Predicting the winner of each QB competition

By: Jeremy Trottier

Around the NFL currently, there are quite a significant amount of preseason and starting battles that have yet to take place.  It happens at every position, from quarterback to punter, almost every year throughout the NFL, as rookies look to take veterans spots, or veterans look to rejuvenate their career and prove themselves against younger competition.  As the 2021 preseason looms closer and closer by the day, we see more and more of these battles shaping up through signings, and these will only continue to become more common as the remaining free agents get signed.

In this article, I will be focusing on some of the QB battles around the league, attempting to project who will be the day one starter, as well as if the starting role may change mid-season as rookies and younger players develop more.

Jameis Winston Vs. Taysom Hill

One of the most prominent quarterback battles almost everyone saw coming after Jameis was signed last offseason, we have the New Orleans Saints battle.  Attempting to replace the production of Drew Brees is hard enough for the coaching staff, having to decide between two quarterbacks vying for that spot is even harder.  Each of these quarterbacks has their own perks, and as a Saints fan myself, this is not as easy of a decision as some fans may see it being.  

On one hand, Jameis has the deep ball potential, is much more of a pure passer, and has been purely a passer since day one.  Taysom on the other hand brings the dual threat capabilities and is relatively accurate from short to medium range passing, as well as being in the Saints system longer.  I believe Jameis should be the day one starter all things considered for now, as he has been a passer this whole time and only is used there, which allows Taysom to continue in his role of playing all the skill positions essentially.  If Jameis struggles after the first quarter of the season or so, then Taysom should get another stint of being the starter like last season.

Teddy Bridgewater Vs. Drew Lock

Another quarterback battle that has formed due to moves made this offseason is the one in Denver with the Broncos.  After trading a 6th round pick to the Carolina Panthers for Teddy Bridgewater, the Broncos have created an ideal scenario where a veteran can teach a younger player, however, it also has created a pretty interesting battle.  

The differences between the two QBs here is noticeable but frankly is not extremely prominent, Teddy is much more of a game manager who lets the receivers and backs do the work, while focusing on placing accurate passes against defenses and not taking many risks.  Lock on the other hand is a little more risk-taking at times, throwing the ball deep and attempting to make bigger plays, but is less of a game manager and is a little less safe in the turnover department.  

With that, Teddy Bridgewater should probably be the starter, at least early on in the season, as he will be less turnover prone, and will likely game manage the team better considering they have a ton of receiving weapons and backs.  If Lock can take this time to develop and learn from Bridgewater on ball security and not turning it over as much, then a mid-season transition could be made to start Lock, provided Bridgewater is not having an exceptional year.

Andy Dalton Vs. Justin Fields

In the next quarterback battle coming from Chicago, we have another case of a young QB against a veteran QB, in which the younger is much more explosive and the older is much more ball security-oriented.  This instance is relatively different, however, as Justin Fields has a lot more potential as of now compared to Lock, and is a dual-threat QB, and had significantly more draft capital invested into him.  While Andy Dalton was paid a pretty good amount and pushing him into a backup role for that much cap space seems relatively ill-advised.

The best scenario would be Andy Dalton takes a restructure to pay most of his cap hit up front in a signing bonus of sorts as we have seen many times in the NFL.  Starting Justin Fields is probably the most logical scenario right now, as giving him some time to start at the NFL level and get adjusted to it through playing time seems like the way to go.  Since he performed exceptionally well in college and has proven his ability to avoid pressure at the CFB level, he should be able get away from most of the heavy contact at the line with his feet.  

Cam Newton Vs. Mac Jones

To wrap up the list, we have probably the most interesting of the four battles, which takes place in New England with the Patriots.  This one has intrigued me, even prior to the Patriots taking Mac as it was so heavily rumored.  Cam Newton had a tough year last year, throwing ten interceptions to only eight touchdowns while starting 15 games during the season.  Obviously, we have come to expect more of a rushing focus from the former MVP, but if you start that large of a portion of the season you should at least get a significantly higher TD number.

Mac Jones on the other hand is a relative unknown, he produced at Alabama without a doubt, but did so with an enormous amount of high end weapons surrounding him.  However he does have a lot of traits that are seeming viable at the NFL level, and his accuracy is absolutely phenomenal from what we have seen so far.  Right now the verdict is 50/50 between who should start, some think Cam should start immediately due to being in the system a year longer and in the league for much longer, allowing Mac to sit and develop some.  Some think Mac should start immediately due to the sort of “win now” mentality of the Patriots after a huge offseason filled with signings, and believe Mac has the higher ceiling as a passer.

Right now, I believe Cam Newton should start in the short term, however Mac will likely take over a few weeks into the season.  Giving Mac a few weeks to develop and learn the Patriots playbook, as well as conforming to the NFL style of play, seems like the best option right now for New England. 

Top training camp rumors surrounding the Buffalo Bills

What are people saying about the Bills?

By: Caleb Holfoth (@cmhfilm)

The Buffalo Bills begin their 2021 training camp in about a month and a half. For the second year in a row, the Bills will complete their camp at home in Buffalo as opposed to traveling to St. John Fisher College in Rochester. Due to Covid-19 and the potential protocols that will be in place through August the Bills management decided it was best to stay at home. Now that Buffalo knows where they will be practicing all of August there are still certain rumors that are floating around about the Bills roster. Post Free Agency and NFL Draft is a very interesting time for teams especially when there are quality free agents available just like there is this season. Buffalo heads into training camp with the best roster they have had in the entire 21st century. In all three facets of the game, Buffalo has elite talent. Not only is that talent elite but it is also young. A majority of the cornerstone players on the Bills roster have not even touched age 28 yet. With a really good and young roster, Buffalo hopes to make a jump to the Super Bowl season. However, before all of that even begins the Bills are still circulating in the news due to several rumors. Here are three major Bills rumors before training camp.

Rumor: Buffalo Trades for Philadelphia Eagles Tight End Zach Ertz

This is a rumor that has been attached to Buffalo for some time now. For a good portion of the early offseason, many people thought that the Buffalo Bills would trade a late-round draft pick to the Eagles in exchange for the former Pro-Bowl tight end. Ertz voiced his frustration with the franchise last season and both sides have been in a rift since. The only option for the Eagles seems to be to part ways with the disgruntled veteran. However, the Eagles have stood pat that they do not want to release Ertz but instead trade him. The Bills have been connected because they do have a weakness at the tight end position.

As this rumor has come and gone throughout the offseason it varies how much the Bills seem interested in trading for Ertz. While Ertz certainly would be worth a 5th round pick or later and easily become the best tight end in Buffalo there are reasons Beane could be hesitant. First, Ertz had a very rough injury-riddled 2020. Although just 30 years old this is something to certainly keep in mind. Ertz does not have an extensive injury history, but players are rarely traded for after injury-riddled seasons. Second, it is no secret that Ertz wants no part of Philadelphia. Brandon Beane could be in wait-and-see mode to see if the Eagles eventually give up and release Ertz. Lastly, Ertz does carry a large cap hit of 12.7 million in 2021 with a dead cap hit of 3.5 million in 2022 (UFA after 2021). Even though the Bills just cleared up some cap space by converting Stefon Diggs salary to a signing bonus, likely, Beane will not want to take on such a huge hit for an older tight end.

