By Zach Malamud
Tonight, the NFL is again in the spotlight, as quarterback needy teams look to make a franchise-altering pick, that’ll slingshot their team to success in the next 15 years. Of course, this year’s mock was a fun one, and there isn’t one certain pick in this years draft. Other years there’s always that “oh he’s 100% going there. It’s a lock.” and this year, it’s all up in the air, and the Cleveland Browns will dictate how it goes as they make their first overall pick. Let’s get to it!
1.Cleveland Browns- Sam Darnold, QB, University of Southern California
The 0-16 Browns now have the number one pick for the second year in a row after a winless 2017 season. With the additions of offensive signings like Carlos Hyde and Jarvis Landry, the Browns could possibly take one of four highly rated quarterbacks at number one. Yes, the browns did trade a third round pick for Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor on March 9. However, Taylor will only be in Cleveland for the one year left on his contract while drafting arguably the most accurate quarterback in the draft (Darnold) could really mean a lot of touchdowns for wide receivers, Josh Gordon and Jarvis Landry.
2.New York Giants- Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State
A very unpredictable pick for the Giants with as many as four names being spattered around. But ever since the blockbuster deal that sent defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul to Tampa Bay, the Giants could use a defensive end to add to the 3-4 defense of new defensive coordinator, James Bettcher. Chubb, who has been described as the next Von Miller, is very likely to be a top five pick this Thursday.
3.New York Jets- Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Moving from 6 to 3 made a big statement that the Jets were once again looking for a franchise quarterback that could get them back to the playoffs. The injury problems of Mark Sanchez, major busts in Geno Smith and Christian Hackenberg, and undeveloped Bryce Petty, the Jets have not found their guy. An accurate and mobile quarterback in Mayfield could be a great addition to a keen Jets offense who just need the right man at the wheel.
4.(Trade) Buffalo Bills- Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
After trading Tyrod Taylor, the Bills are looking to trade up for a quarterback. This pick could end up being the best available QB and Josh Allen could be at the top of the list. Allen has a rocket of an arm and with the speedy wide receivers of the Buffalo Bills, they will try to make it back to the playoffs for the second consecutive years after not getting to the playoffs previously since 1999.
5.Denver Broncos- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
After releasing C.J. Anderson, the Broncos still have Devontae Booker. But think how successful Denver could be if they add arguably the top running back in college football. Barkley ended his three-year Penn State career with 51 total touchdowns. Denver finished 27th in the league in points per game last year and to add someone who was as dominant in college as Cowboys’ running back Ezekiel Elliott could help send Denver back to the playoffs.
6.(Trade) Miami Dolphins- Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
When Ryan Tannehill went down to a torn ACL and Miami signed Jay Cutler who came out of retirement, there was a very slim chance that they’d make the playoffs. Cutler had an iffy season that had Miami 3rd in the AFC East. Rosen, at this point in the draft, is the best quarterback available to them and he just might give some confidence to a struggling Dolphins offense that gave away top wide receiver Jarvis Landry during the offseason.
7.Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Derwin James, S, Florida State
Tampa Bay finished in dead last for most passing yards against per game last season. They have drafted a safety in the past two years and it hasn’t helped them at all. A quick and versatile safety like Derwin James can be the draft pick that could change this secondary. Derwin James most likely will stay in Florida unless he jumps to a higher pick.
8.Chicago Bears- Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
The Bears are praying that this man drops to them with him potentially going to three teams picking right before them. A potential all-pro guard would be a great pick for Chicago who have a great run game in Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. But Chicago finished in last in passing yards per game last season so to put Nelson as a pass blocker could finally get the Bears offense rolling for the first time in a while.
9.San Francisco 49ers- Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
With Richard Sherman recovering from injury, Jaquiski Tart and Jimmy Ward becoming free agents, San Francisco has a lot of spots to fill in their secondary. Denzel Ward is a perfect fit into a 49ers defense that let up the 8th most points and 9th most yards total in the league last season. The 49ers could finally be the real deal with the pairing of Sherman and Ward as the two starting cornerbacks
10.Oakland Raiders- Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Oakland at this point will take the best available. This could be a great pick to add another pass rusher to an Oakland defense that let up the 7th most passing yards in the league last year. To pair Smith with Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin, Oakland fans or soon to be Las Vegas fans could be in for a treat.
11.(Trade)Indianapolis Colts- Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
With no real certainty of who the Colts are going to pick, it most likely is going to be defense. The Colts defense let up the 3rd most total yards in the league last year and while Andrew Luck is dealing with injury problems arguably the top linebacker in the draft could fit perfectly fine as a starter in a struggling defense.
12.(Trade) Cleveland Browns- Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
This might be the least surprising pick of the first round if the Browns were to trade number four with Buffalo. The 0-16 browns most likely will have the best offseason in the NFL if they get their QB at number one to pair up with Carlos Hyde, Jarvis Landry and Josh Gordon. Switching over to defense with Myles Garrett, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Jabrill Peppers. The Browns could finally be the real deal this season but we will have to wait and see if they get this opportunity.
13.Washington Redskins- Vita Vea, DT, Washington
Washington are coming off an awful season from their defensive lineman. They finished in last in the category after letting up almost 135 rush yards per game last year. They definitely should be looking at a defensive lineman and the best defensive tackle in the draft would be the perfect option for this struggling defense.
