You probably remember my Way Too Early Fantasy Rankings from a couple of weeks ago. Well, I’ve changed my mind on what I said in that post; My 2018 fantasy football analysis is no longer going in alphabetical order–it’s all over the place. It’s in complete chaos. The good news is that NFL.com has opened their mock drafts, so I have a more updated list of players to work with, including the rookies. That also means I can base my rankings more on where players should be drafted, rather than how many points they will score this season (ex: QBs will score the most points, but the gap between the best and the worst QBs is significantly less than the gap between the best and the worst RBs and WRs). Anyway, I’m trying to get my poop in a group (s*** together, if you prefer). Here is my first official Top 25 2018 Fantasy Fooball Ranking, in the order in which you should draft them:
I previously promised a more in-depth look at my plus-minus system; Here it is in my ranking of the draft classes from the 2018 NFL Draft. The plus-minus system reflects the overall value of each teams’ collective drafts. The greater the plus is, the greater a value a team got. The minuses are reaches-players who were drafted earlier than they should have been. The the greater a minus is, the more consistently and/or greatly a team reached throughout the draft.
1. Minnesota Vikings: +207
Best Value Pick: Colby Gossett, OG, Appalachian State (+89)
Worst Value Pick: Mike Hughes, CB, UCF (+4)
Brian O’Neill, OT, Pittsburgh (+10)
Jalyn Holmes, DE, Ohio State (+19)
Tyler Conklin, TE, Central Michigan (+15)
Daniel Carlson, K, Auburn (+70)
Ade Aruna, EDGE, Tulane (N/A)
Devante Downs, LB, California (N/A)
2. Dallas Cowboys: +165
Best Value Pick: Bo Scarbrough, RB, Alabama (+90)
Worst Value Pick: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State (-5)
Connor Williams, OT, Texas (+19)
Michael Gallup, WR, Colorado State (-3)
Dorance Armstrong, EDGE, Kansas (+28)
Dalton Schultz, TE, Stanford (+27)
Mike White, QB, Western Kentucky (+9)
Chris Covington, OLB, Indiana (N/A)
Cedrick Wilson, WR, Boise State (N/A)
3. Green Bay Packers: +126
Best Value Pick: Equanimeous St Brown, WR, Notre Dame (+128)
Worst Value Pick: Cole Madison, OG, Washington State (-35)
Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville (-20)
Josh Jackson, CB, Iowa (+26)
Oren Burks, LB, Vanderbilt (-23)
J’Mon Moore, WR, Missouri (+51)
JK Scott, P, Alabama (-1)
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, USF (N/A)
James Looney, DE, California (N/A)
Hunter Bradley, LS, Mississippi State (N/A)
Kendall Donnerson, EDGE, Southeast Missouri (N/A)
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: +100
Best Value Pick: Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama (+49)
Worst Value Pick: DJ Chark, WR, LSU (+10)
Taven Bryan, DT, Florida (+11)
Will Richardson, OT, North Carolina State (+30)
Tanner Lee, QB, Nebraska (N/A)
Leon Jacobs, EDGE, Wisconsin (N/A)
Logan Cooke, P, Mississippi State (N/A)
5. Seattle Seahawks: +75
Best Value Pick: Jamarco Jones, OT, Ohio State (+77)
Worst Value Pick: Will Dissly, TE, Washington (-53)
Rashaad Penny, RB, San Diego State (-27)
Rasheem Greene, DE, USC (+33)
Shaquem Griffin, LB, UCF (+37)
Tre Flowers, S, Oklahoma State (-27)
Michael Dickson, P, Texas (+35)
Jake Martin, EDGE, Temple (N/A)
Alex Mcgough, QB, Florida International (N/A)
6. New York Jets: +71
Best Value Pick: Parry Nickerson, CB, Tulane (+64)
Worst Value Pick: Chris Herndon, TE, Miami (-60)
Sam Darnold, QB, USC (+1)
Nathan Shepherd, DT, Fort Hays State (+9)
Foley Fatukasi, DT, Connecticut (+57)
Trenton Cannon, RB, Virginia State (N/A)
7. New York Giants: +38
Best Value Pick: RJ McIntosh, DT, Miami (+17)
Worst Value Pick: BJ Hill, DT, North Carolina State (-17)
Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State (+1)
Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP (+13)
Lorenzo Carter, LB, Georgia (+16)
Kyle Lauletta, QB, Richmond (+8)
8. Tennessee Titans: +37
Best Value Pick: Luke Falk, QB, Washington State (+34)
Worst Value Pick: Dane Cruikshank, S, Arizona (-21)
Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama (0)
Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College (+24)
9. Baltimore Ravens: +31
Best Value Pick: Deshon Elliott, S, Texas (+53)
Worst Value Pick: Kenny Young, LB, UCLA (-51)
Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina (-9)
Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville (+5)
Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma (+46)
Mark Andrews, TE, Oklahoma (+10)
Anthony Averett, CB, Alabama (+29)
Jaleel Scott, WR, New Mexico State (-41)
Jordan Lasley, WR, UCLA (-11)
