Tag Archives: Kyler Murray

2021 Preseason Fantasy Quarterback Rankings

NFL training camps are starting up and that makes this the perfect time for preseason fantasy football rankings. Specifically, let’s get into whos and wheres of it all, ranking the top 12 players in each position group. First up on the board, the most important position in all professional sports: quarterback.

The rankings are based on a couple of criteria. First, the player’s individual situation (i.e. supporting cast, system, etc.). The second is past performance; was the player trending up, down, or are they poised for a bounceback? And the last part is the strength of their respective schedule. It’s important but last due to being so far from the season we don’t know for sure who will be good or not.

Ranking the Top 12 Fantasy Football Quarterbacks for 2021

1. Kyler Murray

Last year, we touted Kyler Murray as an MVP candidate. Things didn’t work out in that regard but Murray did finish 2020 as the fantasy QB2, behind only Allen. Well, this season he’s poised to do even more damage in his third year under Kliff Kingsbury and with an improved receiving corps.

A.J. Green has struggled to stay healthy but when right he is a difference-maker. Even if he continues to be unreliable, Arizona drafted Rondale Moore out of Purdue to join DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk.

Don’t fret over the signing of James Conner. Neither he nor Chase Edmonds is workhorse material. Kenyan Drake had 239 carries (6th) and 10 touchdowns (10th) and Murray still was able to chip in 819 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground. Murray’s production has increased each of his first two seasons.

2. Patrick Mahomes

“What once was, will be again” is the perfect way to describe what’s likely coming from the Kansas City Chiefs and 2018 NFL MVP, Patrick Mahomes. Last year, he missed a game and finished second in yards and fourth in touchdowns. We all know how the Super Bowl went for the Chiefs and they went out and did something about it this offseason, revamping their offensive line.

They did lose Sammy Watkins, but Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson are back. Both checked in ahead of Watkins in the pecking order last season. The retooled line could mean a heavier emphasis on the run. But with Andy Reid and Mahomes, it’s far more likely the latter returns to dominance. Especially with a schedule that is 10th-easiest, per FantasyPros.

3. Matthew Stafford

It’s possible no one is more excited for the upcoming season than new Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford. After spending 12 years toiling away with the Detroit Lions, it’s like going from a Ford Pinto to a Ferrari. In four years under head coach Sean McVay, L.A. has never ranked lower than 11th in yards. And, prior to finishing 22nd last season, the same was true of their scoring. Detroit has been top-10 in scoring just twice and yards three times.

Going from Jared Goff to Stafford should help get them back on track and even take them to new heights. Goff, who was never viewed by most as a franchise quarterback by most due to the hand-holding done by his coach, still finished last season as a low QB2 (21st). Stafford finished 18th in a rudimentary offense in Detroit. He also has a top-10 fantasy schedule and three tremendous wideouts in Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and free-agent signee, DeSean Jackson.

4. Josh Allen

Last year’s QB1 doesn’t fall too far in our preseason rankings and even this dip shouldn’t be the result of regression from Josh Allen. Instead, teams will undoubtedly be more prepared for his passing ability and the Buffalo Bills should put greater emphasis on the ground attack in 2021. And, as has been the theme with our first two passers, he’s projected to have a soft schedule.

It’s not just happenstance that should see Allen right back near the top fantasy quarterbacks. Buffalo went out and added Emmanuel Sanders to last year’s receptions and receiving yards leader, Stefon Diggs, underrated slot man Cole Beasley, and last year’s rookie sensation Gabriel Davis. We could also see him run more to make up for any dip in his passing numbers.

5. Dak Prescott

Dak Prescott was QB4 through the first five weeks of the 2020 season. We all know what happened to him, but we may have forgotten that first part. Proclaiming himself healthy enough to play a game today, we should see the extended version of the preview from last year when the Cowboys led the league in total and passing yards with him under center.

Amari Cooper is coming off his third consecutive 100-yard season (his fourth in five years) and CeeDee Lamb should be even better in his sophomore campaign. Michael Gallup is in a contract year and could put up good numbers in search of big money. The x-factors could be tight ends Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz, the latter of which came on strong for Dallas. Their offensive line not holding up is the only thing that could hold them back.

6. Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers, the 2020 NFL MVP who led the league in completion percentage and touchdown passes, reportedly has no plans to return to Green Bay and play for the Packers in 2021. It’s new territory for everyone to have the reigning MVP trying to force his way off the team he won the award with. Not to mention, the Packers went to the NFC Championship Game after going 13-3 in the regular season.

That loss in the playoffs to the eventual Super Bowl winner Tampa Bay Buccaneers likely highlighted just how much was afforded to Tom Brady and highlighted how “little” the Packers have done for Rodgers who was QB3 in 2020 and has but one Super Bowl appearance/victory whereas Brady has seven wins in 10 appearances. The bottom line is if he reports as we eventually expect, don’t expect him to take it easy on opponents this season.

7. Russell Wilson

#LetRussCook is so 2020, the 2021 Seattle Seahawks plan to…let…Russ…Cook? Wait, what? That’s right, it seems after looking off Russell Wilson‘s overtures for more input, Pete Carroll and John Schneider (in that order) set about making it up to their seven-time Pro Bowl quarterback by beefing up his blocking, as he’d been requesting.

Wilson has been ranked outside the top-10 in fantasy quarterbacks just twice in his career and both times he was 11th. He was QB1 in ‘17, QB9 in ‘18, QB4 in ‘19, and QB6 last season. The dude is consistent. With the upgrade to his protection and D.K. Metcalf another year in and Gerald Everett stepping in at tight end, Wilson could be in for a monster campaign.

8. Tom Brady

All Tom Brady did in his first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was throw for his most yards since 2015, the second-most yards of his career, oh, and win his seventh Super Bowl (number two for Tampa). He finished the season as QB8, his highest finish since 2017 when he was QB3. There isn’t much left to say.

Oh, the Bucs are practically returning their whole Super Bowl roster and Brady said that he wasn’t even fully comfortable with the playbook until “midway through” last season. The rest of the league should be on notice. In fact, we might have him ranked too low on this list. He could finish much, much higher.

9. Ryan Tannehill

It might surprise some to learn that Ryan Tannehill was a top-10 fantasy quarterback (QB7) last season. That’s probably because it was just his second time in the top-10; the last was in 2014 when he was QB8. Also, he has this guy named Derrick Henry who’s pretty good at running the football. So no one would blame you for not noticing Tannehill’s career-high 35 touchdown passes.

The Tennessee Titans want to ensure they get similar production from their quarterback. After losing Corey Davis to the Jets in free agency, they made one of the offseason’s biggest splashes in trading a second-round pick to the Falcons for Julio Jones. He should be able to replace Davis’ production and then some opposite A.J. Brown.

10. Lamar Jackson

2019 NFL MVP Lamar Jackson was also QB1 in fantasy that season. Last year, however, he regressed some and finished as QB10 as his production was down across the board as the Ravens, like many other teams, navigated COVID. His security blanket, tight end Mark Andrews, missed two games in protocol and Marquise Brown didn’t cut it as a number one receiver.

Enter free agent signee Sammy Watkins and 2021 first-round pick Rashod Bateman. Together they should give Jackson his best trio of receivers since he’s been a pro. Baltimore probably still lacks a true number one option at the wide receiver position, but at least they are trying to give Jackson more weapons. He does have one of the toughest schedules for quarterbacks, though.

11. Justin Herbert

In many ways, Justin Herbert should be poised to take a major leap forward this coming season. He finished last season in this same spot after getting the surprise nod in Week 1 and never looking back. He led all rookies in passing yards and touchdowns and finished sixth and 10th, respectively, in the NFL.

One thing could stand in Herbert’s way. Tight end Hunter Henry will be catching passes in New England this season after signing there as a free agent. The Chargers will try to replace his production (60 catches, 613 yards, and four touchdown grabs with journeyman Jared Cook but he’s never been the most consistent. Guess he’ll have to make do with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams (and running back Austin Ekeler).

12. Deshaun Watson

2020’s passing yards leader, Deshaun Watson threw a career-best 33 touchdowns, on a career-high 70.2 percent completion, with a career-low seven interceptions. He could put up better numbers for the Houston Texans this season, even if the Houston Texans record won’t have much to show for it. Will Fuller is gone but Brandin Cooks had over 1100 yards last season and Chris Conly arrives as a bigger body that can handle some of the verticality Fuller brought to the offense.

