The Titans should crowdsource their offensive playbook

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Published on : August 16, 2016

 

 

No one has ever accused Mike Mularkey of being an offensive mastermind. He has had some success as an offensive coordinator but only when his team was stacked with All Pros. As a head coach, his efforts have been middling at best and downright awful at worst. For some reason which I cannot comprehend, the Tennessee Titans made the decision to retain him as head coach following his stint as interim coach. He got that gig after the team relieved Ken Whisenhunt of his duties in November, 2015 and he’s one of the few interim head coaches that is getting the chance to continue on the job. But maybe the Titans would be better off letting the fans call the plays?

 

You may have heard about the Tennessee Titans first preseason game and how the team raised $20k for charity by auctioning off the right to call the first two offensive plays. It’s a pretty great idea and the fact that they were able to get $10k per play is great for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, the recipient of that charitable endeavor. While it may be a gimmick, I think the team may be on to something here. We’ve all been guilty of yelling at the television hoping the coach would hear you and realize that he doesn’t know shit and you should be running the team (I’m look at you, Jim Caldwell). Well, for the first time in history, this may have been true.

 

 

The first play called by one generous fan, was a pitch to the left in which DeMarco Murray went for 15 yards. A pretty solid first play of the game indeed. The second was a play-action pass that saw Marcus Mariota send the ball 31 yards for a completion to rookie Tajae Sharpe. That’s a combined 46 yards to open the game. To put that into perspective, the next three plays called by the coaching staff went for a combined 4 yards. And the next eight plays called by the staff combined for only 21 yards. Sure, they scored a touchdown on their third drive off of a 71 yard run (also to the left side) by DeMarco Murray, but that was a combination of the Chargers defense looking like shit on that play and DeMarco’s skills in the open field.

 

 

If the team wants to succeed, it’s pretty clear what they have to do. They need to crowdsource their entire offensive playbook. The team could set up an online poll for their fans to use during games and they can vote on what will be the next play call. The internet makes all of this possible. If American Idol can do it then the NFL sure can. It would be like if the Borg were playing Madden, but real life!

 

It’s pretty genius if you think about it. If it works out then the team succeeds and will endear themselves to the fans in a way like never before. It will give Titans fans a chance to be fully emersed in their team’s season in a way no other fans can. Also, Mularkey gets to piggyback on the success of the new hive mind offensive coordinator and almost certainly gets to keep the job that he doesn’t really deserve in the first place. This is a win-win for the players, coaches, fans and organization as a whole.

 

 “Do you really think the fans are smarter that us?” “Yes, yes I do.”

 

If it doesn’t work out then no big deal. Mike Mularkey can blame the failed experiment and probably gets another chance to make things right. I don’t really see why he wouldn’t do this. The fans as offensive coordinator can’t make the team any worse than it’s been for the last few seasons. The Titans went 3-13 and 2-14 over the last two years. Come on Tennessee, make the right coaching choice and promote your fans to be the new hive mind offensive coordinator. What you’re currently working with isn’t very good. Build off of those first two plays of the 2016 preseason and for the love of Christ, win some damn football games!

 

 


Keep Hope Alive: What the NFL’s Worst Teams Have to Feel Good About in 2016

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Published on : February 25, 2016

 

 

For many people, right now is as good as it get’s when it comes to football. In places like Cleveland, Detroit and Jacksonville, the offseason is time that is full of hope and possibilities. Last season’s pessimism is out and next season’s optimism is in. With the new league year and the start of free agency just weeks away, we thought we would talk about what some of the NFL’s worst teams in 2015 have to look forward to this year, besides the opportunity to blow it with their high draft picks.

 

Tennessee Titans: Marcus Mariota’s continued progression

 
I’m not going to lie. The outlook is pretty grim in Tennessee. They retained their interim head coach Mike Mularkey for the same position, and he didn’t exactly improve the team when he took over last year. They do still have last year’s number two overall pick playing quarterback, though. Marcus Mariota should continue to improve in spite of the lack of a coaching staff, and for that reason they should keep hope alive.