What makes this rumor, so intriguing is that Beane has commented on the state of the Bills tight end room several times this offseason. Beane has emphasized that Buffalo needs more from the tight end position. At the same time, Beane has circled back to that comment saying he does have faith in Dawson Knox and the rest of the tight end group to be able to step up. While Knox has always had potential and a high ceiling, he has not come close to that ceiling or being consistent. The addition of Ertz would certainly push Buffalo from a mediocre tight end group to potentially a top ten group. Ertz adds a different dynamic as a pass-catcher from both the hand in the dirt and the slot.

This rumor has no straight yes or no answer of will it happen or not. With all the previous rumors of both parties being tied to each other it likely is something, the Bills have explored at one point this offseason. I think it is fair to say that a trade is unlikely. However, I believe that Zach Ertz will be on the Bills roster at some point during the 2021 season.

Rumor: Buffalo will sign a veteran cornerback before camp

This is a rumor that has swirled of late because of the salary cap that Buffalo just opened up by converting Stefon Diggs’s base salary into a signing bonus. The Bills now have about $9 Million in cap space ready to use. The reason that cornerback has been the main position a part of the conversation is because it is one of the weak spots on the roster outside of star cornerback Tre’Davious White. Opposite of White Buffalo has a very young group led by Levi Wallace. Each of the past three seasons the Bills have brought in a veteran cornerback to compete for the number two spot across from White. That was at least the case until this offseason. Buffalo neglected to add a cornerback in free agency and early in the draft instead opting to rely on young unproven talent and Levi Wallace the starter the previous two seasons.

What puts the Bills in the market for a corner is not only the money they now have but also the fact that there are several starting-caliber veteran cornerbacks on the market. Buffalo has options with Richard Sherman, Steven Nelson, Brian Poole, and a couple of other veteran corners. While Buffalo may be confident in the young group, they have now there is some very good value this late in free agency. For example, Richard Sherman who happens to fit Buffalo’s defensive scheme very well has declared that he wants to play for a contender. Buffalo is one of the few contenders who will not only be able to sign Sherman but compensate him at a pretty solid rate. The same goes for Steven Nelson who has been a very good corner the past couple of years in the league.

This rumor is interesting because if you go off of Brandon Beane’s habits he will bring in one of these players. However, I think that Beane will wait as long as possible to add a player to determine what Buffalo has at the position already and the confidence in that group. I think that Beane would be comfortable with some corners coming off the market and is in no hurry to make a move. While I think Sherman and Nelson would both benefit Buffalo significantly Beane seems to have high expectations and praise for Dane Jackson who is currently competing with Levi Wallace. I do think that Beane is exploring this option but will opt to not sign a veteran cornerback to bring in for the 2021 season.

Rumor: The Bills are having trouble getting players vaccinated

While not specifically football related it has been a topic of conversation around Buffalo for a couple of weeks now. Brandon Beane found himself in hot water after he said he would cut an unvaccinated player if it meant Buffalo would then meet the threshold of enough vaccinated players for looser protocols. Beane’s comments caused quite the uproar from the NFLPA, and Buffalo has been under vaccine watch since. Combine Beane’s slightly insensitive comments with the fact that all the Bills players who have been in press conferences have declined to comment on their vaccination status. Add on the public disapproval of the COVID-19 vaccine from both Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley and Buffalo could be on the wrong side of the news when it comes to the vaccine.

This bodes well for the Bills who have found themselves in hot water with the vaccine talk recently. It looks like Beane, and Sean McDermott has been able to right the ship for Buffalo. While Buffalo is likely not one of the 16 teams that have at least 50% of their players with one shot the discourse about vaccines over the past couple of weeks has turned from a negative conversation to a positive one. Buffalo likely has a way to go to meet the threshold of vaccinated players to have minimal protocols to follow. However, McDermott and Beane have turned the team in the right direction and seem to have all the so-called vaccine drama in the past.

3 reasons why Derek Carr won’t be traded anytime soon

By: Jake Rajala

Derek Carr, the pocket passer that holds the most late-game comebacks in a quarterback’s first several seasons (20), has been in controversial trade rumors over the past couple of seasons. It’s unclear if Carr will follow in the footsteps of past former elite QBs like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, likely Aaron Rodgers, in switching uniforms in a high level of his career. 

As of right now, Carr is dedicating all of his energy to obtaining a Lombardi trophy in Las Vegas. Carr is so fixated in marriage to the Raiders that when asked about getting traded, this is how he responded, “I’d probably quit football if I had to play football for someone else”.

Carr’s allegiance to Las Vegas is unquestionable. The real inquiry is, “do the Raiders want Carr to be the face of their franchise forever?”. My response to that question: I believe so. 

I will outline the three reasons why Carr will remain the Raiders QB until the death star (Raiders stadium) is inhabitable.

  1. Carr will be the best “long term option” available 

The Raiders signal-caller isn’t only an elite caliber of talent, but he is only 30 years old. Carr is the same age as Taysom Hill, two years younger than Russell Wilson, and two years younger than Kirk Cousins. Carr has at least a decade of quality football left in him. 

As long as Carr is the franchise QB, the Raiders will have an excellent floor each season. The Raiders have improved from four wins to seven victories, to eight wins, under Jon Gruden’s reign. Even if the Raiders miss the playoffs or have an early postseason exit, they should be in a tough spot to acquire a decade-like talent at QB in the draft each year.

There have been talented QBs on the trade block, but the available QB options are no longer available, or the steam has left the QB’s camps. Deshaun Watson doesn’t appear tradeable at this point, Russell Wilson is staying in Seattle, Aaron Rodgers appears to be in a Denver uniform or staying in a Packer jersey, and Tua Tagovailoa will be a franchise QB in Miami if he improves, or below dealing for if he sinks.

To sum it up, Carr will always be the best long-term offseason option to start for the team moving forward. 

  1. The Raiders need to seriously focus on improving the defense

Gruden knows that improving a defensive unit that ranked 25th in 2020 is the highest priority on the horizon. The Raiders had issues against the pass (26th ranked) and opened the floodgates against the run (24th). The Raiders have made this defensive emphasis clear with four defenders getting drafted in the first four rounds of the 2020 NFL draft. 

LV acquired pass rusher Yannick Ngakouye and cornerback Casey Hayward in free agency this offseason. Holes still lie in the secondary for the Raiders defense. CB Damon Arnette hasn’t proven his worth as a first-rounder, while the safety position was an Achilles heel in 2020. Corey Littleton was a sneaky good signing last offseason at LB, but the team desperately needs more consistent production in the LB unit. 

In an AFC West division featuring MVP Patrick Mahomes, OROY Justin Herbert, and potentially Aaron Rodgers, the Raiders have to be featuring a competitive defense (at the very least) in the divisional gauntlet. A lackluster defense with a young, different face at QB could also put the Raiders in a massive hole in their very own division.

  1. Jon Gruden is a Derek Carr supporter

There have been false claims of Gruden wanting “his own guy” or in search of a different QB. This common, false report, can be put to the grave. Gruden AND Mayock firmly stand strong behind their QB held on a high pedestal. 

They’ve expressed their gratitude and defense for their QB after putting on a fantastic showcase in the 2020 season. Carr displayed a career high passer rating (101.4) last season. His personality of grittiness is also very similar to Gruden’s style in the locker room. 

Carr told Vinny Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review Journal that his relationship with Gruden is often misunderstood. He elaborated by saying “what people don’t understand is how close we are. Not just football, but off the field. Whether it’s him texting videos of his dog and what they’re doing, and I’m sending videos of my kids hitting baseballs in their first game. People don’t understand that.”