Watson is currently facing 22 civil suits stemming from alleged sexual misconduct. The outcome of that outweighs all of this. On the field, the Texans signed a trio of backs to join David Johnson in the backfield and upgraded the offensive line so they could look to run more this season. There are also rumors he could soon be on the move, assuming his legal issues get taken care of, with the Broncos listed as a potential landing spot. That would skyrocket him up this list.

2021 NFL Preseason Fantasy QB Rankings

We’ll revisit this as we get closer to the regular season. But it’s more likely the order changes than the actual names. Watson’s situation, for example, could shake up this entire list or even allow for a new name to make it on.

2020 Fantasy Football Regular Season Awards

Finally, we are through the grueling fantasy football regular season. Well, not in leagues everywhere. But most of them for sure. If you were skilled enough (and had the right amount of luck) to make the playoffs, congratulations! Now the real, work begins.

But before we do that, we should take a look back at this season and recognize the players that got us where we are today. For some, that means appreciation. In regards to others, though, it will be a show of contempt for the disappointment.

Awards for 2020 Fantasy Football Standouts

Most Valuable Player

Kyler Murray

2020 has been a bit up-and-down for Kyler Murray; our preseason pick for league MVP. In his sophomore season, the diminutive passer has improved his completion percentage, touchdown rate, and is on pace to shatter his passing yardage total from last season. He’s even upped his rushing production.

What matters most for our purposes is that he went from 10th in overall fantasy scoring to first in a year. The QB5 with an ADP of 56 in the preseason, Murray gave you MVP-level production with an emphasis on the ‘value’.

We cannot do this without acknowledging the players who came closest to winning this. Patrick Mahomes, who missed out by five points, stands out as obvious, as would most any other top quarterback named. But of the four players to round out the top-10, none was a quarterback.

Alvin Kamara, Dalvin Cook, Tyreek Hill, and Davante Adams outscored the likes of Ryan Tannehill, Tom Brady, Lamar Jackson, and many others this year. Kamara has been without Drew Brees for the last three weeks while Cook and Adams both missed at least one game.

Bust of the Year

Saquon Barkley

Now the “winner” may be Saquon Barkley, but this one could have gone any number of ways. Some might consider Dak Prescott since he was the league’s leading passer when he went down in Week 5. Or maybe you say it’s his teammate, Ezekiel Elliott. He hasn’t missed a game but is the RB7 after being drafted as the RB3 with an ADP of third-overall. Or is it Christian McCaffrey?

No, it’s Barkley who lasted one full week before going down with just four touches in Week 2 against the Chicago Bears. Much was expected from the former second-overall pick. It’s the second year in a row he’s failed to come close to his ADP. Last year he was the first overall pick and finished as the RB17 (82nd overall). He was drafted second overall on average this season. Oof.

Rookie of the Year

Justins

Ok, so we’re breaking the rules a bit here and, no, that isn’t an error in the heading. Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers is the easy choice. A quarterback and the highest-scoring rookie in the NFL. But we don’t do ‘easy’ around here and so we have co-Rookies of the Year in Herbert and fellow-Justin, Justin Jefferson, wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings.

The latter has made a strong case for winning the award in real life too. Herbert’s case would be stronger with more winning and fewer critical turnovers. Still, he is the QB9 after going undrafted due to starting the year as a backup. Jefferson, drafted as the WR48 only to finish the regular schedule as the WR7. A tip of the cap, rooks.

Waiver Add of the Year

James Robinson

Herbert could have qualified for this award since he was a hot commodity on waiver wires after Tyrod Taylor was injured. But it’s another player that walks away with this esteemed distinction. The waiver wire is critical to any successful season and missing out on your preferred target is a different kind of pain. You probably didn’t have that problem with James Robinson.

After Jacksonville cut Leonard Fournette the discussion around this backfield was simple: Avoid. Most wrote that any potential production was negligible. Most of that was because without a preseason we didn’t know who the backup was or how they would perform. All Robinson did was finish the regular season eighth among non-quarterbacks and 20th overall in fantasy points. The undrafted rookie out of Illinois State is third in the NFL in rushing attempts and yards.

Comeback Player of the Year

Ben Roethlisberger

One of the beautifully weird things about fantasy football is how different the perception of a player may be compared to real life. Ben Roethlisberger is having a good season by most standards; over 66 percent completion and 27 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. But he’s just 12th in passing yards and his interception last week against the Washington Football Team proved to be costly.

