Archive for the ‘Football’ Category

Texans coach Bill O’Brien has had only one losing season in his five years as head coach in the NFL. Good for him. He also has a 1-3 playoff record including a 7-21 loss to the ragtag Indianapolis Colts (AT HOME). The Colts leaned on castoffs like Eric Ebron, Margus Hunt and Pierre Desir who underperformed at their old teams and thrived in their roles in Indianapolis. The Colts don’t have a strong ground game. They don’t have a true number two wide receiver. They have a rookie head coach.

O’Brien has a career coaching record of 42-38 (.525). For reference, Jim Harbaugh has an NFL coaching record of 44-19-1 (.695) and Wade Phillips (Rams DC) 82-64 (.562). The real measuring stick here for O’Brien isn’t his regular season record. It’s postseason success. The Texans have a slew of star players on both sides of the ball. Beating the Colts at home should be a cake walk for this organization.

2019 won’t get any easier for Houston. While the Jaguars are no longer a threat, the Titans arguably improved from last year going 9-7 on a cupcake schedule to 9-7 this season a schedule that’s more middle of the road. The Colts are obviously back on track as well. The Texans won the AFC South but that doesn’t mean a thing if they get knocked out by their baby brother in the wild card match-up. O’Brien was hand picked by former Texans GM Rick Smith, so Brian Gaine, Smith’s replacement may decide to bring in a face he feels is a better fit for his vision of the team. Firing a head coach after a 12-4 season may seem questionable on the surface, but O’Brien is 1-3 in the postseason and has one of the more talented rosters available. Bill O’Brien is shaping up to be the 2018 version of Jeff Fisher with a barely above 500 record.

Young names like Kliff Kingsbury or Lincoln Riley may be more available than previously let on if the price is right.

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Another team was scheduled to play the Playoff Nick Foles Eagles’ this season. Although I will say this may have been a closer match-up than it at first appeared as Chicago had one of the softest schedules in the NFL. Defending the Matt Nagy/Trubisky duo didn’t seem to be too tough for the Eagles’ severely injured secondary. Thirty-five year old Darren Sproles will be healthy to face his former team in New Orleans next week. A rematch of a game that saw the Saints dropping a forty-burger and only allowing one score against Philly. Logic would dictate that Drew Brees and Sean Payton should win this contest by just doing their Saints thing. But Logic has not been in the building for some time now and my undying need to doubt Nick Foles only seems to make him stronger. 

If you watched football in the 2000s you’ll remember Chargers/Patriots games involving overly talented Chargers teams losing to old man Troy Brown on freak-accident fumble recovery plays. We have another Chargers/Patriots game with two QBs who are salty and mentally unhinged in their own special way.

Take care of yourself. I love you.

1 – DEN (TRADE from AZ) – Dwayne Haskins, OSU QB – The Cardinals are not close to being playoff ready. Nick Bosa is the pick here if they stand pat at One, but I’m willing to bet one of the QB needy teams (Miami, Jax, Denver) will try to move up for a passer. Denver is actually close to being competitive so trading away future draft capital won’t hurt as bad as their roster is relatively competitive if you ignore the QB position. Haskins’ stock is at peak levels right now

2 – SF – Nick Bosa, OSU DE – This is obviously a dream selection for San Francisco. Josh Allen or Quinnen Williams are natural fits here if Bosa is not available.

3 – NYJ – Quinnen Williams, Alabama DL – The Jets run a three man front and wont benefit from Josh Allen’s skills like other teams might.  The Jets could trade down and take a franchise left tackle.

4 – OAK – Josh Allen, Kentucky Edge – The Raiders have the worst pass rush in football. This class is not QB heavy, so I believe the Raiders will take a passer in round two if at all.

5 – DET – Rashan Gary, Michigan DL – Detroit will not likely retain the services of Ziggy Ansah, at least not at full MSRP. The Lions need receiving options and help at defensive back. Bob Quinn would be foolish to allow Gary to leave the state. Gary is extremely disruptive against the pass and will be more consistent than Ansah.

6 – NYG – Justin Herbert, Oregon QB – The Giants need help on the offensive line, but I can’t imagine them not drafting a QB again. 

