Why Richie James is a sleeper

Richie James is a sleeper in 2022

By: Nathan Nguyen

When Richie James signed with the New York Giants as a free agent, no one expected him to be more than anything but a solid backup receiver. If anything, he would serve as a kick returner because of his experience with previous teams serving that role.

Fast forward to today, and James looks like more than just a guy. In fact, he may be the only one keeping this receiving corps afloat. With Sterling Shepard out for the year, Daniel Jones may need to rely on James more than ever this season.

James was drafted in the seventh round by the San Francisco 49ers in 2018. Appearing in 13 games, he caught nine passes for 130 yards. He also caught his first career touchdown against the Rams in week 17. The wide receiver also returned a kickoff for a touchdown in his rookie season.

He set career highs in receiving yards and receptions in 2020. But, he would miss the entire 2021 season after being placed on the injured reserve list. This was due to a knee injury.

The 49ers decided to not bring him back for 2022 and let him walk into free agency. On March 25th, 2022, the New York Giants decided to take a chance on the former Middle Tennessee State receiver.

Through three games, James has shown that the 49ers may have made a mistake not bringing him back. He’s been clearly the best receiver on the Giants, leading the team in receptions and a close second in receiving yards.

Put this into perspective: Deebo Samuel leads San Francisco in receiving with 12 catches and 131 yards. James has 14 catches for 146 yards. He would have been the best receiver on the 49ers. Jimmy Garoppolo could have used him after leading his team to just ten points last Sunday night.

Thankfully, James has been as close to a star as possible for Big Blue. With the Giants having the most expensive receiving core in the NFL, they have underwhelmed in the worst way possible.

Shepard is out for the year, Kenny Golladay can’t catch, David Sills has lost his magic, and Darius Slayton has been in a reduced role. Oh, and both Kadarius Toney and Wan’Dale Robinson are hurt. Daniel Jones cannot perform to the best of his abilities if his weapons can’t stay on the field or perform well enough to be reliable.

This is where James steps in. Take the Dallas game, for example.

This man is getting open for his quarterback, something the other guys have struggled to do.

This man is getting open for his quarterback, something the other guys have struggled to do. James has at least four catches through three games, and he may be targeted even more in the coming weeks. He’s not a superstar, but he is sure looking like one.

Joe Schoen: you got a bargain with this guy. Let’s hope Richie James continues to show out against Chicago.

Ranking the AFC South Quarterbacks right now

Who is the best AFC South quarterback?

By: Andy Davies

The AFC South has been won by the Tennessee Titans, but the addition of Matt Ryan by the Indianapolis Colts and the loss of A.J. Brown for the Titans means the division is as usual, very wide open.

Since 2013, all four teams in the AFC South have won the division. However, who has the best quarterback?

In our final quarterback ranking list, here are your AFC South quarterback rankings.

1. Matt Ryan (Indianapolis Colts)

The only MVP winner in this list, Ryan joined the Colts this offseason after over ten years with the Atlanta Falcons.

In 2021, he still managed to throw for 3,968 yards, 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.  Unless injury strikes, Ryan will reach the 60,000 career passing yards mark, currently being 265 away. Only seven players have previously reached the 60,000 mark and Ryan , who is currently eighth on the list for most career passing yards, can eclipse Phillip Rivers into sixth place on the list should he throw at least 3,705 yards or more.

A really good season, where he throws at least 33 touchdowns will also allow Ryan to reach 400 career passing touchdowns. He would become just the eighth player in NFL history to reach the 60,000

Whilst he showed signs of ageing last season, he still makes it as the best quarterback in this list, in what is a bad bunch.

2. Ryan Tannehill (Tennessee Titans)

Tannehill was an eighth overall pick in 2013, when he was selected by the Miami Dolphins. However, injuries and inconsistent play (as well as bad coaching) saw him eventually traded to the Titans in 2018.

He came in for Marcus Mariota mid-season and ended up winning Comeback Player of the Year. Over the course of his career, he has thrown for over 30,000 passing yards, 199 touchdowns and 102 interceptions. Despite this, he has shown signs of decline in the past twelve months. 

In 2021, he threw for 3,734 touchdowns, 21 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. This is a stark contrast to the 33 touchdowns and 7 interceptions he threw in 2022.

His position as the Titans’ starter is also in question, with the team choosing to draft Liberty QB Malik Willis in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft. He showed his potential in Thursday night’s preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens, completing 6 of his 11 passes for 107 yards  as well as a 7-yard touchdown run.

Tannehill has proved to be a good quarterback for Tennessee, excelling in particular when using RPO plays. However, he has yet to prove he can be the guy to take the Titans to the next level. 

This was proved in their Divisional Round when the number one seed Titans lost to the Cincinnati Bengals, despite Joe Burrow being sacked nine times. Tannehill threw three costly interceptions, and his future has been questioned ever since.

Despite having running back Derrick Henry and a brilliant head coach in Mike Vrabel, the loss of A.J. Brown could end up being the final nail in the Ryan Tannehill Titans coffin.

3. Davis Mills (Houston Texans)

Houston could be a realistic destination for Tannehill should the team decide they don’t want to pursue long term with their current starter Davis Mills. 

Mills was drafted 67th overall out of Stanford and actually had a solid first NFL season in 2021. He was arguably the second-best rookie quarterback in a class that albeit did not exactly light up the league. In 13 games, he threw for 2,665 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. 

These are neither outstanding nor terrible stats. He did a solid job in a season of turmoil, with everything that went on off the field. 

Solid is exactly why Mills is third on this list. He wasn’t terrible but also hasn’t quite done enough to break into the top two.

4. Trevor Lawrence (Jacksonville Jaguars)

The 2021 first overall pick had a torrid rookie year but is now free from a dysfunctional Urban Meyer. He threw for 3,641 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions.

However, he can no longer use the Meyer excuse with new head coach Doug Pederson. Should Lawrence have another bad year, there will be more and more usage of the word “bust”. 

Right now, it is hard to put him anywhere but the bottom of this list. Despite this, should he fulfill the potential that we all saw in Clemson, then he will certainly be a lot higher than fourth.

Three underrated NFL teams entering 2022

Who is the most underrated NFL team?

By: Samuel Moores

Every NFL season seems to have a couple of teams who fly under the radar and achieve things that aren’t expected in September. The Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers last year are great examples of this. Nobody expected them to be miserable, but did we expect them to be playing in the Super Bowl, and in the Niners’ case, the NFC Championship game? No. But the ultimate question is: who can do that this year? Here are three teams to look out for this season. 

1. Miami Dolphins 

Miami has a new coach, better weapons, and the same defense they had last year, a season where they went 9-8, finishing 3rd in the AFC East. Mike McDaniel was brought in as head coach to get the best out of their quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa. He worked with a similar QB in Jimmy Garoppolo in SF last year, if anyone was to do it, it’ll be him. Josh Boyer didn’t lose a single starter on his unit, one that perhaps got even better with the addition of Melvin Ingram as a rotational pass rusher. 

On the offensive side of the ball, there were three major issues last season. The biggest of all was the abysmal line, then came the lack of run game and the fact the receiver unit couldn’t stay healthy. All three were addressed this offseason. Both the WR and RB units went under an overhaul, acquiring Tyreek Hill and signing Cedrick Wilson, Raheem Mostert, Chase Edmonds, and Sony Michel. As for the line, Terron Armstead and versatile lineman Connor Williams were then brought in to fix the team’s issues upfront. 

