Waiting for the NFL to Start

Waiting for the NFL to Start by Utter-Fantasy writer & illustrator Doug Bowles

Is it me, or does it seem like it’s already been a year…since we saw our last regular season NFL game?

No matter how many times I wave my hands in the air and yell…”Come on already”…it’s not getting here any faster.

Because it’s not, I have been forced to invent activities that relate to the NFL in various odd ways.

I share these with you, because I know I am not the only NFL and fantasy football fanatic out there struggling to cope.

 

 

Butterfingers

Activity #1) Watch 2015 highlights of Mike Evans and take a shot of whiskey every time he drops a pass ( Especially fun game because Evans had more drops than any other NFL wide receiver last year).

 

 

Fritos

Activity #2) You know the NFL acronym…”Not For Long”…well, I am writing my own NFL acronyms…starting with …”Need Fritos Later”

 

 

Gronkowski

Activity #3) Climb up my step ladder, and jump off while spiking a football, pretending that I am Gronk.

 

 

Ickey

Activity #4) I do the “Ickey Shuffle’ whenever the mail comes early.

 

 

caldwell

Activity #5) I am trying to master the DET HC Jim Caldwell’s expression…the one that looks like he is witnessing a house going up in flames.

 

 

Discount doublecheck

Activity #6) I discount double-check every sale purchased item from my Price Chopper supermarket.

 

 

Tire

Activity #7) I am deflating the air in my tires for a few months, to see if it gives me an advantage in rush hour traffic.

 

 

skittles

Activity #8) Stockpiled “Skittles”…to give me the energy I need to run to the refrigerator when I need another beer.

 

 

Boo

Activity #9) Have my family “boo me” any time I enter the room.

 

 

PEDs

Activity #10) I’ve failed 8 tests so far for PEDs.

 

 

If you are suffering like I am, I hope these ideas help. They are helping me…they really are.

You’re Welcome.

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

The Amazing 2014 Rookie Wide Receivers

The Amazing 2014 Rookie Wide Receivers by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

We tend to forget, that in 2013, some pretty good wide receivers were drafted. The first wide receiver drafted was Tavon Auston – 1st round St Louis selection at #8. He was followed by DeAndre Hopkins (Houston) and Cordarrelle Patterson (Minnesota) also in the first round. 2nd round wide receivers drafted were – Justin Hunter, Robert Woods & Aaron Dobson. 3rd round – Terrance Williams, Marquise Goodwin, Markus Wheaton & Stedman Bailey. In the 5th round, Kenny Stills was drafted by New Orleans and Baltimore later landed un-drafted wide receiver Marlon Brown…an impressive list of stars in the NFL.
If not for the class of 2014 wide receivers, the 2013 rookie accomplishments would be the bench mark for wide receivers coming into the league. The class of 2014 however, blew their numbers out of the gator-aid barrel and made for a new crazy-high standard which will make rookie WRs think twice before getting cocky on their way up the NFL draft podium.

A few of the TOP rookie WRs in 2013:

1) Cordarrelle Patterson – 627 yards & 7 TDs – ranked 38th among all WRs
2) Terrance Williams – 736 yards & 5 TDs – ranked 40th among all WRs
3) Kenny Stills – 641 yards & 5 TDs – ranked 47th among all WRs
4) Marlon Brown – 524 yards & 7 TDs – ranked 48th among all WRs
5) DeAndre Hopkins – 802 yards & 2 TDs – ranked 50th among all WRs

Another large class of rookie wide receivers came into the league in 2014. Five wide receivers were drafted in round one on the NFL draft – Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr, Brandon Cooks and Kelvin Benjamin. 2009 is the last year that 5+ WRs went in the first. In the 2nd round, seven more wide receivers were drafted – Marqise Lee, Jordan Matthews, Paul Richardson, Davante Adams, Cody Latimer, Allen Robinson and Jarvis Landry. Josh Huff, Donte Moncrief and John Brown in round 3. Martavius Bryant of the Pittsburgh Steelers made the biggest splash of the 3 WRs drafted in round 4.
Let’s take a look at some of the astounding stats of the TOP rookie WRs in 2014:

1) Odell Beckham Jr – 1305 yards & 12 TDs – ranked 5th among all WRs
2) Mike Evans – 1051 yards & 12 TDs – ranked 11th among all WRs
3) Kelvin Benjamin – 1008 yards & 9 TDs – ranked 16th among all WRs
4) Jordan Matthews – 872 yards & 8 TDs – ranked 24th among all WRs
5) Sammy Watkins – 982 yards & 6 TDs – ranked 25th among all WRs

To give you even more perspective on what this WR class achieved, in his rookie season in 2007, Calvin Johnson finished with 756 yards and 5 total touchdowns. He finished his 2nd year in the NFL 1331 yards and 12 TDs which is comparable to that numbers Odell Beckham put up in his rookie season. However, Megatron played all 16 games in 2008- Beckham amassed 1305 yards and 12 TDs in only 12 games.

The 2015 WR rookie class offers up once again, size and talent:
1) Amari Cooper – Alabama – 6’1″
2) Kevin White – West Virginia – 6’3″
3) DeVante Parker – Louisville – 6’3″
4) Dorial Green-Beckham – Oklahoma – 6’5″
5) Jaelen Strong – Arizona State – 6’3″
6) Sammie Coates – Auburn – 6’2″
7) Devin Funchess – Michigan – 6’5″

The expectations for these young men will be daunting however, because few will tend to forget the extraordinary year of the rookie WRs – 2014.