7 – BUF – Ed Oliver, Houston DT – Oliver routinely penetrated the pocket for Houston. Brandon Beane actually already has a competitive defense in Buffalo and can put Oliver in for Trent Murphy who has an out in his contract this off-season.

8 – TB – DeAndre Baker, Georgia CB – The Buccaneers were regularly made an example of by opposing defenses this throughout the season. Baker, while not a HUGE corner, has been dominant against Alabama and other top shelf college talent.

9 – JAX – Clelin Ferrell, Clemson DE – The Jaguars obviously didn’t see value in retaining Dante Fowler’s services. Jacksonville has a booming need at QB, but unless they fall in love with Drew Lock or Daniel Jones I believe they will wait later in the draft to address the position.

10 – CAR – Jonah Williams, Alabama OT – Carolina’s decline this season was accompanied by Cam Newton’s apparently untreated shoulder injury.  They could probably use some help blocking for their All-World Super QB.

11 – ATL – Greedy Williams, LSU CB – Atlanta has a structurally sound roster but got particularly dinged by injuries early in the season. Greedy is a tall-a** corner who should be better able to hang with Mike Evans and Michael Thomas who like to bully the ATL secondary.

12 – AZ (From DEN) – Greg Little, Ole Miss OT – The Cardinals offensive line really struggled to protect Josh Rosen this season. Trading with Denver will allow them to net a starter at a position of need from this round and receive an additional first rounder next season.

13 – CIN – Jeffery Simmons, Miss. State DT, – Geno Atkins needs some help on that defensive line pressuring the QB. It would be very reasonable for the Bengals to go offensive line here with Dalton Risner here as well.

14 – GB – Deionte Thompson, Alabama FS – The Packers defense allowed three air TDs to Sam Darnold who has looked awful for most of the season as a passer.

15 – MIA – Will Grier, WVU QB – The Tannehill era is over. Grier’s been consistently high performing through his college career, especially in 2018.

16 – WAS – Drew Lock, Mizzou QB – I was originally going to not mock a QB for this position, but Alex Smith is not even a lock to return next season. Drew’s not been perfectly accurate, but he checks every other box for a QB to succeed at the next level. Smith knew all along he wasn’t the long term answer anyway.

17 – CLE – Dalton Risner, Kansas State OT – The Browns don’t have an answer long term at left tackle. They could sure use some wide receiver help, but Greg Robinson starting at left tackle should be deeply concerning for a team with a young, promising QB. RIP Sam Bradford.

18 – PHI – Byron Murphy, Washington CB – The Eagles have been absolutely torched in the secondary this season. They need help in the ground game and at left tackle as well.

19 – PIT – Devin White, LSU MLB – The Steelers need help at corner. Drafting at nineteen means they won’t get their top picks. White will help the team cope with the still-felt effects of Ryan Shazier not being available.

20 – TEN – Zach Allen, BC OLB – Former teammates with current Titan Harold Landry, Allen’s shown value as an all-around disruptor with fifteen stops for a loss at Boston College. Tennessee’s GM Jon Robinson has New England Patriots history and will continue to have an east coast bias.

 

Turnover Machine C.J. Beathard is out for the Thursday Night Football Game of the year contender 49ers/Raiders matchup, so the 1-6 Raiders will face 3rd string QB Nick Mullens tonight at Levi’s Stadium. Mullens might be the best college QB to ever play at Ole Miss and certainly the overall defensive production from Jon Gruden’s squad right now will be slightly lesser than the 3-4 Southern Miss Golden Eagles football team from the prestigious Conference USA.

Recently signed Bills wide receiver Terrelle Pryor happens to have a higher career completion percentage and Passer rating than projected starter Nathan Peterman. Peterman has thrown eighty-one passes in the NFL (regular season) nine of which have been caught by a member of the other team. So he has an eleven percent chance to throw an interception whenever he throws the ball. I’m CONFIDENT the Bills have a chance to beat Chicago this Sunday.

In Miami, rookie passer Sam Darnold of the Jets will face off against Brock “the oz” Osweiler for the Dolphins. Osweiler has a sub-60 career completion percentage in an era where it’s easier than ever to throw the ball and whose level of play at Houston compelled the Texans organization to surrender additional draft picks to trade up for DeShaun Watson. Darnold, who certainly has a high ceiling in the NFL has in his rookie season thrown ten interceptions in eight games and accumulated a QBR rating of 35.4 (out of 100).