The emphasis on speed and YAC should suit Tua to the ground, it already worked with Jaylen Waddle last year, now you’ve got the guy who’s the best in the league at it. If Miami has anything close to a functioning offense, they’ll be playing meaningful games in December and January.

2. Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders are another team with a new head coach and better offensive weapons for their quarterback. They’ve also improved the defense. If the rest of the AFC West hadn’t also made splash moves, the Raiders would be talked about way more often. The only player of significance that they lost was Casey Hayward, who was replaced by Rock Ya-Sin, and then they added to the defense with Chandler Jones who now lines up next to Maxx Crosby to create a pass rush double threat.

Oh and don’t forget the blockbuster trade for Davantae Adams, the best receiver in football, who’s now reunited with his Fresno State teammate, Derek Carr. Watch out for Carr this year, I’m expecting a season on par if not better than his last. Adams should be a big help, he’ll allow the likes of Waller and Renfrow to get open easier. Then there’s Josh McDaniels. His second and probably final chance at being a head coach, we know how talented of a play caller he is, this is his chance to shoiw everyone he can be a HC.

The Raiders went through a lot last year, and stuck together throughout it, proving a lot of people wrong and getting to the wildcard round under interim HC Rich Bisaccia. I feel that this year will be just as, if not more successful, going under the radar once again. 

3. New Orleans Saints

The vibe I get from a lot of people is that the Saints are set to regress without Sean Payton. And while that may be possible, you take a look at the NFC, and they’re one of the best teams in it. I like the new safety tandem of Marcus Maye and Tyrann Mathieu. Marcus Williams will be tough to replace, but Maye is a decent player – I like his chances. Their defense as a whole is stacked, and the continuity with new head coach Dennis Allen will be good for the unit. 

If Michael Thomas is back to anywhere near his best on his return this year then that’s huge for a team that struggled without him last year. And if not, the receiver room has been upgraded, after trading up for Chris Olave and signing Jarvis Landry recently. That’s a big improvement on what they went out with last season. Hopefully, the fact that Mark Ingram is with the team all season means that they’re less reliant on Alvin Kamara. He was overworked last year, touching the ball just short of 50 times more than he has before in a season that he missed 4 games. His production was down slightly because of that. 

Jameis Winston was looking pretty good before getting hurt last year, but this is his first season without Payton since his famous 30-30 campaign with Tampa Bay. His OC and QB Coach, Pete Carmichael and Ronald Curry remain the same. If his play remains around the same, the Saints will be a wildcard team who can win games in the playoffs come January.

Ranking the NFC West Quarterbacks right now

Who is the best NFC West quarterback in 2022?

By: Andy Davies

The NFC West was considered the elite division in the NFL as little as a year ago but things have progressed since, despite having the current Super Bowl champions in the Los Angeles Rams. 

Russell Wilson is no longer in the division, and no one quite knows who will be the QB1 in San Francisco. 

But who is the divisions best quarterback? Here are the rankings of the NFC West quarterbacks from best to worst.

Matthew Stafford (Los Angeles Rams)

What better place to start than with the QB1 of the Super Bowl Champions. Whilst Stafford was not the reason the Rams won Super Bowl 56 over the Cincinnati Bengals, with 3 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions, he was certainly the final piece of the jigsaw as the Rams hoisted the Lombardi Trophy for the first time since the 1999 season. 

The Rams were always contenders, making it all the way to Super Bowl 53, but there was always something missing at the quarterback position. Jared Goff did well but even he would admit he was probably not good enough to take the Rams where they needed.

He was traded to the Detroit Lions in exchange for Stafford and the rest is history. Stafford had reached the postseason on three previous occasions, but each time came up short at the first attempt. His lack of playoff wins was a factor pointed out by sceptics when he arrived but when the Rams made the playoffs, Stafford showed why the team gave up so much to get him. In four games, he threw for 1,188 yards, 9 touchdowns and 3 interceptions as well as having a 70% completion percentage (98 from 140).

In the regular season, Stafford also impressed. Only Tom Brady (43) threw for more touchdown passes (41), with Stafford throwing for the third-most passing yards (4,886)

Stafford is clearly the choice for the number one spot on this list and it will take a lot for the other players in this list to catch him up.

Kyler Murray (Arizona Cardinals)

Murray’s future is unclear, with his fifth option exercised but no longer-term deal in place at time of writing. 

The 2019 first overall pick has shown signs of his potential but is yet to fulfil this on a consistent basis. In three seasons, he has thrown for 11,480 yards, 70 touchdowns and 34 interceptions, whilst also recording  1,786 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns. 

A trend of Murray’s career so far is starting off the season well but tailing off down the stretch. He will need a big year to convince the Cardinals front office that he is the player moving forward. Either way, he still remains second on this list.

Jimmy Garoppolo (San Francisco 49ers)

When the 49ers lost to the Rams in the NFC Championship game back in January, it was seen by many to be the end of Jimmy G in San Francisco. However, he is still on the team.

Having missed OTA’s due to rehab on his shoulder,  he has yet to be traded. Say what you want about Jimmy G, but he wins games. Simple as that. Whilst he has never been the reason for the 49ers winning games, he is a very serviceable quarterback. With uncertainty over Lance after reports of the organisation being underwhelmed, Garoppolo is the right guy to be under centre for the 49ers in week one. 

Drew Lock/Geno Smith (Seattle Seahawks)

Whether it is Lock or Smith, there is no way they aren’t at the bottom of this list. Lock has a great start to life in the NFL, when he started for the Denver Broncos towards the end of the 2019 season, his 2020 and 2021 campaigns flattered to deceive. Meanwhile, Smith has been a backup for most of his career. Neither of these quarterbacks, whoever starts against the Broncos in week one, are likely to inspire confidence from fans or the Seattle coaching staff. 

Ranking the AFC West quarterbacks

Who is the best AFC West quarterback?

By: Andy Davies

One of the biggest NFL trades in recent history took place this week, as Seattle Seahawks traded quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos. This has now led to questions from many as to whether the AFC West is now the best division in the NFL. One thing you can say is that it has the best foursome of quarterbacks. 

Most divisions have a quarterback facing questions. The AFC East has Zach Wilson, the NFC North has Jared Goff, the NFC East has Daniel Jones, and no one knows who will start at QB for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North.

The AFC West probably has four of the top 15 players in the league at the position in the division. This should lead to some excellent in-division games in 2022 and some mouth-watering quarterback battles. 

So, who is the best of the four quarterbacks? Here is my list from first to fourth.

4.  Derek Carr (Las Vegas Raiders) 

It feels harsh having Carr in this position, but you have to look at the talent of the other three on this list. Out of all the fourth placed quarterbacks in each division, he is undoubtably the best. He had the best season of his career since his MVP calibre 2016 campaign with 4,804 yards, 23 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 2021. 

With a new head coach in Josh McDaniels who served for so long as the New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator, Carr will hope this can help elevate his game even further. 

McDaniels’ difficult previous stint as a head coach will be a concern for Carr and Raiders fan but if he proved the doubters wrong, then this could be a marriage made in heaven. Due to the strength of the AFC West and indeed the AFC overall, the Raiders are likely to be seen as a team that were good but a victim of their own division. 

Carr has been on record to say how he wants to be a Raider for life and frankly, there is no one out there better for this organisation who are available. 

