The Rival Sports Podcast Episode 23: “Kicking can’t be this hard, right?”

The Rival Sports Podcast is back for Episode 23 and we’re talking more NFL football. The NFC has flip-flopped and we’re now living in the upside down, players legs are falling off, the AFC North is all but settled, and kickers inexcusably suck now.

In Episode 23 Adam and Al are joined by special guest and friend of the pod Ben who sheds some light on this weeks NFL action and give his personal take (as a former kicker) on why everyone but Justin Tucker sucks. Plus we chat about the Eifert puke-inducing ankle break that Redzone didn’t prepare us for, and Earl Thomas shooting his team the bird while getting carted off.

Listen to “Episode 23: “Kicking can’t be this hard, right” on Spreaker here!
Want to hear more? Subscribe on iTunes, listen on Google Play, and be sure to check our archives.
This episode includes:

  • Vikings discussions on whether they’re the real deal anymore
  • Packers talk on crushing the Bills, showing patience with Devante Adams as a number 1 WR in the NFL, and rejoicing in Aaron Jones’ early success
  • Are the Bears really good? and will the Lions ever be good?
  • Earl Thomas obviously breaks his leg and makes it a contract issue while Le’veon Bell can’t help but comment on Instagram on the issue
  • Tyler Eifert has a great game but then his foot pretty much falls off to end his season
  • The Browns and Steelers go quietly into the night as the Bengals and Ravens are in the driver’s seat for the division
  • And we end by discussing kickers in the NFL making their jobs so much harder than it has to be

The Rival Sports Podcast will be posting new NFL episodes on a weekly basis. Please subscribe on iTunes and Google Play to keep up to date on all of our podcasts!

Be sure to follow us on Twitter:
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Mahomes: He is Real

Follow me on Twitter @HollandGregJ

Since waking up on the Monday after Week 1, I have been crying inside. Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has made me cry tears of sadness.

Now you may be asking yourself why would this be? Why would I be crying in the midst of a record breaking performance? Because this guy was my guy. He was stashed on my bench last year in the hopes Alex Smith would be gone for 2018 and he’d get the starting job. As it turned out, I needed a roster spot for a running back and had to drop him.

To paraphrase Eminem, “last year he was a nobody, this year he’s breaking records…”

He is the story of his NFL season through 2 weeks.
2 GS – 582 YDS – 10 TD’s – 0 INT – 143.3 RTG

This start has placed him in the history books, passing Peyton Manning and Drew Brees for most TD passes through the first 2 games of a season. Not only has he bested two legends of the game, he did in his FIRST TWO games as an undisputed starter.

The 6’3” 230 lb quarterback out of Texas Tech is enjoying success in his 2nd season alongside the NFL’s most explosive offense that includes fellow sophomore RB Kareem Hunt (who led the NFL in rushing last season as a rookie), Pro Bowler TE Travis Kelce, and elite playmaker WR Tyreek “the freak” Hill.
Combine the skill in this lineup with the mind and play-calling of head coach Andy Reid, and that is just scary good. This team will score a lot, and can do so in any possible way.

Mahomes is not only in possession of a canon for an arm, he’s been known to do some work with his legs as well.

In 2015, as a sophomore, he rushed 131 times for 456 yards and 10 (TEN!) touchdowns. The following year on another 131 attempts, he only went for 285 yards but eclipsed the previous year’s mark with 12 (YES, TWELVE!) rushing touchdowns. These aren’t eye-popping numbers by any means as far as yards-per-carry goes, but those TD’s show us he can in fact get the job done two ways.

I for one am going to have to settle for owning Mahomes in only 2 of 3 fantasy leagues, but I will be watching him play and loving it from here on out.

Aaron Rodgers Is Worth The Money, And Then Some.

Aaron Rodgers is entering the 2018 season as the highest paid player in the NFL, and deservedly so. The contract he signed is a 4 year $134 million deal with the potential to reach $180 million if he hits incentive bonuses. In a salary cap world, there will always be a debate on whether a player is worth his cap space. Being over paid can hinder a team from competing, so obviously the highest cap in the league is worth analyzing.

