Fantasy Football Mailbag 2016 – Week 1

It’s Thursday, there’s football tonight, and you have a lineup (or 3) that you need to set.

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Thank goodness, Fantasy Football is back.

Look at the NFL, starting the new season where they left off last year. NBC’s Thursday Night Football will premiere with a Super Bowl 50 rematch between the Panthers and defending champion Broncos. Both teams return with stout defenses. One will have Cam Newton under center. The other will have…

Trevor Siemian.

The Broncos make Siemian the first Northwestern quarterback to start the regular season since Otto Graham. Siemian beat out Mark Sanchez and 2016 first-round pick Paxton Lynch. He also inherits an offense from sure-fire Hall of Famer Peyton Manning that includes Pro Bowlers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders on the outside, and CJ Anderson at tailback.

It’s hard to tell how the wide receivers will fair with the 7th rounder at quarterback. He won the job by not turning the ball over and managing the preseason games fairly well. Key term: Managed. Anderson and rookie backup running back Devontae Booker will likely get plenty of touches, but you can’t expect Siemian to beat the Panthers defense with his arm. Carolina can still fly to the ball, even without Josh Norman.

Quick Hits

  • It wasn’t far-fetched to draft Jamaal Charles in the 2nd round, especially when his ceiling is that of a Top 5 back. If you were smart though (owning JC or not), you picked up Spencer Ware when Andy Reid mentioned his #1 RB wasn’t going to be ready for the start of the season. When handed the ball 10 times or more, Ware averaged 95.3 yards and 1.3 touchdowns rushing in 2015. He also faces a Chargers defense that gave up nearly as many rushing yards and touchdowns in the league.

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  • The people who told you that Alfred Morris would be a viable Fantasy pickup were sorely mistaken. Ezekiel Elliott was drafted 4th overall for a reason, and that’s to be the Cowboys’ bell cow. Even as a rookie, Elliott was expected to get a ton of touches with Tony Romo at the helm. With another rookie taking snaps, expect him to be depended on even more…especially in 3rd down situations.

  • Antonio Brown was the consensus #1 pick in just about every league. He may not be the #1 WR to start the season though. Julio Jones was near historic in 2015, recording 136 catches and 1,871. Sunday, Jones will face the team he has terrorized the most in his 5-year career. He has averaged 116 yards and 7 catches per game against Tampa Bay, scoring 6 touchdowns over the 9 games he’s played them.

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Mail Time!

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You know Jared Goff is inactive this week, right? He ended the preseason 3rd on the Rams’ depth chart. I hope you didn’t draft him. So¬†Dak Prescott…Yeah. Dak.

 

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It seems like a lot of people forget that Carson Palmer is coming off the best season of his career, throwing 4,671 yards, 35 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions. The 4 interceptions and 2 fumbles in the NFC title game against the Panthers may have something to do with that, but he isn’t playing against Carolina this weekend. I understand the temptation to go with Matt Stafford but his set of weapons aren’t nearly as proven as Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, Michael Floyd and David Johnson combined. Go with Palmer¬†against New England. Arizona will hope to capitalize on the mistakes of young Jimmy Garoppolo.

 

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This is a fun one, and I’m surprised you were so trusting of so many rookies. Michael Thomas is realistically the 3rd option in New Orleans against a pretty decent Raiders defense. I like Sterling Shepard a lot and the opportunities he can get while Odell Beckham Jr. is double covered, but I don’t see him being the star against Dallas. Then that leaves us with Will Fuller, who is facing an already banged up Bears secondary. The Houston Texans have opportunity to feast on an ariel assault this Sunday, with Kyle Fuller likely out and Tracey Porter returning from injury in the preseason. Go with the the Notre Dame burner, Fuller, who can take the top off most NFL defenses.

 

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Matt Ryan has too much he needs to show before I start him over Palmer. I already went into depth, regarding Palmer’s weapons so plan on starting him. Julio Jones will get his numbers, but I still need to see more from his new complimentary receivers. Vernon Hargreaves could also pose a threat, as the rookie had allowed a QB Rating of ZERO in the preseason.

 

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I know, people LOVE Marvin Jones paired with Matt Stafford. I just don’t understand why. Jones never topped 100 yards in 2015 and scored just 4 touchdowns. Meanwhile, Golden Tate has proven to be a target machine (sans Calvin Johnson as well) and Michael Crabtree actually had a statistically better year than Amari Cooper last season. There is shootout potential between the Saints and Raiders, and you’ll benefit greatly from starting¬†Crabtree¬†in that scenario.

 

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This may sound crazy…

I have trouble picking Cam Newton against the Denver defense. I know he has a chip on his shoulder after last year’s Super Bowl, but Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is going to throw the kitchen sink at him. Newton will still score some, either by air or ground. You should feel more comfortable with Ben Roethlisberger against a Washington defense that ranked in the bottom 3rd against passing yards and touchdowns a year ago.

