Is Cordarrelle Patterson Arthur Smith’s New Ryan Tannehill?

Cordarrelle Patterson is a unique profile

By: Andy Davies

When Arthur Smith was hired as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, he came into the role with a great reputation for improving players after a two-season spell as the offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans.

One player he helped improve was quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The former first-round pick arrived after a mixed spell with the Miami Dolphins. Tannehill improved massively, earning the award for Comeback Player of the Year after his first season with the franchise despite starting the season as the backup to Marcus Mariota. When Smith was promoted to offensive coordinator, he only got better.

Smith was predicted by many to help Matt Ryan get back to his former MVP self after what he did for Tannehill. Ryan has not improved or regressed in 2021. Instead, it has been Cordarrelle Patterson that has been the biggest improver under Smith. 

Here is why Patterson is Smith’s new Tannehill. 

Overcoming Expectation

The Falcons experimented with the idea of bringing Todd Gurley back to his best in 2020 but this only lasted one season. Instead of giving Gurley a new deal, they went for the versatile Patterson in Free Agency who signed a one-year $3 million deal. 

Patterson has been seen as somewhat of a journeyman during his NFL career, with the Falcons his fifth organisation since being drafted 29th overall in 2013. For a while, he was seen as a great return specialist at best, with the occasional snaps as a running back or wide receiver.

He is a Super Bowl champion, earning a ring with the New England Patriots after their 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl 53. However, he had just two rushing attempts for 7 yards and two receptions for 14 yards as well as a 38-yard kick return. He did not exactly have a big role in the game, in what is the lowest scoring Super Bowl in history. 

Patterson has started eight games this season. This is tied for the most games he has started, alongside his 2016 campaign with the Minnesota Vikings. The growth of Patterson and improvement made under Smith can be seen when you compare these two seasons.

In 2016, he recorded 43 rushing yards from 7 attempts and 453 yards from 52 receptions. In 2021, he has so far recorded 489 rushing yards from 106 carries and 518 receiving yards from 44 catches. He is having the best season of his career by some distance. 

The Falcons need to make sure he is at the franchise for more than one season. Giving him a new contract should be number one on the list of priorities for this team. He has been a brilliant addition to the Falcons offense. Kyle Pitts leads the team in receiving yards this season (770), but Calvin Ridley announced midseason that he would take a break from the sport for personal reasons. With the offseason departure of Julio Jones, Patterson’s rise in form has come at the perfect time. They currently sit at 6-7 with a chance of making the playoffs for the first time since the 2017 campaign.

Smith’s Influence

The aforementioned Tannehill spoke about Smith during the 2021 offseason.

“He’s a great coach. Everything you look for in a coach and a leader and a great offensive mind.”

It is not just Tannehill that saw massive improvement under Smith. Running back Derrick Henry was seen as just a good running back during his first three seasons but saw his best two seasons alongside Smith. He recorded 2,293 rushing yards across his first three seasons in the NFL. His next two (2019 and 2020) saw him combine for 3,567 rushing yards and 33 rushing touchdowns, becoming just the eighth player in NFL history to record over 2,000 rushing yards in a single season when he had 2,027 in 2019

Smith clearly knows how to work with running backs, as can be seen with Henry. The same is happening again with Patterson. After their 21-14 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in November, Smith was in high praise of Patterson.

He’s a warrior. He’s a big physical presence that can do a lot for us.”

This was proved when he was listed as a back safety earlier this month.  It is a sign of a good coach when they can get the best out of a player and see their potential. Not even the greatest head coach of all time in Bill Belichick realised Patterson’s potential. Smith has taken a player seemingly on the wrong end of his career, to now being one of the best players this season. Some are even viewing him as an outside MVP candidate.

Patterson has a lot to thank Smith for. 

Patriots vs Bills Preview: Is This The Start Of A New Rivalry?

Why the Patriots vs Bills contest has an exciting tease

By: Andy Davies

The Buffalo Bills host the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football in one of the most hotly anticipated games of the season. 

With a combined 15-8 record and one win between them and still two games to play against each other, there is a lot at stake in this game. 

In a battle for the AFC East crown and the number one seed, is this the start of a new rivalry in the NFL? 

Head Coaching Excellence

Both these teams are helped by excellent head coaches. Bill Belichick is widely seen as the greatest head coach of all time and Sean McDermott is one of the best young head coaches around. 

One thing a team needs to succeed is strong and reliable head coaching. This will ensure both teams will be competitive for years to come. 

Since arriving in 2017, Sean McDermott guided the Bills to their first playoff appearance since the 1999 campaign and also their first playoff wins since the 1995 season when they went all the way to the AFC Championship game earlier this year.

Belichick is proving, with their 8-4 record so far, that he can more than cope without Tom Brady. Their defense looks far better than it did last season, without the injuries and opt-outs suffered in 2020. Running back Damien Harris has 643 yards and 8 touchdowns to his name. They also have a new rookie QB that has massively impressed during his first-ever NFL season.

QB Battle 

Mac Jones was drafted fifteenth overall by the Patriots in this year’s draft. He was expected to be the backup to Cam Newton, but the former MVP was cut before the start of the season, leading the way for Mac to be the starter in New England. So far, he has 2,850 yards, 16 touchdowns and 8 interceptions in the 12 games so far this campaign. This has him projected to end the season with 4,038 passing yards, 23 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Not bad for a rookie. 

He looks composed in the pocket, with a tremendous amount of confidence on the field for someone so new to the league. 