I can certainly understand people have strong feelings about racial/social inequality and the treatment of minorities in the U.S. today. For many people Colin Kaepernick represents the problem of a black man not being able to find employment because lesser qualified white men are given priority. I don’t know what it is like to be a minority, or an African-American in a primarily white country.

I do know that Colin Kaepernick performed at a high level between 2012 and 2014, and if that quarterback were on the free agent market he would be a steal for any team without top QB play. But that quarterback is no longer available. A quarterback who failed to eclipse a total QBR of 50 in his last two seasons of play is available. A Quarterback who failed to get more than a PFF rating of 50 in his last two season of NFL play is available. If Cam Newton started kneeling and vehemently denouncing police brutality, he would still have his job. Because Cam Newton can do his job well. Any time a QB throws an interception twitter demands explanations as to why Kaepernick remains unsigned. The Jaguars don’t improve by replacing their bad Quarterback with another bad Quarterback. They have to replace him with a good one.

NFL team ownership has been blamed for Colin’s unemployment in the NFL. Jaguars owner Shahid Khan is himself an immigrant to the United States and is not some rich white guy/white supremacist who hates players kneeling for social justice. He wants his team to be good. And Colin’s not a guy who helps his team be good. So they haven’t signed Colin. Why they’ve continued to trust in Blake is baffling, but that’s for another time.

For the record, I don’t hate Kaepernick, I watched him lead my 49ers to a SuperBowl berth and a narrow loss to Baltimore. I feel I understand players kneel because they believe they are helping impoverished minorities get attention and resources they need to climb out of poverty and depression. Even if you disagree with his strategy, he’s not trying to harm anyone, he’s trying to help people at least from his perspective. But the notion that he should be forced into the NFL because Blake Bortles and Nathan Peterman are bad is not correct in my view. Those teams need to find ACTUAL good Quarterbacks. Not a different kind of bad Quarterback.

In the end I’m probably just an ignorant sack of shit who doesn’t know anything. Here is a highlight reel of Kyler Murray, the best QB in College Football, who is going to play Baseball because he doesn’t want his brain to turn into the pink slime they use to make Taco Bell meat.

Week Eight

Posted: October 21, 2018 in Football, New entries, NFL

Dave so far:

Week (4) 9-6, Week (5) 8-7, (6) 12-3

DEN over ARI – Denver’s suffered some narrow defeats to two of the NFL’s elites: the LA Rams and the Chiefs. As bad as Case Keenum’s been, Denver fields a more complete roster than Arizona. They are running well with Freeman and Lindsay, they have receiving weapons when Keenum does throw well, and the defense is strong at every level. The Cardinals defense is surprisingly competitive and Josh Rosen hasn’t been too bad for a rookie, but the Cardinals haven’t established a rhythm on offense and are the last place rushing team. Expect several field goals. UPDATE: I expected the game to be a low-scoring affair but Denver’s defense recorded multiple pick sixes and Denver UNLOADED on Arizona. Keenum didn’t play terrific football but the defense and ground game more than won the game even if a lesser QB were at the helm.

LAC over TEN – Tennessee has a home game so they technically have a chance. The Chargers have a plus four turnover ratio (Titans have zero), a successful balanced offensive attack and an OKAY defense. The Titans have been particularly vulnerable to the run this season and the Chargers should be able to punish this. The Titans have a chance if they can limit the Chargers to field goals, but Mariota hasn’t shown success in throwing the team back into the game. Rivers has a deep ball threat in Tyrell Williams and can mount a comeback if needs be.

NE over CHI – Chicago looked to be gaining steam until they fell in overtime to Miami and Brock Osweiler. The Bears still field a strong core on defense. The Bears haven’t been consistent on offense and only seem to be able to capitalize against bottom five defenses. The game should be fairly close as the Bears will at worst have a strong defense. The Patriots defense has been reliable since their two early losses and their offense showed they can score early and often against Kansas City. If you subscribe to the “common foe” theory, both of these teams played the Dolphins. The Patriots whooped their ass and the Bears lost to Brock Osweiler. Super Bear Khalil Mack is questionable for this game.

