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”.

Washington Team Profiles 2016

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

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

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

2016 Fantasy Football Outlook –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Team Home Page: www.redskins.com

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

Tennessee Titans Team Profile 2016

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

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

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


2016 Fantasy Football Outlook–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Team Home Page: www.titansonline.com

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

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Team Profile 2016

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

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

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


2016 Fantasy Football Outlook –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Team Home Page: www.buccaneers.com

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

Los Angeles Rams Team Profile 2016

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

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

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

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


2016 Fantasy Football Outlook –

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

Team Home Page: www.therams.com/

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

 

Seattle Seahawks Team Profile 2016

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

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

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

2016 Fantasy Football Outlook –

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Team Home Page: www.seahawks.com

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

San Francisco 49ers Team Profile 2016

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

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

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

2016 Fantasy Football Outlook–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Team Home Page: www.49ers.com

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

San Diego Chargers Team Profile 2016

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

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

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

2016 Fantasy Football Outlook–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Team Home Page: www.chargers.com

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

Pittsburgh Steelers Team Profile 2016

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

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

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

2016 Fantasy Football Outlook-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Team Home Page: www.steelers.com

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

Philadelphia Eagles Team Profile 2016

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

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

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

2016 Fantasy Football Outlook–

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Team Home Page: www.philadelphiaeagles.com

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

 

Oakland Raiders Team Profile 2016

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

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

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


2016 Fantasy Football Outlook –


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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

Team Home Page: www.raiders.com

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

New York Jets Team Profile 2016

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

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

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

2016 Fantasy Football Outlook –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Team Home Page: www.newyorkjets.com

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

New York Giants Team Profile 2016

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

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

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

2016 Fantasy Outlook–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Team Home Page: www.giants.com


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

New Orleans Saints Team Profile 2016

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

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

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

2016 Fantasy Football Outlook-

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

Team Home Page: www.neworleanssaints.com

New England Patriots Team Profile 2016

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

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

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

2016 Fantasy Football Outlook–

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Team Home Page: www.patriots.com

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

Minnesota Vikings Team Profile 2016

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

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


2016 Team Outlook-

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

2016 Fantasy Football Outlook-

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Team Home Page: www.vikings.com

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

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”.

Fantasy Champions Train for 15 Rounds

Fantasy Champions Train for 15 Rounds by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug “Light Heavyweight-” Bowles

Is your name Mike Tyson? If not, then you’re probably not going to win your fantasy league in the first round (and since boxing here is just a metaphor, it isn’t possible for even Iron Mike to win a league in the first round). So here are a few tips to help you KO your opponents this fantasy season.

Every team owner that will be drafting in August/September, studies, ponders and over-evaluates the first few rounds, determined to make the right decision on these important selections. And if you’ve been in as many drafts as I have been in, you notice something as the draft moves goes on. After the first 5 rounds or so, some team owners don’t seem to care as much anymore and their competitive intensity has diminished, compared to what it was at the start of the draft. They have drafted their starting QB, two decent RBs and a couple good WRs, so now it’s boring time, just filling the rest of their roster. And therein lies the mistake.

Truth is, anyone really can be successful in a fantasy football draft for the first 5 rounds. With the boom of FF, comes the boom of information to go with it. So any newcomer entering the ring, can figure out to take Antonio Brown, OBJ, Julio, Todd Gurley, then David Johnson, and Gronk, especially if your league requires you to score a tight end. Although it may be a little difficult to decide on a player in round 1, the list of who you should take is so obvious that you wouldn’t have to spend a lot of time in the gym to figure this out.

To finish off everyone at the end of the season however, you need some valuable players for that devastating upper cut, a good left hook and punishing body shots….and that’s what the middle and late rounds are for.

Last year, the following players below weren’t drafted on average, until the late rounds indicated (10 team leagues) . These were important fantasy players that not only strengthened the depth of fantasy football teams, but helped teams take a standing eight count, if sucker punched with player injuries.

These are players crafty owners drafted late in 2015…(10 team league)
(based on their potential, rather than on previous success)

QB Blake Bortles  ( 2015- 3rd Ranked QB)- Draft Round 11 or 12 in 2015
QB Kirk Cousins  ( 2015-9th Ranked QB) – Round 13 or 14… if even drafted
RB Chris Ivory  ( 2015-7th Ranked RB) – Round 7 or 8
RB David Johnson  ( 2015-8th Ranked RB) – Round 12 or 13
RB DeAngelo Williams  ( 2015-4th Ranked RB) – Round 13 or 14
RB Charlie Sims  ( 2015-21st Ranked RB) – Round 14 or 15… if even drafted
WR Doug Baldwin  ( 2015- 7th Ranked WR) – Round 11 or 12
WR Allen Hurns  ( 2015-14th Ranked WR) – Round 14 or 15… if even drafted
WR John Brown  ( 2015-22nd WR) – Round 13 or 14
WR Ted Ginn Jr  ( 2015-25th Ranked WR)- Round 14 or 15… if even drafted
WR Kamar Aiken  ( 2015-30th WR) – Round 14 or 15… if even drafted
TE Jordan Reed  ( 2015-2ndh Ranked TE) – Round 9 or 10
CAR DEF  ( 2015- 4th DEF) – Round 15

