make it to 1000 yards again in 2020 and his value will drop. Going into 2020, Lindsay will now be splitting time with Melvin Gordon and/or Royce Freeman which will limit his opportunities and he needs to make bigger improvements in the receiving game where he did not have 1 single touchdown in 2019. There just aren’t enough upsides to keep Lindsay right now. Whilst you may have lost the value with the Gordon move, still try and move him on to someone that is a bit more bullish about Lindsay.


(Image credit: Aaron Doster – USA Today Sports)

AJ Green WR – Cincinnati Bengals


AJ Green is a stellar wide receiver, there is no doubting his ability. However, he missed the entirety of the 2019 season due to injury and only played 10 games the year before. He is also 31 years old. Whichever way you look at it, the value that you can potentially get for Green is only going to go down. He may still be of value to a team that is looking for a short-term guy to help win a championship in 2020 or 2021. He certainly won’t be an option for a team that is currently in rebuild mode.

This is where you need to know your league and the teams that make it up. If you know that there is another team that may be one receiver short of having a real chance at winning the championship, you may be able to get some value for Green. AJ Green will likely be staying in Cincinnati and he will probably have rookie QB Joe Burrow throwing him the ball. If he can stay healthy, he is still one of the best receivers in the league. Its a risk to trade him but also a risk to trade for him!


(Image credit: Scott Varley – Staff Photographer)

Keenan Allen WR – LA Chargers


In 2017, Keenan Allen finally proved that he could stay healthy and since then he has amassed three seasons where he has averaged over 100 receptions and over 1200 yards. As good as these numbers appear, he hasn’t been able to score more than six touchdowns each year. He is also losing Philip Rivers at QB. No matter who is under centre for the Chargers next year, it won’t be a big upgrade on Rivers. The uncertainty that Allen now faces leaves a little bit of a problem for dynasty owners. He has been producing good numbers but we have no idea who will be throwing to him in 2020.

You can get good value for Allen and replace him with a young receiver from the draft as his name will still carry a lot of weight. If you can manage to get a mid first round pick for him, you can let the new owner deal with the wide range of possible outcomes for Allen in 2020.

Season in Review – Pittsburgh Steelers

By Shaun Blundell (@Shaun_F10Y)

Next up in our NFL series taking a look back at the 2019 season, we travel to Heinz Field where we look at the Pittsburgh Steelers, where there was another Big Ben who was taken out of action for while…


Entering the season

An offseason removing the diva distractions of Antonio Brown and Leveon Bell saw the steelers lose obvious talent, but probably gain some locker room harmony.

They were aggressive in the draft trading up into the top 10 to select linebacker Devin Bush and were hopeful of nice follow up seasons from JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner.

Talk was quiet on the Ben Rothelisberger retirement front and as with most seasons, the Steelers started the year as many experts pick for the AFC North crown.


during the season

How quickly can a season unravel?

An opening Sunday Night Football embarrassment on the road in New England was a bad start. The loss of their starting QB for the season in week 2 was a heartbreaker. An 0-3 start was confirmed with defeat to the surging San Francisco 49ers and many people were getting their pitchforks ready to declare the season over before it had even really began. Do we never learn anything? Winners of 5 out of their next 6, all of a sudden the Steelers had a winning record and hopes of a playoff berth.

An in season trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick proved fruitful as the defence kept the team in games whilst rotating through Mason Rudolph and Devlin “Duck” Hodges at quarterback.

JuJu and James Conner through a combination of injuries and poor quarterback play have not reproduced at the level people had hoped for but through good coaching the Steelers have hung around. A 3 game winning streak had them with control over their own playoff destiny but a late season skid sees them just fall short.

Image Credit – Jessie Wardaski / Post-Gazette

A season that the Steelers can be proud of, considering the hand they were dealt. Fitzpatrick has been a roaring success on the back end of the defence. TJ Watt has been a dominant force in the pass rush department and Devin Bush has grown as the season has developed. 


offseason outlook

The offseason focus will surely be on the offensive side of the ball. Will “Big Ben” return is the most pressing of questions.

All of the noises indicate that he wants to return and if that is the case some new weapons will be required. JuJu may not be the number 1 receiver they had hoped for so help is needed out wide. James Conner has struggled when healthy this year so an upgrade in the backfield would not go amiss either.