His rookie season has gone a lot better than Josh Allen’s did. The Bills QB had a troublesome first two seasons that led to many questions from outsiders looking in as well as the NFL media. He proved himself last season, with a brilliant campaign as the Bills went the furthest, they have been in the playoffs since the 1993 season. He threw for 4,544 yards, 37 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. This season, he has thrown for 3,071 yards, 25 touchdowns and 10 picks

He also knows how to use his feet, with 8 rushing touchdowns and 421 rushing yards in 2020. He is also the team’s second leading rusher so far in the 2021 season, with 383 yards and 3 touchdowns

This is going to be a very exciting QB battle, between two young quarterbacks that are going to be great for a number of years. Whilst Allen is the more experienced and completed player, Mac Jones has that swagger that not a lot of young players have in the position. It is harsh for Mac more than anyone else to make the comparison to Brady, but he does look like a young version of TB12. 

A Wide Open AFC

The AFC is wide open this year. The NFC has five teams that everyone knows is good whereas no one knows who is good in the AFC. Everyone is beating each other, and suffering shock defeats in the process.

New England have hit form at the right time, with a current six game winning streak that has seen them go from 2-4 to 8-4. Meanwhile, the Bills’ inconsistent past few weeks has allowed their division rivals to creep up the table. The run game has been poor, and teams have been much more able to stop Stefon Diggs, despite the stats telling you otherwise. The defense has made a step up, which will help Bills if they are to make the postseason. 

There is just two wins separating the number one seed Baltimore Ravens and the seventh seed Los Angeles Chargers. Both the Pats and Bills will be optimistic that they can still secure both the AFC East and the top seed in the AFC. This adds more importance onto the game on Monday Night Football as well as their week 16 matchup. 

Game Prediction

This game is going to be tight and tense. Defensively wise, the Bills have allowed the least yards per game, with the Patriots in fourth. Buffalo are also top of the league in passing yards allowed (1,964) whereas the Pats are in seventh (2,411). Buffalo are also fifth in total rushing yards allowed (1,063), with New England in the lowly position of 25th (1,389). This has to be where the Bills capitalise. Whether this be lead rusher Devin Singletary or Josh Allen, this will be the way to beat New England. 

No team has allowed fewer total points in the league this season than Buffalo (1st) and New England (2nd). Despite the Patriots’ poor run defense this season, they have managed to stop teams getting many points, which is a credit to their redzone defense. New England’s 48.39% is only topped by the Baltimore Ravens and New Orleans Saints, with the Bills in seventh (51.61%)

If New England can keep this up against the Bills on Monday, then this is how they can beat the Bills, stopping them on crucial plays and in crucial areas on the field . 

In terms of the game, form is going to be a massive factor and New England have it. They may be on the road, but I am backing the Patriots to secure a vital win and gain a two-win advantage over Buffalo.

Score prediction: Patriots 27-24 Bills 

The new starting Saints QB Taysom Hill will really revive the Saints season

Saints QB Taysom Hill is a talented profile

By: Jake Rajala

The New Orleans Saints have desperately needed Rx to Medicate their offense as of late. Since Jameis Winston suffered a season-ending leg injury against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 8, the Peyton Manning look-alike in Siemian has been a tale of two tales at the starting QB position. In the 4th quarter of each Saints contest he’s started, Trevor Siemian has looked like Peyton Manning on the field and he’s been a Top 5 signal-caller across the league. The glorious ailment of the scrappy QB from Northwestern has been his performance through 75% of each game’s sequence. Per PFF, Siemian has been graded as the worst starting QB from 1-3 quarters during his starting tenure.

After Sean Payton’s once 5-2 squad got obliterated by the Buffalo Bills in a 31-6 defeat on Thanksgiving night, the aggressive Bill Parcells disciple knew a QB change was needed. The Saints backup QB (?) and swiss army knife Taysom Hill has been standing on the sideline with a clipboard over the past couple of matchups watching his team get embarrassed in must-win games. Well, Hill may have been on the sideline hearing his crowd chant his name after his offense could get nothing starting on offense. Yet, Hill wasn’t getting involved and more so looking like a mysterious, potential, savior because he was battling a nagging (yet, utterly painful) plantar fascia injury.

Well…

The injury timeclock on the QB that has been compared to Steve Young has seen his health improve greatly. Hill went on to say Monday afternoon that he could play if the game were taking place that night. In fact, Hill’s status has impressed Payton so much that the Saints offensive whiz stated that Hill would be the Saints starting QB against the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday Night Football! Atlas, the tides are turning, and the Saints offense might just get a massive boost — then the Superdome inhibiting Who Dat nation can get back to one giant party for four hours. Well, Will Taysom Hill actually be a significant upgrade over Trevor Siemian, and can Hill lead the Saints back to the promised land of playoff royalty? I truly believe that Hill is a dynamic playmaker and Hill can bring hope to Saints nation.

After all, Saints fans are built on hope…

Taysom Hill was a profile that went toe to toe with Jameis Winston during training camp and preseason, but Winston (combined with Marquez Callaway) was largely impressive against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 2 of the pre-season. Hill is truly close to the same caliber of QB as Jameis Winston — if not better, when he puts it all together. Hill’s talent was evident in his first three games as a starting QB in 2020. In Hill’s first career start, the dual-threat QB recorded 284 total yards and two touchdowns. One of Hill’s touchdowns came on a rushing touchdown where none of his WRs managed to get open and the play broke down. Yet, leave it to Hill to make magic with his legs — where Hill broke the pocket, bolted to the corner of the endzone, and jumped in for the unplanned score.

Hill’s ability to run the ball via his 4.4 40 yard dash time truly creates an extra threat against NFL defenses. In the absence of Alvin Kamara, Hill’s ability to pick up extra yards with his legs will prove vital for the Saints offense. The Saints might have an offensive creative genius in Sean Payton as head coach. Although, Payton isn’t at his best when his offense is dropping four passing touchdowns on opposing defenses. Rather, Payton pulls out all of his tricks when his team is running the ball, winning the time of possession, and having his well-rested, scary defense beat down opposing offenses.