3.  Justin Herbert (Los Angeles Chargers)

Herbert has only had two seasons in the NFL and the way his young career has gone so far, he is likely to be higher on this list in five years’ time.

After an impressive Rookie of the Year campaign in 2020, he showed no signs of slowing down in 2021, narrowly missing out on a spot in the playoffs. Only Tom Brady (5,316) had more passing yards than Herbert (5,014), who was third in the league for passing touchdowns behind Brady and Super Bowl 56 winner Matthew Stafford.

In the 2021 season, he broke the record for most touchdown passes, passing yards and completions in the first two seasons of an NFL career. He also has the single season records for touchdowns, completions and passing yards.

It is amazing how many people doubted him coming into the 2020 draft but so far, he is proving to be the best talent to come out of the draft since Patrick Mahomes.

2. Russell Wilson (Denver Broncos)

2021 was the first season under the Pete Carroll and Wilson era where the Seahawks had a losing season, yet their QB still managed to rack up 25 touchdowns, 3,113 yards and 6 interceptions. 

He won a Super Bowl back in the 2013 campaign and probably should have won another one a season later. 2021 was also the first time in his career that he missed a game, showing the stability he offers in then position.

It was clear his relationship with Carroll was deteriorating in what was a stale run-first offense. He will be given a new lease of life under an exciting Denver offense and a defense to match. With Tim Patrick, Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton and Javonte Williams, Wilson will have a field day under first time head coach Nathaniel Hackett. 

Having served as the Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator during Aaron Rodgers’ back-to-back MVP winning seasons, Wilson could do a lot worse than having Hackett as his head coach. It could finally be time for him to get an MVP vote in 2022.

Wilson is an elite QB and has the most experience on this list. However, there is one quarterback we haven’t mentioned yet.

1. Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs)

The easiest selection of the four positions. Now Brady has retired, it is between Mahomes and Rogers for the title of the best in the league. He has played in four straight AFC Championship games, all at home, which is something no player or team has done before. 

He won an MVP, Super Bowl ring, and Super Bowl ring before he lost a game by more than 8 points. Mahomes only did this when they lost in Super Bowl 55, the second consecutive appearance in the big game. He really should have played in another Super Bowl this season, had it not been for their second-half meltdown in a very un-Mahomes fashion.

Since being drafted tenth overall in 2017, he has thrown for 18,991 yards and 151 touchdowns. In his 63 career games, he averages 301 yards per game. We have seen the likes of Michael Vick and Lamar Jackson change the game when you assess the way they use their feet. However, Mahomes’ seems to have changed the way quarterbacks who do not have electrifying speeds use their feet to drag their team down the field, as seen with the likes of Josh Allen and Joe Burrow. These quarterbacks are by no means slow, but they use their feet when they need to and do so with effect. 

Mahomes could easily end his career as one of best quarterbacks ever, so he has no place other than being first on this list. 

3 veteran QBs the Dolphins should target this offseason

Which QB should the Dolphins sign in 2022?

By: Khari Demos

The Miami Dolphins always seem to be an intriguing place for evaluating quarterbacks. With the selection of former Alabama star Tua Tagovailoa in the 2020 NFL Draft, it looked like the Dolphins had found their next best thing under center since Dan Marino.

But after two seasons, the jury may still be out on Tua. By comparison to his fellow 2020 draft mates, Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow are considered to be in the elite QB club. Herbert was the 2020 NFL Rookie of the Year and followed that up with a Pro Bowl selection in 2021, while Burrow just led Cincinnati back to the Super Bowl for the first time since the 1988 season.

Meanwhile, for Tua, he’s had far more struggles and had similar numbers this season to players who may be considered lesser at the position.

But even with all the smoke and rumors about Tua, the Dolphins have brought in head coach Mike McDaniel, who similarly to owner Stephen Ross, has vowed to help get the best out of the southpaw QB. Just take a look at what the new HC said about Tua on Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine:

“I’m really excited moving forward because the guy has some skills that I think are untapped. I think it’s important that you empower the quarterback with the rest of the players around him and the scheme you bring forth. So, I think his best days are in front of him. And that’s a really cool piece of the process to be part of as a coach.”

Tua’s subtle athletic ability should fit well in McDaniel’s zone-run, bootleg-based system. The 38-year-old coach comes from the Shanahan coaching tree, having worked under both Mike and Kyle throughout his career. The movement and misdirection should work well for Tua as he enters Year 3.

So who should Miami target to back him up? I like it when teams add players who have similar skillsets to their starters, as well as guys who may have played under a coach before or in a similar scheme.

Also to consider, Chris Streveler is the team’s only other QB under contract for 2022, as the Dolphins enter free agency with a league-high $61. 2 million in cap space, according to Spotrac. Plus, with Tua’s injury history that includes a fractured hip at ‘Bama, as well as missing four games this past season, Miami needs a viable backup just in case he misses anymore action.

With all things considered, here are three names the Dolphins should highly consider bringing to their QB room.

Tyrod Taylor

One of the more experienced QBs on the market, Taylor no question fits the same mold as a player like Tua. Not only does he have high-level athleticism for the position, running a lot of play-action and boot game will be similar to what he did while in Buffalo. His 1,575 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns helped the Bills finish as a top-five rushing team twice in his three years as a starter, including his 2015 season where he was a Pro Bowl alternate.

Last season also showed that Taylor can still play, even in a limited fashion. Even with what many considered arguably the worst roster in football with the Houston Texans, the Virginia Tech product had a strong showing in a Week 1 smackdown of the Jacksonville Jaguars, before going 10 for 11 in Week 2 against the Cleveland Browns before injuring his hamstring.

Once healthy, Taylor then helped Houston knock off the AFC’s eventual No. 1-seed in the Tennessee Titans in Week 11.

Similar to Tua, Taylor’s biggest issue seems to be health, as he’s missed action in three of the last four seasons. But that’s why he could make the perfect backup for Tua and something else to consider with Taylor is his recent history with young QBs.

Whether it was Herbert, Baker Mayfield, or Davis Mills last season, Taylor has been more mentor than impact player over the last few seasons. He did have his days in the sun leading Buffalo back to the playoffs in 2017, but his days as a starting QB are likely behind him.

But as a QB with a dual-threat skill set and prior experience as a starter in the NFL? That sounds like the perfect type of backup for a young signal-caller.

Colt McCoy

The former Texas Longhorn QB has had more downs than ups throughout his NFL career, but the 2021 campaign was his best yet, as he helped the Arizona Cardinals go 2-1 in a stretch without Kyler Murray. Even in a small sample size, his 101.4 passer rating, 54.5 QBR and 74.7% completion rate were some of the best marks of his career.

His best showing of the year came in a Week 11 win over Seattle. McCoy went 35 for 44 with 328 passing yards and two TDs.

So like Taylor, McCoy’s undersized stature (6-foot-1, 212 pounds) and movement ability would not only present similarly to Tua’s, but would also fit perfectly in McDaniel’s spin on the Shanahan system. The biggest issue here may be Arizona letting McCoy walk, as the Cardinals have noted how crucial it’ll be to bring him back for his 12th NFL season.

Marcus Mariota

This might be the zestiest name of the group for several reasons. First off, there’s still a lot of high hopes for a player that was selected No. 2 overall in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Another dual-threat player at QB, Mariota could also be a fit for McDaniel’s system with his ability to roll out and get the ball out in a West Coast scheme. The former Oregon Ducks QB rushed for over 300 yards on three occasions as a Tennessee Titan.