 

Fantasy champions train for all 15 rounds so here are ringers I love this up-coming 2016 season, who can be grabbed in late rounds are……….(10 team league)

QB Kirk Cousins WASH- currently going in Round 12
QB Matthew Stafford DET- currently going in Round 15
RB Isaiah Crowell CLEV- currently going in Round 13
RB Danny Woodhead SD- ( 2015-12th Ranked RB) currently going in Round 11
RB Charlie Sims TB-  ( 2015-21st Ranked RB) – Round 11
WR Travis Benjamin SD- currently going in Round 12
WR Corey Coleman CLEV- currently going in Round 13
WR Devin Funchess CAR- currently going in Round 15
WR Will Fuller HOU- currently going in Round 15
WR Sammie Coates PITT- currently going in Round 15… if even drafted
TE Gary Barnidge CLEV- currently going in Round 10
TE Martellus Bennett NE- currently going in Round 15… if even drafted

So pay attention the entire draft, take some chances and study rosters in depth. If you do, you’re very likely to hit some sleepers in the later rounds that will help you pummel the other team owners in your league. Once you’ve done this, you can spend the last round doing the Ali shuffle and get your Kicker.

Knock ‘em into tomorrow Rock!

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!

2015 Utter-Fantasy Football Award Show

2015 Utter-Fantasy Football Award Show by Utter-Fantasy writer & illustrator Doug “Victorious” Bowles

Another great season is in the books. Some of us are hoisting trophies, while others are anguishing over some of their early decisions like drafting RB Montee Ball in the 1st round (against my pre-season advice) As always, the NFL gives us a gamut of personalities and surprises, which must be celebrated in our 1st Annual Fantasy Award Show

The first Award actually goes to 12 amazing rookie wide receivers that aren’t suppose to impact the NFL in their 1st year, but DID

• The “I Got This” Award goes to: Odell Beckham Jr, Kelvin Benjamin, Sammy Watkins, Brandon Cooks, Jarvis Landry, Jordan Matthews, Martavis Bryant, Marqise Lee, Davanta Adams, Allen Robinson, Donte Moncrief, and John Brown

• The “WTF” Award goes to: The Detroit Lions for not selecting one of these star wide receivers to run opposite Calvin Johnson. Instead, they got TE Eric Ebron with the 10th overall pick ( 248 yards and 1 TD in 2014)……Kansas City Chiefs could share in this Award, as they have needed a 2nd receiver since the Eisenhower Era and some of these talented stars were still available in the 3rd round

• The “J J Watt” Award goes to: J J Watt. This guy is so incredible and such an impact player, that I decided that there should already be an Award named after him

• The “Stankey” Award goes to: TENN RB Bishop Sankey- 572 yards and only 2 TDs

• The “White Guys Can Run” Award goes to: GB WR Jordy Nelson: 19 receptions of 20+ yards and longest was an 80 yard TD reception (and I have yet to see this guy caught from behind by anyone)

• The “I Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Wide Receivers” Award goes to:
KC QB Alex Smith, who managed to go the entire 2014 season without throwing a single TD pass to a wide receiver. Other Awards the KC offense won were the “ZZZ-Z-Z-Z-Z” Award and the “Deacon Dunk” Award

• The “Ankles Look Like Cock Roaches To Me” Award goes to: Ndamukong Suh

• The “Drake Brees” Award goes to: Drew Brees: I don’t know who Drake Brees is, but then, I don’t know who that was playing for New Orleans, because it sure didn’t look like Drew Brees

• The “Trix are for Big Kids” Award goes to: the St. Louis special teams for their awesome kick returns, 2 pt conversions and fake punts. HC Jeff Fisher also won the “In Your Face” Award for sending out the 6 players at the ST L/WASH game coin flip, that he got in the RG3 trade.

• The “Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde” Award goes to:
CINN QB Andy Dalton. He was all over the place, playing good, bad, good, bad, the entire 2014 season

• The “Oneders” Award goes to: OAK RB Latavius Murray: The buzz of the waiver wire after Week 12, Murray is filled with potential, but never had another week like the one week wonder vs the Chiefs (112 yards and 2 TDs on only 4 carries )

• The “I’d Have Lost That Bet” Award goes to:
DAL RB DeMarco Murray. I was worried about his durability in Sept, and never thought he could hold up 16 games with his work load. 393 rushing attempts for 1845 yards ( Cowboys single-season rushing record ) -2261 total yards from scrimmage- Bravo!

• The “Jack Nicholson” Award goes to: IND RB Trent Richardson…..”As good as it’s going to get”….and it ain’t that good

• The “Miranda Rights” Award goes to
: MINN RB A Peterson, BALT RB Ray Rice and SF Aldon Smith

• The “Band Aid” Award goes to: BUFF QB Kyle Orton…ex- BUFF QB Kyle Orton who has announced his retirement…..again…and now Buffalo has no QB…… again

• The “Wes Welker” Award goes to:
Julian Edelman

and our final Award…..