There are a couple different reasons why Aaron Rodgers is absolutely worth this deal, and could actually be a steal for Green Bay.

First and most importantly, Rodgers simply deserves to be the highest paid player based on factual statistics. Not only is he statistically the best QB in the game right now, he’s the best statistically of all time. He boasts the highest QB rating ever for a starting QB, and the lowest interception percentage. That is insane. We can debate all day about whether that puts him in the conversation of best ever, but those facts cannot be disputed. Statistics aside, anyone who has been following the NFL for the last decade can tell you Rodgers is an extremely special player. He’s carried Green Bay through some rough years, and brought them to playoffs for all but his second year as a starter. He’s not only known for his pin point accuracy, but also his mobility, his decision making, and his clutchness tossing ridiculous Hail Marys to win games. In other words, he’s elite at everything.

Secondly, it is important to remember that the salary cap is always rising, and the cost to retain franchise QB’s will continue to rise with it. Aaron himself is a perfect example of this. When he signed his last contract, he was the highest paid player in the league, but it wasn’t long before this was overtaken in the coming years by contracts given to EIGHT other quarterbacks, including Joe Flacco, Alex Smith, Derek Carr, Matthew Stafford and Jimmy Garoppolo. Look at this list. Even barely above average QB’s are costing an arm and a leg to keep. So with that said, it won’t be long before Rodgers contract will look like a complete steal (which is only $3 million more per year than Kirk Cousins for comparison).

And finally, this is the time for Green Bay to go for it all. Rodgers isn’t exactly young anymore. Randall Cobb and Jimmy Graham probably only have a few more years of consistent productivity. And while the defense does have some promising young talent, particularly at the DB position, the team lives and dies by Aaron’s arm. I can’t say how long he will decide to play football for, but you can be sure that his replacement is extremely unlikely to replicate his impact on the team. Give him as much money as he wants now and go for gold.

The only possible downside here is the idea of Rodgers being injury prone and potentially wasting a ton of money. It’s not a concern without warranted discussion, however all I can say is that all football players get hurt. If you haven’t missed parts of a season this far into your career, you are extremely lucky. At the end of the day, Rodgers has played 15 or more games in 8 out of 10 seasons as a starter. The entire idea of him being injury prone is completely blown out of proportion.

WR’s – Who to Draft when everyone’s done Drafting

Top 3 WR’s Ranked #30+

With there being so few top end RB’s, finding WR’s to fill your flex spots is imperative. Luckily, there are plenty of options.
I’m not talking ‘sleepers’ here, I’m talking ‘been dead for years and you’re excavating their sarcophagus’.

Ranked 30 or above.

These picks won’t necessarily help you right away, and may be risky plays in DFS, but in dynasty leagues with salary caps, these can turn a bench spot into future dollars.

Top 5 Obvious WR’s to Target in any format:
1. Antonio Brown
2. DeAndre Hopkins
3. Odell Beckham Jr.
4. Julio Jones
5. Michael Thomas

but to the real juicy stuff…

LAR Cooper Kupp – ADP 37*
I’m not going to go very deep in the whole analytics thing, I’m a firm believer in that it doesn’t really matter in fantasy. Does the guy get points? Then it’s a good pick.
Cooper Kupp, to be frank, is going to be on fire this season. The sophomore Rams WR exploded onto the scene as a rookie and piled up 869 yards on 62 catches with 5 TD’s. He showed an ability to pop off for a long catch, and excels over the middle.
It’s not a stretch to say he hits 70+ catches, 1,000+ yards, 8 TD’s. Get him and ride off into the sunset.