But over the last three seasons, the 28-year-old has not put much tread on his tires, as he’s only played in 18 games since 2019 (including six starts). Things did not end well for the 2014 Heisman Trophy Winner in Nashville, so he had to find a different role in a different place, eventually landing with Las Vegas to back up Derek Carr.

Mariota did not see much action during his time with the Raiders, but he drew a ton of buzz for his performance against the Dolphins late in the 2020 season after Carr bowed out due to injury.

I think one other very underrated factor here is Mariota and Tua’s relationship. As two Hawaiian born signal callers, it has been stated how much the Dolphins’ starting QB has looked up to Mariota over the years, so there’d be a natural, mutual respect if he were to come to Miami.

So that may give the Dolphins an upper hand in terms of signing Mariota. But what could be the biggest roadblock for this deal is his desire to return to the starting QB ranks in the league. Here’s what he said during training camp last year in an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Adam Hill.

“Absolutely,” Mariota said when asked if he keeps an eye on other QB situations throughout the NFL. “It is my goal (to be a starter), so I do keep tabs on what’s going on. For us as players, it’s kind of important to see what the landscape is. That being said, I enjoy this team. It’s a great organization to play for.”

That may be the biggest issue here for Miami. But if the Dolphins are able to convince Mariota to mentor a player in Tua that he’s mentored since the latter was in fourth grade, they could have a great QB insurance policy on their hands down in South Beach.

2022 NFL Mock Draft: Where will Kenny Pickett land?

The latest 2022 NFL mock draft

By Charles Vakassian

With the 2021 NFL season now in the books, all eyes turn towards the offseason. Teams seek to fill the holes on the offensive or defensive side of the ball. Some have more needs than others. In this 2022 NFL Mock Draft, we will do our best to meet those needs.

Jacksonville Jaguars-Evan Neal, OT, Alabama

The Jaguars need to keep Trevor Lawrence on his feet, plain and simple. Neal is the safest tackle prospect in this class. Surprisingly nimble for a man of his size, Neal can protect the blindside of Lawrence, or slide to the right side and form a bookend with Cam Robinson

Detroit Lions-Aidan Hutchinson, Edge

Michigan The most refined edge rusher of this class, Hutchinson can come in and make an immediate impact on a Lions team that was feisty in 2021. 

Houston Texans-Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame

The Texans have a lot of needs, so giving them the best player in this draft makes the most sense. Hamilton is the ultimate chess piece, who can be a single high safety, down in the box, slot corner coverage, or even rushing the passer. He will instantly upgrade a subpar Houston defense which could be losing Justin Reid to free agency.

New York Jets-Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State

The Jets opted to fortify the trenches with their first pick of this round. With Mekhi Becton facing some uncertainty, Ekwonu can step in and be a mean protector for Zach Wilson on his left side. Ekwonu is a road grader, with nastiness in his game. His pass protection could use a little work, but his upside is enormous, and he already is an elite run blocker. 

New York Giants-Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon

The Giants get an elite pass rusher to fall into their laps at pick 5. Thibodeaux would be the first player off the board in most drafts, but concerns about his work ethic and character cause him to fall a few spots. The Giants have been missing an alpha pass rusher since Jason Pierre-Paul, and Thibodeaux makes an elite pairing with promising youngster Azeez Ojulari.

Carolina Panthers-Kenny Pickett, QB, Pitt

Sam Darnold was not the answer, and neither was a past his prime Cam Newton. The Panthers have the weapons on offense to be a decent team. Kenny Pickett can be the QB to lead them to the playoffs and beyond for the future. Pickett has a strong frame at 6’3 and 220lbs and has the mobility to run when he needs to and avoid oncoming rushers. 

New York Giants (Via Chicago Bears)-Charles Cross, OT, Mississippi

The Giants have committed to building around Daniel Jones for 2022, and the best way to see what he has is to keep him on his feet with good pass protection. Charles Cross is the best pure pass protector in this draft class. He has some concerns in the run game, but Brian Daboll will be running a scheme that is pass-heavy. Cross will pair nicely with stud left tackle Andrew Thomas, and form an excellent duo at the tackle spots. 

Atlanta Falcons-Garrett Wilson, WR, Ohio State

It seems more and more likely by the day that Calvin Ridley and the Falcons will seek to part ways. If this is the case, Atlanta will need to add reinforcements to the receiver room, or else Kyle Pitts will be double or triple-teamed every game. Wilson is one of the better receivers out of college who can do amazing things when he has the ball in his hands. With an aging QB in Matt Ryan, it is key to give him a WR who can take short passes and turn them into big plays. 

Denver Broncos-Devin Lloyd, LB, Utah

It would not surprise me if this pick was traded to the Packers as part of an Aaron Rodgers trade, but in this mock Denver stays put and takes a three-level playmaker in Devin Lloyd. He can line up as an edge to rush the passer, drop back into coverage on tight ends and running backs, and even 

New York Jets (Via Seattle Seahawks)-Ahmad Gardner, CB, Cincinnati 

Robert Saleh likes to build his teams around an elite defense, and this selection goes a long way towards doing that. Gardner is the best man coverage corner in the draft, with fluid hips and good reaction time to keep pace with faster and more athletic receivers. He and Bryce Hall make an excellent tandem on the back end. 

Washington Commanders-Malik Willis, QB, Liberty

The Commanders finally solve their long-standing quarterback problem. Willis has the most upside out of any QB in this draft class. He put on a clinic at the Senior Bowl, showcasing his cannon arm and elite speed. He will immediately make Washington a better team, and with an already elite-level defense, could be enough to push them into playoff contention. 

Minnesota Vikings-David Ojabo, Edge, Michigan

The Vikings have a few needs on their defense, but finding an edge rusher to take the heat off of star pass rusher Daniele Hunter should be their top priority. Ojabo is explosive off the edge and displays excellent speed to get around offensive tackles. He could use some work in run defense, but he can come in right away and be a force on passing downs.

Cleveland Browns-Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas

Cleveland is in desperate need of another offensive playmaker, with Jarvis Landry getting older and David Njoku a free agent. Burks can come in and be a big body wide receiver for a sometimes inaccurate Baker Mayfield. Burks is a physical freak at 6’5 and 225lbs, with an enormous catch radius, making him a perfect red-zone target. 

Baltimore Ravens-Trevor Penning, OT, Northern Iowa

Following the trade of Orlando Brown to the Chiefs, the Ravens attempted to fill his shoes by signing Alejandro Villanueva. The move was not too successful, as Villaneuva allowed 9 sacks and 11 penalties in his age 34 season. A bookend to Ronnie Stanley is a must-have this offseason to protect Lamar Jackson. At 6’7 and 330lbs, Penning is a freak of nature who plays with a nasty streak, especially in the run game. This will serve him well in a run-first Baltimore offense

Philadelphia Eagles (Via Miami Dolphins)-Derek Stingley, CB, LSU

The first of 3 picks in the first round for the Eagles, and they land a guy who could easily end up being the best corner in this draft. Stingley displays elite playmaking, and a penchant for clutch stops. He can come up and stop the run, and is an excellent ballhawk, nabbing 6 interceptions in his one healthy season in 2019. The injuries are a concern, which is why he slips to pick 15. Philly is delighted to get a running mate for Darius Slay. 