 

Cleveland BrownsThe New Regime

 

I know we’ve all heard this before, but it seems like the Cleveland Browns might finally be getting their heads out of their asses. The new director of football operations, Sashi Brown, went out and got the Hue Jackson, the former offensive coordinator in Cincinnati. Jackson was the guy pulling the strings behind the scenes of the league’s seventh-best scoring offense in 2015. It also looks like he will soon be putting an end to the Johnny Manziel fiasco, and for that we should all be thankful.

 

San Diego Chargers: Return of the injured

 

The Chargers got hit very hard by the injury bug last season. It was kind of ridiculous. Luckily, time heals all wounds and with an offseason to mend up, the San Diego Chargers can’t possibly do as bad as they did last year. The team placed a total of 17 players on injured-reserve last season, which directly led to their 4-12 finish. Many of those players will be back this year and that should lead to more wins.

 

Dallas Cowboys: Dez Bryant

 

He’s a little bit of a head case, but Dez Bryant is by far the best thing the Cowboys have going for them. He is a physical freak who can make plays all over the field. He was limited by injuries in 2015, but then again so was everyone else on the team. Look for him and a healthy Tony Romo to get back to their old play-making ways in 2016.

 

San Francisco 49ers: Chip Kelly’s antics

 
There’s a chance that Chip Kelly is able to come in and fix Colin Kaepernick, but I wouldn’t get too optimistic about that. The 49ers are lacking in quality talent all over the field and it will probably take a couple of years to right the ship. On the bright side, we get at least one more year of watching Chip Kelly roast the NFL media!

 
 
All of these teams had five wins or less last season. Most probably won’t improve enough to make a playoff run but with a little luck they could pass as watchable football teams. Be sure to keep and eye on them, if for no other reason than those I listed above.

 
 
 


For Michigan State, it’s College Football Playoff or Bust

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Published on : September 19, 2015

 

The college football world took a much anticipated trip to the great state of Michigan last weekend. ESPN decided to broadcast SportsCenter live from Ann Arbor for Jim Harbaugh’s home coaching debut at his alma mater. Since Harbaugh took the job this past winter, much of the attention in college football has been focused towards Michigan as they try to revitalize one of the most glorified programs in the history of college football. While most believe Harbaugh is the perfect coach to get the job done in Ann Arbor, Michigan no longer has the fortune of only having to look South to find their big competition. There is a potential bigger threat some 60 miles Northwest—yes the once thought “Little Brother” has grown up in East Lansing, and he goes by the name Sparty.

 

Sparty himself.

 

Following the SportsCenter broadcast last Saturday, ESPN’s College Gameday kicked off its show live from East Lansing, as Michigan State vs Oregon was the featured game of the week. Part two in a scheduled home-and-home series between these two teams was again expected to have College Football Playoff implications and both teams are expected to compete for a championship in their respective conferences. Last year in Eugene, Michigan State surprised many by hanging with, and in fact leading, Oregon through three quarters of the game. That was before eventual Heisman trophy winner Marcus Mariota and the high powered Duck offense began to dominate a tired Michigan State defense on their way to a 19-point victory.

 

Oregon would go on to lose in the NCAA Championship game vs Ohio State, while Michigan State would end their season with a Cotton Bowl victory over Baylor in one of the greatest games of the 2014 season. Heading into the 2014 season, Spartans coach, Mark Dantonio, certainly had his eyes on the inaugural playoff, and while there was no doubt some disappointment when they didn’t make it, it was far from a failed season. Especially when you consider that the only two losses the Spartans had were against the two teams competing for the National Championship.

 

The team celebrates the Cotton Bowl victory over Baylor to close out last season.

 

The bar has been raised in East Lansing significantly. Under Dantonio, Michigan State has won eleven or more games in four of the past five years. They have dominated the in-state rivalry against Michigan, winning six of the last seven. They’ve also appeared in two conference championship games (winning one), and have turned what used to be known as a “basketball school” into a strong, well-rounded athletic program.