Yet, after missing all but two games last year with an elbow injury, and contemplating retirement, Roethlisberger sits 16 overall in fantasy points and is the QB11 (better than his QB14 ADP). Imagine if he was operating a typical Steelers offense.

Most Improved Player

Davante Adams

Aaron Rodgers is an MVP candidate thanks in no small part to stellar wideout Davante Adams. The former Fresno State Bulldog is fourth in catches, sixth in yards, but is tied for first with 13 receiving touchdowns. Mind you, he’s missed two full games and part of a third this season. He missed four games last season and had 83 grabs for 997 yards and five scores.

All of those numbers, racked up in 12 games, are fewer than Adams has compiled through 10. Being in the second year of the offensive system has helped all of the Green Bay Packers and the connection between Rodgers and Adams appears stronger than ever. Adams was the WR32 and 87th player overall last year. He is 2020’s WR2 and 10th overall player through the regular season.

DST of the Year

Miami Dolphins

In real life, we acknowledge the best player on defense with the Defensive Player of the Year award. In most cases, fantasy football only has entire units. As such, we have to bestow this great honor to the Miami Dolphins. Yup, we’re breaking the rules again. It’s actually the Pittsburgh Steelers DST that leads the way in scoring.

With an ADP as the DST2, their production is only “mildly” impressive. Miami, however, was ranked dead last on average in the preseason. Now? They are ranked second. That’s a stunning turnaround from a unit that finished last season just as they were projected before this one.

All rankings and ADP information courtesy of Fantasypros.com

Picturing Perfect NFL Playoffs Payoffs

You go through an entire sports season (in this case a 16-game, 17 week NFL slate) and get amped up for a thrilling match just to get something with no appeal. Oh, you thought this was about quality of play? Nah. More than likely, if a team is in the NFL playoffs the game will be good. Often the least expected matchups wind up being the most entertaining.

But that does nothing for the personal investment of a storyline that really piqued your interest never coming to fruition. For years the quintessential matchup was Tom Brady and the New England Patriots taking on Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts. Or Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Well, Manning is retired now and the other three now reside in the same conference with Brady’s move to Tampa.

Ideal Payoffs For a Long Road to the Playoffs

For the Nostalgia

Some combination of Rodgers versus Brady versus Brees is still very much a possibility. Rodgers is a legitimate MVP candidate. He has 33 touchdowns to just four interceptions and completing passes at his highest rate since becoming a full-time starter. Brees’ top-seeded Saints are 2-0 with him on the mend from 11 cracked ribs. Brady is bringing up the rear for the trio. His Bucs are still 7-5 with the seventh-ranked scoring offense and the second-highest DVOA of the three defenses, per Football Outsiders.

It wouldn’t matter what leg of the postseason. If any two of these three were to meet it would be must-see tv. Brees-Brady has the most extensive history, despite being in different conferences. Brees owns a decisive 5-2 edge in their head-to-head matchups, including a sweep of the season series this year. Next is Brees-Rodgers, where the Packers passer holds a 3-2 lead after winning in Week 3 this year. Brady-Rodgers have faced off three times as starters and had taken one apiece before Brady’s Bucs stomped a mudhole in Rodgers’ Packers in Week 6.

Again, all would be great matchups but, given the comparative rare nature of a Brady-Rodgers matchup that might be ideal to some. But if we are going off of the current performance of the principles, Brees-Rodgers 6 would be the one. Both quarterbacks are playing at an extremely high level (or were in Brees’ case). Brady’s team might be the most talented. But the cohesion hasn’t been there and Brady has committed many uncharacteristic mental errors this year.

Air Forces

Conference Championship week has often been referred to as the best round of the playoffs. The two teams are the best of their respective conferences but tend to have a level of familiarity that adds both to the strategery of the game as well as the personal investment. Losing is bad enough, losing to a “rival” is unfathomable. In that vein, is there a more exciting potential meeting than the seemingly inevitable one of the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers and the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs?

It’s really a matchup of Ben Roethlisberger and Patrick Mahomes, though they will never be on the field at the same time save for possibly the coin-toss and the post-game handshake. Still, Roethlisberger versus Mahomes is must-see programming at its finest. Mahomes has thrown 30 touchdowns to just two picks with 3497 yards to go with that. Roethlisberger, with his 26 touchdowns and six interceptions, hasn’t generated the same kind of buzz because his team is so well rounded. But he is still throwing touchdowns at his highest rate since 2012 and throwing interceptions at his lowest rate since 2010.