And now for #DancingWade…

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Have more Fantasy lineup questions? Don’t hesitate to ask on Facebook or Twitter.¬†

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2016 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks 3.0

The quarterback position is the most important in the NFL game today, which was evident when the first two picks in the draft were quarterbacks despite them not being the best overall players. The game has evolved so much that throwing 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns is considered average.

Yet while quarterbacks are valued and paid more than anyone else in the league, it has become customary in Fantasy Football not to draft the position until the 3rd round at the earliest. There are some quarterbacks who can win games for you all by themselves (Cam Newton), some who will give you a solid output week-to-week (Carson Palmer) and those who could lose games for you (Hopefully not ranked here).

After publishing the first list back in February and another on Day 1¬†of the NFL Draft, let’s take a look one last look at the Top-25 quarterbacks who will likely be drafted in your league this year.

1. Cam Newton, Panthers

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Cam Newton scored touchdowns, whether it was through the air or on the ground, in EVERY game he played during the 2015 season. He recorded 45 in total (35 passing, 10 rushing), plus 3,837 yards passing and 636 yards rushing. It was an unprecedented year for a quarterback, and sure it’s hard to expect him or anyone to do it again…but Newton’s talent and skill-set are too unique to doubt it.

2. Aaron Rodgers, Packers

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Aaron Rodgers saw his numbers dip a little last season without Jordy Nelson. 31 TD/8 INT are nice for anyone, but down from the 38/5 the year before. Twice he threw 4 or more touchdowns in a game in 2015, but he wasn’t helping fantasay owners much down the stretch averaging just 1 TD and 1 INT a game in the final 3 games of the season. How often, though, have you seen Rodgers make throws and finish drives like the best quarterback in the league should? The Packers offense appears to be returning to normalcy in 2016, and that bodes well for the Discount Double-Check.

3. Carson Palmer, Cardinals

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Carson Palmer consistently gave those who likely stole him in the middle rounds last year a stat line of 2 touchdowns and 290 yards per game. That consistency goes a long way when everyone after Palmer on this list (outside of Tom Brady) has proven to give you a much worse output on any given Sunday. Palmer is 36 and not getting any younger, but the talent around him should continue the momentum he has built following his best statistical season to date (35 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and 4,671 yards).

4. Russell Wilson, Seahawks

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If there was another quarterback who could put up similar numbers to Cam Newton, Russell Wilson may have the tools to do so. Take a look at 7-game sample sizes from 2015 where both quarterbacks completely lit it up:

Wilson (Weeks 10-16) – 25 total touchdowns, 1 interception

Newton (Weeks 8-14) – 29 total touchdowns, 2 interceptions

The Seahawks offense found an incredible groove in that span, and it was built around both Russell and Thomas Rawls. With most of the offense returning and hopefully a better Year 2 of Jimmy Graham, it’s not inconceivable to see Wilson sustain that production for a full season.

5. Tom Brady, Patriots

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The Patriots (and the rest of the league) appear to have accepted Tom Brady’s 4-game suspension, but that shouldn’t stop you from drafting him by the 5th or 6th round. The caveat should be that you have your fill-in quarterback drafted not long after, but Brady will be returning after throwing the most touchdown passes in 2015. He’ll also have the best tight end combo in the league (Gronk & Bennett) to absolutely terrify opposing red zone defenses.

6. Blake Bortles, Jaguars

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Despite being the most sacked quarterback in the league in each of the 2 seasons of his career, Blake Bortles was one of the most improved players overall from one season to the next. Additions¬†to the offensive line and Chris Ivory should improve Bortles’ protection, and his wide receiver tandem of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns are one of the best in the NFL.

7. Drew Brees, Saints

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Although it’s been a slight decline year-to-year, Drew Brees has averaged 5,127.4 yards thrown over the past 5 seasons. Yardage hasn’t been a problem for the 37-year-old quarterback, neither have attempts or completions as he ranked 2nd in both last season. Also declining have been his touchdown numbers though, throwing 32 last season when he averaged 40 the four years prior. He did throw multiple touchdowns in 9 of his 15 games last season, including a 7-touchdown performance Week 8 against the Giants.

8. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers

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Despite missing 4 games last season, Ben Roethlisberger still got after it with the high-powered Steelers offense. For the 2nd season in a row, Roethlisberger led the league in passing yards per game (328.2). Even without Martavis Bryant, he’ll have Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Ladarius Green, and Le’Veon Bell available to make big plays for him.

9. Eli Manning, Giants

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There is only one Manning brother in the league, and he’s coming off a season where he threw the most touchdowns of his career. Eli Manning threw multiple touchdowns in 11 of his 16 games, 5 of which were for 3+ (including the 6-touchdown battle with Drew Brees). The Giants spent most of their free agency spending on the defensive side of the ball, but upgraded their pass catching group by drafting WR Sterling Shepard (Oklahoma) and TE Jerell Adams (South Carolina). Year 3 of Odell Beckham Jr. should also lead to plenty more “throw it up and catch it” plays from Eli.

