Three Food Tiers of NFL Quarterbacks

Three Food Tiers of NFL Quarterbacks by Utter-Fantasy Writer Cambrick Broady

 

Three Food Tiers of NFL Quarterbacks: “Filet Mignon”, “Buffalo Wings” and “Just order a cheap Pizza”

Many fans, analysts, writers and regular people debate often about the 32 teams in the NFL being good or bad and the #1 selling point on your argument typically revolves around the quarterback.  There are a few teams every year that can overcome with shaky quarterback play with their dominant running backs, wide receivers or defenses but eventually that will catch up to you….(unless you are the 2015 Denver Broncos!)
Hopefully you are at least “Buffalo Wings” if you’re starting for a team in the NFL. So why are there so many “cheap pizza” QBs you wonder? Well, GM’s have been trying to figure that one out since the league started, and if you know they answer, let every GM, fantasy football fanatic and delivery man know.. In the meantime- here’s my breakdown of the 32 teams quarterbacks currently sitting at the top of their depth chart, who are either “Filet Mignon, Buffalo Wings and Just order a cheap Pizza”, along with commentary and fantasy projections for the first two.

“Filet Mignon and Sipping your favorite Red Wine”

1.    Tom Brady QB New England Patriots; putting the golden boy shouldn’t get any back lash on any social media site or grumble in your random sports bar. If you’re a New England fan, the sound of his name is like someone just offered you a tall glass of water in the middle of the desert. If you’re a Jets, Dolphins or Bills fan his name probably strikes that nerve of someone’s kid in the store that just WON’T SHUT UP! There aren’t many players in the Kobe/Jordan/Russell category…you know those guys who’ve won 4 or more titles for the franchise that drafted them. Fantasy Projection: Round 4-5; yes, I know he’s suspended 4 games but when he comes back it’s business as usual.

2.    Aaron Rodgers QB – Green Bay Packers; you know you’re good when your TD celebration becomes the entire storyline of an insurance commercial. Well, he’s as good as advertised and Packer fans will make sure you know it. He makes all WR’s better and with a stable running game, the Packers will compete every year with him at the helm. Fantasy Projection: Round 2-3; should be no argument here, he’s been a solid fantasy starter for years.

3.    Ben Roethlisberger QB – Pittsburgh Steelers; I’m sure some Steelers fans cringed when they drafted him in 2004 out of Miami, Ohio. Ask that same fan now, how they feel now about his career 94% passer rating and 2 Super Bowl rings? They’ve always got championship written all over them and with a healthy running game, the usual Pittsburgh fan has ammo in any fan smack talk. Fantasy Projection: Round 4-5; I think you should be taking him earlier than I saw in last year’s drafts as he will be throwing a lot to Antonio Brown and that says enough.

4.    Drew Brees QB – New Orleans; has some of the best pocket presence you’ll see and does a great job reading defenses, one of those QBs where it doesn’t matter the receiver out there as long as they can catch. He gave the city of New Orleans a championship when they needed it most and has a guaranteed fantasy sleeper WR on his roster every year. Fantasy Projection: Round 4-5; I’m scared to say his numbers may drop this year considering he’s got a new target in Michael Thomas and Brees normally makes all receivers look good.

5.    Russell Wilson QB – Seattle Seahawks; Every year in the playoffs, one Super Bowl under his belt, and he’s done this without a true #1 WR.  (doesn’t hurt to have a stout defense behind you) Want to argue him being Filet Mignon? Well, his passing yards have increased each year, he hasn’t thrown more than 10 interceptions in any year and he is a dual threat. Case closed. Fantasy Projection: Round 5-6;

6.    Cam Newton QB – Carolina Panthers; 2015’s NFL MVP showed sustained improvement in his footwork and decision making. He led the Panthers to the Super Bowl without a legit #1 receiver…wow! The challenge now is consistency and keeping his demeanor in check, I like the guy personally and his new custom ride is pretty nice. He gets Kelvin Benjamin back this season as well. Fantasy Projection: Round 2-3; last year a guy won my league by picking up Newton as a FA. That won’t happen this year, take him in the top 5 if you want and I won’t blink an eye.

7.  Matt Ryan QB – Atlanta Falcons; he’s been in the top 5 for NFL passing yards every year since 2012 (bet you didn’t know that). His first NFL pass was a TD and it was a dart that he read instantly. He’s got good footwork and has been putting up career numbers behind an under-performing offensive line for a few years. Signing C Alex Mack and WR Mohamed Sanu will give Ryan an edge going into this season. Fantasy Projection: Round 5-6; you may want to take him earlier than normal this year, he’s got intriguing new weapons.

8.    Andrew Luck QB – Indianapolis Colts; I’m admire him honesty and he didn’t have the best season last year by any means. He actually looked as if he regressed (I know he was injured) which I know was scary for Colts fans. Don’t worry however, this talented QB will bounce back this year. His skillset of passing accuracy, strength and running ability will allow him to get back on track. You don’t write off Luck after one bad season. In my league he was drafted #1 overall because of his spectacular 2014 season ( #1 QB) ; and expectations were that he could take the Colts deep in the playoffs. Now one must be concerned because his division has seriously improved. Fantasy Projection: Round 3-4; he should come back on a vengeance and could be in line for comeback player of the year.

9.    Tony Romo QB – Dallas Cowboys; You can blast me on twitter all you want for listing Romo as a QB that should have a spoon of herb flavored brown butter right over the top…but tell me that the NFC East teams aren’t scared to play the Cowboys this year with a healthy Romo and Elliott in the backfield. If you aren’t, you haven’t been paying attention to football. He has the accuracy, he also has the command you like and his OL is the best in football. He has to minimize the turnovers though. Fantasy Projection: Round 6-7; he’s got all kinds of weapons in this offense and will be serviceable but I understand if you want to proceed with caution due to his injury history.

10.    Eli Manning QB – New York Giants; Listen, I don’t want to hear it at all. He’s a hot and cold type of QB but has won 2 Super Bowls and I’ll bet your favorite QB hasn’t won any. I’ll agree he’s the bottom Filet Mignon on my list. He makes great reads and if the Giants can get his guy a running game, the NFC East will have serious competition. Fantasy Projection: Round 7-8; I have to be realistic with his fantasy projection, even with a dynamic OBJ, he just hasn’t been as reliable in fantasy. I predict a comeback this year so take in round 6 with confidence.

“Buffalo Wings and a Sam Adams”

1.     Carson Palmer QB – Arizona Cardinals. Fantasy Projection: Round 7-8; he’s a bargain pick this year
2.    Blake Bortles QB – Jacksonville Jaguars. Fantasy Projection: Round 7-8; #3 QB in 2015…great new defense
3.    Matthew Stafford QB – Detroit Lions Fantasy Projection: Round 8-9; worst rushing average per attempt in the NFL…and Megatron retired.
4.    Joe Flacco QB – Baltimore Ravens. Fantasy Projection: 9-10 What weapons does he have? I’ll wait.
5.    Kirk Cousins QB – Washington Redskins. Fantasy Projection: Round 9-10; no RB, forced to pass a lot
6.    Andy Dalton QB – Cincinnati Bengals. Fantasy Projection: Round 10+; proceed with caution
7.    Phillip Rivers QB – San Diego Chargers. Fantasy Projection: Round 10+; who are his WR’s?
8.    Derek Carr QB – Oakland Raiders. Fantasy Projection: Round 10+; he will improve this year, but RB??
9.    Jamies Winston QB – Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Fantasy Projection: Round 10+; needs more passing yards
10.    Marcus Mariota QB – Tennessee Titans. Fantasy Projection: Round 10+; new RB’s will really help him

These quarterbacks are good and on any given Sunday, they can be “really good”. If any of these guys are your teams quarterback, you can go into the season with a great deal of optimism. • Many of you feel Carson Palmer is Filet Mignon and I will argue that all day otherwise,and show you the tape of him playing in Oakland. He’s good because he doesn’t lose the game for you, but Arizona was a top 3 defense and as long as you don’t turn the ball over; that’ll keep you in games. • Blake Bortles makes the list because he was the #3 QB in the NFL last year, his progression has been impressive and he has made Robinson and Hurns red hot receivers who none us knew about before last season. • Matthew Stafford has been a adequate fantasy football quarterback, but has he been an adequate NFL quarterback? • I know Joe Flacco won a Super Bowl and is the only QB on this list to have done so, but I’m just not sold on him being more than good Buffalo Wings. Give Matt Ryan the defense that Flacco had that year with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed and the Falcons might be 2 Super Bowls deep by now. The best QBs overcome a bad OL, no WR’s, no RB’s and still have good productive and competitive seasons. • Kirk Cousins was the sole reason the Washington Redhot Sauces won their division. • The only QB that I see possibly getting bumped down next year is Andy Dalton; he’s shown flashes of being really good and shown flashes of being really bad. He did not play in the post-season last year which hurt their team and the NFL window shortens each season. • In 2013, Phillip Rivers QB was the #6 QB in the NFL, 2014 he was #9 and 2015 he was #10. I can see the downward trend continuing. • Derek Carr needs to be careful with his decision making, considering his division is full of strong defenses outside of San Diego. • Some may look at the list and say “Jamies Winston and Marcus Mariota….really?” But after this year, they will back off that statement as they pass the celery and bleu cheese. Marcus Mariota could find himself with a solid running game this year but his defense will need to hold up. Jamies Winston impressed me at times last season and he’s got a good WR and RB.

“Just order a cheap Pizza with a free Mountain Dew”

1.    Alex Smith QB – Kansas City Chiefs.
2.    Jay Cutler QB – Chicago Bears
3.    Sam Bradford QB – Philadelphia Eagles
4.    Colin Kaepernick QB – San Francisco 49ers
5.    Mark Sanchez QB – Denver Broncos
6.    Nick Foles QB – LA Rams
7.    Brock Osweiler QB – Houston Texans
8.    Ryan Tannehill QB – Miami Dolphins
9.    Tyrod Taylor QB – Buffalo Bills
10.    Teddy Bridgewater QB – Minnesota Vikings
11.    Robert Griffin III QB – Cleveland Browns
12.    Geno Smith/Ryan Fitz QB – New York Jets

I’ll get some flack about a few of these guys I’m sure. • Alex Smith has silenced plenty of doubters after the 49ers gave up on him for Kaepernick (and who knows, they may still be kicking themselves). • Jay Cutler hasn’t been good despite having decent weapons in Forte, Bennett and Jeffrey, who some see as a top 5 WR. Cutler might be the worst QB inside the red-zone in the NFL. • Sam Bradford has been robbing teams since being drafted, and he reminds me of NBA’s Grant Hill and what he did to many teams, always being hurt. • Colin Kaepernick misses wide open WR’s…I mean WIDE OPEN so enough said there. • Mark Sanchez, ha, I’m sorry but Denver should concede this season or they might think about starting Lynch sooner than later. • I was going to list Jared Goff as average and put a disclosure by it, but I don’t think that’s fair; I’ll give him time to toss a few pies first and Nick Foles is surely average to LA Rams fans. • Brock Osweiler hasn’t shown us much so far but he has the potential to move out of the Little Caesar’s section. • Ryan Tannehill is the QB that the analysts every year say is going to have “a breakout season” but just never does. • Tyrod Taylor really should be a back-up pizza cook; I saw a lot of good routes run by Sammy Watkins with no pass coming his way. Reminds me of how upset Michael Vick used to make his WR’s because they’d get open and wouldn’t have a chance to make a play. • Teddy Bridgewater plays in a “run-first” offense and only threw 14 touchdown passes last season. • Robert Griffin III doesn’t know how to slide and Geno Smith/ Fitz are here because where else are they going to be….and no argument about them being average I’m sure.

Cam Broady

Cambrick Broady is Sports Scout, Fantasy Sports Analyst and a contributing writer for Utter-Fantasy.com. Please follow Cambrick on twitter @cambrickbroady

Also by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Cambrick Broady…”The Biggest Makeover from the Draft”

 

The 2016 Strength of Schedule

The 2016 Strength of Schedule by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator & Doug Bowles

The 2016 NFL Schedule has recently been released, and with it comes every team’s new 2016 Strength of Schedule, which is is based on the win-loss records of their opponents. Football fans everywhere are scanning the calendar to see how “easy or difficult” it will be for their favorite teams in the upcoming season.

More often than not however, good teams have good seasons regardless of their schedules, and bad teams have bad seasons, so it may be unproductive to consider. I also believe that it is a flawed system for determining a “2016 Strength of Schedule”. In 2015, Washington won the NFC East, with Dallas in the basement with a 4-12 record. Was Washington the better team in 2015, or did Dallas have a losing season because QB Tony Romo was injured for most of the season? We know the answer is the latter. So Dallas was given an “easier” schedule ultimately based on an injury, and not necessarily because the NFL is trying it’s best to maintain a competitive balance within the league.

As I noted in February of this year, this report often doesn’t usually end up meaning much for NFL teams or for fantasy football when it’s all in the books at the end of a season.

If the “Strength of Schedule” actually is significant, it doesn’t show from the wins and losses recorded by NFL teams in 2015.

#32 (hardest)…PITTSBURGH………..10-6
#31 (hardest)…CINCINNATI…………12-4
#29 (hardest)…SEATTLE…………….10-6
#28 (hardest)…ARIZONA…………….13-3
#25 (hardest)…KANSAS CITY……….11-5
#23 (hardest)…DENVER………..……12-4
#21 (hardest)….MINNESOTA………..11-5

#10 (easiest)…PHILADELPHIA……….7-9
#9 (easiest)…DALLAS………………….4-8
#8 (easiest)…JACKSONVILLE……….5-11
#7 (easiest)…TENNESSEE………..…..3-13
#5 (easiest)…NEW ORLEANS………..7-9
#2 (easiest)…INDIANAPOLIS…….….8-8
#1 (easiest)…ATLANTA………………..8-8

NFL Playoffs – In 2015, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati had the 1st and 2nd hardest schedule respectively. As you know, these 2 teams went to the post-season.

LOOKING AT 2016-

#32 (hardest)…SAN FRANCISCO
#31 (hardest)…ATLANTA
#30 (hardest)…LA RAMS
#29 (hardest)…NEW ORLEANS
#28 (hardest)…SEATTLE
#27 (hardest)…TAMPA BAY

San Francisco is likely to have a terrible 2016 NFL season, and although their schedule doesn’t help any, they are going to lose because they aren’t very good. ( They will also lose because I believe Chip Kelly was the wrong man to hire as the 49er’s new head coach.) As for the rest of these teams, only Seattle had a winning season in 2015, and everyone of them would prefer an easy “Strength of Schedule” whether there is a debate about it’s significance or not.

#9 (easiest)…CINCINNATI
#8 (easiest)…DETROIT
#7 (easiest)…DALLAS
#5 (easiest)…CHICAGO
#2 (easiest)…NEW YORK GIANTS
#1 (easiest)…GREEN BAY

On the other side of the 2016 Strength of Schedule, Green Bay is likely to have a terrific 2016 NFL season, and although their schedule does help, they are going to win many games because they are a very good team.

FANTASY FOOTBALL – “Strength of Schedule” also doesn’t seem to matter in fantasy football. One would think that if a team has a very difficult schedule, then scoring would be more difficult. Not true! The Arizona Cardinals, with the #28 (hardest) Schedule was tops in the NFL in scoring points ( 489). Seattle (423), and Pittsburgh (423) also had tougher schedules while scoring in the top 10 of NFL teams for points in 2015.

For individual fantasy football players, the 2016 Strength of Schedule isn’t worth the trouble of considering. Examine the following inconsistencies….

The #1 WR for 2015 was PITT WR Antonio Brown- (The hardest) 2015 Strength of Schedule.  

The #2 WR for 2015 was ATL WR Julio Jones- (The easiest) 2015 Strength of Schedule.  

 

3 of the top 7 Running backs for 2015 had the (hardest) of 2015 Strength of Schedules.  

2 of the top 3 Running backs for 2015 had the (easiest) of 2015 Strength of Schedules.  

 

As for Quarterbacks– None of the 4 QBs with the (easiest) of Strength of Schedules for 2015…made it into the top 12 rankings for last season.

 

So, going into this 2016 season, I will ignore the “2016 Strength of Schedule” and I will concentrate on what really matters…the “2016 Strength of Talent”.

Gals Put Their Flare on Fantasy Football

Gals Put Their Flare on Fantasy Football by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

I was chatting with many of my fantasy football friends on twitter, when I saw this “tweet’….”I’m doing a Harry Potter themed fantasy football leagues with my best gal pals, and I am beyond giddy”. I wrote to Kelcy Engstrom and asked “please tell me this really happened!” Kelcy not only told me that it did, but that the girls were planning their next theme…..likely “Mean Girls!”

Fantasy football is already fun, but it’s pretty cool that these gals have put their own twist on their league, to make it even more fun for them. I asked Miss Kelcy, who is a Peace Corps volunteer over seas right now, a few questions about their league, and here’s what she had to say about it.

Utter-Fantasy) Please tell me about your league- How many teams, who is in it and when did it begin?