Home field advantage could play a significant part in this one; both locales are notoriously tough for visitors. That’s with fans though. With empty stadiums, the bigger deciding factor could be the defenses. This is where the Steelers could prove to be the kryptonite to Mahomes and the Chiefs’ Superman. Pittsburgh’s defense is first in DVOA, sacks, and scoring. Kansas City ranks 17th in DVOA and 23rd in sacks. They are sixth in scoring, though, so maybe that squares it.

Micro Machines

Remember those fun, tiny little toy cars where the spokesman in the commercial talked like he was hooked up to a caffeine drip? This is kind of like that. Unconventional as they may be, the Seattle Seahawks Russell Wilson and the Arizona Cardinals Kyler Murray have proven they can hang with the big boys. Both of these players spent time as the MVP favorite this season. Wilson, who has never even received a first-place vote for the award, had a case for longer than Murray, but the latter was a popular preseason pick for MVP.

The season has been filled with ups and downs for both quarterbacks and franchises. Neither escaped the rash of severe injuries that hit the NFL so hard this season with Seattle losing their top-four running backs for different stretches of the season and Arizona losing stud pass-rusher Chandler Jones. The quarterbacks both had hands in their own undoing, with both having three-interception games at one point or another.

These two have split the series both seasons since Murray entered the league, with Seattle taking the most recent duel in primetime. Playing in what might be the toughest division in professional football, these teams have spent much of the season beating up on each other and that has led to many taking both to task for their flaws. But the NFC is wide open and both of these offenses can hang points on you in a hurry. Seattle is third in scoring and Arizona is eighth.

Picture Perfect NFL Playoffs Payoffs

There are just some of the potential NFL playoffs matchups that would be worth the price of admission. A playoff game between the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins would be a throwback to the ’80s and ’90s. If they were healthy, seeing the San Francisco 49ers take on the Tennessee Titans might not be the Super Bowl the league wants. But seeing the game’s greatest rushing system and its greatest runner go at it for the ultimate glory just feels like an ode to its origins. At any rate, we’ll get to see the actual NFL playoffs pairings in just a few weeks. Hopefully, the payoff is worth it.

Week 11 Primetime Moneymakers: Like Looking Into a Mirror

After weeks of having at least one stinker on the primetime NFL slate, we finally get treated to great matchups across the board in Week 11. All six teams are in the playoff hunt and two of the games feature divisional opponents. We also have no fewer than four MVP candidates and a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year. You could say it’s pretty loaded.

Week 10 was a rough one. We committed a cardinal sin in betting. We bet with the heart and not with the mind (looking at you, Chicago Bears), resulting in an 0-3 week. It’s the first winless week of the year and it stings. The record now stands at 8-11. Yuck. It is what it is and we won’t be dissuaded. As usual, there’s money to be made and if anyone is going to make it, it might as well be us!

Primetime Moneymakers: Like Looking in a Mirror

Arizona Cardinals (6-3) at Seattle Seahawks (6-3)

Spread: Seahawks -3

O/U: 57.5

Arizona Cardinal’s (5-4 ATS) Kyler Murray Hail Mary’ed himself back into the MVP race with his late-game heroics in Week 10. A 43-yard heave found stud wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins in the end zone in the middle of three Buffalo Bills defenders. After starting 2-2, the Cardinals have won four of their last five to pull into a tie with their opponent in this very game. Arizona leads the league in total yards, rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns. They’re also seventh in points per game. And they’re far from one-sided, ranking ninth in scoring defense and have allowed just 23 touchdowns, four off the league-lead.

Russell Wilson has seen his MVP stock dip in recent weeks. He threw 19 touchdowns to just three interceptions through the first five weeks. He’s thrown nine scores to seven picks and lost three fumbles in the four games since. The Seattle Seahawks (5-3 ATS) need Wilson to play perfectly because their defense is as porous as they come. Seattle ranks 32nd in total yards and passing yards allowed. They’re a respectable fourth against the run but are 28th in scoring defense. It’s why they’ve lost three of their last four after starting off 5-0. Letting Russ cook has led to them getting burned.

