Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos odds, picks and best

NFL teams most likely to go from worst to first in 2020

We have talked a lot about the draft, biggest remaining needs for every NFL team, some breakout candidates and other stuff, so let’s now get back to more of a big picture and look at some teams from an angle of where could they go next season. In this article, I am analyzing those teams that finished fourth in their division this past year and why they could win it in 2020 or land at the bottom once again, plus an outlook where I actually see them.
Of course much of this is about these eight teams and how much better or worse I feel about them than the general public, but it was heavily dependent on their three division rivals as well. The top half I could certainly see earn a playoff spot and surprise some people if everything goes right. After that a lot of my faith is more built around the lack of great competition and giving some hope to these respective fan bases. As the cliché goes – everybody is 0-0 right now.


1. Arizona Cardinals

Why they can win the division:
Let’s just start with the main point here – this Cardinals squad has all the ingredients to make a big jump in 2020. I expect Kyler Murray to enter the superstar conversation in year two, after impressing with his arm talent and ability to extend plays in a (somewhat controversial) Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign. Steve Keim managed to unload a bad David Johnson contract and basically acquire an elite receiver in DeAndre Hopkins for a second-round pick. Kenyan Drake now has a full offseason to learn this offense and make himself a major factor once again, following up an outstanding second half of the season once the Cardinals traded for him with Miami. He perfectly fits into this offense with a lot East-West based rushing from shotgun sets and his involvement in the pass game, including those quick throws as an extension of the rushing attack. Arizona’s defense should be a lot better with run-stoppers being added in the draft that fit their 3-4 base front with Utah’s Leki Fotu and LSU’s Rashard Lawrence, since they can stay in those packages against the other teams in their division running a lot of 12 and 21 personnel probably. Add to that a do-it-all player with ridiculous range and overall athleticism in Isaiah Simmons at eight overall, plus all the other guys being in their second year under DC Vance Joseph. I love Budda Baker as a missile from his safety spot and I think some of the other young guys on that unit will take a step forward, like second-year corner Byron Murphy, who I talked about last week. Now let’s get to rest of the West – every other team in that division has some issues. The 49ers are facing the objects of a potential Super Bowl hangover and some limitations with Jimmy G at the helm. The Seahawks have question marks on the edge on either side of the ball with Cedric Ogbuehi and Brandon Shell fighting for the starting gig at right tackle and Jadeveon Clowney still on the open market, with a bunch of draft picks these last couple of years having to step up. And the Rams had one of the worst O-lines in football last season and they lost some pieces on defense. The Cardinals already gave all these teams issues in 2019 and have now added pieces that were clearly missing when last matching up against each other.

Why they could finish last again:
Most importantly, I am still not completely sold on the Cardinals offensive line, with D.J. Humphries being signed to a rather expensive deal as a below-average left tackle, third-rounder Josh Jones – while earning a late first-round grade from me – still needing an overhaul on his footwork before he can slide in at right tackle and guard Justin Pugh finally having played a full 16 games for the first time since 2015 last season. NFL coaches had a lot of time to study Kliff Kingsbury’s Air-Raid offense, which when you break it down is pretty simplistic in the amount of schemes they run. Yes, he diversified it a little as last season went along, going under center and running some pro-style rushing plays, but at its core, you can learn how to create some issues for all those mesh concepts and spread sets. As far as the Cardinals defense goes, it is more about pieces than proven commodities. Patrick Peterson is seemingly on the decline, they are thin in the secondary and could Chandler Jones follow soon, after he has been one of the most underrated pass-rushers in the league for a while now? You are staring the reigning NFC champs in the eyes, a team that was a few inches away from earning a playoff bye and another squad that went to the Super Bowl just two years ago. This is probably the best division in the entire league.

Bottom line:
I still believe the 49ers have done enough to repeat as division champs, re-tooling for all the losses they have suffered this offseason. However, I’m feeling pretty good about the Cardinals earning a wildcard spot. While I believe in the Seahawks quarterback and the Rams head coach respectively to not allow their teams to not have throwaway seasons, I also see enough issues with those squads to make me believe the Cardinals could have the second-best year of anybody in the West. To me they are pretty clearly the best of these eight teams, because they have a young phenom at quarterback, stars at pretty much every position, a different type of system around them and what I’d like to call “juice” coming into 2020.


2. Detroit Lions

Why they can win the division:
Matt Stafford is back healthy and when he was in the lineup last season, this was a team that defeated the Eagles, Chargers and only didn’t finish the job against the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs because of some crazy stuff going on late. The veteran QB stood at 19 touchdowns compared to five picks and was playing at a near-MVP type level. However, Detroit’s identity will be built on the run game with re-investments in the offensive line as well as adding D’Andre Swift to form a dynamic one-two punch with him and Kerryon Johnson. Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones may be the most underrated receiving duo to go with Danny Amendola as a tough guy in the slot and T.J. Hockenson coming into year two as a top-ten pick a year ago, having shown flashes when he was healthy. The defense is finally starting to take shape with third-overall Jeffrey Okudah as an elite corner prospect being added to an underrated secondary, Jamie Collins being a chess piece in the front seven after already having worked well with Matt Patricia and some young guys up front trying to prove themselves to go with the versatile Trey Flowers. Maybe more importantly than the Lions themselves – Nobody else got that much better and none of the other three really stand out to me. Other than the Vikings probably – who had the advantage of making a record-breaking 15 selections – the Lions might have had the best draft within the division. Thanks to that last-place schedule, they get to face the Redskins in the East (instead of Eagles & Cowboys) and Cardinals in the West, who I just talked about taking a step forward, but are still a better draw than the reigning conference champions or possibly having to travel to Seattle. I believe that new regime in Detroit has finally built an identity on both sides of the ball with the heavy investments in the run game and back-seven on defense. Winning ten games might earn you a division title, if everybody plays each other tough.

Why they could finish last again:
Can these guys finally stay healthy? Matt Stafford to my surprise played a full 16 games in eight straight years before last season, but a lot of that had to do with his toughness to fight through pain and he had major issues with that shoulder early on in his career before basically breaking his back after putting the team on it for the last decade. Kerryon Johnson has missed 14 of 32 possible starts and he has never carried the ball more than 118 times a season. Their receiving corp has been banged up quite a bit too. More glaring even – how will all these additions of former Patriots players work out? Can Matt Patricia build a New England 2.0 in Michigan or is he just bringing in players he knows will listen to him and the way he wants things to be done? Detroit could also rely on a lot of rookies to be immediate impact players – possibly two new starting guards on offense, running back D’Andre Swift probably sharing the load with Kerryon, Jeffrey Okudah having to immediately become their CB1 and Julian Okwara being asked to become a much more consistent player if they give him major snaps. And I recently talked about how their uncertainty at punter could be an issue for their ball-control, defense-minded style of play. They also have an early bye (week five), which I’m never a big fan of, after facing the Bears, Packers, Cardinals and Saints, which probably includes three playoff teams. If Chicago can get any competent QB play, all these teams should be highly competitive.

Bottom line:
I don’t think any team in this division wins more than ten games. Unfortunately I don’t see the Lions go over that mark themselves either. The Packers won’t come out victorious in so many close games (8-1 in one-possession affairs), the Vikings have lost a few proven commodities and look for young talent to immediately replace those and the Bears still have a quarterback competition going on. So if Detroit can do any better than just split the season series with those three teams, I see them finishing above .500, but ten wins is the ceiling for me. In terms of the competition inside the division, the Lions may be my number one team in this conversation, but I see a much clearer path to things crashing down for Matt Patricia and them having another disappointing season than I do with the Cardinals. No team in this division may finish below that 8-8 mark.


3. Miami Dolphins

Why they can win the division:
When you ask the general public, the Buffalo Bills right now are the favorites to win the AFC East, but they haven’t done so since 1995 and they still have to prove they really are that team. The Patriots lost several pieces on defense and Tom Brady of course, which probably leads them to starting a quarterback, who over his four career pass attempts has thrown more touchdowns to the opposing team than to his own. The Jets are still building up that roster, with GM Joe Douglas trying to plant seeds on burnt earth, and they face a BRUTAL schedule. So Miami has a lot of things going in their favor for an organization that I believe in what they are trying to build. Depending on what happens at quarterback, you could have a veteran in Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was by far the best inside the division in several key categories last season and/or Tua Tagovailoa, who had one of the most prolific careers we have seen from anybody in the SEC. They added at least two new starters on the O-line, they now have one of the premiere cornerback trios in the league with the all-time highest paid player at the position in Byron Jones and first-round pick Noah Igbinoghene to go with Xavien Howard and with some added beef up front, they are finally looking a lot like what Brian Flores had in New England. DeVante Parker really broke out over the second half of 2019 and Miami should have a much better rushing attack because of the additions up front and two quality committee backs in Jordan Howard and Matt Breida being added. They have two other young pass-catchers ready to break out this upcoming season in tight-end Mike Gesicki and a UDFA receiver from a year ago in Preston Williams. Whenever Tua’s name is called upon, he will be a perfect fit for Chan Gailey’s horizontal passing game.

Why they could finish last again:
As much as I like what I see from this entire organization, it is probably just a year too early for Miami. So many young players could be thrown into the fire and a lot of them I look at as needing that experience – 18th overall pick Austin Jackson (USC) is more of a developmental tackle still with his footwork and hand-placement issues, 30th overall pick Noah Igbinoghene (Auburn) has only played cornerback for two years and was bailed out by his athletic tools at times, third-rounder Brandon Jones has to develop more of a feel in deep coverage and at least one more rookie lineman will likely start for them. Even outside of this year’s draft class, they already had several players on their roster that are still moving towards their prime. Whether you look at last year’s first-rounder Christian Wilkins, a lot of second- and third-year pass-catchers or their young linebackers outside of Kyle Van Noy. The Bills are entering year four of that turn-around under Sean McDermott and Brandon Beane, the Patriots still have the greatest coach of all time and will be a tough matchup solely based on that and the Jets at least have people playing for their jobs, plus a very talented young quarterback I still believe in. As much as I doubt Adam Gase, as long as Sam Darnold doesn’t get mono again, the offense should at least be competent, and the defense could potentially have a top-five player at every level with All-Pro Bowl safety Jamal Adams, an 85-million dollar linebacker in C.J. Mosley and my number one prospect in last year’s draft on the interior D-line with Quinnen Williams.

Bottom line:
As I mentioned before, the Bills are the front-runners in this division for me. As much respect as I have for Bill Belichick, I haven’t seen enough from Jarrett Stidham to make me a believer and he shrunk in some big moments at Auburn. The Jets to me could be a lot better than they were in 2019 and still go 6-10 just because of the type of schedule they are up against. So the Dolphins to me could easily finish anywhere from second to fourth, depending on how some of the players on that roster progress. I wouldn’t bet on them actually making the playoffs, but they could absolutely be a pain in the butt for some of the better teams in the AFC and in 2021 they might be the pick here.


4. Los Angeles Chargers

Why they can win the division:
First and foremost, this Chargers defense is absolutely loaded with no real hole that you can point to. Derwin James is back healthy after a first-team All-Pro rookie campaign, Chris Harris Jr. comes in to make this secondary one the elite units in the NFL to go with two more Pro Bowlers among it and they have some guys I expect to break out like Jerry Tillery, Drue Tranquill and Nasir Adderley. In terms of having matchup pieces and a versatile pass rush to challenge Kansas City, nobody in the league may be on the same level as these guys. Offensively, Ihave talked about how the left tackle spot is concern for L.A. with a battle between Sam Tevi and Trey Pipkins for the starting job, but the other four spots are as good as they have been in a while, acquiring Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner via trade, signing a top five right tackle in Bryan Bulaga and getting Mike Pouncey back healthy. Tyrod Taylor can steer the ship and even if Justin Herbert is thrown into the fire – which I wouldn’t recommend – they have the skill-position players and willingness to run the ball to take pressure off those guys. While the Chiefs return 20 of 22 starters from a year ago, this wouldn’t be the first time we saw a Super Bowl champion have some issues the following season and as much as we want to hype up the Broncos and Raiders, both their quarterbacks (and other players of course as well) have a lot to prove still. Outside of KC, the Chargers likely have the smallest changes to what they do other than moving on from Philip Rivers and we saw that formula work the year prior, when they challenged Kansas City until the very end for the division crown and the conference’s top seed potentially. While they probably would have liked to bring in Tom Brady over the offseason, the fact they decided against signing Cam Newton to a roster that is ready to win right now, shows you the confidence they have in that quarterback room.

Why they could finish last again:
I’m not a huge fan of Derek Carr, but the Chargers will probably have the worst quarterback in the division in 2020. And their starting left tackle could be the worst in the entire league. As good as their defense will probably be, you can not consistently win games in which your offense doesn’t put up 20+ points in the league today – especially when all these teams in their division have spent so much on acquiring offensive firepower these last couple of years. I believe all three of their division rivals got better this offseason and the Chargers spent their top draft pick (sixth overall) on a young quarterback, who might not even help them win games this season. As I already mentioned, Kansas City brings back almost their entire starting lineups and they went 12-4 despite Mahomes seemingly having his knee cap facing the sideline while laying on his back. I have uttered my thoughts on Denver several times now, which you can read up on later. As for Las Vegas’ new team, they did start last season 6-4 and just heavily invested into their two major issues – wide receiver and linebacker. And while I don’t like to talk about it – injuries have been a huge issue for this Chargers team in recent years and I don’t really know what it is even, but I can’t assume that they all of a sudden can stay healthy.

Bottom line:
In terms of talent on the roster outside of the quarterback position, you could make a pretty compelling argument that the Chargers are ahead of all the other teams on this list. That’s the reason they have a pretty high floor of finishing around .500 and if everything works out, they could absolutely be a playoff contender. However, for this exercise in particular, I believe their upside is capped by what they have under center. Tyrod Taylor can be a top-20 quarterback in the NFL this season and in terms of upside, Justin Herbert has all the tools to become a difference-maker once he steps on the field, but they don’t have the explosiveness the Chiefs or the Broncos have for that matter. With so much continuity on a team that has the best player in the entire league, I can’t go against the Chiefs and in the end we are evaluating the chances to actually win the division.