14.Green Bay Packers- D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland
Green Bay could trade back but are really excited about the potential of Moore and what he could do if he is paired up with Aaron Rodgers who also has new signing Jimmy Graham as a top target in one of the best offenses in the NFL. Once Aaron Rodgers got hurt last season, Green Bay really had no chance to make it to the playoffs with backup quarterback Brett Hundley looking not ready to take that prestigious position. Jordy Nelson is in Oakland and Mike McCarthey can’t go wrong with another target for Rodgers.
15.Arizona Cardinals- Will Hernandez, G, University of Texas El-Paso
Last season, Arizona quarterbacks got sacked 52 times which was tied for the third most in the league. And the way to stop that is another offensive lineman. Hernandez would be the perfect choice for the cardinals to try and get back to being a top offensive team
16.Baltimore Ravens- Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State
Baltimore will most likely pick the best available guy and Vander Esch showed teams why he should be around a mid-first round pick. He was unbelievable at the combine and Baltimore might have the next Ray Lewis to pair up with Terrell Suggs while he is still there.
17.Los Angeles Chargers- Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville
The Chargers have been known for planning for the future at the draft. Philip Rivers is now 36 and both head coach Anthony Lynn and GM Tom Telesco have praised 2016 heisman trophy winner Lamar Jackson. A future duo between Lamar Jackson and Melvin Gordon could give the Chiefs and Broncos who gave up some key defensive guys during the offseason a run for their money in a couple of years.
18.Seattle Seahawks- Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa
With one of the best cornerbacks in the league in Richard Sherman leaving for their rival 49ers, Seattle needs someone to help their lately struggling secondary. Josh Jackson is the top option for Seattle so this will probably be an easy decision the Seahawks. Jackson does have some speed concerns but don’t think that will change this pick.
19.Dallas Cowboys- Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Everyone remembers 2 years ago when Dallas drafted Ezekiel Elliott when he was projected by most to be picked out of the top. Also, the shocker of the offseason with the Cowboys releasing pro bowl wide receiver Dez Bryant after spending 10 years in Dallas. Ridley had over 2,750 receiving yards with 224 receptions in his 3 years at Alabama under Nick Saban. Ridley would be the perfect pick for a Dallas team who definitely need a wide receiver.
20.Detroit Lions- Derrius Guice, RB, Louisiana State
Detroit came in dead last when it came to rushing yards per game last year. They don’t have a great running back in Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick is more of a passing option for Matthew Stafford. The Lions could use an explosive running back that can help a key missing piece in their offense.
21.Cincinnati Bengals- Billy Price, C, Ohio State
The Bengals had the second least rushing yards per game last season. That really hurt rookie Joe Mixon while Giovanni Bernard and Jeremy Hill were basically invisible almost all season long. Price was the starting center at Ohio State when Ezekiel Elliott was breaking tackles left and right. Price could help change Cincinnati’s horrific run game and get them past the wild card round for the first time since 1990.
22.(Trade) Cleveland Browns-Mike McGlinchey, T, Notre Dame
Cleveland could be back for a potential 3rd first round if they can make that trade with Buffalo for the number 4 pick. Cleveland has never really had a great offensive line and now with star left tackle Joe Thomas retiring after 11 great NFL seasons, Cleveland could draft a tackle about a month and a half later and be ready to roll. McGlinchey would be a perfect pick to replace Joe Thomas but once again we will just have to wait and see.
23.New England Patriots- Courtland Sutton, WR, Southern Methodist University
With Ridley and Moore already off the board, New England could be looking for a wide receiver to replace Brandin Cooks with the pick they received from the Rams in the Cooks deal. Sutton finished off his 4-year career at SMU with over 3,000 receiving yards and a speedy receiver could never go wrong with the G.O.A.T.
24.Carolina Panthers- Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
Ever since the Panthers drafted Cam Newton in 2011, they have drafted three top wide receivers while Steve Smith Sr. left for Baltimore. Those 3 are Kelvin Benjamin who is now in Buffalo, Curtis Samuel who had an ok rookie season and Devin Funchess who has probably fit in the best of the three. The panthers didn’t stand a chance in Super Bowl 50 against the Broncos and need an impactful players to get them back to the Super Bowl after two ok years.
25.Tennessee Titans- Marcus Davenport, DE, University of Texas-San Antonio
Tennessee had a very productive season all around that got them to the divisional round in the AFC. But they still let up the 8th most passing yards in the league last year so another pass rusher wouldn’t hurt. Davenport could be projected to go earlier but based on the competition he faced in a really unknown conference, these projections can still be wrong. This would be a great pick for a titans team who really doesn’t need much this offseason.
26.Atlanta Falcons- Taven Bryan, DT, Florida
Atlanta will probably go for the best available and they can add to their stellar defense from last season by adding another defensive lineman. It was disappointing last year when they went home after losing 15-10 to the 1st place Eagles who were without star quarterback Carson Wentz. Both defenses had great game and the Falcons could continue this with Bryan.
27.New Orleans- Harold Landry, DE/LB, Boston College
The Saints will probably be looking for the best available at this point in the draft. Landry is a versatile player that can help New Orleans get back to the playoffs. New Orleans wasn’t able to shut down opponents defensively in big games. Wide receiver Cameron Meredith was signed during the offseason so the offense doesn’t need much work with Drew Brees in charge.