• The “Johnny Immaturity” Award goes to:
Johnny Manziel…who probably should be starring in “Animal House 2″ rather than another NFL game…at least until he grows up. (He can also take some share in WR Josh Gordon’s latest suspension)

We hope you enjoyed the show, and the entire 2014 NFL season. Can’t wait for the encore!

NFL Team Profiles Washington Redskins

NFL Team Profiles Washington Redskins by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles

NFL Team profiles- Washington Redskins 2015. Head coaches and quarterbacks usually don’t stick around Washington too long if they’re not successful…quickly. RG3 is still on the roster because his rookie season was impressive, and injuries have made it difficult to truly get a clear answer as whether he can be a franchise quarterback or not. On January 9, 2014, Jay Gruden was hired as the new head coach of Washington and 2014 ended with a disappointing record of 4-12. Gruden took over a bad team that finished 3-13 in 2013, so he is going to be given a chance to get the team right again. Since the year 2000, Washington has had 7 different head coaches, and none of them were given a 5th year. That means HC Jay Gruden has until 2017 to build a winning team…or perhaps less.

2015 Team Outlook – 2015 might be the New York Giants turn to win the NFC East. Dallas won it in 2014, Philly in 2013, and Washington won the division in 2012. Washington has been in re-building mode since owner Dan Snyder bought the team in 1999. Since his purchase, Washington has only won the division once, while the other three teams can boast of having won it at least 3 times. (Many articles have been written claiming that the problem isn’t coaches or players, but Snyder himself.) The Cowboys are the reigning champs and the most stable team in the division, so it’s a good probability that they’ll win the division 2 years in a row

2015 Fantasy Outlook –

QB- It’s becoming pretty clear that new HC Jay Gruden isn’t a fan of QB Robert Griffin III. Last season Gruden and the quarterback had verbal confrontations and the coach later benched RG3 for back-up Colt McCoy. Gruden did announce that Griffin was his starter heading into training camp, but made no assurances beyond camp. It’s a long list trying to name everything thing that has gone downhill with RG3 since his rookie season (besides his relationships with Washington coaches). Games played each year has gone from 15 to 13 to 9. Games won each year has gone from 9 to 3 to 2. Touchdowns passes have gone from 20 to 16 to 4. 2015 will be an important year for RG3. UPDATE: QB Colt McCoy resigned w/ WASH- K Cousins is the #2 QB in Washington and perhaps the best QB in Washington

RBs– RB Alfred Morris is one of those players where it feels like they’ve been in the league a lot longer than they really has. Alfred Morris was selected in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft by Washington. Unlike QB RG3, the new coaching staff is excited about Morris playing for them in 2015. New offensive line coach Bill Callahan thinks his bruising style Morris is a good fit for his run game. (Last season, Callahan was the Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator and offensive line coach and turned Dallas into the league’s best unit.) RB Morris finished the 2014 season as the #13 RB in the NFL, with over 1200 total yards from scrimmage and rushing for 8 TDs on 265 carries. (6th most) If the quarterback situation becomes clear, and with Callahan as Morris’ offensive line coach, Morris could be a candidate as a top 10 RB for the 2015 season. RB Roy Helu has signed with Oakland. Washington will need to add a running back. UPDATE: Washington selected Florida RB Matt Jones with the No. 95 overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft. Jones is expected to play as the team’s third-down back and will be a worth late-round handcuff for 2015 Morris owners.

WRs– Philadelphia’s (or just Chip Kelly’s) clearing out of top talent started in 2014, when they released WR DeSean Jackson on March 28, 2014. 5 days later Jackson signed with Washington to a reported three-year, $24 million contract with $16 million guaranteed. Jackson was to be the deep threat, opposite #1 WR Pierre Garcon, which the Washington receiving corps had been missing. Considering the inconsistent quarterback situation all year in Washington, Jackson had a productive first season. He ranked as the the #17 WR in the NFL with 1169 receiving yards and 6 TDs. It was WR Pierre Garçon’s season that regressed. In 2014, Garcon had 752 receiving yards and 3TDs vs 1346 receiving yards and 5TDs in 2013. Washington’s #3 last year was former Cardinal WR Andre Roberts.  UPDATE: Washington selected WR Jamison Crowder with their 4th round pick. Chowder’s height and weight are below average for the position and he’ll likely compete for a slot/return role with the Redskins. He has big time punt return ability

TEs – Washington’s #1 TE, Jordan Reed, had an injury-plagued season, logging only 465 yards and 0 TDs. Niles Paul, who had a solid season in replacement for Reed, has re-signed with the Redskins through 2017. Paul caught passes for 507 yards and 1 TD while doing yeoman’s work for the team. UPDATE:  TE Niles Paul (ankle) is Out for the Season

K– Bad offenses don’t usually produce a lot of opportunities for their team’s place kicker. Case in point, only 6 teams had fewer field goal attempts in 2014 than Washington did. Kai Forbath won the kicking competition last August and successfully kicked 24 of 27 FGs in 2014. His 31 extra points were 8th fewest in the NFL (he would have had 32, but he missed one).