5. Washington Redskins

Why they can win the division:
These guys are very reminiscent of the 49ers with their defensive line, in terms of having invested a lot of high draft picks into the unit these last couple of years and now with that second overall pick bringing in a true stud from Ohio State – this time in Chase Young. When you look at all those guys up front – with the Bama boys patrolling the middle, Matt Ioannidis capable of moving around the front, Montez Sweat looking to break out in year two and Ryan Kerrigan still being there as a productive veteran – they will wreak some havoc this season. Ron Rivera could finally bring some structure to this organization and help them turn it around on defense with the addition of an old companion in Thomas Davis, plus some high-upside players like Reuben Foster and Fabian Moreau looking to prove themselves. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins had a very underwhelming rookie campaign, but he clearly wasn’t ready to be out there and found himself in a bad situation in terms of the support system around him. I like a lot of their young skill-position players the front office has surrounded him with, when you look at Terry McLaurin trying to become a young star in this league, who produced despite shaky quarterback play last season, Kelvin Harmon and Antonio Gandy-Golden being two big-bodied targets I liked these last two drafts, Derrius Guice hopefully finally being able to stay healthy to lead this backfield and this year’s third-round pick Antonio Gibson being a chess piece that you can manufacture touches for. Somebody I forgot to mention in this discussion recently is Steven Sims Jr., who is a jitterbug with the ball in his hands. New offensive coordinator Scott Turner will implement a system that should make life easier on his second-year signal-caller as well, while relying heavily on the run game.

Why they could finish last again:
Haskins is by far the least proven QB of the bunch, with Daniel Jones even being head and shoulders above him in their respective rookie seasons. No pass-catcher outside of Terry McLaurin had any major production to speak. Counting on a 37-year old Thomas Davis to not only be a leader for them, but also make plays on the field, could create issues, and Washington lost some pieces in the secondary. This offseason is a challenge for any team, that is looking to implement a new system on each side of the ball, but I think especially for a motivator like Rivera, who can give his squad a heartbeat and push them to success, not being there in person with those guys will hurt. Most importantly however, this division to me will be a two-man race between the Eagles and Cowboys – as it has been for a while now. They both will likely have top ten quarterbacks, better receiving corps, better offensive lines and more experienced defenses. The Giants may not blow anybody away coming into 2020, but looking at the two matchups from last year between them and the Redskins, Big Blue beat them 24-3 the first time around, when Daniel Jones threw one touchdown compared to two interceptions and then he diced them up for five TDs and no picks in week 16. The one area Washington would have had the clear upper hand was with their front-four, but New York just invested a lot of draft capital into their O-line to prevent that. Just go through the Redskins’ schedule and show me more than six wins. I dare you.

Bottom line:
These last two sentences really say it all. Even if Philly and Dallas split the season series and Washington can get a game off either one of them, it will be tough to turn around this squad as quickly as this season – with reduced practice time and team activities – to a point where they can finish above both of them. Both of them could easily win double-digit games in 2020 and while I think the Redskins are on the right track if Haskins looks more like the Ohio State version of himself, other than their defensive line, no unit for them is ready to compete for the division quite yet. Just going through their schedule in an objective manner, it is tough to find any lay-ups and say Washington has some baseline of wins they count on. To not have them any lower than this is more due to the respect for Riverboat Ron and how high I was on a lot of the guys they drafted recently.


6. Jacksonville Jaguars

Why they can win the division:
I was going back and forth between my number six and seven teams, because the Jaguars are projected to pick first overall come next April for a reason – they did lose a lot of pieces. However, to me it came down to the fact that the AFC South might be won at 9-7 or 10-6 and this coaching staff actually has to win to keep their jobs. There is a lot noise about the Colts, but when you go back to last season, Philip Rivers was a turnover machine with serious questions about his arm strength. Bill O’Brien made some very questionable decisions for Houston and Tennessee is counting on a formula that is built on a 250-banger running the ball 25+ times and Ryan Tannehill finally repeating a career year, as they are coming off an AFC title game appearance. As far as Jacksonville goes, Gardner Minshew was the highest-graded rookie quarterback according to PFF and altogether I would have put him second only behind Kyler Murray. D.J. Chark broke out as one of the young star receivers and I had a first-round grade on Colorado’s Laviska Shenault if he can be healthy, because his talent is off the charts. I think the O-line would have benefitted from another tackle to kick Cam Robinson inside to guard, but those guys are some road-graders to make the run game work. Defensively the only real contributor from that Sacksonville group a couple of years ago who actually wants to be there is Myles Jack, but I really like their young duo off the edge in first-rounders Josh Allen last year and now K’Lavon Chaisson (LSU). There are some questions about the back-end, but they were built front-to-back with a lot of zone coverage behind it and depending on the development of ninth overall pick C.J. Henderson, they can roll away from him matching up with the opposing team’s number one receiver. Avoiding some of the better AFC squads altogether is pretty sweet as well, to go with facing no playoff team from last year outside their division until the middle of November.

Why they could finish last again:
I’m just not sure if all of these players are ready to fight for that coaching staff and organization. Two of their remaining veterans (Leonard Fournette and Yannick Ngakoue) have openly talked about how they want to be traded, they only have a few actually proven commodities on that entire roster and with the way they have unloaded big cap numbers, they have set themselves up for a true rebuild potentially, as they are expected to be in the Trevor Lawrence-Justin Fields sweepstakes come next April. Even if they can get a few breaks and the division is up for grabs, does this organization even want to win this season? If not for the injury to Jacoby Brissett in the middle of the season, all three other teams in that division would have almost certainly finished above .500 and the Colts are actually the team that improved by far the most among them. That Texans, who have actually won the South four of the last five years, including last season, may be the smallest challenge and still sweep Jacksonville. Vegas rarely misses completely and the Jaguars right now are the odds-on favorite to pick first overall come next April, with an NFL-low OveUnder of 4.5 wins on the season. And as favorable as the early portion of their schedule looks like right, check out this eight-game stretch after their week seven bye – at Chargers, vs. Texans, at Packers, vs. Steelers, vs. Browns, at Vikings, vs. Titans, at Ravens. Ouch. They might go winless over that period.

Bottom line:
The Jaguars to me are a very interesting team, because I believe they have accumulated a bunch of young talent, which gets lost a little when you see all the names that aren’t there anymore. There is a lot to like about this roster, when you look at what these players could develop into, but that doesn’t mean they will have success this year already. The Colts have the best 53 currently in the division (or 55 now), the Texans have the best quarterback and the Titans are coming off an AFC Championship game appearance. Gardner Minshew could make this kind of a tough decision if they end up picking anywhere after first overall and I think some of those other kids will put up pretty good numbers, but they are still pretty clearly fourth in the South as for now.


7. Carolina Panthers

Why they can win the division:
Nobody knows for sure what Matt Rhule and his new coaching staff will throw at them. Joe Brady gets to work with Teddy Bridgewater once again, who he already coached in New Orleans – so there will be familiarity for him in this system and they already “speak the same language”. That young receiving corp with D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, free agency addition Robby Anderson and even an up-and-coming tight-end in Ian Thomas is pretty underrated actually, plus of course they have one of the truly elite weapons out of the backfield in Christian McCaffrey, who is probably set to break his own RB reception record once again. The Panthers defense-only draft has brought them a monster in the middle in Derrick Brown (Auburn), a really talented edge rusher in Yetur Gross-Matos (Penn State) on the opposite of last year’s rookie stud Brian Burns, a super-rangy safety with linebacker size in Jeremy Chinn (Southern Illinois), what I think is a starting corner in Troy Pride Jr. (Notre Dame) and some other pieces in the secondary. The talent is clearly there and now you bring in a scheme that is probably going to be unique for the NFL level as well, when you look at that 3-3-5 Baylor ran under Rhule and defensive coordinator Phil Snow. As much as we want to praise our legends of the game, the quarterbacks of the two front-runners in this division will be 41 and 43 years old respectively and let’s not forget that Atlanta started out last season 1-7.

Why they could finish last again:
Especially this offseason, without certainty if there will be anything like training camp or even a real preseason, that completely new staff with new systems they are trying to teach will certainly have some growing pains. Bridgewater has been a top-20 starting QB maybe one year of his career and even when he was applauded for the way he filled in for Drew Brees last season, he finished dead-last in intended air yards among quarterbacks with at least 100 pass attempts. How will that mesh with a lot of vertical targets around him? When he has those guys running free on slants and dig routes, the ball will get there, but will he be willing to throw that deep post or give his guys a chance on go-balls? Defensively they are counting on a lot of young players and they have nobody to even come close to replacing Luke Kuechly, as well as making the switch to an unproven scheme possibly, if they actually use some of those 3-3-5 looks coming over from Baylor. When you look at Rhule’s track-record, it always took him until year two to show improvement and then in that third season is when those teams can really make some noise. And that was in the AAC and Big 12 respectively. Now he is in the NFC South with a team that just went 13-3 in the Saints and a Bucs squad that already was 7-9 and lost six of those games by one score, only because despite finishing fifth in takeaways, they ranked in the bottom five in turnover differential due to easily leading the league with 41 giveaways. That should get a lot better with Tom Brady coming in, who has never even quite thrown half of Jameis Winston’s 30 interceptions in any of his 20 years in the league. Even the Falcons – for as poorly as they started last season – went 6-2 after really coming together and making some changes in their bye week last season.

Bottom line:
The Panthers are clearly the most unproven team in this division. While new systems that haven’t been scouted yet certainly have an advantage in terms of game-planning early on, especially in this offseason with heavily limited live reps most likely, that might equal a net minus. You have to root for a guy like Teddy Bridgewater and the way he has worked his way up to a starting spot again, but I just don’t look at him as a surefire franchise signal-caller. The other three teams in the South all have top ten quarterbacks in the league in my opinion and much more continuity around them. Until the Panthers finally get to their bye week at the start of December, I don’t see them winning more than four of those twelve games. At that point they may have their eyes on a different goal already, if Teddy B isn’t the clear answer under center.


8. Cincinnati Bengals

Why they can win the division:
We’re not that far away from 2015, when the Bengals won the AFC North with a 12-4 record as the fifth year in a row making the playoffs. Since then this is the first time I feel like there really is change happening with this team. Marvin Lewis was replaced by a young Zac Taylor, trying to prove himself to the league, they drafted Heisman trophy winner Joe Burrow first overall to replace as average a quarterback as we have had over the last decade in Andy Dalton and the front office finally spent some money in free agency. While you would think a quarterback going first overall usually comes into a situation, where he is devoid of talent around him, Cincinnati suddenly has one of the better group of skill-position players in the entire league, assuming A.J. Green is back healthy. Tyler Boyd is a stud in the slot, who will be Burrow’s version of Justin Jefferson, a 50-50 ball specialist in second-round pick Tee Higgins (Clemson) matches perfectly with Burrow’s expertise of winning with ball-placement and if they get anything from former first-rounder John Ross at least as a decoy with his speed, that’s a plus. I expect Joe Mixon to be among the league leader’s in running back receptions and be more effective in space with those receivers around him as well. The signings the Bengals have made on defense gives them a lot more talent and complements very well what they already had. D.J. Reader is one of the most underrated defensive linemen in the league and frees everybody up along the front, they completely overhauled that linebacker group, which was a major issue these last couple of years, they brought in a starting CB2 and nickel from Minnesota to pair up with William Jackson III, who is ready to announce himself as one of the best corners in football, and Von Bell is a great match with the rangy free safety Jessie Bates.

Why they could finish last again:
As talented as all those guys throwing, catching and running the ball may be, it all starts with what’s happening up front and the Bengals offensive line is still in transition. They could have two of the worst starters in the league at both guard spots and right tackle once again, with the prior ones close to reaching that bust status and Bobby Hart still somehow having a starting job. As great as Joe Burrow was last year at LSU and how clean his evaluation was, how much better than Andy Dalton will he be right away, especially going up against those scary defensive fronts inside his division? Defensively they could easily have six new starters, which obviously can be looked at as a positive sign, considering they allowed 20+ points in all but two games last season, but there is also a lack of continuity and reduced time to fit all those pieces together. Cincinnati’s coaching staff hasn’t really proven anything yet and they will be facing a massacre of a schedule, with three occasions of back-to-back road games and while three of their final four games of the season are at home, they will face the Cowboys, Steelers and Ravens, to go with a trip to Houston in-between. If they don’t beat the Chargers in the season-opener, they probably don’t get that first W until week four against the Jaguars and then they have to hope they can sneak out another one until their bye week. Baltimore is tied with Kansas City for the highest projected win total with reigning MVP coming into just his third season, Pittsburgh is favored to make the playoffs with Big Ben back under center and Cleveland was the offseason favorite in 2019, while fielding an even better roster this year.

Bottom line:
I feel bad for putting this team last, because I thought Joe Burrow was the top quarterback and definitely worthy of that number one pick and the Bengals finally spent big money in free agency to retool the defense. To me this is less about them than the Ravens, who just were the number one overall seed in the playoffs at 14-2 and haven’t done anything other than get better themselves, a Steelers team that made a run at the playoffs with the worst quarterback play in the league now getting Ben back and a Browns roster that is among the top ten league-wide in most people’s opinion. Still, there is a lot to like about this team at the skill-positions, which is probably behind only Cleveland in terms all the weapons they have, some young standouts on defense and hope that all of this brings a fresh breath of air.

If you enjoyed this content, I would really appreciate if you could visit the original piece (with video clips) - https://halilsrealfootballtalk.com/2020/06/16/nfl-teams-most-likely-to-go-from-worst-to-first-in-2020/
You can also listen to my breakdown on Youtube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9kCcuPobNU
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Will the Houston Texans win OVER/UNDER 7.5 games? By University Stats Prof!

1. Introduction

The Texans won the AFC South title for the fourth time in five years. They pulled off a great playoff comeback win over the Bills after being down 16-0 in the third quarter.

However, they were the victim of a huge comeback themselves in the following contest by squandering a 24-0 lead in Kansas City. They were completely overwhelmed in the last 40 minutes of the game at Arrowhead Stadium and ended up losing 51-31.

2. Regular Season Wins

According to sportsbooks, the Houston Texans are expected to win 7.5 games this season. Should we bet the “over” or the “under”?

Here is the methodology I used in order to answer this vital question:

Here are the results:
Estimated Probability Sportsbook Odds ROI
OVER 7.5 wins 50.8% Jazz Sports +105 +4.1%
UNDER 7.5 wins 49.2% MyBookie.ag -105 -3.9%

Here are BetOnline’s point spreads for the Texans’ 16 regular season games:

Note: The “Best odds” from the table above were obtained after looking at 13 well-known online sportsbooks on May 18th, 2020.

3. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown


DeShaun Watson entrenched his status as a top 10 QB in the league by posting good numbers for a third straight year. He came close from the 4,000-yard mark, while throwing 26 TDs and 12 interceptions. He also added a career-high 7 rushing touchdowns.

There is no doubt he is one of the top signal callers in the league. He now has a good mix of youth and experience. He has a bright future ahead of him.

A.J. McCarron will back up Watson, but the team crosses its fingers they won’t need him on the field. He’s clearly not starter material; he has 6 TDs and 3 interceptions over a five-year period.


The Texans had a very nice duo in 2019 with Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson. Still, Houston decided to shuffle things up a little bit.

David Johnson was acquired via a trade, even though the 28-year old has shown signs of declining. After racking up more than 2,000 rushing+receiving yards and 20 TDs in 2016, Johnson played just one game in 2017 after dislocating his left wrist in the season opener.

He simply hasn’t been the same since. His yards per rush average has gone from 4.6 in 2015 to 4.2 in 2016, 3.6 in 2018 and 3.7 last year.

David Johnson will be the lead back since Hyde has not been re-signed. Hyde rushed for more than 1,000 yards for the first time of his career and will need to find work elsewhere.

I really like Duke Johnson. He seems to have enough talent to take a heavier workload, but he’s been stuck behind guys like Isaiah Crowell, Nick Chubb and Carlos Hyde.

He hasn’t missed a single game in five years! He has caught at least 44 balls in each of those seasons, which shows how dangerous he is as a pass catcher. I would love to see what he could do as the workhorse back, but it’s not going to happen this year, unless David Johnson gets hurt.


I’ll do my best to stay polite: the DeAndre Hopkins trade was bad. That’s the nicest I can be when talking about this trade.

Hopkins is a rare talent. David Johnson isn’t. It’s as simple as that.

Losing Hopkins is a big blow. He is a game changer and often draws double coverage, which leaves more room for his teammates.

Will Fuller is a difference-maker when healthy, but the problem has been just that: health. He has missed between 2 and 7 games in each of his first four years as a pro. And when he’s on the field, he tends to play at less than 100%. He graded as the 25th-best WR last year (out of 122 guys).

Kenny Stills is not a #1 WR in this league, but he can be a competent #2, or a very good #3 wideout. He’s been pretty durable during his first seven years in the NFL, averaging 43 catches, 671 receiving yards and 5.1 TDs.

The team acquired a couple of WRs during the offseason: Randall Cobb and Brandin Cooks. Both graded as a middle-of-the-pack wideout last year, per PFF.

Cobb will be 30 when the 2020 season begins. He had a very respectable season in Dallas last year by posting a 55-828-3 stat line.

Brandin Cooks topped the 1,000-yard mark in each of the 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 seasons. His play took a huge dip last year; he caught 42 passes for 583 yards and just 2 TDs with the Rams.

The big source of concern about Cooks is his injury history: he has suffered at least five concussions in the NFL. Will he bounce back with Watson as his quarterback? It’s hard to tell. If he goes down, at least the team has nice depth with Fuller, Stills and Cobb.


Darren Fells used to be viewed as a run blocker throughout his career. He had never caught more than 21 passes in a season. In 2019, he broke out with 34 receptions, but most importantly 7 TDs! Watson made good use of his big 6’7’’ frame.

Jordan Akins went from 17 to 36 receptions in his second year as a pro. Both Akins and Fells aren’t game breakers. They ranked 50th and 48th out of 66 tight ends based on PFF ratings in 2019.


This has to be the offense’s weakest link. Other than Laremy Tunsil, all starters are either average, or below-average. Tunsil did finish as the #21 tackle out of 81 qualifiers (he wasn’t as good in run blocking). The Texans gave up a lot of draft capital in order to acquire him and Stills, so they need Tunsil to produce.

The other guys on the line, along with their PFF rankings, are as follows: Nick Martin (18th out of 37 centers), Tytus Howard (60th out of 81 tackles), Zach Fulton (61st out of 81 guards) and Max Scharping (48th out of 81 guards). As for backup Roderick Johnson, who was re-signed to a one-year deal, he finished as the #42 tackle.

Last year, the Texans attempted the 20th-most passes in the league, and yet allowed the 8th-most sacks. And that’s despite having a pretty mobile quarterback. Those numbers are not re-assuring.

Since the same guys will be protecting Watson in 2020, you could be concerned about his health. The only good news is continuity is important on the offensive line. Having played a full year together might help improve their play.

2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE

It’s difficult not to downgrade this unit after losing such an impactful player like DeAndre Hopkins. At least they picked up adequate receivers like Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb. Along with Fuller and Stills, that will still provide nice weapons for Watson.

Switching Carlos Hyde for David Johnson isn’t necessarily an upgrade, in my humble opinion. Hyde did well in 2019 by finishing as the 18th-best RB (versus 22nd for Johnson).

The starting tight ends are the same as last year. The OL remains intact.

Overall, I’ll go with a small downgrade. Hopkins not only consistently racked up big numbers, but his presence alone opened things up for his teammates. It won’t be the case anymore.

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Small downgrade

4. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown


The Texans had four guys rotating on the interior of the defensive line. None dominated nearly as much as D.J. Reader. He left for Cincinnati, which is a huge loss for the Texans.

Reader was not much of a quarterback chaser, but he was an animal as a run stuffer. Despite posting just 2.5 sacks, Reader ranked as the 7th-best interior defender out of 114 qualifiers. The Texans were 25th in rushing yards allowed per game, and things are about to get worse following Reader’s departure.

Bill O’Brien tried to compensate for that loss by signing Tim Jernigan away from the Eagles. He is an “okay” player, but not nearly as good as Reader was.

The other three guys obtaining playing time at the position were Charles Omenihu, Angelo Blackson and Brandon Dunn. They all played between 37% and 41% of the snaps last year. Here were their PFF rankings out of 114 interior defenders: 84th, 113th and 97th. Ouch.

The organization hopes second-round rookie Ross Blacklock can provide a spark right away. He played pretty well as a freshman with TCU, then missed the entire 2018 season due to an Achilles injury and came back leaner and faster as a junior. He’s an agile pass rusher who isn’t super strong.

Therefore, we’re talking about a pretty weak and worsened group.


J.J. Watt is the heart and soul of this defense. In his first five seasons in the NFL, he hadn’t missed a single game. Since then, he has played 32-of-64 games (i.e. 50% of them).

Now 31 years old, Texans fans have to be concerned by the situation. He did get 16 sacks in 2018, though. The big question revolves around his health because the abilities are still there for sure.

Whitney Mercilus isn’t getting any younger either. He will be 30 years old when the next season begins.

He led the team with 7.5 sacks last year. As a whole, Houston’s defense posted the sixth-fewest sacks, so thank God Mercilus was there.

Unlike Watt, Mercilus has not missed many games throughout his career. He’s been involved in 15 games or more in seven of his eight seasons in the NFL. During those seven years, he has averaged 7 sacks per season.

We do observe a worrisome tendency when watching his PFF grades, though. His marks have gone down quite a bit over the most recent two years. Coupled with his age, I am wary of his 2020 outlook.


Zach Cunningham did a very fine job at linebacker last season. He had the 6th-most tackles in the league with 142, improving upon his 105 the year before. The former second rounder from the 2017 draft out of Vanderbilt has shown some nice steady progress thus far. He graded as the 21st-best LB out of 89 players.

Benardrick McKinney is another guy that does a good job, despite not receiving much recognition around the league. He’s missed only two games over the past four seasons, while racking up at least 95 tackles in each of them.

McKinney had his worst PFF grade of his career, and yet finished in spot #30 out of 89 linebackers. Not bad! He’s still young at 27 years old, so a bounce back year is likely.


Bradley Roby was one of the starting corners for the Texans last year, but he missed six games due to a hamstring injury. Prior to this, he had been very durable in five seasons with the Broncos.

As a former first-round pick, he’s had ups-and-downs in his career. Houston just locked him up with a lucrative three-year contract, so they believe he’s one of the building blocks towards a Super Bowl run. He ranked as an average CB last season based on PFF ratings.

Johnathan Joseph is done in Houston. Both sides agreed to part ways. He played almost all games last season, and just like Roby he was marked as an average cornerback.

After getting traded at midseason from the Raiders to the Texans, Gareon Conley significantly improved his play. The former 2017 first-rounder showed some promise and could be Joseph’s replacement.

Another candidate is Lonnie Johnson. Bill O’Brien took him in the second round of the 2019 draft, but he struggled big time in his rookie season. His 29.0 grade in coverage by PFF was abysmal. He finished as the worst of all 112 qualified cornerbacks in the NFL.


Justin Reid has been a nice pickup so far. In his first two seasons in the NFL, he has received very good marks from PFF. He has intercepted five passes, forced one fumble and recovered three.

Tashaun Gipson secured the number 71 spot out of 87 safeties in PFF rankings last season. His play tailed off significantly compared to his previous two years in Jacksonville. Entering his age-30 campaign, the team released him this offseason.

The #3 safety was Jahleel Addae, but he won’t be re-signed. The guy who is most likely to take Gipson’s job is Eric Murray. His three-year, $20.25 million contract is a bit of a head-scratcher (what else can you expect from Bill O’Brien), but the dollar amount indicates he has a good shot to be a starter.

Murray played his first three seasons with the Chiefs before joining the Browns last year. His PFF grades have been all over the place. As a rookie, his 74.0 mark was awesome! However, he crashed down to an atrocious 49.8 grade in his sophomore year before obtaining 67.5 and 62.5 the most recent two seasons. To me, he looks like a middle-of-the-pack guy (if not below-average).

2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE

In the secondary, the Texans let CB Johnathan Joseph and their #2 and #3 safeties Tashaun Gipson and Jahleel Addae go, but picked up Eric Murray. That’s pretty much a wash. For a team that allowed the fourth-most passing yards in 2019, it does not bode very well for 2020.

Replacing stud DL D.J. Reader with Tim Jernigan is clearly a downgrade. As for the edge rushers and the linebackers, no changes have been made. J.J. Watt missed eight games last year and will be back this year, but his age (and Mercilus’ age) worry me a little bit.

For these reasons, I expect this already fairly weak unit to decrease even more in terms of production.

Final call (2020 vs 2019): Small downgrade


(based on the one-million simulated seasons using BetOnline’s 2020 point spreads)

Thanks for reading, savvy sports bettor!!!

Professor MJ
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2020 NFL Draft Review FINAL - AFC West + links to all divisions - Analysis and Career Predictions for Each Team's Draft Class

The AFC West is the final division in the 2020 NFL Draft review series. Catch up on the other installments of this 2020 NFL Draft review series with the NFC West, AFC South, NFC South, AFC East, NFC East, AFC North, and NFC North.
Every year after the draft, I write a way-too-long review of each team’s draft. The purpose of this draft review is to give predictions for the careers of each team’s drafted players. I’ve watched film of each player I’m commenting on. Draft grades are overly optimistic and unrealistic. Unlike the majority of post-draft coverage out there, I will pick busts. Keep in mind that 23.4% of all first-round picks bust.
Let me preface this by saying: predicting the career of an NFL draft pick is a ridiculous exercise. There is so much unknown that goes into whether a player succeeds or fails at the next level. I can make educated guesses based on team situation, supporting cast, and research about the prospect’s character and work ethic, but there’s a reason teams make so many mistakes every year. You simply don’t know for sure how a player will react to being a pro. Injuries are also a huge factor in the fate of a player and impossible to predict accurately. Nevertheless, this is a fun exercise and gives us a chance to review how each team approached the draft.


Before we start, here are some of my general thoughts on the 2020 NFL Draft.
Quickly on the broadcast - they did a great job given the circumstances. The production quality was great and they did more actual analysis than usual. My main gripe with draft coverage every year is that they don’t show incredible highlights (they somehow didn’t show the Aaron Dobson catch in 2013). This year, they showed more footage of actual football and I appreciated that. The only two negatives for me were the constant tragic stories and Booger McFarland.
Oh, and if any poor soul bet on Justin Jefferson Under 21.5 draft position, ESPN should apologize to you. They showed him on the phone celebrating right before cutting to Goodell announcing the 21st pick - Jalen Reagor to the Eagles. Jefferson was of course on the phone with the Vikings, who took him at 22. Brutal beat.
As for the draft, remember this tweet about mock drafts being “wronger” than ever? Funny, this was probably the chalkiest first-round ever in the internet age. Nothing was truly shocking to me, including the Packers trading up for Jordan Love (more on that here). I had Damon Arnette in the first round in my first mock draft this draft season. I wrote an article lauding Jordyn Brooks as an undervalued commodity. Noah Ibinoghene going in the first was surprising, I suppose. But there was no Clelin Ferrell at No. 4 or Tyson Alualu at No. 10. It speaks to how the media and internet scouts might be catching up to, or God forbid actually influencing the teams.
So here is the next installment of my annual draft review. Each player will receive their career prediction in parentheses following their name. For example: Joe Burrow (5). Here's how the picks break down:
5 – All-Pro: Starter who has performed at an elite level at his position. 4 – Above-Average: Starter who has been among the best at his position. 3 – Solid: Starter or valuable back-up with significant positive production. 2 – Replacement Level: Below-average starter or back-up who made minor contributions. 1 – Bust: Player who didn’t amount to anything positive.
Next up, the AFC West.

Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders came into the draft with needs at wide receiver and cornerback. They wasted no time addressing those positions and ended up taking two corners and two-and-a-half wide receivers total. I think they aced this draft, but not for the reasons you might think.
Las Vegas opted for speed over production by selecting Henry Ruggs III (3) as the first receiver off the board. Ruggs played a supporting role alongside lead dog Jerry Jeudy at Alabama, but ran a 4.28 at the combine and aced the draft process. His speed popped on film, as he routinely cribbed slants and ran by people in the SEC. Ruggs was lauded for his competitiveness and edge, particularly as a blocker, which directly conflicts with my notes of his film. I noted missed blocks, him getting tossed, and labeled him as “weak.” Perhaps I watched the wrong games or my standards are too high.
As far as receiving the football, Ruggs was fantastic, making highlight diving catches and using his hops to climb the later and show off his above-average hands. There are two major unknowns with Ruggs - how he will deal with being the No. 1 option, and how he will develop as a route-runner. Unfortunately, I do not believe he will live up to his physical attributes. Derek Carr ranked 25th in Air Yards Per Completion last year, and while accurate, has never excelled at utilizing a deep threat. I also have a hard time endorsing a player who was not the number one receiver on his own team to be the number one receiver in a loaded draft class.
At No. 19, the Raiders took Damon Arnette (3), which was a surprise to some. I had Arnette going in the first round in my first mock draft of the year and liked his film more than most. His skillset is that of a quality starting corner, despite unorthodox technique and tendencies. Arnette’s play was up-and-down at Ohio State, in part due to being thrown at so much. He showed weird stances and punches from all different angles and body alignments in press coverage, but generally got the job done.
At the NFL level, if unique individual technique is effective, coaches don’t care. Arnette is more comfortable in press than off and will give up the inside. Most importantly, he can get his head around defending vertical routes in man. He was competitive and alert on film, flying down in run support and showing the necessary swagger and short memory needed from a pro corner. He’s going to get beat, but I like his transition to the league as someone who’s been picked on a bit but kept getting better.
At No. 80, the Raiders took one of my favorite players in the draft in Lynn Bowden Jr (4). Lynn Bowden Jr. played quarterback and receiver at Kentucky and is most known for throwing a punch in a pre-game scuffle before the Belk Bowl. Bowden’s film is that of a grown man with an edge. His receiver film shows nothing in terms of advanced route-running, but his speed absolutely plays and his hands are good enough. His quarterback and returner film shows joystick moves in the open field and elusiveness that rivals Lamb and Shenault. I don’t know if he’s a pro wide receiver (neither do the Raiders), but I’ve seen too many converted quarterbacks have success to bet against his natural football traits. I expect Jon Gruden to use him all over the field and for him to be one of the most explosive swiss army-knife weapons of this generation.
With the very next pick, the Raiders again took one of my favorite players in Bryan Edwards (4) of South Carolina. Edwards was the No. 15 overall player on my board so I obviously loved this pick. Aside from injury concerns and a few miscommunication issues working the boundary with his quarterback, Edwards’ film was outstanding. He’s technically sound with strong hands, tremendous contact balance, evidence of beating press, and great concentration skills. As a physical run-after-catch threat, he’s dynamic and strong. He is the prototype big-bodied NFL receiver in terms of traits, plucking the ball and transitioning as a runner smoothly. I predict he’ll be better than Ruggs. He just needs to get and stay healthy.
I think Tanner Muse (2) can be a special-teamer (tripping up J.K. Dobbins was a gigantic play in the National Semifinal), and John Simpson (3) was a steal. I love mauler guards who fall due to a lack of quickness. Simpson is physical and sometimes dominant in the run game. His stance gives away pass or run, but he can be coached and work on his body to develop into a starting guard.
The Raiders took yet another one of “my guys” in Amik Robertson (4) at pick No. 139. I had Robertson ranked 75th overall and featured him in this article. Robertson is tiny and his film isn’t without flaws, but I am always a proponent of taking players whose main knock is lack of size. I think Robertson will struggle with the brute size and strength of NFL football, and I actually don’t think he’s that fast (didn’t run a 40). But as far as being a pure football player and having coverage instincts and ball skills, Robertson is unbelievable.
Robertson plays big, talks a lot, and backs it up. He jacked up the 6-6 Collin Johnson at the line of scrimmage and almost mossed No. 16 on Texas. He’s able to match everything, has a smooth pedal, and gives up almost no separation in man. Slight jersey tug but disciplined hands play in the league. His production at the college level was unreal - 14 interceptions, 2 blocked kicks, 3 defensive touchdowns, and an onside kick return for a touchdown. I worry about his tackling, but I project him to be one of the best slot cover men in the league.
The Raiders chose to stick with Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota, despite having enough draft ammo to move around and take one of the quarterbacks. I loved what they did with most of their picks. Carr now has more weapons and zero excuses. This is a huge year for him.

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers came into the draft with primary needs at quarterback and inside linebacker. They addressed those needs in the first round, selecting the No. 3 and No. 8 players on my board.
The madmen did it. They took Justin Herbert (4) at 6. After being inundated with negative Justin Herbert analysis, I went back for a second look at the former Oregon Duck. In terms of college performance, Herbert’s film is reminiscent of recent busts, including Mitchell Trubisky. He lacks ideal anticipation, inexplicably misses some throws, and wasn’t always trusted by his coaching staff. It is also fair to wonder about his transition, coming from a screen-heavy, spread system at Oregon.
However, evaluating NFL prospects is not just about college performance - it’s about projecting traits. Scouting quarterbacks is difficult, and there’s a reason so many teams miss. A lot of times teams fall in love with physical traits such as arm talent and are burned because the player struggles with the complexities, speed, and decision-making difficulty of the NFL game. I believe a critical look at Herbert’s film through the lens of traits-based scouting gets him to potential franchise quarterback level worthy of a high pick. Like with all prospects, his ultimate NFL fate will come down to a lot of surrounding and unknown factors such as situation, coaching, and intangibles. I will pick my No. 3 overall prospect to succeed. His traits are that of a franchise quarterback and his intelligence and athleticism will help his transition.
Arm talent, throwing on the run, short-level accuracy, ball handling, and mobility make Justin Herbert the complete package in terms of traits. He poorly placed just one throw under five yards in the games I watched. He has good footwork, touch, and excels with play-action. The translatable trait that makes me confident is his ability to look like the best player on the field in the face of pressure. Herbert can move around and deliver strikes on the run or simply use his legs as a weapon. He also showed the ability to go through full-field "rainbow" reads. Players with his running ability can afford to not be the most accurate passers in the world. He showed off his rushing skills in the Rose Bowl win against Wisconsin.
I understand the negatives, but with good coaching, I think Herbert can develop into a franchise quarterback as a mix between Josh Allen and Cam Newton.
After selecting their quarterback at 6, the Chargers traded up for the best inside linebacker in the draft in Kenneth Murray (5). Murray had a productive and storied career at Oklahoma, displaying all the traits of a great pro off-ball linebacker for the Sooners. His speed and instincts make him a sideline to sideline threat, and he has the strength on contact of a thumper. His tackling technique is terrific, pointing to his ability to be coachable. He’s a little out of control at times, but he’s better than Devin White. The move up was worth it.
The Chargers want to bring Justin Herbert along slowly, and will look to make the playoffs with Tyrod Taylor as the starter. The surrounding talent is enough to take them there. With young stud defenders at all three levels, the Bolts just need to build an offensive line and add weaponry for Herbert to compete with the Chiefs in a few years.

Denver Broncos

The Broncos came into the draft with a clear plan - get Drew Lock some weapons. To say they achieved their goal would be an understatement. Their haul included my No. 7 overall player and my No. 1 tight end.
Jerry Jeudy (5) suffered from some prospect fatigue as analysts scrambled to poke holes in his game. While most of his success did come from the slot at Alabama, it’s not like his traits don’t translate to the outside. In Denver, Jeudy can man the slot primarily, whereas if he went to the Jets he may have had to learn an entirely new position. The only question about Jeudy is whether or not Drew Lock is good enough to allow him to reach his extremely high ceiling.
Jeudy has amazing quickness, length, and top-notch speed, but is known most for being an outstanding route-runner. He is the best route-runner I have ever scouted in college. He understands the nuances of changing speeds, is quick with a plan, and shows an uncommon ability to separate that surely translates to the pro game. He’ll be a star if Drew Lock proves to be competent.
With their second pick, the Broncos doubled down on wide receiver with K.J. Hamler (2) of Penn State. Hamler is the prototypical deep threat and an excellent complement to Jeudy and Courtland Sutton in theory. He might be too small for the NFL, but his college film shows route-running ability on slot fades and out routes that rival most pros. His main weaknesses are due to his lack of size, as he struggles in contested catch situations and is dominated by strength in terms of ball security.
Hamler made a couple of tremendous sliding catches but does not display much in terms of hands an almost exclusively body-catcher. It’s a common misconception that receivers are never taught to catch with their body as coaches will teach it in certain situations. Hamler can succeed in the NFL, but there are too many mouths to feed in Denver for him to be more than a situational deep threat.
Michael Ojemudia (2) has the athletic profile and size to be a starter, but his film doesn’t show the natural football traits of a pro. He isn’t physical enough and doesn’t show great awareness in zone, letting receivers get behind him.
Lloyd Cushenberry (2) was one of the most overrated prospects in the draft. He’s a classic case of a decorated collegiate who gets overdrafted due to great character. He was beaten badly by the Texas nose tackle and generally lacks balance.
McTelvin Agim (1) was overdrafted as a former five-star recruit who didn’t dominate in the SEC. He has the size and tools to be a rotational defensive lineman, but plays too high and bends at the waist, losing leverage and balance too easily.
Denver's best pick after Jeudy was Albert Okwuegbunam (3). His size/hands mix is rare and his physical ability is special. After last season I thought he’d be a high pick, but he never seemed to put it together. He’s an instant red-zone threat as a project with huge upside.
The draft community is giving high praise to this Broncos class. I think they nailed their first pick but wasn’t overly impressed with the rest of the haul. Denver’s defense is loaded with talented veterans and a returning Bradley Chubb, so Drew Lock’s progress will be an intriguing storyline in the AFC Wild Card race.

Kansas City Chiefs

Congratulations to the Chiefs and their fans on winning the Super Bowl. The World Champs came into the draft without any pressing needs and selected three extremely talented young prospects with their first three picks.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (4) is a perfect fit in Andy Reid’s offense. My No. 2 running back, CEH reminds me of Maurice Jones-Drew. His lack of height is a non-issue, if not a positive, as he gives defenders a small target on his way to eluding tacklers and making guys miss. He's short but sturdy. His film against Alabama was inspiring, breaking tackles and moving piles against defenders twice his size. His best trait is his ability as a receiver, showing advanced route-running skills and soft hands. He’s competitive, fiery, and tough.
While he didn’t quite excel against the Georgia pros, he’s going to have so much space with Patrick Mahomes it’s scary. His 4.6 40 shows a lack of ideal long speed, but his ten-yard split was among the best for running backs at the combine. Amazing fit, PPR fantasy points everywhere.
Willie Gay Jr. (3) has very inconsistent film and character red flags. Andy Reid took a chance on Marcus Peters years ago, who has had a very good pro career. The Chiefs culture should keep Gay on the right track. His film in 2018 was better than 2019, as he had more splash plays and tackled better. In 2019, some of his film showed poor angles and undisciplined missed fits. His speed plays and if he puts in any work at all his floor is a talented special teamer. I think Reid gets the most out of him and he starts at linebacker as a rookie. The burst and pop when he hits people is impressive.
Lucas Niang (3) has a very ugly body, but I liked his film a lot. He has a small lower half and is fat up top, which teams usually don’t like. He can be effective and quick, and has functional strength and movement skills despite his odd shape. I had him at No. 39 on my big board and project him to be a starting right tackle whenever the Chiefs need one. Solid pick.
The Chiefs have the best player in the NFL and a good enough defense. They should be favored to win it all again. The main takeaway from this class is that Andy Reid running backs are fantasy gold and he just got one that fits his scheme perfectly.
That wraps up the 2020 draft review series. Thank you so much for reading. On to 2021!
AFC West article with gifs: https://www.rotoballer.com/2020-nfl-draft-review-and-team-grades-afc-west/737495
NFC West: https://www.rotoballer.com/2020-nfl-draft-review-and-team-grades-nfc-west/737289
AFC South: https://www.rotoballer.com/2020-nfl-draft-review-and-team-grades-afc-south/736898
NFC South: https://www.rotoballer.com/2020-nfl-draft-review-and-team-grades-nfc-south/736460
AFC East: https://www.rotoballer.com/2020-nfl-draft-review-and-team-grades-afc-east/736202
NFC East: https://www.rotoballer.com/2020-nfl-draft-review-and-team-grades-nfc-east/735919
AFC North: https://www.rotoballer.com/2020-nfl-draft-review-afc-north/735564?src=cat_feat_9954
NFC North: https://www.rotoballer.com/2020-nfl-draft-review-and-team-grades-nfc-north/734932
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Using Vegas odds to project weekly team scores

From recently discussing with friends how to set line ups each week, I realized that maybe not everyone realizes that Vegas Point betting lines can be used to derive how many points Vegas thinks each team will score each week. This is great because it gives a good sense of how a player might perform.
The methodology is relatively simple, for example with the Atlanta Falcons @ Minnesota Vikings this week the point spread is -4 Vikings and the total points is 48. This means the average score between the two teams will be 24 each, with Vikings projected to score 4 more points. So Vegas projects the score to be Vikings 26 Falcons 22. Below are all projected scores for the week based on the current Vegas odds:
Green Bay Packers: 22
@Chicago Bears: 25
LA Rams: 26
@Carolina Panthers: 24
Tennessee Titans: 20
@Cleveland Browns: 26
Kansas City Chiefs: 28
@Jacksonville Jaguars: 24
Baltimore Ravens: 22
@Miami Dolphins: 15
Atlanta Falcons: 22
@Minnesota Vikings: 26
Buffalo Bills: 19
@NY Jets: 22
Washington Redskins: 18
@Philadelphia Eagles: 28
Indianapolis Colts: 19
@LA Chargers: 26
Cincinnati Bengals: 17
@Seattle Seahawks: 27
Detriot Lions: 25
@Arizona Cardinals: 22
NY Giants: 19
@Dallas Cowboys: 26
San Francisco 49ers: 25
@Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 25
Pittsburgh Steelers: 22
@New England Patriots: 28
Houston Texans: 23
@New Orleans Saints: 30
Denver Broncos: 22
@Oakland Raiders: 22
(Scores rounded to nearest whole number)
Hopefully some of you will find this helpful. Good luck this week.
Edit: Formatting
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[Game Preview] Season Opener- Washington Redskins(0-0) at Philadelphia Eagles(0-0)