Kelcy) We are 8 teams and it’s made up of a group of really good friends, most of us met in middle school and then rest became friends during high school and we’ve always kept in touch and remained very close. We started doing a league about 2 years ago, we’re all from Wisconsin except for one unfortunate Bear fan who was born in Illinois but moved to our hometown during middle school so all of us have grown up with the Packers and football as a big part of our lives.

When we got interested in fantasy it made sense that we would all do it with our best friends, to maximize shit talking potential.

 

Utter-Fantasy) When did creating a theme for your fantasy football league start, and how do you determine what the theme will be? Are there suggestions and a vote?

Kelcy) So I really like themes and group activities in general so I kind of forced everyone to go along with it. I picked the Harry Potter one because I’m pretty sure I saw a comment in Reddit talking about a Potter themed fantasy team name and it just struck me a very funny for some reason, also because I know a few gals in the league are INTO Harry Potter in a big way. For example the owner of ‘Weasley’s Wizard Wins’ took her honeymoon at Harry Potter studios while others are not so into it like the owner of ‘Harry’s Dead RIP’ but she still went along with it which is cool.

 

Utter-Fantasy) It is such a fun idea, but how does it work? How was the Harry Potter theme incorporated into the 2015 fantasy football season?

Kelcy) It’s just a standard league set up really, since this was the first time doing a theme we didn’t have many ideas to really customize it so it’s just the team names, my two personal favorites are ‘Two-Patronus Conversion’ and ‘4th and 9 3/4′ with ‘Rita Skeet Skeet Skeeter’ rounding out the top 3. We have it set up on ESPN.

This year I’d probably make up a house cup as the trophy, throw a theme party for the draft, maybe force the points looser that week to give up a bench player to the deatheaters or something. But full disclosure, I’m a bit of a filthy casual the only Harry Potter thing I’m super into is Wizard People, Dear Reader. But I am hoping to read the books eventually.  

 

Utter-Fantasy) Will you share some of the other theme ideas that have been suggested?

Kelcy) We’re probably gonna change it up this year with a new theme, I’m thinking a Mean Girls one would be pretty good, but we also watch a lot of Golden Girls and RuPaul’s Drag Race so that could be fun as well, and we’re all big fans of Beyonce but we’ll see whoever comes up with the best idea.

 

Utter-Fantasy) Do you and your best gal pals get together on game day for some quality Harry Potter/NFL time??

Kelcy) The girls that can still do get together on Sundays to watch football when possible, I’ve been living in Eastern Europe for about 2 years so I haven’t been able to do that for awhile. But sitting around watching football, drinking beer and shit talking in person is something that we all enjoy doing as sister girls

 

I appreciate Miss Kelcy sharing her fantasy football league with me, and I hope the gals venture into a Dynasty Football League! Having a “Dynasty” themed Dynasty Football League is just to good, not to start up!

Dynasty Fantasy football TV

 

Follow Kelcy’s on twitter @MaryKMart to see how she does in her fantasy football league and what theme the gals came up for 2016.

Kelcy fantasy football

This is How We Dynasty Football

This is How We Dynasty Football by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Samantha Holt

 

Active in Fantasy Football for 6 years, received 1st Championship in 2015 Season. Token woman of the Sunday Funday League.

Sunday-Funday-league

Six tables are set facing a large white board. Laptops are in place alongside binders filled with copious notes. The room is a buzz with chatter. Shifty glances are exchanged. Monitors with skype callers begin to light, it’s almost time. Owners move to their seats, last minute beers and drinks are made. It’s time, for the Rookie Draft, the first Owner is on the clock. He fields offers for his pick, bidding wars are waged, the decision is made, Amari Cooper is taken first overall in the 2015 Sunday Funday League Rookie Draft.

Sounds a bit intense? Well that’s because it is my friends, if you’re reading this you understand that Fantasy Football is not merely a hobby, it’s a lifestyle. I believe there is no better example of this than in my Dynasty League. That’s a pretty biased statement, but fuck it, it’s my opinion.

The Beginning

Our inaugural season began in 2013, and our Commissioner is the glue that brought us all together. All members had multiple years of experience prior to joining, no newbies, you needed to know your shit to be invited. It was important when this began that if you were to be an owner in this League, you needed to be an active owner. No Tacos in this league (but there are at least 2 Ruxin’s and a definitive Andre). We wanted our league to resemble what real owners deal with in managing a team. We are an Auction, 8 keeper, IDP league; with the ability to trade Free Agency Cash and Rookie Draft Picks. We have a cap for keeper salary going into our auction draft, and a Salary Cap to begin the season. We now also have an in season salary cap. Oh and each player drafted has a set contract you can keep them at their salary for before you have to extend their contract by increasing their salary. Does that sound like a lot? You still following me?

The Details

Each Season begins with our Annual League Rules Meeting that rolls into our Rookie Draft. The Rules Meeting starts out simply enough. This is where we vote on changing any current rules or adding new ones. Straight forward no bullshit, and you can’t say you weren’t aware of a change because we have a binder with a meeting agenda and Google drive documents of the Rules and Changes made during the meetings. To the Rookie Draft! It obviously takes place sometime after the NFL Draft, depending on coordinating the schedules of 12 Owners. There are 3 rounds in the Draft and each owner has a draft pick. Top 6 picks are picked at random amongst teams with worst records from the previous season. What makes the Draft more fun however is that we’re allowed to trade our picks. So goes the bidding war for those who ended up with multiple picks. Rookies are valuable because they’re drafted at set low salaries with 3 year contracts (ex: 1st Round: $5, 2nd Round: $3, 3rd Round $1).

Draft Day

Auction draft is held at a location decided on by the winner of the previous year. Last year it was held at the Palazzo in Las Vegas, in Lagasse’s Stadium. If you want to do a draft party in Vegas that’s the place to go. They have package deals where you can have a private suite with multiple TVs pool table and waiters that constantly and quickly bring drinks and great food. It was a sweet draft, needless to say we were all destroyed afterwards, worth it. We have a max of 8 keepers and their salaries combined must be $200 or less. Max Salary to start the season is $300. This may seem high, but keep in mind this fantasy football league is based on the idea that this is a marathon not a sprint. WE can make moves that will benefit over several years or make moves for the immediate. We each strategize our own ways but it’s a system designed to fit the Owner’s needs.

Shenanigans

The number one thing we get the most positive feedback from is that fact that we hold an Awards Ceremony at the end of every season. Our Commissioner painstakingly puts together the Awards packet with nominees for each category and each owner submits their votes to the Commissioner for counting. He then has awards made with the category and winners names engraved. The ceremony itself has written monologues for the host, speeches for the presenters, songs written & recorded for the winning teams to walk up to, friends are invited to the exclusive guest list, and there are video interviews for the nominees of the “big award” of the night, Team of the Year. The answer to your next question is: Yes, we do have too much time on our hands and spend a lot of money on something that is purely for fun. Why? Because it’s fun and we’re awesome, what better reason do you need?! The ceremony is a red carpet affair. We literally bought our own red carpet and had a back drop made (with logos I designed) for photos with the photographer we hired for the event. *insert gif of Lil’ Jon throwing money here*

Dynasty Leagues are complicated. Ours is no exception. However, if we didn’t have this league set up the way we do, we wouldn’t be able to reap all the benefits that fantasy football has to offer. This has turned the game into a year round sport for us. So while some of you are patiently waiting for next season to get close enough to mock draft efficiently. I’m watching the Combine and reading player stats to prep for the rookie draft. #Boom.

Samantha Holt

Follow Sam’s 2016 quest for another Dynasty Fantasy Football championships on twitter @SamanthaRHolt

Girl Power Crushes Fantasy Football

Girl Power Crushes Fantasy Football by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

Female fans of the NFL now represent the fastest-growing demographic in sports. So naturally, more female fans translates into more women jumping into the fantasy football arena and teaching guys a thing or two about it! Although men are more likely to play fantasy football, nearly 20% of the 75 million fantasy football owners competing in leagues are now women. ( and many are winning!)

Matty Murder is a smart, funny chick who won her 2015 fantasy football league and contributes her championship to having a few peculiar quirks. “My win was because I wore the same bra every Sunday and my husband pulled a Taco and drafted 4 QBs.”  Mary describes her league as…“an 8 man league, with two married couples and a bunch of my husband’s friend and I beat every single one of those asshats.” While Matty came in first last season, her husband with his own team, came in 7th. Matty will respond to his 7th place finish when she stops laughing.

This fantasy football player and commish thinks that this beauty might have some brains to go with that lucky bra….for when she’s not stomping the male anatomy with her fantasy team, she’s an environmental scientist.

I’ve asked our dominating damsel a few questions about her dazzling victory and when you read her sassy answers, you’ll know why I wanted to interview Miss Matty.

Utter-Fantasy: Let’s begin by telling us how long your league has been around and how long you’ve been in it?

Matty: This was our 2nd year with the same league members. Two women with a love for the sport, their husbands who know slightly less than they do, and friends from all across the country. We are all affiliated with the US military and Fantasy Football allows us to have the same banter over beers that we would have had were we all still in the same duty-stations. Our internet platform allowed for us to comfortably interact [read: shit talk each other] during the week while keeping up with our adult responsibilities and still be able to kick ass Thursday through Sunday. Though we were nice enough to occasionally warn people when they happened to have someone starting that was on a bye. Maybe only 5 minutes before the game started, but still.

Utter-Fantasy: Who in particular did you take in the draft that was like a twisting knife in your fellow fantasy football owners’ hearts?

Matty: Well, I remember being in a bar and talking line-ups with a friend and the bar tender overheard that I had both Brady and Rodgers on my team. However, I had an ulterior motive. I personally hate Tom Brady. I am sure he could be a great person in person but I just cant stand him. So he was my first round pick and I benched him the whole season. This bartender had NO IDEA why I would do something so “stupid” and waste my time. Then a sports segment came on right behind his head talking about the top 3 QBs in the NFL. Number 3? Aaron. Fucking. Rodgers. Ended up getting a few free beers out of that one. If you scroll through my twitter feed my mid-season pickup of Andrew Luck was perhaps the most talked about player on my team. We had lots of mental conversations about his playing and apparently on more than one occasion he took my critiques to heart and came out swinging after halftime.

Utter-Fantasy: What was your drafting philosophy going into the 2015 fantasy season?

Matty: Funny story. ..most of our league took a group vacation to Mexico over the summer and over unlimited drinks on the beach talked about how amazing the 2014 season had been. We decided mid-trip that we should do it again. One of the boys in particular had a whole defensive monologue he would spout for anyone to listen, on why he was going to draft Tony Romo right out of the gate because, if you look at his stats he is “actually quite consistent”. Well that didn’t go well for him. I on the other hand did my research, got my facts in order, and went with my gut. As a scientist I am no stranger to research, and on the weekends and evenings I would shift my focus to football. My ultimate goal was to do better than these men who would assume because I am a woman I was going to randomly click players in until I had a full team and then hope for the best. There was no more satisfying feeling than sipping my beer while the league chat sang my praises. Though more in the form of trash talking my opponent.

Utter-Fantasy: Did the guys in your league feel castrated by your victory or were they pretty good sports about it?   ( or as “Star Lord” would say….”Bitta’ both!” )

Castrated may be a bit strong. They walked into this season knowing us ladies could hold our own in the league setting. We are two strong women who have always stood our own in conversations, nights on the town, and have made it through years worth of deployments and come out the other side stronger. There were many many close calls, nights I would have to go to bed before games ended simply hoping that my boys would pull it off. All in all they were good sports. Of course if they had said a thing about coming in place after a woman I would have simply called their dedication to the craft into question. What did I do that you didn’t? Oh right, win.

Utter-Fantasy: Were there any key trades during the season that paid off big-time for you and that you care to brag about?

Matty: Trades? Nah. My husband plays video games with the other league members during the week and they did occasional trades. I am too hardheaded to admit that someone else has something I might need. I research ways to make it work or find some who can pull it off on my own. My wins were all me.

Utter-Fantasy: Was your draft live or was it completed online? Any fun details from it?

Matty: Because we are all spread out it had to be online, but we were in a skype chat! So we still were able to judge everyone elses choices and drink together. Only fun detail is how my husband kept running off while other people were drafting because he though he had important things to do (video games in the other room) and ended up drafting WAY too many QBs. We called him Taco for the rest of the season, after the episode of The League where Taco drafted…was it 13 kickers? When husband caught his mistake he felt pretty silly, rightly so. 

Utter-Fantasy: Do you have a fun ball-busting team name?

Matty: No, we all had team names that played off of our actual names. My name is no fun. So I just went with “Matty’s Morgue” to play off of my twitter name.

Utter-Fantasy: What was the prize for whooping all of the asshats in your league….was there a trophy or cash?

We had no prize except for bragging rights. Though I wish we had a trophy. I would put it on my mantle right next to my two degrees and wedding pictures. It is an accomplishment I don’t take lightly. Though as my husband talks to the other guys more than I do he did brag on my behalf for a bit. And we went out to celebrate, steaks!

Utter-Fantasy:  What else won this 2015 league, besides your Sunday best bra? A smart draft perhaps, or good research, luck, a woman’s intuition, savvy waiver wire moves….all of the above?

Matty: Besides the lucky bra, a trick I actually got from my Dad who wears the same underwear every time the Texas Rangers play, I credit my win to my research! My draft didn’t make all of my wildest dreams come true. I pulled the wins off through smart research and occasional input from league outsiders. Though they didn’t always think I was making the right choices, like the bartender from the start of the season. In the end I went with my gut and it paid off.

Utter-Fantasy: Who would you say is your favorite fantasy football player?

Matty: This season it would have to be Aaron Rodgers. I had faith in him from the start and in most instances he didn’t let me down. Plus I feel like when people doubted me for putting him above others his abilities pulled through for me. Plus he seems like a genuinely cool guy and sometimes that is what it comes down to for me. “Would I want to have a drink with this person?” and in his case I would.  

Utter-Fantasy: Have you inspired other rad chicks to take on their own teams and kick some of their own male-dominated fantasy football asses?

Sadly us league ladies have not yet convinced others to join. But we do have a small group of other women who know enough about football to talk and enjoy games with. They are too busy to play. Into the future I hope that isn’t the case with my husband and I. We are good partners but I think Fantasy Football is something that we can do together to unwind at the end of the week. With the responsibilities of our adult-lives becoming more and more, my wish is that we can continue to make time for it. But I would settle for a Cowboys-Redskins game with him over beers and burgers to have a fun night. As long as the Eagles are somewhere losing.

( Utter-Fantasy Wrap Up: Matty wasn’t the only cool chick to walk away with trophies in male-dominated fantasy football leagues in 2015. There were a lot of women strutting their stuff and there will be even more in 2016. I for one enjoy what the gals bring to fantasy football and look forward to competing against them in 2016!)

Matty Murder

Follow Matty’s 2016 quest for back-to-back championships on twitter @MattyMurder

 

Washington Team Profiles 2016

Washington Team Profile 2016 by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

If it wasn’t obvious to you that new HC Jay Gruden didn’t like like RG3…then you weren’t paying attention. Also, If you didn’t see that QB Kirk Cousins was the better quarterback in Washington…then you weren’t paying attention either. It was an unpopular move to make by HC Gruden with management and with the fans, but he made Cousins the starter, and they won the division. No one is questioning him now.

2016 Team Outlook – In the past 5 years, every team in the NFC East has won the division at least once. NYG in 2011, PHIL in 2013, DALLAS in 2014 and WASH in 2015. It didn’t take a great record to win the division in 2015. Washington won the NFC East with a 9-7 record. No team has the obvious edge heading into 2016.

2016 Fantasy Football Outlook –

QB- These are the quarterbacks from the 2012 NFL Draft- The jury is still out o QB Nick Foles, who has had some success in the NFL, and only Cleveland wasted their pick.

IND A Luck- Rd 1 #1
WASH R Griffin III- Rd 1 #2
CLEV B Weeden Rd 1 #22
DEN B Osweiler Rd 2 #57
SEA R Wilson Rd 3 #75
PHIL N Foles Rd 3 #88
WASH K Cousins Rd 4 #102

Cousins was the #9 quarterback in 2015, with 4166 passing yards and 29 TD passes. His numbers ranked him higher than QBs Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan, who all were able to play the entire 16 game season in 2015. Robert Griffin III is a free agent, and he is currently talking with the Jets organization. UPDATE: RGIII was traded to Cleveland and signed a 2 year deal with the Browns.

RBs– In most of last year’s fantasy football drafts, Alfred Morris was the 13th overall running back selected. If you were in a 10-12 team fantasy football league, and took Morris, he hurt your fantasy football season. Reliable in previous years, Morris ended 2015 as the #45 RB, with only 763 yards and only 1 touchdown. The 27-year-old free agent averaged a career-worst 3.7 yards per carry and failing to reach 1,000 yards rushing for the time in his career. RB Matt Jones is the assumed heir-apparent to the starting job, but in a few games last year when he was given the start, he failed to capitalize on the opportunity. He is an excellent receiving running back out of the backfield, but may not be a 3-down back. I doubt very much that he ends up with the most carries in Washington, when the 2016 season is over. Washington tendered exclusive rights free agent RB Chris Thompson. UPDATE: Free agent Alfred Morris signed a 2-year deal w/ DAL

WRs–  WR DeSean Jackson is an explosive play-maker when he is on the football field, which isn’t often. In 2015, Jackson only played in 8 games. HC Jay Gruden was clearly frustrated with Jackson’s 8 game season, but Washington doesn’t have a lot of depth in their receiving corps. DeSean will be back in 2016, but it will be his last season, if he doesn’t play. Pierre Garcon is the “Roddy White” in Washington, but still with a job. He was a talented receiver, but he just has too many miles on him. He was drafted by the Colts in 2008, so 2016 will be his 9th year in the NFL. Washington drafted 2 wide receivers in the 2015 NFL Draft, Jamison Crowder in Round 4, and Evan Spencer in Round 6. Neither is projected to do much in 2016.

