It’s Week 14 of the NFL season, which means we only have 3 more games until the highly anticipated playoffs begin. It’s been a tight race so far, and this year has offered some dramatics for every franchise, on and off the field. The NFL has got to feel pretty good right now, considering they have yet to cancel a single game.
Right now, only two teams have clinched a playoff berth already, those being the Kansas City Chiefs and the New Orleans Saints. Week 14 has numerous important games to pay attention to, as 3 more teams have the potential to clinch a spot in the postseason. On top of that, their are 15 teams that have a .500 record or better, and an NFC East Conference that’s terrible, but wide open for a playoff berth.
With that said, here are the games that matter the most for the potential clinching teams.
The Pittsburgh Steelers currently sit atop of the rankings of the entire NFL with an 11-1 record. However, they have yet to clinch a playoff berth or the AFC North division as the Browns are knocking on their door. The Steelers are close to earning a playoff spot, and this week they have that opportunity with a little help from a division rival.
In order to guarantee their place at the dinner table, the Steelers are going to have to first win their game against a red hot Buffalo Bills team. This is one of the toughest teams Pitty will have to face this year, which means this game should be one for the ages.
Game to Watch
Browns vs Ravens
This weeks Monday Nigh matchup has huge implications. Cleveland needs a win to push themselves closer to a playoff spot, while the Ravens are fighting to stay alive this year. On top of that, the last time these teams faced each other, Lamar Jackson and the Ravens lit up the Browns, and absolutely blew them out of the water. The Browns are looking for revenge after defeating the Titans in an impressive fashion.
For the Steelers though, they’re going to need the Ravens to come out and repeat their Week 1 performance. If the Steelers can leave Buffalo with a W, and the Ravens upset the Browns in Cleveland, the Pittsburgh Steelers will be marching their way into the postseason, as they’ll clinch the AFC North and a playoff position.
Other Ways to Clinch a Playoff Spot
Now, if the Steelers and Ravens both win this week, the Steelers will clinch the AFC North. However, there are other ways Pittsburgh can clinch a playoff spot if the Browns end up winning their game.
PIT win/tie vs Bills OR
LV loss/tie OR
MIA loss/tie OR
The Bills have been on fire as of late thanks to Josh Allen’s low key MVP caliber year. Buffalo currently has a 9-3 record, and are sitting in the 3 seed of the AFC. As I’ve already mentioned, the Bills are playing the Steelers this week, and both teams are vying for a playoff berth. This game has to be considered the game of the week with how high the stakes are. In order to clinch the playoffs though, the Bills are going to need a little bit of help across the league.
Games to Watch
Patriots vs Rams
This Thursday Night game is extremely important to the Buffalo Bills. Bills Mafia needs a string of losses from 4 different teams, and New England is one of them. However, if the Patriots end up beating the Rams, the rest of the games on this list are nil. So, for Thursday Night Football, Buffalo fans should be rooting for the Rams to win, OR, for the game to end in a tie.
Chiefs vs Dolphins
Miami is only 1 game back in the AFC East, and having them lose this week would be HUGE for the Buffalo Bills. The Chiefs have already clinched a playoff spot though, which means there is a chance Andy Reid benches his starters late in the game (he probably won’t). Miami has a legit chance to win this one, which wouldn’t bode well for the Bills. Either way, this Chiefs/Dolphins game has major implications for both the Dolphins, and the Bills.
Colts vs Raiders
As of right now, the Colts are sitting in the 7th seed, while the Raiders are in the hunt at the 8th seed. This is a huge game for both of these franchises, as the Colts have a chance to usurp first place in the AFC South if the Titans were to fall to the Jaguars. On the other hand, Las Vegas aims to keep their playoff hopes alive and could find themselves in the 7th seed heading into Week 15. As for the Bills, the Raiders losing this game is in their best interest.
Browns vs Ravens
Just like the Steelers, this Browns/Ravens games is going to be one where fan bases for the Bills and Steelers will be paying attention to. However, instead of rooting for Baltimore, Bills fans will be going for the Browns. This is the exact opposite of what the Steelers need, which makes both of these games this week incredibly important for all 4 franchises.
Green Bay Packers
The Pack-Attack are the 3rd team that have an opportunity to clinch a playoff berth this week, and would be the 2nd NFC team to guarantee themselves going to the postseason. In order for the Packers to earn their spot, they’ll first need to win their game against the Lions. Luckily for Green Bay, the Lions are one of the worst teams in the league, and the Packers should be able to walk away from this game with a victory. However, in order to win the NFC North, they’re going to need a little help from Tom Brady and the Bucs.
Game to Watch
Vikings vs Buccaneers
This game has nearly everything on the line for both of these franchises. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are currently in the 6th seed, while the Vikings have scratched and clawed their way into 7th place in the NFC playoff race. One of these teams could very well find themselves on the bubble after this game, especially if the Cardinals can beat the Giants. At the end of the day though, the Packers need the Bucs to win in order to clinch the NFC North.
Other Ways to Clinch a Playoff Spot
Green Bay can still clinch the playoffs this week even if the Vikings end up beating the Buccaneers this week. It would just elongate winning the NFC North for the Packers. But here are the different ways Green Bay can clinch a playoff spot:
GB win + ARI loss/tie OR
GB win + LAR loss/tie OR
GB win + SEA loss/tie OR
GB tie + ARI loss OR
GB tie + LAR loss + ARI tie OR
GB tie + SEA win/tie + ARI tie
Playoffs can get get a little complicated at times.
On Monday, Adam Schefter and Dan Graziano dropped the bombshell of the week after the Houston Texans announced they fired the “legendary” coach Bill O’Brien. BoB was hired as the Head Coach to the Houston Texans back in 2014, in which he inherited a Texans team with a ton of potential. Now, after starting the 2020 season off to an 0-4 record, the Texans decided to move on, putting the Titans, Colts, and Jaguars franchises into a state of uncertainty.
During O’Brien’s tenure, he helped the Texans reach the playoffs in 4 of his 6 full years of coaching. However, the furthest he got was the divisional round. Considering the amount of times the Texans have won the AFC South during this stretch, you would think the firing of Bill O’Brien would be shocking. It wasn’t the records that got him fired, it was his poor decision making that he made as a General Manager, and losing the locker room. O’Brien’s time as the Texans GM was partly the biggest asset for the Titans, Colts, and Jaguars. Now with BoB gone, so is the hope for the Texans to continue being ran into the ground.
Bill O’Brien’s tenure as a GM completely destroyed the future of this Texans franchise, making it much easier for the Titans, Colts, and Jaguars to find success. Here is O’Brien’s noticeable transactions just from 2019-2020.
Traded away Jadeveon Clowney in exchange for Jacob Martin (huh?), Barkevious Mingo (really?), and a 2020 third round pick (couldn’t even get a 2nd?). Clowney is one of the most prolific pass rushers in the NFL, as he demands double teams on every play, making life easier for the rest of the defense to succeed. With a high quality player like that, BoB should’ve been able to garner much more than he accepted.
Traded away a 2020 first round pick (yikes), a 2021 first round pick (big yikes), Johnson Bademosi (he has 2 last names as his name), and Julien Davenport (never heard of him), in exchange for Laremy Tunsil, Kenny Stills, a 2020 fourth round pick (yeah, that helps), and a 2021 sixth round pick (even bigger yikes). Look, I get it, the Texans O-line was garbage at the time, and they needed a legit LT to protect DeShaun Watson… But giving up 2 firsts and a second for a LT is INSANE!! You could have literally drafted an offensive lineman in the draft and still keep all of your picks!! Oh well, it’s not like he traded away DeAndre Hopkins, or anything.
Traded away DeAndre Hopkins and a 2020 fourth round pick in exchange for David Johnson (29 year old RB, oof), a 2020 second round pick, and a 2021 fourth round pick… You couldn’t even get a first rounder back, bro? *Insert “Houston, we have a problem” joke, here*
As a Titans fan, I can personally say, “Thank you, Bill! For everything you’ve done!” I’m sure Colts and Jaguars fans will agree. It’s going to be a tough job for the Texans’ front office to find BoB’s replacement, especially since O’Brien was working multiple roles. The guy was already working two jobs, and decided to put more food on his plate after announcing that he would also become the Offensive Play-Caller. So he sucked as an HC, and a GM, and thought, “Hey, I might as well be the Offensive Coordinator too. Why not?”