IND over BUF – What an awful game. I don’t want to try and pick a winner here. The Colts this season have been hamstrung by rampant injuries on their defense. They are less injured than normal and get to play at home. Derek Anderson in at QB for Buffalo is a much better option than Nathan Peterman but the Colts offensive line is much better than Houston’s and shouldn’t surrender as many sacks.

JAX over HOU – On the one hand, Houston has a quarterback, two great receivers and some playmakers on defense. On the other hand, Jacksonville has an offensive line, a pretty good defense and home field advantage. Jacksonville is rocking a -9 (Houston -1) turnover ratio, second to last in the NFL. The difference in talent and competitiveness between Jacksonville’s front seven and Houston’s pass protection is expected to be enough to make Jacksonville heavy favorites by people who know more about this type of thing than I do. While Jacksonville is a flawed team, their defense should propel them to a victory over the woeful Texans.

DET over MIA – Lions HC Matt Patricia is very familiar with how Miami does things from his indentured servitude in New England. While Miami deserves credit for rocking a winning record and playing at home, Detroit is a much more stable roster on October 21st. Brock Osweiler rocked the NFL world with a win over the Chicago Bears, but Patricia’s group is not going to fall to a trap game, especially when they are the team with the worse record at this juncture. The Lions can choose to favor the run with Kerryon Johnson and their revamped offensive line or the pass as Matthew Stafford remains one of the league’s better QBs. There’s no remotely scientific explanation for Miami winning a competitive football team right now.

MIN over NYJ – The Jets defense deserves credit for getting them to three wins and Sam Darnold while not always perfect hasn’t been garbage either. The Vikings offense has taken off with Kirk Cousins likely to set franchise passing records this season with Thielen and Diggs playing EXTREMELY well as the top duo of wideouts in the NFL. The Vikings have backslid from their dominance in 2017, they should be able to win by sticking to the script against a rookie QB and rarely effective running backs Bilal Powell and Isaiah Crowell.

PHI over CAR – Carolina can win football games when they’re establishing a run game rhythm and have an early lead. They didn’t do that last week and tried to pass the whole (3/4ths) of the game and failed in claiming the lead in doing so. If Carson opens the game with a few turnovers, Carolina can score, say, ten points and control the game with Newton, some short passes, and McCaffrey. Carson Wentz is far too talented a passer to do that. The Panthers are a competitive team but the Eagles are more dynamic and can throw when the run is not there, or run when facing extra defensive backs, etc. The Panthers haven’t shown they can reliably do that this season. This could be a preview of a playoff matchup. The Eagles should win this.

TB over CLE – Tampa Bay has an awful defense and we could see Baker’s best game of the year on Sunday. Cleveland has shown grit in close games with heavyweights Pittsburgh and New Orleans but they haven’t been consistent as a unit. Jameis wins the shootout with better weapons that Cleveland simply lacks the depth to cover. Nick Chubb would have to absolutely take the game over for Cleveland to win in Tampa, and he doesn’t have the offensive line play for that to be likely.

BAL over NO – This should be a great game. Drew Brees has certainly been impressive all season but John Harbaugh gets paid the big bucks in part because he’s shown the ability to win chess matches with coaches of Sean Payton’s caliber over the years. The Ravens have excellent depth in the secondary and a strong offensive line which has allowed them to eat the clock when they need. Ravens kicker Justin Tucker can kick it from sixty yards if it gets to that. The Saints offense is elite but their defense hasn’t been dominant like they were in 2017.

WAS over DAL – This almost smells like a tie to me. Washington’s defense should have no problem covering Dallas’s receivers. Dallas defense should also have no problem covering Washington’s backups as Paul Richardson and Jamison Crowder are out. Old timer Redsksin QB Alex Smith has earned his stripes more than Dak Prescott and knows when to throw it away when Dak may still throw an interception in what I expect to be a low scoring game where every PAT counts. It should also be mentioned that the Redskins have a plus four turnover ratio (Cowboys 0), are playing at home, and just outphysicaled (not a real word) a VERY physical Carolina Panthers team last week. Dallas has been great at ATT Stadium but winless on the road.