Philadelphia Eagles (Via Indianapolis Colts)-Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia

Another pick to boost the Eagle defense. Dean has the ridiculous speed for a linebacker and can keep up with running backs and tight ends in coverage, while also being used as a Blitzer. The Eagles needed a captain on their defense, and Dean can be that man, 

Los Angeles Chargers-Jordan Davis, DT, Georgia

Linval Joseph and Justin Jones are entering free agency, leaving a hole in the middle of the defensive line. Who better to fill it than the 340lb Davis? His extreme length and size will force teams to commit two linemen to block him, and he can push the pocket in the passing game with strong bull rush moves. This allows more opportunities for Joey Bosa on the outside as well. 

New Orleans Saints-Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss

The Saints may finally be facing a rebuild. Even if they are choosing to compete with the roster they currently have, they need an upgrade at QB. Matt Corral can be their franchise quarterback and lead them into the future. Corral is an athletic type of QB, who moves well in the pocket, and can extend plays to make something happen. Saints fans will be happy to see this after watching aging Drew Brees and Jameis Winston not look to be the long-term solution. 

Philadelphia Eagles-Tyler Lindsrbaum, C, Iowa

The Eagles get a replacement for the aging Jason Kelce, who is contemplating retirement, by plucking the best center prospect in ages. Linderbaum is amazingly fast for a guy who is 289 pounds. If you watch his game tape, he routinely gets to the second level and demolishes his blocks. Jalen Hurts will appreciate this selection as well, as Linderbaum is strong in pass protection and has an incredible football IQ, picking up stunts and blitzes before they happen.

Pittsburgh Steelers-Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina

Following the retirement of longtime QB Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers are left searching for the next franchise centerpiece. Sam Howell can step in and be the QB of the future, Howell is quick to read the field, and get the ball out fast before any pressure comes. He has power behind his throws as well, and is strong in the intermediate passing game. He is a physical runner as well, not afraid to run through defenders to pick up yards. 

New England Patriots-Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington

J.C Jackson is a free agent, and will command an extremely large contract, something Bill Belichek and Co. have been reluctant to hand out in the past (See Trey Flowers, Nate Solder, Kyle Van Noy). The Pats snap up his replacement with the selection of McDuffie, a versatile player who can play in multiple schemes. McDuffie is a former track star who has the speed to match with burners downfield, and the anticipation to read the play before it happens. New England values intelligence on the field, and McDuffie brings strong play and a high football IQ. 

Las Vegas Raiders-Chris Olave, WR, Ohio State

Josh McDaniels wants to build his offense to help Derek Carr as much as possible, and he gives him another weapon in Chris Olave. One of the best route runners in this draft class, Olave can find the holes in zone coverage and has the quickness and cutting ability to beat man coverage. 

Arizona Cardinals-Kaiir Elam, CB, Florida

I was tempted to mock a WR at this pic, with A.J Green and Christian Kirk entering free agency. I am of the belief Arizona will address that position in free agency. Thus, they can take the best player possible, who in this case is Florida CB Kaiir Elam. A great man coverage corner, he has the speed to keep up with faster wideouts, and the physicality to press up at the line of scrimmage. He can shadow the number one WR on the opposing team and would make life miserable for Cooper Kupp, D.K Metcalf, and the other top WRs of the NFC West. 

Dallas Cowboys-George Karlaftis, Edge, Purdue

The Cowboys hit a home run with their selection of Micah Parsons last year, and hope to repeat the process with this pick. Karlaftis is a monster at 6’4 and 275lbs, who uses his power to simply run through offensive linemen to get to the QB. He has the ability to line up inside as well and can command double teams. His power, combined with the speed of Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence, makes the Cowboys pass rush very scary. 

Buffalo Bills-Travon Walker, IDL, Georgia

Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison are free agents this offseason, and are frankly towards the end of their careers, as they would both be 34 next season. Travon Walker would make another excellent addition to the front 7 the Bills have been building. Walker has the ability to line up as an edge rusher, or get his hands in the ground and push the pocket as a defensive lineman. His versatility makes him a fun piece to use, along with youngsters Gregory Rousseau and Ed Oliver. 

Tennessee Titans-Trey McBride, TE, Colorado State

The Titans simply need to find more playmakers for Ryan Tannehill. Julio Jones and A.J Brown suffer from the injury bug, and tight end Anthony Firkser is a free agent. Tennessee gets arguably the best TE in the draft to come in and be a red-zone force. McBride is a solid route runner who can go up and highpoint 50/50 balls, and use his size and catch radius to get in the proper position. He still needs work as a run blocker, but the Titans need his receiving chops more than anything else.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama

The Buccanneers are a mess on offense. Tom Brady has retired. Rob Gronkowski will likely follow him. Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Leonard Fournette, and Ronald Jones are all heading into free agency. If Tampa Bay wants to try and stay competitive for whatever QB they bring in, they need to have weapons besides Mike Evans. Jameson Williams is coming off of a bad injury in the college national championship, but has elite separation skills and speed to get open. 

Green Bay Packers-Drake London, WR, USC

Aaron Rodgers finally gets the first-round receiver! London is a tall drink of water at 6’5 and 210lbs. He uses his size to make catches in tight windows and is able to run any route asked of him. Rodgers can turn him into an elite WR in no time. 

Miami Dolphins (Via San Francisco 49ers)-Darian Kinnard, OT, Kentucky

The Dolphins’ one and only goal this offseason is to improve the offensive line, which was simply a disaster in 2021. Here, they get a mauler of a player in Darian Kinnard. A right tackle in college, Kinnard will likely shift over to the guard, where he can do his best work as a powerful run blocker. His pass protection would be superior on the interior, as his size puts him at a disadvantage against speed rushers when at tackle. 

Kansas City Chiefs-Daxton Hill, S, Michigan

Chiefs fans know all too well how often Daniel Sorensen was getting beat in coverage, and they can finally breathe easy as Kansas City grabs his replacement. Hill has blazing speed, running a 4.30 40-yard dash as a high school prospect, and has the ability to play nickel corner as well as a traditional safety. 

Cincinnati Bengals-Zion Johnson, G, Boston College

Much like the Dolphins, the Bengals main goal of the offseason is to protect their quarterback. Joe Burrow was on his back more times than Cincinnati would have liked. Jonah Williams is a good left tackle, but every other spot is in need of an upgrade. Here, Johnson comes in to boost the interior offensive line. A powerful road grader, Johnson can play both guard spots or center. 

Detroit Lions (Via Los Angeles Rams)-Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State

The Lions choose to wait one more year for a QB, as they will not be close to competing soon anyway. Here, they pick up a weapon to pair with rookie sensation Amon-Ra St. Brown. Dotson is a burner, who can take the top off the defense, and has the big-play ability to take short passes to the house.

New York Giants Mock Draft 1.0

The latest New York Giants mock draft

By: Charlie Vakassian

Welcome to the first edition of our New York Giants Mock Draft! We will be using the draft simulator from The Draft Network, without trades, and seeing what picks the Giants could make pending how the board plays out.