TEs – In 2014, Jordan Reed was injured and had only 465 yards and 0 TDs. In 2015, Reed was healthier and played 14 games. He went on an offensive tear in the final 5 games of the regular season ( 498 yards and 6 TDs. ) He also had 9-of-17 targets for 120 yards and a touchdown in Washington’s Wild Card Round loss to Green Bay. For the season, Reed was the #2 tight end, just behind Gronk, with 952 receiving yards and 11 TDs. QB Kirk Cousins loves him and so should you in 2016. UPDATE: Free agent Vernon Davis signed a 1-year deal w/ WASH and Logan Paulsen re-signed 1-year.

K– Akers, Novak, Suisham, Cundiff, Gano, Hocker, Forbath, and Hopkins are just a few of the place kicker names associated with Washington. It can be a temporary gig. K Kai Forbath was replaced by Dustin Hopkins in September of 2015, who lost a preseason competition with Saints kicker Zach Hocker. Hopkins only missed 3 field goals last year ( 25 of 28 and 9th best percentage in the NFL), so hopefully he can stick around for awhile in Washington. Hopkins was a sixth-round pick of the Bills in 2013.

DEF– You wouldn’t think that Washington could win the NFC East again in 2016, with another defense that ranked #21, but none of the 4 teams in that division are very good. The Giants were #30, while Dallas and Philadelphia ranked #17 and #19 respectively. If one of these 4 teams can making significant improvements on defense, they’ll likely win the division because of it. Washington was 19th vs the pass, and 22nd vs the run in 2015.

2015 Washington Fantasy Surprises– QB Kirk Cousins was going to be the starter for Washington, but his #9 ranking for 2015 likely even surprised HC Jay Gruden. TE Jordan Reed finally played more than 11 games, since being drafted by Washington in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft. 2015 was only RB Alfred Morris’ 4th season in the NFL, but he looked out of gas early on last year, and he isn’t getting much attention so far in free agency.

2016 Free Agents that Washington Needs to Address– QB Kirk Cousins (Re-signed 1-year deal), RB Alfred Morris, FB Darrel Young, RB Pierre Thomas, QB Colt McCoy, TE Logan Paulsen, ILB Mason Foster, CB Will Blackmon, OLB Junior Galette, NT Kedric Golston, ILB Will Compton (RFA), ILB Keenan Robinson, G/C Josh LeRibeus, NT Terrance Knighton,

2016 NFL Draft– The immediate needs of Washington is on their defense that ranked #21 in 2015. Washington needs inside linebackers and a revamped defensive line that can actually slow down an opposing team’s running attack. Like everyone else, they need help on their O-Line. ( former Brown’s Center Alex Mack would have been a huge acquisition, but he signed with ATL)- Washington still needs a workhorse running back and more talent in their receiving corps.-WASHINGTON’S 2015 DRAFT

Did You Know – Former Redskins Running Back John Riggins went to college at Kansas University where he broke the rushing record of another great Running Back, Gale Sayers.

Team Home Page: www.redskins.com

All team reports can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS

Tennessee Titans Team Profile 2016

Tennessee Titans Team Profile 2016 by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

On November 3, 2015, the Titans relieved Ken Whisenhunt of head coaching duties and announced that Asst HC Mike Mularkey would step in as interim head coach for the remainder of the 2015 season. On January 16, 2016, Tennessee officially named Mularkey as their full-time head coach for the upcoming season.

2016 Team Outlook– Indianapolis had won the the AFC South in 2 consecutive years, prior to 2015. With the Colt’s QB Andrew Luck on the sidelines last season, there was a better chance for Tennessee, Houston or Jacksonville to take the division. Houston ended up winning the AFC South, with a 9-7 record. Tennessee had a new rookie quarterback and ended with a 3-13 record. The Jaguars were 5-11 because they did not have a defense to compete with. If QB Luck is 100% healthy, I like the Colts to rebound, but Houston is making it interesting with their recent player acquisitions.


2016 Fantasy Football Outlook–

QB–  QB Marcus Mariota went #2 overall to the Titans in the 2015 NFL Draft, and started in Week 1. The rookie quarterback wasn’t able to play an entire 16 game season, diagnosed with a sprained right MCL after Week 15. Tennessee’s record dictated shutting the rookie QB down for the remainder of the season. Mariota ended 2015 with 2818 passing yards, 19 passing touchdowns and 10 INTs. In Week 13 vs Jacksonville, Mariota had 9 rushes for 112 yards  and 1 TD. (most of the yards coming on a fun-to-watch 87 touchdown run in the 4th quarter) New HC Coach Mike Mularkey has stated that the Titans will “design more running plays” for Marcus Mariota in his second NFL season.

RB-  Down around #46 is where you’ll find the Titan’s top running back last season, Antonio Andrews. He had 556 rushing yards and 3 TDs. If you keep digging deep, you can find Tennessee’s other backs if you want, Bishop Sankey, Terrence West and David Cobb. Fantasy football owners were disappointed, and so were the Titan’s. On March 7, 2016 Tennessee traded for former Eagle RB DeMarco Murray. Happy to be out of Philadelphia, Murray signed a 4-year contract worth $25.5 million. Murray is a solid running back, but he was made special by Dallas’ #1 offensive line in 2014. There were 14 running backs I ranked ahead of Murray at the start of 2015, and #15 is my ranking for Murray in 2016. UPDATE: Titans acquired RB DeMarco Murray from the Eagles in exchange for undisclosed draft pick compensation.

WRs– The Titans have used the NFL Drafts to fortify their receiving corps over the past 4 years. Kendall Wright was selected in 2012 and Justin Hunter in 2013. In the  2015 NFL Draft, the Titans grabbed 2 more….6’5″ Dorial Green-Beckham ( 2nd round) and 6’0″ Tre McBride ( 7th round). Still trying to surround their quarterback with weapons, Tennessee signed former Dolphin wide out Rishard Matthews on March 9th, 2016. It’s an imposing core of receivers, and now fantasy football owners need to decide who will help them the most. No Titan receiver ranked in the top 50 last year. I would wait until the late rounds in 2016 fantasy football drafts to get a receiver from this team. UPDATE: former Dolphin WR Rishard Matthews signed a 3-year deal w/ TENN.

TEs– A tight end can be a rookie quarterback’s best friend. After the 2015 season was in the books, Walker was the #5 tight end in the NFL. He led all NFL tight ends with 94 receptions. He is a weapon that QB Mariota likes to get the ball to.

K– Mr. Irrelevant from 2009, Ryan Succop, did not have a great fantasy football season in 2015, but you can’t blame Mr. Irrelevant from 2009, Ryan Succop. The man only had 16 field goal attempts in 2015, and made 14 of them. That’s good for a 87. 5%…..11th best in the NFL. The Titans re-signed K Ryan Succop to a three-year contract.

DEF– The Titans were the 23rd worst defense in 2015. Tennessee was 24th vs the pass and 24th vs the run. Houston was the only team in that division with a strong defense (#8 in the NFL) and they won the AFC South. The Titans need a defense that isn’t ranked in the bottom 3rd every year.

2015 Tennessee Fantasy Surprises– 1) If you get as far as the NFL, you are a special talent. Tennessee had talented running backs on their roster in 2015, but none of them did very much, so they traded for RB DeMarco Murray. 2) I am a believer in letting a quarterback hold a clipboard for year, before throwing them at NFL defenses filled with world class athletes. Mariota was given very little time to be a starting NFL quarterback, and he was one.

2016 Free Agents that Tennessee Needs to Address–
TE Craig Stevens, ILB Zach Brown, CB Coty Sensabaugh, NT Sammie Lee Hill, NT Al Woods, RT Byron Bell, G/T Jamon Meredith

2016 NFL Draft–
The immediate needs of Tennessee is protecting the quarterback that they spent a #2 overall 2015 NFL Draft on. The Titan’s allowed a league-high 54 sacks in 2015. The Titan’s need defensive backs in April and need reinforcements on their defensive line. TENNESSEE’S 2015 DRAFT-

Did You Know– While playing for the Titans, Chris Johnson twice had the longest TD run of the season in the NFL. He did this with a 91 yard scoring run in 2009 and then again with a 94 yard touchdown run in 2012.

Team Home Page: www.titansonline.com

All team reports can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Team Profile 2016

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Team Profile 2016 by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

For Lovie Smith, an 8-24 record after two years in Tampa Bay = FIRED!  You are FiredSmith was a head coach in the NFL for 11 years, he had a winning percentage of .500 and never won a post-season game. Gone now from the NFL, Smith was named head coach for the University of Illinois on March 7, 2016. Dirk Koetter became the Buccaneers’ new head coach on Jan. 15, 2016, after a successful season as Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator in 2015. Koetter’s offensive leaderahip led the team to finish 5th in the NFL in total offense. (Impressive considering the Buc’s roster of very young players, including 21-year-old rookie quarterback.)

2016 Team Outlook – The Buccaneers compete in the NFC South division with Carolina, New Orleans and Atlanta. The Panthers won the division with a 15-1 record, and went to Super Bowl 50. It probably would have been just fine with the Bucs, if QB Cam Newton had also retired (aka Peyton Manning) after the 2015 season. Cam did not, so Carolina is the favorite team to take the NFC West title in 2016.


2016 Fantasy Football Outlook –

QB– Florida State QB Jameis Winston was the #1 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft. Tampa Bay was definitely going to draft one of the two highly coveted college quarterbacks, ( Winston and M Mariota) but Winston’s connection with the state of Florida likely sealed the deal for the Bucs. Rookie quarterbacks seldom have the success that both Winston and M Mariota had in 2015, so hats off to them, and their offensive coordinators. Winston threw for over 4000 yards last years with 28 total touchdowns ( 22 passing, 6 rushing. )

RB– Buccaneers agreed to terms with RB Doug Martin on a five-year, $35.75 million contract, including $15 million guaranteed. For a couple of weeks, free agent Martin was being sought by many NFL teams, but the Bucs wanted him back and got the contract done. On a team with a rookie quarterback, and with an average O-Line, Martin powered his way to the #3 running back for 2015. He racked up almost 1700 total yards and 7 TDs. Teammate running back Charlie Sims may have had the quietest 1000+ yard seasons (rushing and receiving) in the NFL last year. A talented back out of the backfield, Sims had 4 receiving touchdowns. RB Bobby Rainey is a free agent. UPDATE: Bobby Rainey signed a 1-year, $840K deal with NYG.

WRs– Mike Evans had 1208 receiving yards in 2015 and at the same time led the NFL in drops last year. It’s scary how good this guy could be in 2016. If he can fix his butter fingers, if QB Winston can go to the next level as an NFL quarterback, and if the Bucs bring in another receiving threat…Evans will be a top 10 fantasy football wide receiver. WR Vincent Jackson turned 33 this year, and although he is on the decline in his career, he’s still a big, talented receiver ( 6’5″).  In the 2015 NFL Draft, the Bucs drafted 6’1″ Nebraska WR Kenny Bell and new HC Coach Dirk Koetter has stated that Bell is “a big part of the Bucs’ future plans.”

TEs– In the 2014 NFL Draft, the Bucs used their 2nd draft selection on 6’5″ TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins. His rookie season ended with only 221 receiving yards and 2 TDs, playing in 9 games. 2015 was a slight improvement, with 338 receiving yards and 4 TDs, but playing in only 7 games. In 2 seasons, ASJ has spent as much time watching from the sidelines, as on the field. He needs to stay healthy in 2016, to avoid being considered a 2nd round bust for the Bucs. ( Maybe someone needs to remind ASJ that the Bucs have other decent TE options…as in Luke Stocker, Cameron Brate and Brandon Myers.)

K– The Bucs started the preseason out with place kicker competition between Connor Barth and Kyle Brindza. The Week 1 job went to Brindza. 6 missed field goals later by Brindza, and Connor Barth got his job back. Barth will likely get competition again, missing 5 FGs of his own last year.

DEF– Tampa Bay’s defense playing in the NFC South, is like 3 nerds in a room, with one jock. Tampa Bay, Atlanta and New Orleans can all hang together with defenses that rank near the bottom of the NFL, while Carolina flexed their defenses muscles at #2. Tampa Bay’s defense must rebound with key additions coming from the 2016 NFL Draft.

2015 Tampa Bay Fantasy Surprises – If I am an NFL defense facing Tampa Bay with a rookie quarterback, I am going to stack the box, stop the run, and force the Bucs to beat me through the air. It’s a logical strategy. In 2015, defenses couldn’t stop RB Doug Martin. The #3 running back in the NFL had an incredible 4.87 yard average per carry at season’s end.

2016 Free Agents that Tampa Bay Needs to Address – RB Doug Martin (re-signed), RB Bobby Rainey, DT Jacquies Smith (RFA), DT Henry Melton, CB Sterling Moore, OLB Danny Lansanah (RFA), SS Bradley McDougald (RFA), FS Keith Tandy, DT Tony McDaniel, FS Chris Conte, CB Mike Jenkins

2016 NFL Draft–
Taking a look at who the Bucs could lose in free agency, the immediate needs of Tampa Bay are on defense. The Bucs secondary was a joke in 2015, 26th worst vs the pass. Tampa Bay needs corners and a caliber safety. The Bucs also need to find some pass rushers to help out a new secondary. The best thing that Tampa Bay can do for their 2nd year QB J Winston, is get reinforcements for the O-Line. Young talent opposite WR Mike Evans might be added.  – TAMPA BAY’S 2015 DRAFT

Did You Know –
Buccaneers running back Mike Alstott (1996-2006) played his first two seasons in the NFL with his name misspelled on the back of his jersey, it read “Alsott”

Team Home Page: www.buccaneers.com

All team reports can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS

Los Angeles Rams Team Profile 2016

Los Angeles Rams Team Profile 2016 by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

The NFL football team now known as the Los Angeles Rams played in St. Louis, Missouri as the St. Louis Rams from the 1995 through the 2015 seasons. Although it seems like Jeff Fisher has been head coach for the Rams for a long time, it’s really only been since 2012. Fisher did not have one winning season in any of the 4 years in St. Louis, so maybe the change of scenery will be welcomed.

2016 Team Outlook –
Unfortunately for Fisher and the Rams, they didn’t change divisions, just cities. They still have to contend with Arizona and Seattle in the NFC West. Fisher isn’t worried about the San Francisco 49ers. Arizona won the NFC West in 2015, with a 13-3 record. Seattle was close behind with a winning record as well…..10-6. For the Rams, it’ll be tough to compete…..as of now, they don’t even know who their starting quarterback will be.

UPDATE: Rams acquired the No. 1, No. 113 and No. 177 overall picks of the 2016 draft from the Titans in exchange for picks Nos. 15, 43, 45 and 76 in this year’s draft as well as 1st- and 3rd-round picks next year.


2016 Fantasy Football Outlook –

QB– The Rams have QBs Case Keenun, Nick Foles and Sean Mannion on their roster. (Nick Foles came over from Philly in the san Bradford trade and started the 2015 season.) Los Angeles has restricted free agent Case Keenum atop their depth chart, so for now he’s projected to be the starter.” Keenum became the starting QB halfway through last season when the Rams lost faith in QB Foles. The Rams currently have the 15th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Moving up to get one of the top quarterback prospects is expensive and risky. Less than 50% of quarterbacks drafted in the 1st round, ever pan out to be successful NFL QBs…..( just ask the Cleveland Browns, if you don’t believe me.)

RB–
In the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, two selections in particular ( by two different teams) had me trying to figure out what the heck those teams were thinking. 1) Indianapolis selecting a T Y Hilton-clone WR Philip Dorsett……and 2) St. Louis’s pick of RB Todd Gurley.  The Colt’s pick is still a mystery, but after watching Gurley last year, I get it. I knew he was crazy talented, but at the time… he was injured, and at the time, the Rams were stock piled with running backs. When Gurley was drafted, the Rams already had 3 talented RBs….Tre Mason, Zac Stacy, and Benny Cunningham. In 2015, Gurley was the #5 running back in the NFL, playing in only 13 games.

WRs– In 2015, St. Louis was loaded with young, talented wide receivers. The Rams had Tavon Austin, Brian Quick, Kenny Britt, Austin Pettis and Chris Givens. Not 1 of them ended 2015 ranking in the top 50 of wide receivers in the NFL. The Rams were a mess last year at quarterback, when Foles didn’t work out, and Case Keenum had to take over. (Foles had more INTs than TDs in his 11 starts – Keenum only had 4 TD passes in his 5 starts.) On November 9, 2015, the St. Louis Rams signed Welker to a one-year, but he won’t be back. Brian Quick is a free agent. UPDATE: Brian Quick re-signed a 1-year, $1.75M deal with LAR.