10. Andrew Luck, Colts

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¬†After awarding him with the league’s biggest contract, 6 years for $140 million, the Colts are betting a lot on Andrew Luck to be the quarterback who threw 40 touchdowns and 4,761 yards in 2014…not the one who only played 7 games in 2015 and threw just 15 touchdowns. When you invest that kind of money in a quarterback, the pressure is on for him to produce.

11. Derek Carr, Raiders

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Derek Carr is a star in the making. Like Bortles, Carr had a much better sophomore season by throwing 11 more touchdowns than he had in his rookie season. He also led the league in comeback victories with 4 total. I expect his chemistry with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree to improve even more, for Latavius Murray to compliment him better, and for their incredible offensive line to make all of that possible.

12. Philip Rivers, Chargers

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The pass-happiest quarterback of them all started out so incredibly hot in 2015. In the first half, Rivers averaged 344 yards per game with 15 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Then EVERYONE around him got injured, including Keenan Allen, Malcolm Floyd, Antonio Gates and a majority of his offensive line. It was Rivers and Danny Woodhead against the world (which needs to be a buddy comedy). Ken Whisenhunt has returned to San Diego as offensive coordinator, who helped resurrect Rivers’ Pro Bowl production in 2013. He should be available in the middle rounds as a late QB1 or top tier QB2, and his weapons will be touch to pass on as well.

13. Andy Dalton, Bengals

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I found myself rooting hard for Andy Dalton last season. He always gets the Bengals to the playoffs but can’t get them out of the first round, so he takes a lot of heat for that. Before getting injured early in his 13th game of the season, Dalton was on pace to match his career high passing touchdown total (33). 9 of the 12 games prior, he recorded multiple touchdowns and added rushing TD’s in 3 of them. There’s some concern with the departures of Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones, but #ADalt will still be throwing to AJ Green, Gio Bernard and Tyler Eifert when he returns. Also, don’t sleep on new addition Brandon LaFell filling in the WR2 role.

14. Tony Romo, Cowboys

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ROMOLICIOUS is back! *he says with tongue-in-cheek*

Tony Romo will, in fact, return this season and the front office has provided him with a gift from the NFL Draft in Ezekiel Elliott. We saw what Romo and the rest of the Cowboys offense was able to accomplish with an every-down back like DeMarco Murray (34 touchdowns and 9 INTs in 2014). Enter Elliott, who can run, catch, block and everything Boobie Miles’ uncle talked about in the Friday Night Lights movie. Behind the league’s best offensive line, Romo has less pressure on him and more time to throw to his favorite downfield target, Dez Bryant. Your biggest concern should be “what will happen when he takes another big hit?”

15. Kirk Cousins, Washington

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Kirk Cousins stepped up big in his first full season of starting in the NFL. He threw 29 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and 4,166 yards and that earned him a franchise tag from the Washington front office. His gamelogs don’t flash many multi-touchdown pass games, but he did record 5 with 3+ and 3 of those were for 4. He’ll be motivated even more to earn a longterm deal and the combo of Jordan Reed and DeSean Jackson at their healthiest will be helpful in getting there.

16. Jay Cutler, Bears

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Despite injuries to his Top 3 WRs (Alshon Jeffery, Kevin White and Eddie Royal), #1 TE (Martellus Bennett), #1 RB (Matt Forte) and having to manage his offense in spite of a leaky defense, Jay Cutler produced his best statistical season since joining the Chicago Bears. He recorded multiple touchdowns in 8 of the 15 games he played with a receiver group that resembled one from the 4th quarter of a preseason game. A very much improved defense, a franchise tag motivated Jeffery, the debut of Kevin White, and offensive play-calling that compliments his strengths should help Cutler and his numbers immensley in 2016.

17. Matt Ryan, Falcons

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Despite having arguably the best WR to throw to and breakout RB Devonta Freeman, Matt Ryan threw as many touchdowns (21) and MORE interceptions (16) than Jay Cutler in more games played. Just watching him week-to-week, you wanted to yell at your television out loud, “JUST THROW IT UP TO JULIO!”, but Ryan would appear overmatched by the pass rush. Ryan will have better protection with new offensive linemen, like Pro Bowler Alex Mack at Center, and new WR2 Mohamed Sanu. The improvements to the offense should help Ryan bounce back but this will be the last straw for many people.

18. Matthew Stafford, Lions

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There was Matthew Stafford before Jim Bob Cooter (not great) and Matthew Stafford AFTER the OC took over for Joe Lombardi in Detroit. It began with 4 touchdowns against the division rival Bears in Week 6, then 8 multi-touchdown games over the next 10 games (including a 5 TD performance against Philly). Stafford’s issues over his career have always been consistency. He threw 41 TDs in 2011 but then just 20 the next. Fantasy owners better hope history doesn’t repeat itself in the now post-Megatron era.

19. Jameis Winston, Buccaneers

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Jameis Winston was clearly the best rookie quarterback last season after going #1 overall and backing it up with 22 touchdowns and 4,042 yards. Unfortunately for Winston, the Bucs didn’t do much upgrading around him on offense after elevating his offensive coordinator to head coach. If Doug Martin lives up to his new contract and Mike Evans catches more balls in the end zone than he drops, Winston could ascend to monster levels, like he had on the field at Florida State.