 

Heading into this season, Michigan State came in ranked 5th in the nation, and again have their eyes on the playoff and some higher expectations, but first focused on some familiar faces that stand in their way. Having both Oregon and Ohio State on the schedule again, Michigan State knew a win against at least one of those opponents would be necessary if their dreams would eventually come to fruition. On Saturday, the Spartans helped their playoff chances by beating the Ducks and bumping themselves up one spot, to #4 in the polls. I think if Michigan State were to have finished the season 11-1 last season, they would have made the College Football Playoff, and that if they finish with that record this year, they will make the playoff.

 

They’ve already beaten the Ducks, but there’s work to be done yet.

 

Outside of Ohio State, there doesn’t seem to be any clear-cut favorite or obvious choices to win any of the Power 5 conferences like in past years. For that reason, I don’t expect many teams to finish undefeated, if any. In recent years, Alabama, Florida State, and Oregon all seemed like shoe-ins for their conference. This year, all three may not even get to their conference championship games because there seems to be a lot more parity, and I think it’s a good thing. I think Ohio State goes undefeated, and potentially a team like TCU or Baylor could as well, (they play each other at the end of November) but that could be it.

 

Ohio State is the only remaining ranked team the Spartans have to play as of right now. The Spartans do still have a couple potential trap games in Ann Arbor and at Nebraska but Michigan State should be undefeated (10-0) heading into Columbus on November 21st. Provided Michigan State can keep that game reasonably close, say within a couple of touchdowns, the “little brother” from East Lansing could be punching a ticket to the Playoff for the first time. With Oregon already out of the way, I think Michigan State needs to be playing in college football’s Final Four on New Year’s Day.

 

The prize that the Spartans have their eyes on.

 

The past few years, Dantonio and company haven’t gotten the attention and respect they probably deserve up in East Lansing. Often taking the backseat to Ohio State and hated rival Michigan, the Spartans always seem to fly a little bit under the radar but Dantonio pushes on, getting them closer to the pinnacle, slightly raising the bar each year while ensuring that the brand is strong. Conference champions, they’ve been there and done that. A Rose Bowl victory, been there too. New Year’s Six? Yup, did that last year. There’s one big step left, and the Spartans control their own destiny the rest of the way. It’s a funny thing about expectations, when you have them, it means your team is pretty good, but when you exceed them, it means you’ve done something great. The College Football Playoff, it’s all Michigan State has left, everything else Spartan fans have already seen.

 

 

 


Champ and Chump of the Weekend

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Published on : September 16, 2015

 

Fans rejoiced this past weekend as the NFL kicked off its 2015 season. Add in a couple big college football tilts and the U.S. Open in New York, and it made for one jam packed weekend in sports. Week 1 in the NFL had some great story lines and some memorable moments. With that in mind, here’s my Champ and Chump of the weekend.

 

Champ: Marcus Mariota

13-16, 209 yards, 4 touchdowns, 0 turnovers. 95.7 QBR, 158.3 Passer Rating in a 42-14 victory over Tampa Bay

All he does is win.

 

In a much anticipated match up featuring the top two quarterbacks taken in the 2015 NFL draft, and the last two Heisman trophy winners, Marcus Mariota looked a lot more NFL ready than Jameis Winston, who threw a pick-six with his first throw. Many doubted Mariota coming into this season, fearing his style wouldn’t translate to the NFL, a trend that has been true with former Oregon quarterbacks in the past. Through one week, Mariota has silenced his critics for now, and the Jameis supporters have to hope that Winston’s career takes off much like the career of a former legend who also started his NFL career with a pick-six—Brett Favre.

 

Honorable Mention:

Michigan State football- Huge win over #7 Oregon avenging last year’s loss in Eugene

Novak Djokovic- Defeated Roger Federer for the US Open Championship, his 10th career major win

Zack Greinke- Pitched 8 scoreless innings vs Arizona to improve to 17-3 on the season, 1.61 ERA, 0.85 WHIP…truly remarkable season, could go down as one of the best seasons ever.

 

 

Chump: New York Giants

Rashad Jennings summing up how the Giants ended the game.