DEF– If you lose 12 games in the NFL, there is a very good chance that your offense isn’t the only problem. Last season Washington ranked 29th in defense, and was one of only 3 NFL teams not to score a defensive TD in any 2014 game. Only 3 teams had fewer INTs than Washington’s 7. Their 438 points allowed last year tied for 3rd worst in the NFL. I think I can safely say that their defense stunk. Washington will work free agency and try filling defensive holes in the upcoming draft. They have already started by signing former Bronco NT Terrance Knighton and more importantly signed formerly 49er CB Chris Culliver, to a four-year, $32 million contract. UPDATE: Redskins acquired FS Dashon Goldson and a 2016 seventh-round pick from the Bucs in exchange for a 2016 sixth-round pick.

2014 Washington Fantasy Surprises –
Despite playing from behind in many games last season, Washington isn’t a team to give up on the running game early. Morris’ 265 carries last year, 6th most, is proof of that. WR Pierre Garcon’s 752 receiving yards vs 1346 receiving yards that he had in 2013 was surprising. Most thought that the Jackson acquisition would open the field up even more for Garcon, and prevent defenses from double teaming the wide receiver. Garcon is currently signed through 2016.

2015 Free Agents that Washington Needs to Address –
QB Colt McCoy (re-signed)- RB Roy Helu (signed with Oakland)- WR Santana Moss- WR Leonard Hankerson (signed with Atlanta)- TE Niles Paul (re-signed)- OT Tyler Polumbus- DE Stephen Bowen- DE Jarvis Jenkims- DT Barry Cofield- OLB Brian Orakpo (signed with Tennessee)- CB E J Biggers (re-signed)- S Brandon Meriweather

2015 NFL Draft –
The immediate needs of Washington are on defense, on their O-Line, and at quarterback. Washington’s secondary is an utter mess and there isn’t a quality safety on the roster (CB & S). OLB Brian Orakpo is now in Tennessee and the team needs another true pass rusher (DE), the offensive line only has two solid starters (OL) and even if they stick with RG3, Washington will need to replace free agent Colt McCoy if he leaves (QB). UPDATE: Washington’s entire 2015 NFL Draft can be seen at this link- WASHINGTON’S DRAFT

Did You Know – In 2009 Dan Synder, who was then worth $1.1 billion, sued 125 season ticket holders who had asked to be released from their stadium contracts due to a lost job or other financial hardships. Redskins lawyer David Donovan was quoted as saying that lawsuits are a last resort and that they involve only a small percentage of the team’s 20,000 annual premium seat contracts.

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

Team Home Page: www.redskins.com

Team Profiles- Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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

For having the coaching record that he has, Lovie Smith hasn’t had a problem being employed in the NFL as a head coach. In ten seasons as a head coach, Smith has just five that were winning seasons. His first year in Tampa Bay finished with a disappointing 2-14 record. On January 2, 2014, Smith was signed to be the new head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, replacing Greg Schiano. It’s a five-year contract. He was previously the head coach of the Chicago Bears from 2004 to 2012. The Bears fired Smith on December 31, 2012 when the team failed to reach the playoffs after achieving a 7-1 record at the season’s halfway point.

2015 Team Outlook – The Buccaneers reside in the NFC South division with Carolina, New Orleans and Atlanta. In 2014, no team in the division had more than 7 wins. The Panthers won the NFC South with a record of 7-8-1, just squeaking by the Saints.(7-9-0) The Bucs haven’t won their division since 2007. The team is still rebuilding and even unsure as to who the 2015 starting quarterback is going to be, so they won’t threaten the other 3 teams. Carolina and Atlanta will fight for the division title, with Tampa Bay and New Orleans lucky if they get 5 wins each in 2015.

2015 Fantasy Outlook –

QB– Lovie Smith’s last season with the Chicago Bears was in 2012, where he coached QB Josh McCown, the back up for QB Jay Cutler. McCown was drafted by Arizona back in 2002, and he has played for 7 NFL teams before reuniting with HC Smith in Tampa for the 2014 season. McCown was immediately named the starter. In week 3, he was replaced by Mike Glennon after suffering a thumb injury during a 56-14 blowout by the Atlanta Falcons. Glennon, a third round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft by former HC Greg Schiano, took over as the starter. In his 1st game, he led the Bucs to a 27-24 win over the Steelers. Glennon failed to record another win over the next four games, so Smith named McCown again the starter. On February 11, 2015, after under-performing, McCown was released after just one season with the Buccaneers. QB Glennon is still on the Bucs roster, but Tampa Bay has the 1st overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, and it is believed that they will select Florida State QB Jameis Winston. UPDATE: QB Winston went to Tampa Bay as the #1 overall, and he has potential, but I see more of a cross of QB Josh Freeman and QB Vince Young, and they weren’t great. QB Vince Young ( who ironically, was selected by Tennessee in 2006) and Winston are both 6’5″ ish, 230 pounds, not particularly fast, and have cannons for an arm. What would be perfect for this article, is if Young had also won the Heisman Trophy. He did not. In 2005, he came in 2nd to RB Reggie Bush. Although Vince Young’s 5 year NFL career wasn’t completely void of adequate performances, he didn’t come close to being worthy of the 3rd overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, and certainly was not a franchise quarterback.