20. Brock Osweiler, Texans

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Brock Osweiler left Denver for an excellent situation in Houston. The Texans added multi-talented RB Lamar Miller and drafted two ridiculously athletic WRs in Will Fuller and Braxton Miller to compliment the very elite DeAndre Hopkins. Osweiler showcased why he belongs in NFL with a comeback win against Chicago, a statement win against New England, and keeping pace with the high-powered Steelers offense. However, there were times when Osweiler wasn’t inspiring confidence, which setup the welcomed return of aging Peyton Manning. Head Coach Bill O’Brien will be excited to sculpt Osweiler into his kind of quarterback with a great set up weapons. It will be on Osweiler, though, to make it work.

21. Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins

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Adam Gase should be the best thing to happen to Ryan Tannehill. Gase made TIM TEBOW work for a season, managed Peyton Manning’s offense, and helped Jay Cutler look like the quarterback he was meant to be. Tannehill is ridiculously skilled in play-action and option-style offenses, capable of running and throwing for big plays. With budding star WR Jarvis Landry as his #1 option, Tannehill can play more like the the QB who 4 touchdowns against JJ Watt’s Texans and not the one who contributed nearly nothing in 4 different 2015 games.

22. Marcus Mariota, Titans

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In 1/3 of the 12 games Marcus Mariota played in his rookie season, he threw 3+ touchdowns (tying Peyton Manning’s Rookie record). He became the¬†first player to throw 3 touchdowns and 250+ yards, plus run for over 100 yards as well. Overall, he proved to be a big playmaker. The Titans comitted to continuity by sticking with interim HC Mike Mularkey and also their running game by adding DeMarco Murray and Heisman winner Derrick Henry. If Dorial Green-Beckham finally emerges as a true #1 receiver and the offensive line keeps him in one piece, Super Mariota could continue to grow as Fantasy producing force.

23. Joe Flacco, Ravens

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Joe Flacco’s 3-year extension was Baltimore’s attempt to answer the age-old question “Is Joe Flacco elite?”. He’s never thrown more than 27 touchdowns in a season but can surprise you with a 5-touchdown spot, like he did against Tampa in 2014. In Steve Smith Sr’s farewell season, it shouldn’t be far fetched to see Flacco throwing deep and often to bounce back from his injury-ended 2015 season.

24. Teddy Bridgewater, Vikings

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Since coming into the league in 2014, Teddy Bridgewater hasn’t taken the next step being a viable Fantasy option. 2016 looks like an opportunity for it though, as the Vikings bulked up their offensive line and added the best wide receiver from the draft, Laquon Treadwell. Treadwell is excellent as possession option and Stefon Diggs emerged as a playmaker downfield last season. Now it’s on Bridgewater to make those plays.

25. Alex Smith, Chiefs

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Alex Smith is the safest spot-start¬†option out of anyone that isn’t named on this list. He’s back to throwing touchdowns to wide receivers, has an excellent #1 option in Jeremy Maclin, mini-Gronk Travis Kelce, and Jamaal Charles returning. It’s also worth noting that he threw multiple touchdowns in 4 of the final 6 games of the season and has one of the league’s best defenses to enable him to score more.

More Position Rankings:

Running Backs (3.0)

Quarterbacks (2.0)

Wide Receivers (2.0)

Tight Ends (1.0)

Follow for more and ask questions on Facebook and Twitter. 

2016 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks 2.0

On the day of the¬†2016 NFL Draft, let’s revisit the current Fantasy quarterback landscape. One of the biggest moves in Free Agency came at the position, but there were other moves that both helped and hurt the value for multiple QBs. See who rises or falls as you prepare WAY TOO EARLY for your draft this summer.

1. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

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Save your Super Bowl 50 hot takes. It’s highly probable you reached your¬†Fantasy Championship last year because you had Cam Newton starting down the stretch. The 13 touchdowns he threw in weeks 12-14 would suggest so. The offseason moves the Panthers made prior to this week would suggest they are committed to continue running with him and Jonathan Stewart. Letting Josh Norman walk freed up $14 million more of cap room to work with. Let’s see what else is added to Newton’s offense, on top of a returning Kelvin Benjamin.

 

2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

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(For now, Brady stays here until we know for sure that his suspension will hold up for the season)

Last year’s biggest steal for many (before his suspension was lifted) just added another scary red zone target in Martellus Bennett. Tom Brady was a magician last year with a depleted receiver group, yet threw the 3rd highest touchdown total of his career (36) and averaged 298 yards per game. He’ll be 39 as the 2016 season starts, but there wasn’t much evidence of him slowing down yet.

 

3. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

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Okay, I’ve come to my senses. Aaron Rodgers is good at football, I know. I still wouldn’t recommend spending a 1st or early 2nd round pick on him, but adding Jared Cook to Rodgers’ arsenal helps in the red zone. The Packers aren’t particularly known for 2-TE looks, but they have that option now from 25 yards and in. If Eddie Lacy meets his “comeback” hype too, the Packers offense could be devastating and that would benefit Rodgers owners the most.