After it’s all said and done, Bill O’Brien traded away not one, but TWO super star caliber players and couldn’t even gain back a first or second rounder for the 2021 NFL Draft. These trades are so bad that even the Madden video games won’t let you do it. My only question is, do you think Bill was the one that initiated these trades first? I like to imagine that he called up the Cardinals and was like, “I wanna trade Hopkins to you guys and get David Johnson.” Arizona’s front office just stood their silent thinking BoB was just pulling their chain until they realized it was A REAL OFFER.
News broke earlier today that Bill O’Brien also lost the locker room after JJ Watt and the ex-Head Coach exchanged heated words during a practice. After that moment, it’s easy to see the entire team revolt against their HC, especially after starting the year to an 0-4 start. Romeo Crennel takes over as the interim Head Coach for the Houston Texans, so it will be interesting to see what this team can do under new leadership.
As for the rest of the AFC South, this is the biggest loss to the Titans, Colts, and Jaguars franchises in history. Luckily it’ll take awhile for the Texans to recover, so we will each have a few years (at least) to have an advantage in the division. With that said, I want to say, goodbye Bill O’Brien, and thank you for everything you have done. You deserve a reward for what you’ve done to the Houston Texans franchise.
Okay, I’m starting to get a little better at predicting these games. In week two, I only had 3 games wrong. I chose the Bengals over the Browns, but Chubb and Hunt proved they can coexist and be a problem in this league. I also had the Giants over the Bears. I guess I had too much confidence in Daniel Jones and the G-Men. Lastly, I didn’t expect the Colts to come out and destroy the Vikings the way they did. In fact, I’m rather disappointed in Minnesota right now as I orginially thought this was their year to take over the NFC North… So far I’ve been dead wrong. Anyway, we have a plethora of great games this week, and this is how I think they’ll go.
Thursday – 9/24
Jaguars vs Dolphins – Winner: Jaguars
Jacksonville has been quite the surprise to start the year as they stunned the Colts and really made the Titans work for it. Everyone (including myself) believed this franchise was tanking for Trevor Lawrence, but Gardner Minshew has other plans and is playing great football so far. On the the other side of the field, Miami had close games against the Pats and the Bills, who are both really tough teams. I like the swagger of the Jags more than the Dolphins right now, and with the way Minshew is throwing the ball, he should be able to pick-a-part that Miami defense.
Sunday – 9/27
Falcons vs Bears – Winner: Falcons
Atlanta shit the bed against the Cowboys last week after refusing to jump on an onside kick that would’ve clinched the game. The Falcons just haven’t been able to pull it together since losing the Super Bowl and who knows when they’ll pull themselves out of that funk. Either way, they have a great offense that can get down the field with ease, and they’re facing a Bears team that’s questionable at best. I never really know what version of Chicago we’re going to see each Sunday, but they’ve won 2 in a row, which means they’re due to lose… right?
Bills vs Rams – Winner: Rams
Josh Allen has been playing out of his mind so far, and should be an early candidate for MVP. However, he’s faced two cupcake defenses in the Jets and the Dolphins. This week is Buffalo’s first true test, as the Rams have one of the better defenses in the league. The Bill’s defense shouldn’t be ignored either, and I believe this will be a low scoring defensive game. LA’s O-line has protected Goff better than I imagined, which will help them tremendously in this game. It should be a close one, but the Rams have the fire power to upset the Bills in Buffalo.
Browns vs Football Team – Winner: Browns
Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt proved to be a dominant force in their matchup against Cincinnati, and they may just be the best RB duo in the NFL right now. Based on the way Baker Mayfield is playing, this team will likely stick to the ground game and wear out Washington this Sunday. Washington has a great front seven, and Terry McLaurin is a phenomenal athlete. Outside of that, this organization is going through some growing pains, and they’re likely not going to make much noise in the NFL this year.
Vikings vs Titans – Winner: Titans
Minnesota has been subpar to say the least. They can’t stop the pass, they can’t stop the run, and Kirk Cousins is looking like one of the worst QBs in the league right now. They still have great players on the roster which makes them a dangerous play every week, but right now, it’s hard to see this team turn things around against a “tough as nails” Titans team. Tennessee had to put up a fight against Denver and Jacksonville so far due to the lack of depth on the defensive side of the ball. Luckily for the Titans, Ryan Tannehill is playing out of his mind right now and he probably won’t slow down anytime soon.
Patriots vs Raiders – Winner: Raiders
A healthy Cam Newton coached by Bill Belichick will always keep the Patriots in every game they play. They nearly beat a great Seattle team last week and have the potential to get back on track against the Raiders. Las Vegas however just came off a huge upset win over the Saints, which means moral is high. I’m expecting this game to be one of the best games this week as we have the pleasure of watching two Hall of Fame Coaches battle it out. Jon Gruden vs Bill Belichick. How can you not be excited about this game?
Giants vs 49ers – Winner: 49ers
San Francisco is banged up, but luckily for them, they have a pretty easy schedule to start the year. New York just lost Barkley for the season after suffering an ACL tear, and the Giants O-line has been falling apart since week one. So even though San Fran has lost so many notable players on their roster, they should be able to pull out a Win this Sunday against the G-Men. I’m fully expecting the 49ers to dominate the run game and shutdown the Giant’s offense with stellar defense.
Eagles vs Bengals – Winner: Eagles
Finally one of these teams will be walking away with W (unless there’s a tie), and Philly should be able to achieve victory. They haven’t looked particularly exciting so far, and the team has been exposed early and often. Carson Wentz just doesn’t look like the QB we know him as, and we could be seeing Jalen Hurts under Center by next year. Cincinnati on the other hand has the most exciting QB prospect since forever, and it’s up to the Bengals front office to not mess this up. Even though the Bengals have such a bright future ahead of them while the Eagles are facing a downward spiral, Philly is still the better team THIS year, and should be able to get a much needed win this week.
Steelers vs Texans – Winner: Steelers
The Houston Texans have had one of the most difficult starts to a season as I’ve ever seen. Kansas City, Baltimore, and now Pittsburgh? Sheesh. The Texans don’t have a true WR1 to help in the passing game, and their O-line is one of the worst in the NFL. The defense isn’t much better than the offense right now, and the fact they’ve had such a hard schedule, they may be doomed for the year. The Steelers on the other hand have looked great. Of the older QBs in the league, Big Ben has looked the best (unless you count Rodgers as old), and this Steelers defense is damn near unstoppable. Houston might make this a game, but I foresee Pittsburgh running away with it in the 4th quarter.
Colts vs Jets – Winner: Colts
The Colts certainly aren’t the best team in the league, but the Jets are absolutely the worst. NY hasn’t been able to do anything and Adam Gase is coaching scared. I’m not sure how much longer this franchise will put up with Gase’s horrible coaching antics, but it has to stop soon, right? Indy actually has a great defense this year, and they proved that in their win against the Vikings last week. Rivers isn’t the QB he used to be, but the Colts O-line and sturdy run game will give the Colts enough to whoop ass this Sunday.
Chargers vs Panthers – Winner: Chargers
With Christian McCaffrey out for several weeks, this Panthers offense will be desperate for someone to step up. I’m expecting DJ Moore to have a big role until CMC comes back from injury, but even then, it won’t be enough for Carolina to really pose any threat. With a freak accident sidelining Tyrod Taylor, the Chargers will now be led by rookie QB Justin Herbert. He looked great in his first career start and gave the Chargers offense some life vs the Chiefs. The Panthers have a young defense that can’t stop the run to save their lives, so I’m expecting Joshua Kelley and Austin Ekeler to eat all day.
Broncos vs Buccaneers – Winner: Buccaneers
Denver hit a streak of bad luck and an injury bug to start the year off, which doesn’t do them any favors. They’re also an extremely young team still learning to play together and are going against a veteran squad in Tampa Bay. Brady looks old, but still has enough juice left to get the ball to his WRs. Leonard Fournette had a nice showing last week which may have been his welcoming party. It’s going to be tough for Denver to win this one, but they should be able to keep it close. The Bucs just have too many weapons and a stout D, which should be too much for the Broncos to handle.