TEs– 6’5″ Jared Cook led the St. Louis Rams in 2015 with 481 yards and 0 TDs. ( the Ram’s wideouts weren’t the only position to have a rough 2015 season) Lance Kendricks only had 281 yards receiving, but hauled in 2 TD receptions last season. On Feb. 19th, 2016, the Rams released TE Jared Cook. Lance Kendricks could have a bigger role following Cook’s release, but Los Angeles needs a quarterback, before we start expected good things from any Rams’ tight end.

K– Unlike a nice bottle of wine, place kicker Greg Zuerlein isn’t getting better with time. Free agent Zuerlein was a Ram 6th Round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Zuerlein started his career strong, but was a liability for the Rams especially  last season. In 2015, “Legatron” made only 66.7 % of his field goal attempts ( 20 of 30) which was dead last in the NFL. He has 6 months to turn it around if he wants to be employed in Week 1.

DEF–
If you’re going to play with the tough kids on the playground, you had better be pretty tough yourself. The NFC West has some pretty tough defenses playing in it, namely Arizona and Seattle. The Rams can say that they held there own in 2015, with the #7 defense in the NFL. The Rams were 8th vs the pass, 7th vs the run last year. FYI- Of the top 12 defenses in the NFL from 2015, all went into the post-season….except the NY Jets (#5) and the STL Rams (#7).


2015 St. Louis Fantasy Surprises –
WR Tavon Austin did not have a spectacular receiving year in 2015 as compared with other NFL wideouts, but he was rather spectacular rushing the ball. Austin had 52 rushing attempts last year, totaling 434 yards Austin with 4 turning into touchdowns. He became the first player to score at least five receiving touchdowns, four rushing touchdowns, and a punt return touchdown in a single season since Gale Sayers did so for the Chicago Bears in 1965. RB Todd Gurley is a special talent, so his 1108 rushing yards and 10 TDs isn’t surprising, but he did so playing in only 13 games, following rehab from a torn ACL.


2016 Free Agents that St. Louis Needs to Address –
QB Case Keenum (RFA), RB Benny Cunningham (RFA), WR Brian Quick, DE Eugene Sims, WR Wes Welker, K Greg Zuerlein, FB Cory Harkey, C Tim Barnes, CB Janoris Jenkins, DT Nick Fairley, CB Trumaine Johnson, DE William Hayes, LB/S Mark Barron, FS Rodney McLeod,

2016 NFL Draft –
The immediate needs of Los Angeles is getting a center and guards for their O-Line, a quarterback and they desperately need defensive backs. If the Rams lose FS Rodney Mcleod, that leaves a hole at free safety as well. The Rams have one of smallest receiving corps in the NFL. Most are 5’10”, except for Kenny Britt, so Fisher might grab a receiver with some height.- ST LOUIS’ 2015 DRAFT

Did You Know – In one of the most unique trades in professional sports history, 1971 saw Baltimore Colts owner Carroll Rosenbloom trade his entire franchise to Rams owner Robert Irsay. Essentially the two owners swapped complete organizations. No players or other personnel changed teams in the transaction.

Team Home Page: www.therams.com/

All team reports can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS

 

Seattle Seahawks Team Profile 2016

Seattle Seahawks Team Profile 2016 by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

Pete Carroll began coaching the Seattle Seahawks in 2010, and it took a couple of seasons to turn the team into his winning organization. 2010 and 2011 both ended in 7-9 seasons. In 2012 HC Carroll drafted Russell Wilson with the 12th pick in the third round (75th overall) of the 2012 NFL Draft. Since the selection, the Seahawks have had no less than 10 wins for the past 4 years.

2016 Team Outlook – The Arizona Cardinals, led by HC Bruce Arians, ended the Seattle Seahawks 2 year domination of the NFC West Division. In 2015, Arizona had a 13-3 record vs the Seahawks 10-6 record. Arizona and Seattle share their division with the L.A. Rams and the SF 49ers. The Rams and 49ers are rebuilding, and don’t even have starting quarterbacks on their rosters, so it’s likely only a 2 team battle for the division in 2016.

2016 Fantasy Football Outlook –

QB– In the 2012 NFL Draft, 5 quarterbacks were selected before Seattle grabbed Russell Wilson in the 3rd round. The most egregious was Cleveland’s selection of Brandon Weeden in Round One. Seattle has been rewarded for their savvy pick, with a franchise quarterback who has never had a losing season, 4 straight post-season appearances and one Super Bowl victory. Wilson was a top 5 quarterback in 2014 and 2015. Wilson is an excellent fantasy football QB that fantasy leaguers can wait to get in Rounds 4 and 5.

RB– On February 7, 2016, the day of Super Bowl 50, Lynch announced his retirement. Lynch battled injuries throughout the 2015 NFL season, and only played in 7 games last season. Prior to 2015, Lynch had 4 straight seasons with 1200+ rushing yards and 11+ touchdown runs. The Lynch-era in Seattle is over, and the Thomas Rawls-era as the full-time #1 RB in Seattle begins. HC Carroll has stated that RB Rawls will have to win the job in 2016, but only an injury is going to prevent Rawls from being the starter. In 2015 while filling in for RB Lynch, Rawls had 906 total yards and 5 touchdowns, making him the #26 running back in the NFL.

WRs–
On March 10, 2015, N.O. TE Jimmy Graham was traded to the Seahawks. If you were a Seattle wideout, you probably thought that your upcoming 2015 player stats….just got cut in half. What’s worst, is that this was already a run-first team to begin with. So if you had told WR Doug Baldwin on March 11th, 2015 that he was going to have the best year of his career, and that he’d end up with over 1000 yards receiving and 14 touchdown receptions….he probably would have started laughing at you. Rookie Tyler Lockett is proving to be a steal from the 2015 NFL Draft, drafted by the Seahawks in the third round. He ended 2015 as the #42 WR in the NFL and he is a premier kick returner. In his first NFL appearance, Lockett had a 103-yard kick return touchdown against the Broncos in Seattle’s preseason opener. WR Jermaine Kearse also had the best season of his career in 2015, with 685 yards and 5 TDs. Kearse is a free agent and intends to test the open market. UPDATE: Jermaine Kearse re-signed a 3-year, $13.5M deal with SEA.


TEs–
It needs to be noted that even before newly-acquired TE Jimmy Graham tore his right patellar tendon in the Seahawks’ Week 12 win over the Steelers, there seemed to be little chemistry between him and QB Russell Wilson. Graham had zero touchdown receptions from Week 3 – Week 12 and had only one game with over 100 yards receiving in 2015. It’s doubtful that Graham will be healthy enough to start the 2016 season in Week 1. Seattle has 2 other competent tight ends in Luke Willson and Cooper Helfet.

K– Steven Hauschka joins NE Stephen Gostowski as one of the most accurate and dependable place kickers in the NFL. Hauschka’s 93.5% for field goal completions in 2015 was only bested by NYG K Josh Brown, who was successful in 93.8% of his attempts.

DEF– Teams with good defenses go to the post-season. Teams with the top 2 defenses go to the Super Bowl. These statements may not be true every year, but they were in 2015. Denver, Carolina, Arizona and Seattle were the top 4 defenses in the NFL last year. Seattle was 3rd vs the pass, 3rd vs the run and only Denver allowed fewer points to opposing offenses last season.

2015 Seattle Fantasy Surprises –
RB Marshawn Lynch was drafted by the Bills in the 1st round of the 2007 NFL Draft, so 9 years as an NFL running back will take a toll on any man. Its no surprise that he finally wore down, and has ultimately decided to retire. WR Doug Baldwin and undrafted RB Thomas Rawls were the fantasy surprises for this team last season. Both are Utter-Fantasy recommendations as early adds in fantasy football drafts this September.

2016 Free Agents that Seattle Needs to Address – WR Jermaine Kearse, RB Christine Michael (RFA), RB Fred Jackson, RB Bryce Brown, QB Tarvaris Jackson, OG J.R. Sweezy, DT Ahtyba Rubin, C Patrick Lewis (RFA), P Jon Ryan, DT Demarcus Dobbs, T/G Alvin Bailey (RFA), LT Russell Okung, OLB Bruce Irvin, NT Brandon Mebane, CB Jeremy Lane

2016 NFL Draft– QB Russell Wilson was pressured a lot in 2015, and sacked a career high 45 times. Seattle needs immediate help on their offensive line to protect Wilson and reestablish the team as a run-first offense again. WR J Kearse departure will leave Seattle needing another wideout. Free agency could wipe out all of RB Rawl’s current back-ups, so Seattle needs help there. The Seahawks also needs a more dependable corner opposite LCB Richard Sherman. – SEATTLE’S 2015 DRAFT

Did You Know – RB Thomas Rawls was signed by the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent in 2015. He played college football at Michigan and Central Michigan. Rawls currently holds the record for the most single game rushing yards by a rookie running back for the Seattle Seahawks (209), as well as the most rushing yards by an undrafted rookie in his first 6 games (711).

Team Home Page: www.seahawks.com

All team reports can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS

San Francisco 49ers Team Profile 2016

San Francisco 49ers Team Profile 2016 by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

Fill in the blank……. ___________ wants out of San Francisco. You could put many current SF players here. (You knew things were bad when former 49ers Jim Harbaugh left. Harbaugh was a winning coach, he never had a losing season, he went to the Super Bowl in 2012, and then left for the college ranks in 2015.)  Jim Tomsula lasted one 2015 season as the 49ers head coach, and 2016 starts the “Chip Kelly” era (hired on January 14, 2016.)  This has disaster written all over it, at least for 2016.

2016 Team Outlook–
  San Francisco’s 5-11 season in 2015 was their worst since 2007. ( also 5-11 ) The 49ers play in the NFC West, with Seattle, Arizona and L.A. Ram. The last time I looked, those 3 other teams were pretty good. HC Chip Kelly would get “Coach of the Century” if he could win this division, this year.

2016 Fantasy Football Outlook–

QB–  Things got so bad for QB Colin Kaepernick last year, that in November, 2015 he was benched Week 11 and Blaine Gabbert started against the Falcons. It was reported that even Colin Kaepernick’s teammates wanted him benched so that he could “clear his head.” “Kaep” most likely won’t be with this team in 2016, and teams around the league are content to wait it out until April 1 to see if the 49ers cut Kaepernick before his salary becomes guaranteed. Gabbert is a back-up quarterback, so the 49ers are currently without a starting QB.

RBs– Carlos Hyde only played on 7 games last year, but he would not have had a great year even if he had stayed healthy. With all the kaos surrounding this team, the poor quarterback play, and a hideously bad offensive line, it would have been hard for any running back to put up big numbers. Hyde had 470 yards rushing last season, and that was tops for any SF RB. In March of 2015,  49ers signed RB Reggie Bush to a 1-yr $2.5 million contract, with $500,000 guaranteed, and a $500,000 signing bonus. They got 8 carries for 28 yards for that brilliant investment. UPDATE: Shaun Draughn re-signed 1-year deal with SF.

WRs– Anquin Boldan is one name that you can write in that blank above. In 2015 Boldin had his lowest receiving yards last season since 2004. The free agent is going to get his wish of getting out of San Francisco and says that “he wants to play for a team that is a Super Bowl contender”. (I don’t blame him, but doesn’t everyone?) After Anquan is officially gone, the 49er’s receiving corps are left with Torrey Smith, Bruce Ellington and Quinton Patton. This is a team for fantasy football owners to steer clear of next September.

TEs– There is actually a 49er offensive player ( other than the place kicker) who ranked among the top 32 at their position. Vance McDonald was the #31 tight end in the NFL last season, with 326 yards and 3 TDs. He has a nice 2 week stretch to thank for most of those stats, in Week 11 & Week 12. McDonald had 65 yards and 1 TD, and 71 yards and 1 TD respectively in those 2 weeks. UPDATE: TE Garrett Celek re-signed 4-year, $14M deal with SF.

K– K Phil Dawson is 41 years old and still kicking. He is on a two-year contract that he signed in March of 2014 and he finished 2015 as the #24 place kicker in the NFL. He went 24 for 27 in field goal attempts.

DEF– The San Francisco went from the #5 defense in 2014 ( 4th vs the pass- 10th vs the run) to the #27 defense in the 2015 ( 30th vs the pass- 23rd vs the run.) This wasn’t just a spiral down for this defense, but a spiral down and flush. The San Francisco’s defense was 4th worst at giving up points to opposing offenses.

2014 San Francisco Fantasy Surprises–
Granted, it seems like a long time ago, but in 2012, QB Colin Kaepernick took his team to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans against the Baltimore Ravens. In 2013, Kaepernick led his team to two victories in the post-season…..only one game away from another Super Bowl appearance. It’s surprising that the #12 QB in 2013…the #16 QB in 2014….was the #33 QB in the NFL in 2015, and benched in Week 11.

2015 Free Agents that San Francisco Needs to Address–
WR Anquan Boldin, RB Shaun Draughn, RB DuJuan Harris, RB Reggie Bush, (RFA), K Phil Dawson, ILB Michael Wilhoite (RFA), NT Ian Williams, OG Alex Boone,DE Tony Jerod-Eddie

2015 NFL Draft– The San Francisco 49ers have so many glaring weaknesses, that it would almost be faster to write what positions they don’t need to address in this upcoming draft. For starters however, they need a quarterback for the future. The niners need offensive line reinforcements, wide receivers, a legit shutdown cornerback, defensive linebackers, etc. ect. etc. – SAN FRANCISCO’S 2015 DRAFT

Did You Know– 
During his senior year of high school Joe Montana was offered full ride scholarships from North Carolina State University as well as the University of North Carolina… to play basketball.

Team Home Page: www.49ers.com

All team reports can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS

San Diego Chargers Team Profile 2016

San Diego Chargers Team Profile 2016 by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

After starting out 2-2 in 2015, the Chargers went 2-10 for the remainder of the NFL season. The team had its worst season since 2003 with that 4–12 record. Mike McCoy became the head coach of the San Diego Chargers on January 15, 2013, and had winning seasons in 2013 and 2014.

2016 Team Outlook– The Chargers have had to watch the Denver Broncos win the AFC West Division for 5 years in a row now. QB Peyton Manning is about to announce his retirement, so every team has a shot at winning the division in 2016. With an aging quarterback, the Chargers will treat this year as the “must-win” season, before the rebuilding starts in 2017.

2016 Fantasy Football Outlook–

QB– Philip Rivers 160 consecutive starts ranks 4th all-time among NFL quarterbacks. and for active QBs, only trails NYG QB Eli Manning. In early 2015, there were speculations that Rivers wanted out of San Diego, but he ultimately signed a four-year contract extension on Aug. 17, 2015 with the team that will keep him with the team through 2019. He was the #9 QB for 2015. UPDATE: Kellen Clemens re-signed 1-year, $1.065M deal with SD.

RBs– “Out” with RB Ryan Mathews (who was drafted by the Chargers in the 1st round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Chargers-12th overall)…..and “In” with Melvin Gordon (who was drafted by the Chargers in the 1st round of the 2015 NFL Draft-15th overall.) In a crowded backfield now in Philadelphia, Matthews ended 2015 as the #33 overall running back with 685 total yards and 7 TDs. In an uncrowded backfiled, Gordon ended 2015 as the #51 overall running back with 833 total yards and 0 TDs. The Chargers fell to 30th and 31st ranked run offense, over the past two years. Gordon- Dec. 12th, 2015….”I’m going to be better. This whole team is going to be better. I can promise you that. This record will not be the same next year. I promise you.”

WRs– In 2015, Utter-Fantasy wrote…”the Chargers have no shortage of talented wide receivers on their roster. For fantasy owners, they may have too many WRs and TEs catching passes from QB Rivers.” Oh, what a difference a year can make! Injuries, free agency, old age and retirement has turned a crowded San Diego receiving corps into an almost empty one. Every tight end for the Chargers is headed for free agency, and the only dependable wide receiver San Diego has right now is Keenan Allen. UPDATE: former CLEV Brown Travis Benjamin signed a 4-year, $24M deal with SD.

TEs– TE Antonio Gates, TE Ladarius Green and TE David Johnson are all free agents. Gates will likely re-sign with San Diego, which is good, he should eventually retire a Charger. Gates is 36 years old however, and it’ll be tough for him to be productive for all 16 weeks in 2016. Ladarius Green hasn’t been the tight end San Diego had hoped he’d be, so they will likely let him walk. There are some interesting tight ends available in 2016 Free Agency, and NFL.com has the top 2 prospects in the 2016 NFL Draft as Hunter Henry TE, Arkansas and Nick Vannett TE, Ohio State. UPDATE: Antonio Gates re-signed a 2-year, $11M deal with SD and Ladarius Green signed a 4-year, $20M deal with PITT.