LAR over SF – San Francisco has no business attempting to win this game. Sure the players naturally want to compete but John Lynch should be wanting his team to be looking forward to 2019. We could see Sean Mannion taking snaps for Los Angeles by the third quarter if both teams are playing in their own best interest. In all seriousness, San Francisco has imitated a competitive team after CJ Beathard has taken over. If Sean McVay gets caught looking ahead to Green Bay, this could be a potential trap game as Matt Breida will want to make his presence felt against a vaunted defense that’s surprisingly soft against the run, though that’s statistically unlikely to be enough to win the game. The Rams should win by 14 plus.

KC over CIN – The Bengals have looked impressive this season with Geno Atkins maybe pacing for his best season ever. The Chiefs went to Foxboro Stadium and lost by three because of a freak accident misplay by rookie defender Breeland Speaks. These Chiefs are not to be trifled with. Dalton and the Bengals can beat teams not on their A game, like an injury-riddled Falcons defense or Miami when they have to go on the road. These Chiefs are on their A game. The game also happens to be in Arrowhead Stadium. We can expect another 70+ point game. The Chiefs win.

ATL over NYG – The Giants offensive line is still awful. Matt Ryan’s offense can score all over the place and Ito Smith has made the loss of Devonta Freeman not hurt so bad. Backup right tackle Chad Wheeler should allow several pressure to Takk Mckinley and Co. limiting the Giants ability to stay on the field.