The line is solid and the defence is always competitive. Mike Tomlin should have a mention for coach of the year honours (he will not win it) so a restocked roster will see the Steelers primed to go again in 2020.

Full10Lookaheads – Week 13

By Tim Monk (@Tim_MonkF10Y) and Euan De Ste Croix (@dissy89)


Who’ll be the Turkey at Thanksgiving?

Image result for thanksgiving nfl turkey

Although they’ve done away with the Galloping Gobbler award on thanksgiving, many people will be looking to see if Jason Garrett will be ripe for roasting once again as they host the Buffalo Bills in their traditional home Thanksgiving game.

A lot of criticism went Garrett’s way after his decision to kick a field goal late in the game at Foxboro’ and the dangerous Buffalo Bills could put Garrett and his coaching qualities under the spotlight once again.

The Cowboys missed an opportunity to steal a march on the NFC East, which would have given him a bit less of a hotseat. With the Eagles now having an easy stretch of schedule, the Cowboys cannot afford to slip up, although it’s likely the NFC East title will come down to their Week 16 game, even if the Cowboys fall to a game behind. IF that scenario does play out, will Garrett even be the coach then?

Other potential Turkeys include third stringer QB David Blough for the Lions who goes up against a Bears defence that’s actually giving up less points than they did last year (funny how our opinions see them as less fearsome), Mitchell Trubisky (no explanation needed) and the Atlanta Falcons, who have to prove it all again after their defeat to the Bucs as they host the Saints.


Helmets collide again

Image result for browns vs steelers
Image Credit: Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports

Usually, the game between the Steelers and Browns needs no introduction but this particular fixture will have more spice than Jamie Oliver’s cookbook.

There will be a few key protagonists missing from the game that were involved in the skirmish 2 weeks ago, some through suspension (Garrett, Pouncey) and some through inability to function as an NFL player (Rudolph).

What wont be lost is the heavy hitting, cheap shots between the players looking to continue their scuffles.

Keep an eye on the referees in this one as they will try to maintain order in the AFC North battle. The Browns will want the win more as they still have an outside shot at the playoffs, but can they keep their composure, can they execute their plans, something they’ve struggled with all season.


49ers and Ravens

Image result for lamar jackson jimmy garoppolo
Image Credit: Robert Hanashiro/USA TODAY Sports

The mouthwatering clashes keep on coming for the neutrals as 49ers and the Ravens, the 2 trailblazers with a combined record of 19-3, meet this Sunday. Yet again the 10-1 49ers are the ones who seemingly have to prove their credential for the Super Bowl whilst many are quick to brandish Lamar Jackson the MVP award and the Ravens a Super Bowl berth.

This is of course a Super Bowl rematch from the “Harbaugh Bowl” back in Super Bowl XLVII when the Flacco led Ravens came out victorious of the Colin Kaepernick led 49ers in the Mercedes Benz Super dome (and of course that famous blackout).

Can the 49ers now do it on the road after recording home victories the past few weeks against the Packers and Cardinals. Teams usually get their due when travelling to tough environments in the NFL as home comforts can usually get you bye in case of any struggles.

There will be no room to hide with the spotlight currently beaming down on these two teams and it will be fascinating to see who comes out victorious when the dust settles.


LA-st chance Saloon

Image result for la rams
Image Credit: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

That Jared Goff Contract is not looking like it will be conducive to them reappearing in the Super Bowl anytime soon.

With their embarrassing loss to the Ravens at home on MNF, the Rams are now 6-5 and 3 games back off Seattle, 4 off of the 49ers and 2 games back in the Wildcard race where the Vikings currently sit with the #6 seed.

It’s amazing how not even a year ago, the Rams annihilated everyone that was put in front of them and it was about this time last year when we were treated to the 100+ game in LA vs the Chiefs.

That Rams team is a far cry away from what it is now and you have to wonder whether or not McVay and co have the ability to turn it around.

Their recent trade for Jalen Ramsey means they don’t have any picks of great value for the next couple of years and Jared Goff’s salary means that they can’t move on from him (nor Todd Gurley’s for that mattter).

It could be a spiral out of control situation and it wouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility that the whole organisation is blown up.

PS: Dallas, send the Rams a 1st round or 2nd rounder for McVay.