Cardinals vs Lions – Winner: Cardinals
Kenny Golladay should be coming back this week, which will give Detroit a much needed boost in the pass game. But it probably won’t be enough to slow down a red hot Cardinals team. Kyler Murray is legit, and he has so many options to throw to it’s insane. I really don’t know how Defensive Coordinators even prepare for this Arizona team. I had the Cardinals pegged as one of my dark horse playoff teams, and so far, they’re proving me right. If you’re a gambler, take the Over on this matchup as this game will be all about the offense.
Seahawks vs Cowboys – Winner: Cowboys
Dallas looked abysmal in their season opener against the Rams, and in week two against the Falcons, they didn’t come alive until the 2nd half. Having said that, when this team is on, they’re on, and they can play with the best of them. Seattle is a tough team this year too, and this could be a “Game of the Week” candidate. Chances are, Seattle comes out and kicks ass, but I see Dallas withstanding Russell Wilson and winning this game.
Saints vs Packers – Winner: Packers
Drew Brees is either looking old, or he just misses Michael Thomas a lot. Either way, New Orleans should be leaning on Alvin Kamara throughout the year as Brees just may be washed. Green Bay on the other hand is out for revenge after listening to critics and analysts talk about how much they were going to suck this year. No new exciting WRs for Aaron Rodgers? No problem. A new rookie QB drafted in the 1st round? Aaron doesn’t care. Rodgers can still sling it and is an early MVP candidate right now. The Pack-Attack also has a rather stout defense that compliments the offense well. This should be a great game to watch, but Green Bay should be taking away the win on Sunday Night Football.
Monday – 9/28
Ravens vs Chiefs – Winner: Ravens
These are the two best teams in football right now, and not many people will argue with that statement. This has “Game of the Season” written all over it and I can’t wait to watch these two go at it. Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson are the face of the NFL right now and they both have plenty of weapons around them. At the end of the day, Baltimore has the edge, as their defense is much more in tune than Kansas City’s. This game will likely come down to the wire, but Baltimore’s defense should be able to get those key stops to win this one.
Week one is in the books and we’re moving right along to week two. There were a couple surprises last week as Jacksonville stunned the Colts, all while Philly couldn’t keep up with Washington. I also had the Vikings beating Green Bay last week, as well as Dallas over LA. Overall, I finished 12-4 throughout the 16 games played over the weekend. Now that we’re in week two, I have my predictions set and ready to go.
Thursday – 9/17
Browns vs Bengals – Winner: Bengals
Despite losing, Joe Burrow and the Bengals didn’t look all that bad. In fact, the offense drove the field and Burrow put Cincy in a spot to win the game, only to have the kicker miss the field goal. Cleveland looked awful in their matchup against the Ravens and it’s really unclear what the future holds for this franchise. Baker Mayfield doesn’t look comfortable in the back field, and with all of those weapons to throw to, it’s starting to look like Baker may be on his last leg. This is a good matchup for both teams, but I give the edge to Cincinnati and expect them to catch the Browns sleeping at the wheel.
Sunday – 9/20
Bears vs Giants – Winner: Giants
Chicago ended up winning that game after Trubisky led the team to 21 unanswered points in the 4th quarter. The Lions should have won that game, but thanks to D’Andre Swift’s dropped catch in the end zone, the Bears squeaked away with a win. Meanwhile, the Giants actually looked pretty good in their debut game against the Steelers. The defense looked impressive, and Daniel Jones showed flashes of greatness. Barkely was bottled up against the Steele Curtain, but I’m fully expecting him to bounce back against this Bears defense.
Cowboys vs Falcons – Winner: Cowboys
I was expecting a bit more from Prescott and the ‘Boys against the Rams, but LA’s defense proved to be problematic for Dallas. This was also Mike McCarthy’s first game as the Head Coach, so maybe he just needed to shake the cobwebs. Atlanta doesn’t have the best defense, but they have one of the better offenses in the league. This should be a shootout and one of the more fun games to watch this week, but the Dallas defense should give the Cowboys the edge in this game.
Packers vs Lions – Winner: Packers
Sure, Green Bay didn’t do anything in the offseason to really help Aaron Rodgers, but it apparently didn’t matter. Rodgers looked like a man on a mission, and Davante Adams just might break 200 catches this year. The Lions have a terrible defense right now, and Green Bay will likely pick them apart. Detroit’s offense should be able to put points up on the board and make it interesting. So if you have any Lions players on your fantasy squad, they should still be able to help you out.
Titans vs Jaguars – Winner: Titans
The Jaguars came out and shocked the Colts last week and somehow put themselves in first place in the AFC South. That shouldn’t last long though, as the Titans are the favorite to win that division. They looked a bit rusty vs the Broncos on Monday Night, but that could have been due to the late kickoff and elevation of Denver. Derrick Henry always has monster games against the Jags, and with Jacksonville basically selling away their roster in the offseason, I fully expect Tennessee to run away with this one… Literally.
Colts vs Vikings – Winner: Vikings
The Colts didn’t look too great as Philip Rivers looked OLD. With Marlon Mack out for the year, expect Jonathan Taylor to become the workhorse for this offense. The defense is pretty good though, and the Colts will be competitive in this game, but due to the fact that Rivers’ is the starting QB, the passing game may be irrelevant this year. Minnesota got stomped in their season opener against the Packers, but they still put up a lot of points. This should be a close game, but the Vikings should be able to come out with a victory this week.
Dolphins vs Bills – Winner: Bills
Either Miami played great, or the Patriots aren’t as good as some people think. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter, as the Bills should come out week two and demolish this young Dolphins team. Buffalo is the heavy favorite to win the AFC East, and the fact the Dolphins are still in re-build mode, this may be an easy win for the Bills. I have Buffalo pegged as one of the best teams in the NFL this year. They should be able to prove that this weekend.
Jets vs 49ers – Winner: 49ers
Neither of these teams looked all that great in their season openers. NY might just have the worst offense in the league, especially now that Le’Veon Bell is out. Adam Gase is a terrible Coach, and he has to be fighting for his job here. Facing a tough 49ers defense won’t do the Jets any favors. For San Fransisco, I’m really hoping George Kittle is healthy, as this team has been hit with an injury bug early in the year. San Fran will likely focus on running the ball and eating the clock this week, which is something the Jets are going to struggle with all year long.
Eagles vs Rams – Winner: Rams
I wasn’t expecting the Rams offense to play as well as it did. The O-line played better than expected, which allowed for Malcolm Brown to eat in the run game. Considering how depleted the Eagles are right now, along with a poor offensive line to say the least, I’m fully expecting to see Aaron Donald go bonkers this week. Philly desperately needs Miles Sanders back in the lineup, but facing this LA defense won’t do him any favors. Could be a close game, but the Rams should be able to pull away in the 2nd half.
Steelers vs Broncos – Winner: Steelers
Denver played really well against the Titans in the season opener. Drew Lock, Jerry Jeudy, and Noah Fant showed they are going to be a problem in this league for quite some time. Although that may be the case, Pittsburgh is set up and ready to win now. They have the best defense in the league, and plenty of weapons on offense to help make Roethlisberger still like the Old Ben we all know. Broncos should make this competitive, but for a young team riddles with injuries, this is a tough matchup in week two.
Buccaneers vs Panthers – Winner: Buccaneers
Brady looked old in his first game of the year, but he also faced a strong Saints defense that made him look worse than he actually was. Carolina has a young defense that allowed Josh Jacobs to do whatever he wanted. I’m expecting this Bucs team to take a nice lead and hold it with a run game. This could be the week Leonard Fournette finds his way into the end zone, or, maybe Ronald Jones can separate himself away from Fournette for another week. This should be a fun one to watch, especially if you have any shares of any players on these squads on your fantasy teams.
Cardinals vs Football Team – Winner: Cardinals
Arizona looked impressive last week as Hopkins proved to be a dominant force no matter what jersey he wears. Washington also came out and showed everyone they have a nasty front seven this year. Chase Young was one of the more impressive rookies last week, and he’ll be looking to feast again on this Cardinals O-line. Luckily for Arizona, their offense is loaded and capable of putting points on the board. I kind of like the direction this Washington team is heading, but 2020 likely isn’t their year. Arizona should be 2-0 after this game.