K– Nick Novak entered 2015 as the San Diego place kicker, but undrafted free agent Josh Lambo won the Chargers’ job in early September. Lambo ranked #19 at season’s end, hitting 26 of 32 field goal attempts. ( Novak went onto to kick for Houston, playing in 13 games)

DEF– San Diego was near the bottom as a defense in 2015 ( ranked #28) while Denver, who is their in AFC West Division, was #1. If San Diego wants to take advantage of a wide open division that is any team’s to win in 2016, they cannot be #32 vs the run….again. The San Diego defense needs a major Meg Ryan-ish face lift on their defensive line and in their secondary.

2015 San Diego Fantasy Surprises–
RB Melvin Gordon was high on most fantasy football owner’s draft board in the fall of 2015. The rookie running back was being drafted before Todd Gurley, Lamar Miller, Latavius Murray, Doug Martin and I could name a lot more. He ended the season with 0 touchdowns, and ended many fantasy football owner’s chances of winning a fantasy championship in 2015. The NFL suspended Chargers TE Antonio Gates for the 1st 4 games of the 2015 season, for violating the league’s PED policy. This was 6’6″ TE Ladarius Green’s opportunity to take over the position and score big for fantasy football owners. He did not.


2016 Free Agents that San Diego Needs to Address–
  TE Antonio Gates, TE Ladarius Green, TE/FB David Johnson, RT Joe Barksdale, SS Jahleel Addae (RFA), DE Ricardo Mathews, DE Kendall Reyes, OT Chris Hairston, FS Eric Weddle, CB Patrick Robinson

2016 NFL Draft– The immediate needs of San Diego are fixing their defense and help on their O-Line. The Chargers finished with the 25th overall defense in 2014 and got even worst in 2015. San Diego needs a safety and they will need 2 new corners, especially if they lose free agent CB Patrick Robinson. The Chargers will likely sign free agent wide out talent, but they could also address the position after first selecting players for their defense – SAN DIEGO’S 2015 DRAFT

Did You Know– The San Diego Chargers are one of just five NFL teams that  have never drafted a Heisman Trophy winner in the NFL Draft.

Team Home Page: www.chargers.com

All team reports can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS

Pittsburgh Steelers Team Profile 2016

Pittsburgh Steelers Team Profile 2016 by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

Mike Tomlin became the Pittsburgh Steelers head coach on January 22, 2007, which will make 2016 his 10th year. Tomlin has never had a losing season with Pittsburgh. Despite key players suffering serious injuries, the Steelers had another winning season in 2015, with a 10-6 record. It wasn’t enough to top Cincinnati, who won the division with an even better record of 12-4.

2016 Team Outlook – Over the past 10 years, Baltimore has won the AFC North Division 3 times, Cincinnati has won it 3 times and Pittsburgh 4 times. The team not mentioned here is Cleveland. It’s been 29 years since the Browns won an NFL Division title ( 1989- and it was the AFC Central then.) Pittsburgh and Cincinnati have been taking turns winning the division since 2013…so with the Bengal’s title in 2015, the edge goes to Pittsburgh in 2016.

2016 Fantasy Football Outlook-

QB– The Steelers got into trouble in 2015, then same way the Dallas Cowboys did. When their star quarterback went down, there wasn’t a strong back up quarterback on the roster that could carry the team. Ben Roethlisberger only played in 12 games last season, and only 13 in 2012. He’s a big quarterback who often takes big hits. He has been increasingly prone to injury, but when healthy, Big Ben is a top 5 QB in the NFL.

RBs– For some fantasy football owners, Le’Veon Bell’s two game suspension was a blessing in disguise. (reduced by the NFL from a three-game suspension for being a first-time offender of league policy) Many avoided selecting LeVeon Bell in fantasy football drafts because of the suspension, and unfortunately for Bell, he suffered a season-ending torn MCL in the game vs Bengals. In Week 9, RB DeAngelo Williams became the #1 Waiver Wire pick up. –Week 9 Waiver Wire– ( (While Bell was on suspension Weeks 1 & 2, Williams proved he could fill in with 224 total yards and 3 TDs) Williams ended 2015 as the #4 RB in the NFL, and will return as Bell’s back up in 2016. ( On Mar. 1 st , 2016, LeVeon Bell had been cleared to begin running.)

WRs– Antonio Brown was drafted by the Steelers in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft. 21 wide receivers were selected in that draft, before Antonio Brown was selected by the Steelers with the 195th overall in the 6th round. 3 wide outs from the Pittsburgh Steelers ranked in the top 40 in 2015. Brown was #1, Martavis Bryant ranked #32 and Markus Wheaton was #40. (Antonio Brown was the #1 WR in 2014 as well) UPDATE: NFL suspended Steelers WR Martavis Bryant a minimum of one year for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy.

TEs– Heath Miller, who QB Ben Roethlisberger has called the best tight end in the NFL, has called it quits after 11 years in the NFL. On February 19, 2016, Miller announced his retirement from football and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Jesse James, drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 5th round of the 2015 NFL Draft, will likely be the starting tight end for Pittsburgh Week 1, 2016. UPDATE: Steelers sign former Charger TE Ladarius Green

K– Shaun Suisham missed all of 2015 with a torn ACL. Suisham was replaced by Chris Boswell, who did well for Pittsburgh, converting 29-of-32 field goal attempts. His 90.6% field goal percentage was 7th best in the NFL. Both Suisham and Boswell will compete for the position in 2016.

DEF– In 2015, it was a whole lot easier to pass against Pittsburgh, than it was to run against them. Pittsburgh’s 2015 group of corners has one of the weakest in the NFL, and now depleted due to CB William Gay, CB Antwon Blake, and CB Brandon Boykin all free agents. The Steelers were 5th vs the run, and held teams to under 95 yards rushing on average per game.

2015 Pittsburgh Fantasy Surprises– If you grabbed RB DeAngelo Williams in  fantasy football drafts last fall, either as RB LeVeon Bell’s handcuff or simply as  a starter for the first 2 games of the season ( Bell was suspended) you were rewarded with the #4 running back for 2015. Williams has 1174 total yards and 11 TDs. Last year QB Roethlisberger was talking up WR Markus Wheaton as a player ready for a breakout season. Many fantasy football owners fed on this, and selected Wheaton over WR Bryant in their fantasy drafts. Bryant and Wheaton’s numbers were very close at season’s end, but Bryant played in 5 less games.

2016 Free Agents that Pittsburgh Needs to Address–  QB Bruce Gradkowski, QB Michael Vick, RB Jordan Todman, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, LT Kelvin Beachum, OG Ramon Foster, CB Brandon Boykin, NT Steve McLendon, CB William Gay, SS Will Allen, ILB Sean Spence, CB Antwon Blake, FS Robert Golden, DE Cam Thomas

2016 NFL Draft– Pittsburgh’s immediate needs are addressing most positions on defense, especially at cornerbacks and safety. The Steelers did not have a legit No. 1 corner going into 2015, and must get at least one for 2016. Protecting QB Roethlisberger starters with their O-Line and they have holes, thanks to free agency. The Steelers also need a quarterback to groom and back up Roethlisberger. PITTSBURGH’S 2015 DRAFT

Did You Know– Steelers’ fullback Rocky Bleier was drafted in 1968 and played his rookie season for the team before being drafted again, this time by the United State Government, and sent to Vietnam. After being wounded in Vietnam, Bleier had trouble even walking without pain yet came back to work his way into NFL shape and star for the Steelers through the 1980 season.

Team Home Page: www.steelers.com

All team reports can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS

Philadelphia Eagles Team Profile 2016

Philadelphia Eagles Team Profile 2016 by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

After only 2 seasons as the Philly head coach, Chip Kelly was fired. His offenses were regularly at the top of the league, but his defenses were not. He wasn’t a “players’ coach,” and he didn’t get along well with management. “OK” with San Francisco apparently, who hired Kelly as their head coach on January 14, 2016. Four days later, the Philadelphia Eagles announced the hiring of Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson as their team’s new head coach.

2016 Team Outlook– All four teams in the NFC East has won the division at least twice in the past 10 years. It’s a very balanced and competitive division, and if history has any say in 2016, it will be Philadelphia’s turn to take the NFC East title. ( not a prediction! )

2016 Fantasy Football Outlook–

QB– On March 10, 2015, the Philadelphia Eagles traded QB Nick Foles, a 2015 fourth-round pick and a 2016 second-round pick to the ST L Rams, in exchange for QB Sam Bradford and a 2015 fifth-round pick. Philly also re-signed QB Mark Sanchez. Bradford is a capable quarterback, when he can stay healthy. Since being drafted #1 overall by the Rams in the 2010 NFL Draft, Bradford has only played in all 16 games twice. On March2 , 2016, Bradford signed a new two-year deal that can pay him up to $40 million- Read more

RBs– In 2015, Utter-Fantasy warned fantasy football owners to avoid drafting DeMarco Murray early. –Eagles Profile 2015– “Utter-Fantasy has dropped his fantasy value and ranks him down to #17 RB.” The reason was, Murray didn’t have that gigantic Dallas O-Line now making him holes, and there were 2 other backs in Philly also part of the offense. DeMarco Murray ended 2015 as the #18 running back. New head coach Doug Pederson is coming from KC, where a one-back offense is primarily installed. It will be interesting what this team looks like with Peterson’s stamp on it. UPDATE: DeMarco Murray signed with TENN.

WRs– After losing WR DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, the Eagles flew with  Jordan Matthews, Riley Cooper, Josh Huff and rookie Nelson Agholor. The Eagles selected 6’0″ WR Nelson Agholor with their 1st pick in the 1st round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Eagles released WR Riley Cooper, so Philadelphia is hoping for a big second-year leap for WR Nelson Agholor in 2016. Eagles #1 wide receiver Jordan Matthews was selected in the 2nd round of the 2014 NFL Draft, and was the #19 WR for 2015 with 997 yards and 8 TDs. UPDATE: Rueben Randle signed a 1-year deal w/ PHIL.

TEs– In the final 5 games of 2105, tight end Zach Ertz put up more yards receiving and touchdown receptions, than he did in the first 11 games combined. On Jan 25, 2016,  Zack Ertz signed a five-year, $42.5 million extension through 2021, making him the fourth-highest paid tight end in the league. One day later, the Eagles signed TE Brent Celek to a three-year, $13 million extension through 2018. Both tight ends will have importance in the 2016 eagle offense.

K- Eagle’s place kicker Cody Parkey’s 2015 season was cut short when he tore “all three” groin muscles in Week 3. He was replaced by former-Dolphin Caleb Sturgis, who made 18 or 22 field goals for the remainder of the season. Parkey should return as the Eagle kicker if he can get healthy.

DEF– One has to think that there were members of the Philadelphia defense that were damn glad to see former HC Chip Kelly go. Because of the fast pace of the Eagle’s offense, there were times that the Philly defense was on the field for seemingly hours during a game. When you’re on the field that long, you get tired…..which might be why this defense was 28th vs the run in 2015. On Jan. 19, 2016, HC Doug Pederson announced that Jim Schwartz had been hired as his defensive coordinator.


2015 Philadelphia Fantasy Surprises–
It isn’t often that you see at a season’s end, 3 running backs from the same team, all ranking in the top 42 among RBs for that year. DeMarco Murray ended 2015 as the #18 RB…..Ryan Matthews as the #33…..and Darren Sproles as the #42. That means that each of these 3 RBs saw a lot of action. Only HC Peterson knows how these guys will be used in 2016 (none are free agents) but this Eagle team will likely be as different on offense and defense as before and after pictures of Michael Jackson.

2016 Free Agents that Philadelphia Needs to Address– QB Sam Bradford, DE Cedric Thornton, SS Walter Thurmond III, CB Nolan Carroll, OG Matt Tobin (RFA), CB E.J. Biggers

2016 NFL Draft– With the 28th worst defense vs the run last year, the immediate needs of Philadelphia is depth on their defense line. The Eagles were 14th vs the pass, but that could get worst, if they don’t acquire a couple dependable defensive backs. The Eagle’s may keep the receiving corps growing with another wide out to replace Riley Cooper and a successor to QB Sam Bradford is a good idea. PHILADELPHIA’S 2015 DRAFT

Did You Know-
Former Eagles head coach Dick Vermeil owns the distinction of being named Coach of the Year at four different levels; high school, junior college, NCAA Division I, and the NFL

Team Home Page: www.philadelphiaeagles.com

All team reports can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS

 

Oakland Raiders Team Profile 2016

Oakland Raiders Team Profile 2016 by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

Jack Del Rio is heading into his 2nd season as head coach of the Oakland Raiders. Del Rio was hired in January 2015….previously the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2003 until 2011. Did you know Del Rio was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays of Major League Baseball out of high school in 1981? Later drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the 3rd round of the 1985 NFL Draft. Jack hopes to improve on the Raider’s 7-9 record from 2015.

2016 Team Outlook –AFC West Division might be the hardest division to predict in 2016. The Raiders battle San Diego, Kansas City and the Denver Broncos. With Denver starting over with a new quarterback ( likely Brock Osweiler) and Oakland finally jelling as a team, any of these four teams could rise to top and represent the AFC West next year in the playoffs.


2016 Fantasy Football Outlook –


QB–
Cleveland took Manziel in Round One of the 2014 NFL Draft, while Oakland waited until Round Two, selecting QB Derek Carr ( and Oakland still has their quarterback.)  Carr did not fall into the proverbial “Sophomore Slump” in 2015, on the contrary, he was even better. As a rookie, Carr ended the year as the #20 QB in the NFL with 3270 passing yards, 21 TDs and 12 INTs. In 2015, Carr ended the year as the #14 QB in the NFL with 3987 passing yards, 32 TDs and 13 INTs.

RBs– One game in 2014, bolted RB Latavius Murray from the bench, into the starting line-up in 2015. On only 4 carries in the game versus the Kansas City in Week 12 of the 2014, Latavius Murray had 112 rushing yards and 2 rushing touchdowns, including a long 90-yard touchdown run. Murray played in all 16 games in 2015, ended as the #10 running back for the season. On December 24, Murray became the first Raider to reach the 1000-yard mark rushing, since Darren McFadden in 2010. His work was huge in 2015…so look for the Raiders to concentrate on a running back to spell Murray more in 2016.


WRs–
Amari Cooper was the first wide receiver taken in the 2015 NFL Draft. Oakland had the 4th overall pick, and selected the Crimson Tide wide out over WR West Virginia’s Kevin White. (White was later picked 7th overall by the Chicago Bears, but never played in 2015.) Cooper was an legitimate weapon for the Raiders from the get-go, and his success helped open up the field for Michael Crabtree, who had an even better 2015 than Cooper did. Crabtrees 85 catches and 9 TDs were career highs. WRs Andre Holmes and Rod Streater, who played behind Cooper and Crabtree, are free agents in 2016.

TEs–
For the first time in 3 seasons, TE Mychal Rivera wasn’t the top tight end in Oakland. In 2015, rookie Clive Walford was the preferred target by QB Derek Carr, with 28 grabs for 329 yards and 3 TDs. Walford was the 3rd overall pick by the Raiders, who used the 2015 NFL Draft to surround QB Carr with weapons. Walford should have a stronger 2nd year, with Mychal Rivera right behind him.


K-
Since Sebastian “Seabass” Janikowski’s 2015 season was a relatively boring one, how about if I just write some of the records that he currently holds. Longest field goal in overtime: 57 yards…Most field goals in one quarter: 4…Most field goals of 60 yards or more in a career: 2…Most field goals attempted of 60 or more yards in a career: 8…Most field goals of 50 yards or more in one game: 3.

DEF– HC Jack Del Rio is a defense-minded coach having played linebacker in the NFL for 11 years. When with Jacksonville, the Jags finished the season with the second-ranked rush defense and sixth best overall defense. With Ken Norton Jr on board, the Raider’s defense went from #26 in 2014, to #15 in 2015. FS Charles Woodson has retired, putting an end to a career that began in 1998, so Oakland needs lots of help for their pass defense. UPDATE:
<strong>Raiders signed formerly Chief CB Sean Smith</strong> to a four-year, $40 million contract.

2015 Oakland Fantasy Surprises – Michael Crabtree was one of those “never-again” guys. Never again would I waste a fantasy football draft pick on that guy.  In 2013 he played in only 5 games for the 49ers, with 284 receiving yards and 1 TD for the year. 2014 wasn’t much better. 698 receiving yards and 4 TDs. But the change of scenery was good for Crabtree, and he had chemistry with QB Carr. He played in 15 games, he had 923 yards with 9 TDs and ended 2015 as the #20 WR in the NFL. I hope he keeps it up.