The new Saints starting QB will absolutely be efficient with his legs, keep his offense from an infinite “amount of third and long situations”, and he will be able to get the ball in his playmakers hands on screens and play-action passes. Expect Hill, the very underrated Deonte Harris, and returning Saints legend Mark Ingram to impose their will on defenses down the stretch. The team that spanked Tom Brady and the 8-3 Buccaneers on Halloween may not be that far away.

Previewing the Eagles at Cowboys matchup: biggest rivalry in sports?

The most underrated showdown: Eagles at Cowboys

By: Taylor Ford

Monday night football is about to be full of excitement, as America’s team takes on the Eagles and the worst fan base in all of sports.

Dallas is no stranger to playing their rivals, the Eagles, but this year it feels different. The Head coach of the Eagles (Nick Sirianni) was seen wearing a shirt that said “Beat Dallas” on it. As if this were a college football rivalry. Like Oklahoma and Texas? Surely the hatred between fan bases is there, at least since the hit on Michael Irvin October 10, 1999. He suffered a career-ending injury and fans cheered when he got hurt. Since that day, Cowboys fans have hated everything about that ugly green color and the fans that wear it.

I am aware that some people consider Washington and Dallas to be the biggest rivalry. In all honesty, that rivalry has taken a back seat to the Cowboys and Eagles games since 1999. Besides how can Washington have the bigger rivalry with Dallas when they do not even have an actual team name or mascot.

Yes, we Dallas Cowboys fans have held the grudge against this fan base and this organization for that long. Mind you, this is the same team that finally won their first super bowl after 85 years of being a franchise. After they won their first super bowl, they tore their own city down and terrorized the New England Patriot fans trying to leave the vicinity. There were even videos of them throwing un-opened beer cans at a couple of Patriot fans leaving the stadium. Classy right? I thought that was supposed to be the city of brotherly love. More like the city of classless sports fans.

Jerry Jones’ was just recently quoted on 105.3 The fan saying, “My Hero is Drew Pearson for standing up there in Philadelphia and just putting it on them in terms of what’s there”. He was also asked about the shirt Nick Sirianni was wearing at his press conference. “Well listen, I’ve had enough of… Over the years Philadelphia, they take such pride in creating slogans and create types of expressions”, Jones stated. Looks like he had to hold his tongue about the shirt.

The Dallas Cowboys have a ton of players out going into this Monday night game. That may be the case, but it should not matter that much playing this Eagles team. The Eagles have no turnovers in two weeks of the 2021 season, but the Cowboys lead the league in turnovers. Something will have to give this game and it will most likely be in the Cowboys favor. Though the Eagles play a very conservative offense, at times, it has made their offense look stagnant. Besides their big 91 yard pass to Smith in week two, they looked average at best.

Cowboys had both of their star defensive ends out for the week two win against the Chargers, but the superstar in the making Micah Parsons slid right into the defensive end position with no issues. He had the most pressure in week 2 with 8. Per PFF his 90.8 pass-rush grade was the second-best amongst all defenders in the league for week 2. I think it is safe to say that the Cowboys got the best defensive player in the draft. Possibly the most impactful in the entire class.

With Randy Gregory coming back and Micah Parsons playing both linebacker and edge rusher, the Cowboys will be set off the edge. Dan Quinn is coaching this defense up and it looks light years ahead of last year’s defense. Dallas also has the much better quarterback in this game. Better receivers, better running backs, better offensive line (even without Collins). Better coaching staff. On paper, this looks like a win for the Cowboys, but this is most likely going to be a hard-fought game. This game will most likely have both fan bases on the edge of their seats until the end of the game. I hope all of you enjoy the game and as always, go Cowboys!

Fantasy Football: Week 3 Start/Sit

Trust in Jalen Hurts

By: Matt Gruber

Week three is upon us and it is time for the weekly starts and sits. This is the third installment of the 17-piece series aimed to help you make the roster decisions to give you an edge over your opponent. Let’s jump into it and win some championships.

Quarterbacks

Start: Jalen Hurts – Philadelphia Eagles

Another week, another Jalen Hurts start appearance. Like clockwork. He has been everything fantasy managers had hoped through the first two weeks. In week one it was his passing. In week two it was his rushing. With his rushing ability, Hurts provides a high floor and a high ceiling. Next up in week three is the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night football. I expect Hurts to put on a show. With the over-under set at 52.5, it will be a high-scoring affair. The Cowboys are allowing an average of 360 passing yards after two weeks of the season. Jalen Hurts is set for takeoff.  

Honorable Mentions: Sam Darnold @ HOU, Daniel Jones vs. ATL, Kirk Cousins vs. SEA

Sit: Taylor Heinicke – Washington Football Team

After lighting up the New York Giants last week for over 330 yards and two touchdowns, things get a bit tougher for Taylor Heinicke when he travels to Buffalo. In week one, the Bills held Big Ben to under 200 passing yards and only one touchdown. In week two, the Bills held the Miami Dolphins to under 200 passing yards and no touchdowns. Facing an elite defense, on the road does not sound too enticing to me. I’ll pass on Heinicke this week.

Honorable Mentions: Joe Burrow @ PIT, Jameis Winston @ NE, Baker Mayfield vs. CHI

Running Backs

Start: Ty’Son Williams – Baltimore Ravens

In each of the last two games, Ty’Son Williams has seen at least 12 touches and turned that into at least 90 scrimmage yards. Averaging 6.5 yards per carry, Williams is in a smash spot against the Detroit Lions. While the backfield is not solely his and Lamar Jackson will take some opportunities away, Williams has been efficient. Sometimes that’s all it takes. With the Ravens currently favored by seven, I expect them to be in complete control the entire game. They will take to the ground and Williams will benefit.