Chargers vs Chiefs – Winner: Cheifs
LA beat the Bengals in week one, but it wasn’t because of how well they played… It was because Cincy missed a field goal. Tyrod Taylor looked awful against a questionable defense, which means we should be seeing Justin Herbert sooner rather than later. Kansas City on the other hand, could have the best offense in the league, and when things are going well, they’re hard to stop. I’m not expecting the Chargers to do a whole lot in this game, and this is probably going to be an easy W for the Chiefs.
Texans vs Ravens – Winner: Ravens
Houston has a problem, and it’s because they don’t have a WR1. Sure, Will Fuller V had a ton of targets and provided Deshaun Watson a nice target, but it just seemed that Houston wasn’t able to drive the field last week. Baltimore has a loaded defense, and possibly has the best offense in the NFL. It’s going to be hard for the Texans to keep up with the high powered Ravens, and this one could be a blow out.
Seahawks vs Patriots – Winner: Seahawks
I’m really impressed with Cam Newton and he played like I was hoping he would. Having said that, this Pats team is rather boring, and the offense just doesn’t have the fire power to really keep up with their opponents. Seattle finally allowed Mr. Unlimited to do his thing, and it proved to be successful against a below average Falcons defense. New England would have a top defense this year, but a lot of top players chose to opt out due COVID. The Patriots will likely be competitive in most of their games, but this week, Seattle should be able to come away with a win.
Monday – 9/21
Raiders vs Saints – Winner: Raiders
Drew Brees looked a little off in the season opener, and Michael Thomas might be out for a few weeks with an ankle injury. This means Alvin Kamara will likely be heavily involved this week. Even though New Orleans is an early favorite for the Super Bowl, I have the Raiders coming out with a win on Monday night. The Saints have a great defense, but Las Vegas should come out and shock New Orleans this week. Ronald Jones didn’t look that bad against this Saints defense, so Josh Jacobs has potential to finish the game with multiple touchdowns. This will be a close game throughout, but I see Las Vegas pulling away with a W.
On Friday night, Tennessee Titans first round selection, Isaiah Wilson was arrested for a DUI after blowing a 0.107. The high toted rookie has had a rocky start in the NFL to say the least, as he had a run in with police in August while at a party. It was a clear violation of a rule the NFL set to limit players from attending gatherings due to COVID. For a young man to finally be in the NFL and making these types of mistakes is alarming, and the Titans front office will be closely monitoring Wilson’s situation.
Clearly this isn’t the ideal start GM John Robinson and HC Mike Vrabel were looking for when they took Wilson with the 29th pick overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. However, there seems to be an odd trend amongst some Titans fans happening on social media. I understand being upset about the poor decision making by Panda, I know I am. But going out of your way to claim he should be cut from the roster for making a mistake just doesn’t make any sense. In fact, there seems to be something going on with Isaiah Wilson that’s behind closed doors.
Wilson was a highly sought after prospect during his high school days, receiving offers from 80 different schools. He even has some highlight plays lined up as a QB in the Wildcat formation. He also spoke about growing up in Brooklyn while appearing as a guest on the Bussin’ with the Boys podcast. Isaiah spoke briefly about the difficulties growing up in Brooklyn, but throughout his adolescent years, Isaiah Wilson had a clean record.
Even during his time in college, Wilson’s only struggle was adjusting to the southern humidity, which led to him becoming a Red-Shirt his freshman year. From there, Panda went on to be a dominant force on the Bulldogs O-line, earning him the honors of becoming the Tennessee Titans first pick in the Draft.
The timeline for Isaiah Wilson is short, but a lot has happened so far. First, the rookie RT was placed on the COVID-IR list after either coming in contact with the virus, or being near someone who had it. From there, Wilson was caught at a party where he nearly jumped off the second story balcony just to evade police. Three days ago, starting LT Taylor Lewan made it seem like Wilson is having a tough time adjusting to the NFL life style after stating, “My advice to him, you have to buy in [and] listen to the coaches, and understand the vets are trying to help you.” Then, Isaiah Wilson gets arrested for a DUI where he apparently crashed the car into a wall.
For a young man to achieve his dream and become an NFL player, all while maintaining a clean record, to just turn around and break NFL COVID rules and receive a DUI is quite startling . It’s important to look at Wilson’s situation with perspective. He’s 21 years old, just left the college life, and signed a deal giving him $11.57 million over four years, along with a $5.97 million signing bonus. He’s one of the youngest athletes to enter the NFL, as most players come in at age 22-24. But I can only imagine what it would be like to have nearly $6 million in my pocket at that age. To put it plainly, I would’ve been blowing that money left and right, and probably doing a lot of stupid things too.
It’s really easy to watch Isaiah Wilson struggle right now and make the claim that you would never make these similar bad decisions. It’s especially easy when you’ve never been in the position he is currently in. The fact of the matter is, we don’t really know what is going on with him. Apparently, Wilson posted a picture of himself on Instagram, then quickly deleted it early in the morning. The caption stating, “Honestly, I hate life. I’m fucking up. I’m making mistakes. I’m not myself.” This is obviously someone reaching out for help right now, and the last thing to do is cut him from the roster and neglect his needs. That would likely generate a downward spiral that would push him further down into a dark place.
Help and Guidance
The worst thing to do right now is to spread hate and anger at a 21 year old who is clearly struggling. Instead, everyone should be sending love, help, and guidance to this young man. I’m confident the Titans front office can help Isaiah Wilson as much as possible. Hopefully it’s not something incredibly serious so he can get back to his normal self sooner rather than later. Mental health is a topic that has received more attention over recent years, but it still needs so much more awareness. It doesn’t help we have TV personalities like “Fuck-Face” Skip Bayless spouting nonsense on live television. But it’s time we become better than that.
Reach out to your loved ones, your friends, or whoever. You never really know who is struggling with what until you talk with them, and in some cases, people struggling with mental health issues never reach out for help at all. I hope the best for Isaiah Wilson after making a stupid mistake like this one. I hope he receives the help and guidance he needs right now.
It’s finally here!! I feel like a kid on Christmas eve just waiting for that special day. Thursday is NFL kickoff, and every single team will be playing their first games over this weekend (LFG). We’ll finally get to see how these organizations handle the lack of fans in the stadiums and hopefully COVID doesn’t disrupt the season. But let’s get into my predictions for Week One!
Thursday – 9/10
Chiefs vs Texans – Winner: Chiefs
Kansas City won the Super Bowl last year and they’re the early favorites to win it again. To open the new season, the Chiefs are playing against a Texans team with a questionable depth chart after trading away DeAndre Hopkins. Houston’s starting CB Gaeron Conley was placed on the IR to start the year, which doesn’t bode well for the Texan’s chances to win this game. I’m expecting the Chiefs to run away with it by the 3rd quarter.
Sunday – 9/13
Bills vs Jets – Winner: Bills
The Bills get to start the year off against a division rival, and considering how open the AFC East division is right now, I’m fully expecting Buffalo to come away with a victory in week one. Josh Allen is poised for a great year after the front office acquired Stefon Diggs in the offseason, and the Bills defense will likely be a top unit in the league. The Jets are only a few key pieces away from being a good team, but the loss of Jamal Adams and CJ Mosely could prevent NY from taking that step forward fans were hoping for… Also their HC is Adam Gase… So there’s that too.
Vikings vs Packers – Winner: Vikings
This game could be a nail biter, but I have Minnesota pulling out with the victory. That defense is loaded after acquiring Yannick Ngakoue. The front seven is nasty and will terrorize opposing offenses throughout the year. Not to mention, it’s likely the Vikings will be a run heavy offense and let Dalvin Cook work his magic in the kitchen. The Packers have Aaron Rodgers, and he’ll always give them a chance, but the lack of added help this offseason may prevent the Pack-Attack from reaching their full potential. Should be a close game, but Minnesota has the edge.
Football Team vs Eagles – Winner: Eagles
The Washington Football Team is very young and has an entirely new coaching staff heading into a COVID filled year. If Washington does start winning games, it probably won’t happen until later in the season, so for now, I’m expecting the Eagles to fly into Washington and make that stadium their new nest in week one. The lack of WR depth in Philly is the only thing that may give Washington a chance. The Eagles should be able to come away with an easy win.
Ravens vs Browns – Winner: Ravens
It’s really easy for people to choose the Ravens over the Browns due to recency bias (and the Browns long history of losing), but this game will be closer than Baltimore fans would like. Both franchises are loaded with talent, the only difference is, is that the Ravens found out how to play together a lot sooner than Cleveland did. If the Browns can build that chemistry, watch out, but for now, the AFC North belongs to the Ravens.