Week Five Picks

Posted: October 3, 2018 in Football, New entries, NFL
I went 9-6 with my picks last week. Here’s my week five predictions:
NE over IND – Julian Edelman returns in time for the Colts game. Patriots should win at home. Josh Gordon will have more time to familiarize himself with Brady and offense. Colts have a better than advertised defense but the Patriots are still in another league right now. And Frank Reich is still learning how to be a head coach.
TEN over BUF – I one hundred percent of the time recommend picking against Buffalo in 2018. Vrabel’s been working some magic in Tennessee and they deserve credit for beating 2 playoff teams from last season.
ATL over PIT – This should be such a close game. Both defenses have been scoring-friendly with Atlanta down three starting former pro bowlers and Pittsburgh just not having strong nickel/safety play. I like Matt Ryan as a better passer right now than Ben Roethlisberger. Ben doesn’t have LeVeon Bell to lean on any more. As unsteady as ATL’s been, the Falcons should continue to expose Pittsburgh’s secondary. I expect Calvin Ridley to go off again this week.
DEN over NYJ – The Broncos play competitive defense and have formed a clear identity on how they’d like to win games. If Case can be accurate, Denver has serious deep threat weapons and a bruising young rushing duo in Royce Freeman and Philip Lindsay. The Jets haven’t demonstrated competitiveness since week one.
KC over JAX – This should be the game of the week. I like KC in Arrowhead stadium. Leonard Fournette is out. The Chiefs defense will have to defend TJ Yeldon and Kendall Fuller will have to capitalize on inevitable Blake Bortles mistakes.
GB over DET – Green Bay’s talented enough they should win here. If Jimmy Graham plays I can’t see how Detroit is supposed to consistently cover him. Aaron Jones is back and gives Green Bay a physical presence.
BAL over CLE – Cleveland finally has hope for the future with Baker, but the Ravens defense might be the best in Football, and they’re getting Jimmy Smith back. As good as Baker’s been, he’s still a rookie and this will be his toughest defensive test yet.
CAR over NYG – The Panthers are having success running the ball with Christian McCaffrey.  The Giants are a mess and need a fresh start at QB. This will be Eric Reid’s first game since 2017. The Giants haven’t shown they can rush the passer or defend the pass.
CIN over MIA – I have to continue to pick the Bengals as long as they are playing clean football. Joe Mixon’s not a lock to return for week five, but Giovani Bernard’s been getting it done in his absence either way. Cincy wins at home. Miami just lost Center Daniel Kilgore.
LAC over OAK – This is actually a losable game for the Bolts. Oakland has kept it close in all of their games through the first half at least. L.A. will get Corey Liuget back and the Raiders still can’t muster a pass rush.
SF over ARZ (Homer pick don’t trust) – C.J. Beathard actually played fairly well against the Chargers last week. You generally don’t want to put any money on Jimmy Garoppolo-less 49ers this year but Arizona has no offense right now. Matt Breida is also playing better than David Johnson so far.
PHI over MIN – Both of these teams seem to be broken. The Eagles soundly trounced Minnesota in the playoffs with Nick Foles. Philly will get back on track with Carson Wentz connecting with Alshon Jeffery and Jordan Matthews.
LAR over SEA – The Rams are pretty good.
HOU over DAL – Dallas is playing disciplined defense and can still run well. Bill O’Brien still fields a strong defensive core and J.J. Watt looks like he’s back. Watson can throw the Texans back into the game and the Cowboys haven’t shown they can do that.
NO over WAS – The Redskins are just good enough to beat teams not on their A Game. The Saints get Mark Ingram back and have home field advantage. The Saints are still a top NFC team.
  1. New York Jets – Ed Oliver, Houston DT – The Jets run a three down linemen set or Nick Bosa would be the pick here. Oliver is stout against the run and an elite interior pass rusher. If there is a coaching change and the defense switches to four down linemen expect Nick Bosa to go here.
  2. Arizona Cardinals – Nick Bosa, OSU DE – Bosa had sixteen stops for a loss in his stellar rookie campaign. Cards head coach is a defensive guru but even if he wasn’t you don’t pass on Nick Bosa assuming Nick is healthy. Bosa can help the Cardinals fill the void left by Demi-God DE Calais Campbell.
  3. Oakland Raiders – Clelin Ferrell, Clemson DE – Jon Gruden had a beast on defense when he won a Superbowl with Tampa Bay, Khalil Mack is no sure thing for the Raiders’ future and Ferrell has already proven his worth as an elite pass rusher.
  4. Buffalo Bills – Rashan Gary, Michigan DE – The Bills traded away DT Marcell Dareus with no obvious replacement. The Bills need all sorts of help on offense, pretty much at every position. Gary can fill in on the edge or at defensive tackle with elite size and production.
  5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Drew Lock, Mizzou QB – Tampa Bay has never signed a QB they’ve drafted to a second contract. They can choose between paying Jameis Winston exorbitant sums of money with future potential off field issues or start fresh with the taller version of Baker Mayfield.
  6. Cincinnati Bengals – Greg Little, Ole Miss OT – Cordy Glenn has an out after this season so if he’s not playing at a seven and a half million dollar level they can dump him and draft his replacement. Even if they keep Cordy, Greg can start at right tackle in the mean time.
  7. Seattle Seahawks – DeAndre Baker, Georgia CB – Baker would have been a first round pick if he would have come out in 2018. I don’t envision Pete Carroll will still be with this franchise when they draft in 2019, regardless Baker represents the draft’s top corner who Seattle will be searching for.
  8. New York Giants – Justin Herbert, Oregon QB – The Giants don’t have their future QB on the roster. Herbert possesses ideal height, size, arm strength, and accuracy that old school football gms like Dave Gettlemen prioritize.
  9. Cleveland Browns – Dexter Lawrence, Clemson DT – The Browns traded away Danny Shelton and have been struggling to fill the void at defensive tackle. Lawrence is the core of an elite defensive line at Clemson and should be able to contribute immediately.
  10. The Jacksonville Badguars – Josh Allen, LB Kentucky – Jacksonville’s defense is elite, but they won’t be able to pay all those players forever. Allen is a highly versatile defender who can rush the passer or play the run if needed. They Jaguars won’t draft a QB here because they enjoy losing.

Dave’s mini-rants:

  • Donald Trump surely has something better to do with his time than to petition ESPN to air the pregame anthem. I’m a conservative and I’m saying this.
  • Ohio State should just fire Urban Meyer. I’m sure guys have done worse stuff and kept their jobs, but there are tons of excellent coaching candidates and retaining Meyer makes Ohio State fans feel dirty. Fans should be able to watch football and not feel dirty.
  • Unless Jon Gruden has some true Gruden Magic up his sleeve, the Raiders should be calling NFC teams to ship away Khalil Mack far away for high draft picks (Packers, Redskins)
  • I will never stop rooting for Raiders UDFA hopeful Chris Warren III as he continues to tear up the preseason
  • Jacksonville is overrated and they won’t go back to the playoffs. If they don’t replace Blake Bortles their head coach gets fired.