RB– When a team has 3 running backs all getting 50+ carries in a season, fantasy owners don’t have one that they should have drafted. In 2014, Tampa Bay had RBs Bobby Rainey, Doug Martin and Charlie Sims all splitting playing time at tailback. It was the epitome of a RBBC situation. Because of this, no Tampa Bay running back ranked in the top 40 of NFL running backs. Looking back at their 2014 seasons, each of these running backs only had one stellar game a piece, that would have helped fantasy in a significant way. In Week 2 of the 2014 season, RB Bobby Rainey had 22 carries for 144, and 0 TDs. That is the best week for any TB running back. Although RB Martin was injured for the first 3 games of the 2014 season, 2015 promises to be more of the same. No Tampa Bay RB should be picked by fantasy owners until the later rounds this fall. UPDATE: The Bucs are raving about Doug Martin in OTAs and he has been getting first-team reps. Draft him if you want, but I’ve spelled out here why I am not. Defenses won’t be afraid of Winston and whatever TB RB is here there, he’ll be facing 8 men in the box all season.

WRs– Tampa Bay did not have a running back ranked in the top 40 of the NFL, but they did have a rookie wide receiver, Mike Evans, rank #13 among all NFL wide receivers. They also had a veteran wide receiver, Vincent Jackson, rank #36. Mike Evans was one the star wide receivers drafted from the impressive class in 2014. He was selected in round one-7th overall. (The last time the Bucs selected a WR in the first round of a draft was 10 years earlier- Michael Clayton 15th overall.) WR Evans ended the 2014 regular season with 1051 yards and 12 TDs, despite the QB merry-go-round in Tampa Bay. A rookie QB will take time to learn the game at the NFL level, so Evans’ numbers could take a hit in 2015. Tampa Bay’s #3 WR Louis Murphy ranked #91 in the NFL with only 380 yards and 2 TDs.

TEs– In 2014, the Bucs used their 2nd draft selection on 6’5″ TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Despite the high draft pick (he went 38th overall) Seferian-Jenkins first year was an unmemorable one with only 221 receiving yards and 2 TDs. (A back injury did prevent him from playing in the final 5 games.) Tight ends are not key weapons in the Bucs offense, but in 2013, former Buc TE Tim Wright was able to rank #13 in the NFL with 571 yards and 5 TDs. Seferian-Jenkins should be able to achieve those kind of numbers in 2015.

K– Undrafted rookie Patrick Murray won the Bucs’ kicking job over former K Connor Barth in 2014, and ended the season as the #26 kicker in the NFL. He was fairly accurate, but was next to last in NFL in field goal attempts with 20. He punched in 16 of them and all 31 extra points. Tampa Bay’s offense could struggle again in 2015, so Murray is not a good candidate to fair much better than he did last year.

DEF– Tampa Bay’s defense ranked the middle of the road in most categories. What hurt them the most in 2014 was in points allowed. Opposing team averaged 25+ points which was 8th worst in the NFL, and Tampa Bay did not have an 2014 offense that could could match up…i.e. a season ending record of 2-14. Somewhere in April’s draft, the Bucs need to get solid help on their front four and help in the secondary so opposing teams can’t score on them as easily. Most of Tampa Bay’s free agent concerns are defensive players. UPDATE: Bucs sign CB Sterling Moore, DT Henry Melton, and FS Chris Conte all to 1 year deals. Bucs acquired DE George Johnson and a late-round pick from the Lions in exchange for a late-round pick.

2014 Tampa Bay Fantasy Surprises – The best case scenario for any rookie wide receiver in the NFL, is to crack into the top 20 of WRs. WR Mike Evans almost cracked the top 10. Evans had a better 2014 season than WRs Calvin Johnson, DeSean Jackson, Torrey Smith, A J Green and Roddy White to name just a few. Regardless of his late season injury, the Bucs barely used TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins when he was healthy. The Bucs spent their valuable #2 draft selection on him in 2014.