Jaguars vs Colts – Winner: Colts
I mean do I really need to break this game down? The Jags are throwing this season away and riding a tank all the way to the 1st pick of the 2021 draft. On the other hand, the Colts are a strong competitor and could make some noise this year. With a stout defense, and arguably the best O-line group in the NFL, Indy will be a tough team to beat. I’m not too sure about their WR core or Rivers’ ability to still play at a high level, but luckily for the Colts, they get a nice practice game to start the year.
Panthers vs Raiders – Winner: Raiders
Carolina is just too young of a team to be a major threat this year. I really like their talent and prospects though, which means they have a shot at being at the top of the pecking order in a couple of years. The Las Vegas Raiders have a rather balanced team right now who is led by Hall of Fame Coach Jon Gruden. Their defense is a little questionable, but this offense should be fun to watch. I don’t know if they have what it takes to make a playoff push or not, but week one should be a nice win for Vegas.
Lions vs Bears – Winner: Bears
This is one of the more interesting matchups and could actually be a bit closer than people think. Detroit has an incredibly dangerous offense that’s loaded with weapons like Matthew Stafford, Kenny Golladay, D’Andre Swift, Marvin Jones Jr., and Adrian Peterson. They don’t have a great O-line though, and that defense is going to be awful. Chicago on the other hand has one of the better defenses in the league this year and their offense is actually pretty loaded. The only question mark is the QB position, which will either help the Bears thrive or die. Either way, the Bears should be walking away with a 1 in the Win column after this game.
Falcons vs Seahawks – Winner: Seahawks
I really like this matchup and it should be a fun one to watch. I have Seattle pegged as one of the top teams in the NFC, while Atlanta has a chance to be competitive. Both offenses are loaded and the first half could be a shootout. The difference will be defense, which is where Seattle has the real advantage. I’m expecting the Seahawks to walk away with a win this week.
Patriots vs Dolphins – Winner: Patriots
I have no idea what to expect with New England this year. Their defense was depleted as multiple players opted out, and they have one of the worst WR/TE groups in the league. However, with the AFC East wide open, a solid O-line and a healthy Cam Newton… Anything is possible. The Patriots will likely be competing with the Jets for 2nd place in the AFC East. The Dolphins are so young they’re basically a college team, which means the Pats should be finishing this game with more points than Miami.
Bengals vs Chargers – Winner: Chargers
Both of these squads are weird, as they each have potential to play much better than people are expecting. However, LA is much closer to being successful than Cincy. The Chargers offense is still loaded with talent, the O-line was addressed in the offseason, and even without Derwin James is out for the year, their defense is still good enough to create some chaos. The Bengals have a great opportunity with Joe Burrow leading the way, but I’m not expecting this team to hit their stride until later in the year. I have the Chargers pulling away in the 2nd half.
49ers vs Cardinals – Winner: Cardinals
This is my upset of pick of the week. Sure, San Fran made it to the Super Bowl and the Cardinals didn’t even make it to the playoffs… But this is a new year, and the Arizona front office loaded this team up with weapons for their QB Kyler Murray. The 49er defense is no joke though, but I don’t know if their offense is capable of putting up the points like they did a year ago. With Arizona likely to air it out with their incredible WR group (Hopkins, Fitz, and Kirk), I think the Cardinals catch the 49ers off guard and steal a win.
Saints vs Buccaneers – Winner: Saints
This is either going to be the game of the week, or it’s going to be a total blow out. Both teams are poised for a playoff run, but I give the edge to New Orleans. There’s just a ton of hype around this Bucs team and it’s giving me serious 2019 Browns vibes. With New Orleans stacked and looking like the best team in the NFC, Drew Brees and his crew should be able to end the night with a victory.
Rams vs Cowboys – Winner: Cowboys
Dallas has the roster to be one of the best teams in the league this year, but can they finally do it? I like their chances as the NFC East is quite possibly one of the worst divisions in the NFL, which means they should be able to make the playoffs this year. The Rams have an amazing group of athletes on the offensive side of the ball along with a solid defense to go with it. The only think I’m concerned about is their O-line and running game. Goff just might throw for 8,000 yards this year (exaggerating, but not really) just to make up for the questionable RB group. Dallas is much more balanced and should win this week.
Monday – 9/14
Giants vs Steelers – Winner: Steelers
Pittsburgh may have the best defensive unit in the NFL this year and it will give them a huge advantage throughout the season. I actually really like the Giants talent, but they’re just so young and they’re in the middle of finding their identity with new HC Joe Judge. NY has a bright future, but for right now, the Steelers are looking to make some noise in the AFC. Pittsburgh should have a nice little lead in the 4th quarter.
Broncos vs Titans – Winner: Titans
This game has a chance to be the game of the week as both of these teams are looking strong entering the year. The Titans have the edge though as a large majority of the offense returns from a year ago along with a boosted defense after signing Jadeveon Clowney. Denver’s defense is no joke either, however, their offense is so young and new, it may take them a few weeks to get adjusted to the season. It’s too bad that Von Miller is out for the year, which decreases their chances of making a playoff push. Luckily for the Broncos, the game is being played in Denver, which gives them an advantage due to the altitude of Mile High Stadium. This game could come down to the final drive, but I see Tennessee flying back home with a W.
The Jaguars franchise has to be one of the most unlucky teams in the NFL. They’ve shown flashes of success here and there, only to fall off the face of the earth for multiple reasons. It must be frustrating to be a Jags fan, as the team is so bad that even Browns fans point and laugh at Jacksonville. But recently, the Jaguars have been slipping down the slippery slope like an Olympic Bobsled team, and it’s not clear as to when this franchise will turn it around.
The Jags flashed excellence in 2017, where they went to the AFC Championship Playoff game. They ultimately lost to the Patriots, and the following offseason, everyone was fully onboard the Hype-Train to Jacksonville. Instead, they finished last in the AFC South with a 5-11 record… And they’ve been laying on the floor like a drunk David Hasselhoff messily eating a sandwich.
The Fall of the Jaguars
During the 2018 offseason, all we heard about was how great this Jaguars team was going to be. Bortles was apparently “The Guy,” Leonard Fournette was going to be the best RB in the league, and the defense was supposed to be stacked. In fact, here’s a list of some of their notable transactions that offseason.
Signed HC Dough Marrone to a 2 year extension.
Signed QB Blake Bortles to a 3 year, $54 million extension.
Signed G Andrew Norwell to a 5 year, $66.5 million contract.
Signed WR Marqise Lee to a 4 year, $34 million contract.
Signed CB DJ Hayden to a 3 year $19 million contract.
So these were the big moves the front office made in the 2018 offseason. In hindsight, it’s easy to point out that the Jaguars made some bad decisions, but during that time, it made sense for them to bring back Marrone and Bortles. But it was these decisions that helped lead the Jaguars into a dead end. It’s one thing to have a bad squad, but a front office making bad investments will devastate a franchise.
The 2017 Roster vs the 2020 Roster
The 2017 Jaguars finished the regular season with a 10-6 record, earning them a spot in the playoffs. They were the surprise team in the postseason until they met Tom Brady and the Patriots. Now, you would think that having that much success would mean the team’s roster wouldn’t change a whole lot in a 3 year time span. Don’t get me wrong, there are changes made to help improve the team each offseason, but ideally you want to keep the core group intact for as long as possible. For the Jaguars offense, only 3 guys from the 2017 team are still on the roster today. They are O-lineman, Cam Robinson, Brandon Linder, and AJ Cann. On the defensive side of the ball, only 2 guys remain. They are DT Abry Jones, and LB Myles Jack.
You mean to tell me that the group the front office brought in that nearly went to the Super Bowl has been diminished to just 5 players? That is the exact opposite of how to build a roster. You don’t have to be an expert to know that. It’s no wonder this team is so bad right now, as they have almost zero familiarity. These players aren’t given a chance to grow and learn to play together.
They Can’t Keep Talent
Time and time again, the Jaguars acquire some nice talent, only to have them leave the team. A mixture of signing the wrong guys and not being able to keep your core will do that to you, and ultimately led to the fall of this organization. Recently, the Jaguars have lost notable names like Jalen Ramsey, Calais Campbell, AJ Bouye, Telvin Smith, Malik Jackson, Yannick Ngakoue, Leanord Fournette, and Allen Robinson. Each of these guys were either traded, cut, or retired. Long story short, the player’s who come to Jacksonville want OUT of Jacksonville.