 

On a play that may be scrutinized as much as the Seattle Seahawks bonehead decision to throw the ball at the 1-yard line in last year’s Super Bowl, Eli Manning left many fans scratching their heads yesterday. The New York Giants were just about to shock the defending division champion Dallas Cowboys Sunday night when Eli Manning and company did the seemingly unthinkable. Up 23-20, the Giants had a 3rd and goal at the Cowboy’s 1-yard line with just over 90 seconds left. Out of timeouts, Dallas had no way of stopping the clock. The Giants had them on their heels, all they had to do was punch it in. Hell, they had two chances if they wanted.  Worst case scenario, they come up short on 3rd down and kick the field goal to go up 6 and leave Dallas with under a minute and no timeouts to drive for a touchdown. Another scenario, on a potential fourth down, if the Giants came up short, Dallas would have to go some 99 yards without any timeouts for a touchdown, or some 60 yards for a field goal try with like 45 seconds left. Instead, on 3rd and 1, Eli dropped back to throw, and threw the ball away avoiding the pressure, but ultimately also avoiding the 40 second runoff that may have helped win New York the game. To make matters worse, it has been reported Eli told running back Rashad Jennings to intentionally not score with the hopes of draining the clock. Well, the G-Men may not have won the game but they did win the award for chump of the week.

 

Dishonorable Mention:

Adam “Pac Man” Jones- Flagged and fined for slamming Oakland Raider Amari Cooper’s head into his helmet

Florida football coach Jim McElwain- Childish tirade on the sidelines while berating a player

Detroit Lions/Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi- After leading 21-3 at San Diego, the Lions

gave up 30 unanswered points and lost 33-28. Calvin Johnson targeted just 4 times (2 catches)

 


Roger Pretzel’s Cloudy Crystal Ball: AFC West

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Published on : September 5, 2015

 

This season’s AFC West promises a grueling divisional battle between a Broncos team that may be on the decline and a solidly improved Chiefs defense. Meanwhile, Oakland is looking for a new start with a potentially impressive QB/WR connection, and though you shouldn’t sleep on the San Diego Chargers, you know you will anyway.

 

Let yourself go as we gaze into this hazy quartz sphere…

 

Oakland Raiders:

 photo oaklandraiders copy_zpshxurehnc.jpg

 

Who do you like better as a second year quarterback in a hurting franchise, Blake Bortles or Derek Carr? It’s a trick question. They’re both promising, and they’ve both got a long way to go. I think Carr has the edge at the moment due to having Amari Cooper as a target. I try not to get too excited about any draft prospect before I see them in the regular season (which has been nearly impossible with Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston on hand in the preseason), but with Cooper it’s hard not to think that the Raiders made a wise decision.

As far as the coaching switch-up goes, it’s tough to get too excited about Jack Del Rio. That said, it can’t get any worse than Dennis Allen’s attempt to bring Oakland back from the brink. The dude tried, and it just didn’t work. It does help to have a guy like Justin Tuck in the locker room though. Sure his production has declined pretty significantly from his glory days in New York, but you’ve got to imagine he’s worth the contract for his ability to mentor the younger guys.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

As with so many other teams on the lower rungs of the NFL’s ladder, this one has some new talent that it needs to mold properly in order to start winning. This is the definition of a building season, and the Raiders are once again destined to remain at the bottom of the AFC West, even if Del Rio’s strategies take hold. At least we get some new Khalil Mack highlights.

 

Denver Broncos:

 photo denverbroncos_zpsj9y7wmvl.jpg

 

The NFL’s eternal bridesmaids return this season with some elephant-in-the-room-questions regarding Peyton’s continued high level of production, his health, and his age. These are questions worth asking but I don’t see Manning losing much steam this season. He’ll remain a class-A quarterback, but what about next season? What about the season after that? There’s gonna come a day (sometime soon) when Manning’s going to have to hang up the cleats, giving up the game he loves in favor of pursuing his other passion: endorsements.

I’m also a little concerned about the departure of John Fox. I know Kubiak has a history with the franchise but it’s not like the Broncos exactly suffered under Fox’s reign. Sure, there was an embarrassing Super Bowl drubbing at the hands of the Seahawks, but I find it hard to give up on a top tier coach for one loss, even if it is in THE game. Hey, remember when Danny Trevathan dropped the ball before the end zone on a guaranteed pick-six against Baltimore in the 2013 season, resulting in an automatic touchback? I started paying attention to him after that mostly because of schadenfreude, but was soon impressed by how good a player he actually is. I love that defense in Denver. They’re as fun and dynamic as the offense is methodical and boring.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

A strong season will be marred by a few hiccups in adjusting to Kubiak’s return. It’s a strong possibility Denver doesn’t make the playoffs, which will cause that overly earnest fan-base to go apoplectic. This is a team currently in decline, even if that decline is almost imperceptibly gradual.