Honorable Mentions: Saquon Barkley vs. ATL, Austin Ekeler @KC, Chris Carson @ MIN

Sit: Devin Singletary – Buffalo Bills

Devin Singletary has been a pleasant surprise so far through two weeks. Averaging 14.1 PPR points, he has helped many teams that went zero running back. Unfortunately, I am not confident starting him this week. He faces a stout Washington Football Team defense who has yet to give up 100 yards on the ground to running backs. Furthermore, they have only allowed one rushing touchdown to running backs. If you have other options, I would pivot from Singletary.

Honorable Mentions: Clyde Edwards-Helaire vs. LAC, Darrell Henderson vs. TB, James Robinson vs. ARZ

Wide Receivers

Start: DeVonta Smith – Philadelphia Eagles

After a hot first week, DeVonta Smith came back down to Earth. Way down. He recorded just two catches for 16 yards, letting a lot of fantasy managers down. This week, he is set to boom. Similar reasons as Jalen Hurts, Smith finds himself in a great matchup. The Cowboys have given up over 480 yards to wide receivers along with three touchdowns in just two games. Plug Smith into your lineup and don’t think twice.

Honorable Mentions: Marvin Jones vs. ARZ, Sterling Shepard vs. ATL, Robert Woods vs. TB

Sit: Corey Davis – New York Jets

Last week, Corey Davis was shut down by the New England Patriots. Logging two catches for just eight yards, he left plenty of fantasy managers disappointed. This week he faces the Denver Broncos. While it’s not a terrible matchup, the Broncos are coming off a game where they held Jacksonville wide receivers to just 71 yards and one touchdown. Jets quarterback Zach Wilson is coming off a bad game and I am willing to let Davis sit on my bench until Wilson can figure it out.

Honorable Mentions: Marquez Callaway @ NE, DeVante Parker @ LV, Henry Ruggs vs. MIA

Tight Ends

Start: Noah Fant – Denver Broncos

Noah Fant is currently averaging 12.8 PPR points per game. This is good for the tight end five. With the talented Jerry Jeudy nursing an ankle injury, Fant will remain a big part of this offense. This week, he goes up against the New York Jets who just allowed six catches for 70 yards to New England tight ends. As long as Teddy Bridgewater continues to pepper Fant with Targets, he should produce solid numbers.  

Honorable Mentions: Dallas Goedert @ DAL, Kyle Pitts @ NYG, Tyler Higbee vs. TB

Sit: Logan Thomas – Washington Football Team

So far into the season, Logan Thomas has been a touchdown-dependent tight end. Yet to surpass 45 receiving yards, you are counting on a touchdown to inflate his numbers. It will be tough sledding this week as he goes up against the Buffalo Bills. The Bills have held opposing tight ends to under 50 yards in each of their contests, while not letting up a score. I would look elsewhere this week.

Honorable Mentions: Mike Gesicki @LV, Gerald Everett @ MIN, Dawson Knox vs. WSH

If you enjoyed this piece, feel free to find more of my content on Twitter @FF_Worm. I am always available to talk fantasy football and answer any questions.

Weeks 1 and Week 2 In The NFL are in the books: Here’s what we learned

Aaron Rodgers flips the switch early in the season

By: Andy Davies

The NFL season is underway and there have already been two weeks completed. There have been some high-scoring games, with 10 of the 32 games so far totaling 55 total points or more.

We already have an idea who will be good and who may not be as good this season. Here are four takeaways from the opening two weekends of action.

Week 1 Is Always An Overreaction

Plenty of people were quick to either write off a team or praise them to death after the opening weekend. This also goes for certain players and coaches. There are 18 teams who are 1-1. This is over half of the league.

People were quick to criticize the Green Bay Packers during their 38-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints and also crown Saints QB Jameis Winston a ‘Comeback Player of the Year’ favorite after his five touchdowns in week one. Fast forward to week two and the Packers came back from a 17-14 deficit to thump the Lions 35-17. Aaron Rodgers threw for 255 yards and four touchdowns. Running back Aaron Jones recorded 3 receiving touchdowns, 1 rushing touchdown and over 100 combined yards. Meanwhile, the Saints lost 26-7 to the Carolina Panthers with Winston throwing for just 111 passing yards and 0 passing touchdowns, with 1 rushing touchdown.

The Miami Dolphins edged a divisional win over the New England Patriots in Week One but were humbled 35-0 by the Buffalo Bills in Week Two, who themselves suffered an opening day defeat. People had Buffalo down as a team in trouble after the 23-16 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers but they got back to winning ways on Sunday.

The Titans were embarrassed by the Cardinals 38-13 in week one and many questioned Tennessee considering they lost their offensive and defensive coordinators. However, they earned a spirited comeback victory over the Seattle Seahawks in week two. Titans running back Derrick Henry only recorded 58 rushing yards in week one but was a monster in week two. Against the Seahawks, Henry recorded 55 receiving yards as well as 182 yards on the ground and 3 rushing touchdowns.

Is it easy to write off a team after just one loss? With the increasing loss of interest from teams in preseason games where starters don’t often see the field, the opening weekend is now seen by many to be like a preseason game. It is often the case in Week One that those who played starters in preseason will beat the team who didn’t. This is why you should not read too much into opening weekend results, especially with an extra game this season.

The Cardinals and Raiders Can Surprise A Few

Talking of crowning awards too early, Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray is already hearing people calling him the early favourite for MVP. It should be a new rule that it is illegal to crown an MVP before week 8 or 9. Last season was a great example of how Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson started it. He was projected to beat all sorts of passing records before both his and Seattle’s seasons slowed down.