Greg Senat, OT, Wagner (N/A)
Bradley Bozeman, C, Alabama (N/A)
Zach Sieler, DE, Ferris State (N/A)
10. Philadelphia Eagles: +25
Best Value Pick: Josh Sweat, EDGE, Florida State (+66)
Worst Value Pick: Avonte Maddox, CB, Pittsburgh (-48)
Dallas Goedert, TE, South Dakota State (+7)
Matt Pryor, OT, TCU (N/A)
Jordan Mailata, OT, Australia (N/A)
11. Carolina Panthers: +16
Best Value Pick: Kendrick Norton, DT, Miami (+71)
Worst Value Pick: Rashaan Gaulden, CB, Tennessee (-53)
DJ Moore, WR, Maryland (-5)
Donte Jackson, CB, LSU (+8)
Ian Thomas, TE, Indiana (+30)
Marquis Haynes, DE, Ole Miss (-23)
Jermaine Carter Jr, LB, Maryland (-12)
Andre Smith, ILB, North Carolina (N/A)
12. Buffalo Bills: +1
Best Value Pick: Harrison Phillips, DT, Stanford (+47)
Worst Value Pick: Taron Johnson, CB, Weber State (-52)
Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming (-4)
Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech (+10)
Siran Neal, S, Jacksonville State (-19)
Wyatt Teller, OG, Virginia Tech (+19)
Ray-Ray McCloud, WR, Clemson (N/A)
Austin Proehl, WR, North Carolina (N/A)
13. Indianapolis Colts: -5
Best Value Pick: Deon Cain, WR, Clemson (+118)
Worst Value Pick: Braden Smith, OG, Auburn (-44)
Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame (+2)
Darius Leonard, OLB, South Carolina State (-25)
Kemoko Turay, EDGE, Rutgers (-42)
Tyquan Lewis, DE, Ohio State (-26)
Nyheim Hines, RB, North Carolina State (-30)
Daurice Fountain, WR, Northern Iowa (+46)
Jordan Wilkins, RB, Ole Miss (-4)
Matthew Adams, LB, Houston (N/A)
Zaire Franklin, LB, Syracuse (N/A)
14. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: -9
Best Value Pick: Jack Cichy, ILB, Wisconsin (+77)
Worst Value Pick: Jordan Whitehead, S, Pittsburgh (-56)
Vita Vea, DT, Washington (+2)
Ronald Jones II, RB, USC (+6)
MJ Stewart, CB, North Carolina (-54)
Carlton Davis, CB, Auburn (+22)
Alex Cappa, OT, Humboldt State (-15)
Justin Watson, WR, Pennsylvania (+9)
15. Cincinnati Bengals: -14
Best Value Pick: Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State (+24)
Worst Value Pick: Mark Walton, RB, Miami (-27)
Billy Price, C, Ohio State (-15)
Jessie Bates III, S Wake Forest (+6)
Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas (-9)
Davontae Harris, CB, Illinois State (+3)
Andrew Brown, DE, Virginia (+7)
Darius Phillips, CB, Western Michigan (-3)
Logan Woodside, QB, Toledo (N/A)
Rod Taylor, OG, Mississippi (N/A)
Auden Tate, WR, Florida State (N/A)
16. Houston Texans: -19
Best Value Pick: Justin Reid, S, Stanford (+40)
Worst Value Pick: Keke Coutee, WR, Texas Tech (-57)
Martinas Rankin, OT, Mississippi State (+18)
Jordan Akins, TE, UCF (-42)
Duke Ejiofor, DE, Wake Forest (+22)
Jordan Thomas, TE, Mississippi State (N/A)
Peter Kalambayi, EDGE, Stanford (N/A)
Jermaine Kelly, DB, San Jose State (N/A)
17. Los Angeles Chargers: -23
Best Value Pick: Kyzir White, S, West Virginia (+49)
Worst Value Pick: Uchenna Nwosu, LB, USC (-44)
Derwin James, S, Florida State (+9)
Justin Jones, DT, North Carolina State (-19)
Scott Quessenberry, C, UCLA (-18)
Dylan Cantrell, WR, Texas Tech (N/A)
Justin Jackson, RB, Northwestern (N/A)
18. Detroit Lions: -25
Best Value Pick: Tyrell Crosby, OT, Oregon (+96)
Worst Value Pick: Tracy Walker, S, Louisiana (-91)
Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas (-45)
Kerryon Johnson, RB, Auburn (-25)
Da’Shawn Hand, DE, Alabama (+40)
Nick Bawden, RB, San Diego State (N/A)
19. Washington Redskins: -32
Best Value Pick: Tim Settle, DT, Virginia Tech (+78)
Worst Value Pick: Geron Christian, OT, Louisville (-87)
Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama (-2)
Derrius Guice, RB, LSU (+43)
Troy Apke, S, Penn State (-64)
Shaun dion Hamilton, ILB, Alabama (N/A)
Greg Stroman, CB, Virginia Tech (N/A)
20. Denver Broncos: -43
Best Value Pick: Troy Fumagalli, TE, Wisconsin (+40)
Worst Value Pick: Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon (-62)
Bradley Chubb, DE, North Carolina State (+2)
Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU (-3)
Isaac Yiadom, CB, Boston College (-53)
Josey Jewell, LB, Iowa (-2)
DaeSean Hamilton, WR, Penn State (+1)
Sam Jones, C, Arizona State (+34)
Keishawn Bierria, ILB, Washington (N/A)
David Williams, RB, Arkansas (N/A)
21. Los Angeles Rams: -45
Best Value Pick: Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, LB, Oklahoma (+34)
Worst Value Pick: Brian Allen, C, Michigan State (-62)
Joseph Noteboom, OT, TCU (+14)
John Franklin, DE, Stephen F Austin (-38)
Micah Kiser, LB, Virginia (+3)
John Kelly, RB, Tennessee (+4)
Jamil Demby, OG, Maine (N/A)
Sebastian Joseph, DT, Rutgers (N/A)
Trevon Young, EDGE, Louisville (N/A)
Travin Howard, LB, TCU (N/A)
Justin Lawler, DE, SMU (N/A)