 

4. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals

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Carson Palmers numbers were very similar to Tom Brady’s last season. The Cardinals also brought the band back together, re-signing Jermaine Gresham, Chris Johnson, and Jaron Brown. They are 5 deep in quality WRs, and the Top 3 stack up with any group in the league. As long as the 36-year old can be held upright, you should get the consistent 2 touchdowns and 290 yards per game at least.

 

5. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

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Russell Wilson’s 21/2 TD-to-INT ratio from Week 10-15 are exactly why you put him in the Top 5. He put up his highest touchdown total in 2015 (34), which was 14 more than the season prior. What makes you hesitant is his annual slow start. Since being drafted in 2012, Wilson has averaged 1.3 touchdowns and 210.25 yards per game through through first 5 weeks of the season. What’s nice is that he hardly turned the ball over, but you’re hoping Seahawks play-callers stick to the formula they found last season, attacking downfield with Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett.

 

6. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars

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In his first two seasons, Blake Bortles was the most sacked quarterback in the league. Improving his touchdown total by 24 (35 in 2015) was pretty encouraging though, as was finding chemistry with two of the game’s most consistent receivers. The Jaguars added some offensive line help picking up former Steelers tackle Kelvin Beachum and improved their defense by signing Malik Jackson and Tashaun Gipson. Having Chis Ivory in the backfield too should also help forcing opposing defenses to fill the box. It’s safe to assume #BortlesKombat will continue to heat up.

 

7. Eli Manning, New York Giants

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Eli Manning, of all people, has challenged Odell Beckham Jr. to improve for next season. I guess a quarterback and captain is responsible for that, but Beckham continued to be the best thing going for the Giants offense having scored 25 touchdowns in 2 seasons. Manning seems to finally be getting a healthy Victor Cruz back and Dwayne Harris made solid strides as the #3 guy. Coming off the highest touchdown total of his career (35), Manning should build on it with another year of OBJ and the same offensive play-calling should make.

 

8. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

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Drew Brees missed his first game since 2009 last season and still finished the season with 32 touchdowns and ¬†4,870 yards (324 yards per game). He’s younger than Brady but might have a bit more wear-and-tear. However, the extension Sean Payton received makes me think he’s going to come out firing with his QB this year. Brees has an elite deep option in Brandin Cooks, two other solid receivers in Brandon Coleman and Willie Snead, a new red zone threat in Coby Fleener and two effective pass catching running backs…Things are looking bright.

 

9. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders

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After adding Donald Penn, the Raiders offensive line is now one of the best in all of football. When he wasn’t under pressure, Derek Carr had a passer rating of 96.4 last year. That and the 32 touchdowns he threw should improve as his chemistry with Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree do as well.

 

10. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

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Losing Martavis Bryant hurts the Steelers offense a lot. He is a top tier talent and Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t necessarily his best during his 5-game suspension last season, 7 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Roethlisberger’s longtime go-to tight end also retired. However, the Steelers upgraded at the position by signing Ladarius Green and they still have Antonio Brown, plus ¬†Le’Veon Bell returns. I don’t know if you can trust Big Ben to stay in one piece all season, but his knack for 3+ touchdown games and average of 328 yards per last season make him Top 10 worthy.

 

11. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

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Which Andrew Luck will we get this year? The one who went 2-5 and threw just 15 touchdown passes last season, or the one who threw 40 the year before? The Colts didn’t add much to their offensive line to protect him but they do still have speedsters T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief to throw downfield to. It will be interesting to see how Luck bounces back.

 

12. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

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Philip Rivers could be had for great value. With a healthy Keenan Allen through 8 games, Rivers averaged 344 yards and 2 touchdowns per game. Then Ken Whisenhunt rejoined the Chargers staff, who helped Rivers get his groove back in 2013, and they added the Cleveland Browns’ #1 receiver, Travis Benjamin. If everyone stays healthy, the Chargers could have a very high powered offense.

 

13. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals

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Andy Dalton had a great season before his injury last year. 25 touchdowns and 7 interceptions are much better than the 19 and 17 before then. His #2 and #3 receivers, Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu, left via free agency but it doesn’t hurt to have weapons like AJ Green, Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard. Brandon LaFell also joins the Bengals offense and possibly a first round quality receiver too from this year’s draft.

14. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions

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Matthew Stafford is coming off his 2nd 30+ touchdown season of his career (32), but he’s going to be doing so without Calvin “Megatron” Johnson. The Lions did their best to fill the need at WR by picking up Marvin Jones, the best WR on the market after Alshon Jeffrey was franchised tagged, and Golden Tate has proven he can shine without Megatron. What’s also encouraging are the 17 touchdowns Stafford threw in the final 6 weeks¬†of the season. His two running backs, Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick, are strong in the passing game as well.