These talks of Murray winning the award have come after the impressive start from the Cardinals QB. So far this season, he has thrown for 7 touchdowns and 689 yards as Arizona have a 2-0 record at time of writing.

Murray has been helped by a brilliant offensive cast around him and an excellent defense. Rookie wideout Rondale Moore topped his 68 receiving yards from week one with 114 yards and one touchdown in week two. Both Deandre Hopkins (3) and Christian Kirk (2) have helped themselves to multiple touchdowns. Defensive end Chandler Jones had 5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles in week one and the defense may have slacked off in week two, but still managed two further forced fumbles as well as a sack from linebacker Markus Golden.

Arizona was criticized by myself for their two biggest offseason additions being two players past their best. J.J Watt has been quiet but A.J Green has had his moments, with the touchdown and 44 yards from 3 receptions on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. However, the performance of rookie Rondale Moore and the encouraging start to the season for Isaiah Simmons has fans excited. Arizona has plenty of talent on either side of the ball along with the aforementioned Hopkins, Jones, Murray and safety Budda Baker. They can be a legitimate darkhorse, as can the Las Vegas Raiders, who have won their opening two games against playoff teams from last season, something that has never been done in the history of this Raiders franchise.

Raiders fans know more than anyone else these past few seasons not to get carried away with their team’s performances after how the 2019 and 2020 seasons have ended. However, quarterback Derek Carr seems far more confident in himself this season, as does wide receiver Henry Ruggs who has 159 yards and 1 touchdown so far. This has him projected to record 1,352 yards and 8.5 touchdowns come the end of the regular season.

This would be a massive upgrade on the two touchdowns and 452 yards he posted in 13 games during his 2020 rookie campaign. He seems far more of a factor in this offense. Their defense seems much improved, with multiple forced fumbles and fumble recoveries, 5 sacks and 1 interception across the opening two gameweeks. They have conceded a total of 44 points so far this season, ten less than the 54 they allowed in the opening two weekends of 2020.

Head coach Jon Gruden will be aware of their recent season collapses but he has never seemed more trusting of Carr than he does at the moment.

Expect more big results this campaign from the Cardinals and Raiders.

Tom Brady Is Still Tom Brady

At the age of 44, most athletes are either retired or massively declining in their performances. Not Tom Brady. He looks every bit as good as he did when he was 26 and 32. He shares similar traits with Cristiano Ronaldo in that he takes such good care of himself that he has the body of someone ten to fifteen years his junior. He threw for 5 touchdowns, 276 yards and 0 interceptions during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ 48-25 win over the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday.

Along with Kyler Murray, he is also someone that is being crowned a way too early MVP. With 9 touchdowns, 655 yards and 2 interceptions so far this season, it would not shock many if he goes on to win his fourth MVP. With the talent on this team, he may even go on to win his sixth Super Bowl MVP award and subsequently his eighth ring.

The Joy Of Returning Fans

How good is it to have fans back? During last season, some stadiums allowed limited capacity which was good but there was something missing. We are now seeing stadiums with full capacity and it is for the better. You can once again hear true fan emotion. Fans are also being treated to some excellent games.

The Thursday Night Football season opener between the Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys, fans were met by a 30-29 game that saw 782 combined passing yards. The Monday Night Football in week one saw the Raiders beat the Baltimore Ravens 33-27 in overtime, the first game with fans at the new Allegiant Stadium. The Kansas City Chiefs beat the Cleveland Browns 33-29 and there was almost an insane comeback as the San Francisco 49ers beat the Detroit Lions 41-33.

Week Two followed a similar trajectory. The Washington Football Team beat the New York Giants 30-29 on Thursday Night Football and the Tennessee Titans beat the Seattle Seahawks 33-30 in overtime despite being 24-9 down at half time. The Cardinals beat the Minnesota Vikings 34-33 after a last gasp missed field goal by kicker Greg Joseph, a game that featured excellent commentary by Gus Johnson and former NFL player and Super Bowl winner in Aqib Talib. Week Two also saw the Ravens beat the Chiefs 36-35 as Lamar Jackson finally beat his self proclaimed “kryptonite”.

The NFL is never short of drama and this season appears no different. Television networks repeatedly refer to this campaign as the “biggest season ever”. With an extra game, this has all the makings of being the best ever NFL season.

Fantasy Football: Top Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 3

The Waiver Wire is here!

By: Rishi Patel

Welcome back to this new NFL column where I will be sending my advice about which fantasy players you should pluck off your waiver wire each week during this NFL season. 

During each NFL season, there are usually sleepers that emerge who you should pick up off the waiver wire due to various reasons, such as better performances than expected, injuries, etc. It’s important to make good use of the waiver wire as players from here could sometimes be good depth and even a starter for your team in critical stretches. Let’s look at some players you should consider for this week:

Derek Carr, QB, Las Vegas Raiders

Have the Raiders possibly turned a new leaf? The normally mediocre team has started off 2021 with a bang, knocking out AFC North heavyweights Baltimore and Pittsburgh in back-to-back weeks. Spearheading this surge is QB Derek Carr, who has looked rejuvenated and potent in the first two games. He has now thrown for 435 and 382 yards, which is incredible. If Carr can keep this up, he’s certainly in the conversation to be an every-week starter. Grab him while you can. 

Sam Darnold, QB, Carolina Panthers

Like Carr, the normally mediocre Sam Darnold has started off 2021 well with his new club in Carolina. The 24-year-old has tossed for 279 and 305 yards in two games while also throwing three touchdowns to one pick. The team’s next six matchups are against average or below-average defenses, meaning Darnold is a solid addition to your team and even a potential streamer to use, potentially beginning on Thursday night against Houston.

Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Denver Broncos

Like Sam Darnold, Teddy B has started off 2021 on a new team as well and has been firing on all cylinders. He has 264 and 328 yards in two games along with four touchdowns and no picks. Bridgewater is worth stashing as a backup on your team and may be worth streaming during favorable matchups.

Cordarrelle Patterson, RB, Atlanta Falcons

Patterson is technically classified as a back even though he’s played receiver at one point in his NFL career too. In his first season with the Falcons, the 30-year-old has shined in both the receiving and rushing game. In Week 1, he rushed for 54 yards, and he posted 58 receiving yards in Week 2, which displays his versatility. Patterson has performed well enough to earn a spot on your bench going forward. 

Tony Pollard, RB, Dallas Cowboys

It seems like Cowboys backup RB Tony Pollard has shined more than starter Ezekiel Elliott this season. Nothing is more evident of this than Week 2 when he took 13 carries for 109 yards and a score. While it will still be difficult to trust Pollard on a weekly basis because he’s not the starter, it’s worth stashing him on your bench. 

Ty’Son Williams, RB, Baltimore Ravens

After losing multiple backs to injuries prior to the start of the season, the Ravens were in a jam and signed a collection of veterans to their squad like Le’Veon Bell, Latavius Murray, and Devonta Freeman, all standouts just a few years ago. 

Well, none of them are standing out in 2021 for Baltimore as it’s first-year player Ty’Son Williams who is doing so. In two games, Williams has nine carries for 65 yards and 13 carries for 77 yards. While Lamar Jackson was technically the team’s leading rusher in both those games, it was Williams who had the most yards of any RB. Therefore, it may be worthwhile stashing him as he is beginning to show he has a role on this squad as a potential RB1. 

Michael Pittman Jr., WR, Indianapolis Colts

With T.Y. Hilton out to begin the season, Pittman was expected to make a leap in his second year. He put up a dud in Week 1 (29 yards) but rebounded for an incredible eight receptions for 123 yards on 12 targets. That’s the Pittman many wanted to see. If he plays like this, he can certainly be a fantasy starter. Though the ankle injury to Carson Wentz could dampen the QB play for Indy, Pittman’s volume could keep him fantasy-relevant. As a result, he’s worth adding. 

Quez Watkins, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

2020 sixth-round pick Quez Watkins made some noise in Week 2 as he racked up 117 yards on just two receptions. While he’s not DeVonta Smith or Jalen Reagor, this young Eagles squad could always use more elite receivers. Though a one-week sample size isn’t enough, Watkins did enough to turn heads and merit a spot on your bench.

Rondale Moore, WR, Arizona Cardinals

The 21-year-old rookie did fairly well in his NFL debut Week 1 with four receptions for 68 yards but he did even better in Week 2 with seven receptions for 114 yards and a score. The Cardinals don’t have a solid pass-catching option behind DeAndre Hopkins as Christian Kirk has been average at best and A.J. Green is a veteran on the decline. Thus, Moore can insert himself into the WR2 role if he keeps this up. He’s certainly worth adding in fantasy as a bench piece and even a potential flex play soon if he shows consistency.

K.J. Osborn, WR, Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings need a solid third receiver behind Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson and 24-year-old K.J. Osborn has seemingly risen to the challenge. The 2020 fifth-round pick now has seven receptions for 76 yards and five receptions for 91 yards in two games. If he can keep this up, he would be worth a weekly flex play. 

Fantasy Football: Week 2 Starts/Sits

Week 2 is almost here!

By: Matt Gruber

Week two is upon us and it is time for the weekly starts and sits. This is the second installment of the 17-piece series aimed to help you make the roster decisions to give you an edge over your opponent. Let’s jump into it and win some championships.

Quarterbacks

Start: Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers

After a week one shocker in which Aaron Rodgers let a lot of fantasy managers down, I expect a huge bounce back this week. Rodgers takes on the Detroit Lions, at home, in prime time. It doesn’t get much better than that. Dating back to 2019, in his four games against the Lions, Rodger has averaged 284 passing yards and two touchdowns. Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers are going to make a statement on Monday night.

Honorable Mentions: Jalen Hurts vs. SF, Baker Mayfield vs. HOU, Matthew Stafford @ IND

Sit: Tua Tagovailoa – Miami Dolphins

Coming off a week one win in New England, Tua Tagovailoa finds himself on the sit list for the second straight week. If it wasn’t for his rushing touchdown, he would have had a disappointing Sunday. This week, he goes up against the Buffalo Bills. The Bills were able to hold quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to under 200 passing yards and only one touchdown in week one. Facing an elite defense, the Miami Dolphins passing attack could be in trouble.

Honorable Mentions: Jared Goff @ GB, Carson Wentz vs. LAR, Derek Carr @ PIT

Running Backs

Start: Najee Harris – Pittsburgh Steelers

The debut for the highly touted rookie running back did not go as planned. Recording only 5.9 fantasy points in PPR leagues, Najee Harris was on a lot of losing teams. However, there is a lot to look forward to. In week one, Harris played 100% of the offensive snaps. It was just a poor matchup. This week he goes up against the Las Vegas Raiders who just gave up 189 rushing yards and two touchdowns to the Baltimore Ravens. I am confidently starting Harris this week as a running back one.

Honorable Mentions: Jonathan Taylor vs. LAR, Aaron Jones vs. DET, Damien Harris @ NYJ

Sit: Josh Jacobs – Las Vegas Raiders

In week one, Josh Jacobs salvaged his day on the ground by scoring two touchdowns. If it weren’t for those scores, he would have ended the day much worse. This week, he goes against a tough Pittsburgh Steelers defense who held running backs to only 76 rushing yards in week one. Couple this with the fact Jacobs has been battling injuries the last few weeks and it is an easy pass for me. We saw how it was Monday night. Jacobs was coming in and out of the game, limping at times, changing shoes, or getting up slowly. He isn’t 100% and because of that, I will leave him on my bench.