The young Carr had an amazing season of production in 2020. If Carr ousts another year of mastering the offense and capping elite numbers, the connection should only continue to grow in the upcoming years.

Dynasty Power: a guide on how to win in Dynasty Fantasy Football

A List of Tricks for Both New and Experienced Dynasty Fantasy Football Players

By: Trenton Roberts (Twitter: @TRobertsNFL)

Fantasy football has been a major part of the NFL fan base for years. In 1962, a then part-owner of the Oakland Raiders, Bill Winkenbach, and a group of his friends gathered to create the first documented fantasy football league: The Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League (or GOPPPL, for short). Then there was the idea of selecting players in a fantasy “draft” and using their weekly performances and statistics to compete against one another.

While many rules and ideas have changed since then, the general idea remains the same. A group of players will draft their own rosters and use the weekly statistics compiled by each player to compete against others for bragging rights or, in some cases, even money. It entices so many people to play through its combination of a player’s skill, such as knowing who’s in a good spot to give the team good numbers, and some luck, as can be seen by the rates of booms and busts in any given week.

Today, there are many different styles of fantasy football. Of course, there is still the basic redraft format, in which a team is drafted yearly and competes in either a standard or PPR (Points-Per-Reception) league (or any other weird scoring rules the league comes up with) and competing weekly for a chance to make the playoffs and win said league.

However, there are also many other types of leagues that might pique a player’s interest. For example, some players enjoy what is known as Best-Ball, in which a team drafts a full roster and only the top weekly scorers count, putting an emphasis on drafting more boom-bust players. Others enjoy IDP leagues, in which, instead of taking offensive players, the owners take defensive players and gain points through defensive statistics such as sacks, tackles, and interceptions. Another popular style is the Auction league, in which a team is drafted on a set budget rather than through a snake-style draft.

However, one of the biggest non-redraft league types today is Dynasty fantasy football. This type of league is more focused on the most devoted fantasy footballers, as rather than bringing in a new team every year, the player is tasked with drafting their initial roster in year one and keeping that team for the rest of the duration of the league, only drafting rookies in the following off-seasons rather than a new team. While a popular branch of fantasy football, Dynasty requires the attention of the owner almost year-round, rather than just during the season, meaning it takes a lot more dedication than any other type of league.

While it is a difficult style of the league to learn, focusing more on youth, long-term outlooks, and college scouting over yearly upside, it isn’t impossible to win. After playing dynasty fantasy football for five years now, I’ve found many tips and tricks that have helped me on my way to winning a total of 12 championship trophies in that time! By no means am I the best out there, but I am willing to share many of the secrets and tricks I have learned through the years on how to be a successful dynasty fantasy football owner! Let’s check them out!

Getting Started

Finding a League

The first and most important step of getting into dynasty fantasy football is figuring out where to start. What does that mean? Well, for starters, you need to find a group to play with. Sometimes, this part is already finished, as you and a group of your friends have decided to get a league going together. Other times, you won’t have anybody you know, but still want to play. When that happens, I suggest finding a forum somewhere to look for potential matches. You can find these groups anywhere, but one of the best places to look is through Facebook groups related to fantasy football. Another popular source to find a league is Twitter, though it might take more digging.

Once you’ve found your league and have your league-mates ready, the next step is figuring out how/where you will be playing. By this, I mean where you will be hosting your league. One of the most popular places for hosting dynasty leagues currently is Sleeper.com, and I would suggest that being a good place to start as they cover these leagues in more depth and allow a chatroom among league-mates that can be easily accessed. If you aren’t a fan, however, there are many other places online where you can find the tools necessary to begin your league. Once you have all of this figured out, you can move on to how you want to run everything.

Setup

Once you have a group together and are ready to begin your league, it’s important to discuss the league’s make-up. Start by figuring out a draft time, as you need to know when the league will be available to make a selection. You should also figure out selection time limits, such as if you want a quick draft (under 5 minutes per pick) or a long draft (over an hour to pick). For new players, I suggest a longer draft, as it allows more freedom and more time overall to research what you should do. However, it is important to not get frustrated at the amount of time between picks, as it can take days or even weeks to finish everything, depending on the sizes of the bench.

Speaking of the bench, one of the bigger differences between a dynasty league and a redraft league, aside from keeping a team for more than one season, is the size of the bench. In many leagues, benches consist of anywhere from 10-20 players, meaning the overall draft could be as much as 30 rounds long in the first year. This means that a player should put more research into “sleepers” who can potentially have major breakout seasons, as these could mean the difference between missing and making the playoffs in a given season.

Aside from that, it’s also important to nail down the leagues scoring settings and starting slots. Will you have a PPR or Standard league? Will you award four or six points per passing touchdown? How about bonus points for receptions by a tight end? How many flex spots will be available in the starting lineup? Will there be a super-flex* slot?

(*=Super-flex is similar to a normal flex spot, except it can also hold a second quarterback in the starting lineup)

After you’ve figured all of the league’s settings out, it’s time to move ahead to the draft, where I will begin giving some tips and pointers for success!

The Draft

The initial draft of your dynasty league is the most important time of them all. Why? Because if you mess up here, you’ll be feeling the effects of that spoof years later. Unlike in a redraft setting, you can’t just start from scratch and try again next season. You must find a way to overcome the mistake and improve your roster later, and that can take time and effort and, in a league with money involved, could cause you to lose out on some cash.

However, there is no perfect way to draft in order to avoid this. Every drafting system has its flaws, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore these systems altogether. What are the systems, though? Occasionally, you might hear mention of a draft strategy known as “Zero Running Back”, or “Zero-RB” for short. This strategy, which is also used in redraft leagues, focuses on the selection of receivers, quarterbacks, and tight ends early in the draft, while avoiding taking a running back until at least the fifth or sixth rounds. This strategy, along with others such as its polar opposite in Heavy-RB, Zero-WR, and just the basic BPA (Best Player Available) strategy, are all decent ways to fill out a team.

Which strategy should you choose? Well, there is no wrong answer here. Each of these styles of drafting works well to an extent, so it’s entirely up to your personal preference to figure out what you want to do. If I were to choose one strategy for beginners, which is the one I use, I would go with the Heavy-RB strategy, where you draft 3-4 running backs early, as the position is largely top-heavy compared to the receiver position. That means that getting a couple young star running backs could set you up for years at a position where the numbers drop off significantly after the top handful of players.

However, while these strategies are good to get you through your first few rounds and fill out your starting lineup, it isn’t until the later rounds that the champions are “crowned”. You might not find out right away, but a player you might draft in the 15th round could be the one who blows up in the final few weeks of the regular season and propels you through your playoffs. That is why you will hear everywhere that, after the initial ten rounds of the draft, it’s important to start drafting for upside rather than safety. It may seem nice to have a player you trust to get you a definite number of points per week on the bench, but that player will be unlikely to ever see the starting rotation regardless, considering that you might find a better option on the waivers in a given week or draft a player that breaks out in the late rounds. That is why it is important to push for the upside plays, as that is what takes good teams to the next level.

Another fun part of the draft comes in the form of trading. Now, there might be a few redraft leagues out there where draft picks can be traded, but the majority of these instances come in dynasty leagues. As a beginner, I would suggest avoiding trading during the draft for your first time, as the difference between dynasty leagues and other leagues is significant, so being able to keep your draft similar to how you would in an everyday redraft league where you take players at each of your slots helps to simplify the draft in general and leave you room to focus on your first season.