 

San Diego Chargers:

 photo sandiegochargers_zpsjys5xbok.jpg

 

The Chargers are a weird team because they’re sort of a non-factor when you look at the league as a whole. It’s strange because they aren’t a “bad” team, and they usually finish the season with an over .500 record, or something close to it. The Chargers are also a team for which that hoary old “any given Sunday” adage was invented for: it doesn’t matter how good you are, you can’t take the Chargers for granted. It’s not entirely surprising when they make the playoffs, and it’s even less so when they don’t, but something is missing here. For all of Phil Rivers’ manic facial expressions and gnashing of teeth, this is a team that seems to suffer strongest from a lack of heart. They’re the vanilla pudding of the NFL: good, but unremarkable.

Rivers is the rock here and his contract extension was much deserved, but it seems like he’s got an ever shrinking coterie of talented receivers to throw to, and all the while the running game has remained stagnant. Gates does a great job bucking body image norms (even in the position of tight end), but his age is going to lead to a drop in production that I think we’ve already seen a preview of. There’s a bad stereotypical comparison to make with the SoCal locale they play out of, with a relaxed and lackadaisical attitude. Obviously the players and coaching staff don’t feel that way, but looking in from the outside, it’s hard to believe that this is a club with a strong work ethic or culture.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

Rivers will be reliable as ever, but he can only do so much. The run game continues to struggle and the Chargers win just enough games to satisfy fans with another .500 or over season. Keep an eye on that defense though, they’re good and they may start to develop the kind of identity this team sorely needs.

 

Kansas City Chiefs:

 photo kcchiefs_zps56nfs0dy.jpg

 

I love Andy Reid and I don’t care who knows it. I love his comeback with the Chiefs after leaving Philadelphia, bruised, broken, and disgraced. Along with Reid, we’ve got another guy with something to prove in QB Alex Smith. He was let go by the ‘Niners, despite playing quite well, in favor of a shinier new model (though I’m guessing plenty of 49ers fans would be happy to have Smith back over Kap at this point). Justin Houston turns an already great d-line into arguably the league’s most terrifying and amped up pass rush. While it’s certainly not the best look to call yourself “the LeBron James of the NFL,” Jamaal Charles’ point is well taken in that he is one of the NFL’s premier running backs. C’mon Jamaal, let’s not forget that LeBron’s favorite athlete is Calvin Johnson!

There are some potential concerns here with a lack of big play receivers, and Charles was hung up with some injuries last season. For a team that doesn’t throw many touchdowns, I’m curious to see if Maclin will be used as a deep threat option, modifying the Chiefs’ game-plan somewhat.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

I think the division goes to the Chiefs this year. It’s going to be a tooth and nail street fight with Denver, and it’s going to get nasty. Even if the Broncos do edge them out of divisional champ status, they definitely still make the playoffs in the wildcard spot. The defensive front continues to dominate and the offense grounds, pounds, and stays consistently productive.

 


Roger Pretzel’s Cloudy Crystal Ball: AFC South

Written by :
Published on : August 21, 2015

 

This season’s AFC South promises a strong showing from the Colts despite Pagano being under extra post-season scrutiny, a Texans team itching to break into the big time, and a group of Jaguars and Titans still searching for an identity.

Simmer down. I’m trying to listen to the danged old ball…

 

Houston Texans:

 photo houstontexans_zpsdtpcwqvw.jpg

 

The Texans certainly have the potential to pop-off this season. A healthy Jadeveon Clowney alongside the indomitable monster that is J.J. Watt is going to provide for one of the best pass rushes in the league. And let’s not forget the addition of big man Vince Wilfork. Veteran Andre Johnson’s departure doesn’t hurt so much with the ascendency of DeAndre Hopkins, and Cecil Shorts could blossom under a new system. But the big offensive questions remain: can anything get accomplished at the QB position, and can Arian Foster stay healthy? Unfortunately it looks like the latter has already been answered with a pre-season groin injury, but there’s still hope in the backfield with Alfred Blue.