Honorable Mentions: Mike Davis @ TB, Myles Gaskin vs. BUF, James Robinson vs. DEN

Wide Receivers

Start: Cooper Kupp – Los Angeles Rams

Coming off a game where he logged 7 catches for 108 yards and a touchdown, Cooper Kupp will continue putting up numbers in week two against the Indianapolis Colts. It was evident that he and quarterback Matthew Stafford have a strong rapport as Kupp led the team in targets with 10. He will now face the Colts this week who just gave up over 150 yards and three touchdowns to Seattle’s wide receivers. Expect Stafford to continue to look Kupp’s way early and often.

Honorable Mentions: Chris Godwin vs ATL, Courtland Sutton @ JAX, Tee Higgins @ CHI

Sit: Robby Anderson – Carolina Panthers

Before saving his day with a long touchdown reception, Robby Anderson was trending towards a goose egg. Finishing week one with one catch for a 57-yard touchdown, some fantasy managers are a bit worried. Anderson was only targeted three times all game. This was even three fewer targets than fellow wide receiver and rookie Terrace Marshall Jr. Week two doesn’t get any easier as the Carolina Panthers take on the New Orleans Saints. The Saints are riding high from their victory against Green Bay where they dominated. Holding Aaron Rodgers to under 150 yards, while giving up no touchdowns, Robby Anderson could be in for a long day.

Honorable Mentions: Will Fuller vs. BUF, Corey Davis vs. NE, Brandon Aiyuk @ PHI

Tight Ends

Start: Tyler Higbee – Los Angeles Rams

Although he did not manage to find the endzone, Tyler Higbee had an encouraging first week. Second on the team with six targets, he was able to produce five catches for 68 yards. Furthermore, his usage was unparalleled. He played on 100% of the offensive snaps, owned a massive 23.1% target share, and had an 80.8% route participation rate. It is clear the Rams want him on the field and with Stafford’s love for big pass catchers, Higbee will be a solid play this week.

Honorable Mentions: Rob Gronkowski vs. ATL, Noah Fant @ JAX, Jared Cook vs. DAL

Sit: Gerald Everett – Seattle Seahawks

Coming into week two, Gerald Everett may be the fifth pass-catching option on his team. He did manage to snag a touchdown catch in week one, however, it was done on only two targets. This was behind wide receivers Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf, tight end Will Dissly, and running back Chris Carson. Playing the same number of snaps as Dissly, in addition to receiving one fewer target, I am not confident with Everett in my starting lineup. While I do like his potential, I need to see more from him before I am willing to roll him out there. Pivot to another tight end option if possible.

Honorable Mentions: Mike Gesicki vs. BUF, Tyler Kroft vs. NE, Juwan Johnson @ CAR

If you enjoyed this piece, feel free to find more of my content on Twitter @FF_Worm. I am always available to talk fantasy football and answer any questions.

QB Aaron Rodgers needs to be a buy in fantasy

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers needs to be sought out

By Chris Moore (Twitter: @fantasy_moore)

While Aaron Rodgers just had the worst game of his pro career in Week 1, I wouldn’t be panicking about the future hall of Famer just yet. Rodgers and the Packers as a whole looked terrible against the Saints in week 1. The Saints completely dominated the Packers through four quarters. The result even led to some wild conspiracy’s online. About Rodgers possibly tanking due to how bad he looked on Sunday.

I think the result was clearly due to Rodgers missing almost all of the offseason, the change of game location, and the Packers didn’t look right on either side of the ball in Week 1. It was a rough outing for the Packers as a whole, but this performance should be viewed as an anomaly. The Packers are still favorites to win their division and remain one of the best teams in the NFC.

Buy Opportunity

Right now is the perfect opportunity to trade for the 2020 NFL MVP, as Week 1 might be Rodger’s worst fantasy performance we see all year. Rodgers and the Packers will have a great bounce-back opportunity in Week 2 against the Lions, and now should be the time to capitalize and make a trade for him. Matter, in fact, the Lions, Bears, and Vikings defense all look timid for the second straight season. Next week it may be too late to trade for the former MVP. The Packers still have one of the best offenses in the NFL, and they aren’t going to perform as poorly as they did in Week 1 every week.

Season Outlook

Let’s not forget how dominant this offense was last season. Rodgers finished as the QB3 last year. Aaron Jones finished 2020 as the RB5. Davante Adams finished as the WR1, and Robert Tonyan was the TE3. The Packers’ offense completely dominated in fantasy last season, and there’s still a chance they are that great again this year. One bad game shouldn’t change your view on how good this team can be in terms of fantasy. Rodgers was incredible last season, and I believe he has the chance to achieve that success again in 2021.

Ride The Last Dance

If you currently own Rodgers, there’s no reason why you should be hopping off the train just yet. It is unrealistic to expect Rodgers to put up the numbers he did in 2020. It’s not unrealistic to view Rodgers as a top fantasy QB. Rodgers has clear top-five fantasy upside in this offense, and he’s someone I would be looking to buy low on. While it’s anyone’s guess if this is Rodger’s last season in Green Bay, I don’t expect him to go out like this. Rodgers is going to look like the quarterback we saw last year. It’s only a matter of time until we see him and Adams tearing up secondaries once again. Right now is the perfect opportunity to trade for Rodgers while he’s coming off one of the worst performances of his career. Now is the time to hop on the Aaron Rodgers train and ride the last dance.

Dynasty flex players to trade for

Here are your dynasty flex players to acquire

By: Keith James

The NFL is back and it is better than ever. The beauty of the NFL is that it is a week-to-week game. One week a team or a player looks great, the next week not so much. Such is life in the NFL. In a dynasty, fantasy owners can win by buying the dip. Human beings are emotional creatures. We don’t always follow logic. This is never more true than in fantasy football. People take this seriously and they get angry when their players don’t perform. 