Washington Redskins (0-0) at Philadelphia Eagles (0-0)
The 2019 Philadelphia Eagles season is the franchise's 87th season in the National Football League and the fourth under head coach Doug Pederson. The Eagles will try to improve on their 9–7 record from 2018 where they made the playoffs, but lost in the NFC Divisional game against the New Orleans Saints. They will begin that journey Sunday afternoon as they take on the division rival Washington Redskins at home in the Linc. One player who is looking forward to this game in particular is former Redskin Desean Jackson who returned to the Eagles this offseason in a trade with Tampa Bay. Jackson never wanted to leave Philadelphia, but former Eagles Coach Chip Kelly released him following his best season in 2013. Now back in the midnight green he will look to add a deep threat the Eagles were missing from the offense last season. The Eagles welcome back another familiar face on the other side of the ball where Vinny Curry returns after a year away also with the Bucs to add some much needed depth at DE after the departures of Michael Bennett and Chris Long in the offseason. The Eagles also added former Pro Bowler Malik Jackson to lineup next to Fletcher Cox to help slow down the Redskins rushing attack which will get back Derrius Guice after he missed his rookie season with an ACL injury. The Redskins also added former Eagles Wendell Smallwood who was released during finals cuts this offseason. The Redskins will also have a new face under center after adding Case Keenum who spent last season with Denver. Keenum last played in Philly when the Eagles trounced the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC title game two years ago. He won’t get the protection from 7 time pro bowler Trent Williams who is sitting out with a contract dispute and he may not have the services of Jordan Reed, who is still in the league's concussion protocol. Division Rivalry games are always fun and there is no better way to open the season. Here’s to an injury free game and a win for the Birds.
General Information
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Sunday, September 8th, 2019
Game Time Game Location
1:00 PM - Eastern Lincoln Financial Field
12:00 PM - Central 1020 Pattison Ave
11:00 AM - Mountain Philadelphia, PA 19148
10:00 AM - Pacific Wikipedia - Map
Weather Forecast
Stadium Type: Open Air
Surface: Grass
Temperature: 75°F
Feels Like: 75°F
Forecast: Partly Cloudy. Partly cloudy throughout the day
Chance of Precipitation: 0%
Cloud Coverage: 38%
Wind: Northwest 7 MPH
Betting Odds
Oddsshark Information
Favorite/Opening Line: Philadelphia by -10
OveUnder: 45.5
Record VS. Spread: Philadelphia 0-0, Washington 0-0
Where to Watch on TV
FOX will broadcast Monday’s game to a national audience. Kevin Burkhardt will handle the play-by-play duties and Charles Davis will try to provide analysis. Pam Oliver will report from the sideline.
TV Map - Week 1 TV Coverage Map
Internet Streams
NFL Streams - Look here 30 minutes before the game for Streams
Radio Streams
Disclaimer: Subscription Based Official NFL Radio Streams available via TuneIn
List of Eagles Radio network member stations with internet broadcast availability
Radio.com 94.1 Desktop Streaming
Listen to Merrill Reese and Mike Quick
Calling the game on 94WIP and the Eagles Radio Network will be Merrill Reese, the NFL’s longest-tenured play-by-play announcer (42nd season). Joining Reese in the radio booth will be former Eagles All-Pro wide receiver Mike Quick, while Howard Eskin will report from the sidelines.
Location Station Frequency
Philadelphia, PA WIP-FM 94.1 FM and 610 AM
Allentown, PA WCTO-FM 96.1 FM
Atlantic City/South Jersey WENJ-FM 97.3 FM
Levittown, PA WBCB-AM 1490 AM
Northumberland, PA WEGH-FM 107.3 FM
Pottsville, PA WPPA-AM 1360 AM
Reading, PA WEEU-AM 830 AM
Salisbury/Ocean City, MD WAFL-FM 97.7 FM
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, PA WEJL-FM 96.1 FM
Salisbury/Ocean City, MD WAFL-FM 97.7 FM
Salisbury/Ocean City, MD WEJL-AM 630 AM
Salisbury/Ocean City, MD WBAX-AM 1240 AM
Williamsport, PA WBZD-FM 93.3 FM
Wilmington, DE WDEL-FM/AM 101.7 FM
York/LancasteHarrisburg, PA WSOX-FM 96.1 FM
Philadelphia Spanish Radio
Rickie Ricardo, Macu Berral and Gus Salazar will handle the broadcast in Spanish on Mega 105.7 FM in Philadelphia and the Eagles Spanish Radio Network.
Location Station Frequency
Philadelphia, PA LA MEGA 105.7 FM
Allentown, PA WSAN 1470 AM
Atlantic City, NJ WIBG 1020 AM; 101.3 FM
Redskins Radio
Redskins Radio Network Larry Michael (play-by-play), Sonny Jurgensen (color), Chris Cooley (analysis), Rick “Doc” Walker (sidelines).
National Radio
Satellite Radio
Station Eagles Channel Redskins Channel
Sirius Radio SIRI 83 (Internet 825) SIRI 81 (Internet 831)
XM Radio XM 83 (Internet 825) XM 81 (Internet 831)
Sirius XM Radio SXM 83 (Internet 825) SXM 81 (Internet 831)
Eagles Social Media Redskins Social Media
Website Website
Facebook Facebook
Twitter Twitter
Instagram Instagram
Snapchat: Eagles Snapchat: Redskinssnap
NFC East Standings
NFC EAST Record PCT Home Road Div Conf PF PA Net Pts Streak
Eagles 0-0 .000 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 NA
Cowboys 0-0 .000 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 NA
Redskins 0-0 .000 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 NA
Giants 0-0 .000 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 NA
Series Information
The Washington Redskins lead the Philadelphia Eagles (85-78-6)
Series History
Head to Head Box Scores
First Game Played
October 21st, 1934 at Fenway Park in Boston, MA. Boston Redskins 6 - Philadelphia Eagles 0
Points Leader
The Philadelphia Eagles lead the Washington Redskins ((3522-3332))
Coaches Record
Doug Pederson: 4-2 against the Redskins
Jay Gruden: 5-5 against Eagles
Coaches Head to Head
Doug Pederson vs Jay Gruden: Pederson leads 4-2
Quarterback Record
Carson Wentz: Against Redskins: 3-2
Case Keenum: Against Eagles: 0-1
Quarterbacks Head to Head
Carson Wentz vs Colt McCoy: First Meeting between the QBs
Records per Stadium
Record @ Lincoln Financial Field: Eagles lead the Redskins: 9-7
Record @ FedEx Field: Eagles lead the Redskins: 13-6
Rankings and Last Meeting Information
AP Pro 32 Ranking
Eagles No. 5 - Redskins No. 27
Eagles: 0-0
Redskins: 0-0
Last Meeting
Sunday, December 30th, 2018
Eagles 24 - Redskins 0
The Eagles looked to keep their season alive and Super Bowl MVP came out to play as Foles threw tied an NFL record for most consecutive completions when threw 25 straight completions that were part of 221 yards 2 TD 1 INT stat line. On the other side of the ball, the Eagles were even more dominant against a beat up Redskins offense holding them to a paltry 89 yards on offense in a shutout. Fletcher Cox feasted with 3 sacks in the game and Douglas had an interception as the Eagles got the job done against their division rival..
Click here to view the Video Recap
Click here to view the Stats Recap
Last Meeting at site
Monday, December 3rd, 2018
Eagles 24 - Redskins 0
Eagles took on the division rival Redskins who may be one of the only teams with more key injuries than the Eagles and it just got worse for Washington with backup Colt McCoy having to leave the game with a broken fibula after the first quarter. Journeyman and former Eagles Mark Sanchez was forced into action just two weeks after joining the team. With the limited off the Redskins struggled to get anything going on offense outside of a long 90 yards AP TD run in the 2nd quarter. On the other side of the ball the Redskins offense struggled to stop the Eagles who seemed to move the ball with ease. The Eagles offense looked in rhythm for the first time this season moving the ball both through the air and on the ground and getting multiple people involved. Carson Wentz threw for 306 yards 2 TDs and an INT and the Eagles moved the ball on the ground with 134 yards on 29 carries from their running backs in a 28-13 win..
Click here to view the Video Recap
Click here to view the Stats Recap
Last 10 Meetings
Date Winner Loser Score
12/30/2018 Eagles Redskins 24-0
12/3/2018 Eagles Redskins 28-13
10/23/2017 Eagles Redskins 34-24
9/10/2017 Eagles Redskins 30-17
12/11/2016 Redskins Eagles 27-22
10/16/2016 Redskins Eagles 27-20
12/26/2015 Redskins Eagles 38-24
10/04/2015 Redskins Eagles 23-20
12/20/2014 Redskins Eagles 27-24
09/21/2014 Eagles Redskins 37-34
Injury Reports Depth Charts
Eagles Eagles
Redksins Redksins
2019 “Expert” Picks
Week 1 - "Expert" Picks
2018 Team Stats
Eagles Season Stats
Redskins Season Stats
2018 Stats (Starters/Leaders)
Wentz 279 401 69.6% 3074 21 7 102.2
Keenum(w/Broncos) 365 586 62.3% 3890 18 15 81.2
Smith(IR) 205 328 62.5% 2180 10 5 85.7
Adams 120 511 36.5 4.3 3
Howard(w/Bears) 250 935 58.4 3.7 9
Peterson 251 1042 65.1 4.2 7
Ertz 116 1163 72.7 10.0 8
Reed 54 558 42.9 10.3 2
Name Sacks Team Total
Cox 10.5 44.0
Kerrigan 13.0 46.0
Name Total Solo Assist Sacks
Jenkins 97 79 18 1.0
Foster 131 81 50 1.0
Name Ints Team Total
Douglas 3 10
Swearinger 4 15
Johnston 61 2937 68 48.1 42.7 24 7 0
Way 79 3581 63 45.3 41.5 41 0 0
Elliot 31 26 83.9% 61 33/35
Hopkins 29 26 89.7% 56 25/26
Kick Returns
Scott 4 96 24.0 35 0
Johnson 12 283 23.6 44 0
Punt Returns
Sproles 10 83 8.3 14 0 9
Stroman 8 27 3.4 10 0 13
League Rankings 2018
Offense Rankings
Category Eagles Stat Eagles Rank Redskins Stat Redskins Rank
Total Offense 365.7 14th 299.7 28th
Rush Offense 98.1 28th 110.9 17th
Pass Offense 267.2 7th 188.8 28th
Points Per Game 22.9 18th 17.6 29th
3rd-Down Offense 41.0% 12th 36.0% 24th
4th-Down Offense 60.9% 10th 56.0% 17th
Red Zone Offense (TD%) 57.9% 17th 52.50 25th
Defense Rankings
Category Eagles Stat Eagles Rank Redskins Stat Redskins Rank
Total Defense 366.2 23rd 353.4 17th
Rush Defense 96.9 7th 116.2 17th
Pass Defense 269.3 30th 237.1 1th
Points Per Game 21.8 12th 22.4 15th
3rd-Down Defense 35.3% 6th 44%29th
4th-Down Defense 57.9% 19th 38% 3rd
Red Zone Defense (TD%) 44.6% 1st 51.92% 8th
Category Eagles Stat Eagles Rank Redskins Stat Redskins Rank
Turnover Diff. -6 25th +7 9th
Penalty Per Game5.9 7th 7.2 25th
Penalty Yards Per Game 50.4 7th 63.0 29th
Recap from Last Week’s Games.
Eagles - N/A
Washington - N/A
Redskins offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh played for the Eagles from 1986-89.
Redskins OL coach Bill Callahan held the same title with the Eagles from 1995-97.
Eagles defensive quality control/asst. DL coach Phillip Daniels played for the Redskins from 2004-10.
Redskins asst.special teams coach Bret Munsey served as a national scout with the Eagles in 2013.
Eagles LS Rick Lovato briefly signed with the Redskins during the 2016 season for two weeks.
Redskins Outside Linebackers Coach Chad Grimm worked with Eagles Offensive Coordinator Frank Reich for the Arizona Cardinals in 2012. Grimm also worked with Reich for the San Diego Chargers from 2013-14.
Redskins Defensive Coordinator Greg Manusky (2007-10) and Defensive Line Coach Jim Tomsula (2007-15) worked with Eagles Special Teams Coordinator Dave Fipp (2008-10) for the San Francisco 49ers.
Greg Manusky played with Eagles Assistant Offensive Line/Tight Ends Coach Eugene Chung on the Kansas City Chiefs from 1998-99.
Redskins Running backs Coach Randy Jordan also played with Chung on the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1995.
Redskins Manusky and Tomsula worked for the San Francisco 49ers while Eagles S Chris Maragos played there in 2010.
Eagles Special Teams Coordinator Dave Fipp worked with Redskins Wide Receivers Coach Ike Hilliard worked with the Miami Dolphins in 2011. Hilliard also worked for the Buffalo Bills while Eagles LB Nigel Bradham played there in 2013.
Redskins Defensive Quality Control Cannon Matthews (2013) and O’Connell (2015) worked together with Eagles Linebackers Coach Ken Flajole (2013-15) for the Cleveland Browns.
Eagles Offensive Coordinator Coach Mike Groh worked with Offensive Coordinator Matt Cavanaugh for the Chicago Bears from 2013-14. Cavanaugh worked for the Chicago Bears while Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery played there from 2013-14.
Redskins RB Wendell Smallwood was drafted in the 5th round of the 2016 NFL draft and played 3 seasons for the Eagles before being cut after training camp this year.
Redskins DT Trayvon Hester played one season for the Eagles in 2018.
Redskins LB coach Rob Ryan is the son of late Eagles coach Buddy Ryan.
Eagles LB Zach Brown played 2 seasons for the Redskins (2017-2018).
Eagles WR Desean Jackson spent 3 seasons with the Redskins (2016-2018) after he was released from the Eagles.
2019 Pro Bowlers
Eagles Redskins
:---: :---:
DT Fletcher Cox (Starter) OLB Ryan Kerrigan (Starter)
OG Brandon Brooks (Starter) OT Trent Williams
TE Zach Ertz (Starter)
SS Malcom Jenkings (1st Alt)
OT Lane Johnson (1st Alt
Referee: Ron Torbert
The Eagles have won the last four after the Redskins won the previous five matchups dating back to 2014.
Draft Picks
Eagles Redskins
OT Andre Dillard Qb Dwayne Haskins
RB Miles Sanders OLB Montez Sweat
WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside WR Terry McLaurin
WR Shareff Miller RB Bryce Love
QB Clayton Thorson(I suck and am a Cowboy Now) G Wes Martin
C Ross Pierschbacher
LB Cole Holcomb
WR Kevin Harmon
CB Jimmy Moreland
DE Jordan Brailford
Notable Off-season Additions
Eagles Redskins
WR Desean Jackson QB Case Keenum
DT Malik Jackson CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
DE Vinny Curry LT Donald Penn
S Andrew Sendejo S Landon Collins
LB Zach Brown LB Jon Bostic
DT Hassan Ridgeway
QB Josh McCown
Notable Off-season Departures
Eagles Redskins
QB “Big Dick” Nick Foles LB Preston Smith
DE Michael Bennett SHaha Clinton-Dix
DE Chris Long WR Jamison Crowder
S Chris Maragos T Ty Nsekhe
RB Jay Ajayi
RB Josh Adams
RB Wendell Smallwood
WR Jordan Matthews
DT Haloti Ngata
Eagles QB Carson Wentz (10152) needs 89 passing yards to move up to 5th on the Eagles all-time passing Tommy Thompson.
Eagles TE Zach Ertz (29) needs 2 TDs to move up to 12th on the Eagles all-time receiving TD list all-time tying WR Jack Ferrante
Eagles TE Zach Ertz (4827) needs 171 yards to move up to 8th on the Eagles all-time receiving yards list all-time passing his mentor TE *Brent Celek
Eagles WR Desean Jackson (32) needs 2 TDs to move into a tie for 8th on the Eagles all-time receiving TD list.
Eagles RB Darren Sproles needs 163 yards to move up to 5th on the NFL’s all-time all-purpose yards list passing WR Tim Brown.
Eagles S Malcolm Jenkins's (4) needs 1 more Interception for a TD to tie CB Eric Allen (5) for most Interceptions for a TD by an Eagles player.
Redskins RB Adrian Peterson needs 345 rushing yards to move up to 7th on the all-time rushing list passing RB Jerome Bettis and he needs 367 yards to move up to 6th on that list passing RB LaDanian Tomlinson
Redskins RB Adrian Peterson needs 1 TD to take sole possession of 5th on the NFL all-time rushing RD list moving out of a tie with RB Jim Brown
Pro Football Focus Matchup Charts courtesy of PFF Edge (join.profootballfocus.com/edge/)
WDB Matchups (CAPS = expected shadow coverage)
PFF Stats to Know
QB Performance Under Pressure
Case Keenum, the interim starting QB for Washington, had a great 2017, posting the 2nd-lowest sack rate, the 2nd-highest completion rate, and the 7th-best passer rating when pressured, while actually being pressured the 7th-highest percentage of dropbacks among QBs with a considerable number of snaps. In 2018, however, when he moved on from Minnesota to Denver, his pressure stats plummeted back to his normal range. His sack rate remained decent, at 8th-best, but his completion % dropped to 33rd/36 and his passer rating dropped to 31st/38. In 2018, Washington’s main QB, Alex Smith, was under pressure at the 12th-lowest rate, so the circumstances may actually be decently primed for Keenum…if only Trent Williams were playing. I expect it to be a bloodbath.
Matchups to Watch
Redskins Offensive Line vs Eagles Defensive Front
If you listen to any podcast or read any other matchup preview, you’ll find this position group battle to be the most favorable to the Eagles this weekend. The Redskins aren’t a very talented offense in general and are down their best offensive player – Trent Williams – for at least this contest. Additionally, they will be starting Giants legend Ereck Flowers at Left Guard while starting aging veteran Donald Penn at Left Tackle. To their credit, the Redskins can do a lot worse than Penn at left tackle and almost did prior to signing him earlier this offseason. But he’s 36, declining, and coming off his worst year in some time. The Eagles are down two key players at EDGE from last year, Michael Bennett and Chris Long, while returning injured 3rd year pro Derek Barnett. Vinny Curry has signed a one year deal to lock up the EDGE depth while unproven players Hall and Sweat fight for work. The Skins return stud RG Brandon Scherff to pair with solid RT Morgan Moses but the left side of the line has major question marks. The Skins were probably wise to throw Keenum into the fire but he is an erratic QB. Only once in Keenum’s career has he been a decent to good QB under pressure and we all saw what that lead to in the NFC Conference Championship game in Philly. To his credit, Keenum is a gamer, and isn’t afraid to make big throws; he’s just turnover prone and pressure escalates this tendency. The Eagles should be able to rotate whoever they please along the line and get after him all day. It’s a bad sign that no one on the Redskins beat out Ereck Flowers for the LG job. Moreover, this Redskins squad loves to run the ball. It’ll be imperative for the Eagles run defense to come out strong and control the line of scrimmage as they have done consistently well in the past. It’s always important to control the trenches and the Eagles have a very favorable matchup to start the season. Some guy named Fletcher Cox should play. Malik Jackson is here and Jernigan looks healthy. Look out.
Redskins Defensive Front vs Eagles Offensive Line
The Redskins best positional group is their defensive line and it is on par with the Eagles unit in terms of quality and depth. Ryan Kerrigan has been a force off the EDGE his entire career; adding Montez Sweat was a shrewd move by the Skins after letting Preston Smith walk in free agency. Washington is also deep along the defensive interior with Da’ron Payne, Jonathan Allen, and Matt Ioannidis. While the talent up front is pretty deep, this Washington Redskins defense was 28th in DVOA against the run last year. It’s a position group that largely stayed healthy – as opposed to everyone else. While they have been poor against the run, Eagles fans should be familiar with their pass rush as they have given us problems in the past. Skins-Eagles games are always interesting to watch for the trench battles and this is no exception. It takes time for the units to gel together, especially with the lack of preseason reps. Jason Peters is returning to the lineup for what could be his final season after he played thru a quad strain and torn bicep in 2018. While he was up and down, and in and out of the lineup, I thought Peters was a solid tackle. If healthy, I believe Peters can be an above average starter in the twilight of his career. Isaac Seumalo is the starter at LG; reports indicate he had a good training camp. Jason Kelce is an All Pro Center who needs no introduction with Lane Johnson serving as the RT – one of the best in the business. The one question mark in the young season for Philadelphia is the return of Brandon Brooks. The All Pro caliber guard is close to working his way back from a torn Achilles in the playoff lost to the Saints last year. If he is unable to go yet, Big V will play guard. V had a solid summer working along the inside but hasn’t had a real test yet. You can do a lot worse than V despite the downgrade, but sliding him inside could hide his weaknesses seen at tackle. Either way, the Redskins have gotten pressure against a healthy Eagles offensive line in the past given their own talent on the roster. This will be Wentz’s first game action since Week 14 in 2018; he’ll need his men up front to perform well against a quality defensive rush.
Redskins Pass Defense vs Eagles Weapons
To me, this is a very winnable matchup for the Eagles early in the season. The Redskins were poor at LB in 2018 and somehow got worse heading into this season. They cut their best LB, Zach Brown, who was solid in zone coverage but a liability in man coverage. They cut Mason Foster who is just plain bad. Reuben Foster lives on the injury report when he isn’t under investigation and is out for the year – who covers the middle of the field? Landon Collins? He may be a playmaker but he isn’t an elite coverage safety. Their LBs are either bad or unproven, which bodes well for Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. In his career, Ertz has averaged 7.5 targets, 5.92 receptions, and 59.8 yards per game against the Redskins. Those numbers over a 16 game season look like this: 120 Targets, 95 Receptions, 957 yards. And that’s just what Ertz can do. Josh Norman is a solid corner but not the elite cover guy he is paid to be. Fabian Moreau is banged up. Quinton Dunbar is still in the league? This might not be the worse secondary in the league, but it isn’t a good one. Alshon, DJax, Agholor, Ertz, and Goedert should all have favorable matchups to get the offense going. The question is how they draw up the game plan and divvy up those opportunities. Given the talent on the Eagles roster, this is a matchup they should win to help put up the points. This is easily the best group of weapons Wentz and Pederson have had in Philly since they started here together.
Redskins Weapons vs Eagles Secondary
I love the addition of Terry McLaurin to the Redskins wide receiver room this offseason but until we know what he can actually do there isn’t anything proven to get excited about. Jordan Reed is due for another injury with each snap he takes which has really sucked the life out of his career. Paul Richardson is Aldi brand DJax to put it nicely. I’m not entirely sure how much we can expect this receiver room to really beat the Eagles. However, games aren’t won on paper, and the Eagles have a lot of unknowns to me in the secondary. We all know Malcolm Jenkins is a stud. Rodney McLeod is also a very good safety; his return to the lineup on Sunday is huge for Philadelphia as they simply struggled in 2018 without him. Andrew Sendejo finally gives this team a legitimate 3rd Safety. Outside of that, the cornerback room is healthy with guys who project to have some sort of promise. Jalen Mills and Leblanc will miss the first 6 and 8 weeks at least, respectively, to start the season due to injury giving Sidney Jones and/or Rasul Douglas a real chance to keep starting jobs. We’ve seen enough from Mills to know what he is but haven’t seen enough from Jones or Douglas to know what they are long term. Jones was very good for the Eagles in the slot last season prior to hitting the injury bug while Rasul Douglas closed out 2018 as the Eagles best CB. Jones likely gets the start on Sunday and we’ll finally start to learn what we have in the highly-touted 2017 2nd round selection. Avonte Maddox has proven to be a stud at CB and will see work in some fashion since you can’t leave him off the field. Finally, Ronald Darby is likely to return to the starting line up as well. What does Schwartz do scheme wise? How quickly do the young guys acclimate to the young season? Can they stay healthy and grow as a group? Schwartz has never run a complicated coverage scheme in the NFL but did bring in former Dolphins DC Matt Burke to serve as a defensive assistant coach. A lot of young and talented players missed a lot of time last year leaving this unit vulnerable to lapses in consistency. The Eagles do have good, young talent in the secondary – it has some unproven commodities as well. The Eagles face an uninspiring group of weapons on Sunday but ones they shouldn’t overlook. This is a winnable matchup.
Special thanks to MikeTysonChicken and abenyishay for their help in creating this Game Preview.
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Week 2 - Matchup Strategy Guide (Part 2) - DFA