28.Pittsburgh Steelers- Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
Pittsburgh doesn’t need much but with Ryan Shazier out for probably all of this upcoming season the steelers could use another linebacker just to be safe. Evans who was great last season under Nick Saban can be a total game changer just like Shazier is for Pittsburgh.
29.Jacksonville Jaguars- Connor Williams, T, Texas
Jacksonville could still use a little more help on offense as the defense looks perfectly fine after an unbelievable season last year. Williams had a rough 2017 at Texas but it shouldn’t affect his draft status by looking at how great he played 2016.
30.Minnesota Vikings- Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas
Minnesota are in need of an extra offensive lineman and Ragnow didn’t allow a sack during his time at Arkansas. Such a dominant offensive lineman definitely deserves to be a first round and could be a great fit for the Vikings who are trying to get back to the playoffs.
31.New England Patriots- Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
Planning for the future after TOM BRADY already!! Yes, the patriots got rid of backups Jacoby Brissett and Jimmy Garoppolo last season. This could be one of the great qb draft classes for a while and why not take a shot on Mason Rudolph who could be one of the most underrated players in this draft class.
32.Philadelphia Eagles- Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
The Super Bowl champion Eagles had a lot of problems in their secondary against NFC East wide receivers last season. Alexander is very strong and could stop these receivers from doing too much damage by joining one of the best defensive teams in the NFL. One of the reasons for them winning the super bowl.
By Ryan Crawford
Welcome to the 2016 NFL Draft. Just like 2015 it looks like quarterbacks go 1 and 2 and the top talent slides a little. Without further adieu, lets get this party started.
- LOS ANGELES RAMS (from Tenn) – Jared Goff – QB – California
This is a pretty easy choice for the average draft prognosticator, as the Rams did not trade up to the number one spot so they could draft defense or a tackle. They want to make a big splash as they move to LA and they feel Goff is the natural choice to lead the franchise to the west coast. Les Snead and Jeff Fishers job security will be tied to Goff’s development and overall success but they feel they have a good defense and plenty of offensive weapons to put around him. There are many who feel that Carson Wentz is a more natural fit for their offense but it seems clear that the Rams have settled on the California kid with the big arm and a high ceiling.
- PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (from Cle) – Carson Wentz – QB – North Dakota St
Like the Rams, the Eagles did not move up to this spot to take anyone other than a quarterback. Wentz is the clear-cut choice at number 2. These two QB’s are really 1 and 1A and ewrrword is the Eagles are more in love with Wentz anyway. He’s big and strong, makes every throw and can avoid trouble with his legs. The only question has become whether Sam Bradford will be there with him for the first year or two. Looks like the answer to that is probably not.
- SAN DIEGO CHARGERS – DeForest Buckner-DT-Oregon
Once the Rams and Eagles jumped up to be in position to grab the two quarterbacks, the Chargers ended up in the enviable position of being able to choose the best player in the draft who was not a QB. In the weeks leading to draft night the prevailing sentiment was that although they already had two tackles, Laremy Tunsil would be too good to pass up. However word has filtered out in the last few days that the Chargers are thoroughly smitten with DeForest Buckner and he clearly plays a need position for the team. Unless this is an elaborate smokescreen to get a team to give up a couple of picks to move into that slot, I am going to take the bait and give Buckner to the Chargers. What does make sense to me would be if Jacksonville or Baltimore wanted to jump Dallas for Jalen Ramsey then the Chargers could get a pick and still grab Buckner at 5 or 6. Unless Dallas loves Buckner too?? Hmmmm…
- DALLAS COWBOYS – Jalen Ramsey-CB-Florida State
No matter which way they go the Cowboys should get a great prospect. To me the most natural fit for them is Ramsey. He and Tunsil are generally regarded as the top two talents in this draft and he fills a big need for the Cowboys at the same time. He can play safety or corner and can match up positionally based on the opponent that week. I could see teams trying to jump to number 3 or 4 to get him. In the end I think he is the Cowboys pick. On another note the Cowboys can use a running back in the draft and I’m sure they like Ezekial Elliott but I think the chatter of picking him at 4 is purely a smokescreen to hide their true target.
- JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS – Joey Bosa– DE– Ohio State
I don’t see Jacksonville picking in this spot. I could see them jumping up to 3 or more probably trading down for a couple of picks. Miami for Elliott and Tennessee for Tunsil or Stanley seem to be the most logical trading partners. If they stay at 5, they can decide between Joey Bosa and Myles Jack. I will give them Bosa because Jack’s knee problem might scare them off.
- BALTIMORE RAVENS – Laremy Tunsil- T- Mississippi
Well it looks like 2015 all over again when the top rated talent falls to the 6th pick in the draft. Ozzie Newsome always picks the highest guy on his board and you can’t get much higher than Tunsil. The Ravens will be thrilled to plug this guy in for the next 10 years.
- SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS – Ronnie Stanley-T- Notre Dame
Ronnie Stanley has steadily risen up the draft board and rumors have him going even higher than 7 to the Niners. The 49ers have been more decimated by injuries, defections and early retirements than any team I can remember so they need to start from scratch. To me that means building up the lines and Stanley is a great start.
- CLEVELAND BROWNS (from Phi) – Josh Doctson- WR- TCU
A surprise pick for many draft pundits but after all it is the Cleveland Browns. With Josh Gordon out yet again, the Browns have a glaring need at Wide Receiver and this guy has all the tools. At the end of the day I do not expect the Browns to be picking in this slot but rather a few spots further down. Still, I think Doctson is their man.