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Playoff INDTEN-tions

Image result for indianapolis tennessee
Image Credit: Icon Sportswire / Getty Images

An AFC South battle sees the current #8 and #9 seeds going toe to toe in effectively a playoff matchup.

Indianapolis and Tennessee will leave it all out on the field in Lucas Oil Stadium as the winner could potentially move in to the 6th seed which the Steelers currently hold. Pittsburgh face the Browns and the #7 seeded Raiders face the Chiefs, so chances are the winner here leap frogs all of them.

The Titans has seen a resurgence under Ryan Tannehill, currently the highest rated QB since he took over from Mariota. HC Mike Vrabel and OC Arthur Smith will look to keep on rolling as they face a slightly banged up Jacoby Brissett, Marlon Mack-less Colts team. Indy have won the last 3 between these two so recent history is against them but this wasn’t a Ryan Tannehill led Titans team.

The Titans then travel to Oakland before facing Houston in 2 of their last 3 games.

You have to feel the Titans have it all in their hands. The question is can they grab it?


Can the decibel best the mentor?

Image Credit: Boston Herald

Bill O’Brien is comfortably the most successful graduate from the Bill Beikchick coaching tree but that is hardly a seismic feat. After serving under the most successful head coach of the modern era from 2007-11, O’Brien must be considering privately, this Sunday Primetime game, would represent his best chance to finally claim a victory against the New England dynasty. But Bill is currently 0-5 against them and 0-2 since the drafting of franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Perhaps the closest the the Texans have come was in Watson’s rookie season. Not going for a 4th & 1, saw the Texans hand the ball back to new England and miss out on their best chance to beat their perennial superiors rivals since 2011.

The New England offence, post the loss of Gronkowski, is still attempting to find an identity and it’s output won’t be one that will scare any potential opponents and particularly Watson and the Texans offence who will likely fancy their chances, all things being equal. The key will be – can O’Brien’s Houston team learn from the great one and play mistake free football? A central theme to the success for footballs ever persistent powerhouse.

The Texans have their not so secret weapon in speedster, Will Fuller, who O’Brien publicly declared the up turn in Hopkins and Watson’s game when he’s on the field. Fuller, often injured, but immeasurably effective when on the field, has missed the previous two clashes with Watson under centre.

If O’Brien and his coaching staff can come out of the headlights of a primetime game win against his professor, prior to move Pat’s personnel chief, Nick Caserio, to Houston as GM this off season. Then the Texans will possibly have their first one over New England in a long time, until at least the play-off’s.


A Cross-State Battle with more Questions than Answers at QB.

Image Credit: Douglas R. Clifford

Tampa Bay visit their Florida rivals in Jacksonville this Sunday in a game that will likely be shunned by neutrals and for good reason. The visiting side perhaps put their best performance of the season against division rivals in Atlanta, last Sunday. Jameis Winston, continues to the show up short of his draft status and the franchise is at a cross roads on what to do with the 5th year passer.

Taking last weeks game in isolation, that alone would suggest Winston would be in line for an off-season extension, but his interception filled stint would not in Tampa, would not. Winston has 5 games to avoid a career as eternal back-up. Regardless the outcome, a year on the franchise tag may be all he can hope for, if he’s to stay in south Florida.

On the other side of the field, a similarly intriguing proposition lies, as big money free agent and former super bowl MVP, since returning form injury has appeared to take Jacksonville backwards. In his absence, Gardner Minshew appeared to have won the job in 9 games posting, 13 touchdowns to 5 interceptions and racking up 2,285 yards at a completion rate of above 60%.  Losing both games since his return, albeit putting up more accurate passing numbers, Foles has thrown two TD’s but the team doesn’t appear to carry the same spark as it did, when Foles was watching from the sidelines.

The Jag’s are not so far removed and from an AFC championship berth but have had many salary-cap casualties when signing Foles to a his deal. It could be argued that the lack of cap space was the initial driver of the Jalen Ramsey trade and it would seem they are lily to lose edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue. A lot is riding on Foles to be successful in Duval county but it would seem, the rest of their roster has suffered in an attempt to replace the Blake Bortles saga.

Both teams are looking for reasons for optimism but it would seem change lies ahead in either coaching or personnel to revive either teams fortunes.