2016 Free Agents that Oakland Needs to Address –
WR Andre Holmes, WR Rod Streater, QB Matt McGloin (RFA), G/C Tony Bergstrom, P Marquette King, CB Neiko Thorpe (RFA), FS Larry Asante, SS Taylor Mays, T/G Khalif Barnes,  LT Donald Penn, OLB/DE Aldon Smith, T/G J’Marcus Webb, OLB Benson Mayowa (RFA)

2016 NFL Draft–
The immediate needs of Oakland is all over on their defense. FS Woodson’s retirement and previous draft busts forces Oakland to get two new starting safeties. A young slot corner is needed and also help on the defensive line. Oakland might use a late round pick on a running back.- OAKLAND’S 2015 DRAFT

Did You Know –
The Raiders have had three players play for them named Napoleon. Napoleon McCallum, Napoleon Kaufman, and Napoleon Harris

Team Home Page: www.raiders.com

All team reports can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS

New York Jets Team Profile 2016

New York Jets Team Profile 2016 by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

Todd Bowles became the 18th head coach in Jet’s team history on January 14, 2015. Bowles worked as a defensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals in 2013 and 2014. Usually, a new head coach is given a pass on his 1st year, to organize the team and make it his own ( afterall, the previous guy was fired for likely creating a bad team.) But HC Todd Bowles didn’t need a pass, proving that he was the right man for the job with a 10-6 record in 2015.

2016 Team Outlook – I am not a believer in running up the score, when you’re beating the crap out of another team. But some purists will say…”Hey, if the team doesn’t like the score….then stop them!” Same can be said about the AFC East Division. If the New York Jets, Buffalo and Miami don’t like New England winning all the time…..then stop them!”

2016 Fantasy Football Outlook –

QB– Ryan Fitzpatrick may have finally found a home. Fitzpatrick was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the 7th round of the 2005 NFL Draft and he has bounced around the league playing for 6 different teams. Those teams are the St. Louis Rams, the Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans and the New York Jets. Fitzpatrick finished the year with 3,905 passing yards, 31 touchdowns with 15 interceptions, breaking Vinny Testaverde’s 1998 franchise record for most touchdown passes in a season. In Week 17 of 2015, the Jets were eliminated from playoff contention despite finishing the year with a 10-6 record. FYI- Fitzpatrick has the highest Wonderlic Test score ever achieved among NFL quarterbacks.

RBs– Chris Ivory played in 15 games for the Jets in 2015, and finished the season as the #7 running back in the NFL. He ranked near the top in rushing attempts, proving to be durable and reliable. Ivory is a free agent this year, and is expected to test the open market. If the Jets can’t re-sign him, the team is hurting because their other productive back, RB Bilal Powell, is also a free agent. UPDATE: Jets lose RB Ivory ( to Jacksonville) …but sign former Bear’s RB Matt Forte…..Bilal Powell (resigned).  Khiry Robinson signed a 1-year deal w/ NYJ.

WRs– There are a few wide receiver tandems in the NFL, that make “receiver-weak” teams drool. Demaryius Thomas/ Emmanuel Sanders in Denver….Allen Robinson Allen Hurns in Jacksonville…and Brandon Marshall/ Eric Decker in New York. No tandem produced more in 2015 than Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. The pair is just what the doctor ordered for the offense, for Jet’s fans and for resurrecting QB Ryan Fitzpatrick’s career. UPDATE: Jeremy Ross signed a 1-year deal w/ NYJ.

TEs– Two words that can murder a tight ends stats…..Chan Gailey
. Prior to 2015, the Jets had at least one tight end rank in the top 30 for the past 4 years. In 2015, TE Kellen Davis was the #83 Te in the NFL, beating out fellow Jet;s TE Jeff Cumberland at #84. The tight end position not a big part of offenses designed by OC Chan Gailey, who runs the most four-wide sets in the NFL.

K– On Nov. 10, 2015…Jets placed K Nick Folk on injured reserve with a quadriceps injury, ending his season. Former Texan Randy Bullock took over kicking duties for the rest of the season. Folk should be back in 2016.

DEF– New head coach Todd Bowles is defensive minded, and improved the 21st ranking in 2014….to 5th best defense in 2015. The Jets were #1 vs the run. The head coach probably didn’t like being 9th vs the pass however. On Feb. 22,2016 the Jets released CB Antonio Cromartie.

2015 New York Jets Fantasy Surprises
–By season’s end of  2015, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick ranked ahead of GB QB Aaron Rodgers, MIA QB Ryan Tannehill and ATL QB Matt Ryan. Fitzpatrick’s 3905 passing yards with 31 TDs landed him #11 for last year. RB Bilal Powell was an untapped resource for the Jets, until the latter part of the season. Powell is a talented pass-catching back who had 25 receptions for 243 yards and 2 TDs in the final 4 games of 2105.


2016 Free Agents that New York Needs to Address –
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, RB Chris Ivory, RB Bilal Powell (resigned), TE Kellen Davis, WR Chris Owusu, RB Stevan Ridley, K Randy Bullock, DE Muhammad Wilkerson, NT Damon Harrison, DE Leger Douzable, ILB Erin Henderson, ILB Demario Davis, OLB Calvin Pace, OG Willie Colon, CB Darrin Walls, ILB Jamari Lattimore, SS Antonio Allen

2016 NFL Draft– QB Ryan Fitpatrick is 34 years old and that means, the Jets have to protect him ( O-Line help in the draft) and they have to think about tomorrow, by drafting a quarterback to groom. Even if the Jets sign one of their free agent running backs, it’s time to draft a young guy. Look for the Jets to select an outside linebacker and address their secondary. – NEW YORK JET’S DRAFT

Did You Know –During his five seasons with the Jets, quarterback Mark Sanchez threw 68 touchdown passes. They were caught by 22 different players.

Team Home Page: www.newyorkjets.com

All team reports can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS

New York Giants Team Profile 2016

New York Giants Team Profile 2016 by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

After 12 years of being the New York Giants head coach, ol’ grumpy pants is out ( forced to “resign”). Tom Coughlin’s run in New York was a good one, having only 4 losing seasons out of the 12, and two Super Bowl rings to show for it. On Jan. 15, 2016, the Giants announced that Ben McAdoo will become the 17th head coach in franchise history. McAdoo, 38, was the team’s offensive coordinator the previous two seasons.

2016 Team Outlook– The Giants are joined in the NFC East by Dallas, Philadelphia and Washington. This division was won in 2015 with a 9-7 record by Washington. Dallas will get QB Romo back, and if he can stay healthy, the Cowboys won’t have another 4-12 season repeat. It’s anyone’s division to win in 2016.

2016 Fantasy Outlook–

QB–
In 2013, Eli Manning had a tough time of it, throwing for 3818 yards and only 18 touchdowns….#21 QB for that season ( that was the year Peyton Manning had a career year of 5477 yards passing and 55 touchdowns.) Drafting wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr in the 2014 NFL Draft, will solve the problems of almost any quarterback. With Beckham to throw to, Manning rebounded in 2014 and 2015. He became the #8 QB for 2014, and #7 in 2015, throwing for a combined 65 TDs over the past two seasons.

RBs- Ol’ Grumpy Pants Coughlin definitely made fantasy football owners grumpy in 2015, by taking the hated RBBC approach to his offense. In the first half of the season, the Giants had 4 running backs all getting touches. Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams, and Shane Vereen saw action every week, and New York added RB Orleans Darkwa into the mix in Week 7. It wasn’t until the end of the season that the Giants finally got it….”Letting a running back get hot”. In Week 15, Rashad Jennings rushed for 107 yards and 1 TD, and in Week 17, 170 yards and one touchdown on 27 carries. Hopefully HC Ben McAdoo finds himself a workhorse for 2016…. fantasy football owners hope so anyways.

WRs– If you want to know how to get under WR Odell Beckham’s skin, watch the 2015 Week 15 game vs DB Josh Norman and the Panthers. We all know Beckham can trash talk, but Norman was pushing Beckham’s buttons the entire game, and Beckham lost it. (committing two personal fouls and launching himself into Panthers CB Josh Norman’s head at the end of a play.) The “Meltdown” cost Beckham a game suspension in Week 16, and some fantasy football owners a championship. Beckham will learn from this. The Giants don’t seem keen on keeping Victor Cruz around, nor free agent Rueban Randle. There will be new WR faces in New York for 2016. UPDATE: Cruz was re-signed with a paycut, and Rueban Randle signed with PHIL.

TEs–
The Giants have both of their tight ends peeking at free agency right now…. TE Daniel Fells and restricted free agent TE Larry Donnell. If the Giants don’t resign these guys, there are some interesting names that are also free agents…
Antonio Gates, Ladarius Green, Dwayne Allen, Vernon Davis, Coby Fleener, Ben Watson, Zach Mille, Marcedes Lewis, Jared Cook.

K– Josh Brown had a great 2015 season, not bad timing for someone headed for free agency. Brown was tied for #1 in field goal percentage hitting 93.8% last year ( tied with SEA Steve Hauschka). I suspect New York tries hard to re-sign him.

DEF– The Giants cannot challenge in the NFC East against Dallas, Washington and Philadelphia, if they have the 30th worst defense again. New York was 28th vs the pass, and that doesn’t bode well versus wide receivers in their division such as DAL Dez Bryant, WASH DeSean Jackson or PHIL Jordan Matthews. A revamped defense is coming.

2015 New York Giants Fantasy Surprises– At the end of the season, New York finally let a running back get more more than 7 carries, and Rashad Jennings did what he was brought in to do. WR Rueban Randle was a name with “break out season” always attached to it, but Utter-Fantasy was never on board with that. Still, he ended 2015 as the #29 WR in the NFL for 2015. It will be interesting to see where he, as a free agent, lands in 2016

2016 Free Agents that New York Needs to Address– WR Rueben Randle, K Josh Brown, WR Hakeem Nicks, TE Daniel Fells, TE Larry Donnell (RFA), DT Cullen Jenkins, CB Trumaine McBride, SS Brandon Meriweather, MLB Jasper Brinkley, C/G Dallas Reynolds, DE George Selvie, CB Jayron Hosley, FS Craig Dahl, DE Jason Pierre-Paul, CB Prince Amukamara, DE Robert Ayers,

2016 NFL Draft– As far as their defense goes, it would be quicker to write where the Giants don’t need help from this 2016 NFL Draft. The Giants receiving corps  needs a big make over, behind Odell Beckham. Victor Cruz can’t stay healthy and Rueban Randle likely won’t be back.- NEW YORK GIANT’S 2015 DRAFT

Did You know–
Bill Parcells is the only person to have coached both of the NFL’s New York franchises, the Giants and the Jets. BONUS Did You know– Neither the New York Giants or the New York Jets play games in New York, they both play in New Jersey.

Team Home Page: www.giants.com


All team reports
can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS

New Orleans Saints Team Profile 2016

New Orleans Saints Team Profile 2016 by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

Both HC Sean Payton (currently the highest paid head coach in the NFL) and QB Drew Brees (currently the 5th highest paid QB in the NFL) are both up for new contracts. Meanwhile, the Saints have had 3 losing seasons out of the past 4. Coach Sean Payton, who has two years left on his existing deal, said publicly that he’s “close to finalizing” a new contract with the Saints.

2016 Team Outlook- The Saints play in the NFC South, and they might have been the favorite to win the division in 2016, if it weren’t for that one other team….the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers ended the season 15-1 and then went onto Super Bowl 50. New Orleans, Tampa Bay and Atlanta won’t be able to put the same caliber of team on the field as Carolina will in 2016, so expect a repeat for the Panthers (although not another 15-1 season.) The Saint’s fire to win seems to have been extinguished years ago, so another 7-9 season is not unfathomable.

2016 Fantasy Football Outlook-

QB– In 2012, “The Saints offered Brees more than the $18.5 million and a $30 million signing bonus….the 2nd-highest amount of guaranteed money in NFL history in the first 3 years of his deal. Brees countered by demanding $23 million per season.” (Because Brees wouldn’t sign, the Saints couldn’t franchise all-pro guard Carl Nicks, who left to go to Tampa. Cornerback Tracy Porter and Robert Meachem both left as well.) Brees would cash in for 5 years and $100 million in the middle of July. He’ll no doubt be demanding another huge contract.

RBs– Mark Ingram was having a pretty good year, until he suffered a torn rotator cuff in his left shoulder in Week 12, and placed on injured reserve. Even missing the last 4 games of the season, Ingram ended 2015 as the #15 running back in the NFL. (He should be fully healthy for the start of OTAs.) RB Tim Hightower was a beast taking over for Ingram in the last past of the season. New Orleans GM Mickey Loomis: said in a recent radio interview…”the Saints will see ‘real C.J. Spiller’ in 2016″. Don’t believe it. Fantasy football owners stuck a fork in Spiller long ago. UPDATE: Tim Hightower re-signed 1-year deal w/ NO.

WRs– The Saints have a lot of young talent in their receiving corps, starting with Brandin Cooks (2014 NFL Draft) and Brandon Coleman (UFA). Cooks bounced back from an injury his rookie season, to end 2015 as the #12 WR in the NFL. He had 1140 receiving yards and 9 TDs. 6’6″ Coleman will replace long-time Saint WR M Colston, who was released Feb. 29th, 2016. 23 year old Willie Snead finished his sophomore season with 69 catches for 984 yards and 3 TDs.

TEs–
Josh Hill was suppose to be the heir-apparent to Jimmy Graham ( traded to Seattle) but TE Ben Watson wasn’t to be denied in 2015. Watson finished the 2015 NFL season as the #7 tight end, with 825 yards and 6 TDs. Ben Watson is now a free agent. Saints GM Mickey Loomis says the team still has high hopes for restricted free agent TE Josh Hill for 2016. UPDATE: Saints ink TE former Colt Coby Fleener to a 5 yr deal

K– Over the past couple seasons, the Saints have had a few place kickers working for them, but none have really worked out. Shayne Graham kicked in 2014. New Orleans started with Zach Hocker in 2015, but converted just 9-of-13 field goals and was released. The Saints then signed K Kai Forbath, who’s now a free agent.


DEF–
Good Bye DC Rob Ryan and good riddance. In two full years as the Saint’s defensive coordinator, the defense ranked 31st and 32nd. By far, the worst in the NFL. It’s doubtful that he would have gotten another job as a defensive coordinator in the NFL, but his brother ( BUFF HC Rex Ryan) has hired brother Rob. (Dennis Allen took over as New Orleans’ defensive coordinator after Rob.)

2015 New Orleans Fantasy Surprises– Free agent TE Ben Watson had a career year in 2015, and the 35-year-old says he wants to keep playing. Watson and the Saints are in talks for a new contract. After RB mark Ingram went down in week 12, RB Tim Hightower was re-signed and got his first regular season work since 2011. He was a fantasy football waiver wire savior for owners who lost Ingram.  Hightower was impressive, racking up 456 yards from scrimmage and 4 touchdowns in Weeks 14 thru 17.

2016 Free Agents that New Orleans Needs to Address–
TE Ben Watson, RB Khiry Robinson (RFA), RB Tim Hightower, TE Josh Hill (RFA), K Kai Forbath, TE Michael Hoomanawanui, RB Travaris Cadet, QB Luke McCown, QB Matt Flynn, OG Tim Lelito (RFA), DT Kevin Williams, FS Rafael Bush, CB Kyle Wilson,


2016 NFL Draft-
Getting rid of DC Rob Ryan was only the start of repairing the worst defense in the NFL. The defensive line must get help, and the Saint’s were 32nd vs the pass, so a shut down corner is needed. An offensive guard will be taken at some point in this draft. – SAINT’S 2015 DRAFT

Did You Know– The team’s colors (Black and Gold) came about as a salute to the city’s long standing ties to the oil industry (“Black Gold”).


All team reports
can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS

Team Home Page: www.neworleanssaints.com

New England Patriots Team Profile 2016

New England Patriots Team Profile 2016 by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

One has to wonder if New England fans know just how good they’ve had it? Has winning become insipid and lackluster….like hearing Meryl Streep nominated for another Oscar? ( As one of the many loyal Lion’s fan, we’d be happy just to make it the playoffs…and over the moon to actually win one!-  The Detroit Lions have 1 playoff win in past 56 years. )   Since the year 2000, New England has won four Super Bowls, six AFC Championship Games, and thirteen AFC East titles, while amassing a regular season record of 175–65.

2016 Team Outlook–  In 2015, Utter-Fantasy boldly predicted that the Pats would be the division champs of the AFC East! It actually wasn’t a bold prediction…. New England had already done it 11 of the past 12 seasons. 2015 made it 12 of the past 13. Of the three other teams in the division, the New York Jets are probably the strongest team to challenge New England, followed by Miami, then Buffalo.

2016 Fantasy Football Outlook–

QB– “Every team tampers with the footballs,” Matt Leinart said on Twitter.  “Ask any QB In the league, this is ridiculous!!” The NFL tried to hit Brady with a ridiculous charge that would have kept him off the field for 4 games with a suspension. A few lawyers later and the NFL was forced to back down, but they did strip NE of a 1st round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. It doesn’t matter what they throw at him, Tom Brady can throw a football, and in 2015, he threw it for 4770 yards (2nd most in the NFL.) Although Brady is getting on in years but he’s still playing well and has said he wants to play into his 40s. On Feb. 29, 2016, the Patriots and Tom Brady agreed to two-year extension through 2019.  UPDATE: the Patriots are “bracing” for Tom Brady to lose his Deflategate appeal and serve a four-game suspension.