Use that anger to your advantage. Look for young players that didn’t perform where a fantasy manager may throw their hands up and say, I’m going to cut bait on this player. This is how fantasy managers can buy productive assets on the cheap. 

This week I will give three players that can be used in the flex position that fantasy managers can buy cheaper than before the season. 

Brandon Aiyuk, WR, 23 years old

Aiyuk was a mystery on Sunday. There were reports that he has been dealing with injuries all off-season but he was healed up enough to suit up against the lowly Lions on Sunday. Given the 49ers history of spreading the wealth, I cautioned fantasy owners on Aiyuk in week one. In what should have been a smash spot for the talented 2nd-year player, I was concerned that the Niners were going to spread the wealth and Aiyuk could be the odd man out solely based on his injury. 

Something else seemed to be afoot with both Brando Aiyuk and Trey Sermon and there were reports both payers may have been in Kyle Shanahan’s doghouse for missing curfew. Who knows. Either way, Brandon Aiyuk watched as his fellow WR running mate, Deebo Samuel went bonkers against the Lions atrocious pass defense. Deebo had 9 grabs on 12 targets for 189 yards and a long 79-yard touchdown. Of course, he also had a terrible late-game fumble. Still, BA had to watch as his fellow receiver went crazy and Aiyuk was left with zero targets. That’s not good. 

Aiyuk will likely still be seen by fantasy managers as a great young receiver. He had 15.4 fantasy points per game last year because Aiyuk is electric with the ball in his hands. After week one, however, some of the shine may have worn off. I threw out some offers for Aiyuk to fellow league mates and I recommend you do the same. He is still a player that can have a top 24 season this year and in only his second year, he can become a fantasy scoring machine if he stays healthy and grows up. The cost will likely be high but I would offer a first-round pick for Aiyuk and try to pry an exciting young player from your league mates hands on the back of a pathetic week one show. 

Javonte Williams RB, 21 years old

Get Javonte as soon as you can! I would try to get Javonte this week before he goes crazy against the Jags and becomes all but untouchable. More than likely fantasy managers will not want to part with Javonte. Fantasy managers know that Melvin Gordon will likely be a PITA for Javonte the entire year. Managers are waiting for the year two ascension and may scoff at any Javonte offers but the fact remains Javonte played second fiddle to MG3 against the Giants. As much as I love Javonte’s talent, MG3 was by far the better back on Sunday. 

Gordon had 101 yards on only 11 attempts (9.2 YPC) and looked just as explosive as he did in his Chargers days. Javonte did not look great. He looked tentative and was bottled up for only 45 yards on 14 carries. It was encouraging to see the snaps split evenly between the two backs (they both had a 50% snap share) but the 28-year-old Gordon looked explosive and the 21-year-old Williams looked plodding. 

This is the best time to strike for Javonte. As I stated, his cost will not be cheap. Dynasty owners likely invested a lot in Javonte but like Aiyuk he may have lost his shine and if a fellow league mate is a contender that just so happens to have Williams, there may be a deal to be had for a more established RB and a pick. I would strike sooner rather than later however because up next, the Broncos take on the lowly Jags. The Jags of course were demolished by what many people think is the worst roster in the NFL in the Texans. With Denver more than likely taking a commanding lead in week two against Denver, Javonte may get enough run to put up gaudy numbers. 

This may be the last chance to get what could be a top ten back in the NFL over the next three years. If a team has any interest in selling, I am trying to buy Javonte right now. His schedule at the end of the season could make patient Javonte owner league winners. With Gordon’s history of getting beat up and missing games, this could be Javonte’s backfield to own by week 10. I’d be willing to offer a player like Chris Carson and a first-round pick to land Javonte. As I say, he won’t be cheap but he will be worth whatever it takes to pry him from your league mates hands. 

Courtland Sutton WR, 25 years old

Sutton had a bad game against the Giants. Lining up against James Bradberry is never easy and Jerry Jeudy was the star receiver in this game; until his injury. With Jeudy suffering a high ankle sprain and landing on IR, his entire season is likely toast. Remember Michael Thomas last year. Even if Jeudy comes back he will likely be hobbled the rest of the year. High ankle sprains are killers for playmakers. This is the time to strike on Courtland Sutton. 

Sutton of course is working back from his own devastating injury. Sutton blew out his ACL early in the season last year and will likely take a few weeks for him to regain his confidence and explosion. Sutton was on his way to becoming one of the best young receivers in the game in 2020. Coming off of an impressive 2019 season, Sutton blew out his knee all too early. Injuries suck. Sutton owners are likely frustrated and are wondering if Sutton will ever come back. He only had 1 grab for 14 yards on 3 targets. Steady Teddy Bridgewater will spread the wealth and he found guys like Tim Patrick, Noah Fant, and Albert Okwuegbunam against the Giants. Combined those three players had 13 grabs on 15 targets for 117 yards and two touchdowns. It seemed as though everyone but Sutton had a good game for the Broncos. 

Sutton may take some time but with Jeudy going down, Sutton has the opportunity to be a true alpha in Denver. Playing against the Jaguars this week, he could be in line for a monster game. I would throw out some offers for Sutton and see if there are any bites. Again, strike before the player goes off. Denver should manhandle the Jaguars fairly easily this week as 6 point favorites on the road. Both Williams (pricey) and Sutton (cheap) could be had for a discounted price but if they blow up against the Jaguars forget about it. Remember, human beings are emotional. Both good and bad. The strike will Sutton has put a bad taste in his fantasy managers mouth and your team could have a high-end WR2 this year and for years to come. 

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