Games to Get Right Or Quelling underlying fears?

Image Credit: David Maialetti

Both Philadelphia and Carolina face two games which on the surface of it would seem automatic wins. Both are 10 point favourites. Both, on the surface have strong rosters and will feel their respective records should be healthier than they currently read.

Regardless if they win by the outlined margin, does the 6.25% step forward, really represent anything other than short term progress. The Eagles, at the outset would have been set for a Super Bowl run or at least deep into the play-offs, by many on lookers. Hindered by a poor secondary and a quarterback – who after a number of injuries and changes to his offensive personnel – seems lost, in not overwhelmed. Wentz’s regression is stark and in spite of a bounce back game on Sunday against Miami, there are longer terms concerns for a team who were heralded for Howie Roseman’s roster building acumen. This is now the second consecutive season of under achievement after their Super Bowl win and concern has to be there and unaffected, even by a 50-point win on Sunday.

The Carolina Panthers, have a quandary at the most important position in all of sports also. The continual decline of Cam Newton’s health has seen Kyle Allen step in a lead the ship admirably. An underachiever in the college game has never been doubted talent-wise but it would appear his consistency and application has. There have been some strong outings for Allen. But he also has has some games to forget, the showing at home versus at Atlanta, rightly called into question his decision making. Even with a strong follow up performance against a struggling Washington team, Kyle will be looking to re-assert some positively  after their narrow loss to New Orleans. A game they should have won, if not for the missed five points by their rookie kicker Joey Slye.

There are question to be asked about how much Allen’s play is bolstered by Christian McCaffery’s all-pro and possibly MVP calibre season at running back. As limitations have been shown, so is there enough there to give confidence to ambitions new owner, David Tepper? A many who made his fortune in investments, will shortly tell us how willing he is to invest the future of the franchise in Kyle Allen.


Does Defence win Championships still?

Image Credit: Pete Smith

The adage has been echoed round NFL-based discussions for decades. If you didn’t have a league leading defence with multiple blue-chip players, at all three levels your chances were nullified. This uprising of the San Francisco 49er’s has perhaps shown that the notion is alive and well. The undoubted strength of the team is it’s defence. The litany of first round draft picks across its front seven make it difficult for the opposition to move the ball. Whether it’s, Ford, Bosa, Armstead, Thomas or Bucker. There isn’t 5 tougher blocking assignments for an offensive line in the game.

This front has allowed the linebackers and secondary to flourish with the additional pressures this unit brings. Witherspoon finally seems to be realising his talent at corner and Richard Sherman appears to be having a plus year, after looking not his former self last season. So the leading statement has proven to have varying levels of validity across the season. So much so, the performances have been questionable from their quarterback but Jimmy-G plays within a system that he suited to and it doesn’t require him to chase big plays outside of it. The running game the defence will ensure that’s not the case. But Sunday they face their biggest test of the year.

An apposing body evidence to this argument would be the Baltimore Ravens who, defence is strong in its own right and have done an amicable job of letting players go and finding replacements throughout the draft. But their real revelation has been the improvements show in the game of second year quarterback, come magic man, Lamar Jackson.

After crashing out the play-off’s he has come back with vengeance. Their unique brand of offence is an intriguing one which relies on the run. The league seem to have changed and in a way that has allowed Jackson to flourish rather than one that would have traditionally rejected his athleticism. His play and level at the offence is running at, is unrivalled through this point of the year. The two and three tight end sets have allow Baltimore to control the line of scrimmage and pick off high percentage throws and run the ball to the tune of over 200 yards per game.

The 49ers perhaps pose the strongest test of their system to get the best out of Jackson. This Sunday, will likely be one for the old school lovers of ground and pound running game. Whilst the game could provide a timely reminder that in 2019 offence may well win championships. Or is the old platitude still correct? The number 1 rushing team plays the number 2 team in a clash which should help us in that understanding, come Sunday.


Only the Young & Offensive Minded need apply

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Image Credit: Steve Dykes

When a failed college head-coach in Cliff Kingsbury was hired by the Arizona Cardinals it seemed odd. Relieved from his duties at Texas Tech, he had only just taken up the Role of USC’s offensive co-oridnator in the weeks prior. But some how he had landed one of the prized 32 gigs to coach at the highest level. It seemed odd on the face of it. Kingsburry was allowed to draft Kyler Murray No1 overall in this years draft, re-make an offence and a team with limited talent for year one of a multi-year project.

