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”.

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

The Curse of the Heisman Trophy

The Curse of the Heisman Trophy by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug “Believer in Curses” Bowles

The Friday before “Super Bowl Weekend” can be a bit depressing. It means that the NFL season is almost over, and even staring at a couple new fantasy football trophies on my mantle doesn’t help.

My wife is an Alabama alumni, so watching Crimson Tide games is mandatory ( but I’d watch them anyways, no matter who I was married to!) As you might know, there are many Saban stars currently in the NFL. Julio Jones, Eddie Lacy, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, CJ Mosley, AJ McCarron, Dont’a Hightower and Mark Ingram to name a few.

The New Year however, did offer a couple of interesting college bowl games, which helped take my mind off of the end of another fantasy season. I particularly wanted to see the Cotton Bowl (Alabama vs Michigan State) and later the BCS National Championship ( (Alabama vs Clemson) so that I could get another good look at Heisman Trophy winner running back Derrick Henry.

During Alabama’s victory over Clemson, Henry rushed for 158 yards on 36 carries with three touchdowns. During the game, he also broke Shaun Alexander’s record for most career rushing yards in Alabama history. As a true freshman in 2013, Henry rushed for 382 yards on 36 carries with three touchdowns. During the 2014 Sugar Bowl, he rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown on eight carries and had a 61-yard touchdown reception. Sharing time with T J Yeldon his sophomore year in 2014, Henry rushed for 990 yards on 172 carries with 11 touchdowns. TJ Yeldon entered the NFL Draft in 2015, so Henry took over as the starting running back as a junior. Playing in all 15 games, he rushed for SEC records 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns on 395 carries.

I don’t know what it is about the Heisman, but like the Madden Cover, the success rate of anyone getting on the Heisman Award, is not good.

Here’s 15 years worth….

2000- QB Chris Weinke…..In 2001, he was the starter when the Panthers finished with a 1-15 record. Back up QB the rest of his career. Out in 2007

2001- QB Eric Crouch…..Drafted by St. Louis, but seen by the NFL as too short to play QB and better suited for playing wide out. Because of the injury, Crouch left the team before playing a single game

2002- QB Carson Palmer…..successful as the starting QB in Cincinnati and Arizona, but injuries have limited what Palmer might have been able to accomplish

2003- QB Jason White…..Despite a strong college career, White was not selected in the 2005 NFL Draft and did not receive a tryout from any NFL team

2004- QB Matt Leinart…..famous for his rookie season “hold-out”, Leinart spent four seasons with the Cardinals, primarily as backup for Kurt Warner

2005- ( RB Reggie Bush- Trophy & Award Forfeited )

2006- QB Troy Smith…..In the NFL from 2007 to 2009. Smith wasn’t drafted until Day 2, and was finally selected at the end of the fifth round by the Baltimore Ravens.

2007- QB T Tebow….He began the 2011 season as the Denver backup QB, behind Kyle Orton. Traded to the Jets in 2012 and a short stint with the Patriots, he was out of the NFL by 2013.

2008- QB Sam Bradford…..Drafted in 2010 by St. Louis. Expectations have been high for often-injured Bradford. In 2011, he went 4-0 in the preseason, but the Rams finished a dismal 2-14

2009- RB Mark Ingram….. Selected by the New Orleans Saints in the 2011 NFL Draft. Ingram’s best season so far is 2014. In prior seasons, Ingram never topped 602 yards or 5 TDs.

2010- QB Cam Newton…..most successful of Heisman trophy winners since 2000. Starter for the Carolina Panthers since 2011. 82 TDs vs 54 INTs

2011- QB Robert Griffin III…..has only 12 wins since starting in 2012

2012- QB J Manziel…..After a disastrous 2 seasons on the Cleveland roster, Manziel is said to be released by the Browns in March 2016.

2013- QB Jameis Winston

2014- QB Marcus Mariota

2015- RB Derrick Henry…..won the Heisman Trophy, beating out finalists Christian McCaffrey and Deshaun Watson.

The end of the regular NFL season is pretty darn depressing, but perhaps not as depressing as this pitiful list…but it seems to be getting better. 2010 Heisman trophy winner Cam Newton not only had an MVP regular season, but is headed for the Super Bowl on February 7th. Rookie QBs Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota had very good 1st years in the NFL, for rookie quarterbacks. (Perhaps the most demanding position in sports, to be thrown into right away. ) Now… can Derrick Henry keep the positive streak of the Heisman going, or will he start a new streak of players with the trophy who are unsuccessful in the NFL?

After watching RB Henry quite a bit over the past couple years, I am afraid that he is a product of a very good Alabama system, rather than being a very good running back. Remember, RB Trent Richardson was also a star running back from Alabama, a powerful, straight ahead runner like Henry, who failed miserably in the NFL. Jacksonville’s TJ Yeldon is out that same mold as well, and he didn’t exactly set the NFL on fire with his talent in 2015 ( 740 yards on 182 carries- 2 TDs).

A more talented back out of Alabama is Eddie “when he’s 30 pounds lighter” Lacy. I am hoping that Henry turns out to be more “Lacy” than “Richardson”, but until we know…..let everyone else draft him high next September.

2015 Strength of Schedule and Who Cares

2015 Strength of Schedule and Who Cares by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator & Doug Bowles

I’ll admit it. I tend to be the “over-thinker” in regards to the NFL and fantasy football.

Every fantasy draft has a few of me…..the fantasy football drafter who researches everything and anything in order to draft the best possible fantasy team. ( Every fantasy draft also has the “unprepared” team owners….who “wing it” from the start, and who maybe studied an hour before the draft. )
As the “over-thinker”, I look at everything from statistics, trends, player contracts, offensive lines…and even NFL drafts dating back 10 years. You name it, I usually research it. But one area I think I’ll stop considering is “Strength of Schedule”….also called “Projected Difficulty of Schedule”. After researching my research, I’ve concluded that 2015 Strength of Schedule and Who Cares!

The following is a list of 14 teams…..7 teams which had the hardest NFL schedules for 2015, and 7 teams which had the easiest NFL schedules for 2015. It is very interesting to see how their seasons turned out. It appears that if a team is good enough, it ultimately doesn’t matter who they are playing.

NFL – In 2015, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati had the 1st and 2nd hardest schedule respectively. As you know, these 2 teams with the most Difficulty of Schedule, got into the playoffs.

The Strength of Schedule is based on statistics from the previous year. With all the changes that NFL teams go through, from the Super Bowl in February to kickoff in September, the information for determining the Strength of Schedule almost becomes obsolete and irrelevant.

The Strength of Schedule did not seem to help the teams that were terrible the year before either. Atlanta who was given the easiest schedule, was 6-10 in 2014, and 8-8 in 2015, ( not much of an improvement) Jacksonville, New Orleans and Tennessee also had some of the easiest of schedules and yet they combined for only 15 wins. 7 teams listed below with very tough schedules all went to the playoffs. (The Carolina Panthers actually fell into the “Easy Schedule”, at #6 (easiest) for 2015, but they would have gone to the playoffs regardless.)

Strength of Schedule…TEAM…2015 Record

#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

 

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.

So, going into the 2016 season, I will ignore any “Strength of Schedules” statistics that I happen to stumble on, and I will concentrate on what really matters…“Strength of Talent”.

2014 Fantasy Players That Won Championships

2014 Fantasy Players That Won Championships by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator & Champion of his share of leagues Doug Bowles

The 2014 Fantasy Season is over with Week 17 in the books….and the trophies have been hoisted, so this article can be written.

I find this information particularly interesting, because for years and years (and years) I have been a proponent of drafting QBs later in fantasy drafts, and what I am about to share with you will solidify my stance on the matter.