Overall, to give some suggestions for the draft, the best advice I can offer is to ask for help from experienced players. The vast majority of the dynasty community are very helpful and are always willing to teach a new player the ropes. Don’t hesitate to reach out to any of them to ask for advice on who to draft and what to do, as the advice of an experienced player goes a long way when it comes to early success.

Decide upon a Strategy

Picking a strategy for your team early on is instrumental to figuring out where you want your team to go. For example, not every team can be a contender from the get-go. If you can decide early in your season that you won’t be contending, it might be in your best interest to blow it up early. Keep in mind, teams are kept together year after year, so keeping in the middle of the pack isn’t where you want to be.

If you can’t trade for a few top talents that you think can push you to the top, then your best bet might just be to start from scratch. What I mean by that is to trade away some of your top assets in order to acquire new assets that are improving in value, such as rookie picks. Say you’re in week five of your first season and already know you will be missing the playoffs. You might want to trade for some rookie draft picks while they are relatively cheap early in the season, as the values of these picks skyrocket come the off-season, when everyone is looking at the NFL draft and hoping for great players.

Now whether you use those picks to take rookies of your own to improve your roster or package them together to make deals for top tier talents is up to you. It’s just important at this stage that you aren’t stuck. With picks and assets available, you have a path to a successful future, rather than being stuck in “purgatory” for the next few seasons until you have enough time to reset your roster and try to push again. Being on the bottom of the league isn’t as bad of a place to be as it seems.

However, if you are like me and want to be a yearly competitor, rather than trading your older assets for young improving ones, you might look to acquire cheaper veterans that can help you contend instantly. For example, a 29-year-old Robert Woods is currently being drafted as the WR32 in dynasty leagues on Sleeper.com, despite finishing in the top-15 in PPR leagues in each of the past three seasons and the team improving at the quarterback position this off-season. While Woods might not be the best long-term investment, he’s certainly a player capable of helping your team win a championship for the next couple of years.

The biggest thing you should take from this section, however, is to just find a direction and stick with it. Each season, you should be in one of two categories: Contending or rebuilding. If you can’t definitively say that you are in one of these two categories, it might be time to start from scratch!

How to Handle Rookies

I’m dedicating an entire section to rookies in dynasty fantasy football, as they are a crucial part of your yearly success. Drafting a good rookie who blows up could take your team to the next level, giving you stability for the long term at a position of need. Youth in general has a major emphasis placed on it in dynasty fantasy football, but there are things you must be aware of.

First and foremost, you should not overvalue rookies and rookie picks. In general, in a 12-man league, only around half of your top-12 rookie picks will end up panning out as you expect them to. That means that half of the time, you’re likely to have a pick bust and end up regretting the selection. Now, with time, it is possible to improve on this number, but early on, the best suggestion I can give is to try to compete with veterans and non-rookie talents as you learn how the league works. Another helpful suggestion, which is more time consuming, is to get into watching college film on players and get into the NFL draft more, as learning more about the players here helps to better project players in the long term.

While I’m not saying to stay away from rookies entirely, you need to understand that many dynasty players have an extremely high emphasis on them, and you can get great value at times for players who might not pan out. Will you regret some trades? Certainly. But everyone in the dynasty community has made a bad trade they can tell you about, so don’t let that scare you off from doing more in the future.

Thoughts from Twitter:

This week, I asked the dynasty twitter community for some of their best tips for dynasty beginners, and here’s what they came up with (Paraphrasing some)!

Rookies:

“Find someone you trust (Podcaster/Content Creator) who can help analyze upcoming rookie classes.” (@DynastyMad)

“Don’t assume rookie picks will be early or late. Anything can happen.” (@W3stron)

“Homework never stops between trade values and prospects.” (@holykodiak)

Trading:

“Consider your team’s needs not just for now, but for the future.” (@AmIJasonAscher)

“Never buy a player after a “hype piece” of news drops.” (@BaskinFF)

“Establishing good trade relationships is more important than “winning” every trade.” (@trashsandwiches)

“Buy-low on injured talents right after the injury for a discount.” (@dynoNFL)

“Learn the trade market for players and draft picks.” (@Toddzilla1337)

Drafting:

“Draft for the best value at a slot. Don’t reach.” (@LobosFFDen)

“After the fifth round, draft all for upside.” (@ElvinRyan_FF)

Other ideas:

“Hold onto players you believe in.” (@OnlyFantasyFB)

“Get to know your league-mates. Leagues that communicate last longer.” (@ff_johnj)

“Keep up to date with interactions (trades, draft) so you can find trends.” (@Markradwan)

“Understand your leagues settings and how it affects player rankings.” (@vandygrad92)

“You are going to make mistakes in the beginning and that’s ok.” (@TheHQNerd)

“Always keep TNF players out of the Flex!!” (@JasonWVanBuren)

“Don’t hesitate to ask for help.” (@barret_zackery)

Closing Thoughts

Dynasty fantasy football is one of the most entertaining forms of fantasy football out there. From keeping track of the league year-round to drafting rookies and making moves, to rebuilding a roster from scratch, nothing quite meets the level of intensity and fun of a good dynasty league. I really hope these suggestions above can help you move forward, and that you can enjoy a successful dynasty career ahead of you!

Top 3 Philadelphia Eagle x factors heading into 2021

by Jacob Keppen

There were not a ton of positives from last season. A 4-11-1 embarrassment that saw the Eagles bottom dwellers of the struggling NFC East, it was one to forget for Philadelphians. Despite everything that went wrong, there were some positives to take from 2020. Three players made their marks last year and give fans just another thing to be excited about this season. With all of the attention on new quarterback Jalen Hurts and first-round pick Devonta Smith, here are three underrated Philadelphia Eagles that you should know for next season.

1. Josh Sweat

The Philadelphia Eagles didn’t do a ton of things well last year, but the one thing they were able to do was to get to the quarterback. Philadelphia finished 3rd in the NFL in sacks per game, with 49 total sacks. Despite finishing as a top-three defensive line, no player on the Eagles broke the 10 sack mark. The Eagles finished with as many sacks as they did as a result of every player pulling their weight, regardless of starting status.

One of these impact rotational players was 3rd-year defensive end Josh Sweat. The former 4th round pick continued to improve and make a further impact as a pass rusher in year three, sacking the quarterback 6 times in 14 appearances. The former Florida State Seminole also accumulated 9 tackles for loss. Sweat led starter Derrick Barnett in both categories and looks to further make his case to start this season.

2. Travis Fulgham

For a brief moment, it looked like the Philadelphia Eagles had an unexpected star in Travis Fulgham. The former Detroit Lions 6th round pick joined the Eagles to little fanfare, but the Old Dominion product would give fans one of the biggest positive moments of the season.

There was a five game stretch in 2020 where Travis Fulgham looked like the answer to all of Philadelphia’s problems at wide receiver. He immediately made an impact in his debut against San Francisco, scoring the go-ahead touchdown. Fulgham exploded the next week against Pittsburgh, racking up 10 catches for 152 yards and a touchdown. Fulgham would have a few more solid starting games before a pair of poor performances and a returning Alshon Jeffery heavily cut his playing time. At the end of the season though, Fulgham led the team in receiving yards. The 6’2 215 receiver will be the perfect big-bodied X receiver to complement the speedier options in Jalen Reagor and Devonta Smith.