2015 Free Agents that Tampa Bay Needs to Address – DE Da’Quan Bowers- DE Adrian Clayborn (signed w/ Atlanta)- DE Lawrence Sidbury (re-signed)- OLB Lawrence Sidbury (resigned)- OLB Jonathon Casillas (signed w/ NY Giants)- ILB Mason Foster (signed w/ Chicago) – CB Mike Jenkins (re-signed)- S Major Wright (resigned)-TE Luke Stocker (resigned)

2015 NFL Draft–
The immediate needs of Tampa Bay are at quarterback, on their O-Line, and on defense. The Bucs will likely select Jameis Winston with their #1 overall (QB), a rookie QB will need plenty of pass protection which TB didn’t have last year (OL), and the Bucs need to stop other teams from scoring so many points, so they need help serious help in their secondary (CB & S). UPDATE: Tampa Bay’s entire 2015 NFL Draft can be seen at this link- TAMPA BAY’S DRAFT

Did You Know –
HC Lovie Smith has never drafted any quarterback, in any year, before the 4th round…ever. In his 8 years as head coach of the Chicago Bears, he only drafted 5 quarterbacks in total, and only one was drafted as high as the 4th round (Kyle Orton in 2005) The rest were from rounds 5, 6 and 7. In his first year coaching the Bucs, no quarterbacks were drafted. If Smith drafts a rookie quarterback #1 in this year’s NFL Draft, it will be a first of firsts.

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

Team Home Page: www.buccaneers.com

Team Profile San Francisco 49ers

 

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

 

 

Abandon Ship! Abandon Ship! Former 49ers Jim Harbaugh is a winning coach, but for what ever reasons, he and management just couldn’t get along. He’s gone and players are bolting for other teams like rats on a sinking vessel. (Think we’ll ever get all the sordid details?) It’s not very often that someone leads a team to a Super Bowl, and then is out of the NFL two years later. Granted, he was paid a treasure chest full of money to go to the University of Michigan, but to leave the pros? San Francisco decided to stay in-house to replace Harbaugh and promoted defensive line coach Jim Tomsula to head coach. Tomsula’s only other head coaching experience was for the Rhein Fire of NFL Europe in the 2006 season.

2015 Team Outlook–
With all that’s going on with the 49ers right now, there is very little chance that they are going to be in contention for the NFC West title in 2015. They will be lucky just to stay competitive this season. Seattle and Arizona with be in the thick of it, and I like the team St. Louis is building. I predict Seattle wins the division again, with Arizona as a close 2nd. St. Louis will end in 3rd place and San Francisco in the division basement…and lucky if they win 6 games.

2015 Team Outlook–

QB– Speaking at his introductory press conference, new 49ers coach Jim Tomsula said he’s “excited” about coaching Colin Kaepernick. There are some around the league that think if the 49ers are in re-building mode, then they should go all out, and even trade Colin Kaepernick for enough future draft picks that all the holes can be filled for San Francisco. Kaepernick is a capable quarterback however, and teams like Cleveland know just how hard filling that hole is. It’s unlikely he’s going anywhere. Kaepernick’s 2014 season was not as successful as compared to his 2013, but it wasn’t like an “RG3 drop off”. He had 4100 yards from scrimmage, 20 TDs and 10 INTS in 2014 vs 3718 yards from scrimmage, 25 TDs and 8 INTs in 2013.

RBs– I remember watching Emmitt Smith run for the Arizona Cardinals for 2 seasons at the end of his career, and I remember not liking it. There are just some players that are a piece of team’s DNA, and they should retire where they started. WR Reggie Wayne and WR Andre Johnson are some other examples, as is RB Frank Gore. One of the toughest guys ever to suit up, Frank Gore started his career with the 49ers in 2005, but he won’t finish there. Originally said to be joining the Philadelphia Eagles, but he signed with Indianapolis which gives the Colts the running game that they needed last year. The 49ers will be OK without Gore however, having drafted a talented RB in the 2nd round last year in Carlos Hyde. He is a Gore-ish kind of back that is big and physical and can handle a lot of carries. The Niners also have Kendall Hunter that they chose in the fourth round of the 2011 NFL Draft. UPDATE: 49ers signed RB Reggie Bush to a 1-yr contract ( don’t expect much or a renewed contract in 2016)

WRs– Last season the 49ers receiving corps consisted of WRs Anquin Boldin, Michael Crabtree, Stevie Johnson, Brandon Lloyd and Kassim Osgood. If you take a look at their current roster, you won’t see 4 of the 5 that I just mentioned. Boldin is the only one still under contract and he is owed $6 million in 2015 salary plus bonuses. San Francisco will pay him because he was their #1 WR in 2014 and they need him back. 49ers re-signed WR Kassim Osgood but Michael Crabtree and Brandon Lloyd are not expected to re-sign. WR Stevie Johnson was released. The 49ers took a flier on former Vikings WR Jerome Simpson who has been a disappointed both on the field and off. The 49ers bigger acquisition so far is the signing of former Raven WR Torrey Smith. Smith will be the deep threat the Niners have been missing. The 49ers receiving corps transformation has just begun.