The following is a list comprised by the NFL Network of “the most owned players that were on the rosters of winning championship fantasy teams in 2014″. Evaluating the list, 8 Running Backs made the list, 8 Wide Receivers made the list, 2 Tight Ends, 1 Defense and 1 Kicker. What’s missing from the top 20 is a Quarterback. In a league where QBs are protected more than any other position and where rules have been made to highly encourage “passing the ball” to promote higher scoring games, it’s fascinating that there isn’t a quarterback on it. What’s also fascinating is that in a league where running backs have been de-valued, as many running backs made the list as wide receivers (8) Clearly, the NFL can de-value the running back position all they want, but fantasy owners cannot.

Most Owned Players on Fantasy Championship Rosters…

#1…WR Odell Beckham

#2…RB C J Anderson

#3…WR Mike Evans

#4…TE Gronk

#5…RB DeMarco Murray

#6…RB Marshawn Lynch

#7…WR Kelvin Benjamin

#8…RB Justin Forsett

#9…LIONS Defense

#10…TE Antonio Gates

#11…RB LeVeon Bell

#12….RB Mark Ingram

#13…RB Matt Forte

#14…K Cody Parkey

#15…WR Jordy Nelson

#16…WR Dem Thomas

#17…RB Eddie Lacy

#18…WR Dez Bryant

#19…WR Antonio Brown

#20…WR Randall Cobb

Stash this list somewhere, because it very may be the blueprint for next year’s round 1 & 2, in a 10 team fantasy league!

Team Profiles- Pittsburgh Steelers

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

The Pittsburgh Steelers, the oldest franchise in the AFC, has been led by head coach Mike Tomlin since January 22, 2007. Tomlin is the first African-American to be named head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers in its 75-year history. At age 36, he was the youngest head coach to ever win the Super Bowl and in 2010, Tomlin was the only coach to reach the Super Bowl twice before the age of 40. Tomlin’s record is 76-44 and he is the first Pittsburgh coach without a losing season.

The 2014 season was known for record performances from the “killer B’s”. This trio consisted of WR Antonio Brown, QB Ben Roethlisberger and RB Le’Veon Bell.

2015 Team Outlook – The Steelers won the AFC North division in 2014, topping rivals Cincinnati, Baltimore and Cleveland. 3 of the 4 teams in this Division made it to the playoffs. The 4th, Cleveland, almost did as well (Until they decided to bench QB Hoyer and start Manziel, which ended the Browns chances because they never won again in 2014.) Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Baltimore all have such well coached, well-balanced teams that it’s anyone’s guess who will be champs of that division in 2015. (I guess I’m anybody, and my guess is that it will be Pittsburgh taking the Division once again.)

2015 Fantasy Outlook-

QB– Ben Roethlisberger is the best quarterback in the AFC North division, followed by Baltimore’s Joe Flacco. Every year in fantasy drafts, I am the guy that is willing to wait to the later rounds to get my QBs. I understand wanting QB Rodgers, Brees and Manning early, but I have to say that I am usually able to win my leagues by putting a higher priority on top RBs & WRs, then getting my Tier 2 quarterbacks in the later rounds. In 2014, I drafted Roethlisberger and later Russell Wilson in nearly every league. They ended the 2014 season as the #5 and #6 QBs in the NFL respectively. (I’ll also target Cutler, Rivers and Romo. If you are going to wait on QBs in fantasy drafts, you have to jump in and get 2 of the top 15 rated QBs or it’s too late.)
* Last season Roethlisberger recorded 4952 passing yards with 32 TDs vs 9 INTs. Only QBs Luck, Rodgers, Brees and Peyton Manning had better seasons. His receiving corps with #1 WR Antonio Brown and two young guys, Martvius Bryant and Markus Wheaton will be one the best in the NFL for 2015. Roethlisberger will help you win fantasy leagues this year.

RBs– Le’Veon Bell is really good, and Le’Veon Bell is really going to spend at least the first three games in 2015 sitting on the bench. (appeal to suspension pending ) Bell pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of marijuana on Aug. 20 2014. This suspension will make some fantasy owners pass on him in the first round, which will allow you to steal him. If you subtract three average games from his incredible 2225 total yards from scrimmage and 11 all-purpose TDs in 2014, Bell would still rank in the top 5. He’s an every down back, he’s used on the goal line and no running back in the NFL had more receiving yards last season than Bell (854). UPDATE: The NFL is taking their sweet time on Bell’s appeal and Bell confirmed that he doesn’t know when it will. The NFL should reduce Bell’s three-game suspension. He’s a first-time offender of league policy.

WRs– I pride myself on seeing player potential, finding the fantasy diamonds-in-the-rough and forecasting break out players, but have to admit that I missed the boat on Antonio Brown’s past 2 seasons. I knew that he was a great receiver and the #1 WR on a great team, but from #37 in 2012…to #7 in 2013…to #1 in 2014? WR Antonio Brown got the lion’s share of the passing game last season, pushing Pittsburgh’s #2 receiver Martavius Bryant down to ranking #43 in the NFL. Brown had 1698 and 13 TDs while Bryant had 549 yards and 8 TDs. WR Markus Wheaton ranked #59 with 644 yards and 2 TDs. Bryant and Wheaton are young WRs that were drafted in the past 2 years. I expect Antonio Brown to have another monster year for Pittsburgh, but I also expect that the passing numbers will even out more between the 3 WRs in 2015.

TEs– QB Ben Roethlisberger has referred to Heath Miller many times as the best tight end in the NFL. Statistically Jason Witten, Gronk and Graham beat Miller, but that position carries more with it than just receptions and TDs. After the 2012 season, Miller was voted MVP of the team by his teammates. In 2014, Miller had 761 yards and 3 TDs which ranked him #12 TE in the NFL. He is the only fantasy option at the position for Pittsburgh and is under contract through 2016.

K– On August 1st, 2014 K Shaun Suisham signed a three-year contract extension with the Steelers and is coming off a 30-of-32 campaign, the best of his career. He was the #7 placekicker in the league last season and he plays for a team who’s offense routinely gives him plenty of opportunities. Suisham’s 56 extra points was the most of any team in 2014.

DEF– Pittsburgh’s 5 defensive TDs was tied for tops in the NFL last season. The Steel Curtain was more like the the Lead Curtain when it came to sacking opposing quarterbacks and recording interceptions, as Pittsburgh ranked near the bottom in both categories. The Steelers were so strapped for pass rushers that they were forced to coax back 37 year old James Harrison. With defensive players heading for free agency, asking Troy Polamalu to retire, and others just not cutting it for Pittsburgh, the team has a plenty to fix between now and September. UPDATE: Troy Polamalu has retired from football. Steelers resigned James Harrison.

2014 Pittsburgh Fantasy Surprises– I knew WR Antonio Brown would be great, just not #1 WR in the NFL great. RB Le’Veon is proving to be incredibly durable considering his workload, having played in all 16 games during the 2014 season. His only missed games in 2013 were the result of a mid-foot sprain that he suffered in the 2nd week of preseason. The injury did not require surgery but he missed the first three weeks of the NFL Regular Season.

2015 Free Agents that Pittsburgh Needs to Address– RB Bet Tate (signed late December 2014)- FB Will Johnson- WR Darrius Heyward-Bey- WR Lance Moore (released)- TE Matt Spaeth (resigned)- CB Ike Taylor- CB Brice McCain

2015 NFL Draft– The immediate needs of Pittsburgh are addressing most positions on defense, and at running back. As in indicted by their fewest number of sacks in 5 years, Pittsburgh has to get some pass rushers (DE), the Steelers have two of their corners possibly leaving in free agency (CB), they need depth on their up-front rotation (DL). They also need someone not only backing up Le’Veon Bell, but someone who can start games 1-4 in 2015 if necessary (RB). UPDATE: Pittsburgh’s entire 2015 NFL Draft can be seen at this link- PITTSBURGH’S DRAFT

Did You Know– In 1962 the Pittsburgh Steelers did not have their own logo design until a company named Republic Steel (Who are located in Cleveland – the city of their most bitter rival.) suggested that they adapt the insignia called the Steelmark, used by the American Iron and Steel institute. Pittsburgh liked the idea and their logo was born. The 3 colors in the insignia represent the three materials used to produce steel: yellow for coal; orange for iron ore; and blue for steel scrap. (Prior to 1962, while other teams were already sporting teams logos, since the Steelers didn’t have theirs yet, all they could do was add the players’ numbers and a black stripe to their distinctive gold helmets.)