3. Alex Singleton

The Eagles linebacker situation is a lot less dire heading into 2021 than it was heading into 2020. The Eagles linebackers struggled a bit in 2019, but there still were guys who could make plays. Bradham was starting to lose a bit of a step but still was a good option. Kamu Grugier-Hill was a solid linebacker as well. Both left in the offseason, leaving the Eagles will arguably the worst linebacker group in football. The position was exploited week after week by opposing offenses, and it wasn’t until a few weeks into the season that the Eagles found a solution at the position. A solution who was an undrafted former CFL standout in Alex Singleton.

Despite only starting 11 games, Alex Singleton was one of the most prolific tacklers in the NFL. The Montana State product finished with 120 tackles, good for 15th in the league, despite playing in 2-4 games less than most of the players ahead of him. A highly athletic player with a fiery motor, Singleton was one of the most prolific run stoppers in the NFL last year. With the addition of former Vikings linebacker Eric Wilson, look for Alex Singleton to headline a much improved Eagles linebacker group.

Mac Jones is the future of New England

By: Pat Pitts

New England Patriots fans enter 2021 surrounded by unfamiliar territory. The guarantee of an AFC championship birth vanished along with their golden child to the sunshine state. Belichick prepared for this day to come, but did it come too soon?

It feels like it after the abysmal performance Cam Newton displayed a season ago. Single-digit touchdowns paired with double-digit interceptions are not a way to make a great impression on a fan base. Especially, a franchise expecting a trip to the Super Bowl or else the season was a waste. 

Patriots fans have become a bit greedy. Well, six Lombardi trophies in two decades give them a reason to be. 

Newton’s disappointing play sent Kraft and Belichick to the drawing board ahead of the NFL Draft. The Patriots needed to fill up gaps at nearly every position; the draft helps but is not the only way to improve. 

The Patriots filled every possible gap on the depth chart on the first day of free agency. They smashed the record for most guaranteed money offered on a single day of FA, $159.6M. Signings like Kendrick Bourne, Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, and Nelson Agholor give the Patriots receiving options they lacked in 2020.  

The offense has been upgraded, but missing a crucial piece to the puzzle. Who will lead this stacked offense into battle?

Kraft and Belichick knew that their QB of the future was not in the free agency pool, even informing local media personality, @Patspulpit, in an article a few months prior.

“If you want to have a good, consistent, winning football team, you can’t do it in free agency,” Kraft said. “You have to do it through the draft.”

Belichick and the rest of his staff studied every potential QB1 in the draft class. He and Josh McDaniels visited a few pro days, including Mac Jones’ at Alabama. The duo stood off to the side, analyzing every single throw Jones attempted. 

Jones showed off his accuracy with every pass completed to Smith or Waddle. Well, not every pass.

The disappointment written across Belichick’s face displays interest in the draft prospect. If he could prosper in Saban’s system, imagine how well he can perform in the Patriots offense. Belichick cares about one thing. Luckily for Jones, it is the one thing he does at an elite level. 

On draft day, New England’s front office sat and watched the event unfold. They patiently waited for the cards to fall into place. They did not trade up, nor did they complete a trade. Fourteen players drafted without Belichick batting an eye. 

He already had his pick.

Mac Jones became a New England Patriot. His wish came true. 

Mac Jones steps into the Patriots’ offense with a lot of uncertainty. He has only produced one season of elite numbers. He played in the most dominant system in college football with Belichick’s other half. He was surrounded by NFL talent to enhance his play. 

I have listened to experts and analysts say these thoughts and a few other outlandish statements about the rookie QB. Starting with his lack of athleticism and finishing off with how his lack of NCAA starting experience will be his downfall in the NFL. 

Lamar Jackson fell to the 32nd pick of the draft. The Patriots chose N’Keal Harry over DK Metcalf and AJ Brown. Sometimes the “experts” can be wrong. 

Belichick has his first actual QB battle since Brady v Bledsoe. A former number one overall pick fights for his starting job against a scrawny, immobile rookie quarterback. This story sounds familiar. 

History repeats itself constantly, which is why Mac Jones will be the starting quarterback for the Patriots sooner than fans think. Jones brings a highly accurate arm and calm, poised presence in the pocket that Newton lacked all of last season. 

Mac Jones brings change and hope to the Patriots, more so than Cam does. Here are a few ways how. 

What are Jones’ most significant strengths?

Bill Belichick drafted Mac Jones with a purpose. Other than being a clone of his former QB, Jones shares many similarities that Brady built a career doing in Foxboro. Yes, he can air out a deep ball or two, but his ability to move downfield with underneath passing made him the most accurate passer in college football last season. 

Jones’ accuracy stats should cause a big deep breath by Patriots Nation. He led the SEC in accuracy percentage (70.8%) and finished with the lowest interception percentage (1.3%), interceptable pass rate (4.4%), and uncatchable pass rate (11.7%). 

Jones’s ability to throw an extremely accurate ball stems from his poise in the pocket. He allows his receivers to run their routes before making his decision. He knows he has the playmakers around him to get the job done. 

The Patriots added a few playmakers to help mimic Mac’s offense from a year prior. At first glance, it seems like a makeshift fantasy football roster, not the most attractive.

A member of the Boston sports media described these receivers as “Target brand” receivers, meaning that they had a chance to sign an elite WR but settled on two solid ones. It’s called a two-for-one special; we bargain hunt in Massachusetts. 

Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne have demonstrated that they are reliable receivers within the past few seasons. Both players notched career highs in receiving yards in 2020. Agholor tied his career-high in touchdowns with eight. 

The two young WRs are not the only pass catchers to provide Jones with a huge amount of support this year. Jones has the luxury of lining up beside two of the league’s top five tight ends, Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. 

Smith and Henry ranked third on their respective teams in targets, receptions, yards and touchdowns a season ago. They provided their QB1s with relief and safety on crucial downs and especially in the red zone. 

After the first week of OTAs, Jones has impressed the entire coaching staff with his ability to understand the playbook. The Patriots playbook is one of the most complicated in the league; this is a great sign for Pats fans. 

Belichick surrounded Jones with the right pieces for him to succeed. More importantly, he provided him with top-tier protection. 

How can Jones overcome his weaknesses to earn the starting job?

Death. Taxes. NFL analysts/experts making their case for why a certain player will be a bust. 

Mac Jones ranked as college football’s best QB in 2020, but nearly slipped out of the top five in his draft class. Trey Lance has less experience as a starting quarterback than Jones, yet drafted twelve spots ahead of Jones. 

Why? Because Lance scrambles for first downs; Jones tosses it to someone else for one. Different ways to reach the same destination. 

Jones’ style of play works well in a system with a balanced offense, talented pass catchers and a stout offensive line to protect Jones as the play develops. The Patriots have all three of these key elements, specifically a group of linemen willing to protect their leader. 

How does the Patriots’ offensive line play a role in Jones’ success?

The biggest issue fans have seen with rookie quarterbacks is how poorly they are protected. Joe Burrow, first overall draft pick, tore his ACL and MCL due to the lack of protecting Cincinnati’s golden boy. 

Belichick operates two steps ahead of the entire NFL. He prioritizes developing a stalwart line to stop the pass rush. 