Round 1, Pick 5-Ikem Ekwonu, OT/OG, NC State

The top three defensive players on my board were gone when I made this pick, as Kayvon Thibodeaux, Aidan Hutchinson, and Kyle Hamilton were taken with the first three picks. The Jets selected Evan Neal at pick four, leaving Ekwonu available at five, who is my highest graded offensive lineman anyway. Ekwonu is one of the nastiest players in college football, who mauls opponents in the run game. PFF has his numbers off the charts, with a run blocking grade of 93.8 and a pass blocking grade of 78.3. He only allowed 3 sacks the entire season. Ekwonu also has the ability to play the guard positions as well, but the Giants would be best served to put him at right tackle, where he can bookend with Andrew Thomas and give Daniel Jones stability on the edges. Saquon Barkley will approve of this pick as well, with Ekwonu well equipped to create running lanes for the former number two overall pick.

Round 1, Pick 7- Derek Stingley Jr, CB, LSU

The Panthers chose to select a QB with their selection at pick six, leaving the board mostly unchanged. While there are some intriguing edge rushers on the board, I decided to take the best cornerback in the draft and make the Giants secondary even better. New Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale likes to run schemes with blitzes and create pressure through good coverage from the secondary. Stingley was one of the better man coverage corners in college football and will do his best work on the outside, shutting down the top receiver on the opposing team. With James Bradberry potentially a cut candidate, Stingley can step in, work with Adoree Jackson and make the Giants defense much stronger. Stingley has the speed to keep up with speed burners, and insane ball skills to make incredible pass breakups and interceptions. He also has the chops in the run game, as shown in the above clip. The closing speed and pristine tackling ability make him an elite all around corner, and a rare talent that cannot be passed up.

Round 2, Pick 36-Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State

Here, Brisker was the best player available, and I choose to make the Giant secondary an elite unit. Brisker would be considered the best safety in the draft if it wasn’t for Kyle Hamilton. He has elite recognition and ball skills and seems to have a knack for making big plays at big moments. Too often in 2021 the Giants had opportunities to put away games and couldn’t make the key plays at key times. Brisker is someone who can change that and bring in a hard-hitting style of play. Brisker can be used in just about every type of coverage you can imagine, man or zone, and has shown the ability to play the run while lined up in the box. Wink Martindale gains another chess piece for his defense, and the Giants defense is now well on it’s way towards becoming a top 10 unit in the NFL.

Round 3, Pick 67-Darian Kinnard, OG, Kentucky

This pick is an absolute steal, as I expect Kinnard to be taken in the second round when the draft rolls around in April. Kinnard played right tackle for Kentucky for most of his college career, but projects to be a good starting guard in the NFL. Kinnard has shown that he excels in tighter quarters as a run blocker, and moving him to guard will only allow him to become even better as a road grader. He is extremely strong at the point of attack and makes it extremely difficult for rushers to use power moves on him. He has enough lateral quickness to help on double teams and is quick enough to make recoveries on an initial loss at the line of scrimmage. Plug him in at left guard, and let him create massive holes in the run game for Saquon Barkley.

Round 3, Pick 81-Nik Bonitto, EDGE, Oklahoma

You all have probably been wondering, where the heck is the edge rusher pick we all know the Giants desperately need? Well, here it is. Nik Bonitto was a productive player off the edge for the Sooners and makes for an excellent complement to Azeez Ojulari. Bonitto wins his matchups with speed and sheer motor, as he is relentless in his pursuit of the quarterback. Wink Martindale likes to run a 3-4 concept, which allows for Bonitto to rush the passer as a stand-up OLB, similar to how the Giants used Ojulari and Lorenzo Carter this year. Bonitto is also sharp against the run, demonstrating the ability to set the edge and force running backs into the defensive line.

Round 4, Pick 110-Chad Muma, LB, Wyoming

This draft is particularly strong with linebackers, so I decided to wait a little while, and I took someone who can come in and compete right away for a starting job alongside Blake Martinez. Muma is a former safety who made the transition to linebacker and has excellent speed and agility, which gives him really good angles when pursuing the ballcarrier. His best work comes in pass coverage, something the Giants have been sorely lacking since Antonio Pierce captained the defense more than 10 years ago. The only question is whether or not Muma would be here on draft night. Most people feel as though he will be gone in the second or third round, so if the Giants love him, an earlier draft pick will likely need to be used to get him.

Round 5, Pick 146-Tyrese Robinson, IOL, Oklahoma

You can never have enough offensive linemen. Joe Schoen has a history of getting big men in the later rounds, drafting guys like Wyatt Teller, Cody Ford, and Spencer Brown. New Assistant GM Brandon Brown found a 7th round gem for the Eagles in Jordan Mailata, who overtook first round pick Andre Dillard for the starting tackle job. So finding the right pieces in the later rounds will be key. A player like Tyrese Robinson will be intriguing for the GMen, as they try to finally solve the offensive line. Robinson played both guard positions at Oklahoma, and has an incredibly strong lower body, allowing him to be an anchor in the passing game. His mental side of the game is there as well, as he knows his assignments, and when to pick up or pass of stunts. Will Hernandez struggled with this aspect of his game ever since the Giants drafted him, and now Robinson can take his place and be an interior force.

Round 5, Pick 171-Jelani Woods, TE, Virginia

Tight end will likely be a need for the Giants, with Evan Engram heading for free agency, and Kyle Rudolph looking like a cap casualty. Jelani Woods is someone who can come in and be a productive player on Day 1. A converted tight end in the mold of Logan Thomas, Woods has a massive frame of 6 feet and 7 inches, along with an insane catch radius. This gives quarterbacks the ability to throw it up in one-on-one situations and have extreme confidence Woods will come up with the catch. Woods initially spent most of his college career as a blocker, so he is strong in helping set the tone in the run game. His growth as a receiver is what has caught the attention of scouts across the NFL. Engram struggled as a blocker in his Giants tenure, so having a good tight end who can block and make plays as a receiver is huge. Woods can be that guy.

Round 6, Pick 180-Cade Mays, IOL, Tennessee

I think Mays has the chance to be this year’s Trey Smith. Smith is a strong power-blocking guard from Tennessee, who slips in the draft, but rewards the team who drafts him with strong play. Mays is a player whose strong suit is in the run game, as he excels in gap blocking schemes. His work as a pass protector is still in progress, but he is able to hold his own against bull rushers up the middle. His technique can be a bit iffy, and he isn’t the most agile guard. His best work will come in the interior in close quarters. If a team tried to move him to tackle, the results just wouldn’t be the same, as Mays’ strengths all come from interior play as a guard. The Giants would be well served to grab Mays here, and finally, have depth on their offensive line.

New York Giants Special Teams Outlook

What is the Giants Special Teams Outlook?

By: Charlie Vakassian

Special teams was one of the few strengths of the Giants in 2021, as they were a top 15 unit in the NFL. That was mostly anchored by kicker Graham Gano, as he made 29 of his 33 field goal attempts and nailed all his extra points. He was essentially the Giants offense, as the starting unit failed to crack end zone time after time. Punter Riley Dixon was wildly inconsistent to lackluster, as he repeatedly booted punts into the end zone or left kicks way short, giving opposing teams good field position. His salary of $3.1M makes him an easy-cut candidate, as the Giants should find a better and cheaper alternative elsewhere. Finding a return specialist would be ideal, although someone in the house could do the job, like Kadarius Toney.

