NFL Week 4 Fantasy Mailbag

After 3 weeks into the season, it’s fun to see the rising Fantasy Football stars (and who you should be benching to send a message to your team).

Buffalo Bills backup RB Karlos Williams has scored a rushing touchdown every week so far, 3 total on the season. Starting running backs Jonathan Stewart, Justin Forsett and C.J. Anderson have all combined for 0.0…LeGarrette Blount matched Williams’ TD total in just the 2nd half against the Jaguars last week.

Do I seriously suggest you bench J-Stew, Forsett and Anderson?  If you have better options at running back, what have any of those 3 done to stop you? 

HEY LOOK! 

THE CHIEFS THREW A TOUCHDOWN PASS TO A WIDE RECEIVER FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE 2013 SEASON!

Maclin Touchdown

Can they make it two weeks in a row? Tune in to find out!

Quick Hits

  • Michael Vick starts tonight for the Pittsburgh, which I am *slow clapping* for because Steelers fans were so against him being on the team in the first place. Vick has a 2-1 record against the Ravens in his career, with 2 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, and averaging 211 pass yards per game. He’s not the scrambler and Madden video game dream that he used to be, but he doesn’t have to be with Antonio Brown capable of catching anything you throw up and Le’Veon Bell in the backfield. Both skill players help make Ben Roethlisberger a better quarterback. Vick becomes a decent option if you’re hard pressed at QB…especially with Le’Veon Skywalker doing his thing out there. 

(Insert “getting high” joke here)

  • Julio Jones was awarded the NFC’s Offensive Player of the Month for September, and rightfully so. He leads the league in receiving yards and has recorded the most receptions through 3 games (34) in NFL history. Jones is currently on pace for 181 catches, 2,346 yards and 21 touchdowns…It’s highly unlikely he’s actually record those numbers, but dammit, he’ll try.

Jones has missed some practice this week, but still a must start. He’s earned the rest.

  • Rant Time: If you have used the term “fire sale” regarding the Chicago Bears, STOP IT. If you continue to do so, I’ll be forced to reach through your laptop or mobile screen and slap you. Contrary to recent popular belief, the NFL is not Major League Baseball. Teams can’t eat money to trade away whoever they want to. The team taking a trade must absorb the contract of a player and it must fit within their cap space, unlike baseball where there is no cap. The Bears moved Jared Allen because he was owed bonus money to start the season. Nobody would have taken him if his $11.5 million bonus was actually base salary for the season…Regarding Matt Forte, a team would need $15 million in cap space to take on what’s remaining in his contract. Only the Jaguars, Titans, Raiders and Browns fit that bill and NONE of them are looking to make a playoff push by adding Forte. None of those teams would be willing to trade back resources to match his value either, especially when he is a free agent at year’s end. Stop worrying about that if you have him on your roster. End rant. 

Mail Time!

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I love…none of your options. If Derek Carr is out there, go get him. Especially for this week.

If I’m choosing among your options though, Ryan Fitzpatrick is oddly the most trustworthy. Brandon Weeden behind his offensive line and with his weapons has the higher upside against a bad New Orleans pass defense, but I feel better about The Beard in London against a reeling Miami secondary.

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If Davante Adams is out this weekend, Ty Montgomery becomes an excellent play this weekend…and would be by far the best of your options. If he’s still available, I would recommend getting Leonard Hankerson as Roddy White’s usage is quickly becoming non-existent.

For your flex, Ameer Abdullah is your guy…even against the Seattle defense. He’s the Lions best option out of the backfield and will get plenty of work, at least in dump off passes. Ravens new OC Marc Trestman apparently has no idea how to use Forsett, and Melvin Gordon has taken over as the true #1 back in San Diego over Woodhead.

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TY Hilton is healthy enough, and now an even better play against Jacksonville while Donte Moncrief helps stretch defenses more. Then I go with Jarvis Landry over Brandin Cooks, especially if you get return points. Darrelle Revis is dealing with a groin injury and becomes even less of a fear as he’s left slot receivers alone in recent weeks.

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If Arian Foster can go, he’s going going to get plenty of work doing so. Pay attention for the active/inactive list I put out on the Facebook page Sunday for his status. I’ll be making that a weekly tradition going forward…otherwise, go with Ryan Matthews.

Among your wide receivers, I can’t ignore James Jones any longer. He has 4 touchdowns in 3 games, and the Adams injury makes him all the more a priority play.

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Marshawn Lynch drove the country crazy on Sunday with his late entrance into the game against the Bears, and even more so when he left early. If he can go though, you have to start him. That’s why you drafted him. Otherwise, Abdullah is a nice play in the flex.

Among your WRs, Pierre Garcon sticks out going against a Philly defense, that he recorded 11 catches, 138 yards and a touchdown on in one game last year.

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I am going to echo my advice that I gave to Bucy…Start Foster if he’s active. Bill O’Brien is dying to use him. Just keep an eye out for the Facebook Page for the IN/OUT list prior to kickoff. Just have your backup ready to go.

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Gotta go with Derek Carr against the Bears. He’s been slinging it like a younger Rodgers as of late and the matchup is too good not to.

If Andre Ellington can go, start him. If not, then go with his backup….yes, that’s Chris Johnson.

Then Pierre Garcon, for the reasons I listed to Kirk earlier.

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For your long-term question (which I’m sure interests my readers), Yes, Derek Carr is the best option and I have been trying to drive that home since the question asked for this week’s mailbag. He’s the most talented of those options and the combo of Latavius Murray/Amari Cooper makes him even more dangerous.

With your Dolphins WR predicament, in a standard league you can’t put Rishard Matthews in the corner. He’s catching the most passes, despite Landry getting double digit targets each week. While I believe Landry is the better receiver. Matthews is scoring touchdowns, and you should play him until he stops…As noted earlier, Revis is nursing a groin injury. I anticipate Ryan Tannehill testing that plenty in London this weekend.