In 2020, the New England Patriots offensive line ranked fourth in the NFL, despite their scoring woes. Joe Thuney, Isaiah Wynn, and Shaq Mason finished the season with a PFF grade above 80. The sixth-rounder, Michael Onwenu, finished with the highest grade out of the group, 84.3. 

Joe Thuney left to sign with the Chiefs, while Trent Brown returned home to Foxboro. Brown’s size gives Jones a sense of security for him to repeat his senior season. 

Jones sat behind a brick wall at Alabama, allowing him to find his wide-open receivers with ease. Jones ranked atop of the NCAA in passer rating in a clean pocket, 142.5. When he passes from a messy bag, he is just as lethal. 

However, Jones does not need to leave the pocket to air it downfield. 

Jones broke the university’s record for passer rating when under pressure. He completed 56 passes for 976 yards, 13 touchdowns, and two interceptions for a rating of 131. The slight decline indicates that Jones does not need to leave the pocket to make plays. 

Mac Jones did not sign his rookie contract with hopes of getting acquainted with the clipboard; Jones wants to compete. There is a slight problem. Cam Newton is still here.  

Newton throws a wrench into the Jones show’s debut. He resigned from a one-year contract this offseason; He wants redemption. 

If OTA’s foreshadow anything for fans, then we are in for an exciting training camp. Newton hurting his hand at practice adds fuel to the fiery battle between Stidham and Jones. 

Jones took first-team reps after Newton left the practice fields. His first test under the microscope did not go as planned. He tossed two pick-sixes within passes of each other along with failing to display his accuracy. Stidham, who struggles with his accuracy, Completed nearly all of his passes. 

Friday’s practice was freaky.

How long does Cam Newton last as QB1?

Cam Newton started 15 forgettable games in 2020. Even in the ones where he shined, Newton found a way to come up a tad short. The fumble in Buffalo was the exact moment the Patriots season’s expiration date was in plain sight. 

It is easy to write about Newton’s offensive play, but the factors surrounding him did not help his cause. Newton caught COVID, forcing him to sit out against the Chiefs. A game which they could have won, but Brian Hoyer refused to allow that. When he was healthy, his pass catchers consisted of Jakobi Meyers and Demetrie Byrd. Also, the lack of incorporating tight ends into the offense added even more to their constant struggles.

Mac Jones waltzed his way into a dream situation. He has the opportunity to learn as much as he can from the greatest coach in NFL history. A coach who operates his squad very similar to Jones’ college coach, Nick Saban. He sits behind a former MVP at quarterback, even with the battle for the starting gig. 

Success is not going to happen overnight with Jones. It will be a long, meticulous process thanks to Tom Brady leaving behind a sinkhole-sized hole to fill. 

Jones brings a Brady-type feel back to Gillette Stadium with being counted out before the preseason kicks off. Both men doubted, overlooked by nearly every team, but have the one thing you need to survive in the NFL, a winning mentality. 

Brady has displayed it for the past two decades. The NFL has learned that you do not need to be mobile as a QB to succeed in the NFL. Jones hopes to carry that torch for another two decades, adding a few Lombardis to his shelf in the process. 

Anything is possible.

2022 draft targets for Detroit Lions: A QB, WR, and S make out the list

By: Jeremy Trotiter

The Detroit Lions are in a relatively compromising position this season compared to most other NFL teams.  They traded away their franchise quarterback in Matthew Stafford, getting future picks in return as well as Jared Goff.  Jared could be good for Detroit, however if he were to perform poorly this year they could be looking at a pretty high up draft pick.  

In this article I will be going over players the Lions should consider drafting, as well as why they would be good fits with the team.  I will be operating under the assumption that their picks will be according to their Super Bowl odds, meaning they would have the second overall pick (they have the second-worst odds to win the SB) as well as the 29th pick (Los Angeles Rams first-round pick from Stafford trade, they have the 3rd best odds to win the SB or 29th worst).  With that said, let’s start with the first player.

Spencer Rattler – QB – Oklahoma

The next Oklahoma QB in line to be a premier pick is the Phoenix native Spencer Rattler.  After an impressive redshirt freshman season, he should be looking to improve even further as a player in 2021-2022.  Rattler is a phenomenally accurate quarterback when he has just enough time to make throws, completing 67.5% of his passes, however he can also improvise at an extremely high level. 

After back-to-back number one overall picks in 2018 and 2019 being Oklahoma QBs, the Lions could look for a true improvising based quarterback to replace Matthew Stafford, and bring a new dynamic to the team.  If the Lions are picking within the top three picks, they should most definitely consider bringing in a quarterback as either Jared Goff did not perform in that scenario, or the roster needs more time to develop.  

In 2020, Spencer Rattler put up the following statline:

  • 11 games played
  • 214 passes completed on 317 attempts (67.5%)
  • 3031 passing yards, 28 passing touchdowns, 7 interceptions, 172.6 Passer efficiency rating
  • 81 rush attempts for 160 yards and 6 touchdowns

Overall, Rattler is a fantastic prospect who can pass at all three levels with great accuracy, while also being able to get outside the pocket and still make the throw.  As of now he is one of the top two QBs in the class to most analysts, as he should be, and Detroit would hugely improve having him behind center.

Justyn Ross – WR – Clemson

In this scenario, rather than replacing Jared Goff, the Lions would supplement him with new receivers.  As of right now one of the biggest needs in Detroit would be a receiver, as they have very little depth and even their top receivers on the depth chart are unproven.  Justyn Ross would change that, and even better, he may fall to their second first-rounder from the Rams later on.  

Ross is one of the better receivers in this class and has the ability to turn plays into huge gains whenever the ball is in his hands.  The main reason his value has dipped quite a bit is due to not playing in 2020 due to a major injury.  He had a bulging disc in his spine as well as a congenital spine condition, due to a collision with a Clemson LB in practice.  However, we have both 2018 and 2019 to base his skills off of.  In 2018, he was fifth in the ACC in receiving yards (1000) and led the ACC in yards per reception (21.7).  In 2019 he also got eighth in the ACC for number of receptions, with 66.

His better year of the two is 2018, where his full statline looked as such:

  • 14 games played
  • 46 receptions for 1000 yards (21.7 yards per reception)
  • 9 receiving touchdowns. 

One thing that does not show up in his stats is his size and reliability.  At 6’4” and 205 LBs, he is a very tall receiver who can use his wingspan to go up and contest 50/50 catches and bring them down at a high rate.  His hands are extremely reliable, and he makes the most out of every single snap he gets on the field.  This is exactly what the Lions need at receiver, and definitely a player Dan Campbell would like to have around due to his physicality.

Kyle Hamilton – S – Notre Dame

Finally, we have a relatively outlier pick, taking a safety in the first round, never mind early in it.  This is more for if the Lions do decent, and go in the 7-10 to 5-12 range, and get a pick somewhere from 7-15.  Like I mentioned, taking a safety early in the draft is heavily advised against by most teams and front offices…. unless they are a generational talent or have extreme upside.  Kyle Hamilton has extreme upside and could be one of the better safeties we have seen come from CFB since Jamal Adams, potentially better.

Kyle Hamilton is another massive prospect, at 6’4” 219 LBs he could be the size of a nickel linebacker if he could put on about 10 more pounds.  His extremely tall frame and long wingspan allow him to get in between the receiver and the ball and knock it away almost with ease it seems.  The other thing that makes him so scary is his vertical abilities, even though he is 6’4” and has a large frame, he is able to get a 40-inch vertical.  This type of athleticism is coveted in the NFL, and scouts should be all over him if he continues on the path he has created.