 

15. Kirk Cousins, Washington

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I’m not sure how Kirk Cousins is supposed to feel about getting franchise tagged and then seeing Josh Norman get a $75 million contract after. If he wants to get paid more somewhere though, it would be in his best interest to play like the guy who threw 11 touchdown passes and zero interceptions over his last 3 games. He finished the season with a 101.6 passer rating and a healthy Jordan Reed can only help that continue in 2016.

 

16. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears

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It’s taken a long time but it finally appears the Chicago Bears are putting a proper offense around Jay Cutler. The franchise tagged the best WR in free agency, Alshon Jeffrey. They sured up the right side of their offensive line by adding tackle Bobby Massie and kicking Pro Bowler Kyle Long back to guard. They also get to find out what Kevin White is made of. Continuity in offensive scheme and better coaching should keep the arrow pointing up for Cutler.

 

17. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins

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We go from one Adam Gase project to the next. Ryan Tannehill was on a steady track, improving on touchdown totals for his first 3 seasons, but took a step back in 2015 with a coaching staff that really didn’t seem to know what they were doing. He can throw and he can run. His new head coach specializes in utilizing quarterbacks with Tannehill’s talent in play-action, minimizing their mistakes. His Top WR, Jarvis Landry, also looks ready to explode.

18. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

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Matt Ryan¬†should¬†be much higher, but his 2015 season makes it very fair to doubt his abilities. With arguably the best WR in football, Julio Jones, and an emerging star at running back, Devonta Freeman, Ryan only threw 21 touchdowns last year. Only once did he throw 3 or more touchdowns in a game. Only ONCE in his career has thrown 30+ touchdowns in a season. Too often did you see him turn the ball over on scoring drives or get stopped because of his own inaccuracy. The Falcons upgraded his protection this year by adding Alex Mack at center and replaced Roddy White with Mohamed Sanu. It’s now or never, Matty Ice.

 

19. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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While Marcus Mariota started out hot, Jameis Winston may have finished the 2015 season looking like the better rookie quarterback. Despite losing 5 of his last 7 games, Winston’s numbers improved after a 5 touchdown performance against the Eagles. He also gets back the best RB¬†that was available in free agency, Doug Martin, and hopefully Mike Evans finds a cure for “the drops”. It will be interesting to see how the team handles itself without Lovie Smith and with Dirk Koetter in charge.

 

20. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys

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It’s really tough to feel confident in Tony Romo as the #1 Fantasy quarterback on your roster. The backfield situation looks better with a committee of Darren McFadden, Alfred Morris and a healthy Lance Dunbar. If those guys get going, you might get the 34-TD Romo. If they don’t, then you have to worry about another season ending injury. Health will be key for both Romo and Dez Bryant in 2016. If by chance they draft Ezekiel Elliott though, you can feel a lot better about the Cowboys in general.

 

21. Brock Osweiler, Houston Texans

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There was one quarterback signing in the offseason that made serious waves and that was Brock Osweiler to Houston. He traded throwing to Demaryius Thomas for DeAndre Hopkins and an offensive scheme that earned Brian Hoyer a 100+ passer rating in 5 of his 11 games started. It’s hard to predict how good Osweiler will be after such a small sample size. He threw 10 touchdowns and 6 interceptions in 7 games with Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders as his options. Do Hopkins, Cecil Shorts III, Jalen Strong and fellow signee Lamar Miller help him improve those numbers?

22. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens

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“Is Joe Flacco a elite?” – One of my favorite Twitter jokes in sports.

Flacco’s never thrown more than 27 touchdowns in his career. He followed up his highest season total with a season-ending injury and just 14 TDs in 10 games. The Ravens are committed to Flacco though, extending him for another 3 years in the offseason. He’ll have Steve Smith Sr. playing his final¬†season and wanting to go out with a bang. They also added Mike Wallace and Benjamin Watson to improve the receiving corps and prepare for for the annual Dennis Pita injury.

 

23. Marcus Mariota, Tenesse Titans

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Marcus Mariota had probably the most impressive start to his career you could ask for, throwing 4 touchdowns in the opener against his rookie counterpart, Jameis Winston. He’d match that total again vs. the Saints while adding 371 yards. However, he was shut out in the TD column 5 times and was only healthy for 12 games. Trading for DeMarco Murray shows the Titans are very committed to the run for 2016, which should help take pressure off Mariota in his sophomore season and set up his passing game better.

 

24. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs

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Alex Smith is a very good game manager, at this point in his career and he can at times be a decent waiver pickup when your #1 guy is on a bye. Twice in 2015, Smith threw 2 touchdowns and ran for another and he was finally back to finding wide receivers in the end zone again (that’s progress, considering the year and half long streak of not throwing TDs to WRs). Smith will also be getting Jamaal Charles back, who is monster when catching the ball out of the backfield.

25. Teddy Bridgewater

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In year 3 of the Teddy Bridgewater era, the Vikings bulked up their offensive line by adding Andre Smith and Alex Boone. After being sacked 44 times last season, that’s a welcomed upgrade for Bridgewater. He’s thrown only 14 touchdowns in each of his first 2 seasons and the Vikings have yet to improve their receiver depth, but more attention to Adrian Peterson by defenses should open things up for Bridgewater this time around.