RBs– In the latter part of 2015 and in the post-season, the Patriot’s offense was exposed for being the one-dimensional team that they are. With no running game to speak, defenses were able to tee off after Brady. The Pats ranked 25th in run attempts, 30th in yards rushed per game, and 29th in yards per attempt. Fantasy football owners should already know to stay clear of NE running backs. HC Bill Belichick is not a fan of fantasy football, and he will make sure you are disappointed if you try to guess week-to-week, who he is going to start. RB L Blount and Steven Jackson are free agents. UPDATE: Pats sign former Charger Donald Brown. LeGarrette Blount Re-signed 1-year deal.

WRs–
As far as wide receivers, for the past few years it’s been the WR Julian Edelman,  WR Danny Amendola and WR Brandon LaFell show in New England. A Pat’s wide receiver rarely cracks the top 25 statistically because of New England’s tight end Gronk ( and Scott Chandler in 2015.) UPDATE: The Pats have released Brandon LaFell….Pats sign former Buffalo WR Chris Hogan and Nate Washingtons signed a 1-year deal w/ NE.

TEs– It’s taken a while, but teams are starting to get it. Tight ends can be a huge contributor in NFL offenses. In 2014, no other tight end came close to Gronk’s 1124 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. ( CAR TE G Olsen had 1008 yards but only 6 TDs) In 2015, Gronk barely beat TE G Olsen in receiving yards and TE Tyler Eifert had 13 TDs, 2 more than Gronk’s 11. (WASH TE J Reed also had 11 TD receptions) 2016 could be a big year for NFL tight ends. UPDATE: The Pats have released Scott Chandler. Clay Harbor signed 1-year w/ NE.

K-
Stephen Gostkowski has been the NFL’s #1 place kicker for 4 years in a row. As the best kicker in the league, 32-year-old Gostkowski is the league’s richest player at his position. UPDATE: Adam Vinatieri re-signed 2-year w/ NE- $6M.

DEF–
In 2015, New England was 10th vs the run, and 13th vs the pass……making them 12th overall in the NFL. The Patriots pass defense needs a boost and they can find good cornerbacks in the deep corps of this upcoming draft.

2015 New England Fantasy Surprises– Prior to his Week 9 season-ending injury, RB Deon Lewis was racking up the fantasy football points with rushing yards, rushing TDs, receiving yard and receiving TDs. After his first six games, he already had close to 600 total yards and 4 combined touchdowns. Prior to the 2015, few fantasy football websites had Lewis ranked even in the top 70….Utter-Fantasy didn’t. 2015 RB Rankings-

2016 Free Agents that New England Needs to Address–
RB Steven Jackson, RB LeGarrette Blount, DT Akiem Hicks, NT Sealver Siliga (RFA), CB Tarell Brown, OG Ryan Wendell, SS Nate Ebner, SS Tavon Wilson, MLB Dane Fletcher,

2016 NFL Draft–– The Patriots were stripped of a first-round pick in the 2016 draft (plus a third-rounder in the 2017 draft) for the deflated football malarkey. When they do get to select a player, look for the Pats to address their defense with a cornerback. They also need help with a tackle for their O-Line, and somewhere in the draft, they might need to find a couple fresh running backs.- NEW ENGLAND’S 2015 DRAFT

Did You Know–
In the 1987 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots selected Rich Gannon in the 4th round intent upon converting Gannon to running back. ( in 2002 OAK QB Gannon won the NFL Most Valuable Player Award and the  Raiders advanced to Super Bowl XXXVII.)

Team Home Page: www.patriots.com

All team reports can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS

Minnesota Vikings Team Profile 2016

Minnesota Vikings Team Profile 2016 by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

The Vikings topped the NFC North Division in 2015, with a winning record of 11-5. If Minnesota history stays true however, head coach Mike Zimmer had better have another winning season in 2016, if he wants to keep his job. In 2009, HC Brad Childress had a winning season- 12-4. The following year his Vikings went 6-10, and he was canned. In 2012, HC Leslie Frazier had a winning season- 10-6. The following year his Vikings went 5-10-1, and he was canned.


2016 Team Outlook-

The Vikings division win in 2015 was their first since 2009. Usually Green Bay will win the 2-3 years in a row, then Chicago or Minnesota will sneak in a year and will one. Detroit never participates. Green Bay has the best shot at winning the division in 2016, but Minnesota will have a competitive team. Chicago has many question marks going into 2016, and Detroit will likely under-achieve as usual.

2016 Fantasy Football Outlook-

QB- Teddy Bridgewater was drafted by the Vikings in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, so making 2016 his 3rd year in the NFL. Bridgewater ended the 2015 NFL season as the #23 quarterback in the NFL, with 3231 passing yards, 14 touchdown passes and only 9 interceptions. His 9 INTs were the 2nd lowest for any QB playing in all 16 games. Teddy has one of the best running backs to ever play the game joining him on the offense, but his receiving corps either aren’t as talented as many thought, or are a held back by Teddy Bridgewater’s weak arm and the Vikings’ run-based offense. Bridgewater threw for one TD pass or less, in 14 of 16 games last season. ( and none in the post-season.)


RBs–
Most running backs cannot follow a long layoff in the NFL, by coming back the next season and ranking as the #1 or #2 RB in the NFL….but Adrian Peterson isn’t most running backs. He’s done it twice. On December 24, 2011, Peterson torn his ACL and MCL in a game vs Washington. He was placed onto injured reserve. The following year, AP was the #1 RB in the league.  On September 12, 2014, Peterson was indicted for brutally beating his child, and subsequently missed the remainder of the season. The following year, 2015, AP was the #2 RB in the league. Regardless of his situation, Peterson is an athletic freak and will always rank at the top when playing. Back-up RB Matt Asiata is a free agent. UPDATE: Matt Asiata re-signed 1-year deal w/ MINN.

WRs– In 2015 WR Charles Johnson, who Vikings OC Norv Turner said was “far and away our best receiver”….played in only 6 game last season, racking up a paltry 127 yards and 0 touchdowns. He was a 2015 fantasy football draft pick that fantasy owners wish they hadn’t made. Rib injuries and inconsistent play by Johnson allowed WR Stefon Diggs to step up and become the Vikings #1 receiver. ( although even Diggs only ranked as the #46 WR in 2015, with 720 receiving yards and 4 TDs.) Minnesota may try to upgrade their receiving corps beyond WRs Diggs, Wallace and Wright in 2016, but the real problem is the limitations of QB Bridgewater. UPDATE: Free agent Mike Wallace signed w/ BALT.

TEs– In the 2015 NFL Draft , the Vikings used their 5th round pick on TE MyCole Pruitt who was a bigger hit at the NFL Combine in April than he was on the playing field during this past season. Pruitt was drafted to play in two tight end packages opposite Kyle Rudolph, but Pruitt was out-played by TE Rhett Ellison, a 2012 Viking draft pick. Ellison unfortunately suffered a torn patellar tendon in Week 17 in 2015. (His career is now in doubt.)  Kyle Rudolph’s stats after the 2015 season were 495 yards and 5 TDs, and that’s probably the ceiling for any Viking tight end in 2016.

K– In the Vikings’ first playoff game since 2012 against Seattle on January 10, 2016, Blair Walsh was 3-for-3 on field goals before missing a potentially game-winning 27-yard attempt late in the 4th quarter. Walsh kicked the laces of the football and hooked the attempt wide left.  You had to feel for the guy, but Walsh has remained positive and said ‘It is Not Going to Ruin My Life’.

DEF– The Viking’s were focused on improving their #27 defense from 2014, by using their first 3 picks in the 2015 NFL Draft on quality defensive player. The result, in part, helped the team rise to the #14 defense in 2015. The Vikings have a lot of good pieces in place offensively for the 2016 season, so it wouldn’t be surprising if they attacked the draft in April the same way as 2015.

2015 Minnesota Fantasy Surprises–
In August, 2015….the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s reported that Charles Johnson is “the receiver Teddy Bridgewater trusts most.” Rotoworld forecasted “a breakout year for Johnson in 2015″, as did many fantasy football websites. Utter-Fantasy had Charles Johnson ranked #18 in the preseason, ahead of Amari Cooper, Jeremy Maclin and Eric Decker. Johnson ended 2015 with 127 receiving yards.

2016 Free Agents that Minnesota Needs to Address– TE Rhett Ellison, RB Matt Asiata, CB Terence Newman, OG Mike Harris, OLB Chad Greenway, SS Andrew Sendejo, SS Robert Blanton, DT Kenrick Ellis, CB Marcus Sherels, MLB Audie Cole, CB Josh Robinson

2016 NFL Draft- The Vikings wisely used their first selections in the 2015 NFL Draft on defensive players, starting with CB Trae Waynes. They followed Waynes with ILB E Kendricks, then DE D Hunter in Round 3. In 2016, Minnesota will address their defense and grab a needed safety, but they also need O-Line help…..at guard and at offensive tackle.

Did You Know– In a 1997 game against the Carolina Panthers, Vikings quarterback Brad Johnson became the first NFL quarterback to ever throw a touchdown pass to himself. He did this after catching his own deflected pass and running three yards into the end zone.

Team Home Page: www.vikings.com

All team reports can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS

Jacksonville Jaguars Team Profile 2016

Jacksonville Jaguars Team Profile 2016 by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

Taking a quarterback in the 1st round of NFL drafts is a big gamble. Names like Manziel, Manuel, Locker, Gabbert, Ponder, Tebow are all examples of 1st  Round draft picks and gobs of money…..gambled away. Jacksonville used their 3rd overall pick on QB Blake Bortles in the 2014 NFL Draft, and their gamble is paying off. Their season record for 2015 doesn’t show it ( 5-11), but they have something good started and they will build on it in 2016.

2016 Team Outlook– The Jaguars were not a challenger for the AFC South division in 2015, but they are an interesting sleeper team in 2016. Jacksonille shares the division with Houston, Indianapolis and Tennessee. The Jags have plenty of pieces in place on their offense, but their defense ranked 26th last year, 31st vs the pass. If the Jaguars are to compete in the AFC South, they need a solid draft in April, aimed right at their defense.

2016 Fantasy Football Outlook-

QB– On January 5, 2014, Bortles announced that he would forgo his senior season of collegiate eligibility at UCF and entered the 2014 NFL Draft. He was drafted by the Jaguars third overall. In only his 2nd year in the NFL, Bortles ranked #3, only behind Cam Newton (#1) and Tom Brady (#2). Bortles ended 2015 with 4428 passing yard and 35 touchdown passes. He also added 310 rushing yards (6th best in the NFL for QBs) and 2 rushing TDs. Fantasy football owners can still wait to the later rounds to get Bortles, and Utter-Fantasy doubts that he disappoints in 2016.


RBs–
The Jags drafted Alabama-alum RB TJ Yeldon with their 2nd overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Some may argue that there may have been better running backs on the board for Jacksonville. Arizona’s running back David Johnson ranked #8 RB at the end of 2015, while Yeldon ended at #28. Arizona Cardinals GM said it is “scary” how good RB David Johnson can be, who was the 8th RB selected in 2015 Draft & 50 picks after TJ Yeldon. T.J. Yeldon was consistent as a rookie, despite scoring just three total touchdowns. With a solid offense around him, Yeldon needs establish himself as a solid RB2 in 2016. Do not draft early in fantasy football drafts next September. UPDATE: former Jet Chris Ivory signed 5-year deal w/ JACK.

WRs–
In Week 13 vs the Tennessee Titans, Jaguar’s wide receiver Allen Robinson reached 1,000+ receiving yards. When the Jaguar’s wide receiver Allen Hurns also reached 1,000+ receiving yards in Week 16 of the NFL 2015 season, he helped the team get its first 1,000-yard receiving duo since Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell did it in 2001. Only the duo of NYJ Brandon Marshall and NYJ Eric Decker had better season statistics for same team wide receivers in 2015. Both are legitimate top 10-15 fantasy football WR prospects for 2016.

TEs– I get really skeptical when players move from a team with a great offense, and are considered great players rather than products of that great offense. RB DeMarco Murray is a good example. Now he may still be great, but my arthritic grandfather could have run through the holes made by the great Dallas O-Line in 2014, and there was no way I was drafting Murray high in 2015, now in Philadelphia. TE Julius Thomas came from Denver, a great offense in 2014, and I warned fantasy football owners, not to draft him early. With only 2-3 productive games recorded in 2015, I warn again.


K–
The Jaguars went into 2015 with both Josh Scobee and Jason Meyers and both players had good preseasons. The Steelers later acquired K Josh Scobee from the Jaguars in exchange for a 6th round pick in the 2016 NFL draft after
PITT K Garrett Hartley suffering a potentially serious injury in the third preseason game. Myers ended 2015 as the #15 place kicker in thec NFL and will get competition in the pre-season.

DEF–
The Jaguars gave up the 2nd most points (448) to opposing teams in 2015. New Orleans gave up the most (476). Jacksonville’s pass defense ranked next to last. Improving this defense has to be the Jaguars #1 priority this off season, if they have any hope of competing with Colts and Texans.

2015 Jacksonville Fantasy Surprises–
For the past 5 years, no Jacksonville player had ended a season ranking in the top 40 among NFL wide receivers, except WR Cecil Shorts in 2012, at #22. In 2015 however, Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns were both in the top 15…..( Robinson #4 & Hurns #14). QB Bortles was the biggest surprise, ranking as the #3 quarterback for 2015.


2016 Free Agents that Jacksonville Needs to Address-
TE Marcedes Lewis, WR Bryan Walters, TE Clay Harbor, QB Chad Henne (Re-signed 2-year, $8M deal), DE Ryan Davis (RFA), C Stefen Wisniewski, P Bryan Anger, DE Andre Branch, DT Abry Jones (RFA), OT Sam Young, DT Abry Jones (RFA)

2016 NFL Draft–
Like 2015, the immediate needs of Jacksonville is everywhere on defense. The Jags are in dire need of a safety., a center and outside linebackers. JACKSONVILLE’S 2015 DRAFT

Did You Know–
Due to the original Jaguars logo looking too much like the logo for the Jaguar automobile, an agreement was worked out where Jaguar would be the official automobile of the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Team Home Page: www.jaguars.com

All team reports can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS

Indianapolis Colts Team Profile 2016

Indianapolis Colts Team Profile 2016 by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

The Indianapolis Colts’ seasons turned around when they drafted QB Andrew Luck first overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. The Colts won the AFC South Division in 2013 and 2014. The Indianapolis Colts’ season also turned around when QB Andrew Luck was injured for most of last year. The Houston Texans won the AFC South Division in 2015.

2016 Team Outlook–
If QB Andrew Luck comes back 100%, the Colts should be the team to beat in the AFC South in 2016. Houston will have major concerns heading into 2016 at the quarterback position and Tennessee is still evolving with their young #2 overall draft pick from the 2015 NFL Draft….QB Marcus Mariota. Jacksonville is an interesting sleeper team in 2016- talented QB Blake Bortles was the #3 quarterback in 2015, and has an outstanding wide receiver duo to throw to.

2016 Fantasy Football Outlook-

QB– The Colts were probably lucky to squeak out  an 8-8 season in 2015, with grampa Hasselbeck playing under center for the Colts for half of the season. Luck battled an assortment of 2015 injuries, the most serious of which was a lacerated kidney. Luck is expected to be fully recovered and ready for the upcoming season. He is in the last year of his rookie deal, and a huge contract extension is coming. Fantasy football owners who drafted Luck ( and GB Aaron Rodgers) early in 2015, may want to wait in fantasy drafts for their quarterback, which I always preach.

RBs– RB Frank Gore was an Utter-Fantasy running back “sleeper” for 2015, but with QB Luck’s injuries, it’s hard to say if the prognostication was a bad one. Defenses were not afraid of Hasselbeck beating them through the air, so boxes were stacked against Gore. He still managed to rank as the #11 running back in the NFL last season, with almost 1000 yards rushing ( 6 rushing TDs.) Gore should return as the starter in 2016, and hopefully the Colts get a better O-Line to help him ( and Luck ) out. UPDATE: Robert Turbin signed a 1-year w/ IND and Jordan Todman signed 1-year deal.

WRs–
One of the biggest “head-scratcher” of the 2015 NFL Draft was the Colts selection of 5’10” wide receiver Phillip Dorsett! For starters….Indianapolis had bigger needs for the rest of team, rather than spending their 1st round pick on a T.Y. Hilton clone at wide receiver. The Colts really needed run-stoppers, O-Line help, and a safety- 2015 IND Colt Team Profile….so what were they thinking? Even with QB Luck out half the seson in 2015, WR Hilton still racked up 1124 receiving yards with 5 touchdowns. ( down from 1345 and 7 TDs in 2015.) The WR Andre Johnson acquisition was not a successful one, and he’ll likely be released. Colts will roll with Hilton, Moncrief and Phillips in 2016.

TEs–
Both tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen are free agents this year, but Indy is expected to re-sign at least one of them. Allen is the more well-rounded tight end, but Fleener had a better year in 2015, and was a lot healthier. ( Fleener also played with QB Luck at Stanford, and he was drafted the same year as Luck- 2012.)2016 FREE AGENTS-  Update: Colts re-signed TE Dwayne Allen to a four-year, $29.4 million contract. Coby Fleener signed with New Orleans.