In 2020, he put up the following statline for the Fighting Irish:

  • 11 games played
  • 63 total tackles (51 solo and 12 assisted) along with 4.5 tackles for loss
  • 1 interception with 14 yards returned, and 6 passes deflected

Another thing to note is in 2019 he had four interceptions, with the same number of passes deflected.  He should be a highly drafted prospect, most considering him top 15 at worst right now, and if he has another great year in 2021, we could be looking at our “next big thing” in the safety world.  His high level of talent would hugely improve the Lions secondary and would create a fantastic dynamic duo of sorts with Jeff Okudah in front of him on the field at the CB position. 

Reliving the career of one of the most prominent coaches in NFL history: Bill Belichick

By: Jeremy Trottier

Bill Belichick has accomplished many things during his forty-five years in the NFL, many things that other coaches could not dream of doing during their careers even if they worked significantly longer than he has.  Creating your own name and brand in a sense as a head coach is something not many can do, but Bill has done this in spite of how quiet he may be.  There is a reason the New England Patriots are tied for the most Super Bowl wins ever, and the large majority of them fall onto the shoulders of Belichick.

With this said, his career did not start out with Super Bowl victories and glory, nor did it start with the Patriots, or even as a head coach.  In this article, I will be re-living the career of one of the most legendary coaches in NFL history, and going through each detail of his tenure including from the very begging up to 2021.   

Early NFL Coaching Career

Like I mentioned previously, Bill Belichick did not start at the top or as a head coach, or even with the team he is known for.  Belichick started out like everyone else, an assistant to an assistant for lack of better terms. In fact he started out on a team that no longer exists frankly, which makes it all the more interesting.  Belichick started out with the Baltimore Colts in 1975 as a “special assistant”, practically assistant to the head coach, who at the time was Ted Marchibroda.  This job according to the team records paid $25 per week, which goes to show how dedicated Bill was to this career.  Despite barely getting paid, he took this as an opportunity to learn from the head coach, and from the franchise, as well as gain connections wherever he could throughout the league.

Moving into 1976 and 1977, Belichick spent these early years with the Detroit Lions, starting as an assistant special teams coach before also picking up tight ends and wide receivers coaching in 1977.  Looking back on this today it is rather ironic, as many former Patriots players and coaches have gone to Detroit, such as Matt Patricia.  Knowing that Bill came from this franchise and got his first positional coaching gig there is interesting regardless.  After 1977 Bill was dismissed from the Lions, as well as the rest of the coaching staff in January of 1978.  

His last short one-year stint as a positional coach came with the Denver Broncos after this firing, where he would go back to his role of assistant special teams coach.  He would also pick up a new role of defensive assistant, which gave him the opportunity to see the third part of football he had not seen yet.  By now, he had seen offense (WR and TE coach), defense (defensive assistant), and special teams (assistant special teams coach), which I believe led to his knowledge on football and how important all three facets are.  

First Bigger Coaching Positions

After his one year with the Broncos, Belichick would move on to have a 12 year run with who else but the New York Giants.  Not many know this about his prior career, but he spent time with the team who is now considered one of the Patriots rivals, as well as a rival of Boston in general.  The head coach at the time was Walter Ray Perkins, mainly just known as Ray Perkins.  Ray had a huge impact on Bill both in learning football and schemes, as well as just man to man, as when Perkins passed away Belichick had the following to say about him:

“Ray gave me an opportunity in 1979 to go with the Giants and that was a life-changing moment for me. I’ve always been deeply appreciative of that opportunity and have a ton of respect for Ray. We developed a very close relationship and I appreciate all that he did for the Giants program, which was terrible when he took over in ’79, to make it a highly competitive team in ’81 and ’82 was a strike year. As a former player and coach, Ray had a good perspective on the game. He played for two of the greatest coaches of all time in Bear Bryant and Don Shula. His level of competitiveness and toughness was about as good as anybody I’ve ever been around. With the Patriots, the terminology that Ray and Ron Erhardt used under Coach [Chuck] Fairbanks here in the late 70s, early 80s that then came to New England with Ray and with Bill Parcells after the ’80 season. Certainly the terminology and a lot of the fundamentals and foundation of our offensive system are still in that offense from Ray and Ron back in the late 70s under Coach Fairbanks. So, he had a big impact on my life and my career, and I have a ton of respect for Ray and his family. My personal sympathies go out to them as part of the Patriots family.” 

Clearly his respect for Perkins cannot be understated, and it makes sense that that’s the case, as he gave him a shot at a long term tenure.  Another huge part of Bill’s career would come when Perkins was not head coach, but rather the legendary Bill Parcells.  This is also where Bill would win his first two Super Bowls, XXI and XXV, more notably XXV where his defensive gameplan for that game has been enshrined in the Pro Football HOF, as it is part of history.  

After Super Bowl XXV, Bill went on to get his first head coaching gig with the Cleveland Browns, who he stayed with from 1991 to 1995.  He underperformed with this team record wise, ending up 36-44 by his firing in 1995 and only one playoff win.  This win was over the New England Patriots as well, which is a bit ironic since he would move on to them in 1996.  This playoff win would be the last in Browns history before the 2020 season, so clearly he did something right in Cleveland.  

First Stint in New England & With NYJ

Following in Bill Parcells’ footsteps, Belichick went to New England in 1996 to be an assistant head coach and DBs coach.  This season would end up being Belichick’s first Super Bowl appearance with New England, after an 11-5 record that season.  Bill Parcells was rumored to leave the Patriots before the end of that season, and the Patriots lost the Super Bowl to the Green Bay Packers which would spur a huge number of events.  

Belichick would become the interim head coach of the New York Jets in 1997, but the Jets and Patriots negotiated the release of Bill Parcells to come to the Jets with Belichick, making Belichick assistant head coach again and Parcells to be the head coach.  After two years, Parcells resigned from the head coach position in 1999 and had previously stated that Belichick would succeed him as the new head coach.  However at Belichicks media conference during day one of being a HC, he resigned as the head coach.  In a rather odd change of what was to be expected at the time, he would then go back to start his longest tenure which still reigns with the Patriots, becoming head coach and succeeding Pete Carroll.

Modern Era Patriots

One of the first major moves of Bill in the Patriots organization was he was given almost all control over football operations by Robert Kraft.  This essentially made him the GM in a sense, as he had control over almost all of the football aspects of the game.  In Bill’s first season as a head coach with New England, they went 11-5 and made it all the way to Super Bowl XXXVI, which they would go on to win on a game-winning FG from Adam Vinatieri.

From the span of 2002 to 2019, the Patriots created essentially what is considered one of the biggest dynasties in NFL history.  They would go on to win the AFC East all but two years in that span (both 2nd place otherwise, in 2002 and 2008).  During this time, they would go to eight Super Bowls, including 2003, 2004, 2007, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018, and would win five of them.  This also led to the longest string of NFL playoff appearance seasons, which still holds, at eleven straight seasons from 2009 to 2019.