22. Oakland Raiders: -49
Best Value Pick: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan (+117)
Worst Value Pick: Brandon Parker, OT, North Carolina A&T (-108)
Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA (-25)
PJ Hall, DT, Sam Houston State (-44)
Arden Key, LB, LSU (+32)
Nick Nelson, CB, Wisconsin (-21)
Johnny Townsend, P, Florida (N/A)
Azeem Victor, LB, Washington (N/A)
Marcell Ateman, WR, Oklahoma State (N/A)
23. Miami Dolphins: -54
Best Value Pick: Kalen Ballage, RB, Arizona State (+35)
Worst Value Pick: Durham Smythe, TE, Notre Dame (-40)
Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama (-1)
Mike Gesicki, TE, Penn State (-16)
Jerome Baker, LB, Ohio State (-32)
Cornell Armstrong, DB, Southern Mississippi (N/A)
Quentin Poling, LB, Ohio (N/A)
Jason Sanders, K, New Mexico (N/A)
24. Cleveland Browns: -54
Best Value Pick: Antonio Callaway, WR, Florida (+39)
Worst Value Pick: Chad Thomas, DE, Miami (-60)
Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma (-12)
Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State (-5)
Austin Corbett, OG, Nevada (-23)
Nick Chubb, RB, Georgia (-24)
Genard Avery, LB, Memphis (+31)
Damion Ratley, WR, Texas A&M (N/A)
Simeon Thomas, DB, Louisiana-Lafayette (N/A)
25. New England Patriots: -62
Best Value Pick: Sony Michel, RB, Georgia (-4)
Worst Value Pick: Ja’Whaun Bentley, LB, Purdue (-30)
Isaiah Wynn, OT, Georgia (-7)
Duke Dawson, CB, Florida (-21)
Christian Sam, ILB, Arizona State (N/A)
Braxton Berrios, WR, Miami (N/A)
Danny Etling, QB, LSU (N/A)
Keion Crossen, DB, Western Carolina (N/A)
Ryan Izzo, TE, Florida State (N/A)
26. Chicago Bears: -62
Best Value Pick: Bilal Nichols, DT, Delaware (+17)
Worst Value Pick: Joel Iyiebuniwe, LB, Western Kentucky (-58)
Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia (+1)
James Daniels, C, Iowa (0)
Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis (-22)
Kylie Fitts, EDGE, Utah (N/A)
Javon Wims, WR, Georgia (N/A)
27. Pittsburgh Steelers: -71
Best Value Pick: Marcus Allen, S, Penn State (+27)
Worst Value Pick: Terrell Edmunds, S, Virginia Tech (-65)
James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State (-9)
Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State (-4)
Chukwuma Okorafor, OT, Western Michigan (-44)
Jaylen Samuels, RB, North Carolina State (+24)
Joshua Frazier, DT, Alabama (N/A)
28. Atlanta Falcons: -77
Best Value Pick: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado (+13)
Worst Value Pick: Deadrin Senat, DT, USF (-55)
Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama (+12)
Ito Smith, RB, Southern Mississippi (-47)
Russell Gage, WR, LSU (N/A)
Foye Oluokun, LB, Yale (N/A)
Trey Quinn, WR, SMU
29. Arizona Cardinals: -91
Best Value Pick: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M (+14)
Worst Value Pick: Mason Cole, C, Michigan (-71)
Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA (+5)
Chase Edmonds, RB, Fordham (-39)
Chris Campbell, CB, Penn State (N/A)
Korey Cunningham, OT, Cincinnati (N/A)
30. New Orleans Saints: -92
Best Value Pick: Natrell Jamerson, S, Wisconsin (-9)
Worst Value Pick: Rick Leonard, OT, Florida State (-46)
Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA (-11)
Tre’Quan Smith, WR, UCF (-26)
Kamrin Moore, CB, Boston College (N/A)
Boston Scott, RB, Louisiana Tech (N/A)
Will Clapp, C, LSU (N/A)
31. Kansas City Chiefs: -137
Best Value Pick: Armani Watts, S, Texas A&M (+26)
Worst Value Pick: Breeland Speaks, DE, Ole Miss (-123)
Derrick Nnadi, DT, Florida State (+3)
Dorian O’Daniel, LB, Clemson (-43)
Tremon Smith, CB, Central Arkansas (N/A)
Reginald McKenzie, OG, Tennessee (N/A)
32. San Francisco 49ers: -261
Best Value Pick: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame (-11)
Last time, I covered the best values in undrafted free agent signings. Today, I will be grading the draft classes from the 2018 NFL Draft. I have used a plus-minus system for each team to determine the overall value of each teams’ collective drafts (you will see this in greater depth in my next post, which should be published in the next day or two). For now, here are my letter grades in alphabetical order by team location:
Hey y’all! Tomorrow is the 2018 NFL DRAFT!!! Anybody else as excited as I am?! Yes!? No?! Maybe So!? I love watching Sonny Weaver go to work! (Just a little Draft Day reference there for ya! Great movie. If you haven’t seen it, you should. Low-key one of Kevin Costner‘s better performances, and he has a lot of good ones. Also, you may recognize in the movie that Vontae Mack is played by none other than the Black Panther himself: Chadwick Boseman, who also had himself a great performance.) With the draft commencing in less than 24 hours, here is my final mock draft of 2018 (Note: You may have already seen this on my NFL Draft page, where it’s been posted for last 2-3 weeks. If you haven’t…):