Top RB’s to draft ranked 30 or above

LAC Mike Williams – ADP 46*
I know what you’re thinking. “Keenan Allen is going to eat up all the targets.” Sure, he’ll get targeted lots. But what did I just finish saying? If they score points, that’s all that matters. Williams has, by all accounts, looked incredible throughout camp. Making circus catches, high-pointing over DB’s, and showing an incredible hunger to get back into the game.
Rumour has it that with TE Hunter Henry out for the year, the Chargers are scheming a lot of things for Williams around the end-zone, and when you combine a QB like Rivers with a WR with the size and ability of Williams, you know what that usually equates to? That’s right, points. He’s not on a ton of peoples’ radar, and can be had very late, and very cheap, which will be great for next year when he really breaks out and you’ve kept him. (And hint: Keenan Allen has an opt-out of his deal after this year)

SEA Tyler Lockett – ADP 56*
This is it. This is the year for Tyler Lockett. He’s had a rough go of it so far, but this is the year. Last season he proved he could come back after a (brutal) injury to stay healthy all season, and this year looks to take the next step into real effectiveness.
Russell Wilson has lost a few weapons in Richardson, Kearse, and Jimmy Graham so there’s a few more catches to be had out there. Lockett’s maxed out at 51 catches for 664 yards with 6 TD’s in his rookie season back in 2015, but looks to pile on top of that with tons of room to run out there. While Seattle’s offensive line has improved, Wilson will still be looking to get the ball out quickly which helps the inside guys (Lockett) pile up the targets. I personally had him as a rookie and kept him, but NOW it’s time.

*based on 12-team PPR

Leave a comment and let me know who I missed, maybe we’ll get into a healthy discussion about it. Or tweet me @HollandGregJ

RB’s – Who to Draft when everyone’s done Drafting

Top 3 RB’s Ranked #30+

The consensus for the past few years has been that if you aren’t lucky enough to get a top 5 running back in your draft, you have no shot at winning. To help alleviate your issues, you need to be good at picking out talent beyond the Top 5 obvious ones.

I’m not talking ‘sleepers’ here, I’m talking ‘been dead for years and you’re excavating their sarcophagus’. Ranked 30 or above.
These picks won’t necessarily help you right away, or in DFS, but in dynasty leagues with salary caps, these can turn a bench spot into future dollars.

Top 5 RB’s to Target in any format:
1. Todd Gurley
2. David Johnson
3. Le’Veon Bell
4. Ezekiel Elliott
5. Saquon Barkley/Alvin Kamara
(I only wanted 5 here, but, Kamara’s too good).

but to the real juicy stuff…

SEA Chris Carson – ADP 37*
Carson had a great start last season, but unfortunately for him went down with a broken leg in Week 4 vs. the Colts after amassing 208 yards on 49 carries with 1TD behind Seattle’s plainly abhorrent offensive line. Seattle was one of the worst rushing teams last season, but have taken actions to improve their line this time around. In Carson’s only real feature role last year, he ran for 93 yards on 20 carries for a 4.6 avg. This guy has done nothing but impress his coaching staff and fans alike with his ability to explode off of cuts, and being one of those power backs who always seems to fall forward. He’s going to be a goal-line beast. I’m expecting 6-7 TD’s as a floor. He’s Seattle’s starter, and should be FED. You’d be able to pick him up for absolutely nothing, and it’ll be one of the smartest moves you can make.

NYJ Isaiah Crowell – ADP 35
He finally escaped the hole in Cleveland, only to land with the J-E-T-S. The obvious negative here is that they’re obviously not a powerhouse and they’re QB situation is a tad murky at the moment, BUT he’s 1st in line in the backfield. Crowell didn’t get too much praise for his efforts on a dismal team, but he did manage to put up some very respectable numbers:
206 carries, 853 yds, 2 TD’s. That’s good for 4.1 avg on only 12.9 attempts per game.
One other stat to note: He’ll be moving to a home field (MetLife Stadium) that has a turf playing surface – Crowell averages almost a YARD more per carry on turf at 4.9. (Cleveland is grass) Oh, and he can catch too.