- TAMPA BAY BUCS – Vernon Hargreaves- CB- Florida
The Bucs need some work in their secondary and would love to get their hands on Jalen Ramsey. That doesn’t appear likely so the 2nd corner on draft lists is Vernon Hargreaves who would be a great fit. Other needs for Tampa are a pass rusher, the offensive line and another wide receiver. Chatter around about them trading down to the middle of the round as well. Tennessee a candidate at 15.
- NEW YORK GIANTS – Jack Conklin- T- Michigan State
A big nasty tackle to help keep Eli Manning upright. Doesn’t have the athletic ability of Tunsil or Stanley but will make up for it with toughness and a mean streak that allows him to get the job done. Giants GM Jerry Reece is under a lot of pressure to have a good draft and this guy is a nice start
- CHICAGO BEARS – Myles Jack – LB- UCLA
His bum knee caused this drop to 11. Fully healthy, Jack would have easily been a top 5 pick. The Bears check him out medically, clear him and then pounce on him. Another possibility for the Bears is to move this pick in a deal with the Jets for Muhammad Wilkerson but that seems to have lost some steam
- NEW ORLEANS SAINTS – Sheldon Rankins-DT- Louisville
The buzz is that the Saints have their eye on Paxton Lynch as a long-term successor to Drew Brees. While I think that Lynch is a good prospect, the Saints defense cannot stop anyone and they cannot afford the luxury of drafting a player in the first round who will sit and learn for two or three years. A more likely scenario is that they pick up a run stuffer who can also rush the passer like Rankins and pick up a QB prospect on day 2 of the draft.
- MIAMI DOLPHINS (from Phi) – Ezekiel Elliott- RB- Ohio State
Elliott is the wildcard of the draft. You can see his name in mock drafts going anywhere from the Cowboys at 4 to Texans at 22. When the Dolphins tell everyone they are comfortable with their stable of running backs, they are blowing smoke. I think at the end of the day Elliott will be a Dolphin. We will see what pick they take him with.
- OAKLAND RAIDERS – Shaq Lawson – DE – Clemson
The Raiders are building a ferocious defense with speed and power, which was always the Al Davis way. Adding another player to rush the passer off the edge only makes them more difficult to stop. Lawson is a powerful rusher who makes plays. Corner is another possibility here with William Jackson III the most likely candidate.
- TENNESSEE TITANS (from LA) – Taylor Decker -T- Ohio State
The Titans are in the market to move back up into the top 10 to draft one of the offensive tackles to protect Mariota. If they aren’t successful in their attempt they will settle for Decker. Decker is a very highly rated prospect in a deep pool and can be plugged in from the first day of camp.
- DETROIT LIONS – Laquon Treadwell- WR-Mississippi
The Lions really need to replace Calvin Johnson and rebuild parts of their offensive line. The top 4 tackles are gone but Treadwell is still on the board. Treadwell is a gifted receiver who plays faster than his 40 time and provides a much-needed big target for Matthew Stafford.
- ATLANTA FALCONS – Leonard Floyd- LB- Georgia
Falcons are pleased and surprised that Floyd drops to them at 17. Another pass rusher for Dan Quinn’s schemes should help improve a Falcons defense that was torched in the second half of 2015.
- INDIANAPOLIS COLTS – Noah Spence- DE/OLB- Eastern Kentucky
When is the last time the Colts had a good defense? Wasn’t Bubba Smith on that team? This guy can rush the passer and although he had some past issues that gave him that dreaded “Red Flag”, word is he’s past that and checked out clean for all the teams. The Colts have also been linked to Ryan Kelly and the 4 top tackles if they slip down as they need to protect Andrew Luck better than they have been.
- BUFFALO BILLS – Paxton Lynch- QB- Memphis
Leave it to Rex to spoil the Jets plans at 20. Not sold that the Jets were on Lynch as much as others are but I don’t have to be. Only Rex has to be. Lynch is a very good prospect with a cannon and quick feet and the Bills need a top flight QB to compliment their defense. It will take him a year or two to be ready but this pick should pay dividends down the road.
- NEW YORK JETS – Darron Lee – LB- Ohio State
Jets need an edge rusher with speed to help the defense and Jets can figure on whichever edge rusher the Falcons don’t choose. Lee has been a demon for the Buckeyes and will fill his role nicely in Todd Bowles’ defense
- WASHINGTON REDSKINS – Jarran Reed -DT- Alabama
The Redskins were 28th in rushing yards allowed per game last season and a run stuffer in the middle of their 3-4 defense is a must. Adding a top prospect like Jarran Reed to the mix can only help.
- HOUSTON TEXANS – Corey Coleman- WR- Baylor
It’s no secret that the Texans are in the market for a new receiver for Brock Osweiler to throw to. Corey Coleman is a speedster who can stretch the field for Osweiler and open things up for DeAndre Hopkins. A good choice for the Texans
- MINNESOTA VIKINGS- Michael Thomas – WR- Ohio State
The Minnesota Vikings are next on line for a wide receiver. Will Fuller is next man up at the position and I originally had him going to the Vikings but he’s a 170 pound burner and Thomas seems to be a better fit. The Vikings are looking for a big physical receiver and at 6’3 and 212 pounds, Keyshawn Johnson’s nephew has the size and the bloodlines.