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

Team Home Page: www.steelers.com

Team Profiles Philadelphia Eagles

Team Profiles Philadelphia Eagles by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug “wit out” Bowles

After only 2 seasons as an NFL coach, Chip Kelly has made it clear to everyone on planet Earth that he’s going to build this team “his way“, and apparently with the blessing of Eagle’s owner Jeffery Lurie. He’s been changing the Eagle’s roster faster than the Brown’s change quarterbacks, and he doesn’t seem to care who he let’s go. Players like DeSean Jackson, Trent Cole, LeSean McCoy, Carey Williams, and Todd Herremans have all had to buy new houses in different cities. Kelly came into the NFL wanting to change how the game is played, at least on his team, and only time will tell whether he ends being hailed as a genius or run out of town.

2015 Team Outlook– The NFC East is one of the strongest divisions in the NFL, and although Dallas had their best year since 2009, the Eagles and the Giants can handily challenge them for division champs in 2015. Washington is still in rebuilding mode with a new head coach and with QB RG3 regressing badly from his successful rookie season, so they may not be contenders. Kelly has 2 winning seasons so far (both years…10-6) so his maverick way of coaching hasn’t ruffled the feathers of too many Eagles fans, yet. If he had losing seasons in 2013 & 2014, trading home-town hero RB LeSean McCoy to Buffalo would likely have landed his head at the end of a stick! Even this ballsy move didn’t cause a huge, hostile commotion because ownership and the Philly fan base are going to give Kelly the benefit of the doubt…until he falls on his face, if he ever does.

2015 Fantasy Outlook–

QB– QB Nick Foles has got to be wondering what the heck he has to do in the NFL, to get a little respect. In only his second year, here’s how his 2013 season panned out. Foles finished with 27 touchdown passes and only 2 interceptions, and a season leading 119.0 passer rating. Foles led the Eagles to their 1st playoff berth since 2010. Hosting the Saints, the Eagles lost by two points as the game ended at 26-24. Foles threw for 195 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no INTs, for a passer rating of 105 in his postseason debut. Evidently this is only impressing me. Philly traded QB 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. Coach Chip Kelly said Sam Bradford and Mark Sanchez are openly competing for the starting quarterback job, but the Eagles dealt Nick Foles and a second-round pick for Bradford and his $13 million salary, so Bradford is expected to start.

RBs– The Eagles are solid at the running back position for the 2015 NFL season, having one the best RBs in the NFL LeSean McCoy. Sorry, I mean, Buffalo is solid at the running back position, because HC Kelly traded McCoy in exchange for LB Kiko Alonso. (naturally, Alonso played his college football at Oregon) As of now, 5’6″ – 190 pound, 31-year-old Darren Sproles is listed as the starting running back. The Eagles also have RBs Matthew Tucker (an undrafted free agent) and Kenjon Barner (naturally, Barner played his college football at Oregon) on their roster, so perhaps HC Kelly thinks one of them can be a starter. UPDATE: The Eagles signed former RB Ryan Mathews and former RB DeMarco Murray.It will be a 3-headed monster in Philly with those two RBs and RB Darren Sproles. RB Murray is going very early in current mock drafts, but Utter-Fantasy has dropped his fantasy value and ranks him down to #17 RB confidently.

WRs– In early 2014, Chip Kelly released WR DeSean Jackson without any kind of compensation whatsoever. This year WR Jeremy Maclin is a free agent, and it doesn’t appear that the Eagles want to pony up and pay Maclin. If the Eagles lose Maclin…then Jordan Matthews, Riley Cooper, and Josh Huff would be left as their top three receivers. Matthews is a young star that was drafted by the Eagles in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Cooper is barely worth keeping, but cutting Riley Cooper would cost Philadelphia more, thanks to the ridiculous deal the Eagles gave the wide receiver last year. ($22.5M with $10M guaranteed) Josh Huff was drafted by the Eagles in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft. (naturally, Huff played his college football at Oregon) Huff could and should replace Cooper as the #2 WR if Maclin flies off to another team, and Huff is a 2015 low-end sleeper either way. Update: Philly signed former Brown/Cowboy WR Miles Austin, but he has no fantasy value. UPDATE: The Eagles selected 6’0″ WR Nelson Agholor with their 1st pick in the 1st round of the 2015 NFL Draft. He will start immediately opposite 2nd year player Wr Jordan Matthews and Agholor is a nice sleeper candidate for 2015.

TEs– An increasing number of NFL offenses are learning to feature pass-catching tight ends in their offense, but even before Chip Kelly took over, the Eagles have always been a team that already did this. Philadelphia almost always has a tight end rank in the NFL top 15 and in 2014 it was TE Zack Ertz at #13. He totaled 703 yards and 3 TDs on the season. Ertz really showed it off how valuable he could be Week 11, hauling in 15 passes for 115 yards. Long-time Eagle TE Brent Celek came in at #35 with 340 yards and 1 TD. With the wide receiving corps going through a transformation, HC Kelly may rely on his athletic TEs even more in 2015. I have TE Ertz sneaking into my top 10 TEs rankings for the upcoming fantasy season.

K- Eagle’s place kicker Cody “Parker” Parkey was recently showcased in an Utter-Fantasy player profile. For an interesting, in-depth review of the kicker who’s cleats will soon be on their way to Canton, OH…see “One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure“.

DEF– The Eagles defense took a step forward in 2014, under HC Chip Kelly and DC Bill Davis (former depressive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals.) Only the Houston T& Pittsburgh had more defensive TDs than Philadelphia did in 2014 (5 vs 4) and only Buffalo & Baltimore had more sacks. The Eagles special teams had a very special year as well, scoring twice as many kick off touchdowns than any other team in the NFL. (4) Fortunately, the Eagles don’t have big headache to face with core defensive players heading for free agency, like the New york Giants have for instance. UPDATE: Philly released CB Cary Williams.

2014 Philadelphia Fantasy Surprises–
RB LeSean McCoy is one of the best receiving running backs in the NFL. With the quick hitting offense that Philly has, it makes sense that McCoy would have grown with the system and improved on his 2013 stats of 540 receiving yards and 2 TDs. Instead, McCoy had the first season since his rookie year, that he had no receiving TDs and less than 315 receiving yards (only 155 in 2014) If you read K Parkey’s player profile, you may have been surprised to see that he ranked as #2 place kicker in the NFL in 2014.

2015 Free Agents that Philadelphia Needs to Address– QB Mark Sanchez (re-signed)- WR Jeremy Maclin(signed w/ KC)- WR Brad Smith- TE James Casey (released)- OT Todd Herremans (released)- OLB Brandon Graham- LB Casey Matthews- CB Bradley Fletcher- CB Cary Williams- S Nate Allen.

2015 NFL Draft– The immediate needs of Philadelphia are at quarterback, wide receivers and need depth on their entire defense. The Eagles will have to pay a king’s ransom to move up and get Mariota (QB), if Maclin becomes a free agent for another team, the Eagles need help at wide receiver, especially with WR Cooper almost impossible to move (WRs) and Philadelphia has under-sized corners who have to clash with WRs in the division who are not under-sized (CB & S). UPDATE: Philapelphia’s entire 2015 NFL Draft can be seen at this link- PHILADELPHIA’S DRAFT

Did You Know-
In June of 2002, the Lincoln Financial Group paid a lump sum of $139.6 million to name the Eagle’s football stadium…the Lincoln Financial Field. In 8 years, the Group will need to write another big check, or let the city find another suitor. (I’m hoping for “Pat’s King of Steaks Field” as a name…original home of the Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich.)