Last off season – that was the latest trend for every franchise who wanted to get ahead of the curve or at least join it, was to hire a specific model of coach, to take them into the next decade of a changing league. At one point last off-season the common joke was: “I once cleaned Sean McVey’s pool so I’d like to apply for the Head Coaching job.”

Fast forward not even three quarters of a season and those remarks certainly won’t contain the same level of relevancy, compared to when team owners/GM’s were looking for a new team leader, last off season. Often referred to as an acronym off ‘Not For Long’ the NFL has a habit of building you up just as quickly as it will bring you down with a crash. The Ram’s offence appears to have embodied a typical NFL cycle and crash it has done, but with such alarm. After letting linemen leave the building and extending Jared Geoff, no longer receives to the same level of protection and wide open targets he previously enjoyed. It would seem that their once heralded system appears to have dropped in effectiveness. Just as the brightest head coach in the NFL galaxy doesn’t appear quite as bright as it once gleamed.

Now, Sunday represent a milestrone game and clear barometer of how these two young coaches are set for the following seasons and beyond. Both need a further influx of talent to be competitive with the play-off calibre teams. But it will show, how was has Geoff fallen from his perch of league leading offence against a questionable defence – out with safety Budda Baker. But it will also show how the QB of choice, young dream coach experiment is rounding into shape.

It will be an intriguing watch if this archetype is desired for the next round of, off-season, head coach carousel, in 2020.

Full10Takeaways – Week 11

By Lawrence Vos (@NFLFanInEngland)

Bite Size NFL news from Week 11 
  • Oakland Raiders rookie fourth round DT Maxx Crosby had a monster 4 sacks against the Bengals to move up to joint 9th in the NFL and 3rd amongst rookies.
  • Sam Darnold had 4 TD passes for the New York Jets in their 17 point win against the Redskins, his first 4 TD day in his 20 game career.
  • Talking of the Redskins they managed their first TD since the 3rd Q against the Dolphins on October 13, thanks to second year RB Derrius Guice.
  • The Atlanta Falcons won their second game in a row whilst only allowing their opponents to get a single-digit score (this week 3 against the Panthers).
  • Minnesota’s 4 point win against Denver is the first time since 2014 a team has come back from 20 or more points at half-time to win a game.
  • With 788 rushing yards Ravens QB Lamar Jackson is ALREADY 7th in the all-time rushing yards gained by a QB in a season. He needs 252 in 6 games to get the crown.
  • Patriots WR Julian Edelman tossed the 2nd TD pass of his career to beat the Eagles. Edelman is one of 15 non-QBs to have a career perfect passer rating.
  • And a final historic appetiser – One former NFL non-QB leads the NFL all-time in passing yards (350), passing touchdowns (9) and interceptions (6) – take a bow Walter Payton. 

What everyone’s tucking in to

Steelers (5-5) @ Browns (4-6) 

The Steelers were on a four-game win streak, and the Browns were in danger of their entire season imploding as we went into this TNF divisional matchup. It was a torrid affair for the eyes, as Pittsburgh QB Mason Rudolph looked dreadful even before WR Ju-Ju Smith Schuster went out with concussion.

This was an old fashioned brutal game that was personified by a hit dished out by Browns safety Damarious Randall on WR Dionte Johnson that caused blood to come out of his ear. The hit could be justified as not a complete head hunt, but what followed was indescribably common assault. The Browns, who rode the storm of an ugly contest were 14 points up as the Steelers mounted a final meaningless drive.

With 14 seconds left Mason Rudolph threw a short pass that gained 11 yards, then all hell broke loose. Rudolph was drilled by DE Myles Garrett. Rudolph then tried to remove Garrett’s helmet and failed. Garrett then managed to remove Rudolph’s helmet and then five seconds later cracked Mason on the top of his skull with the black and gold lid. Steelers C Mike Pouncey reacted immediately and kicked Garrett whilst he was on the ground, pinned to the end-zone by Steelers G David DeCastro. To top it off Rudolph still vocalising his displeasure was knocked to the floor by Browns defender Larry Ogunjobi.