The QB question is much tougher. I like how Bill O’Brien is working with Hoyer and Mallett equally, but unless Mallett makes some amazing moves in the pre-season, I think it’s a no brainer to give the job to Hoyer. The guy’s got more starting experience, and while not being a top-tier quarterback in any capacity, I think he’s a lot better than he gets credit for.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

Another solid year for the Texans with more scratches in the W’s column than L’s. The offense will just squeeze by, propped up by a defense that will surely put the fear of God into every quarterback they come across. The good times don’t roll on forever though as a costly divisional loss or two at the hands of the Titans or Jaguars leads to a repeat of last year’s near miss of the wildcard slot.

 

Tennessee Titans:

 photo tennesseetitans_zpsd2wnvfb3.jpg

 

Ken Whisenhunt was my top man for the job in Detroit when Jim Schwartz was given his walking papers, but with a frightful 2-14 record last year for his coming-out-party, I’m thinking Jim Caldwell is looking pretty good right about now. Obviously it’s not all Whisenhunt’s fault, as he came into a team that’s seemed to struggle in every department, hell, every facet of the game.

Second overall pick Marcus Mariota has a lot of expectations weighing on him coming into his rookie season. I love the draft call and think he’ll be a great fit with this team… eventually. It would be foolish to think that Mariota is gonna turn this Titanic around, especially with the limited weapons at his disposal. I could see Mariota and Kendall Wright achieving some chemistry together, and am super curious to see if veteran Hakeem Nicks boosts the offense or simply phones it in.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

Mariota makes a difference, especially with the fire under Whisenhunt’s ass. The Titans improve gradually around their new QB and the whole thing begins to jell. David Cobb and Bishop Sankey will share most of the touches, creating an unspectacular, but reasonably effective run game. The Titan’s aren’t contenders yet, and they won’t be by the end of the season, but with a little luck they will manage to escape a repeat of having the worst record in the NFL.

 

Indianapolis Colts:

 photo indianapoliscolts_zpsdrodosvx.jpg

 

Indy’s at the top of the heap in the AFC South and it looks like it’s going to remain that way for at least another year. Andrew Luck is killing it, and T.Y. Hilton, perhaps the best deep threat receiver in the league, got resigned this offseason. The Colts finally have a bit of stability in the backfield with Frank Gore. Sure, Gore’s lost a bit of his speed and he’s not going to get as many touches as he used to, but his instincts are still good, and he still has that battering-ram toughness that makes him so fun to watch and so frustrating for defenses. He also has the coolest nickname in the league (The Inconvenient Truth). In any case, one would be hard pressed to say that he’s not a huge step up from Trent Richardson, who I mistakenly thought was really going to make a go of it with the Colts.

With the Indy chumping it the past few years of playoffs, questions about Chuck Pagano’s competency are being raised. I think it’s a issue worth talking about, and the buck stops here, but I think it’s difficult to peg those losses, no matter how spectacular, on a guy who regularly racks up winning seasons for his team. Plenty of teams would be so lucky as to have Chuck Pagano as their head coach.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

The offense is there, but the defense will continue to have trouble keeping up with the other side of the ball. The divisional situation gives the Colts another free ticket to the playoffs where they once again lose a heartbreaker. Questions will continue about Pagano’s coaching. He’s out of Indy in the next three years.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars:

 photo jacksonvillejaguars_zpsgpmw3vju.jpg

 

I like Blake Bortles, and not just because of his funny name. I like his arm when he’s on the run and I like his release. There’s plenty of room for improvement, and I think we’re going to see some of it this year. Julius Thomas was a nice off-season present for a guy in need of quality receivers, but let’s be honest, I think plenty of teams will be comfortable double teaming Thomas in the red zone while leaving Marqise Lee open. I like the multiple options at running back, and I think Bernard Pierce makes the roster and has an impact.