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

Team Home Page: www.philadelphiaeagles.com

Team Profile Oakland Raiders

 

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

 

Jack Del Rio was hired as head coach of the Raiders in January 2015. He had previously been the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2003 until 2011, the second head coach in the Jags history. Del Rio is a defense-minded coach having played linebacker in the NFL for 11 years. In his first season with Jacksonville, the Jags finished the season with the second-ranked rush defense and sixth best overall defense. Since Oakland finished dead last in most defensive categories, the Raiders will be hoping that Del Rio can bring that kind of success to the West coast.

2015 Team Outlook – The Raiders only won 3 games last year. They share the AFC West with the division bulldozing Broncos and two other very good teams in the Chiefs and the Chargers. Oakland has a new head coach, a quarterback that’s only going into his 2nd season, a running back that’s only had 5 starts, and a receiving corps that has no real #1, so what should 2015 expectations be? They want to be competitive in every game, and find things to build on for the future. (Peyton can’t play forever.)

2015 Fantasy Outlook –


QB–
In an article that I wrote about this time last year entitled “Who’s #1“, you can read where I conceded that Blake Bortles was going to be the #1 QB taken in the draft, but I thought it would be Houston doing it. Nonetheless, Bortles went first and in my opinion, QB Derek Carr should have gone 2nd. It didn’t turn out that way, as Cleveland wasted their 1st rounder on Johnny Rehab, and look where they are now. Meanwhile, the Raiders, with their 2nd round selection, have a QB for the the future. Carr ended the 2014 season with a respectable 3270 passing yards, 21 TD passes with only 12 INTS. (Bortles had 11 TDs & 17 INTs.) Carr’s stats from 2014 landed him #20 among NFL quarterbacks. He didn’t get pounded like his brother years ago, and he proved he could be a starter in the NFL. UPDATE: Raiders released QB Matt Schaub and signed former Viking QB Ponder to a 1 year deal.

RBs– There are certain things in the NFL that are simply “head-scratchers” for the average Joe to try and understand. Like, why are there retractable roofs in Houston and Arizona, and open roofs in Foxborough or Cleveland? How can the multi-billion dollar NFL industry still be considered a tax-exempt, non-profit organization by the IRS while taxpayers are still paying millions a year to subsidize it?…And why did the Oakland Raiders start RB Darren McFadden and MJD for 3/4 of the 2014 season while RB Latavius Murray sat the bench? In Murray’s first start vs the KC Chiefs in week 12, he only had 4 carries due to a concussion he suffered early in the game. Those 4 carries resulted in 112 yards and 2 TDs. Those 4 carries resulted in more yards than Maurice Jones-Drew had for the entire season with 43 carries. Those 4 carries resulted in same number of TDs that RB Darren McFadden had for the entire season. RB MJD has since retired, and the Raiders won’t resign McFadden. RB Murray is locked in as the Raider #1 and new OC, Bill Musgrave has stated that he is planning to “tailor” his run game to fit Latavius. UPDATE: Raiders signed former Brown/Colt RB Trent Richardson and former Washington RB Roy Helu to 2 year deals. Neither are good fantasy options.

WRs–
If you’re a corner back or safety in the NFL, names like James Jones, Brice Butler, Andre Holmes or Rod Streater don’t exactly have you up with worry the night before the game vs Oakland. These are all gifted athletes because they are in the NFL, but they are not Antonio Brown, Dez Bryant, Jordy Nelson or Demaryius Thomas. WR James Jones was the #1 WR for the Raiders in 2014, but compared to the other wide receivers in the league, he barely ranked in the top 50. Therefore, the Raiders need a bona fide #1 wide receiver and there just so happens to be a couple (or a few) in the upcoming NFL Draft. The Raiders have the #4 overall this April, which is an ideal spot to grab either Amari Cooper or Kevin White, the two top WR prospects coming out of college. UPDATE: Raiders re-signed restricted free agent WR Rod Streater to a one-year deal. The Raiders selected 6’1″ WR Amari Cooper in the 1st Round, pick #4. Cooper immediately becomes the team’s #1 WR and a huge sleeper for 2015.

TEs–
Sophomore Mychal Rivera showed some flashes of being a big-time play maker at the tight end position last season for Oakland. He had a respectable #18 ranking in the league, made possible because of 3 stellar games in 2014. His best production of the 3 came in Week 14 vs Washington – 109 yards and 1 TD. Unfortunately the rest were duds. He did play in 15 games, so if he stays relatively healthy, perhaps QB Carr will find him more in 2015.

K-
Sebastian “Seabass” Janikowski started kicking in the NFL back when players wore leather helmets (or at least it seems that long ago). Over the span of his career, all with the Raiders, he has made over $45 million dollars, kicking field goals. Nice! His job was especially light in 2014, as he was only asked to attempt 22 field goals the entire season, little more than one per game.

DEF–
The Raiders have signed to their coaching staff Ken Norton Jr. to be the team’s defensive coordinator. Norton reunites with head coach Jack Del Rio, as the two men played together in three seasons while in Dallas. Norton has served as the linebacker coach for USC under Pete Carroll. On January 11, 2010 he became the Seahawks linebacker coach again under Pete Carroll. Raider fans are hoping that the combo of Jack Del Rio and Ken Norton Jr can get the Oakland defense out of the NFL basement. UPDATE: Oakland resigned Charles Woodson. Signed former Cardinal NT Dan Williams and former eagles Nate Allen. Re-signed DT C J Wilson.

2014 Oakland Fantasy Surprises – There’s little doubt that QB Derek Carr had a better year than expected (just ask Cleveland who drafted rehab manziel in the 1st round) carr wasn’t expected to start 16 games because Matt Schaub was brought from Houston to do that. The Dennis Allen firing was in part for having two sloths handling running back duties for better part of the season.

2015 Free Agents that Oakland Needs to Address –
RB Sloth McFadden (signed w/ Dallas)- WR Vincent Brown (signed w/ Indy)- WR Denarius Moore- TE David Ausberry- C Stefen Wisniewski- DE C J Wilson (re-signed)- DE Lamarr Woodley (released)- DT Pat Sims- CB Tarell Brown- CB Carlos Rogers- S Tyvon Branch-(signed w/ KC)

2015 NFL Draft–
The immediate needs of Oakland are at wide receiver, all over on defense, and a deeper offensive line. The team needs young play makers for QB Carr (WRs), the Raiders have OLB Khalil Mack who was sensational as a rookie, but they were second-to-last in the league in sacks so they need reinforcements on defense (DE/DT) and have 2 corner backs heading for free agency (CB). They probably also need to replace Stefen Wisniewski (C). UPDATE: Oakland’s entire 2015 NFL Draft can be seen at this link- OAKLAND’S DRAFT

Did You Know –
Del Rio became only the second NFL head coach since 1993 to wear a suit on the sidelines during a November 20, 2006 regular season contest against the Giants, following then 49ers head coach Mike Nolan who had sported the look the previous day vs Seattle. A sponsorship deal between the NFL and Reebok at the time prohibited coaches from wearing anything but Reebok clothing. HC Nolan petitioned the league for permission to wear a suit and since Reebok was planning to unveil a formal line of clothing in 2007, this led to the NFL adopting a rule that permits coaches to wear a suit twice a year. During the 2007 NFL season, both Del Rio and Nolan were given permission to wear a suit at all eight regular season home games. Since his firing as Jaguars coach, however, he no longer wears a suit.

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

Team Home Page: www.raiders.com

Team Profiles- New York Jets

Team Profiles- New York Jets by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug (no relation to Todd) Bowles

Todd Bowles signed a multi-year contract to become the head coach of the New York Jets on January 14, 2015, making him the 18th head coach in team history. (Doesn’t it seem like it has been a lot longer than 10 years ago since Herm Edwards was the Jets head coach?) Todd Bowles played eight seasons in the NFL as a safety. He worked as a defensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012, and then for the Arizona Cardinals in 2013 and 2014. The Jets replaced a defense-minded head coach (Rex Ryan) with another defense-minded head coach, even though the most glaring problems for New York for the past few years hasn’t necessarily been on defense.

