Houston Makeover Vs Untimely Dallas QB Shift

Houston Makeover Vs Untimely Dallas QB Shift by Utter-Fantasy Football Writer & Illustrator Samantha Holt

The Preseason is winding down and we’re now a week away from the start of the season. You’re all deep into draft mode or have already completed your drafts. I have 2-3 drafts left, I can’t remember because I over committed this season. It’s like I’d rather spend all my free time on football than anything else. Not a bad thing, just means this is the time of year when my friends know I’m unavailable on Sundays (and Mondays.. And Thursdays..).

This week I want to focus on the Texas teams. I’ve been wanting to tackle the makeover in Houston and the hype in Dallas for a while now. Arguably, the Houston Texans have sustained the biggest overhaul this offseason. After the QB shuffle they had last season, they went for it with signing Brock Osweiler. They moved on from Arian Foster signing Lamar Miller, who’s been frustratingly under utilized in Miami. Finally, they picked up some talented rookies in WR Will Fuller & RB Tyler Ervin. Meanwhile in Dallas, we have the much hyped first round pick, crop top legend,  Ezekiell Elliott. We also have the sad reality that Tony Romo may need to consider retirement after sustaining another injury. Followed up the the new hype train of the rookie Dak Prescott.

Brocklobster Time
Osweiler is the shiny new QB the Texans have been looking for. Despite only having 8 career starts, he’s been in the league 4 years and been learning from under one of the greatest to ever play the game, Peyton Manning. If Manning’s attention to detail has rubbed off at all on Osweiller, you can bet that Brock will the be classic “student of the game”.  He’ll eager to learn and live up to the needs in Houston. It also helps having the incredible talent of DeAndre Hopkins as your #1 WR and the newly signed, seasoned vet in Lamar Miller behind you. Agree with all the hype or not, but you can not deny the fact this move does anything but help the offense in Houston. Let’s hope Brock is able to break the trend of QB uncertainty in Houston. I’m drafting Brock in 2 QB leagues as a late round pick, because why not? He’s throwing to Hopkins, can’t be that bad right?
QB Situation in Dallas
In the first few minutes of Tony Romo taking the field for his first preseason game, he goes down and stays down from a hard hit. We now know he suffered a stress fracture to his L1 vertebra and estimated return is 6-10 weeks. According to medical specialists this approximation could easily be shorter or longer. This recovery is highly symptomatic and monitored by pain the player is feeling. It is important to note this is his third back related injury. Running down his list of injuries really quick from 2008 to now: Broken pinkie, broken left collarbone, ruptured disk, two transverse process fractures, left collarbone (again), and now this. It would be sad to see Romo’s career end based on injury, but you can’t deny the thought of retirement has to be in his mind. How much more can his spine and body really take? Moving onto the Cowboys rookie Dak Prescott, who’s had a great showing this preseason. Defenses are significantly less intense in the preseason, so he has yet to be fully tested. He will get that test game 1 against  their #1 division opponent the NY Giants, upside being they’ll be at home. Am I drafting Prescott? Probably not, but I’ll be keeping an eye on his numbers to see if he’s a viable QB 2 option for 2 QB formats.
Which RB to Own  
Do you take the unproven, much hyped rookie? Or the under utilized seasoned vet? The Ezekiel Elliott vs Lamar Miller debate is an interesting one. There’s no doubt that Elliott is incredibly talented. However rookie RBs are risky. He could have an outstanding season or sustain a week 1 injury and you’ve now blown your first round pick. Elliott has already had a minor hamstring issue this off season and that’s enough to create a pause in your drafting him. Based on the beating RBs take I’m hesitant to take an untested rookie. I can agree he’s worth a late 1st round pick but I wouldn’t pick him over Todd Gurley or David Johnson.
Meanwhile you have Lamar Miller, who in many drafts is going right after or right before Elliott. Houston ran the most running plays last season of any NFL team. So you have no doubt Miller will be getting used early and often. The question: is he ready to be used this much? Is he conditioned and ready for that responsibility? Answer: I think so. He had struggled last season going unused and many chanted “Free Lamar Miller.” We know he’s talented because despite his low targets, he maximized each opportunity he had leading him to a top 10 finish last season. Miller is an obvious second round choice though I’d easily understand him going late in the first round.
Effects on Top WRs  
Now, how can we realistically expect the new QB situations in each camp effect their top wide receivers. I think both situations have a lot in common. Both QBs are brand new to their respective systems, while both have seasoned wide receivers that are very comfortable in their leading role. It’s really just a matter of the QBs not screwing it up. Prescott will likely be throwing frequently and quickly so it’s a good thing Bryant is getting back up to speed post injury and still has the hands to make brilliant catches. I do not see Bryant’s numbers going down. I see team meetings going like this:  “Dak your first job is: hand it off to Elliott. 2nd: throw the ball to Dez. That’s it. You have two jobs, don’t get fancy.”