Anyone too high or too low? Was anyone left out? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter. 

More Position Rankings:

Running Backs (2.0)

Quarterbacks (1.0)

Wide Receivers (1.0)

#SB50 Roundup: Prop Bets, Podcast, Playlist and More

 

Tonight’s the night…

(5:30 PM CT for kickoff, to be exact)

A week (and a year) of hype for the 50th installment of THE BIGGEST SPORTING EVENT IN THE WORLD. All caps necessary. 

Here on MichaelPiff.com we did everything we could to get you prepared for the “Big Game”.¬†

ALL THE PROP BETS…

From the color of the Gatorade dumped on the winning coach to the combination of tonight’s victor and our next President, listed HERE.¬†

The Piffcast…

We brought back the show just in time for Super Bowl 50! Don’t forget to post your Super Bowl Party spread¬†to Facebook or Twitter. The tastiest looking pic wins the first Piffcast Prize Pack. One of the things included is mentioned early in the show, so listen up!

 

The Playlist…

For your Super Bowl party, check out the music from the artists we listed in the “Denver vs. Carolina: Everything But Football” breakdown…and the Halftime acts too.¬†

 

And more…

Like the 2016 NFL Bad Lip Reading videos…Parts I

and II. 

 

Follow along on Twitter during the game and don’t forget to send your Super Bowl Spread pics to @Mike_PiFF03¬†for a chance at the first ever Piffcast Prize Pack

NFL Bad Lip Reading 2016: Part II

“He’s weird, he’s weird, and HE’S WEIRD!”

 

Three days after “Part I” hit the interweb, Bad Lip Reading struck again with plenty of things Drew Brees, Kirk Cousins, John Fox and others probably didn’t say…but we can imagine now.

Keep this in mind when you watch Peyton Manning and Cam Newton go at it this weekend in Super Bowl 50.

For more, follow along on Facebook or Twitter. 

The Piffcast! Episode 1 – The Super Bowl One

The Piffcast is back…rebooted!

With “The ’85 Bears” 30 For 30 debuting this week, we talked to Mark Grote from 670 The Score about following the team as a fan and their legacy in football history.

We also get you prepared for the weekend with the commercials to look forward to, the halftime show, prop bets and more going into Super Bowl 50. Listen for how to win the first Piffcast giveaway too!

Listen and react on Facebook or Twitter! 

 

2016 Fantasy Football Rankings – Quarterbacks

Not sure if you noticed, but the quarterback position in 2015 across the league got thin in a hurry. The fact that Brian Hoyer and Matt Hasselbeck were relevant was a HUGE problem.

Most of the quarterbacks below got the job done in 2015 and should be poised to do the same or more in 2016. Some, like Andrew Luck and Tony Romo, are looking for a healthy comeback.

(You’ll notice that Joe Flacco isn’t one of them. Year 2 of Marc Trestman’s play-calling and a lack of talent at wide receiver keeps him out of the Top 20)

1. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

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I’ve harped on it here enough in the past 4 months, but Cam Newton was winning you multiple weeks in fantasy by himself in 2015. His 35 touchdown passes were tied for 2nd in the league…and then he added 10 more rushing. Newton also gets at least one more weapon next season with Kelvin Benjamin returning.

2. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

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Tom Brady is just a year younger than Peyton Manning, yet led the league in touchdown passes a year ago. Brady also chipped in nearly 300 yards per game, and made the most out of depleted receiving group. Heck, he even made Scott Chandler relevant for a week or two.

3. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals v San Francisco 49ers

Almost as reliable as Brady was Carson Palmer. He didn’t look great in the post season, but his loaded offense allowed him to average 291 yards and at least 2 touchdowns per game. Another healthy year like 2015 would warrant a much higher pick than where he was drafted on average a year ago.

4. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks

Russell Wilson is weird. Yes for those reasons you just thought of, but also because of his streaky production. Through the first 10 weeks of the season in 2015, Wilson had just one game of multiple touchdown passes. Then he gave you 5 straight weeks of no less than 3 TDs per game. As the Seahawks look to probably move past Marshawn Lynch, it would be much more beneficial for them to let Wilson throw it and have Thomas Rawls compliment him.

5. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

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There are a lot of people who probably don’t like me having Aaron Rodgers this far down the list, but the truth is that the discount-double check got checked down last season. Rodgers was a different player without his old-reliable Jordy Nelson and his running game wasn’t bailing him out either when he needed it. Yes, the 2 Hail Mary’s proved he can still do whatever he wants when it matters most, but you should be able to get him with better value in the 3rd or 4th round…as of now.

6. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars

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Blake Bortles jumped from throwing just 11 touchdown passes his rookie season to 35 in his sophomore year. #BortlesKombat has some room to grow, and probably will with a pair of very consistent scoring receivers like Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. The Jaguars are a team that plays in a lot of comeback situations and shootouts that make Bortles excellent for Fantasy garbage points.

7. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

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Ben Roethlisberger led the league with 328 pass yards per game, and you’d think it’s hard not to replicate that kind of production when you have Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton, Le’Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams to work with. The only question is whether or not he can stay in one piece.

 

8. Eli Manning, New York Giants

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I’m always skeptic about Eli Manning, as he seems to regularly fold in high pressure situations during the regular season. His 35 touchdown passes were no joke though, and having Odell Beckham Jr. there to make him look better is also hard to argue with. As his offensive coordinator from the past 2 years takes over the reigns as head coach, the offense shouldn’t look terribly different.

9. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals

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Andy Dalton was as good as anyone in the first half of the season last year. He likely went undrafted in most leagues and became the hottest free agent in a hurry in yours. He went from throwing 19 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in 2014 to 25/7 in 2015. Had he been healthy down the stretch for the Bengals, there’s a good chance they would have beaten the Steelers over Wild Card weekend. His offensive coordinator, Hue Jackson, might be elsewhere but it’s hard to imagine he’ll take a step back with AJ Green and Tyler Eifert still there to throw to.

10. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints

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Drew Brees paired with Sean Payton as head coach will always get you the yardage. “Breesus” averaged 324 yards per game. The crazy numbers don’t kick in until around mid-season though, like ya know…7 touchdowns and 505 yards in Week 8. The fact Luke McCown made an appearance makes you nervous though and wonder if he can keep it up (NOT LIKE THAT, YA JERKS).

11. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders

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Derek Carr made solid strides in 2015, throwing multiple TDs in 11 of the 16 games he started. Throwing 32 touchdowns after 21 in his rookie season and growing with Amari Cooper makes his projection in 2016 even more exciting.

12. Kirk Cousins, Washington

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I don’t know which Kirk Cousins you’re going to get in 2016. The one that was just okay through Week 14, or the one that tossed 11 touchdowns in 3 games to will Washington to an NFC East title and will get him paid big time for it. The upside with a healthy Jordan Reed, and that 158.3 QB rating game in Week 10, has him ranked higher than he probably is….for now.

13. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears

Cutty 2015

I don’t think there was a quarterback who did more with less than Jay Cutler.

  • No 1st Round draft pick Kevin White
  • Only 8 games with Alshon Jeffery, 9 games with Eddie Royal
  • Marc Mariani, Josh Bellamy, and Cameron Meredith as a his only WRs multiple games

Yet he still played one of his best seasons as a Chicago Bear. Having continuity in playcalling next year and healthy receivers makes me feel better about Cutler than most next season.

14. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts

Luck lives

Andrew Luck probably went in the first or 2nd round in most leagues last year. Those who drafted him that high got 7 games, 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions to show for it. As of this moment, I’m not sure if you’re going to get the 40 touchdown guy from 2014 or the injury plagued/turnover happy QB of 2016. His talent and ability will keep him higher though.

15. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers

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For the first 8 games of the season, Philip Rivers averaged 344 yards and 2 touchdowns per game. Then he lost Keenan Allen for the year and it was 254 yards and 1.4 touchdowns per game the rest of the year. Rivers still got paid big money and his head coach Mike McCoy was extended through 2017, so the organization seems to be banking on next year looking like the first half of 2015.

16. Tony Romo

Wild Card Playoffs - Detroit Lions v Dallas Cowboys

There’s been more talk about who will replace Tony Romo than his potential production when he returns in 2016. If you draft Romo next season, it’s to backup your #1 guy and the possibility he stays upright for 34 touchdowns like he did in 2014. If the Cowboys pick up a DeMarco Murray-like running back, maybe he will.

17. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

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I don’t know how you can trust Matt Ryan anymore, coming off the worst statistical year of his career since his rookie season. However, he does have arguably the best wide receiver in football, Julio Jones, and Devonta Freeman can set him up better if his offensive coordinator can figure out how to use play-action.

18. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins

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Before last season, Ryan Tannehill was improving every season. Then his coaches forgot how to coach. It’s cliche now, but Adam Gase worked wonders with Peyton Manning and Jay Cutler. So you can hold onto hope one more year with Ryan Tannehill as a backup.

19. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Bucanneers

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I get a feeling Jameis Winston is going to jump up this list a bit, and could very well be a starter for you if Mike Evans can avoid dropping the ball. What’s going to be key is seeing how his newly elevated head coach, Dirk Koetter, does handling the personnel after getting Lovie Smith launched.

20. Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets

Fitzpatrick

Ryan Fitzpatrick brought the “Fitzmagic” last season, throwing more than 30 touchdowns for the first time in his career. The Jets utilized their running game to set him up greatly in the red zone, and the Brandon Marshall/Eric Decker combo ate because of it. Can you bank on Fitzpatrick doing it again though when couldn’t any of the 10 years before?

Anyone too high or too low? Was anyone left out? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter. 

For more position rankings:

Quarterbacks / Running Backs / Wide Receivers