- CINCINNATI BENGALS – Ryan Kelly -C- Alabama
A hot name who is moving up on many draft boards, Kelly is a plug and play guy who could play center or guard in the NFL. The Bengals can use interior linemen to help protect Andy Dalton and generate more of a running game. Kelly makes a lot of sense for the Bengals but he could go earlier.
- PITTSBURGH STEELERS – Karl Joseph- S – West Virginia
Many of the so called experts seem to be tying the knot between Joseph and the Steelers. The Steelers secondary is a mess and they have been looking for Troy Polamalu’s replacement for two years. Joseph is next up to fill that huge void in the Steeler lineup. One of the top corners like Apple, Jackson or Alexander are strong possibilities here as well. One thing seems for sure. The Steelers will be picking someone to play in their defensive backfield.
- SEATTLE SEAHAWKS – Germain Ifedi- T- Texas A&M
The toughest pick to figure out. The Seahawks have talent everywhere and have picked the best available athlete under this regime. Their top needs include a young corner, help on the offensive line and a speed rushing linebacker to replace Bruce Irvin. Ifedi seems to be drawing the Seahawks attention and he’s the pick here.
- GREEN BAY PACKERS – A’Shawn Robinson -DT- Alabama
The Packers are in the market for players that fit into their front seven. The Packers have been linked to 3 Alabama players in Robinson, Reggie Ragland and Jarran Reed but Reed is gone and Robinson can replace BJ Raji. They would love to line up Darron Lee opposite Clay Matthews but would have to move up a few spots to get him and Ted Thompson has a tendency to stay put. Ragland would have been the pick but late reports of an enlarged aorta probably drop him out of the first round
- KANSAS CITY CHIEFS – Vernon Butler-DT-Louisiana Tech
The Chiefs are in the market for linebackers, wide receivers and defensive line help. I think it comes down to Will Fuller at the receiver slot and Vernon Butler to anchor the line inside. The choice is Butler.
- ARIZONA CARDINALS – Kevin Dodd – DE- Clemson
The Cardinals need secondary help and an edge rusher to help their defense. Dodd is the best edge rusher still available and would be a nice fit for the Cardinals D. Chatter has them trading down to add a pick or two.
- NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS – N/A
Forfeited the pick in deflategate but don’t be surprised if Belichick and company make a draft splash and move into the lower half of the round.
- CAROLINA PANTHERS ––Eli Apple- CB – Ohio State
With Josh Norman gone to Washington and three of the top rated corners still on the board, this becomes a choice of not which position, but which corner. Mackensie Alexander and William Jackson would be good picks but we will go with Eli Apple.
- DENVER BRONCOS –- Dak Prescott – QB –Mississippi State
While we all know that doing a mock draft is basically educated guessing, this pick is anything but educated. It’s purely a guess and a hunch on my part. Watching Prescott throughout his college career, the thing that I took away was his toughness and his ability to escape the defensive rush. Did I hear someone say Russell Wilson? Maybe that was the little voice in my head but the Broncos do need a QB, right?
By Brett Malamud
Congratulations! You made it all the way to the end of the year untouched and into the finals of your fantasy football league. Let’s help you out in completing your journey to the promised land and take home that title! It all starts with making the right decisions and that’s where this week’s column of Take It To The Bank comes in handy. Let’s get to it!
There’s no reason to think that Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton will be stopped anytime soon. While the Atlanta Falcons have had a dangerous secondary this season, they’ve been shaky over the last few weeks and that’s where Cam comes in. I’m very confident in his abilities to get it done on Sunday.
To Belichick…Or Not To Belichick?
That is the question. The New England Patriots defense has been great all year. They’ve scored 35 fantasy points over their last two games, but head to MetLife Stadium this weekend to take on the New York Jets. This might be the week for you to look elsewhere for another defense because the Jets passing game has been phenomenal between wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. I’d also bench the Jets defense, even with knowing that wide receivers Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman will be sitting this game out. There’s two reasons for that. Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.
Gurley Birds: Finals Edition
Did St. Louis Rams running back Todd Gurley propel you into the finals? Gurley fell to me as the 93rd overall pick before I swiped him up, setting up a fun season once he hit the field. Now, he heads into Seattle to take on the Seahawks, who haven’t allowed more than 46 rushing yards to an opposing running back during their five game win streak. Gurley is touchdown dependent for me this week, and belongs as a RB2/Flex play.
In the finals, you have to take the easy matchups when given. For me, this one is simply Kansas City Chiefs running back Charcandrick West against the Cleveland Browns. While there isn’t much explanation needed for this pick, the Browns have allowed the second most rushing yards in the entire league, and West is due for a big day. If you have West on your team, you certainly should start him in your lineup if you want any chance of winning it all.
Brett Malamud is an English Rhetoric Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy
By Brett Malamud
Let’s take a look at some names that have been active in fantasy over the last week as we head into the fantasy playoff race.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Bortles
The quarterback who is surprisingly a great play this week. You can trust Bortles, who has remained consistent through most of the season. Obviously if you have guys like Rodgers and Newton, start them, but Bortles will help many teams on their playoff runs.
Flying with the Jets
With the fact that the tallest Titans DB stands at a measly 6-foot-1, you can bet that Eric Decker (6-foot-3) and Brandon Marshall (6-foot-4) will both have nice days. I think that the Jets receivers are a great play this week.