As for DeAndre Hopkins, we know he can make beautiful music with any QB throwing to him. He had 192 targets and 111 receptions, for 11 TDs, behind only Antonio Brown and Julio Jones. Hopkins is an open and shut draft case. He’s young, talented, and will see a large volume in targets. Draft him, just do it.
The Back Ups  
The rookies and vets to keep an eye on are also draft worthy on both teams. In Houston you have the highly touted rookie Will Fuller, his deep speed has potential for numbers worthy of a late draft pick up. (Depth behind Fuller: WRs Braxton Miller and Jaelen Strong.)
Terrance Williams on the other hand has seen marginal improvement season to season, and after Bryant’s foot injury last season, Williams did little to rise to the occasion. (Depth behind Williams: Cole Beasley, Bryce Butler, Lucky Whitehead (Punt return opportunities).)
Tyler Ervin is in a great position as the backup to Lamar Miller. Despite his smaller size he’s aggressive and highly athletic. His abilities in pass catching are a big help too. He leads his RB rookie class with 45 receptions from San Jose State. All making a great handcuff to Miller.
Alfred Morris has reportedly taken the lead over McFadden, and would be a worthy starting RB2 if Elliott gets hurt. He’s a must own handcuff for Elliott owners.
Check Your Draft Boards
When prepping for your draft be sure to take note of these players (if you haven’t already). Despite the hype and new situations surrounding a lot of them, there is no denying they’re worth owning. If you’re lucky enough to pick up Hopkins in a PPR format of Elliott second round in standard, know you’ve made a great draft pick. More importantly if you already own Miller and/or Elliott, be sure you’ve picked up their handcuff, because if I’ve learned anything from fantasy, it’s that anything, and I mean ANYTHING can happen. Happy Drafting!

Quarterback Jameis Winston-

Jameis Winston 2015 Passing Stats

SEASON TEAM GP CMP ATT YDS TD
2015 TB 16 312 535 4,042 22

 

UncleOdds Projections 2016 Jameis Winston Passing

SEASON TEAM GP CMP ATT YDS TD
2015 TB 16 340 560 4,165 26

 

Jameis Winston, like most rookies, had good and bad performances last season. Following a very poor Week 1 performance, his game level began to evolve. Winston finished the season with a overall grade that ranked 13th among quarterbacks and earned him PFF’s Rookie of the Year award. As the the season went on, Winston improved dramatically, ranking 8th over the final seven weeks of 2016. When the young rookie was not pressured, he had the 8h-highest passing grade in the league. This is a margin spot where he can still improve. With time to build chemistry, I see a very strong, dynamic duo forming with WR Mike Evans for this 2016. I have Winston as my 6th ranked dynasty QB. He has young hungry Bucs around him, which includes WR Mike Evans, RB Doug Martin (who finished 2nd rushing yards with 1402 yards), RB Charles Sims, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and rookie WR Kenny Bell. It’s a team-base of young incredible talented players, who can be successful together in the NFL, for years to come. Winston was in “learning mode” last season, and I see him developing into one of the better quarterbacks in the future.

 

 

Running Back David Johnson-

 

David Johnson 2015 Rushing Stats

SEASON TEAM GP ATT YDS AVG LNG TD
2015 ARI 16 125 581 4.6 47 8

 

UncleOdds Projections 2016 David Johnson Rushing

SEASON TEAM GP ATT YDS AVG LNG TD
2015 ARI 16 256 1190 4.6 —- 9

 

 

 

Johnson ranked #1? Why Johnson over Gurley or Bell?  My decision is not based on stats or data like most of my calls in fantasy football, but rather on my gut intuition. There’s no doubt Gurley and Bell have proved themselves as two of the best RBs in the league, with both having a better AVG (Bell 4.9 and Gurley 4.8) than Johnson and who can be used as receivers. Gurley and Bell are both amazing, but guess what… so is David Johnson! David Johnson didn’t have an important role in the first 11 weeks of the season, and it wasn’t until Week 12 that Johnson got his first start. He then held the starting job for the rest of the season, gaining a league-best 131.7 yards per game from scrimmage during that time.

My point on Johnson is his situation may allow him to saty healthy/ healthier for the next few seasons!  If you can stop Todd Gurley. you stop the Rams. How much punishment will Gurley receive and how much will he be able to take? With a rookie quarterback, the Rams offense will depend on Gurley alot, and for 2016, this could be a “one man wolf-pack’’. Le’Veon on the other hand, is coming off from a MCL torn season-ending injury, and most players don’t come back at the same level that they left prior to the injury. David Johnson has a strong Cardinal’s offense around him, he doesn’t have to carry the team’s offense on his shoulders and he won’t be taking as much punishment as Gurley and Bell. I see a healthier player in Johnson in the upcoming season’s, and therefore have him as my #1 dynasty running back.