My third Mock Draft of the year is officially complete! Included below is my projection for what we will see go down in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft on April 26th and 27th. My first three-round Mock Draft EVER includes eight trades and three teams (New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, Los Angeles Chargers) drafting potential heirs to their longtime franchise QBs.
TheHaysWay NFL Mock Draft 3.0
Cleveland Browns- Sam Darnold, QB, USC
New York Giants- Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
New York Jets- Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
San Francisco 49ers (projected trade with Cleveland Browns)- Bradley Chubb, DE, NC St
Denver Broncos- Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
Indianapolis Colts- Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
Cleveland Browns (projected trade with Tampa Bay Buccaneers)- Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Chicago Bears- Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (projected trade with Cleveland Browns through projected trade with San Francisco 49ers)- Derwin James, S, Florida State
College football fans can’t wait to see how many players will get drafted from their favorite university, who those players will be, when those players will get drafted, and where those players will go.
NFL fans can’t wait to see who’s got next for their favorite franchise. Fans of teams with the highest draft picks are hoping for a franchise QB that will lead their team to the playoffs and the Super Bowl for a decade and a half (or longer), and fans of teams with lower draft picks are hoping for that one perfect pick that fills the hole that would prevent them from continuing and building upon their success from the previous season.
New League Year’s Day is in March but in the football world, Christmas comes after that, in late April and early May, in the form of the NFL Draft.
It’s important to remember family during the holiday season, and in the case of Football Christmas, that family is your team: the players, the coaches, the owner(s), the trainers, the food vendors, and of course, your fellow fans.
Just like traditional Christmas, Football Christmas wouldn’t be complete without commercialization…I mean, uh…wonderful presents that embody the true meaning of Christmas 😉 Obviously, draft picks are the presents to which all of us football fans look forward to the most:
Most of them will turn out to be those crappy toys that break within five minutes of you taking them out of the box (draft busts). Bummer. But…
A small number of them will be worthwhile. Maybe you’ll get an average starter-level player that hangs around for 10 years; Those are the toys that aren’t our favorites. They weren’t THE item on our list, but they are last for long enough and are just enjoyable enough that we grow to appreciate them. Maybe they’ll even get a Pro Bowl nod or two?
Then an even smaller number of them are the quality players; These still weren’t THE gift on our list, but we definitely wanted them and are pleased the moment we open them. They are the toys we play with on a regular basis, but not every day. They’ll likely get several Pro Bowl nods and maybe even a spot on an All-Pro team.
Then, the most rare of all: THE gift. This isn’t just the top toy we wanted this year, it’s the top toy we’ve wanted the last FIVE years. Not only do we play with these toys everyday, but we can hardly go anywhere without them: The Hall of Famers. These are your franchise QBs like Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, and Tom Brady. These are your electrifying offensive players like Jerry Rice, Barry Sanders, and Shannon Sharpe. These are your game-altering defenders like Lawrence Taylor, Ray Lewis, and Rod Woodson. They’ll make the Pro Bowl almost every year (if not literally every year) and they’ll also make multiple All-Pro teams. Maybe they’ll even win a MVP award?
Yes, toys are awesome. But, sometimes you get stuck with clothes. Well, I’m here to tell you that in the case of Football Christmas, clothes can actually be a little exciting. I’m talking about the annual NFL Draft Caps brought to fans (and to draftees) by New Era. (For the record, I’m not sponsored by them or anything, I just happen to be a big fan of their quality. I don’t recall ever having gotten a New Era cap that I didn’t enjoy.) The 2018 NFL Draft Caps were just recently revealed and well, they deserve to be talked about.