I’ve been watching the NFL since 1985 and I cannot recall an ending like this. Garrett, Pouncey and Ogunjobi were ejected from the game and soon after all received bans, Garrett suspended indefinitely, to definitely include any involvement with the 2019 NFL season.

Using a fist to punch someone in the face is bad enough, take the Andre Johnson Cortland Finnegan fight (Week 12 2010) as an example. A helmet did get ripped off but it was thrown away, to effectively level the playing field.

On Thursday night Myles Garrett used Rudolph’s helmet as a weapon to cause harm. This was not an accident, this was done with intent, albeit with red mist clogging up the former #1 overall pick’s ability to behave rationally.

This insanity has been unpicked by former players, journalists and fans across the globe. Garrett has already broken a quarterback’s leg (Trevor Siemian) this season, but he was not known as dirty. Now he will have the helmet hit follow his career…..that’s when he gets one back. 


Texans (6-4) v Ravens (8-2) 

Billed as the matchup between the two most exciting dual-threat quarterbacks on the NFL (sorry Josh Allen you are a respectable third) this was supposed to be a classic high scoring contest coming down to who had the ball last. Instead we got one team on fire and one team on ice.

Despite a non-scoring first quarter this was not going to be the Houston Texans day as their first three drives ended on a turnover (fumble lost), a failed fourth down attempt and a punt. After an equally frustrating first period Lamar Jackson woke up and went 5-5 including the opening score to the lesser spotted Seth Roberts. From that point on the Ravens flicked a switch that they didn’t turn off until the fourth quarter.

The Ravens got a second TD, LJax to TE Mark Andrews to take a 14-0 lead at the half. When Jackson threw his third TD pass on the opening drive of the third quarter, to RB Mark Ingram II, it was effectively game over.

One play of note in the second half was Lamar’s 39 yard dash on a 2nd and 1. Another entry in the Baltimore QBs MVP application form. The Ravens finished with 263 yards rushing, thanks in part to a 63 yard TD rumble by Gus ‘the mini bus’ Edwards in the late stages. 


Chiefs (7-4) v Chargers (4-7) in Mexico

Philip Rivers saw his season committed to the grave in a country the celebrates the Day of the Dead, as Mexico hosted the final International regular season game of the season. Four interceptions, including one in the end-zone, on a potential game-tying pass was a microcosm of another failing season for a Chargers team that on paper has talent throughout.

The Chiefs Patrick Mahomes was not en-fuego in the air, but some chunky RPO (run pass option) plays yielded chain moving first downs precisely when they were needed. Veteran KC RB LeSean McCoy, who carries the ball in the same way a granny would after collecting a seeded bloomer from their local bakery, was able to take his loaf into the end-zone. He was also targeted 6 times, hauling in 4-28 to outpace KC’s number one WR Sammy Watkins (2-26). Big respect to L.A. RB Austin Ekeler who had 8-108 in the air. His 65 catches only trails leading pass catcher WR Keenan Allen by 5 pigskins.

The Chiefs are still atop the AFC West, and undefeated in the division, but the rather stinky breath of the Oakland Raiders is fresh in the face of those in red and white as the pirates trail by one game and are on a three-game win streak.


Something to finish us off…

Matty Ice cracks top 10 

With his seventh 300+ passing game of the 2019 under his belt Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan moved to number 10 in the all-time regular season passing charts.

The man he happened to pass has a bronze bust in the NFL and CFL Hall of Fame – Mr Warren Moon. Moon in fact has a Super Bowl winners ring, as a Seahawks broadcaster, earned 13 years after he was enshrined in Canton.

Ryan himself will tip over 50,000 yards by the end of this season, having reached 49,383 since his 2008 rookie campaign. Ryan has started 183 games in his career, having missed his first start in since 2009 just a few weeks ago. An absolute model of professionalism, Ryan is Hall of Fame worthy with 313 career TDs and just 142 interceptions. Don’t expect Ryan to run, but be instead mildly surprised that he has darted for 1,225 yards on the ground and 9 scores.

Four Pro Bowls, one All Pro appearance, one NFL MVP and one Super Bowl played is not the most impressive CV of all time, but anyone who reaches 50,000 passing yards, which Ryan will, likely by Week 14, deserves a moment of praise.