I look forward to sitting in my mancave when the 2016 season starts watching which of these 3 great backs, in fact becomes #1 for the upcoming season and how these 3 continue to develop into their best potential.

 

 

Wide Receiver Amari Cooper-

 

Amari Cooper 2015 Receiving Stats

SEASON TEAM GP REC TGTS YDS AVG LNG TD
2015 OAK 16 72 130 1,070 14.9 68 6

 

UncleOdds Projections 2016 Amari Cooper Receiving

SEASON TEAM GP REC TGTS YDS AVG LNG TD
2015 OAK 16 80 147 1,192 14.9 —– 8

 

Amari Cooper is a player with an amazing speed/acceleration who stays at the top of his routes, and who has owned the post route. Cooper, in his first season in Oakland, developed great chemistry with Derek Carr early on, hauling in 72 passes for 1,070 yards and six touchdowns. He was targeted 130 times! The former Alabama star added another feat to his outstanding rookie season by amassing the most receptions by a wide receiver, 21 years old or younger, in NFL history. Cooper also became the first Oakland rookie wide receiver to reach 1,000 receiving yards.

Targeting his favorite weapon often, OAK QB Carr’s passer rating improved from 76.6 to 91.1 last season, ending 2015 with 3,987 yards and 32 touchdowns. In only his 2nd year in the league, Carr had had to learn two different systems.  “I think it helps that he doesn’t have to learn a new language again,” OC Bill Musgrave said of Derek. Carr is a quaterback on the rise and the Raiders have the right tools to be a great offensive team, with WR Michael Crabtree, RB Latavius Murray, and new addition RB DeAndre Washington. ( Washington was selected by Oakland in the 5th round of the 2016 NFL Draft and will be a nice compliment to RB Murray. I have high expectations for him, particularly in dynasty leagues. All these weapons that the Raiders have offensively, will only make young Amari a better player.

 

Tight End Jordan Reed-

 

Jordan Reed 2015 Receiving Stats

SEASON TEAM GP REC TGTS YDS AVG LNG TD
2015 WSH 14 87 114 952 10.9 32 11

 

UncleOdds Projections 2015 Jordan Reed Receiving

SEASON TEAM GP REC TGTS YDS AVG LNG TD
2015 WSH 16 80 108 948 11.8 —– 9

 

In previous years, the tight end position was Gronk and then the rest. Thankfully for the NFL and fantasy football, we now we have a lot more names to talk about, i.e Greg Olsen, Tyler Eifert, Jordan Reed, Gary Barnidge, Travis Kelce, Delanie Walker, and Zach Ertz. ( I apologize if I left out your favorite!) I personally love Reed and at only 25 years old (Gronk 27), he made 87 catches in 2015 for 952 yards and 11 touchdowns, making him Washington’s leading receiver last season. Reeds is a tight end but his production is similar to a wide receiver’s. He is very dangerous on a lot of routes, and that’s worth gold in the redzone. It might interest you to know that Reed not only he played his collegiaent career as a tight end, but also as a wide receiver and even as quarterback.  Jordan Reed- “Honestly, I feel like playing quarterback helped me out a lot – knowing which guys were going to cover me, being able to read the defense, things like that”. Jordan Reed is sitting out minicamp after suffering an ankle injury,but the Uncle says to drfaft Reed with confidence. Currently ranked (dynasty) as my #2 TE.

Team Profiles- Day Four – Buffalo Bills

Team Profiles- Day Four – Buffalo Bills
by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

Day Four Buffalo Bills

by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

Rex Ryan is now the new head coach of Buffalo. I actually like the guy. He’s the funny uncle you always want to hang around with at family reunions. But how good of a head coach is he? He managed to land a head coaching job with Buffalo, with the words of “You’re fired’ still ringing in his ears from the brass in New York. His last year with the Jets, he led the team to only 4 wins. He had a winning record in New York only 2 out of 6 years, and those were the first two years, when the personnel of the team wasn’t of his making. Sons of Buddy Ryan, the Ryan brothers (Rex & Rob) are the Nicky and Paris Hiltons of the NFL. Two things are almost certain year one in Buffalo…….1) the players will love him 2) the team will have a losing season.