2015 Team Outlook – The New York Jets, Buffalo and Miami have all had to watch as the New England Patriots win the AFC East division year after year…12 times in the past 14 years. The Pats started their dominating run in the AFC East one year after drafting QB Tom Brady (2000) That year, New York used one of their 4-1st round picks on QB Chad Pennington. The Jets entire organization is having a make over this year, including a new head coach, so it’s unlikely that they will threaten New England Patriots anymore than they did in 2014.

2015 Fantasy Outlook –

QB– The Jets have drafted 5 quarterbacks in the past 7 years….Tajh Boyd-2014, Geno Smith-2013, Greg McElroy-2011, Mark Sanchez-2009 and Eric Ainge-2008. Out of this group, only Geno Smith is still on there roster. Out of this group, only Geno Smith and Mark Sanchez are still in the NFL. Geno Smith is not the answer in New York, nor is free agent Mike Vick. The Jets have the #6 overall selection in April’s upcoming NFL Draft, so if the organization wants to try one more time at drafting a franchise quarterback, they are positioned to do so. The two top quarterbacks entering the draft are Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. Tampa Bay has the #1 overall selection and they need a QB as well. Rookie QB Winston recently visited the Bucs for an interview and he went to Florida State, so the fit makes sense. Most prognosticators have the Jets selecting rookie QB Marcus Mariota with their only 1st round pick. UPDATE: The Jets Acquired QB Ryan Fitzpatrick from the Texans in exchange for a 2016 seventh-round pick. Fitzpatrick will be competing with Geno Smith for the starting job likely right up to the season opener.

RBs– In 2014, the Jets had a patchwork offense made up of free agents from all over the NFL. RB Chis Ivory came over from New Orleans. RB Chris Johnson came from Tennessee. RB Darryl Richardson was a Ram in 2013. WR Eric Decker was a Bronco and WR Percy Harvin was traded by Seattle. With poor play at the QB position and so many players being worked into a new offense, it’s a wonder that the Jets even won 4 games. In 2014, #1 RB Ivory had 198 rushing attempts for 821 yards and scored seven all-purpose TDs. Ivory turns 27 this month, and will return to the Jets in 2015. RB Chris Johnosn on the other hand is a free agent and New York doesn’t want the back…back. RB Chris Johnson recently blamed GM John Idzik for his reduced role last season and lack of production last season which is classic CJ2K…always blaming someone else. He will get marginal interest as a free agent. UPDATE: The Jets will not re-sign RB Chris Johnson.

WRs– Last season WR Eric Decker chased the money to New York, leaving Denver, Peyton Manning as his quarterback, and a team that had gone to the Super Bowl in 2013. In that Super Bowl year, Decker was the #8 wide receiver in the league, with 1288 receiving yards and 11 TDs. His 2014 season in New York was not as successful. Decker went from #8 to #28 WR in the NFL, with 962 yards and 5 TDs. That was good enough to be the #1 WR for the Jets. To find the stats for the #2 WR in New York, you have to go all the way down to #85 among all NFL wide receivers- Jeremy Kerley. He ended 2014 with 409 yards and 1 TD. The #3 WR for the Jets was the ever-disappointing Percy Harvin- 350 yards -1 TD. Just how bad was this passing offense in 2014? WR Antonio Brown for the Pittsburgh Steelers almost had more receiving yards than all Jets 3 top WRs combined. UPDATE: The Jets acquired WR Brandon Marshall and a 2015 seventh-round pick from the Bears in exchange for a 2015 fifth-round pick. Do not draft Marshall too early. The QB situation for the Jets stinks, and honestly, Marshall hasn’t been motivated for a long time now.

TEs–
If the top Jets 3 wide receivers didn’t get very many receiving yards or touchdowns in 2014, you can bet the tight ends on the team didn’t either. Jet TE Jace Amaro had 345 yards and 2 TDs, followed by Jeff Cumberland with 247 yards and 3 TDs. Neither TE will help much in the NFL or in fantasy football.

K– Hey guess what? An offensive player from the Jets team actually ranked in the 2014 top 15 at his position in the NFL! Kicker Nick Folk ranked #14 knocking in 32 of 39 field goal attempts and all 23 extra points. Alright Nick!

DEF– If you can’t put a great offense on the field each week (or in the Jets case…any week) you damn well better put the best defense out there, which the Jets didn’t do either. New York was the 9th worst team at points allowed in 2014. They got zero TDs from their defense. (JJ Watt for Houston had 2 defensive TDs all by himself.) The Jets were last in the NFL in INTs. This all culminates into four words…”Rex you are fired”. UPDATE: The Jets signed CBs Darelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie to 5 and 4 year deals respectively.

2014 New York Jets Fantasy Surprises
– I was surprised that WR Eric Decker did as well as he did. He almost posted a 1,000 yard season (granted, 221 yards came in the last game of the season vs Miami) Prior to that game, Decker had only one game with 100 yards receiving all year (in Week 15). RB Chris Johnson complains and makes excuses, but is still fast. Didn’t matter…he was only able to score 1 TD in 2014 – a 35 yard TD run in the 4th quarter of Week 4 vs Detroit.

2015 Free Agents that New York Needs to Address –
QB Mike Vick- (not re-signed) RB Chris Johnso (not re-signed)- RB Bilal Powell (re-signed)- FB John Connor- G Willie Colon (re-signed)- DT Kenrick Ellis (signed w/ NY Giants)- ILB David Harris (re-signed)- S Dawan Landry.
The Jets signed SS Marcus Gilchrist to a 4 year deal and re-signed LS Tanner Purdum.

2015 NFL Draft– The immediate needs of the New York Jets are at quarterback, at corner back, new offensive linemen and a running back. The Jets simply can’t go another season with Geno Smith as their quarterback (QB), they need at least 3 new corners (CB), they need big guys to protect a new rookie quarterback (OL) and they need depth behind Chris Ivory (RB). UPDATE: New York Jet’s entire 2015 NFL Draft can be seen at this link- NEW YORK JET’S DRAFT

Did You Know – The Jets have a perfect record in Super Bowl appearances? The Jets are joined by the New Orleans Saints and the Tampa bay Buccaneers as the only three NFL teams to win their lone Super Bowl appearance.


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

Team Home Page: www.newyorkjets.com

Team Profiles – New York Giants 2015

Team Profiles- New York Giants 2015 by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

Team Profiles – New York Giants 2015. It’s been rumored that after he steps down from coaching in the NFL, Tom Coughlin has agreed to star in the 3rd sequel to “Grumpy Old Men”, but in the meantime, you have to think he wants one more Super Bowl before going into the movies. The often-cantankerous Coughlin has been the head coach in New York since 2004, and led the Giants to victories in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI. Prior to signing on with New York, Coughlin was also the first ever head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, serving from 1995–2002 and leading the team to two AFC Championship games. After three straight playoff-less seasons, the Giant’s owner John Mara called Big Blue’s 2014 season an “embarrassment”, and admitted that at one point he almost fired everyone. The Giants closed the year by winning three of their final four games, so Coughlin still has a seat in New York for 2015, albeit a hot one.

2015 Team Outlook– The Giants are joined in the NFC East by Dallas, Philadelphia and Washington. Like the AFC West, it’s a very competitive division where all 4 teams can claim division victories at least twice, since 1999. Dallas had their best year since 2009 and won the 2014 season with 12 wins vs only 4 losses. The last time the Giants won the division was in 2011 with a record of 9-7. They also won the Superbowl that year. With Dallas & the Giants both facing major changes to their roster due to free agency, and Philadelphia & Washington have big question marks at the quarterback position, the Division is up for grabs in 2015.

2015 Fantasy Outlook–

QB–
From the middle of the 2013 season to the middle of 2014 NFL season, I was convinced that their was something seriously wrong with QB Eli Manning’s throwing arm or shoulder. It looked extremely arduous for him to throw a pass farther than 20 yards, and I wasn’t sure he’d ever be 100% again. Through the first 6 weeks of the 2014 season, QB Manning managed to throw for 300 yards only once, and had only 11 TD passes vs 5 INTs. After his bye in Week 8, Eli looked like the old Eli again, and if you want to be kind and remove a disastrous Week 11, he threw 14 TDs and only 4 INTs for the remainder of the year. He also topped 300 yards passing in 4 more games after the bye, and had 429 yards and 1 TD Week 17. Thanks to his rebound (and thanks to a super-star receiver named Odell Beckham Jr) Eli ended the 2014 season as the 11th ranked QB in the league. The Giants have a promising young team coming up this season, and I like Eli (again) as a big sleeper for fantasy owners.

RBs–
In 2014, Cleveland was excited to get RB Ben Tate, Jacksonville was excited to get RB Toby Gerhart, and the New York Giants were excited to get RB Rashard Jennings. Injuries however, forced all three teams to rely one someone else to run the ball, and in the Giants case, that was rookie RB Andre Williams. The Giants had wisely drafted RB Willliams in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. From Week 5 on, RB Williams became the Giant’s workhorse, carrying the ball 200+ times and scoring 7 TDs. He ended the 2014 season as the #23 running back in the NFL (Rashard Jennings ended the 2014 as the #30 running back, getting healthy and back into action Week 11.) Although currently listed as the Giants #1 RB, Jennings is a 29-year-old running back with a history of injuries, and it will be hard for him to be much more than a timeshare back with Andre Williams in 2015. UPDATE: Giants released RBs David Wilson and Hillis. Former Patriot RB Shane Vereen was signed to a 3 year deal.

WRs– The only thing Odell Beckham Jr really did in 2014 was rank as the #5 wide receiver in the NFL as a rookie, playing in only 12 games, and he received the Rookie of the Year Award. (A few more notes on Beckham are included below in “Did You Know”…) WR Victor Cruz has been the #1 wide receiver in New York since 2011, but On October 12, against Philadelphia suffered a torn patellar tendon prematurely ending his 2014 season. Cruz is five months removed from knee surgery and expects to be cleared for training camp. If Cruz can come back healthy, along with 3rd year veteran WR Rueban Randle, the Giants WR corps has become one the best in the NFL. UPDATE: WR Victor Cruz’ rehab is going slowly and he could possibly be released for cap room. Cruz says that he should be ready to play in preseason games. UPDATE 2: The Giants are raving about WR Rueben Randle early on this spring/summer and Eli Manning has already predicted a breakout year for Randle. Not good enough for me. I’ve heard this before. I’ll pass on Randle.

TEs–
Giants re-signed exclusive rights free agent TE Larry Donnell to a one-year, $585,000 contract. TE Donnell hauled in 63 passes from QB Eli Manning for 623 yards and 6 TDs, which ranked him #11 among NFL tight ends. TE Daniel Fells was also a weapon for Manning especially in the red zone, catching 4 TDs in 2014. UPDATE: Giants re-signed TE Larry Donnell.

K– Josh Brown signed with the New York Giants on March 13, 2013, making the 4th team that he has played for since being drafted by the Seahawks in the seventh round of the 2003 NFL Draft. Brown only missed 2 field goals in 2014, but only attempted 26 total.

DEF– The Giants haven’t had a defense that’s even sniffed around the top 10 since 2011 (13th). Jason Pierre-Paul almost entered free agency, but the pass rush of New York still has serious roster problems, and it doesn’t help that they have at least 8 other defensive players that could be on the way out of town. The Giant’s top three safeties from a year ago were Antre Rolle, Stevie Brown and Quinton Demps and all have expiring contracts. I’m not done. The Giants fielded one of the league’s worst run defenses in league last season, so New York has a lot of work to do just to put a defense on the field in September. UPDATE: ESPN reports Jason Pierre-Paul (hand) “could” miss training camp and the start of the season. The Giants are still “awaiting more medical info” after Pierre-Paul almost blew off his hand in a 4th of July fireworks incident.

2014 New York Giants Fantasy Surprises– No one was really talking much about WR Odell Beckham Jr before the 2014 season started, but he was almost everyone was talking about him when the 2014 season ended. If anyone tells you that they thought in September 2014, that Odell Beckham Jr would be the NFL 2014 rookie of the year, I hope their pants caught on fire when they told you that. I have to admit that even though I knew of RB Jennings previous injury history, I was “All In” on him as the starter for the Giants and shouldn’t have been surprised when he got hurt in Week 5.

2015 Free Agents that New York Needs to Address– FB Henry Hynoski- RB Hillis (released)- WR Jerrel Jernigan- G James Brewer- G John Jerry (re-signed)- Center J D Walton (released)- DE Mathias Kiwanuka- OL Spencer Paysinger- OL Jacquian Williams- ILB Mark Herzlich- CB Zach Bowman- CB Walter Thurmond- S Stevie Brown- S Quintin Demps- S Antrel Rolle- DE Jason Pierre-Paul (franchise tag).

2015 NFL Draft– The immediate needs of the Giants are trying to fill the holes that will be left in their defense after free agency and like every other team in the league except Dallas, they need help on their O-Line. The Giants have 3 safeties entering free agency (S), New York couldn’t stop the run (LB) and New York’s 2014 line play was atrocious (OL). UPDATE: New York Giant’s entire 2015 NFL Draft can be seen at this link- NEW YORK GIANT’S DRAFT

Did You know –
In his shortened 2014 NFL season, Odell Beckham Jr had New York Giants franchise records in…

• Most receiving yards in a season, Rookie: 1,305
• Most receptions in a season, Rookie: 91
• Most receptions in a game by a WR, rookie: 12, December 14, 2014
• Most receptions in a game, any position, Rookie: 12
• Most consecutive games with 90+ receiving yards: 9
• Most 100 Yard games, Rookie, Season: 7, 2014
• Most 125+ Yard games, Rookie, Season: 6, 2014
• Most 150+ Yard games, Rookie, Season: 2, 2014
• Most games with 10+ receptions, Rookie, Season: 4
• Most games with 10+ receptions, 100+ receiving yards, 1+ TD, Rookie, Season: 4, 2014
• Most games with 2+ receiving TDs, Rookie, Season: 4, 2014
• Most games with 6+ receptions, 90+ receiving yards, Season: 9
• Most touchdown receptions of 35+ yards, Rookie, Season: 4
• Most all-purpose yards (rush, rec, return yardage) by a WR, Rookie, Season: 1,326
• Most receiving yards at home, Rookie, Season: 767
• Most receptions at home, Rookie, Season: 51
• Highest average receiving yards per game, Season: 108.8
• Highest receiving yards per catch (min. 50 catches), Rookie, Season: 14.34
• Only Giants rookie WR to have 50+ receptions in a season
• Only Giants rookie to have 10+ receptions, 125+ receiving yards, 2+ TDs in a game
• Only Giants rookie to have 3 receiving touchdowns in a game
• Only Giants rookie to have consecutive games with 10+ receptions
• Only Giants rookie to have consecutive games with 11+ receptions
• Most Receiving Yards In 12 Games By A Rookie with 1,305 Receiving Yards

and NFL Records in…

• Most consecutive games with 90+ receiving yards: 9, 2014-ongoing
• Most consecutive games with 130+ receiving yards, 1+ TD: 4
• Most games with 10+ receptions, Rookie, Season: 4
• Most games with 10+ receptions, 100+ receiving yards, Rookie, Season: 4
• Most games with 10+ receptions, 100+ receiving yards, 1+ TD reception, Season: 4
• Most 125+ Yard games, Rookie, Season: 6
• Most consecutive games with 6+ receptions, 90+ receiving yards: 9
• Most receptions in a seven-game span by a rookie: 61
• Most receptions at home, Rookie, Season: 52
• Most receptions in month of November, Rookie: 38 (2014)
• Most receptions in month of December, Rookie: 43 (2014)
• Most touchdown receptions in month of December: Rookie, 7 (2014)
• Most receiving yards in any calendar month, Rookie: 606 yards (December 2014)
• Highest average receiving yards per game, Rookie, Season: 108.8
• Only player in NFL history with 75+ receptions in 11 games to begin a career
• Second player in NFL history with 90+ receptions while playing in 12 or fewer games in season
• Second player in NFL history to have 1,100+ receiving yards in 11 games or fewer in season
• Only rookie with 75+ receptions, 1,100+ receiving yards, 10+ TD’s in a season
• Only player in NFL history to have 1,300+ receiving yards while playing in 12 or fewer games in season
• Only rookie with 90+ receiving yards in 5 games in a calendar month (November 2014)
• Only rookie in NFL history to have multiple games with 10+ receptions, 125+ receiving yards, 1+ TD in a season (4)
• Only rookie in NFL history to have 12+ catches, 140+ receiving yards and 3+ TDs in a game
• Only rookie in NFL history to have consecutive games with 11+ receptions, 130+ receiving yards, 1+ TD
• Only rookie in NFL history to have 10+ receptions in consecutive games
• Only rookie in NFL history to have 11+ receptions in consecutive games
• Only rookie in NFL history with 50+ receptions at home in a season
• Second rookie in NFL history to have multiple games with 10+ receptions, 100+ receiving yards, 1+ TD in a season (3)
• Second rookie in NFL history with 700+ receiving yards in a 6-game span
• Second rookie in NFL history with 10+ receptions and 3+ receiving TDs in a game
• Second rookie in NFL history with 700+ receiving yards at home in a season
• Third rookie in NFL history to record 10+ receptions, 125+ receiving yards, 2+ TDs in a game
• Fourth rookie in NFL history to have 90+ receptions in a season
• Fourth rookie in NFL history to have 1,300+ receiving yards in a season
• Youngest player in NFL history with multiple games of 10+ receptions in a season: 4 (22 years, 53 days)

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

Team Home Page: www.giants.com

Team Profiles- Minnesota Vikings

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

Nowadays there are some teams that will give their new head coach only 1-4 years to produce a championship team, or he’s out on the streets looking for work. Going as far back as 1986, the Vikings organization usually gave their new head coaches 4-5 years to turn it around. HC Leslie Frazier was given from 2010-2013, but had losing seasons in 3 out of the 4, so he was fired. Mike Zimmer is now the head coach for the Vikings, and was previously the defensive coordinator for the Cowboys, the Falcons and the Bengals. HC Zimmer has a young team and job security until probably 2017.

2015 Team Outlook-

In 2014, The Vikings came in 3rd in the NFC North Division that consists of Detroit, Green Bay, Minnesota and Chicago. The Packers have dominated the NFC North Division since 2011, and they are clearly the team to beat. The last time the Vikings won the division was in 2009. (They also won in 2008.) With Chicago bringing in HC John Fox to take over the Bears, all three teams in the North…Minnesota, Detroit and Chicago have a good chance at coming in 2nd place. Unless they get riddled with untimely injuries this coming season, the Packers will win the division for the 5th year in a row, because they have the best team.

2015 Fantasy Outlook-

QB- The Minnesota Vikings had 2 first round picks in the 2014 NFL Draft, and wisely used their 1st selection on LB Anthony Barr, knowing that they could still get one of the rookie QBs later in the draft. With the 32nd pick of the 1st round, the Vikings grabbed QB Teddy Bridgewater. (The Browns wasted their 1st round selection on Johnny Manziel 10 picks earlier at #22.) QB Bridgewater, along with Oakland’s 2nd round pick up QB Derek Carr, had the best seasons as rookies among the top 4 that were drafted and had an opportunity to start. Bridgewater recorded the third-highest completion percentage (64.4) and seventh-highest passer rating (85.2) by a rookie in NFL history. Year 2 will be an important one for QB Bridgewater. The defenses now have had all winter to study him and game plan for him. WASH QB RG3 had a terrific rookie season, until defenses had all winter to study him and game plan for RG3, and he’s never been very successful since. UPDATE: Vikings traded QB Matt Cassel to Buffalo for a 2015 fifth-rd pick and 2016 seventh-Round pick.

RBs–
The Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson only played in Week One of the 2014 season, because after that game he was being suspended (and faced a legal battle) for beating his 4 year old child. The Vikings took a RBBC approach the rest of the season, using the tandem of RB Matt Asiata and rookie RB Jerick McKinnon. A back injury to Jerick McKinnon in early December led to grinder RB Asiata spending most of the 2014 season as Minnesota’s feature back. The future of child-abuser Peterson is not close to being resolved, so the entire Vikings back-field is sheer speculation right now. My guess is that there is too much bad blood between child-abuser AP and Minnesota for him to ever play with the team again, and 2015 with be the tandem of RB Matt Asiata and rookie RB Jerick McKinnon once again. The Vikings could draft a running back as well to throw into the mix. UPDATE: The Vikings resigned RB Matt Asiata, signed former Packer RB DuJuan Harris and will not release RB A Peterson. UPDATE 2: Although things have calmed down regarding AP and he is slated to start, he is still very unhappy in Minnesota. He is a clear first round fantasy selection, but I would throw caution on selecting him #1 overall.

WRs– The only wide receiver who isn’t a question mark for the Minnesota coaching staff in 2015 is WR Charles Johnson, who Vikings OC Norv Turner said was “far and away our best receiver.” WR Johnson was originally drafted by the Packers in round 7 of the 2013 NFL Draft. Meanwhile, 1st rounder of the 2013 draft, WR Cordarrelle Patterson is looking like a bust and WR Greg Jennings is owed an $8.9 million salary going on age 32. So, the Vikings have rethinking and rebuilding to do. Minnesota did not draft a WR in 2014. UPDATE: Vikings released WR Greg Jennings. They also acquired WR Mike Wallace and a 2015 seventh-round pick from the Dolphins in exchange for a 2015 fifth-round pick. Wallace is going early in drafts as usual, but he hasn’t lived up to his potential in years! I’m going to pass on him.

TEs– Kyle Rudolph is a tight end that seems like he has been in the league for 6-8 years, but the truth is, he’s only been in the NFL since 2011. He was drafted by the Vikings using their 2nd pick in round 2. When healthy, TE Rudolph has fairly productive games, but he isn’t healthy very often. This tight end has never played a full season in college or in the a NFL. He only played in 7 of 16 games in 2014. Even though the Vikings drafted a TE in 2011 & 2012, they may opt to select one of big talents coming in April’s draft.

K– Blair Walsh has been with the Vikings since they picked him in the 6th round of the 2012 draft. He has a strong leg (There’s a video of him online kicking a 70 yard field goal during practice.) but he had consistency problems in 2014, making only 26 of 35 field goal attempts…including a disastrous 0 for 3 day against Division rival Detroit…a game the Vikings lost 14-16. In 2015, look for Walsh to either bounce back early, or to be bounced out of the organization.

DEF– It’s been a long time since the Vikings had a fierce and dominating defense. We don’t need to go all the way back the Purple People Eaters, but we do have to go back to 2009 just to find a Viking’s defense in the top 10 of the NFL. Mike Zimmer is a defensive-minded head coach, so having a defense ranked #14 in 2015 no doubt doesn’t sit well with him, and he’ll get help again in the 2015 NFL draft. UPDATE: Vikings signed former Cowboy/Bengal CB Terence Newman.

2014 Minnesota Fantasy Surprises–
WR Cordarrelle Patterson is a big (6’2″) special talent, so seeing his final stats for 2014 are just unsettling. He only had 384 receiving yards and 1 TD for the entire season. We all know that Minnesota has had quarterback issues for a couple years now, but so has Buffalo, Cleveland, and Houston…and they have all had a wide receiver or two, somehow find success.

2015 Free Agents that Minnesota Needs to Address– QB Christian Ponder (signed w/ Oakland)- FB Jerome Felton (signed w/ Buffalo)- G Charlie Johnson- G Vladimir Ducasse (signed w/ Chicago)- C Joe Berger (re-signed)- DT Corey Wootton- DT Tom Johnson- LB Jasper Brinkley (signed w/ Dallas)

2015 NFL Draft– The immediate needs of Minnesota are on their O-Line, at wide receiver and on defense. QB Bridewater’s rookie season was impressive because of his ability to perform comfortably amid porous line play (OL), the Vikings receiver corps needs new some faces (WR) and corner back along with middle linebackers, were glaring weaknesses for Minnesota in 2014 (CB & LB). UPDATE: Minnesota’s entire 2015 NFL Draft can be seen at this link- MINNESOTA’S DRAFT

Did You Know– No depiction of any Viking warriors, and no preserved helmet has ever been discovered that has proven that Vikings helmets were ever adorned with protruding horns. Vikings have also been fictitiously depicted with winged helmets. This was done to romanticize the Vikings and their mythology, which had long been idealized in European culture.

Team Home Page: www.vikings.com

Team Profiles- Chicago Bears

Team Profiles- Chicago Bears by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

Mark Trestman is out, John Fox is in, as head coach of the Chicago Bears. This is like going from Ryan Mallet to Tom Brady. Trestman has been a very good QB coach over the years, mentoring young players such as Scott Mitchell, Jake Plummer, and Rich Gannon. He also had success coaching in the CFL, but his 2 years in Chicago were disaster, and he’s better suited in the NFL as an assistant coach. John Fox on the other hand, is a head coach that was a score for the city of Chicago to land. In 13 years as an NFL head coach, Fox only has 4 losing seasons, and while in Denver, he had 4 straight winning seasons, leaving with a 46-18 record. Apparently let go in Denver for not winning the Superbowl in 2013 or 2014, there are teams in the NFL that would just be happy to ever go to the playoffs. Understandable that QB Peyton Manning’s window for getting that 2nd ring is closing, but hardly think firing Fox was the solution for 2015 season. Regardless, Denver’s loss is Chicago’s gain, and maybe a head coach is now in place that will get the most possible out the incredible talent that the Bear’s roster is loaded with.

2015 Team Outlook–
The NFC North is one of the strongest divisions in the NFL. (Being from the northeast, I wasn’t always able to write that.) In 2008, only 7 years ago, the NFC North division teams were very weak and had a combined 25 wins. That was the year the Lions went 0-16. In 2015, all the teams will be formidable, with perhaps Minnesota being the weakest of the 4 teams, due to the Viking’s young QB Bridgewater, who is still learning, but a good QB to build around. QB Jay Cutler is the wild card for HC Fox.

2015 Fantasy Outlook–

QB– The “enigma” known as Jay Cutler. The QB with a cannon for an arm, a very good athlete, and prone to make a ton of mistakes. His NFL career totals have his TDs at 186, and his INTs at 130. That’s a 7:5 ration. For perspective, QB Tom Brady has a career 14:5 ratio, which is twice as many TDs thrown than Cutler, vs each INT. Right now, it is impossible to say whether Cutler will even be a Bear in 2015. Cutler’s $15.5M guaranteed salary makes him both difficult to cut and difficult to trade. One thing is for certain however, this is a very weak QB class in coming up in the 2015 NFL draft, and QB Mark Sanchez is perhaps the prize QB of all the free agents, so Cutler will not be without a starting job. If Cutler stays in Chicago, with HC Fox, his fantasy stock will rise. If he is released and signed by another ten, his fantasy stock will plummet, but either way, I want him on my fantasy team, and usually get him.

RBs– In 2008, RB Matt Forte wasn’t selected until the 2nd round by the Bears. In that draft, here are the running backs that went before RB Forte, all in the first round…OAK- Darren McFadden-4th overall…CAR- Jonathon Stewart-13th overall…DAL- Felix Jones-22nd overall…PITT- Rashard Mendenhall-23rd overall…TENN- Chris Johnson-24th overall. Forte ended the 2014 NFL season with 1846 total yards from scrimmage and 10 TDs (6 rushing-4 receiving) Forte is one of the best RBs in the NFL and perhaps the best receiving RB in the NFL. UPDATED Bears sign former Falcon RB Jacquizz Rodgers.

WRs– My previous article spotlighted the Carolina Panthers, who have one of the weakest receiving corps in the NFL. We are on the other end of the spectrum with the Chicago receiving corps, who have one of the NFL’s best. Chicago has big, talented wide receivers. WR Brandon Marshall is 6’4″, 230 pounds and has been with the Bears since 2012. WR Alshon Jeffery is 6’3″, 213 pounds and has been with the Bears since 2012. A wide receiver who came on in the later part of the season for the Bears was WR Marquess Wilson, another big, talented wide receiver at 6’4″ and 184 pounds. (Wilson is a sleeper candidate for the 2015 season.) The Bears can clear $3.95 million in cap room if they release WR Brandon Marshall before March 12th, and $7.7 million if they designate him a post-June 1 cut. UPDATE: WR Brandon Marshall is traded to the NY Jets for a 2015 5th round pick. Bears sign former Charger WR Eddie Royal. The Bears drafted 6’3″ WR Kevin White who will immediately make an impact for the Bears opposite Wr Alson Jeffery. WR Marquess Wilson’s fantasy stock takes a huge hit with White on the team, and the addition of WR Eddie Royal.

TEs– After the Chicago Bears earned an ESPY “Bone-head” award in 2012 when they traded TE Greg Olsen to the Carolina Panthers for a 2012 third round draft pick, they manage to sign TE Martellius Bennett 2 years later. (The Dallas Cowboys selected Bennett in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft, and he would play for the NY Giants in 2012.) TE Bennett has become one of the best tight ends in the NFL today, and ranked #6 in 2015 with 916 yards and 6 TDs.

K– Robbie Gould has been Chicago’s place kicker since 2005. Originally signed by the Patriots as a free agent, Gould is currently the third most accurate kicker in NFL history. Gould’s seven seasons with at least 100 points is a Bears record.

DEF– When you think of a Chicago Bears defense, you think of Ditka, Butkus, Singletary, and Urlacher. Under HC Mark Trestman, the Bear’s defense was 8th in 2013, and dropped all the way down to #24 in 2014. Chicago tried to put a Bandaid on their pass rush by bringing broken-down Jared Allen, who barely played 10 games. The Bears’ defensive front seven badly needs overhauling. Do not expect a big turnaround by the Chicago defense in 2015, as they have too much re-building to do first. UPDATE: Bears sign DE/OLB Pernell McPhee to a 5 year deal. Bears sign FS Antrel Rolle, LS Thomas Gafford, OLB Sam Ocho, ILB Mason Fowler, DE Ray McDonald, CB Alan Ball, CB Sherrick McManis, and DE Jarvis Jenkins.

2014 Chicago Fantasy Surprises–
One never expects any Chicago defense to fall out of the top 10, let alone drop down to #24. Chicago is one of those teams that regardless how they do in the NFL, in fantasy football…they have fantasy players every fantasy team wants to have on their roster. Under HC Fox, this won’t change.

2015 Free Agents that Chicago Needs to Address- QB Jimmy Clausen (re-signed)- WR Josh Morgan- TE Zach Miller (re-signed)- TE Dante Rosario (re-signed)- OT Eben Britton- C Brian De La Puente- DT Stephen Paea (signed w/ Washington)- CB Al Louis-Jean (re-signed)– CB Demontre Hurst (re-signed)

2015 NFL Draft–
The early needs of Chicago are help at three defensive line positions and strength on the O-line. The Bears need new blood for the defensive front seven (LB) and they gave up too many big plays (S) in 2014. Chicago also needs to start thinking about the future, even if Cutler is signed for the 2015 season (QB)

Did You Know–
that since 1982, the Bears have only drafted 8 quarterbacks…total? (Cleveland has drafted that many since the year 2000.) It’s been 12 YEARS since the Chicago Bears have selected a quarterback in the 1st round of any NFL Draft. (In 2003- QB Rex Grossman with their 22nd overall…and before that, 1999 Cade McNown.)

Team home page: www.chicagobears.com