Week 2 Strategy Guide:

Link to Week 2 Strategy Guide (Part 1): https://www.designatedforassessment.com/nfl/week-2-matchups-strategy-guide-part-1
Every week, DFA will produce a Start/Sit Strategy Guide for NFL Fantasy. We will breakdown each matchup and give valuations of each fantasy relevant player. Additionally, we will offer occasional upgrades or downgrades to specific players depending on their matchup, role in the offense, or the effect of projected game flow on a given week.
Matchups are written by Roto_G and Roto-Wiz8.
Keep in mind, one blown coverage can make a week, destroying any strategy - we are seeking to find the best odds of a players success. If you have questions about your individual lineup conundrums, you can always hit us on twitter @DFAroto! Or check out the rest of our content and rankings here: https://www.designatedforassessment.com/
ATS=Against the Spread

Buffalo Bills (-1.5) at New York Giants

Bills ATS: 1-0-0 Giants ATS: 0-1-0
Projected Team Totals: Bills 21.25 Giants 22.75


Buffalo’s come from behind win was one of the more exciting finishes of Week 1, and although Josh Allen was far from perfect, he showed some nice chemistry with his new weapons. Allen’s target distribution - John Brown (10), Cole Beasley (9), Devin Singletary (6), Zay Jones (5). Allen ended with a solid fantasy line, but is not yet a top level QB1. But after watching Dak carve up this same Giants defense, owners of Allen should feel comfortable with him in lineups for at least this week. He’s a better option than some QBs with tough matchups like Murray this week, but shouldn’t be put in over elite QB1s. John Brown (upgrade) gets a matchup against a leaky secondary, and his matchups will likely allow him to get deep at least once or twice. A perfect match with Josh Allen’s rocket arm, Brown makes for a solid WR2 this week, and gets an upgrade from CB DeAndre Baker and FS Antoine Bethea’s below average grades in coverage. Cole Beasley (upgrade PPR) is only an option in deeper leagues, and his lack of upside makes him only worth a start for those in dire need of a high floor but low ceiling option. There are no other fantasy relevant players in this passing game, as Zay Jones will not get the consistent looks to be startable with Brown healthy.
Devin Singletary surprisingly did not receive a touch until the second half, but still managed to play 70% of snaps in Week 1. Once he got his opportunities, he promptly turned 4 carries into 70 rushing yards. Frank Gore could only plod his way to 20 yards on 11 carries, and TJ Yeldon only played 1 snap the entire game. Head Coach Sean McDermitt confirmed Gore remains the starter, but Singletary is the favorite to be the most productive back in this offense. Even on 10-15 touches, he could easily put up 75+ yards from scrimmage, and would become an RB2 if he can take a bigger piece of the pie. For this week, Singletary is safe to use as a flex, especially considering the likely positive game script for the Bills.


We got our first taste of Danny Dimes last week in garbage time, but the Giants will still be trotting out Eli Manning to start Week 2. The Giants target distribution last week - Evan Engram (14), Cody Latimer (8), Sterling Shepard (7), Saquon Barkley (6), Bennie Fowler (5). Manning continues to look like he’s on his last legs as a starter, and it is a matter of if not when he is benched for Daniel Jones. He should not be near fantasy lineups, especially against an above average Bills’ defense. Sterling Shephard has been ruled out with a concussion, which locks in Evan Engram (upgrade) into an even bigger workload. Despite Buffalo’s stifling defense, Engram will get the volume to be a top 5 TE play this week. For owners desperate to start a Giants receiver (which might lead to an ulcer) Cody Latimer is the best bet. His 164 air yards easily led the team last week, and he produced 74 yards. He’s a low end WR3/4 against this Bills D, but is the only potential start out of the Giants WR corps.
Saquon Barkleydominated backfield snaps (80%) as should be expected, and will remain a top 3 RB play regardless of matchup. The Bills were able to keep Le’Veon Bell to only 3.5 ypc, and have a strong defensive front seven. Barkley’s volume and talent give him a high floor, but his efficiency may take a hit until the Giants make the switch to Daniel Jones and have a more functional offense. Owners should be hoping the switch happens soon, and that he can follow through on his preseason flashes of quality.
Score prediction: Bills 21, Giants 13

Dallas Cowboys (-5.5) at Washington Redskins

Cowboys ATS: 1-0-0 Redskins ATS: 1-0-0
Projected Team Totals: Cowboys 26 Redskins 20.5


Kellen Moore had an excellent debut as offensive coordinator in Dallas’ Week 1 demolition of the Giants. Moore found the perfect balance between the run and pass, and just may be the director needed to unlock the true potential of this offense. Dak Prescott’s target distribution - Amari Cooper (9), Michael Gallup (7), Randall Cobb (5), Jason Witten (4), Ezekiel Elliot (2). Prescott (upgrade) looked unstoppable on Sunday, picking apart the Giants defense with ease. With the weapons at his disposal, and an upgrade at coordinator, Prescott could become an every week must start. For Week 2, he is an easy target considering the matchup against a Redskins defense with an extremely vulnerable secondary. Consider him a high end QB1 this week. After watching Desean Jackson go deep for two TDs last week against this secondary, and Alshon Jeffery score an additional 2 TD, it’s not hard to envision Amari Cooper (upgrade) and Michael Gallup (upgrade) having similar success. Washington’s biggest weakness in coverage is on the deep ball, with safety Montae Nicholson grading out extremely low in coverage the past two years. This bodes well for both Gallup and Cooper’s chances to bust a long play, and the boundary CBs for WAS are not an imposing matchup. Fire up Cooper as a low end WR1, and Gallup as a low end WR2. Both should have big days unless the Cowboys get too big of an early lead and game flow shifts to the run game. Randall Cobb is simply a WR4/5 in hopes of some catches or TD, and gets a slight upgrade in PPR. Despite his Week 1 TD, Jason Witten remains just a low end TE2 due to his lack of passing game volume and short aDOT (.8 yards).
Ezekiel Elliott (upgrade) played just over 50% of the snaps last week after returning from his holdout. He had a productive game and figures to ramp up his workload a bit this week. He is a no doubt elite RB1 heading into this matchup, and should be in all lineups. His backup, Tony Pollard, played about a third of the snaps last week, and will remain just a part time COP back barring injury ahead of him. He is a top-3 fantasy handcuff based on his situation and clear talent.