Something I’ve noticed: I never see a dude in just a Jaguars hat or jersey. It’s always an entire outfit with hat, jersey, shorts, and even team color sneakers. Just on the street. Just walking around. Crazy people like that deserve to see Julius Thomas succeed with his new team.

 

The crystal ball says:

 

The most exciting games for the Jags this year will be divisional matchups, particularly against the Titans and Texans. Jacksonville has a solid shot at spoiling Houston’s playoff dream, and leaving Tennessee in the dust. The crystal ball says both these things happen. The non-divisional games on the other hand will be mostly losses with a tough schedule for a team in transition.

 

 


FANTASY FOOTBALL: Impact Rookies

Written by :
Published on : July 25, 2015

 

Fantasy football is right around the corner, and with that the possibility of being crowned champion of your league. The pride and glory that come along with reaching the mountaintop and beating your friends and enemies at the game of fantasy football is something that not every one gets to experience, but if you’ve done it you know how thrilling it can be. Aside from the possible monetary benefits of winning, the year long bragging rights are more than enough to make every team owner want to field the best team possible. Nothing beats rubbing your victory in other people’s faces.

 

One of the more challenging parts of choosing which players are going to make the roster of your fantasy team every year is deciding which rookies to select in the draft, and which to shy away from. It’s always a difficult choice because it is impossible to know just how their college game is going to transfer to the big leagues. With that said, I’ve compiled a list of some rookies that are sure to have a positive impact in fantasy football this year.

 

Jameis Winston

 

It only seemed right to include the number one overall selection in this year’s NFL Draft as the first impact rookie. It’s obvious that he has an attitude and maturity problem and there’s a good chance that will come back to haunt him on the field at some point, but the fact is that this kid can straight up play football. He will start from day one and with the skill position players that he has around him in Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins he is sure to throw for some touchdowns this year.

 

Now don’t get me wrong, he is still a rookie quarterback and will surely have his struggles and interceptions, but he will be playing and will certainly put up numbers. It would be stupid to pencil him in as your starter but he could be a very good backup to have on your bench for the bye-week or should your starter go down with an injury.

 

Marcus Mariota

 

Mariota was selected just behind Winston at number two in this year’s draft and the main reason for his being on this list is somewhat similar to that of Winston. Simply put, he will be on the field from the get go this year, and as a quarterback that means he will have an impact. Unlike Winston, his supporting cast is not all that good, which means he is going to be doing a lot more of the work with his feet.

Where Winston has the edge as a passer, Mariota is far more athletic running the ball. He is going to improvise his way to success this year, especially since the offensive line down in Tennessee is probably going to have pass rushers collapsing the pocket for their rookie quarterback more often than not. Similar to Winston, he will be a good backup QB this year in case the worst happens to your starter.

 

Amari Cooper

 

Taken number four overall by the Oakland Raiders, Amari Cooper was the first wide receiver taken in the draft this year, and for good reason. He was a Heisman Trophy finalist last year and finished his three-year career at Alabama with 3,463 yards and 31 touchdowns. He is going to benefit from playing with Derek Carr, who broke franchise rookie records for passing attempts and completion percentage last year.

 

Considering the Raiders best options at running back seem to be Latavius Murray and the corpse of Trent Richardson, it’s safe to say they are going to be chucking the ball in the air just as much as last year. Having Amari Cooper as your number two wide receiver seems like a pretty safe bet this year.

 

Ameer Abdullah

 

Ameer Abdullah was selected in the second round by the Lions this year after using their first round pick on offensive guard Laken Tomlinson, who will surely help Abdullah flourish this year by paving the way in front of the shifty running back.  He put up a gaudy 4,588 rushing yards and 39 touchdowns during his four years at Nebraska and while his receiving numbers weren’t very high, that seems to have been an issue with the offense they ran, not his skill set.

 

The Lions still have Joique Bell on the team which means that Abdullah will be sharing the spotlight, but Bell is also coming off of a couple of offseason surgeries that will seemingly give Abdullah the chance to make his mark in training camp. I would watch how he does in camp but Ameer Abdullah should be a very viable option at running back in the 2015 fantasy football season.

 

 

 

 

 


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