1st and 10 Week 14 by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles
“1st and 10″ is a weekly segment by Utter-Fantasy.com, getting fantasy insights from a knowledgeable person in the fantastic fantasy football community. With 10 questions each week, we will canvass some of the hot button topics to keep us all informed on the ever-changing NFL landscape and which may carry major fantasy football implications.
On Monday afternoon, approximately 2:00 PM Central, I will post the latest segment in “1st & 10.” If you enjoy it, let us know. If you have any fantasy football questions, really let us know.
Week 14- June 20th, 2016
“1st and 10″ Week 14 Special Guest Writer-Co-Owner of Fantasyipa.com Jamey Black- Be sure to follow Jamie on Twitter @FIPA_Black
Utter-Fantasy #1) Wade Phillips is currently the defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos, but he has been the head coach of 3 different NFL teams. ( 4 NFL teams, if you count his short interim head coaching position in 2013 for the Houston Texans).The Denver Broncos (1993 to 1994), the Buffalo Bills (1998–2000) and the Dallas Cowboys (2007–2010). As Denver’s 2015 defensive coordinator, the only thing Phillips did was form the #1 defense in all of the NFL, and help win Super Bowl 50 with that defense. Will Wade be a head coach in 2017?
Jamie Black Response: No, I really don’t think so. We’ve seen enough of Wade Phillips to know what he is and what he isn’t. He is a great defensive coordinator and an average head coach. Everyone loves him, his players, ex-players, fellow coaches…they all love him. He’s been described as “sweet” and as a guy “without a mean bone in his body”. And that’s problem; head coaches need a kind of swagger or charisma that, at the very least invokes a healthy respect from others. I don’t think one needs to have a “mean streak” or scare players to be a good head coach. A more balanced characteristic that you see in successful head coaches is the ability to invoke a certain “healthy fear” that keeps players in line and sends the message that this is a guy who isn’t going to put up with any BS. Tony Dungy for example, you never saw him screaming at his players but he did demand a certain discipline and respect. Bill Belichick is similar in that regard and he will cut anyone who doesn’t fall in line. Maybe I’m a little bitter living in Dallas and watching the 2007 season unfold. The Cowboys finished 13-3 and went 3-0 against the two teams who eventually met in the NFC Championship Game that post-season, and won all 3 games by double-digits only to get bounced (coming off a bye) in round 2 by the Giants. You want to know what I remember most though…the relaxed approach the Cowboys took during their 1st round bye week. I mean, Tony Romo went on vacation to Cabo with Jessica Simpson! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!
Make no mistake; Wade is a great defensive coordinator and Denver no doubt owes much their Super Bowl 50 success to the defense he put out on the field. I just don’t think he has the temperament to have sustained success as a head coach in the NFL.
Utter-Fantasy #2) On June 1st, 2016, LA HC Jeff Fisher said that he thinks wide receiver “Tavon Austin can catch 100 passes this season”. In 2015, Austin rushed as many times as he had receptions ( both 52). If Fisher is correct, then Austin is either going to get 50% more touches in 2016, or the Rams are going to scale back dramatically the number of times Austin runs the ball. Which is likely to be the case?
Jamie Black Response: Neither, I don’t think the Rams can quit handing the ball to Austin, considering the success they’ve had doing so. Also, Austin is not a possession receiver and I don’t see him approaching 100 receptions, not even close. In fact, the Rams have two rookie receivers that I see offering more as possession receivers than Austin (Pharoh Cooper and Mike Thomas). Also, Fisher hasn’t had a receiver catch 70+ in 12 years. I think Fisher is being overly optimistic, but more than that, I think he is publicly supporting their moving up to draft Goff. Considering all that the Rams had to give up to get Goff, Fisher is probably attempting to imply that they won’t be scared to throw the ball this year.
Utter-Fantasy #3) What will the acquisition of rookie WR Will Fuller do for WR DeAndre Hopkin’s 2016 season, and where do you see Fuller ranking for NFL wide outs at the end of the upcoming season?
Jamie Black Response: Fuller will help both Hopkins and what Bill O’Brien wants to do on offense, which is to run the ball and throw it to Hopkins. Fuller has game-changing speed and defenses will have to account for that. He should take the top off of opposing D’s and further open up the underneath stuff for Hopkins and the running game…and the TEs if they decide to get them involved. Regarding Fuller’s production, I think he will be a better role player/NFL receiver than fantasy receiver. I do think he will score some long TDs which could mean a few big games. I can see him having seasons where he averages 18+ yards per reception, but I don’t see him being targeted a lot, just enough to keep defenses honest. I’d be surprised if he catches more than 45 passes and 4-5 TD’s his rookie year. He will probably rank out as a WR-5 and not worth redraft consideration. I think he could be a decent late round best ball (MFL10) flyer at WR, but I don’t see him being consistent enough to start on a weekly basis in most fantasy formats, at least not for now.