The Redskins got off to a hot start last week, in part because of Case Keenum’s largely impressive Redskins debut. Keenum’s target share in Week 1 - Chris Thompson (10), Paul Richardson (7), Terry McLaurin (7), Vernon Davis (7), Trey Quinn (6), Derrius Guice (3). Scary Terry McLaurin was one of the biggest surprises in Week 1, topping 100 yards and scoring a long TD off a Keenum pass in the first half. He arguably should have had another long TD, but Keenum overthrew him. McLaurin (downgrade) has an excellent season long outlook based on projected negative game scripts and lack of competition for targets, but this projects as a difficult game to trust him in. Although the Giants don’t boast a deep WR crew, the Cowboys absolute shutdown of their WRs showed the strength of their secondary. Jourdan Lewis showed especially well in coverage, and opposite him is Chidobe Awuzie, who’s speed will come in handy against the electric McLaurin. It would only take one long bomb for Terry to pay off, but it’s always a risky proposition to chase last week’s points. Consider him a WR3/4 with upside for the time being, and consider keeping him on benches another week if you have better options. Paul Richardson received a high target share, but did little with his opportunities. Slot receiver Trey Quinn (upgrade PPR) managed to score a TD, but was held to 33 yards. Both are too untrustworthy to consider plugging into lineups. If forced to choose one, we would lean towards Richardson due to his significant advantage in air yards over Quinn (75 to 34). In full PPR formats, Quinn gets a slight boost as he will likely get the short targets when the Redskins are in full pass mode if they have to play from behind.
After Derrius Guice’s meniscus surgery (projected 4-6 weeks out), Adrian Peterson (downgrade) will be back in the lead back role this week. With the Redskins as heavy underdogs, Peterson is a low floor play considering the likelihood he is phased out in a negative game-script. He is just a low end flex in this matchup. Chris Thompson (upgrade PPR) has a much better outlook with his team leading 10 targets and 64% snap share last week. Expect a similar number of targets again this week, especially if the Cowboys take an early lead. Thompson will likely get at least 5-6 catches, with a sprinkle of carries as well, which buoys his floor and makes him an even more appealing PPR target. He’s a solid flex option this week that should be in lineups outside of shallow leagues.
Score prediction: Cowboys 27, Redskins 17

New Orleans Saints at Los Angeles Rams (-2)

Saints ATS: 0-1-0 Rams ATS: 1-0-0
Projected Team Totals: Saints 25 Rams 27


New Orleans improbable last second game winning field goal made for one of the more exciting matchups in Week 1. Brees’ target distribution last week - Michael Thomas (13), Alvin Kamara (8), Ted Ginn (7), Jared Cook (3), Latavius Murray (3), Tre’Quan Smith (2). Brees carved up the Texans pass D last week, but faces a much more challenging matchup in the Rams. Additionally, Brees is historically more productive at home than on the road (as are many QBs), so owners should be wary of counting on similar stats from last week. He is still in play as a solid QB1, and it’s quite possible after watching Cam Newton bomb on TNF this week that it was Newton, not LAR’s pass defense, that caused trouble for Panther’s receivers last week. Brees top receiver, Michael Thomas, is an automatic start every week regardless of matchup. The Rams boundary CBs are solid, but not anything to worry Thomas owners considerably. Ted Ginn (downgrade) may get a lot of Aqib Talib this week, who mostly shutdown a similarly speedy Curtis Samuel last week. Ginn is hard to trust every week due to his lack of consistent volume, and the difficult matchup combined with a decrease in volume from Brees this week make him a likely fade. He’s no more than a low floor WR4 this week, worth starting only in deep leagues. Tre’Quan Smith is barely worth owning at this point, as he seems below Ginn in the pecking order. There are better WRs on the wire. Jared Cook may be in position for a bounce back week, but the matchup doesn’t look overly favorable after the Rams held Greg Olsen to only 36 yards last week. Cook is still a low end TE1 and should get more targets than last week, but can be benched for a TJ Hockenson or Darren Waller type. We still would expect Cook to outproduce his week 1 numbers by a good amount if the Rams focus their attention on Thomas and Ginn on the outside.
Alvin Kamara (upgrade) played on 76% of snaps to Latavius Murray’s (upgrade standard) 27%. This split seems about what coach Sean Payton will want moving forward. Murray will continue to get about 10 carries a game, and will be used in short yardage and goal line situations at times, but will struggle with inconsistency considering he needs a rushing TD to make for a valuable start. Be careful chasing Week 1 points. Kamara remains an elite RB1, whose usage should help to keep him healthy and put him in position to be efficient and productive on his roughly 20 touches per game. This week projects especially well considering the Rams were gashed by CMC last week, and the face the Rams appear more vulnerable to the run than the pass.


Goff’s target spread in Week 1 - Robert Woods (13), Cooper Kupp (10), Brandin Cooks (6), Tyler Higbee (5), Josh Reynolds (2), Gerald Everett (1), Todd Gurley (1). Coming off a down week in which he scored only 10 points, Jared Goff (upgrade) returns home for what should be a high scoring matchup. Considering the shootout potential, and the fact that Jared Goff was the best QB in fantasy when at home last year (by total points), he makes for a top 10 option this week. Robert Woods (upgrade) was the most productive Rams wideout last week, and if he can avoid Marshon Lattimore in coverage for large periods of the game, he should be headed for a big game. PFF projects Brandin Cooks to receive coverage from Lattimore, but unless he shadows him, expect Sean McVay to find ways to scheme him open. Cooks disappointed owners last week, but he should be in line for a bounce back week. Cooper Kupp (upgrade) will operate out of the slot as usual, and his matchup with PJ Williams is a distinct upgrade. All three are excellent starts, and we are especially bullish on Kupp considering how Jared Goff’s best games have correlated with Kupp’s best games. Look for Kupp to get on the board with 80+ yards and a good shot at a TD.
Todd Gurley (upgrade) looked explosive in his highly anticipated first game action since being phased out due to injury during the Rams Superbowl run last year. He took 14 carries for 97 yards, and led the NFL in yards after contact last week. He also played 70% of the snaps. The biggest concern for fantasy owners was his lack of red zone usage. Malcolm Brown, despite playing on only 27% of snaps, was able to garner to short yardage rushing TDs, leading owners to assume that Gurley will cede redzone work to Brown in most situations. While we expect Brown to continue to be heavily involved, and he makes for a high upside handcuff with low end flex standalone value, there is some luck involved with the split. During the drives Gurley was featured, the Rams either didn’t score or ended up with a passing TD. In the drives that Brown was featured, the Rams were able to punch it in on the ground. This situation requires close monitoring, but we still see Gurley as a low end RB1 and are hopeful that he will get some opportunities for high value carries. Consider Gurley a must start, especially after watching Carlos Hyde carve up New Orleans last week, and Malcolm Brown a decent flex who gets an upgrade in standard leagues. Darrell Henderson is a non factor at this point, playing only 3% of snaps last week.
Score Prediction: Saints 35, Rams 31

Philadelphia Eagles (-2) at Atlanta Falcons

Eagles ATS: 0-1-0 Falcons ATS: 0-1-0
Projected Team Totals: Eagles 27.5 Falcons 25


Philadelphia’s offensive weapons were on full display in last week’s come from behind win against Washington. Carson Wentz’s target distribution - Desean Jackson (10), Zach Ertz (7), Alshon Jeffery (6), Nelson Agholor (5), Dallas Goedert (3), Darren Sproles (3), Jordan Howard (3), Miles Sanders (2). Despite their overall slow start, Wentz put up an impressive Week 1 fantasy performance with 300+ and 3 TD. Considering the wealth of riches at the skill positions for Philly, Wentz is a weekly high end QB1. This week is no different. Although the Falcons did not give up many passing yards last week, that’s due to Cousins’ 10 pass attempts rather than some huge performance by the Atlanta secondary. He should be in all lineups this weekend in the second highest projected scoring game of the week. Desean Jackson (upgrade) proved he hasn’t lost a step by going off for 152 yards and 2 TD. Most will focus on his 2 long TDs, and those were impressive, but look closer and it becomes clear Wentz trusts Jackson on short and intermediate routes as well. He led the team with 142 air yards, but his aDOT was a more even 14.2 yards. That number accounts for the fact he was targeted at all different levels, not just on deep throws down the field. Jackson is a solid WR2 in a high scoring game, and his matchups on the outside and with deep safeties are not imposing. Alshon Jeffery was not as heavily utilized as Jackson, but his redzone opportunities more than made up for it. If Jeffery remains 3rd on the target priority, he will be more WR3 than WR2, as he won’t get in the endzone every game. But he should be in lineups in this projected shootout. Zach Ertz is a locked and loaded elite TE1, and Dallas Goedert is left to grab only scraps behind him. Nelson Agholor does not need to be owned as long as Jackson and Jeffery are healthy.
Last week showed the Eagles are yet again committed to a RBBC. Jordan Howard (upgrade standard) got involved on early downs, but ended with only 6 carries. His 23% snap rate was third among RBs. He looked excellent on his limited opportunities, and has a great chance to produce this week against a weak ATL rush defense. However, his role is far too inconsistent to trust outside of deeper leagues. He’s a risky flex with a low floor, but some good upside in this matchup. Miles Sanders (upgrade) got almost have of the snaps, and finished 12 touches. His TD run was called back for holding, but showed his impressive skills in the open field. He’ll be an upside flex option, who’s involvement in the passing gives him a better floor than Howard. Unfortunately for both, Darren Sproles involvement continues to sap their value a bit. Owners will hope that Sproles gets fewer touches as the season goes on, but as long as he is getting consistent work, this backfield is unlikely to produce a top 15 weekly RB option.


Matt Ryan’s target share from last week - Julio Jones (11), Austin Hooper (9), Calvin Ridley (6), Mohamed Sanu (6), Justin Hardy (5), Devonta Freeman (4), Ito Smith (1). Matt Ryan (upgrade) basically bombed last week, but his fantasy line ended up mostly respectable. Going against an Eagles defense that just got burned by Case Keenum, and playing at his home dome field, expect Ryan to have a big week. Julio Jones (upgrade) had a low yardage week but got in the endzone, in a complete reversal of his early weeks from last year. Jones admitted he was still not quite 100% and a bit rusty after barely practicing in training camp, but he is in a great smash spot this week. He has historically had great success against the Eagles, and his 11 targets last week proved he is the clear lead dog even when things aren’t going well. If he gets more consistent red zone looks this year, watch out. Calvin Ridley (upgrade) should also be in line for a productive day, and will get good matchups in the Eagles boundary CB’s. Austin Hooper’s 9 targets gave owners belief that he can take another step forward into consistent high end TE value this year. In what should be a high scoring fast paced game, expect Hooper to be targeted heavily, and get at least one or two red zone looks. Mohamed Sanu and Justin Hardy are better real life players than fantasy producers, and neither are relevant as long as Jones and Ridley are healthy.
Devonta Freeman was one of the biggest disappointments in relation to his ADP in Week 1. The game script was negative right from the beginning as ATL was down 14-0 before they could even catch their breath. Freeman’s 50% snap rate could be shrugged off as merely a product of this game flow, but there are other concerning trends. Ito Smith was heavily involved, and at times even looked like the superior runner. He averaged over 5 yards a carry to Freeman’s 2.4. Smith also received a good amount of red zone work, and his 50% snap rate has to be worrying to Freeman owners. Freeman was the higher graded pass protector by a large margin (PFF) so he is certainly not in danger of losing his role on passing downs. However, for a guy taken in the top 40 of most drafts, it looks like we may be looking at a lower end RB2 rather than the low end RB1 that most were hoping for. Malik Jackson’s injury is an upgrade for ATL’s rushing offense, but this is all about volume. I would give Freeman the benefit of the doubt and start him in this likely shootout, but keep a close eye on Ito Smith’s involvement. Smith is nothing more than a valuable stash for Freeman owners looking to hedge their bets.
Score Prediction: Falcons 31, Eagles 28

Kansas City Chiefs (-7) at Oakland Raiders

Chiefs ATS: 1-0-0 Raiders ATS: 1-0-0
Projected Team Totals: Chiefs 30.25 Raiders 23.25


Patrick Mahomes target spread from Week 1 - Sammy Watkins (11), Travis Kelce (8), Damien Williams (6), Demcarcus Robinson (2), Tyreek Hill (2), Darwin Thompson (1), LeSean McCoy (1), Mecole Hardman (1). Tyreek Hill’s injury was a big storyline from Week 1. He’s out at least 4-6 weeks, and Sammy Watkins’ (upgrade) big performance last week is a harbinger of things to come. Finally fully healthy, Watkins has top 5 WR potential as the lead target for the best QB in the league. He should be locked into lineups. Mecole Hardman (upgrade), despite receiving only 1 target, became an every down player and Hill’s injury. Although it’s tough to start him this week due to uncertainty of role, he needs to be owned in all leagues for his incredible upside in this offense. This would be a good week to start him in DFS, or deeper leagues for those in need of a Hill replacement, as the Raiders secondary has been decimated by injuries. If Hardman’s preseason performances are an indication, he should get a few high value looks throughout the game. Demarcus Robinson is a WR4 that may have some big weeks but will likely be too inconsistent to trust. Travis Kelce remains the top play at TE, and should be in line for a big week.
Damien Williams (upgrade PPR) 66% snap count is encouraging, but keep in mind Lesean McCoy (29%) has only been in KC for 2 weeks. If McCoy can carve out an even timeshare with Williams, both will be RB2/flex plays. In what projects as the highest scoring game of the week, start McCoy and Williams in all lineups. This situation is worth close monitoring for owners invested in the backfield. Darwin Thompson is only a handcuff in deeper leagues, and can be cut loose for more productive waiver options.