Free Agency Options

Free agency has a couple options out there. Corey Bojorquez is a solid choice, and has a cannon leg, as he averaged over 50 yards a punt in 2020, and was more than serviceable in 2021. Other names to watch include Bryan Anger, Jordan Berry, and Pat O’Donnell. The Giants did just bring in Jamie Gillan on a futures contract, so maybe he gets a shot to punt. As for return specialists, Jakeem Grant is hitting the market, although the Bears seem set on retaining him. Ray-Ray McCloud led the NFL in punt return yards this past year, and could be a solid get. The position is not high on the list of needs, but someone will be brought in.

Draft Options

I consider this to be a very unlikely route, given the Giants long list of needs at other positions. That being said, anything is possible. Matt Araiza out of San Diego State is a special punter, and could be one of the rare special teamers to hear his name called during the draft. He has booted punts of 77, 80, and 88 yards before, and holds multiple NCAA punting records. Again, this has a very small chance of happening, but a late draft pick could be spent to solidify the punting position for years to come. As for helping the return game, wide receivers John Metchie III and Jahan Dotson possess blazing speed and agility, and have return experience in college.

Concluding Thoughts

As I repeatedly stated, these are not major needs for the Giants. Dixon needs to be cut to save cap space, so there will more than likely be a new punter. We will also likely see a different face returning punts and kicks. Graham Gano is under contract and is a productive kicker, so his roster spot is safe and secure. This concludes the New York Giants Position Outlooks! I appreciate you all taking the time to read these, and go Giants! Be on the lookout for my New York Giants Mock Draft 1.0!

Five middle round players that will win your dynasty league

Mike Williams can be a steal for your dynasty team

By: Keith James

The word sleeper is thrown around often in fantasy football. The truth is there aren’t many sleepers to be had these days. With the proliferation of websites, magazines, and data most fantasy football players can read about any player at any time. Instead of thinking of “sleepers”, think of guys that are drafted in a similar round that are better than the guys drafted before him. In this article, I will identify five middle-round players that will win your dynasty league.

Dynasty is great because once you draft a player he is yours as long until you decide he’s not. You can manage your players for 3 years or 3 months. You can keep players, trade them, drop them. Once you draft a guy, in that league, he is yours to manage however you would like. The thing about dynasty is patience. Should you wait on a guy to flourish in a year or two or should you trade him? 

It’s easy to fall in love with your first 3-4 picks. This will be your core and should love your core. They will be the reason for your greatness or for your failure. The core is what matters in sports. The same applies to fantasy football. Your core will likely produce 80% of all your fantasy production barring injury. I always say the core is how you score, the rest cleans up the mess. If you are able to draft guys in the middle rounds that enter that core, you will be able to better manage a top 60 fantasy asset. 

For the benefit of this article, I am considering the middle rounds, rounds 8-13 and I am basing my ADP off of sleepers’ latest ADP (August 1st). The start of round eight is player number 85 in 12 team leagues. So the top 85 dynasty assets are off the board, the queue is getting slim. There are guys you love but who should you draft while you are sifting through the tiers. 

The following are 5 guys that are going in round 8 or later that will help you win your dynasty leagues. These are players that may not hit WR2 in 2021 but the future is bright, a little luck and they could pay off this year. Mostly, you are waiting on these guys to develop in 2022, 23′, 24′, and beyond. They are green bananas that you have to give a little time and in a year or two they will be ripe for eating. Grab them in your startup drafts, HODL them, show them care, and wait for them to develop. You will be winning many fantasy games if you choose wisely. 

Laviska Shenault (ADP 86-Dynasty)

2020 may go down as the best fantasy football draft year of all time. With top players at all positions, 2020 may rival 2017. The same draft that had Mahomes, Watson, Dalvin Cook, Kamara, CMC, and George Kittle may be rivaled by the draft that produced Jonathon Taylor, Antonio Gibson, Cam Akers, D’Andre Swift, JK Dobbins, Justin Jefferson, Jerry Jeudy, Joe Burrow, Tua, and Justin Herbert. 

There are many more 2020 names but one name that has slid this offseason is Laviska Shenault. Laviska Shenault was drafted by the Jaguars in the 2nd round at pick number 42. Shenault was seen as an athletic freak coming out of Colorado but he had injuries that derailed a good portion of his career. He is not a blazer but he is seen as an AJ Brown type of physical receiver that can do damage with the ball in his hands. 

Shenault battled poor QB play and while missing two games he was WR46, putting up 157 PPR points at a little over 11 points per game (PPG). Known as a big play waiting to happen, Laviska has strong hands that snatch the ball and look to do damage with his large 6’1 220-pound frame. 

His current ADP is going at 97 (round 8 in 12 man leagues) and he is going as WR35. 

I’m looking for Laviska to be the focus of Trevor Lawrence’s targets this year both on intermediate routes and short routes where Shenault can work in space. With the crowded Jaguars receiver room consisting of DJ Chark, Shenault, and Marvin Jones it is hard to imagine Shenault owning the Jaguars target share in 2021 but in 2022 and beyond this will be Shenault’s team on the receiving end. 

DJ Chark is a free agent and Marvin Jones is 31 years old. Shenault is on a team-friendly deal for 4 more years and there is already talk out of Jaguars camp of “building the offense around” Laviska Shenault. I built a model that highlighted the top 12 receivers from the last 7 years. I looked at height, weight, draft capital, year in the league, and many other variables. Shenault fits the model of a WR1 to a tee. He has the build, the athleticism, the wow factor to chew up yards on easy catches and he should be between 20-25% target share once Chark moves on after this season. 

Grab Shenault in the 9th round of your start-up drafts and look for him to be a sound WR3 this year and build toward one of the most dynamic receivers in the league over the next 3-5 years. I also believe Shenault is worth a 2022 first-round pick if you are looking at assets to buy heading into this season. Make offers now, because his price may be much higher after an electric 2021 season.

Rashod Bateman (ADP 83-Dynasty)

Bateman was a case of COVID-19 derailing his momentum. If he was able to play in a full 12-13 game season last year he would have been a top 15 pick. Covid-19 hit and the Big Ten was only able to play in 6 games and Bateman caught the virus and was not able to finish the season with the Gophers. 

Make no mistake, however, Bateman can ball. He is another prototypical receiver that fits the making of a WR1. Taken with pick 27 by the Baltimore Ravens, Bateman has been a victim of where he landed. The Ravens are a run-heavy team. They lead the league in rushing attempts last year and were last in passing attempts. With Lamar Jackson’s skill set, they have created an offense around Jackson’s strengths. 

Jackson however has never had a receiver with the talent of Bateman and these two are about to tear up the AFC North for the next five years. Bateman is another prototypical WR1 in the making. As a rookie, his volume will likely keep him in the WR4 or WR3 category. Moving forward, he will be a problem for opposing defenses. At 6’0, 190 he is smaller than average WR1’s but he explains how he battled COVID last year and his weight is a little light. 

I believe he plays more around 200 pounds this year and in future years. Bateman runs a 4.43 forty (pro day) and has great hands. Watching his tape he reminds me of Reggie Wayne, I’m not saying he is the Great Wayne Manor but that’s what he looks like. Bateman runs clean, crisp routes, and tracks the ball great. He has great hands and he is open often. 

Bateman is currently being drafted at ADP 130 (WR43) behind Will Fuller, Henry Ruggs, and his teammate Hollywood Brown. I like Bateman much more than his current tier of WR’s in dynasty. Bateman figures to take a year or two before becoming an annual top 24 WR.