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Despite my appreciation for his wide receivers, Tannehill has taken a step back in his progress this year and I think it’s going to finally get Joe Philbin fired. If you’re looking for a spot start, roll with Carr against the Bears. If you are looking longterm, I trust Tyrod Taylor to sustain his production as a dual-threat quarterback. He’s proven himself through 3 games and against tough competition.

Have more lineup questions? Feel free to ask on both Facebook and Twitter! Also, don’t hesitate to post any questions for next week’s Mailbag. Good luck this weekend! 

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#TBT Year in Review: 1996

In the year New Zealand singer-songwriter Lorde was born…

  • The Daily Show aired for the first time on Comedy Central
  • Nintendo 64 was released in Japan
  • The Ramones performed their last show 
  • The OJ Simpson civil trial began
  • Steve Jobs’ company NeXT was bought by Apple, which he also founded

Tupac Shakur was shot and killed at the age of 25. 

To this day, people are trying to prove he’s still alive. 

AND in the worlds of movies, music and sports…

Movies

Comedy

Happy Gilmore, Swingers, Kingpin, Matilda, 101 Dalmatians, Don’t Be A Menace in South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood, Tin Cup, The Nutty Professor, Bio-Dome, The Cable Guy, Beautiful Girls, The First Wives Club, That Thing You Do, Striptease, Jack, Multiplicity, Kazaam, The Birdcage, Beavis and Butthead Do America, Down Periscope, The Stupids, Black Sheep, Bulletproof, One Fine Day, Spy Hard, Sgt. Bilko AND…

Space Jam

Action/Thriller

Scream, Independence Day, The Rock, Escape from LA, A Time to Kill, From Dusk Till Dawn, Twister, The Craft, Fear, Eraser, Broken Arrow, The Long Kiss Goodnight, The Ghost and the Darkness, The Frighteners, Chain Reaction, Ransom, Executive Decision, The Fan, Last Man Standing, Maximum Risk, AND…

Mission Impossible

Drama

Trainspotting, Jerry Maguire, The English Patient, Romeo + Juliet, Sling Blade, Sleepers, Secrets and Lies, Shine, Michael Collins, The People vs. Larry Flynt, Evita, The Mirror Has Two Faces, Kolya, Bullet, The Mirror Has Two Faces, Jude, Mother Night, Phenomenon, Gotti, Emma, Before and After, The Juror, Fly Away Home, Marvin’s Room, AND…

Fargo

The 69th Academy Awards

Best Actor

  • Tom Cruise, Jerry Maguire
  • Ralph Fiennes, The English Patient
  • Woody Harrelson, The People vs. Larry Flynt
  • Billy Bob Thornton, Sling Blade
  • Geoffrey Rush, Shine – Winner

(The first of 4 nominations for Geoffery Rush. His latest was in 2011 for The King’s Speech

Best Supporting Actor

  • William H. Macy, Fargo
  • Armin Mueller-Stahl, Shine
  • Edward Norton, Primal Fear
  • James Woods, Ghosts of Mississippi
  • Cuba Gooding Jr., Jerry Maguire – Winner

(Cuba Gooding Jr. won the only time he was nominated)

Best Actress

  • Brenda Blethyn, Secrets & Lies
  • Diane Keatin, Marvin’s Room
  • Kristin Scott Thomas, The English Patient
  • Emily Watson, Breaking the Waves
  • Frances McDormand, Fargo – Winner

(Frances McDormand has been nominated 3 other times, most recently for North Country in 2006)

Best Supporting Actress

  • Joan Allen, The Crucible
  • Lauren Bacall, The Mirror Has Two Faces
  • Barbara Hershey, The Portrait of a Lady
  • Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Secrets & Lies
  • Juliette Binoche, The English Patient – Winner

(Juliette Binoche was nominated once more in 2001 for Chocolat)

Best Picture

  • Fargo
  • Jerry Maguire
  • Secrets & Lies
  • Shine
  • The English Patient – Winner

(The English Patient won 9 of the 12 Oscars it was nominated for, including best Director)

Music

Rock Albums

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Hip Hop Albums

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Pop Albums

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Billboard Year-End Top 25 Songs

  1. Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)” – Los del Rio
  2. One Sweet Day” – Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men
  3. “Because You Loved Me” – Celine Dion
  4. “Nobody Knows” – The Tony Rich Project
  5. “Always Be My Baby” – Mariah Carey
  6. “Give Me One Reason” – Tracy Chapman
  7. “The Crossroads” – Bone Thugs-n-Harmony
  8. “I Love You Always Forever” – Donna Lewis
  9. “You’re Makin’ Me High / “Let It Flow” – Tony Braxton
  10. “Twisted” – Keith Sweat
  11. “C’mon N’ Ride It (The Train)” – Quad City DJ’s
  12. “Missing” – Everything but the Girl
  13. “Ironic” – Alanis Morissette
  14. “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)” – Whitney Houston
  15. “Follow You Down” / “Til I Hear It From You” – Gin Blossoms
  16. “Sittin’ Up in My Room” – Brandy
  17. “How Do U Want It”/”California Love” – 2Pac featuring K-Ci & JoJo / Dr Dre
  18. “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” – Celine Dion
  19. “Change the World” – Eric Clapton
  20. “Hey Lover” – LL Cool J
  21. “Loungin” – LL Cool J
  22. “Insensitive” – Jann Arden
  23. “Be My Lover” – La Bouche
  24. “Name” – Goo Goo Dolls
  25. “Will You Save Your Sould” – Jewel

Sports

Baseball

League Leaders

Offensive

Average: Alex Rodriguez (SEA) – .358

Hits: Lance Johnson (NYM) – 227

Home Runs: Mark McGwire (OAK) – 52

RBI: Andres Galarraga (COL) – 150

OPS: Mark McGwire (STL) – 1.198

Stolen Bases: Kenny Lofton (CLE) – 75

Pitching

Wins: John Smoltz (ATL) – 24

ERA: Kevin Brown (FLA) – 1.89

Strikeouts: John Smoltz (ATL) – 276

Complete Games: Pat Hentgen (TOR) – 10

Shutouts: Pat Hentgen (TOR) – 3

Saves: Jeff Brantley (CIN) & Todd Worrell (LAD) – 44

MVP

AL – Juan Gonzalez (TEX)

NL – Ken Caminiti (SD)

CY Young

AL – Pat Hentgen (TOR)

NL – John Smoltz (ATL)

Rookie of the Year

AL – Derek Jeter (NYY)

NL – Todd Hollandsworth (LAD)

World Series

New York Yankees over the Atlanta Braves (4-2)

Basketball

NCAA

Final Four:

(1) Kentucky (1) UMass (4) Syracuse (5) Mississippi State

National Championship

(1) Kentucky over (4) Syracuse 76-67

NBA

League Leaders

Points Per Game: Michael Jordan (CHI) – 30.4

Rebounds Per Game: Dennis Rodman (CHI) – 14.9

Assists Per Game: John Stockton (UTAH) – 11.2

All-NBA Team

Afernee Hardaway (ORL)

Michael Jordan (CHI)

Karl Malone (UTAH)

Scottie Pippen (CHI)

David Robinson (SA)

MVP – Michael Jordan (CHI)

Rookie – Damon Stoudamire (TOR)

NBA Finals

Chicago Bulls over Seattle Supersonics (4-2)

Football

NCAA

Heisman Trophy – Danny Wuerffel, Florida

National Championship

Ike Hilliard

(3) Florida over (1) Florida State 52-20 in the Sugar Bowl

NFL

League Leaders

Passing Yards: Mark Brunell (JAX) – 4,367

Passing Touchdowns: Brett Favre (GB) – 39

Passer Rating: Steve Young (SF) – 97.2

Rushing Yards: Barry Sanders (DET) – 1,553

Rushing Touchdowns: Terry Allen (WAS) – 21

Receiving Yards: Isaac Bruce (STL) – 1,338

Receiving Touchdowns: Michael Jackson (BAL) & Tony Martin (SD) – 14

Receptions: Jerry Rice (SF) – 108

AP MVP – Brett Favre (GB)

Super Bowl XXXI

Green Bay Packers over New England Patriots 35-21

Hockey

League Leaders

Goals: Mario Lemieux (PIT) – 69

Assists: Ron Francis (PIT) & Mario Lemieux (PIT) – 92

Points: Mario Lemieux (PIT) – 161

Hart Memorial Trophy – Mario Lemieux (PIT)

Stanley Cup

Colorado Avalanche over Florida Panthers (4-0)

Did I miss anything? Let me know on Twitter @Mike_PiFF03 or on Facebook.

Also checkout past #TBT Years in Review.

2012

2011

2010

2007

2006

2005

2002

1999

1998

1992

1990

1989

1988

1987

Fantasy Cheat Sheet 2015: Defenses and Kickers

The last two things on your mind in a Fantasy Football Draft are Defenses and Kickers, but they are still positions that will either put you over the top in a close game…or kill you. 

Aggressive Fantasy players rarely stick with the defenses and kickers that they drafted, always rotating for great matchups. If you grab a solid point producer though, that’s one less stress you need to deal with for your weekend.

Here are my Top 10 for both defenses and kickers. You know when you should be drafting them already, so I spared the recommendations this time. 

Defenses

1. Philadelphia

Eagles D

2014: 28 Takeaways, 49 sacks, 1,405 Return, 11 TDs

Eagles defense won games for people by themselves last year. Seattle will get overdrafted because they are talked about the most, but they don’t really score much. Philly gets pointage and they’ve improved in the off-season by adding Kiko Alonso. Philly is also insane in special teams situations blocking kicks and returning.

2. Buffalo

Bills D

2014: 30 Takeaways, 54 sacks, 1,124 Return, 4 TDs

The Bills upgraded their already excellent D by hiring Rex Ryan. They don’t score a lot of TDs, but they do get to the quarterback a lot which forces turnovers and scoring chances.

3. Seattle

Seahawks D

2014: 24 Takeaways, 37 sacks, 1,072 return, 3 TDs

The Seahawks give you the best opportunities for shutouts and control the game by running a lot. They can pack on the INT and Sack points as long as they get the opportunity to…Oh and #LegionOfBoom

4. St. Louis

Rams D

2014: 25 Takeaways, 40 sacks, 1,581 return, 5 TDs

The Rams D-Line could be the best in football and with an unreliable offense, they get plenty of opportunities to reek havoc on opposing quarterbacks.

5. Kansas City

Chiefs D

2014: 14 Takeaways, 46 sacks, 2,035 return, 3 TDs

The Chiefs didn’t generate many takeaways last year, but they have the best return game and pass rusher (Justin Houston) in football. They also get one of the best safeties in the league back in Eric Berry, 

6. Houston

Texans D

2014: 34 Takeaways, 38 sacks, 630 return, 6 TDs

Houston is the anti-KC. They take the ball away and they score. Plus, they have JJ Watt.

7. Arizona

Cardinals D

2014: 25 Takeaways, 35 sacks, 684 return yards, 5 TDs

The Cardinals were very vulnerable to the pass last year, which is surprising when they have Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu in their secondary. That may be the bright side because they DO have Peterson and Mathieu, two of the league’s best athletes…and an excellent pass rush.

8. New England

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2014: 25 Takeaways, 40 sacks, 1,124 return, 5 TDs

Patriots lost Revis but they always fill in their vacancies well. Very savvy pass rushers and special teams have a penchant for coming up big.

9. Baltimore

Ravens D

2014: 22 Takeaways, 49 sacks, 1,359 return, 3 TDs

The Baltimore D isn’t going to carry you like they used to, but they are very good for spot starts and getting sacks. Their divisional games are generally slugfests too that work in their favor.

10. Green Bay

Packers D

2014: 27 Takeaways, 41 sacks, 888 return, 6 TDs

The formula to GB’s success last season was getting out to a big lead early and then forcing opposing teams to throw and and be pressured into turnovers. I anticipate that to be a similar circumstance for them again this year, but they can give up a lot of points at times.

Kickers

1. Stephen Gostkowski, NE

Gostkowski

2014: 35/37 FG, 51 XP

What you generally want in your kicker is someone who doesn’t miss often, gets a lot of opportunities, and picks up plenty of XPs. The Patriots spend a lot of time in their opponents’ territory and that Gostkowski rarely misses.

2. Cody Parkey, PHI

Parkey

2014: 32/36 FG, 54 XP

Similar to the Patriots, the Eagles get into their opponents’ territory plenty for Parkey to get attempts. It also helps that they score TDs on both offense and defense for him to pick up XPs

3. Steven Hauschka, SEA

Seattle Seahawks vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Steven Hauschka

2014: 31/37 FG, 41 XP

Hauschka has some of the best range in the league, his longest FG last year being from 58 yards out. His leg definitely shortens the field for the Seahawks.

4. Randy Bullock, HOU

Bullock

2014: 30/35 FG, 40 XP

Bullock benefits from getting to play in a dome for most of his season without dealing with the elements. Not sure how many scoring chances the Texans will get with their quarterback and running back situations, but Bullock’s good.

5. Dan Carpenter, BUF

Carpenter

2014: 34/38 FG, 31 XP

Scuzzy Dan made the 2nd most FGs in the league last year, and will get a chance to kick plenty more if Buffalo commits to their run game. Scoring touchdowns may still be an issue without a viable quarterback in their system.

6. Matt Bryant, ATL

MBry

2014: 29/32 FG, 40 XP

Bryant is reliable. As long as the Falcons offense does their job this year, his attempts and extra points will certainly rise.

7. Adam Vinatieri, IND

Vinatieri

2014: 30/31 FG, 50 XP

Vinatieri is SO OLD but still SO ACCURATE. The Colts should be scoring in the bunches again this season, and having a better RB in Gore will make Vinatieri an excellent pick for your team.

8. Justin Tucker, BAL

Photo: Shawn Hubbard

2014: 29/35 FG, 42 XP

Tucker admittedly plays Fantasy Football as well and is well aware that you depend on him each Sunday….and he is very dependable.

9. Blair Walsh, MIN

Walsh

2014: 26/35 FG, 29 XP

So much of a kicker’s success is dependent on the offense putting him in a position to kick. Year 2 of Bridgewater and the return of Adrian Peterson should bode well for Blair Walsh getting more attempts.

10. Dan Bailey, DAL

Bailey

2014: 25/29 FG, 56 XP

At the very least, you want your kicker to kick a lot of PATs. Bailey led the league in XPs last season and I don’t expect his attempts to waver too much this year. Cowboys Stadium has never been too bad to him either.

Do your rankings look different? Let me know on Facebook and Twitter

Also…

Quarterbacks Cheat Sheet

Running Backs Cheat Sheet

Wide Receivers Cheat Sheet

Tight Ends Cheat Sheet

Fantasy Cheat Sheet 2015: Quarterbacks

If you haven’t already, now would be a good time to start preparing for your upcoming Fantasy Football Draft. 

Whether you’re playing in Yahoo!, ESPN, CBS, or some other website, you don’t necessarily want to base your picks off of their pre-draft rankings. That’s why I write up a CHEAT SHEET with players I prefer, based on their production last season, their team’s recent acquisitions, schemes/sytems, and injuries. 

Here are my Top-20 quarterbacks and where I would prioritize drafting them round-by-round. 

1. Andrew Luck, IND

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts

2014: 40 TD/ 16 INT, 4,761 yards

Throws the ball A LOT. Just added Andre Johnson and a legit running back in Frank Gore to keep defensive backs honest. 5 Good WRs, 2 decent TEs…Yeah. The Beard’s ceiling has been raised.

Pick: Late 1st, Early 2nd round

2. Aaron Rodgers, GB

Rodgers

2014: 38 TD / 5 INT, 4,381 yards

Doesn’t turn it over often and plays better down the stretch. Rodgers is missing his #1 receiver, but could make someone else into a star very quickly. Also scary in the red zone on the ground.

Pick: Late 1st, Early 2nd

3. Drew Brees, NO

Buffalo Bills v New Orleans Saints

2014: 33 TD / 17 INT, 4,952 yards

Brees can be great or he can kill you. If Brandin Cooks stays healthy, he’ll bounce back and tear it up. May not throw as many TDs but he’ll pick up plenty of yardage and completions. Led the league in both last year.

Pick: 3rd or 4th round

4. Tony Romo, DAL

Sports Day

2014: 34 TD / 9 INT, 3,705 yards

Expect Romo to throw it more with DeMarco Murray gone. Cowboys have the best offensive line in the league and give him plenty of time to find an open man, and has sure hands in Dez Bryant and Jason Witten.

Pick 4th Round

5. Peyton Manning, DEN

P Manning

2014: 39 TD / 15, 4,761 yards

I don’t believe Manning would have come back if he wasn’t healthy. He will still throw a ton. Plus Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are great after the catch.

Pick: 4th Round

6. Russell Wilson, SEA

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks

2014: 20 TD/7 INT, 3,475 yards

Doesn’t get a ton of passing points but makes up for it with rushing yards and TDs on the ground. Also just added Jimmy Graham, so passing points should go up.

Pick 4th Round

7. Ben Roethlisberger, PIT

Roethlisberger

2014: 32 TD / 9 INT, 4,952 yards

Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell definitely help Ben get his points. He’ll throw 5 TDs one day, but none another. 

Pick 5th Round

8. Matt Ryan, ATL

Ryan

2014: 28 TD / 14 INT, 4,694 yards

New coach and OC, super young RBs, and healthy Julio Jones and Roddy White…Matty Ice is going to let it fly. 

Pick: 5th Round

9. Eli Manning, NYG

New York Giants

2014: 30 TD / 14 INT, 4,410 yards

Eli doesn’t have an excuse not to produce big time in year two of Odell Beckham Jr and having a healthy Victror Cruz back. Rashad Jennings provides solid relief in the run game when he isn’t sidelined, and Tom Brady could tell Manning how good Shane Vereen is on passing downs. 

Pick 6th Round

10. Tom Brady, NE

AP PATRIOTS RAVENS FOOTBALL S FBN USA MD

2014: 33 TD / 9 INT, 4,109 yards

This obviously can change if his suspension goes away, but Brady can be your first pick after most of the Top 10 go. Next couple QBs can bridge you to after he returns and he’ll be a boss when he does.

Pick 6th Round or a few after you pick your first QB

11. Phillip Rivers, SD

NFL: New York Giants at San Diego Chargers

2014: 31 TD / 18 INT, 4,286 yards

First half of last year, was Top 3 among QBS. Rivers just got paid too, which should motivate him to earn his keep. He also gets Danny Woodhead back to throw to and Keenan Allen should be better as well.

Pick 7th Round and beyond

12. Matthew Stafford, DET

Stafford

2014: 22 TD / 12 INT, 4,247 yards

This really depends on how healthy Calvin Johnson is. Megatron at his best is devastating and would make Stafford an awesome backup or even starter. Golden Tate proved to help him out too in Johnson’s absence. Theo Riddick and Joique Bell are proven to be solid pass catchers out of the backfield too.

Pick 7th Round

13. Jay Cutler, CHI

Green Bay Packers v Chicago Bears

2014: 28 TD / 18 INT, 3,812 yards

Jay is poised for a bounce back year and not just because #CuttyDoesIt. Former Peyton Manning OC Adam Gase has emphasized utilizing Cutler’s strengths throwing on the run and play-action. He’ll be missing Kevin White for at least the first half of the season, but finally has a true slot receiver in Eddie Royal. Also expect Martellus Bennett to be big when spread out, like Julius Thomas in past years. 

Pick 8th Round and beyond

14. Ryan Tannehill, MIA

Ryan Tannehill

2014: 27 TD / 12 INT, 4,045 yards

Gets better every year. Added proven veteran receivers, Kenny Stills and Greg Jennings, who can also play in uptempo offenses. Jarvis Landry will be Tannehill’s best weapon to stretch the field though.

Pick 8th Round and beyond

15. Cam Newton, CAR

Newton

2014: 18 TD / 12 INT, 3,127 yards

Newton is sliding in most drafts after losing Kelvin Benjamin for the season to injury. Rookie Devin Funchess isn’t as depended on as advertised with veterans like Jericho Cotchery and Ted Gin Jr. in the mix, but can put up Benjamin-like production. Ability to run for TDs makes up for lack of passing points too. 

Pick 8th Round

16. Joe Flacco, BAL

Flacco

2014: 27 TD / 12 INT, 3,986 yards

Lost Torrey Smith and his replacement, Breshad Perriman, is questionable. Flacco will be throwing a lot though with Marc Trestman as OC. Could be either really good or really meh.

Pick 9th round and beyond

17. Teddy Bridgewater, MIN

Bridgewater

2014: 14 TD / 12 INT 2,919 yards

The Vikings are a run heavy team, without question. Teddy has looked excellent in preseason though, and he has Mike Wallace and Charles Johnson to throw to. The training wheels are off in year two and you can expect Kyle Rudolph to provide a nice security blanket in the Norv Turner system

Pick 10th Round and beyond

18. Andy Dalton, CIN

Dalton

2014: 19 TD / 17 INT, 3,398 yards

Dalton’s last season was thrown off with AJ Green getting injured. The Bengals added Denarius Moore to go with Marvin Jones and Sanu. Don’t bank on him but he’s a nice backup with nice options.

Pick 11th Round and beyond

Colin Kaepernick, SF

Kaepernick

2014: 19 TD / 10 INT, 2,369 yards

The 49ers could potentially be the worst team in the NFL, but Kaepernick can still take over a game in desperate times. He still has Anquan Boldin, plus Torrey Smith and Reggie Bush who are both helpful in the passing. Kaepernick does run better than anyone on the team too. The defense will be awful so he’ll have to score plenty to stay in games.

Pick 11th Round and beyond

20. Derek Carr, OAK

Carr

2014: 21 TD / 12 INT, 3,270 yards

Carr showed flashes of the quarterback the Raiders need him to be last season. Drafting Amari Cooper helps along with a receiving group that also includes Michael Crabtree, Kenbrell Thompkins and Andre Holmes

Pick 12th Round and beyond

Do your rankings look different? Let me know on Facebook and Twitter

Also…

Running Backs Cheat Sheet

Wide Receivers Cheat Sheet 

Tight Ends Cheat Sheet

Defenses & Kickers Cheat Sheet

#TBT Year in Review: 2010

“Half a decade ago” sounds like a while ago, right? 

  • The tallest man-made structure to date, the Burj Khalifa, opened in Dubai.
  • The 2010 Winter Olympics were held in Vancouver and Whistler, Canada.
  • WikiLeaks leaked over 90,000 internal United States documents to the public.
  • Dennis Hopper passed away at the age of 74. 

Hopper was nominated for two Academy Awards, Best Supporting Actor (Hoosiers) and Best Writing (Easy Rider)

And here’s what happened in Movies, Music and Sports…

Movies

Comedy

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Easy A, Date Night, Grown Ups, Due Date, Hot Tub Time Machine, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Get Him to the Greek, Life as We Know It, Dinner for Schmucks, Flipped, Valentine’s Day, She’s Out of My League, Morning Glory, The Backup Plan, Killers, The Bounty Hunter, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, Greenberg, Love & Other Drugs, Death at a Funeral, Leap Year, The Switch, Going the Distance, Super, MacGruber, AND…

The Other Guys

Action/Thriller

Shutter Island, The A-Team, The Expendables, Salt, Red, Predators, Takers, The Tourist, Machete, Green Zone, Devil, Unstoppable, The Next Three Days, Iron Man 2, Insidious, Edge of Darkness, The Losers, The American, Saw VII, 13, The Ghost Writer, Unthinkable, Buried, Piranha 3D, Repo Men, The Crazies, Monsters, The Book of Eli, Paranormal Activity 2, Knight and Day, From Paris With Love, Dylan Dog, AND…

Inception

Animated

How to Train Your Dragon, Despicable Me, Tangled, Shrek Forever After, MegaMind, Legend of the Guardians, The Illusionist, Arrietty, Alpha and Omega, Batman: Under the Red Hood, Yogi Bear, AND…

Toy Story 3

Dramas

Black Swan, The Social Network, The Fighter, Dear John, Remember Me, The Town, 127 Hours, Robin Hood, Submarine, Blue Valentine, The Kids Are All Right, All Good Things, Let Me In, True Grit, Cyrus, In A Better World, Winter’s Bone, Trust, Charlie St. Cloud, The Way Back, Animal Kingdom, Last Night, The Tempest, AND…

The King’s Speech

The 83rd Academy Awards

Best Actor

  • Javier Bardem, Biutiful
  • Jeff Bridges, True Grit
  • Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
  • James Franco, 127 Hours
  • Colin Firth, The King’s Speech – Winner

Colin Firth was nominated the year before for “A Single Man”

Best Supporting Actor

  • Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech
  • John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone
  • Jeremy Renner, The Town
  • Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right
  • Christian Bale, The Fighter – Winner

Christian Bale was nominated again in 2014 for “American Hustle”. 

Best Actress

  • Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
  • Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
  • Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone
  • Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine
  • Natalie Portman, Black Swan – Winner

Natalie Portman was nominated once previously for “Closer” in 2004.

Best Supporting Actress

  • Amy Adams, The Fighter
  • Helena Bonham Carter
  • Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
  • Jacki Weaver, Animal Kingdom
  • Melissa Leo, The Fighter – Winner

Melissa Leo was nominated once more in 2009 for “Frozen River”. 

Best Picture

  • Black Swan
  • The Fighter
  • Inception
  • The Kids Are All Right
  • 127 Hours
  • The Social Network
  • Toy Story 3
  • True Grit
  • Winter’s Bone
  • The King’s Speech – Winner

“The King’s Speech” won 4 of the 12 Awards it was nominated for, including Best Directing and Writing.

Music

Rock Albums

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Hip Hop Albums

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Pop Albums

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Billboard Year-End Hot 100 Songs

01. “Tik Tok” – Ke$ha

02. “Need You Now” – Lady Antebellum

03. “Hey, Soul Sister” – Train

04. “California Gurls” – Katy Perry

05. “OMG” – Usher

06. “Airplanes” – B.o.B. featuring Hayley Williams

07. “Love the Way You Lie” – Eminem featuring Rihanna

08. “Bad Romance” – Lady Gaga

09. “Dynamite” – Taio Cruz

10. “Break Your Heart” – Taio Cruz featuring Ludacris

11. “Nothin’ On You” – B.o.B. featuring Bruno Mars

12. “I Like It” – Enrique Iglesias featuring Pitbull

13. “Bedrock” – Young Money featuring Lloyd

14. “In My Head” – Jason Derulo

15. “Rude Boy” – Rihanna

16. “Telephone” Lady Gaga featuring Beyonce

17. “Teenage Dream” – Katy Perry

18. “Just The Way You Are” – Bruno Mars

19. “Cooler Than me” – Mike Posner

20. “Imma Be” – Black Eyed Peas

21. “Empire State of Mind” – Jay-Z + Alicia Keys

22. “DJ Got Us Fallin’ In Love” – Usher featuring Pitbull

23. “Billionaire” – Travie McCoy featuring Bruno Mars

24. “Not Afraid” – Eminem

25. “Replay” – Iyaz

Sports

Baseball

League Leaders

Offensive

Average: Josh Hamilton (TEX) – .359

Hits: Ichiro Suzuki (SEA) – 214

Home Runs: Jose Bautista (TOR) – 54

RBI: Miguel Cabrera (DET) – 126

OPS: Josh Hamilton (TEX) – 1.044

Stolen Bases: Juan Pierre (CHW) – 68

Pitching

Wins: CC Sabathia (NYY) & Roy Halladay (PHI) – 21

ERA: Felix Hernandez (SEA) – 2.27

Strikeouts: Jered Weaver (LAA) – 233

Complete Games: Roy Halladay (PHI) – 9

Shutouts: Roy Halladay (PHI) – 4

Saves: Brian Wilson (SF) – 48

MVP

AL – Josh Hamilton (TEX)

NL – Joey Votto (CIN)

CY Young

AL – Felix Hernandez (SEA)

NL – Roy Halladay (PHI)

Rookie of the Year

AL – Neftali Feliz (TEX)

NL – Buster Posey (SF)

World Series

San Francisco Giants over Texas Rangers (4-1)

Basketball

NCAA

(1)Duke, (5)Michigan State, (2)West Virginia, (5)Butler

National Championship

(1) Duke over (5) Butler 61-59

NBA

League Leaders

Points Per Game: Kevin Durants (OKC) – 30.1

Rebounds Per Game: Dwight Howard (ORL) – 13.2

Assists Per Game: Steve Nash (PHX) – 11.0

All-NBA Team

Kobe Bryant (LAL)

Kevin Durant (OKC)

Dwight Howard (ORL)

LeBron James (CLE)

Dwyane Wade (MIA)

MVP – LeBron James (CLE)

Rookie of the Year – Tyreke Evans (SAC)

NBA Finals

Los Angeles Lakers over Boston Celtics (4-3)

Football

NCAA

Heisman Trophy – Cam Newton, Auburn

National Championship

(1)Auburn over (2)Oregon 22-19 in BCS Championship

NFL 

League Leaders

Passing Yards: Phillip Rivers (SD) – 4,710

Passing Touchdowns: Tom Brady (NE) – 36

Passer Rating: Tom Brady (NE) – 111.0

Rushing Yards: Arian Foster (HOU) – 1,616

Rushing Touchdowns: Arian Foster (HOU) – 16

Receiving Yards: Brandon Lloyd (DEN) – 1,448

Receiving Touchdowns: Dwayne Bowe (KC) – 15

Receptions: Roddy White (ATL) – 115

AP MVP: Tom Brady (NE)

Super Bowl XLV

Green Bay Packers over Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25

Hockey

League Leaders

Goals: Sidney Crosby (PIT) & Steven Stamkos (TB) – 51

Assists: Henrik Sedin (VAN) – 83

Points: Henrik Sedin (VAN – 112

Hart Memorial Trophy: Henrik Sedin (VAN)

Stanley Cup

Chicago Blackhawks over Philadelphia Flyers 4-2

Did I miss anything? Let me know on Twitter @Mike_PiFF03.

Also checkout past #TBT Years in Review.

2011

2007

2006

2005

1999

1998

1992

1989

1988

1987

#NationalPuppyDay in Sports

No case of the Mondays here…

It’s #NationalPuppyDay!

I can’t be alone in greatly enjoying the cuteness overload on social media today. I have an epic thread of puppy photos being posted by friends on my own Facebook page. But I digress…

Let’s take a look at what sports clubs and outlets are posting from all over.

Starting with HANK…The Milwaukee Brewers Mascot Puppy…

Detroit Tigers

Chicago White Sox

NBA on TNT

San Francisco 49ers

SportsNet LA

Cincinnati Bengals

Golden State Warriors

Green Bay Packers

Georgetown Hoyas

Kansas City Chiefs

WWE

MLB GIFs (I heart this handle)

Calgary Flames

Arizona Diamondbacks

America’s Pregame on FOX Sports 1

Portland Winterhawks

UFC

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Portland Trailblazers

Baltimore Ravens

Anaheim Ducks

New England Patriots

Seattle Mariners

Detroit Pistons

San Jose Sharks

NBC Sports Network

Butler University

Cleveland Browns

Minnesota Vikings

Washington Huskies

NFL Network

Breeders Cup

San Diego Chargers

San Antonio Spurs

Duquesne University

Buffalo Bills

Atlanta Braves

Orlando Magic

Cal University

University of Georgia

Penn State

Colorado Rockies

St. Louis Rams

Oakland Raiders

Arizona Cardinals

 Feel free to Tweet your own #NationalPuppyDay picks to me at @Mike_PiFF03 and maybe we’ll feature them in a followup post.

Chicago Bears: Marshall Out, McPhee In. Now What?

Ryan Pace has made his first personnel moves to kick off his tenure as Chicago Bears GM.

It began with the trade of Brandon Marshall to the New York Jets for a 5th round pick.

Brandon Marshall vs. Vikes

In just 3 seasons with the Bears, Marshall ranked 11th for receiving yards (3,524) in Bears history, tied for 5th in touchdowns (31) and 8th in receptions (279). However, following an injury plagued 2014 season and accumulating off-field issues, Pace and new head coach felt it best to part ways with the former pro bowl receiver. The reception of this move has been polarizing among the team’s fan base, but the bottom line is that the Bears received compensation for an almost 31 year old wide receiver (Birthday – March 23rd) coming off multiple injuries and declining athleticism that they planned on releasing anyway. Marshall has also openly voiced how football is more of a platform than a passion, so at least he won’t have to fly cross country to record his weekly Showtime appearance. 5th round picks are no slouches either…unless you consider Carl Nicks, Richard Sherman, or Kam Chancellor as such.

The second big move came today as the Baltimore Sun reported that the Bears and OLB/DE Pernell McPhee have agreed to a 5-year/$40 million deal with $16 million guaranteed…also a 5th round pick.

Pernell McPhee

McPhee isn’t as sexy a name as Julius Peppers was when Lovie Smith rang his doorbell at midnight of the 2010 Free Agency start. McPhee’s skill set and versatility are VERY sexy though. Just 26 years old, McPhee is a pure pass rusher with experience as a defensive end and outside linebacker in Baltimore’s 3-4 system. He has also played end in a 40 front. McPhee has dealt with injuries to both his knees, but played in every game during the past 2 seasons. He recorded 7.5 sacks in 2014 while spelling for pro bowler Terrell Suggs, who was nursing an achilles injury.

The McPhee signing does 3 things:

1. It provides flexibility in the draft. The Bears needed an edge rusher and now they have one. A proven one. They put themselves in a position where they don’t have to draft a “need” but instead the best available player with 7th overall pick. That could be Alabama WR Amari Cooper. Bears could use another top-end pass catching talent. It could be Clemson’s DE/OLB Vic Beasley. You can’t have enough weapons to go after the quarterback on the field.

2. It gives new Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio options in his unpredictable defense. McPhee has played every technique on the defensive line. He has stood up to rush the edge. He’ll even rush from the middle on 3rd down from a “chaos” look that you see with multiple 3-4 schemes. And chaos is good…That also opens things up for Fangio to assign positions to unknowns currently on the roster like Willie Young, Jared Allen, and Lamarr Houston.

3. It sets the tone for the type of players the Bears are looking for. The defense is in dyer need of a makeover. Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman, both Chicago Bears all-timers, are on the outs due to age and recent injury history. The average age for defensive starters was 29 while more than half were 30+ years old. The 26 year old McPhee adds youth, but also has a recent Super Bowl ring as part of his resume from 2012. There are other free agents with winning experience who would also fit the needs of the Bears roster.

What’s Next? 

The new NFL year and free agency officially begins today at 3:00 PM CT. Teams had already struck deals with high target players over the weekend.

DT Ndamukong Suh to Miami (6 years $114 million, $60 million guaranteed)

S Devin McCourty stays with New England (5 years $47.5 million, $28.5 million guaranteed)

WR Randall Cobb stays with Green Bay (4 years $40 million, $17 million guaranteed)

WR Jeremy Maclin to Kansas City (Total and years aren’t confirmed, suspected $11 million per year)

TE Julius Thomas to Jacksonville (Expected multi-year deal, $9 million per year)

C Rodney Hudson to Oakland (5 years $44.5 million, guaranteed money hasn’t been confirmed)

Note: Guaranteed money is key with NFL contracts. Rarely does anyone make their entire contract total.

So let’s look at the Bears’ needs and the targets to address them.

Defensive Line

While McPhee can be plugged in as a 5 technique DE, and one would assume Lamarr Houston would fit at the other side, the Bears still need a space eater in the middle to play nose tackle.

Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton – Former Broncos NT under Fox, stellar run defender. Interest from Raiders, Colts, Washington, and the Bears

Dan Williams – Cardinals DT who didn’t get enough playing time. Ranked 8th vs the run by Pro Football Focus. Interest from Giants, Lions, and Washington

Corey Peters – Falcons DT and 5 year veteran. Rebounded well after achilles injury.

Kenrick Ellis – Jets NT. Great 2 down run stopper.

Vince Wilfork – Patriots NT, 5-time pro bowler and proven winner with plenty and knowledge to share. Devin McCourty is trying hard to get him back.

Wilfork GIF

Inside Linebackers

In Fangio’s 3-4 scheme, there are two ILBs…one being the “Mike” (middle) linebacker and the other being the “Jack” backer who lines up weak side of the line. Opponents’ run games will be funneled inside for the most part and while the NT eats up space and OL, the ILBs will be responsible for finishing the plays tackling.

Bruce Carter – Cowboys LB who filled carried a lot of weight with Sean Lee out. Aggressive and uber-athletic. Would be a huge steal away from the Packers who are targeting him.

Brandon Spikes – Former Bills defensive captain yet was treated like a 2 down defender under Jim Schwartz. While he may be on back end of career, provides the violent thump a Fangio LB needs.

Mason Foster – Buccaneers LB who doesn’t fit in Lovie’s Cover 2, but is better built to take on anything funneled to the middle. Bears already linked to Foster.

Nate Irving – Broncos LB that Fox is obviously familiar with but coming off a knee injury. Still in high demand and being pursued by Cardinals. Powerful and prototype for 3-4 ILB.

Nate Irving INT

Cornerbacks

While the Bears do have Kyle Fuller and former pro bowler Tim Jennings, they weren’t all that great with them after the first month. Health reasons have proven you can’t have too many, and Jennings may be better suited for the nickel as he gets older.

Davon House – Packers CB expected not to return, well versed in Fangio’s system as the he was DC for Dom Capers previously. Excelled as slot defensive back last season.

Perrish Cox – 49ers CB who has off-field issues but obviously experienced with Fangio. Great instincts in coverage and reading receivers hips. Doesn’t allow much spacing.

Darrelle Revis – Obviously a big fish to catch in a small pond, but come on…Revis Island.

Darrelle Revis

Safeties

A glaring need for years with the Bears defense, the Bears already missed out on my first choice, Devin McCourty. Don’t necessarily need a playmaker but someone who is at least dependable.

Rahim Moore – Another former Fox defender who was very solid in 2014. Not as flashy as Earl Thomas but fits the “dependable” mold that would make the Bears comfortable.

Antrel Rolle – Giants safety that Bears are linked to. Very vocal about being reunited with University of Miami teammates Andre Johnson and Wilfork. Wouldn’t necessarily rule that out for Bears.

Da’Norris Searcy – Bills safety with run-stop and coverage skills. Young and wasn’t really an every down player, but certainly looked the part.

Mike Adams – Colts safety who does a solid job. Older player but could fit for a year or two and get it done.

Mike Adams

Wide Receiver

Obviously there’s an opening for another split out receiver after the Marshall trade. As mentioned earlier, drafting one is a likely possibility but why not add someone with experience. The preference for the Bears would be a speedster, somebody who can take the top off a defense. They didn’t have that guy last season and it made the Jay Cutler led offense predictable. Marshall and Alshon Jeffery weren’t burning past anybody for a much needed deep threat. But anyone with dependable hands would also do…before the draft.

Torrey Smith – Ravens receiver who has proven to be a risk/reward option for the past few years. Has dropping issues but can certainly stretch the field though and compliment Jeffery well.

Andre Johnson – Very similar career as Marshall production-wise, without the baggage. Doesn’t fit the burner mold but super dependable route runner. I’d blame his lack of touchdowns on his quarterbacks more than him.

Michael Crabtree – Former Heisman candidate that has shown promise but hasn’t met the ridiculous standards we all set for him. Change in scenery and pairing with Jeffery and Martellus Bennett could help him breakout.

Michael Crabtree

Running Backs

The Bears do have Matt Forte, but it wouldn’t be outrageous to start looking beyond the pro bowl “everything” back. Forte will be in the last year of his deal and at the very least will need a backup this season. Bears look to be very run-heavy this coming season, so a 2-back system would be beneficial to not go overkill with Forte touches.

Ryan Matthews – Chargers RB that has had difficulty staying on the field, but solid power runner when given opportunities. Not sure how much Matthews will garner on the market, but would make a great compliment to Forte and can make it an audition to take over after his contract is up.

CJ Spiller – Very similar situation to Matthews in terms of injury history and needing an audition, but a much better pass catcher and versatile offensive weapon. Spiller is also no stranger to the 2 back system.

Knowshon Moreno – Another back with injury history that could also be affordable because of that. Made his money with Dolphins after playing in Adam Gase’s RB-by-committe system and obviously familiar with Fox.

Knowshon Moreno

Of course there are more needs and other options the Bears could go with. Feel free to recommend your suggestions and follow along the Free Agency action with me on Twitter