K–
Although a free agent in 2015, the Colts are likely to re-sign place kicker Adam Vinatieri, who at 43 years old, still remains one of the league’s best kickers. Vinatieri ended 2015 as the #17 kicker in the NFL, nailing 25 of his 27 field goal attempts.

DEF–
At least the Colts are consistent! In 2014, they were the #13 ranked defense in the NFL, and in 2015, they were the #13 ranked defense in the NFL. Hopefully the Colts do not spend their 1st round- 18th overall pick in 2016, on another 5’10 wide receiver. They need to get an edge rusher or corner early. Indianapolis will really be in trouble if they lose ILB Jerrell Freeman to free agency.

2015 Indianapolis Fantasy Surprises–
When an offense ranks #30, like the Colts offense did in 2015, the fantasy surprises are usually bad fantasy surprises. WR Hilton probably had a better season than expected after QB Luck went out, ending as the 24th wide receiver for 2015.

2016 Free Agents that Indianapolis Needs to Address–
  TE Dwayne Allen (Re-signed), TE Coby Fleener, QB Matt Hasselbeck, RB Dan Herron, K Adam Vinatieri, RB Ahmad Bradshaw, ICB Greg Toler, SS Dwight Lowery, DE Billy Winn, S Colt Anderson, OG Lance Louis, LB Jerrell Freeman

2016 NFL Draft–
The immediate need of Indianapolis are shoring up their weak O-Line, that must keep QB Andrew Luck healthy in 2016, and provide some holes for RB Frank Gore. The Colts can improve their defense by drafting an outside linebacker, cornerbacks, and a free safety. They do not need a 1st round wide receiver- INDIANAPOLIS’ 2015 DRAFT

Did You Know– Johnny Unitas played the role of the head coach of one of the opposing football teams in the 1999 Oliver Stone film, ‘Any Given Sunday’.

All team reports can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS

Team Home Page: www.colts.com

Houston Texans Team Profile 2016

Houston Texans Team Profile 2016 by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

There have been four head coaches of the AFC South Division Houston Texans. Don Capers was the first, followed by Gary Kubiak, who was fired mid-season on December 6, 2013. ( He was replaced on an interim basis by defensive coordinator Wade Phillips for the last 3 games.) In the 2013 off-season, Bill O’Brien was hired to be the 4th Texans’ next head coach. O’Brien had previously served as the NE offensive coordinator under Bill Belichick. Heading into his 3rd season, O’Brien  serves as both the Texans’ head coach and offensive coordinator.

2016 Team Outlook–
In 2014, Houston’s 9-7 record didn’t come close to winning the AFC South Division, but in 2015, the Houston’s record of 9-7 did win the AFC South. The Indianapolis Colts couldn’t match their 2014 11-5 record, with QB Andrew Luck out most of the season, so Houston leaped on top. With question marks still at quarterback, it will be difficult for Houston to challenge a healthy Andrew Luck and the Colts. ( the Jacksonville Jaguars are an interesting sleeper team)

2016 Fantasy Football Outlook-

QB–
The Indianapolis Colts have only needed only 2 great quarterbacks playing for them since 1998 (Prior to QB Andrew Luck’s injury in 2015). Meanwhile the Texans have struggled with Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, TJ Yates, Brandon Weeden, Matt Schaub, Case Keenum, Matt Leinart, Sage Rosenfls, David Carr, Tony Banks and Dave Ragone! Texans owner Bob McNair has made to clear to the GM and head coach that he isn’t a fan of Hoyers. If there is a Week 1 starting quarterback in this NFL Draft, he probably won’t be there at Houston’s No. 22 overall. UPDATE: The Texans have signed former Bronco QB Brock Osweiler

RBs– Arian Foster has only played in 25 games over the past 3 years. Foster ruptured his Achilles tendon on October 25, 2015, in a loss to the Miami Dolphins. Two days later, Foster was placed on injured reserve. On January 14, 2016, the Houston Chronicle reported that the Texans would likely release Foster before the 2016 season. RB Alfred Blue played 14 games in 2015, ranking only 50th among NFL running backs. The top 5 running backs currently headed for the 2016 NFL Draft are 1. Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State, 2. Derrick Henry, Alabama, 3. Alex Collins, Arkansas, 4. Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech and 5. Devontae Booker, Utah. UPDATE: The Texans have signed former Dolphin RB Lamar Miller

WRs– DeAndre Hopkins, also known as “Nuk,” was drafted by the Texans in the 1st round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He played college football at Clemson. You know that you have a great NFL offensive weapon, when he can put 1521 receiving yards and 11 touchdown receptions (ranking #6 wide receiver in the NFL) with 4 different quarterbacks in 2016. Houston selected two wide receivers back-to-back in the 2015 NFL Draft, WR 6’2″ Jaelen Strong in Round 3, and 6’0″ Keith Mumphery in the 5th Round.


TEs–
Ryan Griffin, CJ Fiedorowicz and Garrett Graham all had minimal action in 2015. Griffin topped the group 251 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns. There are talented free agents tight ends looking for new teams this year, including Dadarius Green, Dwayne Allen and Zach Miller, if Houston feels they are upgrades. 2016 Free Agents-

K–
former Texan place kickers Randy Bullock and Nick Novak (13 games in 2015) are both free agents this year.


DEF–
LE J.J. Watt earned his third Defensive Player of the Year award in the past four seasons. Despite this honor, the Houston defense took a few steps backwards in 2015, dropping from 6th top defense in 2014, to 8th in 2015. The Texans were a pedestrian 13th vs the run last season. Houston used their 1st two selections in the 2015 NFL Draft on 6’0″ CB Kevin Johnson and 6’4″ ILB Benardrick McKinney.


2016 Houston Fantasy Surprises–
Only the Panthers ( Week 2), the Dolphins ( Week 7), the Saints ( Week 12) and the Patriots ( Week 14) were able to slow down wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins in 2016. His best game of the season came in Week 6 vs the Jaguars- 10 catches for 148 yards and 2 touchdowns. RB Alfred Blue was moderately effective when given the opportunity, ending 2015 as the 40th running back in the NFL. In Week 3 vs Tampa Bay, he had 31 carries for 139 yards and 1 TD.


2016 Free Agents that Houston Needs to Address–
WR Nate Washington, K Nick Novak, P Shane Lechler, RB Chris Polk, RB Jonathan Grimes (RFA),OG Brandon Brooks, OT Chris Clark, DE Jared Crick, C Ben Jones, FS Quintin Demps, SS Eddie Pleasant (RFA), OLB John Simon (RFA)


2016 NFL Draft–
The immediate needs of Houston is at quarterback, running back, at safety and on their defensive line. The Texan’s first pick doesn’t comes until the 22nd selection of the first round.

Did You Know–
The name Texans has a long history in professional football. The Dallas Texans moved to Kansas City to become the Chiefs. The San Antonio Texans played one year in the Canadian Football League. The Houston Texans of the NFL began play roughly 25 years after the Houston Texans of the WFL left town.

Team Home Page: www.houstontexans.com

All team reports can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS

Green Bay Packers Team Profile 2016

Green Bay Packers Team Profile 2016 by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

Is it a coincidence, that in 4 years with WR Jordy Nelson, the Green Bay Packers won 4 straight division titles, but without him, the Minnesota Vikings enjoyed the honors. ( Nelson tore his left ACL in August 2015.) HC Mike McCarthy probably wouldn’t want anyone to think that one missing player could hurt a season, but when have you seen QB Aaron Rodgers play 16 games and rank 12th among NFL quarterbacks?

2016 Team Outlook–
The Green Bay Packers have dominated the NFC North Division since 2011, but it was Minnesota who took the title in 2015 with an 11-5 season. Green Bay fell just a game short at 10-6. With a healthy Jordy back, Gfreen Bay will again be the team to beat in 2016. The Lions, Bears and Vikings all have good, competitive teams but they can’t put onto the field the caliber of offensive and defensive personnel that Green Bay can.

2016 Fantasy Football Outlook-

QB– Disregarding 2013, when he only played 9 games due to an injury, QB Aaron Rodgers has either been the #1 or #2 quarterback every year since 2008…..until 2015. Last year ended with Rodgers ranking #12 among NFL quarterbacks. He threw for nearly 500 less yards than he did in 2014, with 7 less touchdown passes (31 vs 38). QB Rodgers and the offense clearly missed WR Jordy Nelson’s deep threat abilities, but they still made the post-season.

RBs– Many articles were written about Lacy’s “weight” in 2015, and Green Bay reportedly wants him 30 pounds lighter. In 2015, RB Eddie Lacy was out-played by RB James Starks. Starks ended the year as the #23 running back in the NFL, and RB Lacy as the #24. In the final year of his 2013 rookie deal…this off-season will be an important one for “Spag-Eddie” Lacy.” James Starks is a free agent, but expected to re-sign with the Packers.

WRs– WR Jordy Nelson and WR Randall Cobb were the #2 and #6 wide receivers in the NFL in 2014. In 2015, no Green Bay wide receiver cracked the top 25. The offense wasn’t the same without WR Jordy Nelson and WR Davante Adams disappointed the entire year. ( rumors are WR Adams’ roster spot is in jeopardy.) It wasn’t until the post-season that Green Bay found out what talent had been sitting on the bench all season. WR Jeff Janis went 7 catches for 145 and 2 TDs in the Divisonal Game loss to Arizona. (The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s wrote- “It’s been 25 years or more since a coach in Green Bay made more errors in allocating playing time than Mike McCarthy did this year.”)


TEs–
2011 was the last time a Green Bay Packer ended a season ranking in the top 5 among NFL tight ends. Jermichael Finley was the #5 tight end that year, with 767 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns. Statistically in 2015, TE Richard Rodgers’ numbers ( 520 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns ) weren’t that much different from Finley’s in 2011, which ranked Rodgers #8 last year. With WR Nelson out, TE Rodgers was relied on more, and will be red zone threat again in 2016.

K– Impending free agent K Mason Crosby has been a Packer for 9 seasons, but he doesn’t want to leave Green Bay, nor does Green Bay want him to leave. Expect a new contract in the near future.

DEF– The Green Bay defense enjoyed a much better season in 2015 ( ranked #9) than they did in 2014 ( ranked #16). Tough vs the pass, their defense stepped up in a year where the offense declined. With important free agents impending from the defense, the Packers will need to fill holes to keep the defense trending upward in the NFL.

2015 Green Bay Fantasy Surprises–
Many a fantasy football league was won in 2014 with RB Eddie Lacy on the roster, which is why he was drafted high in 2015. He returned for his 3rd season over-weight and slow, surprising many with only 758 yards rushing yards and 3 rushing TDs at year’s end. WR Jeff Janis was a surprise in the post-season and might have won himself a spot in 2016 in the starting line-up.


2016 Free Agents That Green Bay Needs to Address–
RB James Starks, WR James Jones, K Mason Crosby, FB John Kuhn, TE Andrew Quarless, QB Scott Tolzien, T/G Don Barclay, SS Sean Richardson, CB Casey Hayward, OLB Nick Perry, NT B.J. Raji, DE Letroy Guion, OLB Mike Neal,

2016 NFL Draft–
Green Bay’s first 2 selections in the 2015 NFL Draft addressed their defense ( FS Damarious Randall- 1st round-30th overall and CB Quinten Rollins- 2nd round-62nd overall) and they will likely address it right away again in 2016. Green Bay’s needs include help on their defensive line and talented new inside/ outside linebackers.

Did You Know–
In 1974, in what has become known as one of the worst trades in history, the Green Bay Packers traded two first round draft picks, two second round draft picks, and a third round draft pick to the Los Angeles Rams for 34 year old quarterback John Hadl.

All team reports
can be seen at this link- TEAM REPORTS

Team home page: www.packers.com

Detroit Lions Team Profile 2016

Detroit Lions Team Profile 2016 by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

Near the end of 2015, Detroit Lions owner Martha Ford addressed her team and consequently fired team president Tom Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew. With a 7-9 losing season, some would agree that HC Jim Caldwell should have gotten the boot as well. In the 2014 NFL Draft, Caldwell & Company selected TE Eric Ebron in the 1st Round- 10th overall, passing on WRs Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Cooks. and Kelvin Benjamin, ( not to mention a hand full of defensive pro-bowlers that could have helped a defense that dropped from #3 in 2014, to #16 in 2015.)

2016 Team Outlook –

1993. That is the last time the Detroit Lions won “their Division”. Dating back to 2002, when the NFC Central became the NFC North, Detroit has not won a “Division title “. Green Bay has dominated, winning the division 8 times since 2002. (Chicago 3 times and Minnesota 3 times.) The Vikings topped the division in 2015. The smart bet is on Green Bay in 2016.

2016 Fantasy Football Outlook-

QB– In 2009, Matthew Stafford started a streak of young quarterbacks being selected with the #1 pick overall in NFL Drafts. 2009-Stafford…2010- Sam Bradford…2011- Cam Newton and 2012- Andrew Luck. Stafford commanded a ton of money as the #1 overall in 2009, and although he’s had some highlights in his career ( Stafford is the 4th quarterback in NFL history to throw over 5,000 yards in a single season, and was the fastest player to reach 25,000 passing yards- 90 games), Lion’s fans are still waiting for some bling. As a Fantasy Football quarterback, Stafford is a solid #1/ #2 QB for owners, ranking in the top 10 every year except 2014 ( #15).


RBs–
For fantasy football owners, RBBC is a four letter word! In 2015, Detroit had not one, not two, but three running backs all getting touches. Theo Riddick eneded 2015 as the #38 running back, Ameer Abdullah as the #41 and Joique Bell as the #50. When an NFL team has 3 running backs, fantasy owners have none. On Feb. 16, 2016 the Lions saved $2.5M by releasing RB Joique Bell. Fantasy football owners should not be relieved, Caldwell will now mix in RB Zach Zenner. UPDATE: Stevan Ridley signed a 1-year deal w/ DET

WRs– In 2012, Calvin “Megatron” Johnson set an NFL record with the “Most Receiving Yards in a Single Season: 1,964 yards.” Johnson was not 100% in 2014, playing in only 13 games that season, but played all 16 in 2015 and ranked as the #10 wide receiver (1214 receiving yards and 9 TD receptions.) Drafted in 2007, Calvin might “retire“, and it’s was great that perhaps the greatest, played all 9 seasons for one team….the Detroit Lions. WR Golden Tate has been a solid addition since joining the Lions in 2014, but Detroit desperately needs new offensive weapons in their receiving corps. UPDATE: Megatron announced his retirement. The Lions sign former Bengal WR Marvin Jones to a 5-year deal.

TEs–  In 2009, the Lions used their 20th overall pick on TE Brandon Pettigrew. In 2014, the Lions used their 1st round-10th overall pick on TE Eric Ebron. ( if they would have selected WR Odell Beckham Jr. instead of TE Ebron, Calvin Johnson’s successor would already be on their roster.) In 2015, Ebron had 537 receiving yards and 5 TDs.

K– Matt Prater had a shaking first year with Detroit in 2014, going only 11 for 21, after replacing rookie Nate Freese. ( another poor NFL Draft selection by the Lions in 2014 ) In 2015, Prater’s accuracy was better, but he was not a good fantasy football option. Prater only had 24 field goal attempts, 10th fewest in the NFL.

DEF–
Detroit’s defense was considered one the best in the NFL in 2014. They dropped to #16 in 2015. The “defensive” draft selections have been the few bright spots for Detroit, but Ndamukong Suh and his monster contract went to Miami, and Nick Fairley drafted by Detroit Lions-1st round of the 2011 NFL Draft is now a “Ram”. Acquired DT Halota Ngata is a free agent, as are strong safeties Isa Abdul-Quddus and James Ihedigbo.

2015 Detroit Fantasy Surprises– 3rd down back Theo Riddick’s 80 receptions led all NFL running backs, and his 697 receiving yards was only topped by San Diego’s RB Danny Woodhead (756). Riddick had 3 receiving touch downs. Rookie Ammer Abdullah ( drafted in Round 2 of the 2015 NFL Draft) finished with 597 yards and two touchdowns on 143 carries (4.17 YPC) with 24 catches and one more score through the air. Abdullah will be an intriguing 2016 fantasy football selection with the release of RB J Bell.


2016 Free Agents that Detroit Needs to Address– 
WR Lance Moore, DT Haloti Ngata, OLB Tahir Whitehead, DE Jason Jones, DT Tyrunn Walker, DE Darryl Tapp, SS Isa Abdul-Quddus, G/C Manuel Ramirez, SS James Ihedigbo, OLB Travis Lewis, DT Jermelle Cudjo, CB Josh Wilson

2016 NFL Draft– NFL team’s usually need new help for their offensive line, and Detroit is no exception. It should be their priority to get a new center and new tackles. The Lions need wide receivers. Detroit’s #16 defense could get worst in 2016 with free agents possibly leaving and CB Rashean Mathis’ retirement, so Detroit needs a cornerback opposite Darius Slay. Detroit’s 2015 NFL Draft- DETROIT’S 2015 DRAFT

Did You Know-
In 1970, soul singer Marvin Gaye tried out for the Detroit Lions. Some Lions players sang backup on his hit song “What’s Going On?”

Team home page: www.detroitlions.com

All team reports can be seen here- TEAM REPORTS