TEs– In 2013, Vernon Davis was the #2 tight end in the NFL, scoring 13 TDs. In 2014, Davis completely disappeared from the 49er offense, as he was targeted only once in the red zone. He scored only 2 TDs all season. He dropped all the way down to NFL’s #36 TE last season having only 245 receiving yards. The #2 TE in SF is Derek Carrier who isn’t a weapon, only having 105 receiving yards. Whatever is going on between Kaepernick and Davis, it’s not good, and won’t get better. Like many 49ers, Davis needs a change of scenery.

K– K Phil Dawson is still working on the two-year contract that he signed in March of 2014. Although he will turned 40 this year, Dawson will likely remain a component of the 49ers’ offense that is unraveling. Dawson hit 25 of 31 field goals last season, down from his 32-of-36 FGs in 2013.

DEF– The San Francisco defense ranked #13 in 2014. Patrick Willis, one of the NFL’s best overall players, has announced his retirement. They have three cornerbacks heading for free agency, so reinforcements must come in. The 49ers have started by signing former Cardinal DE Darnell Dockett to a two-year, $7.5 million contract. Next, the 49ers are hoping to get players like CB Jimmie Ward and ILB Chris Borland back (both placed on IR in 2014) but look for the 49ers to get more help in April’s NFL Draft and from free agency. UPDATE: 49ers hire DC Eric Mangini

2014 San Francisco Fantasy Surprises–
TE Vernon Davis’ decline from #2 TE in the NFL (2013) to #36 in the NFL (2014) was a shocker. That isn’t a bump in the road, that’s driving off a cliff. I’m always surprised how high WR Michael Crabtree gets selected in fantasy drafts. He’s only had one 1000+ season, and is a constant disappointment that I don’t want to draft. His best game in 2014 was in Week 11 vs the Giants. 3 catches for 85 yards and 1 TD.

2015 Free Agents that San Francisco Needs to Address–
QB Josh Johnson- RB Frank Gore (signed with Indianapolis)- WR Michael Crabtree- WR Brandon Lloyd- WR Kassim Osgood- G Mike Iupati (signed with Arizona)- OLB Dan Skuta– CB Chris Cook (resigned)- CB Perrish Cox (signed with Tennessee)- CB Chris Culliver(signed w/ Washington)

2015 NFL Draft– The immediate needs of San Francisco are on their defense, particularly at cornerback and shoring up their O-Line. Perrish Cox & Chris Culliver are entering free agency so SF will likely have to replace them (CB), they have filled some spots on offense, but there is some great talent in April’s draft class so the Niners will look at getting new weapons for QB Kaepernick (WR & TE), and SF needs depth on their O-Line (OG). San Francisco’s entire 2015 NFL Draft can be seen at this link- SAN FRANCISCO’S DRAFT

Did You Know–
There are 10 current head coaches that are from branches off the coaching tree started by the West Coast guru Bill Walsh? At least 7 others are coordinators in the NFL ( and most of them were head coaches at one time in the NFL as well.)

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

Team Home Page: www.49ers.com

Team profiles- San Diego Chargers

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

On January 15, 2013, Mike McCoy became the head coach of the San Diego Chargers, succeeding Norv Turner. McCoy, 42 years old, is the youngest active head coach in the NFL and the second-youngest in team history. Under HC Norv Turner, the Chargers had a well-publicized history of weak starts to every season followed by a strong finish, then failing to capitalize in the playoffs. In his first year leading the Chargers, HC McCoy was unable to change the “Turner Trend”, losing 7 of the first 12 regular season games, and finishing strong with 5 out of 6 wins. Their 9-7 record was good enough to send the Chargers to the playoffs. They were victorious over the Bengals in round one of the 2013 playoffs, but failed to continue on, by losing to Denver in round two. In 2014, HC McCoy ended the “Turner Trend” by starting out strong with 5 wins in the first 6 games, and ending weak. They lost 3 of the final 4 games of the regular season and missed the playoffs. (A win in their final game would have qualified them for the playoffs.)

2015 Team Outlook– The Chargers play in the AFC West Division, which has been won by the Denver Broncos every year since 2011. QB Peyton Manning has agreed to play for Denver for at least one more year, and despite his age and his decline late last season, the QB and the rest of the Broncos will be the team to beat once again in 2015. Kansas City, Denver, and San Diego all have a chance to win the division this year, with Oakland likely to be too young and rebuilding to have a real chance. The Broncos will win the division for the 5th straight year, with Kansas City and San Diego battling for a playoff spot.

2015 Fantasy Football Outlook–

QB– Philip Rivers has been in the league since 2004. If you want to get a quarterback in fantasy drafts that you know will play, get Rivers. For the past 9 seasons, he has played in all 16 games. His 144 starts ranks 4th all-time in consecutive starts by an NFL quarterback. In 2014, Rivers ranked #6 among all NFL QBs throwing for 4286 passing yards, 31 TDs and 18 INTs. UPDATE: Speculations that Rivers wanted out of San Diego have faded away, and he becomes a strong candidate for another big season in fantasy.