Derek Carr’s target distribution - Darren Waller (8), Tyrell Williams (7), Ryan Grant (4), Hunter Renfrow (3), Foster Moreau (2), Josh Jacobs (1). Derek Carr played like a guy who is more comfortable in his offense after a full year to get accustomed. Despite losing his most talented weapon, Carr was more willing to take shots downfield and was sharp throughout. Against the Chiefs leaky secondary that allowed rookie Gardner Minshew to carve them up, Carr is a solid QB1 with potential to be a top 3 scorer this week. Darren Waller (upgrade) was Carr’s favorite target, and will be busy on short to intermediate routes as Carr’s safety valve. He gets an additional upgrade in PPR leagues, as he will see 6+ targets on high percentage throws virtually every game. Tyrell Williams (upgrade) showed great chemistry with his QB, and Carr’s willingness to make downfield throws has breathed new life into Williams’ value. He’s a high end WR2 this week with WR1 upside. His 17.9 yards aDOT makes gives his targets additional value. He only needs to cash in 2-3 of those looks to be worthy of a start. As the top outside option against a bad secondary, that should be extremely likely this week. Hunter Renfrow (upgrade PPR) will continue to get a few targets each week, but is not nearly as valuable in standard leagues. This would be a good week to start him in deeper leagues, but beware he’s not a consistent option at this point.
Josh Jacobs was a workhorse last week, with a 74% snap share, and with Jalen Richard receiving only 1 touch last week it would appear Jacobs has solidified his status as an every down back. The only concern this week is that the Raiders are forced to throw early and often in this one, which would decrease Jacobs’ rushing attempts. But assuming he remains on the field over Richard, his involvement in the passing game keeps him as a high end RB2. He should be in lineups this week, and owners will want to monitor if Richard gets more work in the passing game this week.
Score Prediction: Chiefs 34, Raiders 24

Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers (-4)

Seahawks ATS: 0-1-0 Steelers ATS: 0-1-0
Projected Team Totals: Seahawks 21.5 Steelers 25.5


The Steelers looked like a different team without Antonio Brown, struggling to move the ball and lacking big play ability in Week 1 against the reigning Super Bowl champs. Ben Roethlisberger’s (upgrade) Week 1 target distribution - Donte Moncrief (10), JuJu Smith-Schuster (8), James Washington (6), Ryan Switzer (6), Diontae Johnson (5), James Connor (4), Vance McDonald (4), Johnny Holton (2), Jaylen Samuels (2). Big Ben looked awful in Week 1, as did the rest of the team. If you started him, it’s probably hard to trust him this week even with a good matchup against a Seahawks secondary that allowed Andy Dalton to roll up 418 passing yards and two touchdowns. Ben sits on the QB1 borderline in what projects to be a bounce week for the Steelers. He is historically much more productive in fantasy when at home. Donte Moncrief surprisingly drew more targets than Juju Smith-Schuster, and did absoluting nothing with them - grabbing an abysmal 3 of 10 targets for 7 yards and dropped a touchdown in the 3rd quarter. The target share was probably a symptom of the Patriots taking away the Steelers best wide out and forcing the others to beat them - a classic Belichick move. Moncrief is a WR4 and a risky play moving forward. Juju figures to command the lion's share of targets in one of the most pass-heavy offenses in the league and remains a WR1 against the underwhelming Seahawks cornerbacks. James Washington drew the second most Air Yards in Week 1 with 169, only behind DeAndre Hopkins (216). The issue with Washington is going to be snap rate, as he only saw 52% while Moncrief and Juju saw 90% each. Washington remains a boom or bust WR4 this week but after what John Ross did to the Hawks, it seems more likely he booms.
James Connor is locked into the workhorse role, seeing 32 snaps compared to Jaylen Samuels 23 in a negative game script Week 1. He also out touched Samuels 14 to 3. Connor is an RB1 in a touch matchup (Seattle allowed only 8 fantasy points to Cincinnati). The matchup may not be as imposing as the stats suggest - Joe Mixon was injured in Week 1 and the Bengals adopted to pass most of the game, throwing 52 times vs 13 rushing attempts.


The Seahawks again look to be an extremely run-heavy team in 2019 and Russel Wilson's (upgrade) target distribution should set off alarm bells for owners who invested in the Seahawks receivers. Wilson's targets Week 1 - Chris Carson (7), D.K. Metalf (6), Nick Vannett (2), Tyler Lockett (2), Will Dissly (2). A popular 4th round pick in fantasy drafts, Tyler Lockett (upgrade) made the most of his targets, netting a catch for 44 yards. Owners are probably ready to press the eject button, but not so fast - inside receivers have feasted on the Steelers defense the last few years. In Week 1, Phillip Dorsett roasted nickel cornerback Mike Hilton, who will be Locketts primary defender, several times en route to a 95 yard, two touchdown day. Lockett is still a WR2 and expect him to bounce back, he also mentioned after the Bengals game that he was doubled several times in that game, something he said he hadn’t seen since college. Keep in eye on Lockett’s status as he has missed a couple practices this week, but there is nothing to suggest he is in danger of missing Week 2. Maybe the double team on Lockett is why D.K. Metcalf saw the most targets of the receivers. Either way, Metcalf remains a touchdown dependant WR4 and is a risky high ceiling low floor play. David Moore is expected to remain sidelined for a couple more weeks and Jaron Brown should be a non-factor. Will Dissley and Nick Vannett are not recommended tight end options in any format.
Chris Carson (upgrade) is locked and loaded as the workhorse for the Hawks and is a solid RB1 in a good matchup. The Steelers defense gave up 99 yards on the ground to New England Week 1, but this could have been higher had the Patriots not shredded them through the air instead. Carson will see the volume, passing game work and goal line touches to make him matchup proof; he is shaping up to be one of the steals of fantasy drafts in 2019. Rashaad Penny is no more than a handcuff/bench stash, it’s possible that Penny may be more involved as the season progresses but can’t be trusted in lineups for now.
Score Prediction: Steelers 24 Seahawks 21

Chicago Bears (-2.5) at Denver Broncos

Bears ATS: 0-1-0 Broncos ATS: 0-1-0
Projected Team Totals: Bears 24 Broncos 21.5


In an absolute bore of an NFL opener for fans, the Bears lost to the Packers 10 - 3. Mitchell Trubisky’s (downgrade) target distribution Week 1 - Allen Robinson (13), Tarik Cohen (10), Mike Davis (7), Taylor Gabriel (5), Cordarrelle Patterson (3), Adam Shaheen (2), Javon Wims (2), Anthony Miller (1). Trubisky looked awful last week and it stands to reason that Matt Nagy will try to establish the run game in Week 2. The Bears only ran the ball 15 times vs 45 pass attempts in Week 1 and the opposite is expected moving forward. Trubisky is no more than a high floor QB2. Rotoworld projects Allen Robinson to be shadowed by Chris Harris Jr while PFF does not project shadow coverage. Either way, Robinson will look to produce in another projected low scoring game and remains a WR2. Tarik Cohen (upgrade PPR) looked more like the starting slot receiver than a running back and figures to be heavily utilized again in the short passing game. Maybe he was used in the slot so much because Anthony Miller is making his way back from injury, but Miller isn’t a viable option until he receives a larger portion of the target share and proves he’s fully healthy. The Bears do not have a recommended tight end play.
Mike Davis looked like the starting running back or at least the lead back in the RBBC Week 1. David Montgomery inexplicably only received 28 snaps, compared to 51 for Cohen and 41 for Davis. Montgomery passed the eye test and looked like the more explosive back, but Mike Davis is apparently the best pass blocker of the three. It appears Montgomery will be extremely sensitive to game-script and when the Bears look to pass, it will be Davis on the field. Davis and Montgomery are both extremely hard to trust this week due to uncertainty of role, and hopefully Nagy comes to his senses and tries to establish the run and rely on the defense instead of Trubisky’s arm.


The Broncos were upset by the Raiders last week. It was especially surprising to see considering the Raiders perceived dysfunction during the Antonio Brown saga, plus the inside the organization look during HBO’s Hard Knocks. Joe Flacco’s target distribution Week 1 - Courtland Sutton (8), Emmanuel Sanders (7), Phillip Lindsay (6), Noah Fant (5), Daesean Hamilton (4), Royce Freeman (1). No shadow matchups are expected, but the entire Denver offense receives a downgrade due to playing the Bears vaunted defense. The game is expected to be a defensive slugfest and the Denver offense should be faded if possible. Courtland Sutton and Emmanuel Sanders sit on the WR3/WR4 borderline in an extremely tough matchup. Keep in mind that this is the secondary that limited Aaron Rodgers to 203 yards passing and one touchdown Week 1. Noah Fant looked good last week and along with TJ Hockenson, is trying to buck the trend that rookie tight ends don’t produce. This isn’t the time to get cute and play him, he’s no more than a bench stash.
Phillip Lindsay (upgrade) ** and **Royce Freeman split carries in Week 1, with Lindsay getting 11 to Freeman’s 10. The RBBC is in full-effect in Denver and when Theo Reddick returns from injury this backfield will become extremely crowded. Neither Freeman or Lindsay are recommended plays this week against a ferocious Bears defense, but Lindsay receives the slight upgrade due to his involvement in the passing game. The Broncos will mostly likely utilize shorts passes to try and move the ball against. Moving forward it’s going to be extremely hard to recommend either, as they are siphoning value away from each other.
Score Prediction: Bears 27 Broncos 17

Cleveland Browns (-6.5) at New York Jets

Cleveland ATS: 0-1-0 Jets ATS: 0-1-0
Projected Team Totals: Browns 25.25 Jets 18.75


The Browns have now lost 13 opening games in a row, an NFL record. I wish I had heard about the streak before making them my survivor pool pick… Baker Mayfield’s target distribution in Week 1 - Odell Beckham Jr (11), Jarvis Landry (7), David Njoku (6), Nick Chubb (4), Rashard Higgins (3), Dontrell Hillard (2), D’ernest Johnson (2), Damion Ratley (2), Demetruis Harris (1). The Browns struggled in Week 1 and no fantasy player boomed and most were left with mediocre days. Odell Beckham Jr (upgrade) will likely be facing Trumaine Johnson, Rotoworld projects shadow coverage while PFF does not. This is a matchup that OBJ can win as Johnson graded out as ‘below average’ (PFF) in coverage Week 1, and the deep ball would be aided if LB C.J. Mosley and DT Quinnen Williams sit. Odds are that the Browns get back on track this week and OBJ finds the endzone for the first time as a Brown wearing his $190,000 watch. Jarvis Landry (upgrade PPR) faces an exploitable matchup against SCB Brian Poole and will remain a low-end WR2. Rishard Higgins draws the best matchup of the three against Darryl Roberts and remains in WR4 consideration. David Njoku caught a touchdown last week and was targeted enough to remain a TE1. He may be a bit touchdown dependant but you could do worse at the position.
Nick Chubb to the dismay of fantasy owners was not on the field for the red zone rush attempt of the season for the Browns, rather, Dontrell Hilliard punched the ball in for a touchdown. This should not be a regular occurrence as Hilliard only saw 13 snaps to Chubb’s 51. Look for Chubb along with the rest of the Browns to get back on track this week - the Jets were steamrolled for 128 yards on the ground against the Bills and Chubb is in the mix for the overall RB1 finish in Week 2.


It’s been announced that Sam Darnold has mononucleosis and will miss a significant chunk of time, a crushing blow for an organization that was expected to improve in 2019. It’ll be the Trevor ‘Checkdown’ Siemian show for Monday Night Football; this is an obvious downgrade for the entire Jets offense. Jamison Crowder (upgrade PPR) figures to be a safety valve for the former Broncos quarterback and should see plenty of volume. Robbie Anderson (downgrade) draws a tough matchup in Denzel Ward - with the backup QB’s inability to throw the deep ball, Anderson is a fade for the foreseeable future. Quincy Enunwa’s season has been cut short with a neck injury and he has been placed on IR. Recently acquired Demaryius Thomas will slide into the starting lineup and isn’t a fantasy option. Tight end Ryan Griffin appears to be at the bottom of the target totem pole and owners will most likely find success looking elsewhere for production. There is a chance he is an active target against a Browns defense that was destroyed by Delanie Walker last week, but it’s a risky endeavor to play him. Chris Herndon is eligible to return from suspension Week 6.
Le’veon Bell (limited in practice Friday) had a precautionary MRI on his shoulder early in the week but appears to be on track for Week 2. The Titans ground attack absolutely ripped the Browns in Week 1 to the tune of 123 rushing yards. Bell should see the volume to produce as an RB1 and will be heavily involved in the short passing game as well. With Bell healthy, Ty Montgomery should remain on benches as a handcuff.
Score Prediction: Browns 27, Jets 17
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The Kansas City Chiefs (4-2) pay a visit to Mile High to take on their AFC West rivals, the Denver Broncos (2-4) on Thursday Night Football.. While these are clearly two teams with different The Denver Broncos (5-8) take on the Kansas City Chiefs (9-4) at Arrowhead Stadium Sunday in an AFC West showdown. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. ET. We analyze the Broncos-Chiefs sports betting odds and lines, with NFL betting picks, tips and analysis for the Week 15 matchup. All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change. Chiefs at Broncos Betting Odds. Point Spread: Broncos +3 Total Points: 49 Money Line: Chiefs -165; Broncos +143. Records. Overall: Chiefs 4-2; Broncos 2-4 ATS: Chiefs 3-3; Broncos 3-3 O/U: Chiefs 4-2; Broncos 2-4. Notable Prop Bets. Chiefs: Travis Kelce under 75.5 Broncos at Chiefs betting odds: Denver 9.5-point underdogs to Kansas City New, 40 comments By Tim Lynch @TimLynch1978 Dec 11, 2019, 7:00am MST Chiefs 30, Broncos 21. Moneyline . The CHIEFS are road favorites at -154. It’s a safe play as they avoid a third straight loss. New to sports betting? A $10 bet on the Chiefs to win outright returns a profit of $6.50. Against the Spread . Back the CHIEFS to cover a spread of -3.5 with more rewarding +100 odds ($10 profit on $10 bet). Over/Under

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