2015 team outlook- Buffalo always gets stampeded by the New England Patriots AFC East Division. Miami, Buffalo and New York Jets try not to come in last. One of the real reasons that Rex Ryan got the Buffalo head coaching gig was his familiarity with all the teams in the division. Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer. Ryan is a fun guy and the NFL loves having him around. Buffalo won’t in 4 years. MAYBE….if Rex Ryan ever went to a team with a quarterback, he could manage a winning season….but then, if they already had a good quarterback, then they’d probably have had a winning season, and therefore, there wouldn’t be a HC vacancy for Ryan to fill. Buffalo 6-10 in 2015

2015 Fantasy outlook-

QB- Retired/ Unretired QB Kyle “I stuck it to Jerry Jones” Orton is retired again, leaving only E J Manuel. E J manuel needs to read a QB manual on how to play the quarterback position without throwing interceptions. He’s not very good. Another college quarterback drafted in the 1st round who was thrown into action way too soon, as usual. What ever happened to holding a clipboard for a while and LEARNING? Tom Brady did it. Drew Brees did it. Aaron Rodgers did it. I was recently in a 20 round- 16 team fantasy draft and E J manuel went in the 19th round, the 36th QB selected. That’s about right.

RBs- Everyone has the list of “I’ll never draft that guy ever again”…..and I guarantee you, C J Spiller is on a ton of them, not just mine. I’ll draft extra wide receivers before I draft him ( or Reggie Bush) ever again. He’s a free agent anyways, so he may not even be back in Buffalo. RB Fred Jackson is an old school running back who always leaves everything on the field. I like his hard running style and his grit. You can wait on him in drafts because he won’t go too early, but he’s solid, and hopefully he can stay heathy. The #2 RB listed on the Buffalo roster is Anthony Dixon, but I am not a big fan. I do like RB Bryce Brown however, and hopefully Rex sees what a talent he could be if ever given the chance that he was promised when he left Philadelphia.

WRs- Prior to the 2014 season, I wrote an article about being “All In’ with the rookie class of wide receivers coming into the league, and although I didn’t like where he landed, WR Sammy Watkins topped my list. (Oh, how I wanted Detroit to draft Sammy Watkins, and see him line up opposite Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate. Instead, Detroit threw away another 1st round selection, which they always do with regularity) Watkins will make any QB look good, but his fantasy value will always have to be tempered because he’s in Buffalo. Even the die-hardest of NFL and fantasy footballers struggle to remember who the other wide receivers are in Buffalo. They are WR Robert Woods, Marquise Goodwin and Chris Hogan. They had a combined 9 TDs all of last year.

TEs- Scott Chandler is the only name worth mentioning here. He’s a big, tough guy and could be a huge part of an offense somewhere else. He’ 6’7″ and 260 pounds and a serviceable TE but has been in the league side 2007.

K- Former Miami Dolphin Dan Carpenter was Buffalo’s top scorer in 2014, but more because the offense was bad, rather than because he was so good. He did knock in 34 of 38 field goals, which ranked 10h for place-kickers in the NFL-2014

DEF- The Buffalo defense kept the team in many games during the 2014 season. They quietly ranked in the top 5 of NFL defenses, and with defense-minded Rex Ryan running the show now, they likely won’t fall off that top 5 list in 2015.

2014 Arizona Fantasy Surprises- When Buffalo pulled QB Orton off the streets and threw him in as the immediate QB starter, this actually helped the team and WR Watkins’ productivity, at least for a few games. Watkins later would play at less than 100%, but he played in all 16 regular season games his rookie year. RB Bryce Brown is a talented running back and it was surprising that Buffalo didn’t use his talents much in 2014. I don’t like RBBC ( running back by committee) especially if it’s a big committee, rotating 3 & 4 running backs all in the one game like Buffalo did last year. HC Ryan won’t surprise us and start doing that. He will rotate two, but he’ll pick one of them as his workhorse.

2015 Free Agents that Baltimore need to address- RB C J Spiller- WR Marcus Easley- WR Deonte Thompson- TE Lee Smith- G Erik Pears- S Da’Norris Searcy

2015 NFL Draft- The early needs of Buffalo are Quarterback, OL , and TE. The Bills haven’t had a quarterback throw over 25 touchdown passes in a season since Jim Kelly threw 33 in 1991( QB), Buffalo’s right guard and right tackles were a glaring weakness in 2014 (OLB), and although Scott Chandler plays hard, he isn’t the big-time playmaker that any Buffalo QB will need (TE).

Did you know- Buffalo drafted RB Marshawn Lynch with their 1st round -the 12th overall NFL selection in 2007? Lynch played for Buffalo from 2007-2010 and only scored a total of 17 TDs in those years. On October 5th, 2010 in mid-season, Buffalo had seen enough of Lynch and traded him to Seattle for two draft picks, a 4th round in 2011 and a 5th round in 2012.