To sum up this period of time, we can look at Bill’s list of records broken as well as his coaching stats overall, which look as such:

  • 6x Super Bowl Champion (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLIX, LI, LIII)
  • 3x Coach of the Year (2003, 2007, 2010)
  • Most Super Bowl victories as a head coach (tied – 6)
  • Most Super Bowl appearances as a head coach (9)
  • Most NFL playoff wins as a HC (31)
  • Regular season record of 280-136 or 67.3% winning percentage
  • Post season record of 31-12 or 72.1% winning percentage
  • Only active coach named to the NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team
  • Longest tenured active head coach

Overall, his career is legendary to this day, and he will be placed with the likes of Don Shula, Bill Parcells, Vince Lombardi, and the few others that have graced the NFL with their presence.  Being able to meet three different presidents during your NFL coaching career (so far) with the Super Bowl White House visit is pretty impressive frankly, and shows just how capable he has been as a HC in New England.  

Fantasy Football: beware of the NFC North defenses

By: Jacob Goode

Team Defenses are usually drafted in the last round of redraft leagues if at all. Many leagues wait until waivers begin, before adding a defense, but every team will have to make their choice before week 1. Each year there seems to be one defensive unit that averages close to 20 points, but it’s usually difficult to predict which team that will be. Beyond the top defense, there are about 4 or 5 others who aren’t likely to hit waivers all season. The rest will often be dropped to waivers early or at least during the team’s bye week. There are several things to consider when choosing a defense, but one of the most important things is their strength of schedule. In this article we’ll look at the defenses in two divisions, to avoid based on their strength of schedule.

AFC North 

In 2020, the AFC North was the only division with 3 teams in the playoffs & their defensive units were no small part of that success. Taking a closer look at recent roster changes, this division may be the most offensively diverse in the league. Lamar Jackson and the Ravens were already tough to prepare for & now they’ve upgraded with several new receiving options. The combination of Nick Chubb & Kareem Hunt has more than opened up the Browns passing game, which includes big names at Receiver & Tight End as well. The Steelers already have a very talented WR room, which is difficult to predict for even fantasy purposes & likely more so for opposing Defensive Coordinators. The addition of Najee Harris & Pat Freiermuth in the draft will add more options for a team that likely still needs to get the ball off quickly. 

Though the Bengals finished 2020 with only 4 wins, they shouldn’t be overlooked as an offensive threat with the return of Joe Burrows & Joe Mixon, as well as Rookie WR Ja’marr Chase. 

On top of playing each of these teams twice, every defense in the AFC North will have to face the NFC North & AFC West. This unfortunately includes the Packers, Chiefs, Vikings & Chargers. These common opponents will mean that every AFC North team will have an unfavorable matchup in at least 10 of their 17 games. If anything, the Ravens may be worth picking up for the first 4 weeks, as they will face the Raiders, Lions & Broncos during that stretch, however they should likely be dropped or traded afterwards. While 3 of these AFC North defenses should be very good, these matchups put them into the category of letting someone else deal with them in 2021 redraft leagues. 

NFC North:

One thing that has been fairly consistent during the Aaron Rodgers era is that Half of the offenses in the NFC North are especially concerning for defenses & the other half just isn’t. This year it appears Green Bay & Minnesota should once again be on the right side of the division. As for Detroit, there are always an abundance of unanswered questions involved with a rebuild. This rebuild comes with a new Head Coach, Quarterback, several new running backs & receivers, as well as a promising rookie left tackle. While the Lions’ have youth on their side, this isn’t likely to be a top 20 offensive unit in 2021.

The Bears drafted their Quarterback of the future in Justin Fields, though he isn’t expected to start early & not much else has changed for this offense. 

Outside of the division, each team in the NFC North will face the whole of the AFC North & the NFC West. As noted above, the AFC North includes 4 tough offensive opponents. A pairing with the NFC West means the NFC North will have to face Russell Wilson & Kyler Murray, as well as the offenses of Sean McVay & Kyle Shanahan. These division pairings almost guarantee 8 tough matchups for the NFC North Defenses. Add 2 more tough division games for the Vikings & Packers defenses (making at least 10 of 17), or 4 more for the Lions & Bears defenses(12 of 17). The shared opponents alone on this difficult schedule are more than I want to maneuver as a fantasy manager. 

Can Washington retain the NFC East

By: Andy Davies

The Washington Football Team were crowned champions of the NFC East last season for the first time since the 2015 season, despite their 7-9 record.

In a division no team has retained since the 2004 season, can the Washington Football Team go on to repeat their success from last season?

The Right Man In Charge

If any team is to be successful, then they need a top quality head coach. Ron Rivera is certainly the man to fulfil those requirements.

Rivera guided the Carolina Panthers to a 15-1 record in the 2015 season, losing in Super Bowl 50 to the Denver Broncos. His time in Charlotte ended in disappointing fashion but in his first season in charge of Washington, Rivera reminded everyone what a great coach he is.

Rivera is a leader who immediately attracts respect from his players to his coaching staff.

“He’s definitely one of the pillars of my success. I always wanted to go out there and work for him, make him proud and show him that I’m going to capitalize on the opportunity that he presented me and he gave me. It’s deeper than football. He’s a great coach, but he’s a better man. That’s what really separates him from other coaches”, said Efe Obada, who got his chance in the NFL under Rivera.

“Ron means a lot to a lot of guys in here for a lot of things outside of football. The biggest thing you hear from current players, former players and guys who played for him in different organizations, is how much he meant to guys aside from just the fact that he was their football coach”, said former Panthers tight end Greg Olsen.

Quarterback Issue Resolved, For Now

There was one area of the field that held this team back in 2020, the quarterback position.

Washington’s defensive line excelled with Jonathan Allen and Defensive Rookie of the Year Chase Young. Wide receiver Terry McLaurin had an excellent season and will be accompanied by Curtis Samuel, who brings flexibility to the position. Running back Antonio Gibson was also brilliant in 2020, with 795 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns.

However, quarterback was a problem for Washington. 2019 fifteenth overall pick Dwayne Haskins started week one but only started five more games before eventually being released. 

Kyle Allen was reunited with Rivera but injury would end his season prematurely. Alex Smith had the brilliant story, coming back after life threatening injury and Taylor Heinicke had his moment in the Wildcard Round to eventual Super Bowl Champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Smith has since retired and whilst Heinicke deserves a chance to be a starter, Rivera clearly feels he will not be the answer over the course of the whole season.

Ryan Fitzpatrick has come in this offseason after a two-year stint with the Miami Dolphins. After arguably one of the best seasons of his career, Fitz will hope to keep this momentum going into the 2021 season.

Fitzpatrick has been notoriously inconsistent during his sixteen NFL career. If Washington can get the one we saw in 2020 and the Fitz that threw for 31 touchdowns and 15 interceptions with the New York Jets in 2015, then Washington have their QB resolved.

However, there is likely only to be one or two seasons left of Fitzpatrick’s career. Whether or not Heinicke or Allen prove themselves, Washington may look at taking a quarterback in the 2022 or 2023 NFL Draft.

Can They Win The NFC East?

Washington have some talented players and have the nucleus of a young up and coming team.

The Dallas Cowboys will be the favourites for the division, with Dak Prescott’s injury likely to have been a reason for them not winning it. They have attempted to address their defensive issues in 2021 but head coach Mike McCarthy could hold them back.

A difficult season in 2021 is expected for the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants, despite a good offseason, still have their own issues at the quarterback position despite their promising head coach.

There is a feel good atmosphere in Washington once again after a difficult few years both on and off the field.

With the health of Dak and the question mark around Dallas’ defense and head coach, there is a tremendous opportunity for this Washington team to capitalise and win the NFC East once again.

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