CHI Tarik Cohen – ADP 30
I really didn’t want to do this. We all know Howard is the bell cow in Chicago, but Cohen just provides too much upside at the position to not be mentioned. Rumour has it that the coaching staff is putting Cohen in more pass-catching situations to get him in the open field more. This just means a hell of a lot of trouble for the opposition. In only his 2nd season in the league, he’s had limited opportunities to showcase his full potential, but that’s what you have to go off in these dynasty situations!
He boasts a 4.3 yards per carry average on 87 career carries, with 353 yards on an INSANE 53 catches last season.
He returns kicks, punts, and even passed for a TD last year as a rookie. He finished with 1,578 all purpose yards last year. Nuts.
The guy packs so much big play potential with plans revolving a lot around getting him the ball this year. I’d say it’s easily worth a flier as a late round pick after all those starters are gone. You could do a lot worse.

https://twitter.com/SportsQuotient/status/937398898368352258

*based off 12 team PPR

Leave a comment and let me know who I missed, maybe we’ll get into a healthy discussion about it. Or tweet me @HollandGregJ

Fantasy Football Is Back; Don’t Sleep On These Players

It’s that special time of year again. You’re getting your notifications to sign up for another year in your fantasy football league. The draft isn’t too far away and you need a quick cheat sheet to help you out. Well look no further!

Everyone knows the big name guys who will go in the first round. This is for the lesser known “value” guys you should be picking up later in your draft. Have at it!

Ronald Jones II – RB

With the departure of Doug Martin, Tampa Bay has potentially drafted his replacement in Ronald Jones II. There is a lot to like about this pick. With all the attention of the class going to Saquon Barkley, Jones could easily fly under the radar to later rounds and still put up RB1 numbers. Rookie running backs have been thriving for a while and I expect Jones to continue the trend as a start out of the gate. Add to the fact that the Bucs passing game is a bit of a mess, they should be looking to establish a strong running game.

Jack Doyle – TE

A very underrated fantasy performer over the last 2 seasons. In fact he lead the Colts in catches last season as a tight end. Now with Andrew Luck back, he will have ample opportunity to tack on a few more touchdowns to go with his high volume of catches. One thing to keep an eye on is Eric Ebron who was picked up by Indy in the off season. He may steal a few catches away from Doyle, but not enough to offset the return of Luck. Expect another top 10 season from him.

Jared Goff – QB

The Rams offense hit on all cylinders last season, and while Gurley deservingly gets a lot of the credit, don’t forget the great play from Goff. Another year experience under his belt and the best weapon he’s had in Cooks should propel him to one of the best value QBs in the league. And let’s be honest, no one wants to draft a QB early.

Chris Hogan – WR

Okay so maybe not so unknown anymore if you paid any attention to New England last year. Hogan started 2017 as the third receiver and quickly catapulted his way up the depth chart. With Cooks gone and Edelman suspended to begin the season, Hogan will get a ton of looks. He proved to be a reliable catcher last year and he has no one in his way anymore. Snag him up before someone else does.

 

Packers Backfield Features No Clear-Cut Starter Yet

The biggest question mark in Green Bay this summer is; who will be the starting running back? The Packers are lucky to have 3 strong candidates who will be battling for the position. Ty Montgomery, the versatile wide receiver converted running back is coming off an injury that halted his season. He was the RB1 last year to start the season, but after being injured, his spot was filled by rookies Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones. There is no indication at this point on whether or not Montgomery will resume his starting position. As it currently stands, McCarthy wants to see how training camp shakes out before he makes these decisions.

As for Williams and Jones, these two talented backs provide different play styles that McCarthy can use situationally if he pleases, and run a backfield by committee. Williams is more of a traditional downhill runner, where as Jones is an elusive back who can score from anywhere. Do any of these 3 running backs have a leg up on the others? I would argue that Jamaal Williams fits the mold of your typical early down back. He is the guy I would want taking the heavy beating between the tackles. Jones and especially Montgomery are great third down backs who can stretch the field and catch balls very well.

At the end of the day, I would be surprised if either of these 3 backs don’t see significant play time throughout the season. A three-headed backfield is the way to go. The great thing about that is if one get’s injured, the team won’t skip a beat.

An encouraging sign for Aaron Jones is that he had put on some mass during the off season to help him in pass protection, which was viewed has one of his weaknesses. Is that enough to vault him past Ty and Jamaal? Time will tell. Who’s your favourite to start the 2018 season?