That’s about all I can say about Raiders wide receiver Amari Cooper this week as he faces the Denver Broncos. They’ve proven that they’ve had the top defensive secondary all season. Cooper will be benched for me this week, and should be for many of you.
Richard Rodgers…One Hit Wonder?
I know that last week, Rodgers was the hero (both of them actually). But this week is different. Richard Rodgers has been invisible for most of the season, and his 61 yard catch to win the game is simply boosting his stats. I’d beware of him today, even against a weaker Dallas Cowboys defense.
Brett Malamud is an English Rhetoric Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy
By Brett Malamud
Over the Hillman
Broncos RB Ronnie Hillman had a day last weekend, racking up 102 yards on 21 carries. Denver will be missing QB Peyton Manning again and so Hillman will make for a great flex play against the Patriots.
Gore Wants More
With Frank Gore in the backfield for the Indianapolis Colts, The team tried to establish the run without Andrew luck under center. That didn’t really work out the way fantasy owners wanted to, but I look for Gore this week to establish his running game and have a big game.
Decker the Halls
Jets wide receiver Eric Decker led the team in routes, targets, and yards in week 11 against the Texans. With so much of a threat to score a touchdown, Decker makes for a great WR2 option this week against a struggling Miami Dolphins team.
What the Buck?
When Justin Forsett left the game with a fractured arm last week, it was obvious that Ravens RB Javorius “Buck” Allen would be a nice waiver wire pickup. But then quarterback Joe Flacco wedding down with a torn ACL. That changes everything for Allen as he looks to lead Baltimore’s offense. He should string together A nice day against the Cleveland Browns.
Brett Malamud is an English Rhetoric Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy
By Brett Malamud
Happy Halloween! We’ve taking the Take it to the Bank report this week and giving it a Halloween feel with today’s section: Trick or Treat! Use this section as you look to this week and beyond as you set your fantasy football lineups.
Trick: Charcandrick West
Yes, many people had Jamaal Charles in their running back slot and are looking to West to produce. Yes, West had a big game last week, rushing for 110 yards and a touchdown. Yes, I did say to pick him up (and he should be picked up), but I’m not that big on him. This player is not a RB1, and I’m not sure he’s a reliable RB2 option. You can’t judge a book by its cover, and you can’t judge West by one big game. He’ll probably have a good game this week, but don’t expect huge numbers every week.
Treat: Gurley Owners
Gurley owners that stuck through the thick and thin are now grinning at the results. Gurley has been the league’s most productive player, especially in an offense that has become run-heavy. Continue to enjoy Gurley having big games almost every week.
Trick: The Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys are an interesting story. Yes they took a heartbreaking loss to the Giants last week, letting the Giants return a kickoff for a touchdown just after tying the game. But they also found new life in running back Darren McFadden. With Joseph Randle possibly out for a few games due to violating the NFL’s personal-conduct policy, the Cowboys will look to McFadden, Christine Michael and Rod Smith. Flashback to a week ago when Jason Garrett planned on making Michael the starter. Yeah, so that didn’t happen, and you can look elsewhere for a better running back on your team. McFadden however is a flex play at best this weekend as the Cowboys welcome in the Seattle Seahawks, so don’t be tricked by last week’s big performance.
Treat: The New York Jets
The Jets are another interesting story. The offseason changed everything for them, bringing in cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, along with wide receiver Brandon Marshall and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Many members of the New York media propelled them to Super Bowl contenders. Then the season came, and Geno Smith got punched in the jaw by his now-former teammate I.K. Enemkpali, sending the Jets predictions out the window. There was no way that Ryan Fitzpatrick could pick up the pieces right? Wrong. The Jets headed into New England last week at 4-1. They played till the final whistle and although they sit at 4-2, look at their schedule. Eight out of their remaining 10 games come against teams that are currently at or below .500 and that should be looked at closely. Fitzpatrick should be looked at if he’s still available in your leagues, and Brandon Marshall and Chris Ivory should be starting in your lineup. The defense should be starting most if not all weeks. If you want that sneaky play, look to Eric Decker, as teams are focused on stopping Brandon Marshall.
Trick: The New York Giants
While I’d like to stick the entire NFC East in the tricks section, I’m not going to do that because I’m not that mean. But I will stick the Giants in here with the Cowboys because of their fantasy impact. I understand that the team is 4-3, but with a lot of tough teams (looking at you AFC East and Carolina Panthers) coming up on their schedule, it’s not really an ideal situation. I definitely do not trust any of the Giants running backs, and other than Odell Beckham Jr., I don’t trust any of their wide receivers. I’d consider Ruben Randle in deeper leagues, but only if you don’t have other options due to the bye week. Quarterback Eli Manning certainly cannot be trusted in fantasy leagues, compiling just 14 fantasy points in ESPN standard leagues over the last two weeks. I’d look elsewhere for impactful fantasy players.
Treat: San Diego Chargers Tight Ends
So Antonio Gates came into the season off a four game suspension, and immediately made a major impact. Gates had two touchdowns in his first game back, and has had 90+ receiving yards in both games that he has played in. But with a sprained MCL, the Chargers looked to Ladarius Green and he has been contributing all season. Quarterback Philip Rivers loves to throw to his tight ends, and while Gates is taken in most leagues, Green isn’t so pick him up now.