This year’s theme: Team Mottos. Below are some of my favorites and least favorites. If you want to get one for yourself or check out ones that I do not mention, you can find all of them here.
New York Giants: “Big Blue”- Obviously, I had to mention my team’s hat. “Big Blue” is a nickname the Giants have had for ages and I think it looks great on a hat.
New York Jets: “J-E-T-S”- Not even leaving the same stadium from the last one on my list, I love the Jets hat. The motto is their team’s chant. It’s not exactly the most original chant, but it’s a classic.
Seattle Seahawks: “We are 12”- I like this one a lot because the hat features the 12 flag as part of the slogan. The Seahawks are the only team to use something besides words and their team logo in their Draft Cap’s design.
Cleveland Browns: “Dawg Pound”- Another classic slogan makes my list. Also, aside from their logo, this hat is devoid of that ugly orange team color.
Chicago Bears: “Monsters of the Midway”- Though the team has recently lacked the ability to incite fear that is usually associated with monsters, it’s another classic slogan.
Buffalo Bills: “Billieve”- The greatness of the play on the word believe is just the tip of the iceberg when you consider the fact that the “bill” is actually a physical part of the hat. This one actually made me laugh.
Pittsburgh Steelers: “Steel City”- Yes, Pittsburgh is the Steel City, but the Steelers are the Steel Curtain. C’mon New Era!
Miami Dolphins: “Go Phins”- The Jets hat lacks originality in a fun way. The Dolphins hat lacks originality in a boring way.
New England Patriots: “Do Your Job”- I can hear these words coming out of Coach Bill Belichick‘s mouth, but that doesn’t make them fun or interesting to put on a hat unless there is a likeness to Belichick right next to them, which (SPOILER ALERT!), there is not.
I love March in the NFL. I get chills and goosebumps reading about some of the trades and free agent signings that go down this time of year. In fact, you could make the argument that it’s the best time of the year for the NFL. How is it better than Thursday, Sunday, and Monday gamedays? It’s the one time of year that fans for all teams have hope. Browns fans get to rejoice over their team’s acquisition of a new QB and Patriots fans get to smile mischievously about Bill Belichick’s latest under-the-radar move that will inevitably lead them to another Super Bowl. Of course, with trades and free agency comes the sad truth of quality players leaving fan bases that had become accustomed to seeing them playing for their team, all in the name of salary cap space. While many cuts will come in the next few days before the free agency period begins on March 14, here’s a look at some veteran cuts that have happened so far in the last month…
The start of the new NFL league year is around the corner (March 14 at 4pm ET) and teams are really starting to feel the pressure of making the right moves in free agency to make a run at SUPER BOWL LIII. Oh, and the 2018 SCOUTING COMBINE is happening right now as well, so teams are starting to feel the pressure of drafting the right players to make a run at Super Bowl LIII and other future Super Bowls. Before that, teams need to decide what to do with their own players. Contract extensions could still potentially happen but more importantly, some teams will franchise tag their best players. Some teams have already done that (See: DETROIT LIONS DE EZEKIEL ANSAH and MIAMI DOLPHINS WR JARVIS LANDRY), and other teams have until March 6 at 4pm ET. So what’s going to happen?
Jarvis Landry, WR, Miami Dolphins– Landry would likely have been the most talented WR in free agency this year. The Dolphins have had disagreements with Landry over the last year or two, but they clearly put those on hold to ensure that they didn’t let such a talented player leave without any compensation. Maybe those disagreements will turn into a Super Bowl-winning trade for another team? If that does come to fruition, Landry probably won’t come on the cheap in terms of trade assets. He’s definitely not coming on the cheap salary-wise. Update: The Dolphins have given Landry and his agents the green light to seek a trade.
Ezekiel Ansah, DE, Detroit Lions– Yes, he’s dealt with some minor injury issues but let’s be honest: the Lions defense is…how to put this…ugh. While they have a couple of good pieces in the secondary in the form of CB DARIUS SLAY and S GLOVER QUIN, the unit is not close to championship caliber yet. They finished 6th-worst in total yards allowed and pass yards allowed, and they were also in the bottom half of the league in points allowed and rush yards allowed. The man preventing them from being last: Ziggy Ansah, who finished with 12 sacks last year. Considering the Lions have seven defensive players set to hit free agency, it was a good idea to keep the talented edge rusher around.
Will Get Done
From here on, we hit my personal predictions combined with research I’ve cross-checked between NFL, ESPN, and USA TODAY.
LE’VEON BELL, RB, PITTSBURGH STEELERS– If the franchise tag doesn’t come into play here, it may be the most shocking lack of franchise tag the NFL has ever seen. NFL and USA Today have him ranked #1 on the will-get-tagged list (ESPN has him on their list, too), and I’m not going to disagree with that. There’s just nobody that runs the way Bell does. Now or…ever.
DEMARCUS LAWRENCE, DE, DALLAS COWBOYS– The BOISE STATE alum is the most recent example of the classic ‘having a career year in a contract year.’ Lawrence tied for 2nd-most sacks this season and, like Ansah in Detroit, is one of the lone and uber-talented bright spots on an otherwise lacking defense.
LAMARCUS JOYNER, S, LOS ANGELES RAMS– Joyner is a great safety on a team that is losing their top 2 CBs to free agency (though they are getting a new top CB in the form of MARCUS PETERS from the KANSAS CITY CHIEFS). I don’t think the Rams can afford to lose another member of their secondary, despite what NFL, ESPN, and USA Today all think. This move will come at the expense of SAMMY WATKINS.
KYLE FULLER, CB, CHICAGO BEARS– I don’t think the Bears necessarily SHOULD tag Fuller, but they should. Look, if Fuller was on any team in the top 75% of the league, he would absolutely walk into free agency. The Bears are not one of those teams and Fuller is just above average enough that they can’t afford to lose him and make their team any worse than it already is.
Won’t Get Done
ANDREW NORWELL, G, CAROLINA PANTHERS– The Panthers are constantly complaining about how the referees don’t protect QB CAM NEWTON. It’s about time the Panthers step up and PROTECT HIM THEMSELVES. The All-Pro former undrafted free agent signee has been helping with that and should continue to help with that, but he won’t. Reports indicate that the Panthers intend to let him walk.
ALLEN ROBINSON, WR, JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS– NFL and ESPN both believe A-Rob will get tagged, but I’m going to have to side with USA Today on this one. Allen Robinson is an immensely talented receiver, but the Jaguars made their run to the AFC Championship game without his services last season due to him tearing his ACL in week 1. Also, the Jaguars have been pouring money into their defense and just gave QB BLAKE BORTLES a contract extension. I suspect that they will think they can make another AFC Championship game run without Robinson, and they might need to for cap space.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Los Angeles Rams– See: Lamarcus Joyner
SHELDON RICHARDSON, DT, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS– Richardson is a good player, but the Seahawks spend enough on their defense as it is, and Richardson is by no means the best player on Seattle’s defense.
CASE KEENUM, QB, MINNESOTA VIKINGS– If the Vikings are going to tag one of their three free agent QBs, it’ll be Keenum. However, coach MIKE ZIMMER sounded concerned when he discussed his team’s QB situation at the combine. I think Zimmer is one of the smartest coaches in the league right now. As such, I think SAM BRADFORD is definitely done in Minnesota because he has health issues and he’s the oldest. Case Keenum could come back, but I don’t think he will for two reasons: 1) His value is at a peak right now after leading his team to the NFC Championship Game so he and his agent know that he can get PAID and 2) This season was really the ONLY good season of his career and I doubt Zimmer will sell the farm for that, especially with all of the youth on the Vikes defense that will need to get paid in the coming years. TEDDY BRIDGEWATER makes the most sense because he was the one drafted by Minnesota and, because of his injury, his value will be at an all time low. The Vikings could sign him to a longer deal for cheaper and draft somebody (or pursue KIRK COUSINS, which seems to be a popular opinion coming out of the combine) to compete with him.
JIMMY GRAHAM, TE, Seattle Seahawks– Jimmy is just not as good as he used to be in New Orleans. That and injuries will probably result in the Seahawks letting him leave.
JUSTIN PUGH, G, NEW YORK GIANTS– …(…sigh…)…I almost put Pugh right next to Kyle Fuller for the same reason: he is a slightly above average player playing for a BAD team. I have watched more than enough Giants football to know that the o-line is…more like a d-line. That is, they seem more interested in the QB going to the ground than blocking for him (Poor Eli). So, why do I think the best player on that o-line should leave (that’s right, I actually want him to LEAVE, not sign a long-term deal)? Simple: It’s time to hit the reset button on the o-line. Trade down from the #2 pick and acquire multiple talented o-lineman in the draft. Besides, with all of his injuries he wasn’t doing much good for the line anyway.
That’s all for TheHaysWay today, comments/likes/follows are all appreciated, have a pleasant tomorrow and make every day a new best day ever!
They are finally here. After many hours of contemplation and frustration, I present these 2017 NFL Win Projections for you to laugh out loud at. A couple of notes:
There were few mid-level teams in my projections as most were either really good or really bad. This presented an interesting scenario come playoff time, where 6 teams with winning records did not secure playoff spots.
Nearly half of last season’s playoff teams failed to make it back in my projections, including last season’s NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons.
Both of the #1 seeded teams find themselves in highly unfamiliar territory, as the Detroit Lions last appeared as a #6 seed (2016 season) and the Tennessee Titans have not made a playoff appearance since their #1 seeding 9 years ago (2008 season). Neither franchise has ever won a Super Bowl.
Ultimately, I pitted the New England Patriots against the Detroit Lions in Super Bowl LII. I’m sure Lions fans would be excited to see their team make their first ever Super Bowl appearance (they haven’t won a playoff game since 1991), but I don’t see them being much of a match for the battle-hardened, QB Tom Brady-led Patriots. There are only two teams that have a realistic chance to stop Brady from getting another Super Bowl ring: the Oakland Raiders and the New York Giants. That said, the projected AFC Championship Game would be the most interesting game of the playoffs.
That’s all for TheHaysWay today, make sure to leave a comment with your thoughts on my win projections and/or on whatever is on your mind, along with a much-appreciated like. If you are not yet a follower, become a follower to help make my blog as dominant as the New England Patriots. (I don’t like the Patriots either which makes that last sentence absurd so I’ll just skip the smiley face here.) Have a pleasant tomorrow!
I realized that the NBA Awards are not the only interesting sports awards happening tonight because NFL Network‘s Top 100 Players of 2017 concludes tonight at 8 pm ET on (you guessed it!) NFL Network. Although the NBA Awards are a little more official and have flashier trophies that come with them, the NFL’s list of the Top 100 players is always interesting to see because it gives an inside look at what NFL players think of their peers. Today, the list of names in the Top 10 was released in alphabetical order, so let’s reorder them in order of greatness as a guess for how the ranking will shake out this evening:
Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons (16 games: 69.9 completion % for 4,944 yards and 38 touchdowns with 7 interceptions and 3 fumbles for a 117.1 passer rating)
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers (16 games: 65.7 completion % for 4,428 yards and 40 touchdowns with 7 interceptions and 4 fumbles for a 104.2 passer rating)
Von Miller, LB, Denver Broncos (16 games: 78 combined tackles, 13.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles with 0 fumble recoveries, 0 interceptions and 0 touchdowns)
Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots (12 games: 67.4 completion % for 3,554 yards and 28 touchdowns with 2 interceptions and 4 fumbles for a 112.2 passer rating)
Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers (12 games: 261 carries for 1,268 yards and 7 touchdowns with 3 fumbles; 75 catches on 94 targets for 616 yards and 2 touchdowns with 1 fumble)
Khalil Mack, DE, Oakland Raiders (16 games: 73 combined tackles, 11 sacks, 5 forced fumbles with 3 fumble recoveries, 1 interception and 1 touchdown)
I have Khalil Mack ranked last because all the Derek Carr fans seem to think that Carr does everything by himself on CARR’S team. Apparently, despite statistics indicating the contrary, Carr outperformed Dak Prescott last year just because the Raiders have a lesser RB, O-line, and defense. If the Raiders have a lesser defense, so be it. So, I ranked Mack pretty much solely on resentment for all Oakland Derek Carrs (I mean, Oakland Raiders) fans, Derek Carr fans, Fresno State fans, and people from the city of Oakland.
You’ll notice that the other 9 players are first organized by number of games played. For those of you who read my NBA Awards post last night, you’ll remember that I said I value most the players that stay injury and suspension free to be there for their team when their team needs them. That rings true for the NFL, too.
Tom Brady is ranked above Le’Veon Bell in the “12 games” category because Brady once again led the New England Patriots to their most thrilling Super Bowl victory yet.
In the “15 games” category, I ranked Antonio Brown over Ezekiel Elliott because Brown didn’t have any turnovers. The two most important things for an offensive player are holding on to the ball and scoring. Brown was +5 in the holding on to the ball category and Zeke was +4 in the scoring category. 5>4, so Brown edges Zeke.
The “16 games” category was the trickiest because there were four players (not including Khalil Mack, of course) who fell into that category. Ultimately, I put the two QBs at the top because QBs are the most valuable players for a franchise. The two Super Bowl teams were both led by QBs on this Top 10 list (Matt Ryan for the Atlanta Falcons and Tom Brady for the New England Patriots), while the teams without definitive starting QBs include the Cleveland Browns, the New York Jets, the Los Angeles Rams, etc. The one anomaly was the Houston Texans, who got to the playoffs (and defeated the Oakland Raiders in the playoffs, by the way!) on the arms of Brock Osweiler and Tom Savage.
So, 3 and 4 were between Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. I chose Miller over Beckham because, although I love OBJ as a fan of Big Blue, a defensive player usually manages to crack the top 3. Also, OBJ’s stats dropped off this year from last year. Also-also (yes, I meant to put two “also”s there), 13.5 sacks in the NFL is very impressive, especially on a defense that almost carried the Denver Broncos to the playoffs despite Trevor Siemian (don’t get me started on Northwestern) starting at QB.
1 and 2 were easy from there. Matt Ryan a higher completion %, more yards, fewer fumbles, and a higher passer rating than Aaron Rodgers. Oh, Ryan also won the MVP award and led the Atlanta Falcons to the Super Bowl, so there’s that.
That’s all for TheHaysWay for now, please leave a comment with your thoughts on my Top 10 ranking and/or on your own Top 10 ranking and/or on whatever is on your mind, along with a much-appreciated like. CONSTRUCTIVE criticism is always welcome to help me improve my blog. If you are not yet a follower, become a follower to improve your greatness ranking (and mine, too) 🙂 Have a pleasant tomorrow!
Just typed in the old domain out of habit. Lol. Anyway, in honor of the new domain that took the “nfl” part out, I’m going to start out talking about the NFL. Today was the deadline for teams to use their annual franchise tag, so here are the players who were franchise tagged, and some players who weren’t franchise tagged who maybe should have been:
Players With Franchise Tag
Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers– This was an easy decision for the Steelers to make. Bell is the top RB in the NFL and many have claimed that he has created a new running style. He does everything asked of an NFL RB: runs, catches passes, blocks, etc. I also think it was smart not to give him a long-term deal YET because he has had a couple of substance-related suspensions. The tag is telling him, “Hey! You are an AMAZING RB, but you’ve got to take the right path.”
Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington Redskins– I was disappointed to see this as a New York Giants fan because Kirk Cousins is an above average NFL QB. The Washington Redskins eventually have to cave and just give Kirk Cousins his long-term deal. He has yet to perform in the clutch, but Kirk Cousins is a capable starting NFL QB, and that’s hard to come by in the NFL.
Melvin Ingram, LB, Los Angeles Chargers– Between Melvin Ingram and DE Joey Bosa, the Los Angeles Chargers have a scary young pass rushing duo. Great decision, and I think Melvin Ingram will get his long-term payday once QB Philip Rivers decides to retire (which will free up cap space for the Los Angeles Chargers).
Trumaine Johnson, CB, Los Angeles Rams– The Los Angeles Rams are lost. Trumaine Johnson is good and young, which is why the Los Angeles Rams felt compelled to tag him. From that Los Angeles Rams perspective, I understand the decision. After all, they don’t have too many good players to pay.
Chandler Jones, LB, Arizona Cardinals– This was a decent decision. Chandler Jones is a very good player, and he’s still on the right side of 30 (27 years old). Chandler Jones gives the Arizona Cardinals a quality pass rush. I look forward to seeing Chandler Jones team up with a healthy (hopefully) DE Robert Nkemdiche (who was oft-injured this season) next season. That will be another scary, young pass rush duo.
Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, New York Giants– I was thrilled when I read about this one. JPP was the reason that the Big Blue defense worked last season. His excellent pass rush ensured that the secondary wouldn’t get out of position due to opposing QBs having too much time. It’s just too bad the G-men decided to give DE Olivier Vernon a MASSIVE deal last offseason because that will make it more difficult to give a similar deal to JPP, who deserves it more.
Kawann Short, DT, Carolina Panthers– Kawann Short is the second most important player on the Carolina Panthers defense behind MLB Luke Kuechly. Kawann Short is the run-stuffer in the middle of the d-line, which is very important. Of course, with the Carolina Panthers lackluster secondary, opposing teams can afford to be forced to pass.
Key Players Without Franchise Tag
Stephon Gilmore, CB, Buffalo Bills– OK, WHERE IS THE BUFFALO BILLS MONEY GOING?! Stephon Gilmore may not be the best CB in the NFL, but he is still a great CB. Seeing as the Buffalo Bills refuse to pay QB Tyrod Taylor, I don’t know why they wouldn’t ensure that Stephon Gilmore doesn’t go anywhere else (which they should’ve been able to afford to do).
Dont’a Hightower, LB, New England Patriots– I get it…the New England Patriots are paying A LOT of players to get them to the Super Bowl on a consistent basis. That said, Dont’a Hightower is the heart and soul of the New England Patriots Super Bowl-caliber defense, and his play inspired the Pats comeback against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI. Also, Dont’a Hightower is one of the best pass-rushing inside LBs in the NFL. Of course, Bill Belichick could play LB himself for the New England Patriots and he’d still be the best LB ever because that’s just how the system always seems to work…:(
Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago Bears– The Chicago Bears need to focus on paying a QB to be able to get the ball to receivers like Alshon Jeffery. Plus, Alshon Jeffery has missed something like 11 games in the last two seasons. With the MANY areas of need that the Chicago Bears have, they can’t afford to pay a player who misses that much time.
Dontari Poe, DT, Kansas City Chiefs– Dontari Poe was outperformed by rookie DT Chris Jones. Great move by the Kansas City Chiefs to choose the younger and less expensive player in Chris Jones. I’m sure Dontari Poe is also thrilled because he’s one of the best DTs available in free agency this offseason, so he should make bank.
Terrelle Pryor, WR, Cleveland Browns– The Cleveland Browns are in a similar situation to the Chicago Bears with WR Alshon Jeffery: they need to focus on paying a quality QB who can get the ball in the vicinity of talented WRs such as Terrelle Pryor. Here’s the difference: Terrelle Pryor used to play QB, and he’s probably better than the current Cleveland Browns QBs. The Cleveland Browns should have payed Terrelle Pryor WR money to move back to QB!
Brandon Williams, DT, Baltimore Ravens– I’m really not sure why the Baltimore Ravens opted not to tag Brandon Williams, who is a great player on the right side of 30 (28 years old). Who else are they paying? FS Eric Weddle…MLB CJ Mosley…Is there anybody else that I’m missing?
That’s all for TheHaysWay today, make sure to leave a comment on the players who were franchise tagged and/or on the players who were not franchise tagged and/or on whatever else is on your mind, along with a much-appreciated like. If you are not yet a follower, become a follower of the newly-renamed thehaysway.wordpress.com. 🙂 Have a pleasant tomorrow.