RBs– RB Ryan Mathews was selected in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft by the Chargers with the 12th overall pick. Since being drafted, Mathews has had a history of season ending injuries. In 2013 however, Mathews did not miss a game due to injury for the first time in his career. He led the NFL with six 100-yard games, and set a career-high in rushing yards with 1,255 that season. His career-high was the most yards by a Charger since Tomlinson’s 1,474 in 2007. It was another injury plagued season for Mathews unfortunately in 2014, playing in only 6 games. He is an unrestricted free agent this year and the Chargers will happily let him leave. Undrafted RB Brandon Oliver took over in Mathews’ absence last season and was a waiver gem for fantasy owners. A threat running and receiving, Oliver ended 2014 with 853 all-purpose yards and 4 TDs. Currently listed as San Diego’s #1, he will likely get competition from a free agent pick-up or from April’s NFL Draft. UPDATE: Philadelphia signed RB Ryan Mathews to a 3 yr deal ( before they signed RB Demarco Murray) and the Chargers used their 1st Round selection on Wisconsin’s 6’1″ RB Melvin Gordon, who will immediately project as the new starter.

WRs– The Chargers have no shortage of talented wide receivers on their roster. For fantasy owners, they may have too many WRs and TEs catching passes from QB Rivers, and they just signed WR Jacoby Jones. In 2014, WRs Malcolm Floyd (ranked #32 WR in the NFL), Eddie Royal (ranked #34 WR in the NFL) and Keenan Allen (ranked #45 WR in the NFL) were all key wide receiver pieces to the Charger offense. WR Eddie Royal is a free agent this year, so the Jacoby Jones acquisition may be his replacement. UPDATE: Chargers sign former 49er WR Stevie Johnson to a 3 yr deal.

TEs– Like New Orleans and New England, the San Diego Chargers use their tight ends as offensive weapons as much as any team in the league. TE Antonio Gates, along with retired TE Tony Gonzalez were the first to come into the league and re-define the position. Gates was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2003 and is still playing at a high level, ranking as the #2 TE in the NFL for 2014. He had 821 receiving yards and 12 TDs. Forecasters predicted prior to the 2014 season that Gates production would drop off and that San Diego’s young TE Ladarius Green’s career would take off…but neither was the case. Green ended 2014 with only 226 yards and 0 TDs. Gates is simply too good to be ignored in the offense, leaving blocking duties to a frustrated Green. Gates’ contract expires following the 2015 season. UPDATE: NFL suspended Chargers TE Antonio Gates four games for violating the league’s PED policy. TE Green’s fantasy stock get a huge boost.

K– Nick Novak thanked the San Diego Chargers for the ’13 four-year, $6.6 million contract, with a #3 placekicker ranking that year kicking 34 of 37 field goals and 42 of 42 extra points. Novak did not get as may opportunities in 2014, which dropped his ranking down to #21. Novak has a strong leg and is very accurate, and is a prime candidate to rebound in points for 2015.

DEF– San Diego missed the playoffs in 2014, and a big reason that they did, was their awful defense. The Chargers were 3rd worst in sacks, 4th worst in interceptions, and ranked #27 overall in total defense. They had an aging defense last year, which should make upgrading with younger players the #1 priority for San Diego in 2015.

2014 San Diego Fantasy Surprises–
Even with his #2 ranking for 2014, TE Antonio Gates will continue to get drafted in current mock drafts about where he was drafted last season…between the 7th & 12th tight end off the boards. In a draft I just completed with 15 other “fantasy gurus”, Gates was the 6th TE to be selected. At the end of the year, I was surprised to see that WR Malcolm Floyd had a better season overall, than WR Keenan Allen. Despite having 25 fewer receptions than WR Allen, WR Floyd ended 2014 with 70 more receiving yards and 2 more TDs.

2015 Free Agents that San Diego Needs to Address–
RB Ronnie Brown- RB Ryan Mathews (signed w/ Philly)- WR Seyi Ajirotutu (signed w/ Philly)- WR Eddie Royal (signed w/ Chicago)- C Doug Legurshy- LB Dwight Freeney- LB Andrew Gachkar (signed w/ Dallas)- CB Brandon Flowers- CB Shareece Wright- S Marcus Gilchrist

2015 NFL Draft– The immediate needs of San Diego are fixing the defense and help on their O-Line. The Chargers finished the 2014 season ranked 29th in the NFL in sacks (DE & DT), San Diego has 2 corners and a safety heading out for free agency (CB & S) and they need younger help on the right side of their O-Line (RT). They also desperately need depth at running back (RB). UPDATE: San Diego’s entire 2015 NFL Draft can be seen at this link- SAN DIEGO’S DRAFT

Did You Know– Originally, 6’4″ Antonio Gates enrolled at Michigan State University wanting to play football under then-coach Nick Saban. He would later chose to pursue playing basketball at Eastern Michigan University. After being told by scouts that he was too much of a “tweener” to make the NBA, Gates arranged a workout in front of NFL scouts and chose to work out first for the San Diego Chargers. Recognizing his potential, the Chargers in 2003 immediately signed him to a contract as an undrafted free agent.

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

Team Home Page: www.chargers.com