The organization likely has a terrible culture (albeit, maybe not as bad as the Washington Football Team). In fact, it’s so bad in Jacksonville, that the NFLPA advised Free Agents and Undrafted Free Agents to avoid playing for that team if they can. If the Jags want to turn this ship around, they’re going to need to change the culture and address this issue. It’s bad business for Jacksonville, and could be something that prevents this organization from reaching success in the future. I would think the front office would be reaching out to the NFLPA in order to attempt to build a relationship and fix this problem. Considering where this franchise is at though, it may be too late.
On top of that, some of the most recent departures turned ugly to the public eye. Superstar CB Jalen Ramsey was asked which teams he wants to play for on the Bussin’ With the Boys Podcast. Ramsey’s answer included the Titans and Raiders (once they moved to Vegas). He also acted like his time in Jacksonville was done by making a gesture about the future. He did this while still under contract with the Jaguars. I’ve provided a clip of it here:
Furthermore, Yannick Ngakoue made it very public on Twitter about his displeasure with the team, demanding a trade and refusing to play for the team with or without a new contract. Then soon after Ramsey suggested to Fournette that he too should leave the organization and find a new place to play… Fournette’s answer? He actually wanted to be a Jaguar. Two days after publicly claiming his desire to stay in Jacksonville, the front office put him up on the trading block back in April. They were never able to find an offer which led to a surprise release, putting Jacksonville in a situation where they have an extremely limited amount of players to build around.
Is There Any Hope?
I know the Jags are in a really bad spot right now, but there is hope. Luckily, this front office seems to hit the nail in the NFL Draft almost every year. I mean, just look at the list of players that they’ve drafted: Allen Robinson, Leonard Fournette, Jalen Ramsey, Yannick Ngakoue, Myles Jack, Josh Allen, DJ Chark, and how could I leave out Gardner Minshew? In the 2020 draft, they took CJ Henderson, K’Lavon Chaisson, and Laviska Shenault. Each of these guys have massive potential to become stars in this league. The question though: Will the Jaguars be able to keep these guys on the roster down the road?
It’s been a minute since I wrote my last article, so I thought I’d close out this month with a banger. There’s been a few big stories dropping in the month of August, and “Around the Gridiron” is basically my opinion on these big stories. There’s been some news regarding the College Football season, some surprising roster maneuvers in the NFL, and the re-revival of the XFL (How many lives does this organization have?).
Are We Playing or Not?
College football has been up in the air since the beginning of the year, and really, the NCAA has not handled it well at all. Rather than taking control of the situation and giving each conference the same rules and guidelines, the NCAA basically said, “we’ll let you guys figure it out.” With that, each conference has made their own decisions on whether they should play sports or not.
Of the Power 5 Conferences, the PAC-12 and the BIG10 both opted out this year with the hopes to return in March. The BIG12, SEC, and ACC (so far) have decided to play football this year and give the nation something to look forward to on Saturdays.
I’m not sure why these conferences think it would make sense to resume football in March. The NFL Draft takes place in April with, or without athletes who play in those conferences. So what’s the plan here? These kids are going to play college ball, get drafted in the middle of their season, finish their collegiate year, and have maybe one month of rest before hitting training camp? All of that is unlikely, and add onto the fact that these schools are maintaining an open campus to all students. Some of which are allowing intramural sports to be played on campus!? The real problem with college football right now is that there are SO MANY people involved with each school and conference. It’s essentially the same thing as having way to many cooks in the kitchen. It’s crowded, everyone is trying to voice their opinions, and the end result? These kids wont’ be allowed to play this year. I’m expecting a massive amount of college seniors to opt out and just prepare for the NFL draft, which should be interesting next year.
Hopefully the SEC, BIG12 and ACC can keep their shit together. I’m afraid these conferences are going to cancel at the very last minute and make the claim, “Well, at least we tried,” while giving a shoulder shrug and heavy sigh on camera. For the state of Alabama’s sake, I hope there’s football. I’m pretty sure that if the University of Alabama DOESN’T play a season through, the entire state just implodes on itself and turns into a cesspool of people, moaning the word “Fooooooootbaaaaaaall” like hungry zombies. Look, I get it. We’re in a pandemic and safety comes first. Anyone who chooses to opt out (on any level) shouldn’t be scrutinized for a decision they made. I’m just confused by the hypocrisy involved. If you cancel all fall sports due to COVID, shouldn’t you also cancel “In-Person” classes, intramural sports, and everything else that’s fun to do in college?
Big Name Free Agents
As of April 23rd, (probable) future Hall of Fame Safety, Earl Thomas was released by the Baltimore Ravens. Apparently, he’s a major douche and the Ravens are tired of his shit. Thomas has had quite the streak as of late. First, he left a Seahawks game on a cart while flipping off Seattle Head Coach Pete Carroll. Probably not the best move to make when you’re wanting a new contract. The Seahawks let him go, and Thomas went and played for the Ravens during the 2019 season. He talked mad shit about the Titans and Derrick Henry before their playoff match, only to be stiff armed so hard by El Tractorcito that Thomas started playing offense and became a lead blocker. His world got turned around so hard that he decided to have a three way with his brother a few months later, and then fight his own teammates at training camp 2 weeks before Kickoff. Maybe Earl Thomas has always been this way and we’re just now seeing it, but the guy has some problems he needs to deal with and I would think most teams are cautious to sign him.
Right now, the Cowboys seem to be the best fit for Thomas after the team swung and missed on Jamal Adams. It’s probably a great fit, as Earl Thomas was seen telling Jerry Jones to, “Come get me,” while he was still in Seattle. Jones loves big name players and will do anything to make the Cowboys relevant again. I’m fully expecting Thomas to sign a deal with Dallas in the near future.
It’s Clowney’s own fault as to why he’s still a free agent. Multiple teams have shown interest in him, however, nobody has signed him yet due to the fact he’s asking for a ton of money. The last I saw, Clowney was asking for a contract that would give him $18 million/year. It’s not like he’s out of the price range of these franchises, it’s just giving him that much money is risky. The guy is a freak athlete (probably infused with alien DNA or something) and has been a monster in the league since his arrival in 2014.
The problem though, is that Clowney hasn’t been the most healthy. He’s had a few surgeries throughout his career and just ended 2019 with another injury. Of course COVID complicated things as clubs weren’t able to get their doctors to perform a physical. But now that teams are allowed to work players out, there still hasn’t been any movement in the Clowney sweepstakes. In fact, it’s been pretty quite the last month and a half. However, the teams that have been the most connected to Clowney as possible landing spots are the Titans, Seahawks, Browns, Eagles, and Ravens.
Of those five teams, the Titans make the most sense, as Clowney has experience playing with Head Coach Mike Vrabel. Not only that, but there’s a ton of familiarity on that defense already for Clowney where he’d likely step in without missing a beat. When Vrabel was the Defensive Coordinator in Houston for the 2017 season, he made Clowney a utility player. Jadeveon was essentially allowed to move around wherever he wanted on the front seven, which led to Clowney having the best year of his career.
The XFL Rises Again… For the Third Time
COVID ended the XFL season before it could really get started. It was quite the shame too, as the XFL was and eXtremely Fun League to watch. From unique rules, beer chugging, beer-cup snakes as big as my house, and live interviews DURING the game, this league was setting itself up for success. It had the potential to become a secondary league to the NFL for players to showcase their talent in live games. I imagined it to become a fun developmental league for the NFL, only to be taken away and go bankrupt.
The XFL was in the middle of a law suit between WWE Owner Vince McMahon and Oliver Luck. However, one of the greatest wrestlers of all time stepped in and purchased the league. CAN YOU SMELLLLLLLL WHAT THE ROCK COOKIN!!?? The GOAT came out of nowhere, gave the coronavirus the People’s Elbow, and gifted the XFL a new life. It’s unclear on exactly when the XFL will start playing games though. I believe they’re planning to start the week after the Super Bowl, but hopefully, Dwayne Johnson and his business partners can maintain the same level of excitement the league was producing earlier this year. Shout out to The Rock for being America’s hero.