I love Bateman in round 10 earlier than he is being drafted and stashing him for upcoming stardom over the next 2-3 years. Bateman was my WR2 coming into the 2021 draft and I believe he would have been drafted in the top 15 if COVID didn’t ruin his season. Draft Bateman with glee and attach him to an established MVP QB who needs a big body, clean route runner, to improve his passing efficiency. Bateman is that guy for Lamar Jackson and he will be that guy for your fantasy team. 

Terrace Marshall (ADP116-Dynasty)

Terrace is a player that had some late injury concerns and was caught up in the wash of other great receivers playing at LSU at the same time as him. Terrace was a five-star recruit who took some time to establish himself after Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson were no longer around. Playing in an LSU passing attack that was a far drop from Joe Burrow’s historic 2019 season, Terrace established himself as his own big play waiting to happen. 

Marshall stands at 6’2, 200 pounds, and runs a 4.4 forty. The other thing I love about Marshall other than his size/speed combo is he did damage primarily from the slot in 2020. That is where I believe he thrives for the Panthers in 2021 and beyond. Marshall will be the 4th option on his new Panther team. With CMC coming back healthy he will eat up a lot of the targets both Robbie Anderson and DJ Moore (DJM) had last year. CMC is still the focus of that offense and will be leaned on in Sam Darnold’s first year. 

Anderson and DJM present a problem for Marshall in year one, but his understanding of the slot will help his cause seeing the field. Marshall has star potential written all over him and with Robbie Anderson likely leaving via free agency after the 2021 season, Marshall should be set to take control in 2022 and beyond.

I am of the belief having great players on the other side of you helps your cause, and does not hinder it. DJ Moore is set to become a household name and if the Panther’s offensive brain trust can unlock Sam Darnold’s talent then Darnold, CMC, DMJ, and Marshall will begin to push for annual top ten offensive productions. There is a lot of talent on that offense. 

Marshall is currently being drafted at ADP 116 (round 9) and at that price you are looking at another potential top 24 receiver that can help your squad this year in spot starts or at the flex position and if there is an injury to either Moore or Anderson, watch out, Marshall may become the next Chase Claypool. Marshall’s size and athletic ability make him a matchup nightmare especially with such skilled receivers as Moore and Anderson on the outside, lining up Marshall against smaller nickel backs in the red zone is money in the bank and will cash checks for your fantasy squad. 

Mike Williams (ADP134-Dynasty)

Mike Williams has become a hair puller. He’s a guy with immense talent, a size/speed combo with high draft capital that has not been able to consistently put it all together. Williams had a 1,000-yard season and a season with 10 touchdowns and he is fully capable of being a dude that has both this year. Working with Justin Herbert, Mike Williams will undoubtedly be the 3rd option behind Austin Ekelar and Keenan Allen but with a superstar QB that 3rd option will be deadly. 

Another reason I love Mike Williams this year is he is entering a contract year. With the Chargers knowing they will have to drop a bag for Justin Herbert in a couple of years, it is more than likely that Williams walks and can take over as an alpha receiver for a new team. At only 26 years old, Williams is entering his 5th year and he is in a prime position to help dynasty teams this year and the next 3 years. 

Williams stands 6’4, 220, and is prone to the deep ball. He can go up and get it. Williams is not a YAC guy, he is a jump ball, the contested-catch nightmare that is a perfect complement to Keenan Allens and his superior route running. Williams needs to see more targets to be a consistent performer but with the Chargers investing in the offensive line for the first time in what feels like forever, Justin Herbert should be a top 8 fantasy quarterback for the foreseeable future. Williams had 85 targets last year and 90 the year before, with the extra game I can foresee a 100 target season with 68 grabs, over 1,000 yards, and 9 touchdowns. I am predicting a breakout for the Clemson alum in his walk year so that another team can pay him next year and you can cash in 2021 and the next few years. 

Williams ADP has been moving up, the word is out. Camp reports say that Williams looks great and he is establishing himself with Herbert to be a true number two in LA, this should correlate to a top 24 finish, or better in 2021. Moving forward, when Williams balls out this year, teams will get a sense of how best to use Williams. He is at his best in jump ball, contested-catch areas of the field. Even with below-average speed (4.58 forty), Williams is still able to get deep. Williams has a 16.7 yard per catch average in his career, so he is looking to beat you to the outside and win a contested ball. 

Williams will man the X position in new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi’s offense. This was the same position Michael Thomas played under Lombardi in NO. Williams will see an uptick in targets, use his skills on the deep ball, and be a jump ball receiver looking for a layup down by the goal line. The is the year Williams breaks out and he will ride that wave for your dynasty team now and into the future. 

Darnell Mooney (ADP 124-Dynasty)

With all the reports of Darnell Mooney lighting up Bears camp, his ADP has remained stagnant all summer. It’s shocking that a receiver who is the Bears leader for rookies in receptions with 61 last year has not budged in ADP all off-season. Here’s the deal, I’m a big Bears fan and I thought the after-season hype was more than I expected out of Darnell Mooney but with a much-improved QB situation in Chicago, Mooney will be able to get deep with his 4.38 speed. 

Mooney is also an intelligent player that uses smooth transitions in his routes to get open. There is a Twitter GIF showing Mooney’s skills when he duped Jalen Ramsay and got by him deep only to have Nick Foles overthrow the ball. Foles was under heavy pressure by his own goal line, but I digress. Mooney has the skills to become a star in the league. Reports are that Mooney was attached to Allen Robinson’s hip in the offseason and with a full year to grow in the offense, having a true NFL training camp, and refining his skills Mooney is set to go to the moon. See what I did there?

Mooney’s ADP is currently 122 (WR41) so you are getting a younger version of Tyreek Hill about to be linked to the most talented, productive, experienced quarterback prospect the Bears have ever had in Justin Fields. Fields is a dynamic deep-ball thrower, which will play perfectly for Darnell Mooney’s speed. What Mooney needed was a QB that could unlock his ability to get deep and make a game-changing play. Fields will be that guy. I believe Mooney has star potential and could become a top 20 WR and he can be had for a 10th round pick. Get him now and grow with him, watching your dynasty squad become elite.

Middle of the Road

No matter the drafting format, finding guys that hit in the middle to late rounds will always be a winning formula. In Dynasty, these guys are your future. They are your playmakers or traceable assets that can set you up to succeed for a half-decade. 

Laviska Shenault, Rashod Bateman, Terrace Marshall, Mike Williams, and Darnell Mooney are all guys that have an open window of success in the present and the future. They are all a little different but the best thing about this group is they will not cost you high draft capital. These are middle-round gems and if you can walk away with 2-3 of these guys you will have a top-flight receiving core that your league will have to contend with. These are playmakers that will be consistent names in rounds 1-6 for the next four years. 

In fantasy football, I am always looking for volume and value. What the five guys on this list present is high value with anticipated volume to increase their profile. What I like about all five of these guys in their ability to make plays and get in the zone. Touchdowns are the great decider between a top 30 WR and a top 15 wide receiver. Managing players that can be target hogs on their team and find the endzone will bring fantasy happiness. 

Find your way to the middle, look for these names and start to put together your wide receiver core while building the rest of your squad in earlier rounds. You better hurry though, talent wins in the NFL and each one of these players is getting buzz at their camps. These may be middle-round picks in 2021 but these are not middle-round players. They will go much higher next year and beyond. Go and get them on your dynasty teams and win bragging rights for years to come.  

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