The injury bug has taken its hit on fantasy football lineups everywhere. Here’s some guys to replace them, including a guy who you should probably look into trading for (if the person who owns him will even give him up). Here’s week four’s installment of Take it to the Bank:
Can’t Catch Karlos
With LeSean McCoy out, Rex Ryan turned to running back Karlos Williams, who led the Buffalo Bills with 110 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. He’ll be back there again this week at home against the New York Giants and is going to have another big game.
Speaking of the Giants, week three saw the reemergence of wide receiver Ruben Randle. We all knew what he could do at his best, but it took a few weeks for Randle to get back to himself. He finished last week with seven catches, 116 yards and a touchdown. Don’t expect this kind of performance every week, but every now and then, Randle will go off.
Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard
Up to this point, the league’s top wide receiver has been Atlanta Falcons wideout Julio Jones. In three weeks, he’s had 34 catches for 440 yards and four touchdowns. Not bad, huh? This is the guy to break the bank on if you’re looking to make a blockbuster trade in your league. Fantasy owners, keep riding Julio, who has no intentions on having any ordinary appearances.
Arizona Cardinals running back Chris Johnson came out and looked like the Chris Johnson of old. Not the guy we saw with the New York Jets. Nope. Johnson looked like he was back on the Tennessee Titans, carrying the ball 22 times for 110 yards and two touchdowns. Johnson also had a 40-yard catch that almost went for a touchdown. While I’d only take Johnson in deeper leagues, Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians has said that Johnson will start this week no matter what the status of Andre Ellington is. It’s a situation worth monitoring over the next few weeks.
Another week is here and you know what that means! Here is week three’s installment of Take it to the Bank:
Take a Chance(llor)
After weeks of frustration in Seattle, strong safety Kam Chancellor ended his holdout and returned to practice this week. The Seattle Seahawks are 0-2 headed into their home opener on Sunday, and with Chancellor back in the mix, look for this defense to return to being one of the league’s best.
While we’re on the topic of the Seahawks, tight end Jimmy Graham made headlines this week when it came out that Graham was frustrated with his reduced role. Now as I pointed out a few weeks back, we knew that this would happen. With an elite running back like Marshawn Lynch, the Seahawks are destined to run the ball. Graham is being utilized as a blocker right now, but don’t expect him to NOT make an impact. Graham has the second most red zone targets (four) out of all of the league’s tight ends (New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has the most with five). Expect Graham to catch some for touchdowns. Now is the time to buy low on Graham.
Fitz and the Tantrums
I think we were all shocked by the three touchdown performance by Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Now, this was against a weak Chicago Bears defense, but the hype is real. I believe that Larry Fitzgerald proved that he is not done yet. Expect a healthy dose of Larry Fitz as he takes on a weak San Francisco 49ers defense.
With news that New York Jets wide receiver Eric Decker is out this week, the number-two receiver slot is up for the taking. With Chris Owusu also out this week, timing couldn’t be better for second round pick Devin Smith to make his NFL debut. Smith was a long ball threat and speed receiver at Ohio State, and I’m expecting him to channel that with the Jets. You probably won’t see a big impact immediately, but with the possibility that Decker might miss multiple weeks, Smith could be a sneaky addition to your fantasy team in deeper leagues.
Matthews, Matthews, Matthews
With news of the Philadelphia Eagles setting DeMarco Murray inactive for week three, running back Ryan Matthews will get the start against the Jets. This is where I stay away, as the Jets have the fewest fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs. Then we head to the other Matthews for the Eagles at wide receiver with Jordan Matthews. This is my “buyers beware” player of the week. Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis will likely be on Matthews for the entire game. This matchup would essentially take Matthews out of the game and out of your lineup.
The second week is here and there were many surprises in week one. From the four-touchdown game by Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota, to the 27-point fantasy outburst from Patriots Tight End Rob Gronkowski. We look back on those performances, and look ahead to the upcoming week with our weekly prediction column: Take it to the Bank.
AP Gets It Together
Last week, we watched as Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was held to just 31 yards on 10 carries. Not really the numbers that fantasy owners were expecting after almost all took him in the first round. This week, Peterson and the Vikings return home for the first time this season. I’d expect AP to get his regular workload and should make an impact against a Detroit Lions team who lost some big guys off their line this offseason.
It’s On Like Gronky Kong
This past week, Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan said that he may have to opt to put three defenders on New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. While I found this a bit humorous, I don’t really think that Rex was kidding. There will be times where Gronk has three players covering him. I’d expect Gronkowski to have a below average game, but anything is possible. Pats wide receiver Julian Edelman is expected to have a good fantasy outing, and Danny Amendola is a sneaky play this week.
Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota was in for a huge week in week one, becoming just the second rookie quarterback ever to throw four touchdowns in his first career game. This week, Mariota turns his attention to the Cleveland Browns, who just allowed a big game to New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick last week. Expect big things for the rookie this week.
Macaroni and Brees
The search party is out for New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees this week. Listen, I know that he still threw for 355 yards last week against the Arizona Cardinals, but the stat that stood out to me was that Brees had only one touchdown pass on four trips to the red zone. Now while there is concern about Brees, the veteran will get to try in week two against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who allowed four touchdown passes in the first half to Marcus Mariota. We’ll see how much easier that makes it for Brees. Start him as normal.