Utter-Fantasy #4) Who are the 2 best head coaches currently in the NFL, and who are the 2 worst?
Jamie Black Response: I think everyone agrees Bill Belichick is easily the best current NFL head coach and is certainly in the conversation for best coach of all time. I would say the 2nd best current coach in the NFL is probably Pete Carroll, who coincidentally was replaced by Belichick as the Patriots head coach following the 1999 season.
Choosing the 2 worst coaches in the NFL is a bit more difficult. I’m going to say one of the worst current NFL head coaches is Mike Mularkey. That may not be fair because I’m judging him by what he did in Buffalo and Jacksonville, along with the 9 games last year as the interim head coach of the Titans after taking over for Whisenhunt. His winning percentage as an NFL head coach (right around 30% I believe) has to be considered though. With that said, the Titans did well in this year’s draft and in the offseason, and are possibly on the verge of being a team on the rise, so Mularkey’s arrow is probably pointing up going into this season. I don’t want to list any of the 1st-year coaches here, so with that in mind, I will say Gus Bradley is currently one of the worst 2 coaches in the NFL. In 3 seasons with Jacksonville, they haven’t really improved as a team and haven’t finished a season with more than 5 wins, in large part because of the defensive which is what he was brought in to fix. They have no doubt turned a corner on the offensive side of the ball and seemingly have put together a very impressive offseason and draft in which they addressed many of their defensive needs. Some of the names they’ve added on defense: DL Malik Jackson, S Tashaun Gipson, CB Jalen Ramsey and OLB Myles Jack…among others. They have the pieces in place now and I really think this is a make or break season for Bradley. Jacksonville is one of the teams I see taking a leap this year, so I absolutely do not expect to see Gus Bradley’s name on this list next year.
Utter-Fantasy #5) What player, over the past 2 years, has surprised you most with is lack of production and lack of success in the NFL?
Jamie Black Response: A lot of guys come to mind…Jadeveon Clowney is a big one, although he has been injured. Johnny Manziel is another one, but I’m not sure I am too surprised there. When you say “surprised”, I think of someone who I’ve seen have success at the NFL level…so RGIII is that guy for me. I am very surprised with his lack of success over the past 2-3 seasons. Here is a guy who was hyped up so much coming out of college, he seemingly handled it well, he was drafted #2 overall, he lead his team to a division title for the first time in 13 years as a rookie…finishing that season on a 7 game winning streak, and finally tops it off by besting Andrew Luck for the 2012 offensive rookie of the year honors. I expected a lot more from him in the years that followed, in the NFL and definitely from a fantasy perspective. He rushed for over 800 yards and 7-TDs his rookie year, becoming only the 2nd time in NFL history that a QB had 3,000+ passing yards and 800+ rushing yards (1st time by Randall Cunningham 1990, later (2014) by Russell Wilson). Maybe he resurrects his career in Cleveland, I really don’t know, but his fall was very much unexpected for me.
Utter-Fantasy #6) What NFL team could take a giant leap in their division, if they had one or two great players added to their current roster?
Jamie Black Response: The Oakland Raiders. I think they did a good job adding players like OL-Kelechi Osemele, CB-Sean Smith and LB-Bruce Irvin. Retaining S-Nate Allen and OLB-Aldon Smith was vital as well and they started their draft by grabbing 3 more defensive prospects. I think Derek Carr is the real deal and Amari Cooper should step up again and produce like a true #1 WR. If they were to improve on defense by adding an every down pass rusher and/or if they had a true, every down stud at running back, they would probably be one of the best teams in the NFL. I think they are going to get there regardless. They have the offensive line and have added prospects, and even with minor improvement they should be contenders in their division, perhaps even this year, but unquestionably in a year or two.
Utter-Fantasy #7) On August 7, 2010, Emmitt Smith thanked his fullback Daryl “Moose” Johnston during his Hall of Fame Induction speech in Canton, Ohio, for helping to pave Smith’s way to the Hall of Fame. Smith was not the most gifted running back in the NFL and credits his durability and Johnston to his success. The fullback’s role is to block for the lead tailback, but it also includes power running and blocking for the quarterback, which has never been more important in the NFL. Should NFL team’s revisit the use of the fullback position?