 

Kerryon Johnson, Lions Running Back – New Lions head coach Matt Patricia is a defensive mastermind and will implement from his time in New England a more balanced ground/passing mix than has happened in Detroit in the past (The Lions were the last place rushing attack (32/32) in terms of rushing yards per game in 2017). As a defense guy, Patricia should rely more on the ground game and as evidenced by their investments in the offensive line this offseason. First round pick Center Frank Ragnow, free agents TJ Lang and Ricky Wagner bring a new-look offensive line for Detroit. LeGarrette Blount could steal some goal line touches from Johnson, but Blount’s best years are behind him and Johnson should have plenty of opportunity to win the starting job after playing big boy football against future NFL talent at Auburn for three years.

Nyheim Hines, Colts Running Back – The Colts, like the Lions have not boasted a fearsome ground game in seasons past. Hines has shown a strong running presence against above average D-1 defenses such as Florida State and Boston College. Hines’ 5’8″ stature mean that his 197-lb weight should not be a deterrent in helping him push through defenses. It should also be mentioned that the Colts organization invested a first round draft pick on Quenton Nelson who should open sizable running lanes for whoever lines up at running back for Indianapolis. Colts RB Marlon Mack has shown value as a gadget back like Tarik Cohen or Duke Johnson with pass catching prowess, Hines should have ample opportunity to earn the starting role as bruiser with low center of gravity.

Royce Freeman, Denver Broncos RB – I obviously am high on this rookie class of running backs. Freeman was an Oregon power back who has a chance to win a fairly open job against smaller back Devontae Booker who never took off in his rookie season. C.J. Anderson provided the physical presence for Denver last season with underperforming QB play. Freeman showed next level play against UW’s top five defense last season with over five yards a clip with more than one hundred yards. Freeman should see more touches to close out games as his build his tailor-made to push into eight man boxes Leonard Fournette style.

Carlos Hyde, Cleveland Browns RB – Now that the Browns have more reliable QB play they should be able to hand off the ball to fewer eight man boxes in 2018. The loss of Joe Thomas will certainly be felt but the Browns still have strong interior o-line run blocking play and added Austin Corbett for the future. Hyde has never been a sexy option at RB1 but is a reliable workhorse and has a favorable situation in Cleveland. Teammates Duke Johnson and Nick Chubb can threaten to take touches away from Hyde but he should be the favorite as it stands.

Frank Gore, Miami Dolphins RB – Gore entered the NFL when George Bush Jr was the president of the United States. He’s held a starting job since his second season when he ran for 1,695 yards rushing for the 49ers. The Dolphins brought in the league’s top free agent run blocking guard in Josh Sitton and return a quarterback who isn’t Jay Cutler. The involvement of rookie tight end Mike Gesicki should also open up more space near the line of scrimmage for Gore to do his job. Dolphins running back Kenyan Drake showed last season he’s more than capable of being the workhorse if Gore goes down or can’t perform well.

Jay Ajayi, Philadelphia Eagles RB – Depending on the size and intelligence of your fantasy league, Ajayi might end up being a first round pick or a late round gem. Ajayi overall boasted the strongest running back play from 2017. While the Eagles will spread the ball around at RB more than say Dallas or the Giants will, their ridiculous offense should still give Ajayi plenty of touches and points with sixteen full games and a full off-season to learn the offense. The Eagles retain an absurdly talented offensive line and have a passing attack to push back linebackers to give Ajayi more space to move the ball.

Matt Breida, San Francisco 49ers RB – Breida is truly a late round pickup. Jerick Mckinnon looks to get the bulk of the carries but he has spent most of his career splitting time with another back. Breida is not the pass-catchiest of backs. As a matter of fact, in PPR leagues you should get nowhere near Matt Breida. In other leagues Breida can be a steal. He averaged four plus yards per carry as a rookie and six plus ypc against the Jaguars supposed league’s best defense.