In case you haven’t heard, the St. Louis Rams have been practicing with running back Todd Gurley this week. The rookie halfback isn’t supposed to return to the lineup until week four after tearing his ACL last season at the collegiate level with Georgia. This is great news for Gurley owners, as it signals the possibility of a week three return. Currently, Gurley is listed as questionable for this week’s matchup against the Washington Redskins, but I’m not confident that Gurley will play this week. Look for Tre Mason to get the start at running back for the Rams.
UPDATE (Sunday 9/20 @ 11:30 AM): Gurley is inactive today. The Rams are targeting a week three return.
By Brett Malamud
Football fans, your day has come. Today marks the the start of the NFL season. For many teams comes a fresh start, a clean slate. For others, comes a window of opportunity. As is tradition, the opening day of any of the big four sports leagues means that it is time for me to unveil my season outlook. Here’s my division and playoff picks for this year.
|New England Patriots||11-5*|
|New York Jets||9-7*|
NE- Tom Brady’s “suspension” would have been a major blow but now that they’ll have him for all 16 games, the Patriots are the team to beat.
NYJ- The Jets made some major acquisitions this offseason in Revis, Cromartie and Brandon Marshall, just to name a few. Losing Geno Smith for a few weeks will hurt, but with an easy schedule, the Jets will coast.
MIA- The Dolphins defense will carry them, but ultimately the AFC East will be run by the Patriots and Jets.
BUF- Last year I wrote: “Sammy Watkins could be a great addition but it doesn’t mean anything if he doesn’t have a strong QB.” The same holds true for this season. LeSean McCoy will help, but they’ll need that next level quarter back if they want to take the next step.
PIT- This Steelers offense will be ready to go deep into the playoffs
BAL- I feel like the Ravens have an easy schedule right in the middle of the season, but at the end of the season they won’t be able to get it done.
CIN- Andy Dalton and AJ Green will carry the team, but will fall just short of the playoffs.
CLE- I’m not sure that Johnny Football and Josh McCown have what it takes to bring the Browns very far. They’ll struggle.
IND- Last year’s prediction: “Andrew Luck will lead one of the top offenses in the league on a journey that could go deep into the playoffs.” Ditto this season.
HOU- I think that this is the year that Houston takes the next step. This will be a fun defense to watch. Watt rushing from one side, Clowney from the other side, and Wilfork up the middle. Scary.
JAX- They still have much room to improve but Bortles will be good this year.
TEN- Marcus Mariota will help, but not in this division.
|San Diego Chargers||9-7*|
|Kansas City Chiefs||8-8|
DEN- I think that Peyton is still a top quarterback, and he’ll carry them back to the playoffs again.
SD- Philip Rivers will have another good year, and Melvin Gordon will be a top 10 rusher.
KC- I like this team but can’t take them to go into the playoffs. Jamaal Charles will be a top 5 rusher though.
OAK- Another year, another tough schedule. Sorry Raiders fans but the AFC West is tough.
|New York Giants||10-6*|
NYG- This is the year of the Giants. I think that Eli is back (Yes, really.) and OBJ will have another huge year.
PHI- I really like the Eagles this year. Sam Bradford is due for a great year and the running game led by DeMarco Murray will dominate the league
DAL- The Cowboys will be ok this year. The loss of DeMarco Murray will show though.
WAS- A QB controversy will overshadow this season, and that will be the downfall of this Redskins squad.
|Green Bay Packers||12-4*|
GB- Aaron Rogers will be the top NFC QB. Period. He’ll lead the Jordy Nelson-less Packers on another deep playoff run.
MIN- AP is back and that means big things for the VIkings. Teddy Bridgewater must rise to the occasion though.
DET- The loss of Suh will hurt but not too much. Matt Stafford will still lead the Lions offense to a seven win season.
CHI- Brandon Marshall is gone. While many Bears fans think it’ll be a good thing, I’m saying that it won’t be. They’ll struggle.
|New Orleans Saints||10-6*|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||5-11|
NO- I think that the Saints will be the top team here.
ATL- I believe they’ll scratch their way to .500
CAR- Kelvin Benjamin will be missed. Not sure that Cam Newton can get much done without him.
TB- Jameis Winston will come in and will be pretty good. Not to many pieces around him though
|St. Louis Rams||7-9|
|San Francisco 49ers||4-12|
SEA- They’re still elite. The addition of Jimmy Graham doesn’t hurt either.
ARI- It’ll be interesting to see this team. Carson Palmer is aging though and so is Larry Fitzgerald
STL- Nick Foles comes in and I like him this season. Todd Gurley will make noise when he plays too.
SF- Carlos Hyde will power this team. Kaepernick won’t. Since their entire defense left, I’ll take them out of the playoff picture.
*Denotes that the team will clinch a playoff spot
I’m going to take the Colts over the Patriots
I think that the Colts get to the Super Bowl after a rematch of last season’s AFC Championship.
Packers over Seahawks
I know. I’m big on the Packers this year, but for good reason. Eddie Lacy gets it done in Seattle and powers the Packers into the Super Bowl.
SUPER BOWL XLIX
Colts over Packers
In a battle of the QB’s, Andrew Luck comes out on top. TY Hilton catches three touchdowns and is named Super Bowl MVP.
I hope that everyone enjoys this NFL season. Stay tuned in to Dabuzzza this season as we bring you weekly analysis and fantasy football picks.
Brett Malamud is a English Rhetoric Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy