Top five minicamp headlines around the NFL

There are insights to be had surrounding rookies and veterans alike

By Calvin K (Twitter: @Calvin_SGF1)

NFL minicamps have begun for all 32 NFL teams, and as usual, there are plenty of things to talk about. Minicamps tend to be a fan’s “first look” at rookies for their teams, and it also gives a glimpse of newly acquired offseason veterans. There are many interesting headlines regarding players at (or in some cases, absent from) minicamps. This article goes over my personal top five most important headlines for next year.

1: The absence of Aaron Rodgers

This pick is an obvious one, as its implications have been looming over NFL fans for a good chunk of the offseason. By now, it’s clear to most that Rodgers wants out of Green Bay, and he further showed that by not attending Packers minicamp this week. Rodgers has reportedly been frustrated with Packers management, and his point of objection to their approach seems to be his lack of involvement in the decision-making process.

Rodgers has clearly had enough with Green Bay, and now, the question appears to be whether he will be traded or forced to stay where he doesn’t want to be. This has created lots of controversies that continuously swirl throughout the league, and speculation over his potential landing spot has been a popular topic of conversation for well over a month now. Any news about Rodgers’ status will certainly be major and important, and the drama has taken center stage in this 2021 offseason.

2: Elijah Moore has been extremely impressive at Jets camp

The eyes of many Jets fans were set on Moore from the moment he was drafted at #34 overall by the Jets. Moore attended Ole Miss for college, and he impressed scouts with his ability to make big and explosive plays from the slot. New York brass was apparently shocked that he even fell to early Round 2, a sign that teams were very high on him throughout this offseason.

Moore’s performance at minicamp has turned heads, and the news about it has been exactly what Jets fans wanted to hear. Head coach Robert Saleh praised Moore’s work ethic, and Moore was a big play machine at the workouts, hauling in short passes and deep balls alike. Many predict a bright future for Moore, and if he follows in the footsteps of his former teammates at Ole Miss (A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf), he would be in line for an outstanding career.

3: Dak Prescott should be fully healthy for Week 1

Prescott is attending Cowboys minicamp, and the welcome good news is that he already appears to be close to 100% healthy following a gruesome leg injury early in 2020. In an interview, Prescott stated that he’s basically put his injury behind him, and he isn’t playing with fear, which is great news for a star QB like him.

Prescott is expected to be a full participant in all of training camp, which leaves him plenty of time to get back into football shape and ready for Week 1. His return will certainly be good news for Cowboys fans, who longed to have him back as their offense struggled without him in 2020. In 2021, the Cowboys’ offense should return to its excellent ways, and having a star like Prescott will allow them to push the ball vertically, creating more points and more opportunities for big plays.

4: Joe Burrow is recovering well from his ACL tear

Burrow’s injury has been a concern in terms of his potential Week 1 health, however, it appears that he’s been recovering well and has a solid chance of being 100% healthy and ready to go for the season. Burrow has progressed to being able to throw on the run, and he’s throwing as hard as ever, with Bengals WR Tee Higgins commenting on the zip on his passes.

Burrow had a solid Year 1 in the NFL, in which he threw the ball a ton. However, he was also sacked a lot due to poor offensive line play, and one of the sacks caused his ACL tear. Because of that, the Bengals made sure to prioritize the offensive line this offseason, and there will be a few new faces leading the protection of their franchise QB. It’s a relief for Cincinnati that their quarterback is mostly healthy, and if the positive minicamp news comes to fruition, he should have a very good season in 2021.

#5: Julio Jones looks to be fully healthy as of now

Jones also struggled with injuries in 2020, but his hamstring was the problem for him, as it caused him to miss several games while hindering his health in others. Jones is now gone from Atlanta and on the Tennessee Titans, and he has looked sharp while doing drills this week.

A video surfaced of Jones’ crisp footwork during cone drills, and during the drill, he showed no sign of being impeded by his hamstring. At 32 years old, any failures of his body should be watched closely, so it’s a good sign that his injury didn’t act up. Hamstring injuries can be very unpredictable, and tightness can be something that lingers for a long time, which was the worry when Jones was battling the injury. It’s possible problems resurface during the regular season, but for now, Jones is healthy, which is a good sign for his 2021 outlook.

Dynasty WRs you should trade for now

These bargain buys can help boost a contender to elite status

By Calvin K (Twitter: @Calvin_SGF)

The dynasty offseason is in full swing, and excitement for the fantasy season is building as we head into June. There does tend to be a lull in league trading around this time, but if you’re in a league with committed managers, they’ll usually be willing to hear trade offers at any time of the year.

There are always differences in how certain dynasty owners value certain players, but as always, there are also players who are generally being valued too low by the consensus. It is important to really keep in mind, however, that someone can still have the same thought process on a player as you, and in that case, it’s important not to overpay. In this article, I’ll be analyzing three WRs you should trade for now (if possible) in dynasty.

1. Courtland Sutton (Denver Broncos)

Usually, young alpha WRs will cost a truckload in dynasty, however, Sutton is one who has been completely overlooked ever since his injury. Sutton inexplicably fell many spots in startup ADP after the ACL tear last year without a significant change in situation. Yes, the injury presents a mild concern, but all accounts say that Sutton is rehabbing well, so it really doesn’t justify any rankings drop at all in my eyes.

The main argument used against Sutton is the fact that Drew Lock is Denver’s QB. Lock was wildly inconsistent last year, but despite how it may seem, that doesn’t have to be a bad thing for Sutton’s value. Sutton’s efficiency is unlikely to be elite due to the bad QB play, but his target share can be.

Bad QBs tend to rely on their alphas, which could turn Sutton into an Allen-Robinson type player (at least in terms of target share). 150 targets is not outside the realm of possibility for Sutton, and his athletic ability will allow him to make plays that many WRs can’t. Sutton’s WR23 FantasyPros consensus ranking isn’t totally atrocious, but it makes it clear that he isn’t being valued like a true alpha, and at 25 years old, he’s well worth the current price that he’s going for.

2. Kenny Golladay (New York Giants)

Many people in the fantasy industry are not happy about Golladay’s signing with New York, which is understandable considering that the Giants haven’t exactly had an electric passing game in recent years. However, that shouldn’t deter you from trading for Golladay in dynasty, as his WR21 FantasyPros ranking likely won’t ever get lower.

Daniel Jones hasn’t been a very accurate QB in the first two years of his career, but he definitely has the arm talent to throw deep passes. Golladay is excellent at getting open and making big plays, so if Jones can take a step up next year, the pair will be a match made in heaven. Jones will have every opportunity to improve in 2021, and Golladay could end up being a Stefon-Diggs-type player for New York, one who puts their QB’s career on a new trajectory.

The addition of Saquon Barkley will also force many defenses into stacking the box to stop him, leaving Golladay and other receivers open one-on-one. Jones’ receiving corps has been painfully average over the last two years, and the Giants were aware of that fact and made sure to address the need. Jones will likely need to lean on Kenny G as he continues to get used to the NFL, and Golladay, like Sutton, has the potential to garner an elite target share. If he can pair a massive amount of targets with at least some form of deep-ball efficiency, the sky would be the limit for his fantasy value, which is why you should trade for him now at his back-end WR2 price.

3. Tee Higgins (Cincinnati Bengals)

Lots of Higgins managers were upset by Cincinnati’s selection of WR Ja’Marr Chase with the #5 overall pick in the draft. However, that frustration could allow dynasty managers to get a stud at a cheaper-than-usual price. Higgins’ WR19 FantasyPros ranking is still pretty high, but there are many rankers who have placed him as a back-end WR2, or even a WR3. Yes, the Chase pick hurts him in the long-run, but that still doesn’t justify that kind of a drop.

Chase is expected to immediately compete for targets in Cincinnati’s offense, which is certainly a hinderance that keeps Higgins from unlocking a true top-five fantasy ceiling. However, given how much Cincinnati threw the ball last year, he still definitely has the potential to be a WR1 in fantasy. A.J. Green has departed from the Bengals after a 104-target season, so he will open up more opportunities for the WR corps overall.

QB Joe Burrow’s targets are likely to be nearly exclusive to Chase, Higgins, slot WR Tyler Boyd, and RB Joe Mixon. There is plenty of volume available for all of these guys, especially considering that Burrow was on pace for 699 passing attempts in the nine games he played before his injury in 2020. Using his 65.3% completion percentage from last year extrapolates that to 456 completions, leaving plenty of room for Chase and Higgins to both have big seasons. Burrow’s completion percentage should also go up with another great WR on the team, even if you cautiously assume only a 1% bump for this year, the completion total goes up to 463.

Those numbers may seem high, but it’s basically what Burrow was going to do last year, and there’s no reason to believe he can’t keep them up. If he does, there should be lots of targets available for all of the four main pass catchers, so trading for Tyler Boyd in dynasty wouldn’t be a bad idea either if you accept that his ceiling is no longer in top-12 territory. Higgins, however, does have that ceiling, so if you can capitalize on a concerned dynasty manager, the benefits should be well worth it in the long run.

Why the Giants will be the most improved team next year

The NFC East team is getting healthy with new upgrades

By Calvin K (Twitter: @Calvin_SGF)

The NFC East is shaping up to be a very competitive division in 2021, as all four teams have at least a somewhat legitimate shot at the crown. I find many expert rankings surprising, given, for example, how much they favor the Dallas Cowboys over the Washington Football Team. Another thing that’s really surprising is how many experts have put the New York Giants third or last.

The Giants finished last year at 6-10, but that doesn’t mean they don’t belong in the division title conversation. They may end up losing out to the Washington Football Team in that department. However, this team is very solid despite how they’ve been flying under the radar, and they’re good enough to secure a Wild Card berth in 2021. Here are three reasons why.

They have a very underrated defense

The Washington Football Team’s defense stole the show, but while they were getting headlines, the Giants’ defense was quietly putting up good performances. New York held six of its last eight 2020 opponents to 20 points or less, and they never allowed more than 27. That schedule was no cakewalk either, as they faced the Ravens, Browns, Cardinals, and Seahawks in that span, all teams with very good offenses.

The Giants have many star playmakers on defense, led by defensive lineman Leonard Williams, who got himself a huge payday after racking up 11.5 sacks in 2020. Blake Martinez piled up 151 tackles last year to lead a solid linebacker group. However, what really makes this defense click is the secondary.

Logan Ryan, Jabrill Peppers, James Bradberry, Julian Love, and Xavier McKinney form a fearsome big five that truly has the potential to be elite next year. The secondary is full of great athletes, and other than Ryan (who is 30), none of these players are over 27 years old (the other ages are 27, 25, 23, and 22). This means that the Giants are well set up for the future at cornerback and safety, but the secondary is good enough to make a difference now, and they are the group that could bring this defense to another level.

Daniel Jones improved last year

It’s easy to forget that Daniel Jones was actually not a bad QB near the end of last year, as he’s certainly had his fair share of struggles throughout his career. Jones also got hurt last year, and when he was on the field, he wasn’t himself due to the injury.

Jones’ 2020 numbers were very similar to his inconsistent rookie campaign (62-63% completions, about 3,000 passing yards), but those numbers don’t tell the whole story. Jones’ main improvement came in the form of smarter decisions. No one doubts Jones’ arm talent, but his main problem has been his penchant for relying on his arm too much and making bad throws. Late last year, however, he played smarter.

Jones cut down on the silly mistakes, and with the help of offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, he transformed into more of a game manager. Jones wasn’t making a ton of spectacular plays, but he also wasn’t getting himself in trouble with bad throws. In 2020, he got used to throwing the ball away when under pressure instead of forcing a play, and that made him a better QB overall. Some might say that the lack of spectacular plays limits his upside, however, this last section will explain why Jones still has the potential to be electric in 2021.

The Giants have multiple lethal weapons to add to the offense

Obviously, Saquon Barkley was already a Giant before this offseason, however, his return from a season-ending torn ACL will do wonders for the Giants’ offense. Barkley is an incredibly explosive runner, and his acceleration and athleticism is matched by no one. Giants opponents will have to stack the box to have any hope of stopping Barkley, which will certainly make life a lot easier for Jones in the passing game.

The addition of Kenny Golladay, perhaps the best WR in this year’s free agent class, should also do wonders for Jones. Last year, we saw star Stefon Diggs completely change QB Josh Allen’s production when he went to Buffalo. It’s not terribly common for quarterbacks to have an Allen-like transformation in a year, but when you consider Jones’ physical and improving mental traits, it’s reasonable to expect a sizeable jump in his production. Golladay is a great deep-ball receiver, and he will be a field-stretcher causing major problems for opposing defenses.

After signing Golladay, the Giants decided that they weren’t done improving their offense, and they showed that by selecting Florida WR Kadarius Toney with the #20 overall pick in the NFL draft. Toney is an amazing athlete, and his explosiveness makes him lethal in the open field. Toney is the type of player who can catch a screen pass, make defenders miss, and run to the end zone, so he’s a great complement to Golladay. Overall, these three players should make a huge difference to Jones’ success, and if the offense and defense click like they should, the Giants can be a very dangerous team next year.

3 RBs to Trade for/3 to Trade Away in Dynasty

There is value to be had from these buys/sells.

By Calvin K (Twitter: @Calvin_SGF)

The running back position is always a tough one to evaluate in dynasty. Aging RBs tend to fall off really fast, but it’s easy for fantasy managers to want to hold on too long given their past production. However, most dynasty managers by now seem to be all in on the “youth movement,” and those older RBs can sometimes be overlooked as a result.

For the most part, though, elite running backs will command immense trade value regardless of their age, and the potential regret of bailing out on one a season too early overshadows the flip side of that in most managers’ minds. Fantasy managers also tend to overreact to situation changes in an RB room, when in reality, a talented RB will usually find a way to produce regardless of situation (see: 2020 rookie class). There are many other factors to consider when analyzing dynasty RB trade value, but these two will be the ones I’ll focus the most on in this article. Below are three RBs that I’d buy and three that I’d sell this offseason.

Buys

1: Antonio Gibson (Washington Football Team)

Gibson is one of many breakout stars from the 2020 RB class, and his price tag in dynasty is extremely reasonable given his potential. Gibson is currently the RB14 in FantasyPros’ dynasty consensus (PPR) rankings, and he is the #26 player ranked overall, a spot that could end up making rankers look foolish. Gibson’s production last year wasn’t great, but as Washington head coach Ron Rivera began to gain trust in him, his touch count increased. The highlight of Gibson’s season was an electric Thanksgiving Day performance against the rival Dallas Cowboys, but unfortunately, we didn’t see much from Gibson after that as he battled a turf toe injury.

Gibson missed two games with the injury in 2020, but even when he was back, he was not the same player. His usual burst wasn’t there, and he wasn’t getting to the line of scrimmage quickly enough, resulting in many minimal gains that he wouldn’t have otherwise had. However, it was clear by that point that Gibson had earned the coaching staff’s trust, and next year, he’s set up to be a workhorse.

The main concern about Gibson coming into the draft was that he only had 33 carries in 2019 at Memphis, and while his dual-threat ability as both an RB and a WR wasn’t questioned, discussions arose about whether he was capable of being a true NFL RB. He put those to rest in 2020, and in 2021, he will undoubtedly be ready to make a huge difference for his team. Now, the lack of workload in college is assumed to be a benefit to his value, as he assuredly has less mileage on his legs than most RBs his age, which could allow him to have a longer career.

Gibson’s target share last year (as well as QB Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 2020 lack of RB targets) is another concern that is discussed, but those shouldn’t be too worrisome given that he was a rookie and that his general workload increased throughout the year. Fitzpatrick also didn’t play with an RB like Gibson last year (Myles Gaskin, while good, can’t touch Gibson’s receiving ability), so the 38-year-old is likely to be prone to treating Gibson more like a WR in terms of targets. Overall, there aren’t many concerns to be had with Gibson’s fantasy value, and if he can continue to be a workhorse back, he will pay big dividends to his fantasy managers.

2: D’Andre Swift (Detroit Lions)

Yes, Swift does already have a hefty price tag (RB9 on FantasyPros), but that shouldn’t stop you from trying to make a move. The worries over backup Jamaal Williams’ potential role in the offense are at an all-time-high, as Lions offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn had high praise for the newly signed Williams. However, the worries about Swift’s role decreasing are overreactions, and Swift’s talent should thrust him into a workhorse role almost immediately in Year 2.

The quote from Lynn does admittedly look a little worrisome, but keep in mind that he had extremely similiar praise for Swift earlier in the offseason. Jamaal Williams is a decent player, but there’s a reason that he’s been a career backup, and if Lynn decides not to put Swift in a workhorse role come Week 1, I’d expect him to earn it pretty quickly. Swift is an excellent pass catcher as well, and his ability to line up in the slot makes him able to be a three-down guy. Swift’s ability between the tackles also dwarfs that of Williams, as Williams just doesn’t have the same burst and explosiveness of the 22-year-old.

When you think about it, it’s not hard to understand why the Lions added a guy like Williams. The departure of Kerryon Johnson and Adrian Peterson left a void at backup RB, a void big enough to where the Lions would’ve been crazy not to add another guy. The addition of Williams hardly means that Swift’s workhorse role is going away, it just exemplifies that the Lions lacked depth at the RB position. The other factor to consider is that Williams and Swift are both similar backs. It would’ve been one thing for the Lions to add someone such as a goal-line specialist who’d be more efficient than Swift inside the five-yard line. However, there’s really nothing that Williams does better than Swift, which should minimize concerns about a potential workload shift.

3: Javonte Williams (Denver Broncos)

It often can be difficult to buy rookies at a fair cost in the offseason given that their managers just drafted them in a rookie draft. However, as rookie fever subsides during the season, it could be possible to get Williams at a cheap price. The reward for a Williams trade would likely be tremendous, as the only other threat to his workload (Melvin Gordon) has his contract end at the end of the year. The Broncos traded up into the high second round to select Williams, showing that they believe in his talent, so even if he doesn’t produce great numbers right away, a jump can be expected near the end of the season or after Gordon leaves.

Williams is an excellent inside running back, and he was probably better than any 2020 college RB in terms of breaking tackles. He’s also a good pass catcher, which, as we know, can help him provide great value in PPR (point per reception) leagues. Williams’ lateral speed is a bit of a question mark, but his ability to drag out extra yards between the tackles is elite, so there’s not much reason to be concerned about his talent.

Denver’s offensive line is questionable, but they are solid at tackle, which will be helpful for Williams. Garett Bolles had a breakout season last year, and he was rewarded with a four-year contract to be the team’s left tackle of the future. Right tackle was definitely a weakness for the Broncos last year, but they should be helped by the presumed return of Ja’Wuan James, who missed most of the last two seasons due to injury.

Denver’s tackles will need to focus on keeping defensive ends inside the box – leaving space for Williams to run laterally – in order to maximize the potential of the running game. Either way though, the future looks bright for Williams, as it’s clear he’s a very talented player. Williams’ current RB22 ranking on FantasyPros probably won’t accurately represent his current trade cost (due to the usual rookie fever), but as the season gets underway, trying to buy him at that price should be a good investment.

Sells

1: Derrick Henry (Tennessee Titans)

Admittedly, it may be a little hard to sell Henry for what you would ideally want want, given that most fantasy managers are now hearing cries of “sell” for the second straight offseason. However, there are definitely still managers that remain Henry truthers, and they will stand by him given last year’s elite production. I’m a Henry fan myself, but the sad truth is that now is the smart time to sell based on running back history in general.

Henry is 27 years old, which is exactly the age where star running backs tend to hit a wall. He also has had two straight seasons with an extremely heavy workload, following up a 321 touch season with 397 the year following. People in favor of Henry will say that he’s an outlier, and while that is true in terms of athletic ability, it doesn’t mean we can just forget about the extremely heavy workload he’s received.

Even if Henry has one more amazing year, it’s still worth it to sell him now. RB drop-offs tend to be quick and abrupt (see: Todd Gurley, Le’Veon Bell, David Johnson), and because of this, it’s better to sell early than late. Right now, the three guys I mentioned carry very little value in dynasty, so the risk of holding onto Henry for too long is the chance of getting virtually no value out of him in a later trade. Trading him now can garner several rookie picks/role players that can sustain a team for the longer term, and the best strategy is to look for a win-now team to trade with. That manager will likely put more of a premium on Henry’s short-term success, but while he certainly could be great in 2021, Henry is not a good bet for sustaining long-term value at this point.

2: Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas Cowboys)

Elliott is another player who could be a hard sell in trade negotiations, but there are still managers out there who will value him close to his value from last offseason. Elliott had a down year for fantasy in 2020, but that can mostly be chalked up to the injury of star QB Dak Prescott, as well as a barrage of injuries sustained by the offensive line.

Surprisingly, Zeke will only be 26 years old entering this season, however, his heavy workload throughout his first five seasons still makes him a guy you should look to trade away. Elliott has shouldered at least 268 touches in each of his five seasons, he amassed well over 300 touches in three of those while piling up 296 in the other year. Like Henry, Elliott also has a good chance to have success next year, but even if he does, selling him now for a high price is worth it.

2020 put a damper on Elliott’s trade value, but he still is ranked as the RB12 on FantasyPros, and there are many managers who would assuredly value him much higher. Elliott has lots of name and production recognition, which helps boost his stock in the eyes of fantasy players. However, he is near that metaphorical wall, so selling him is the smart move. Managers wishing to sell could potentially get a package in return that includes a young RB, such as Antonio Gibson, along with draft picks/role players in addition. Not every fantasy player will be willing to make a trade like this, but because of his past production, there are people who are still very high on Elliott, so current Elliott owners should look to capitalize on a declining asset while they still can.

3: Chase Edmonds (Arizona Cardinals)

I mentioned earlier in this article that I would use two main factors to determine running back buys and sells. For the buys, I like to insist on getting talented guys currently in questionable situations, and as for sells, I (like many others) tend to emphasize elite, but aging RBs. Edmonds, however, is a different case than all of the others in my eyes, simply because I do not believe he has the ability to be a first and second down back in the NFL.

I have said throughout the offseason that I’m out on Chase Edmonds, and the best time to sell Edmonds would’ve been before the signing of James Conner to Arizona. However, he still commands enough trade value in dynasty to where he’s definitely worth sending away. Edmonds is currently FantasyPros’ RB28, near players such as Ronald Jones, James Robinson, and Myles Gaskin, who are all clearly superior in my eyes. All four of these players may struggle to put up numbers due to tough backfield situations, but the main thing that puts Edmonds so clearly below is simple: talent.

To be clear, Edmonds is great at what he does, and his talent for catching passes and being a third-down back is excellent for a running back. However, Edmonds simply isn’t built for a role between the tackles, which is why I expect James Conner to get the clear majority of the carries next year. Edmonds can still put up some numbers as a pass-catcher, but those weren’t consistent enough last year to make him a startable guy in fantasy. Many Edmonds truthers tend to act like he is good between the tackles, but the fact remains that when he’s had to step into the starting role, he’s been extremely inefficient.

In the two 2020 games where he got double-digit carries, Edmonds did not play particularly well. The first example of this was a disastrous 25 carry, 70 yard performance against a below-average Buffalo rushing defense where he just couldn’t get going. The second game had a better stat line (11 carries for 47 yards), but it was also against an Eagles defense that allowed the 11th most rushing yards per game in 2020, and 11 carries is hardly the amount given to a workhorse.

This is obviously a small sample size to work with, but in part, that proves the point I’m trying to make. Edmonds is not experienced in a between-the-tackles role, and the fact that he doesn’t have many games with high amounts of carries show that his coaches are aware of that. To reiterate, Edmonds is a very good backup RB, one who is excellent as a third-down back. However, it’s unrealistic to expect him to transition well to this completely new role. There’s a reason that Edmonds has been a backup for his whole career so far, and it’s not because he isn’t good at his role, it’s because he’s not the type of running back who’s meant to be on the field on all three downs.

Final Thoughts

This article should be helpful for anyone looking to make dynasty trades, however, it is meant to be a guideline, not something to be rigorously and exactly adhered to. There will be some managers with the same thought process as you regarding these players, making them difficult to obtain/sell. My advice when dealing with one of those managers is: don’t force it. Just because a player is recommended as a buy/sell doesn’t mean you should overpay/get a bad return just to get rid of them. If one manager isn’t interested in trading for/trading away a guy, you can always trade with another person instead (if you’re looking to sell), and if no one will pay/ask for a fair price, don’t be afraid to walk away from a potential deal entirely in order to avoid a scam.

Chase Young Can Join the DPOY Conversation in Year 2

Young’s semi-slow start to 2020 is not a reason for concern.

By Calvin K (Twitter: @Calvin_SGF)

There were a lot of questions about the 2020 draft revolving during the offseason, but Chase Young’s draft stock was not one of them. The former Ohio State defensive end was regarded as one of the most bulletproof prospects we’ve ever seen at the position, and he was expected to immediately join the elite tier of defensive ends alongside fellow ex-Buckeyes Joey and Nick Bosa.

Young’s stats didn’t quite live up to his hype (just 7.5 sacks in 2020), but he was still a huge difference-maker on the field, and he is talented enough to join the conversation for Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2021. His lack of huge numbers was also due to defenses keying on him, as he had the sixth-highest double-team rate out of any edge rusher in 2020, which is ridiculously high for a rookie. The emergence of other defensive line stars such as Montez Sweat should take some pressure of Young, and he’s likely to be a more polished player overall in year two.

At 6’5″, 265, Young is a big guy, but he’s extremely athletic for his size. Young is built primarily to be a sack machine, but he’s also great against the run, good enough to stifle even the best RBs. Everyone knew that Young was the pick for Washington at #2 in the 2020 draft, and people also knew that he was stepping into a great situation alongside other young pass rushers. Those pass rushers hadn’t fully unlocked their potential, but the hope was that with the arrival of an elite guy like Young, they’d flourish, and that’s exactly what happened.

As mentioned earlier, Young was someone who drew massive amounts of double-teams, which gave his fellow pass rushers plenty of room to operate. Montez Sweat was a primary beneficiary, as his nine sacks actually led the team, although other guys such as Ryan Kerrigan, Tim Settle, and Daron Payne also reaped benefits. Payne only had three sacks last year, but as mentioned, Young also is a force to be reckoned with against the running game, which helped Payne become more of a suffocating force on the inside.

Young played very well in the first two weeks of 2020, with 2.5 sacks, but over the next eight games, he only recorded one sack, while missing one of the eight due to injury. This wasn’t due as much to his quality of play, it was mainly just a cold spell of unluckiness (in terms of getting in a good sack situation), but even so, it had some people questioning his ability to be an elite NFL pass rusher. However, those questions went away during the rest of the season.

Over the last six games of the season, Young moved closer to being a stat-sheet dominator, with four sacks, eight QB hits, two forced fumbles, and a defensive TD. Those still aren’t Joey/Nick Bosa numbers, but the talent on Washington’s defensive line means that there won’t necessarily be a huge sack guy on there, particularly because they have multiple players who are great at getting to the QB. However, this doesn’t mean Young can’t rack up sacks, as he proved he has the potential to become elite on the stat sheet late last season.

Overall, Chase Young is an all-around elite player, and his high quality of play last year proved that the scouts were right when labeling him a generational talent. Yes, his stats weren’t amazing, but the narrative that “talent always wins out” has lots of merit, and it was clear that Young got better both on the stat sheet and in the games as the season went on. Young’s college tape blew away evaluators for a reason, and he showed he’s capable of being great in the NFL in his rookie year. Therefore, a second-year jump is to be expected, and if he lives up to the hype, he has a legitimate shot at being the next Defensive Player of the Year.

Christian McCaffrey NOT a QB Is the Ultimate Darkhorse To Win MVP

CMC is healthy with a chip on his shoulder

By Calvin K (Twitter: @Calvin_SGF)

There’s no doubt at this point that the NFL has become a pass-first league, and quarterbacks are now more important to a team’s success than they’ve ever been. Anyone can see this evidently when looking at the historical winners of the MVP (Most Valuable Player) award.

The last 14 recipients of the award have all been quarterbacks, and given what this article opened with, it might seem strange to argue for a player from another position to win. However, considering Christian McCaffrey’s talent, it’s not a stretch to say he could be a candidate. This article is not, by any stretch, trying to argue that McCaffrey is the MVP favorite, however, it should convince you that he is a better candidate than any sleeper QB. Here are three reasons why.

McCaffrey’s numbers are historically good

This is the first and most obvious case to be considered when evaluating CMC’s MVP case. Due to injuries, the superstar RB was only on the field for three games last year, but in 2019, his numbers were absolutely mind-boggling.

In 2019, McCaffrey was absolutely dominant. His 1,387 rushing yards along with 1,005 receiving yards made him just the third player to have a 1,000-1,000 season, and he is in elite company, as Marshall Faulk and Roger Craig are the only ones to ever accomplish the feat. McCaffrey’s 2,392 scrimmage yards that year were good for the third-most in a season all-time, behind only Chris Johnson and the aforementioned Faulk.

The “last 14 MVPs have all been QBs” statement is usually a strong argument against a player from another position, however, McCaffrey’s numbers alone mean he warrants special consideration. He received just that in 2019, finishing third in offensive player of the year voting, and there’s reason to believe that he could be higher in 2021 if there isn’t a dominant Lamar Jackson/Michael Thomas this time around.

There is precedent for choosing RBs as MVPs

QBs have dominated the MVP race as of late, but if a quarterback doesn’t win, the winner has been likely to be a running back. In fact, running backs has been the only other offensive position in the league’s history to have a player receive the award. Yes, you read that correctly.

Any running back who wants to be considered must be historically good, but we’ve already established that McCaffrey fits that description. In fact, McCaffrey’s numbers are arguably better than any RB MVP we’ve ever had.

McCaffrey’s season had more scrimmage yards than any RB MVP year (Faulk and Johnson didn’t win MVP in their biggest years), and while he did score significantly less touchdowns than most, he still deserves to be looked at in a positive light. The lack of touchdowns isn’t as concerning, essentially because the game has changed to where offenses are almost always pass-first in the red zone. If you eliminate that concern, McCaffrey beats almost anyone in stats. Add that to the fact that he’d probably still be good as a pure WR in the NFL, and you’ve got the full package for a potential darkhorse run.

The QB candidates have their concerns

Like mentioned before, McCaffrey is not the favorite to win MVP, and a player like Patrick Mahomes will certainly have much higher betting odds, as he should. However, Mahomes and the other QBs do have concerns that could limit their MVP cases.

Mahomes is a fantastic player, but he had a historically lucky campaign in one category: interceptions. Mahomes had a whopping 16 dropped picks in 2020 alone, which begs the question: if a few had gone the other way, how good would his season have looked? Josh Allen, another candidate, seems to have hit his ceiling, and most experts agree that it’s doubtful that he gets much better than last year. Russell Wilson struggled with turnovers last year, and with Seattle shifting more towards a run-first offense again, he might not get the opportunity to compete. Lamar Jackson was figured out by stingy defenses last year, Dak Prescott doesn’t have a huge sample size, Aaron Rodgers is getting older, Kyler Murray was hurt, and when Murray was healthy, he didn’t show an absolutely massive ceiling for the most part.

Why McCaffrey could win

The previous paragraph was undoubtedly chock-full of cherry-picked narratives, but it’s not to say that all, or many of those are true/or will most likely come true. However, it is beneficial and interesting to make a point about darkhorse picks. A darkhorse pick is never one that someone expects, and usually, they have to get some breaks to truly be in the race for #1. As established, McCaffrey is a very talented player, and he should be fully recovered from his injuries in time for 2021. If he regains his old form, he probably still isn’t likely to win MVP in place of a QB, however, with a few breaks, it’s definitely possible, which is why his darkhorse argument is very convincing.

Why Penei Sewell is the Steal of the Draft

The Lions received a draft-day gift with his fall to #7.

By Calvin K (Twitter: @Calvin_SGF)

The NFL draft took place last weekend in Cleveland, and as usual, there were plenty of interesting storylines along with it. As usual, there were players who dropped far past their projected draft slot (Trevon Moehring, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah), as well as players who went earlier than expected (Alex Leatherwood, Tutu Atwell).

Both Moehring and Owusu-Koramoah could be argued as the “steal of the draft” based solely on how far they fell. However, this article will show you why the number one steal was a player who really only dropped two spots beyond their projected pick. That player is Penei Sewell. Here are three reasons why the Lions made perhaps the draft’s best pick.

Sewell is a generational talent

It’s not often that you find a lineman of Sewell’s caliber, and it’s even rarer to find one who can play both left and right tackle (Detroit will use him on the right). Sewell has the potential to immediately become a superstar in this league, and he will start right away for a Lions team that could definitely use some improvement on their line.

For his size, Sewell is an incredible athlete, and he is fantastic at moving laterally to make effective blocks. He was nearly flawless against both the run and the pass in college, and while the NFL is a different game, his skills should still translate over to the pros very well. Sewell should’ve been the pick for Cincinnati at five, as tackle is a much bigger need than WR for them. However, the Bengals chose to take WR Ja’Marr Chase over Sewell, and when the Dolphins took Jaylen Waddle at six, it ensured that the Lions would receive possibly the draft’s greatest gift.

The Lions could use some offensive line improvements

It’s not like Detroit had a bad offensive line, but Sewell could help the line make the jump to elite. Frank Ragnow was a standout center for Detroit last year, and with Taylor Decker stepping up at left tackle, the Lions only needed to fill a void on the right side. Sewell will fill that spot.

Upgrading the offensive line will pay dividends for this Lions team. Jared Goff will now have more time to operate in the pocket, which is especially essential given that Goff’s play suffers significantly when faced with any kind of pressure from defensive lines. Starting RB D’Andre Swift should also have more running room on the outside, which could help to fuel a second-year breakout, and the WRs would rack up more yardage due to Goff having more time. Because Sewell is a well-rounded player, all of these benefits would likely be immediate, which would be great for Detroit’s chances of a shorter-term rebuild.

Sewell fits well with head coach Dan Campbell’s football philosophy

When Dan Campbell had his introductory press conference after signing his six-year deal with Detroit, he emphasized playing smashmouth football. Campbell wants his team to be tough, win in the trenches, and yes, bite some kneecaps as well. While the final statement is clearly in jest, the others are not, and winning interior battles begins with the offensive and defensive lines.

Campbell emphasized his strategy in the draft, following up his Sewell pick with the selection of defensive tackles in Rounds 2 and 3. While Sewell isn’t known particularly for his power blocking, he still fills a position of importance for his new head coach, and there’s no doubt that he has all the tools to improve in that area. Either way, Sewell will make an immediate impact for his team, and he should be a centerpiece of this rebuilding Lions team for years to come.

Pros and Cons of the Vikings Drafting a QB

Is it time to move on from Kirk Cousins?

By Calvin K (Twitter: @Calvin_SGF)

If Kirk Cousins isn’t traded, Cousins will presumably enter his fourth season with the Vikings, playing on year one of a two-year, $66 million dollar extension he signed this offseason. Cousins has been solid for Minnesota, but despite the talent around him, the Vikings have only made the playoffs once in those three seasons.

Given the importance of quarterback stability in the NFL, there’s a good chance that the Vikings are content right where they are with Cousins, and they could opt to build around him with more pieces to make a Super Bowl run. However, there have been rumblings of a potential trade, and if a trade happens, the Vikings would be a candidate to either trade up for a QB or hope one falls to them at 14.

If Minnesota wants to move on from Cousins and draft a QB, there are ways to do it. However, there are also potential factors that could weigh against that decision. Here are three pros and cons to the Vikings drafting a QB.

Pro #1: Potential for a generational talent

This pro is probably conditional with the Vikings trading up from 14, as the four QBs who could hold that label will probably be gone by their selection. The price to trade up to 4 (the spot where they’d get at least one of those guys) would be steep, however, it could be potentially worth it.

If they got Trey Lance, for example, the Vikings wouldn’t necessarily have to trade Cousins yet. Instead, they could sit Lance for a year behind Cousins, then trade Cousins with a year left on his deal in order to absorb less dead money. Then Lance could step in as the starter, and he’d hopefully be more polished after a year of learning behind an experienced QB.

Con #1: Potential for a big bust

Evaluating QBs is hard, and it’s possible that three of the four guys I just mentioned become huge busts (I highly doubt that will happen with Lawrence). If Trey Lance (or whoever the Vikings could get) didn’t work out for them, the draft trade could go down as one of the worst in franchise history.

Passing on Cousins could be viewed extremely negatively in hindsight as well, as Cousins has been a very modest QB for most of his career. The Vikings would also have had to spend lots of draft capital to move up in the first place, so whiffing on a prospect could severely damage their team for years to come. Despite the urgings of the Minnesota fanbase, it might be smart not to tear down what the Vikings have built, even though they currently aren’t quite where they want to be.

Pro #2: Getting a Cousins-like guy on a cheap contract

This description probably fits Mac Jones best, and Jones is also a guy who could be around at 14. Jones is possibly the most pro-ready out of any of the rookie QBs, and while he does have physical limitations, he could fill the Cousins role of game manager at a much cheaper price.

Even if the Vikings still like Cousins, they could opt to go get Jones instead for the contract alone. The cap hit from Cousins would sting for a year or two (depending on when/if he gets traded), but afterwards, they’d have a solid player in Jones who could lead the team on a good contract for 2-3 years. The plan does have its flaws, but it could end up working out in the long run, as the Vikings would eventually be able to get more pieces to greatly improve their squad overall.

Con #2: Cousins’ contract

As mentioned earlier, the Vikings are on the hook for Cousins’ two-year, $66 million deal, and that could be a problem in terms of team-building. They would still take a big cap hit regardless of whether Cousins is traded now or in a year, which would make it difficult to support an incoming rookie QB.

If Minnesota decides that the cap hit is worth it, they could send Cousins off and replace him with a rookie. However, as mentioned, it’d be very difficult for them to get a generational rookie at their draft spot, and it’d also be difficult to trade up a ton of spots. These problems would make it easier for the Vikings to stick with Cousins, but Minnesota fans are quickly getting tired of mediocrity, and the front office could eventually succumb to the fan base, whether it’d be the right decision or not.

Pro #3: A new energy in the locker room

The locker room might not seem like a huge problem, but it is true that the Vikings haven’t yet played up to their full potential, and the locker room could be partly why. While Cousins is a very good QB, he isn’t great, and it could be that all the players need is a new and exciting QB to rally behind.

NFL locker rooms are a complicated place, and just because we haven’t heard about any problems doesn’t mean that things couldn’t be improved. This isn’t supposed to be a knock on Cousins as a person, as he is a fantastic guy by all accounts. However, Vikings players are certainly tired of mediocrity, and the blame for some of it could fall on the QB, whether it’s deserved or not.

Con #3: An inexperienced face of the locker room

As mentioned above, there’s a chance that all the locker room needs is a fresh, new face. However, we do know that players can have a difficult time rallying around inexperienced rookies, especially when they struggle.

NFL players get enormous comfort from having a veteran in the huddle, as veterans usually display charisma and are able to calm their teammates with their knowledge of the situation. This isn’t to say that a rookie can’t provide that, but there’s a chance they wouldn’t be able to given their newness to the NFL. If a potential rookie isn’t reliable in the huddle for Minnesota, it could create a much bigger problem in terms of locker room dynamic. This could leave teammates extremely frustrated, and it could cause them to question why the Vikings abandoned Cousins in the first place.

Tom Brady’s top three teammates of all time

Wes Welker Remains an Underrated Profile

By Calvin K (Twitter: @Calvin_SGF)

Tom Brady will begin his 22nd career NFL season this September, and his list of accolades has grown so enormous that there’s now no debate over who’s the greatest of all time. Brady has won seven Super Bowls and appeared in ten, while winning a whopping 264 out of 344 starts in his career. An entire article could be written solely summarizing Brady’s accomplishments, but by now, every football fan knows how great he is.

A more interesting discussion than a list of Brady’s achievements would be a look back at his teammates. Brady has played on some good teams, some very good teams, and some great teams, and he has undoubtedly been helped by various superstars whom he played alongside. There are a lot of greats who he’s played with, but this article will attempt to narrow down the top three of all time. The rankings are below.

#3. Wes Welker (WR)

#3 was probably the hardest spot to narrow down, as guys like Richard Seymour, Matt Light, and Tedy Bruschi can also make a case to be there. However, Welker’s dominance is an everlasting memory from the heyday of great Patriots receivers.

Welker joined the Patriots in 2007, where he proceeded to rack up 7,459 yards and 37 touchdowns over six seasons. Welker was a consistent threat for Brady out of the slot, and his years of dominance overlapped into both Randy Moss’ last years and Julian Edelman’s first.

The main argument against having Welker here is his lack of a Super Bowl win with Brady. However, despite that, Welker is still remembered as a prime Patriots WR, and mentioning his name instantly conjures up memories of the glory days. The name value for Welker is partly what helps his status in greatness, but that should not be overlooked, as those six years were about as dominant as a WR has ever been in the slot.

#2. Randy Moss

The fact that Moss only played 52 games as a Patriot certainly hurts his status, but as an all-time top-five receiver, he deserves to be this high. Moss made his hay in Minnesota, beginning his career with six straight 1,000 yard seasons, a record that stood until 2020, when he was surpassed by Mike Evans.

Moss was also a part of probably the most dominant New England team ever. His first season as a Patriot (2007) was one where New England went 16-0 in the regular season, coming up one win shy of a Super Bowl with a crushing loss to the New York Giants. Moss was a big factor in that Super Bowl run, catching 98 passes for 1,493 yards during the regular season.

Surprisingly, Moss wasn’t much of a factor in that year’s playoffs, catching just seven passes in the entire postseason, with five coming in the Super Bowl. However, his impact on the Patriots cannot be ignored. Moss is definitely the most talented player on this list, but his impact on the Patriots ranks third, meaning that one player slots ahead of him in Patriots lore.

#1. Rob Gronkowski

Gronk was a huge factor for New England during the second half of Brady’s career, and he was also crucial to Brady’s Super Bowl run with Tampa Bay last year. His ability to be a consistent vertical threat revolutionized the tight end position, and he’s probably the most talented tight end to ever play.

In 131 career games, Gronk has racked up almost 8,500 yards. As mentioned, however, he isn’t just some possession tight end, he averaged a whopping 15 yards per catch in his career. He has definitely struggled with injuries, missing 29 games in his career and leaving early in others. However, when he’s been on the field, he’s been fantastic.

Gronk has also had the benefit of appearing in many Super Bowls. Him and Brady have been to six together, winning four, which just shows how great he’s been. He has had major success in two-tight-end sets with Aaron Hernandez, but when it was just him, Gronk has shown that he can make plays anyway. His career has been marvelous, and his Super Bowl victories combined with a consistently high level of play make him the most legendary Patriot not named Tom Brady.

Three Teams That Could Trade for Teddy Bridgewater

Which team is the best fit for Bridgewater?

Teddy Bridgewater has had an up-and-down career. He came into the league as the 32nd overall pick, going to the Minnesota Vikings, and he started for most of two seasons there, consistently hovering around a modest high-eighties passer rating. However, his career went downhill from there, starting with the devastating ACL injury that caused him to miss most of the next two seasons.

After the 2017 season, Bridgewater left the Vikings, and he signed with the New Orleans Saints, where he backed up Drew Brees for two seasons. In 2019, he had a solid five games in relief of an injured Brees, going 5-0 with the help of his stellar offense. Because of his play, he was rewarded with the starting job for the Carolina Panthers in 2020. However, the Panthers struggled mightily, going 5-11.

The record was partially due to injuries to star RB Christian McCaffrey, but Bridgewater’s play was subpar nonetheless, and he likely won’t start for Carolina next year after the Panthers traded for Jets QB Sam Darnold. Bridgewater’s struggles are concerning, but now that he’s a backup, teams could try to trade for him because of his starting experience (although his three-year, $63 million contract could make a trade difficult). Here are three that might be interested.

Washington Football Team

This destination might not make Washington fans happy, but the fact remains that the Football Team needs a quarterback. Bridgewater, at 28, could end up being a multi-year solution for the team. Once again, the contract would be a concern for Washington, but it would be a concern for any other team as well, so they’re as good of an option as any.

If Ron Rivera thinks he can develop Bridgewater, Bridgewater could back up starter Ryan Fitzpatrick for a year before taking over in the final year of his deal (once Fitzpatrick’s contract expires). The team could also opt to restructure Bridgewater’s deal, potentially spreading out some of the steep cap hit that would come with him.

Bridgewater could be solid in Washington’s offense, which was very low-pressure in 2020, involving lots of short throws to the running back and tight end. However, that offense mainly ran out of necessity, as Washington didn’t have a reliable QB for most of last year. Nonetheless, Bridgewater has starting experience as mentioned, and that could be enticing for Washington, who basically knows what they’d be getting in the eighth-year pro.

Denver Broncos

It’s possible that Denver doesn’t view Bridgewater as an upgrade from current starter Drew Lock. However, Lock was wildly inconsistent last year, so it could be in the Broncos’ interest to get Bridgewater as a veteran stabilizer for the QB room. The Broncos have been linked to QB trade talks, so if new general manager George Paton trades for Bridgewater, he could have an opportunity to start in 2021.

As Denver’s potential starter, Bridgewater would have plenty of weapons at his disposal. WR Courtland Sutton is a matchup nightmare, and he is clearly one of the alpha WRs in the league. Jerry Jeudy is also a nice developmental piece at WR, and TE Noah Fant further adds to the potential of the Broncos’ offense.

Denver’s offense would set Bridgewater up for success, making his personal abilities the only question mark for the team. However, we do have at least some idea of his floor. That could be good for head coach Vic Fangio’s peace of mind, and it could help stabilize the offense, which wouldn’t be relying on someone as erratic as Drew Lock anymore. It’s entirely possible that Bridgewater isn’t an upgrade from Lock, however, there are potential benefits if Denver decides to take a chance on the former.

Houston Texans

If the Texans ever decide to trade Deshaun Watson, Bridgewater could be someone who they could get back (in a separate deal). The asking price for Watson would be steep, but if teams are willing to give up several high picks, it could bolster a roster that has many gaping holes.

Houston also wouldn’t be taking on additional money in a trade like that, as getting rid of Watson’s massive deal would more than cover the cost of Bridgewater’s (as long as Watson’s traded after June 1st, when his cap hit goes down significantly). Additionally, a restructure/extension could be in play if Houston decides to go in on Bridgewater for the long haul.

The Texans are definitely lacking in weapons, however, so they’d have to accept 2021 as a rebuild year before heading to the draft in search of new receivers. However, if they surround Bridgewater with the right guys, they’d have the potential to make major improvements in 2022.

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