Every year we enter the NFL season discussing position battles. Each team has them, and it’s one of the more exciting topics to discuss for fans. However, for fantasy football, it can become a heated discussion trying to figure out which RB is more valuable to own on your squad, and if you chose the wrong guy, then it could be costly to your season.
There are a few things to factor in when looking at position battles, especially from a fantasy football standpoint. Will the new QB take over the starting spot? Is the young exciting rookie actually going to make an immediate impact? Will COVID prevent this guy from reaching his full potential? You can only do so much research, but at the end of the day, you just have to go with your gut. So here’s a list of who you should own on your fantasy team this year, based off my research (more so my gut feeling, but no one really ever knows, right?).
Chicago Bears – Nick Foles over Mitchell Trubisky
When it comes to QBs, there’s a BUNCH of guys I’d rather take before either of these dudes, but if you’re in a deep league, or dynasty, or a league where you’re just desperate for a QB, you’re going to want to know which one is the better option. I think Trubisky is going to win the QB battle in Chicago, and he’ll, at the very least, be the starter for the first few games. However, the Bears traded for Foles for a reason. They obviously want Foles to be a guy who motivates Trubisky to play better, but there’s a real chance Foles takes the starting job away. When it comes down to it, I’m choosing Foles as the guy to own, and you probably don’t even have to draft him. Nick Foles has come off the bench and played well before, can he do it again for a new team? Maybe not to the same extent, but if you are desperate for a QB, Foles has the potential to be nice fill in until you find someone more reliable.
Detroit Lions – D’Andre Swift over Kerryon Johnson
For me personally, I’m not too high on any rookies this year due to the lack of training camp and preparation this rookie class is facing because of COVID. Don’t get me wrong, some rookies will have a good year, but for fantasy football, that could take until week 7 or week 8 until they start playing at their full potential. With that said, Swift is one of the only rookie RBs I think is worth drafting this year. He’s probably going to split carries with Johnson, but Kerryon hasn’t been all that effective with his carries. Based off Swift’s track record in college, I think he’ll be gaining more carries as the season progresses. I wouldn’t reach for D’Andre Swift, but he’s definitely a guy who has the potential to give you that extra push in the 2nd half of the season.
Cleveland Browns – Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt
The short answer, is draft both of them. There isn’t really a true position battle going on in Cleveland, but for fantasy football, Hunt poses a serious threat to Chubb’s value. Chubb will likely produce some good numbers, but Kareem Hunt is going to be taking more reps away than you would like if you have invested in Nick Chubb stock. Your best bet is to draft both guys and lock up the Browns run game, or you could give yourself a nice trading tool later in the season.
Seattle Seahawks – Carlos Hyde over Chris Carson
Most people are drafting Chris Carson while Hyde is getting little to no attention. However, last year when Hyde was over looked he actually put up great numbers and was the Texans leading RB in 2019. Chris Carson is a good RB and can get the job done, but for whatever reason he’s never been able to shake off the other RBs on the roster and be the bell cow. Carson is coming back from a fractured hip and he has a history with fumbling the ball. Carson may start the season as the starter, but due to the concerns around his health, I wouldn’t be shocked if Carlos Hyde ends up being the best RB in Seattle by the end of the year. So draft Chris Carson if he falls to you, but make sure you save a bench spot for Carlos Hyde just in case.
Denver Broncos – Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay
The Broncos will likely be splitting the carries between the two throughout the year, and these two kind of remind me of Melvin Gordon’s situation on his old team in LA. Gordon shared snaps with Austin Ekeler and both of them were still capable of scoring points in fantasy football. Melvin has more stand alone value, but if you’re looking for a solid FLEX option, Phillip Lindsay should be able to be a consistent player in that position. With a very young WR group and a young QB taking the reigns for the first time, I’m expecting the Denver run game to be the focal point this season. I like Gordon and Lindsay this year, but I give Gordon the edge as I believe he’ll have more opportunities than Lindsay.
Indianapolis Colts – Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines over Jonathan Taylor
There’s a ton of buzz surrounding the rookie RB right now, which makes sense, as Taylor was an absolute beast in college. In fact, most people have Jonathan Taylor as the RB to draft in Indy, but I’m having a hard time believing that. Marlon Mack is still a decent RB and is more than capable of being a viable option for this Colts Run game. Also, Philip Rivers has a history of dumping the ball off to his RB in the passing game, and Nyheim Hines has a great opportunity to have the best season of his career as a legit pass option. So where does that leave Jonathan Taylor? He’l likely share some snaps with Mack, however, I don’t think he’s going to get the ball as much as people think. Due to COVID-19, every team is forced to enter the regular season with less preparation as usual, and rookies are going to have it hard this year (at least in the first 4-6 games) as they’ll be trying to adjust to the pro level. So between COVID and the fact the Colts already have two solid options at RB, I suggest staying away from Taylor this year. Draft Mack as he has RB3 potential, and draft Hines, as he has RB4 potential.
Houston Texans – Will Fuller over Brandin Cooks
Deshaun Watson is going to be forced to find a new favorite target this year after Hopkins got traded away. I think it’s also important to note that the Texans front office didn’t do anything to improve this below average O-line either, which means we may see Watson scrambling quite often in the back field. Naturally, he’s going to look for the WR that he’s familiar with first, and that’s going to be Will Fuller. Most people are choosing Brandin Cooks to be the best WR in Houston, but considering that Watson is already comfortable throwing to Fuller suggests that they’ll be connecting more often. The real issue is that Cooks and Fuller have both suffered more injuries than they’d like to, but Fuller has shown to be a nice target for Watson when he’s healthy in the past, where Cooks still has to build that camaraderie. So, let the other people in your league draft Cooks, then take Fuller to add some nice depth to your roster.
It’s always important to draft as many elite players as possible, but it’s also important to find those players late in the draft that will give your team that extra boost it needs to win your league. Every year, there is always at least one guy that hardly anyone predicted to take over the fantasy world. There’s also a handful of athletes that don’t even get going until the 2nd half of the year. But finding out who is going to take off and drafting them in the later rounds of your draft means putting in some study time. Sometimes it’s luck, or a gut feeling, but it is nice to select a player you view as a sleeper and then you’re right. It adds depth to your roster and increases your chances of winning, which is what we’re all hoping to accomplish in our fantasy leagues.
I’ve narrowed down my list of sleepers to my top 3 based on their position. None of these guys are going too early in drafts, and a couple of them are already on people’s radar. With that, here is my list of NFL players your should NOT sleep on.
Top Sleepers: QB
Mr. Mustache was a nice surprise for fantasy owners and the Jacksonville Jaguars last year. He played 14 games last season after Nick Foles fell to injury. Minshew actually played so well, the Jaguars decided to make him the official starter and shipped Foles away to the Bears. Now, he’s not the best QB in the league, and I don’t recommend drafting him to be the starting QB for your fantasy squad. However, he’s going to add some nice depth to your roster, and who knows, maybe your starting QB falls to injury, gets suspended, etc… Having Minshew right there to sub in is going to keep your team competitive. In 2019, the Jorts wearing QB put up over 3200 yards and 21 touchdowns. He only threw 6 interceptions too, which gave him a great TD/INT ratio. Those stats led him to averaging 16.4 points per game, where he actually finished as the QB21 in PPR leagues. He has some decent WRs this year, and the Jags are a bad team, which means Minshew could be that gunslinging QB you need come playoff time.
Daniel Jones played 13 games last year after filling in for Eli Manning. During that time span, Jones threw for just over 3000 yards and 24 touchdowns, which led to a 16.5 point average per game. This was rather impressive, considering how much shit everyone gave the Giants for drafting him so high, he’s a rookie, AND the Giants dealt with injuries all year long. I’m sure you’re aware of the sophomore slump, but I have a hard time seeing that happen for the Giants QB. New York actually has a pretty dangerous looking offense on paper, with Saquon Barkley in the backfield, a sturdy O-line, and a talented WR group, Daniel Jones already has the tools around him to be successful. Most people aren’t drafting Jones until the later rounds, so if you feel like being risky, stack up your roster and take Jones as your starting QB.
Most people have Tannehill written off their board as they believe last year was a fluke. The truth of the matter is, Tannehill has always been a decent QB in the NFL, just go look at his career stats. Last year in Tennessee, Tannehill stepped in as the starter following a week 6 loss to the Broncos. From week 7 on, Tannehill played as one of the best QBs in the league as he scored 18+ points in 8 of those 10 starts. I know, it’s unlikely for Tannehill to play at such a ridiculously high level throughout the entire 2020 season, and he’ll likely have a regression. But it’s not going to be as big as people think it’s going to be. AJ Brown has superstar potential written all over him, Jonnu Smith is an athletic TE with huge potential, he’ll have the same offensive coordinator calling the plays, and the same core group that was around him is still there. The best part about him, he’s a dual threat QB. Not only did he throw for 22 touchdowns, he also ran in 4… So even if Tannehill’s play regresses, he’s likely to still average 16+ points per game (depending on the scoring format), which makes him an incredibly reliable QB for your fantasy squad.
Top Sleepers: RB
Ronald Jones II
Otherwise known as RoJo, the Tampa Bay RB looks to be running away as the RB1 for this offense. A lot of the focus and attention is on the passing game. Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, GRONK, and Tom Brady, are all pretty high on most people’s lists. However, RoJo is listed as the RB32 according to Matthew Berry, meaning that Jones isn’t even getting drafted until LATE in fantasy drafts. Last year, RoJo wasn’t the best RB, but he certainly wasn’t the worst, as he finished the season with 724 rushing yards along with 6 touchdowns. He also averaged 10.4 points per week in PPR formats, which made him an “okay” FLEX option. Considering the rest of the RB group in Tampa isn’t all that pretty, and opposing defenses are going to focus on the pass game, I’m expecting Jones to gobble up rushing yards and some touchdowns to help the Bucs run out the clock when they have the lead. He does have a fumble issue though, which could be a problem, but overall, the stock is rising for Ronald Jones II.
Almost everyone has Howard written off their draft board and I have yet to understand why. 2019 was obviously the worst year of his career so far, but from a statistical standpoint, Howard still produced. Although it was his first time not receiving at least 200 attempts, he still ran for over 500 yards and 6 touchdowns. He actually averaged 4.4 yards per carry, and in the 10 games he did play, Jordan Howard averaged 11.1 points per game. He’s now on a young Miami team hoping to develop in a wide open AFC East, and Howard is by far the best RB on that roster. I’m not saying draft Howard with the thought process he produces like an RB1, but he has the potential to be a solid RB4 with RB3 potential. Someone is going to run the ball in Miami, and Howard is going to eat up the attempts like Joey Chestnut on the 4th of July. If you’re in a PPR league, take Howard late in the draft and add some solid depth to your squad.
I know, he was hurt the entire 2018 season and only played 5 games last year, but hear me out. The Washington Football Team has an interesting offense that’s not really too far off from becoming a potential threat in the NFL. If Dwayne Haskins can improve, and the front office can build around him, the Football Team could find themselves as a dark horse playoff team in 2021. As of right now though, the RB situation is incredibly questionable. Adrian Peterson is doing is best Frank Gore impression and continues to take carries away from younger talent, and Washington just drafted rookie RB Antonio Gibson. At the end of the day though, Guice has the potential to be that special Running Back this franchise needs to take the next step, he just needs to stay healthy. So far, in his 5 career games, Guice has rushed for 245 yards and 2 touchdowns. He’s averaging 5.8 yards per carry, and he’s averaging 11.5 fantasy points per game. Considering Peterson is an aging future Hall of Famer, and the other RB is a rookie trying to figure it out during a pandemic, Derrius Guice has the chance to become a viable RB1 for the Washington Football Team. Right now, he’s hardly on anyones radar in fantasy football, but I truly believe he has RB2-RB3 potential if he can stay healthy this year. He’s a high risk, high reward type of player.
Top Sleepers: WR
Most people are high on Darius Slayton as the top wideout in New York, but I’m here to tell you, it’s going to be Golden Tate. He’s entering his 11th season of his career, and considering how young this team is, Daniel Jones is going to need a reliable WR in the passing game. In 2019, Tate only played in 11 games total. During that stretch, he had 676 receiving yards along with 6 touchdowns. He also averaged 13.8 fantasy points per game, and you could argue that if he played a full 16 game season, Golden Tate would’ve finished 2019 as his 2nd best year in his career (at least in fantasy football). The main attack of the Giants offense is going to be Saquon Barkely, but I’m fully expecting Golden Tate to emerge as a legit WR3 this year in fantasy. Take him, and give yourself a strong FLEX option this year.
The Packers WR group is spread thin, especially after Devin Funchess chose to opt out this season. Aaron Rodgers doesn’t have many options around him, which means it’s likely Aaron Jones and Devante Adams are going to have a HUGE year. But football is played with 11 guys on the field, and Rodgers can’t strictly throw to Jones and Adams every single play (although, he might have to this year). That means a WR2 on this Packers team will emerge, and my pick is Allen Lazard. He’s 6’5″, 227 pounds, and flashed some great play for the Packers last year. During this offseason, Rodgers even made a comment about Lazard, calling him an “ascending player.” At the very least, Lazard should be a nice red zone target for Aaron Rodgers, and considering how much focus defenses will put on Devante Adams, we may be looking at a future breakout star in Green Bay. Lazard has the potential to be a solid WR4 this year, and should have a few games where balls out.
Tajae who? I haven’t seen a single person mention this guy’s name yet in the fantasy world, which means he’s so far under the radar, you probably won’t even have to draft him. The former Tennessee Titan is now on the Minnesota Vikings. He was the WR4 on the Titans, but now that he’s with the Vikings, he has a legitimate shot at becoming a solid WR3, low-end WR2 on this roster. Right now, Adam Thielen is poised to have a monster season, and rookie Justin Jefferson was put on the COVID-19 list (he likely just has to go through tests until he’s cleared, then he will be back on the roster), which leaves an opportunity for someone to step up. Even if Jefferson was fully healthy, I’d still take Sharpe, as rookies are going to have a rough time adjusting to the NFL due to COVID. Sharpe is an excellent possession receiver, and due to the fact that defenses will be forced to target Thielen, I’m expecting Sharpe to get open quite often throughout the season. I mean, who else is going to pass catches in Minnesota? Olabisi Johnson? (Snoop Dogg GIF – WHO) Chad Beebe? (Another Snoop Dogg GIF – WHO) Or will it be another WR we’ve never heard of? Acquire Sharpe by week 2 and add some nice depth to your fantasy roster.
Top Sleepers: TE
Alright, he’s probably not a sleeper pick at this point, but I left him out of my Top 10 Tight Ends list, and I think he has the potential to at least finish as the 11th best TE in the NFL. Hurst was one of those guys that showed he has the talent to be THAT guy in the league last year in Baltimore, albeit, he didn’t get the ball that much. However, he’s now on a Falcons team where we just watched Austin Hooper thrive in. Hurst is similar to Hooper in many ways, and has a chance to be the 2nd option behind Julio Jones. You might have to draft him sooner than you’d like this year, as many people have him on their radar as a potential breakout player.
He’s entering his 14th season of his career, and is turning into the Frank Gore of Tight Ends (two Gore references in 1 article, not bad right). Olsen spent 2017 and 2018 battling injuries, and in 2019, he finally was able to play 14 games. Last season, Olsen had just under 600 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also averaged 8.8 points per game, which isn’t too bad for the TE position. I like his chances this year, as he’s now on a team with a substantially better QB, and last year, Russell Wilson showed how much he enjoyed throwing to his TEs when they prove to be a reliable target. Will Dissly is coming back from a gruesome injury, and Luke Wilson doesn’t provide much in the passing game. Greg Olsen might not make any big time plays, but with the weak O-line in Seattle, expect Wilson to dump it off to Olsen throughout the year.
I’ve noticed Smith has gained a little bit of momentum in mock drafts, which means people are starting to jump on the Jonnu bandwagon. For the first time in his career, Smith will be playing as the TE1 in Tennessee, and based off of his athleticism, and flashy plays made in the final quarter of the season, it’s safe to say that Jonnu Smith very well could be the steal of your fantasy draft. Tannehill proved that his favorite target is AJ Brown, but during the regular season, Jonnu seemed to be option number two for the veteran QB, especially after Adam Humphries missed games due to injury. Jonnu is so athletic, that the Titans ran a few plays with him lined up as a RB, where he showed he could play that position too. If you’re looking for a TE late in your fantasy draft, look no further than Jonnu Smith, as he has the potential to be a legit breakout player this season.