Jamie Black Response: I can certainly attest to what Emmitt Smith said about Daryl Johnston, I can honestly say growing up in Dallas during those Super Bowl years was fun, exciting, and I don’t think I missed one game. Today’s NFL is so different though, the pace is faster, it’s more wide open and other than the quarterback, the receivers are the stars of many NFL offenses. I really don’t remember there ever being a time with so much talent at WR in the NFL, so teams have to get their playmakers on the field. With that said, there is definitely a place for the fullback and a power running game. As defenses change and adjust to wide open offenses, I think offenses could benefit from using a fullback and being able to run the ball 40+ times a game when needed.
To answer the question more directly, yes, I think teams should revisit the use of the fullback position…just maybe not to the extent fullbacks were used 20+ years ago. The Patriots are a team that I think of when I mention this. They might throw the ball 60 times for 4 TDs one week and then run it 50 times for 4 TDs the next. Having the ability to game-plan a power running scheme (using a fullback) on offense is something every team should at least attempt to revisit.
Utter-Fantasy #8) Who would you rather NOT owe a lot of money to…..CINN LB Vontaze Burfict, PITT LB James Harrison or MIA DT Ndamukong Suh?
Jamie Black Response: Obviously I wouldn’t want to owe any of these three players any money, because they are all known to be mean and even dirty players. ( I can’t turn out good for me regardless!) However, if I am being forced to pick one, I’ll go with MIA DT Ndamukong Suh, who signed that huge 6 year contract last season worth $114,375,000 with the Miami Dolphins, including a $25,500,000 signing bonus, $59,955,000 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $19,062,500. Perhaps with all this money, he will be less likely to get mean and dirty with me, trying to get what I apparently own him!
Utter-Fantasy #9) In 2015, a few of my fantasy football leagues changed the rules on scoring field goals, due to the rate at which place kickers are now successfully kicking them from long distances. Did any of your league adjust place kicker scoring, and will we see a record breaking 70 yard field goal in the near future?
Jamie Black Response: Sure did, last year in one of the contract leagues I am in, we dinged kickers (-1) point for missed XPs, but we only dinged kickers for missed FGs under 30 yards. Since the XP was moved out beyond 30 yards, we simply quit taking a point away from kickers for missed PATs. There are a few other leagues I am in where we started awarding FG points based on distance (ie – 38 yard FG was awarded 3.8 points). Regarding a 70 yard field goal, I don’t know if that will happen anytime soon. It took 43 years to break Dempsey’s record of 63 yards (Matt Prater, 2013 – 64 yards). I know when they could use a tee in the NCAA there were a few long field goals approaching 70 yards, but unless a kicker is kicking off a tee, I don’t see it happening anytime soon.
Utter-Fantasy #10) Dallas’ RB Ezekiel “Zeke” Elliott, CLEV WR Corey Coleman and NYG Sterling Shepard are all obvious targets for fantasy owners in every draft this year. Who are 3 offensive sleepers from this year’s NFL Draft?
Jamie Black Response: Well, I actually wrote a piece about CJ Prosise back in the beginning of May basically touting him as a mid-1st round pick in rookie drafts, and he is definitely a guy that is not necessarily on everyone’s radar. Those playing in dynasty leagues are certainly well aware of Prosise by now, but for those who only play in redraft leagues, this is a guy who might be flying under the radar. He has every down running back potential and will enter the 2016 season with a defined role as the 3rd down RB in Seattle, and since the Seahawks are being quiet about Thomas Rawls and his ankle, there is no guarantee he will be ready Week 1. I can see Prosise as a less dynamic version of David Johnson type. He is someone to keep an eye on and who certainly should be owned in all dynasty and keeper formats.
Another one is Jordan Howard, rookie RB in Chicago. I also like him in the1st round of rookie drafts and one of my partners in crime at Fantasy IPA has been all over him since day 1. He definitely has a chance to carve out a role in Chicago as a rookie (John Fox has always used two RBs). I know Fox doesn’t generally trust rookies, but I feel this is an exception.
I want to get into a couple of guys who probably aren’t top 20 offensive rookie picks for fantasy purposes. I’ll start with a teammate of Corey Coleman’s and fellow Browns rookie WR Rashard Higgins. I would say to anyone in redraft leagues, I wouldn’t draft Higgins; he is more of a developmental guy for dynasty leagues. There is a lot I like about him and we have hit on that in a few of our podcasts at Fantasy IPA.
I’ll give one more name as a deep sleeper, TE Austin Hooper. There are a lot of things to like about him, the fact that he can block and catch, has very long arms and big hands; he is very fast for his size and he should be given the opportunity to get on the field a lot this year in Atlanta. I wouldn’t be surprised if he becomes a red-zone weapon for the Falcons from day 1. He obviously is not Tony Gonzalez, but he could be the answer the Falcons have been looking for since Gonzalez retired.
Next week Utter-Fantasy will have 10 new questions to another knowledgeable person from our fantasy football community.