This is the matchup that started the recent woes for the Seahawks. Tyler Lockett was dominant and D.K. Metcalf famously hawked safety Budda Baker but the Cardinals won 37-34 in overtime.  A Wilson interception essentially sealed that one too. Arizona has won the last two meetings between these two squads after losing the previous three. These two teams are trending in different directions heading into this battle for a leg up in the chase for the NFC West crown. Ride the heater and take the Cardinals plus the points. Speaking of points, expect a lot of them. Arizona has allowed an average of 32.6 PPG over its last three contests. Seattle has allowed 32.7 in their last four.

 

Kansas City Chiefs (8-1) at Las Vegas Raiders (6-3)

Spread: Raiders +8

O/U: 56.5

Led by MVP-frontrunner Patrick Mahomes, the Kansas City Chiefs (6-3 ATS) sit just behind the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers for the best record in the NFL. The Chiefs are first in offense DVOA, per Football Outsiders, tied for first in points per game, and fifth in total yards. Mahomes is third in the NFL with 25 touchdown passes to just one interception. Kansas City may also get wide receiver Sammy Watkins back this week as well. He hasn’t played since Week 5 when these teams last met. They will be without tackle Mitchell Schwartz, however. Their defense is no slouch either. While they rank 14th in defense DVOA, they are sixth in scoring defense, allowing just over 20 PPG.

It’s been about as good of an inaugural season in Sin City as the Las Vegas Raiders (6-3 ATS) are off to their best start since 2016. They finished that season 12-4 but lost to the Houston Texans in the Wild Card round. Derek Carr was an MVP candidate that season but suffered a broken leg in Week 15. Flash forward and Carr is having the best statistical season of his career. The Raiders offense is eighth in scoring, ninth in DVOA, and 13th in total yards. Their defense is ungood so they rely on a run game ranked fifth in rushing attempts and touchdowns, and seventh in rushing yards to keep them looking average statistically.

Las Vegas pulled off the shocker last time these two met, walking out of] Kansas City with a 40-32 victory over the defending Super Bowl champs. The Raiders are 3-1 since that game and have averaged 34 PPG over their last two contests. Too bad for them they are facing an Andy Reid team. His record coming off of extra rest is the stuff of legend. Add in the extra incentive of revenge and this could be a recipe for disaster if, unlike last time, the Raiders fail to establish the run. Look for the Chiefs to be aggressive early to eliminate that threat and protect their 27th ranked (30th in DVOA) run defense. Take K.C. but just moneyline as the Las Vegas ground game could keep this one close. That also makes the under appealing.

 

Los Angeles Rams (6-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3)

Spread: Bucs -4

O/U: 48

It’s been a bit of a mixed bag for the Los Angeles Rams ( 5-4 ATS) of late. Despite coming off their bye week to beat the Seahawks, they’re just 2-2 in their last four games. This after starting the season 4-1 with road losses to the San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins. Jared Goff is 12th in passing attempts and 11th in passing yards but has just 13 touchdowns (and six picks) to show for it. L.A. is eighth in rushing and their 14 rushing touchdowns rank second but they’re only 18th in scoring. The Rams defense is second in total yards, third against the pass, and fourth in stopping the run.

Tom Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-5) are second in total DVOA while he leads the league in pass attempts and sits fourth in pass attempts. This is the Bucs best start since 2010 when they also started 7-3. They finished 10-6 that season but still missed the playoffs. That shouldn’t be an issue this year as they sit behind the 7-2 New Orleans Saints in the NFC South but Drew Brees just went on IR and Taysom Hill is starting his first-ever game in the NFL. The Bucs could easily find themselves in the catbird seat with a win. Tampa also boasts the number one defense in DVOA, though the unit has allowed 26 PPG over the last four games; nearly four points higher than their season average.

L.A. is looking for just its third win this season over a team with a winning record after beating the Chicago Bears a few weeks back in addition to the Seahawks last week. Tampa is still seeking its first. If we look at the season, all three of the Buccaneers losses have been against teams in the top-five in DVOA. Their only win against a team in the top half of the league in defense DVOA is against the Denver Broncos. The Rams are eighth. But Los Angeles is just 2-3 on the road this season while Tampa Bay’s lone loss at home was to the Saints. Both teams are just 2-2 ATS over their last four, so we revert back to home-field advantage (and Goff’s disadvantage). That makes the Bucs the preferred play and with these defenses, hit the under.

 

Triple Zeros: City of the Big Shoulders (and Bad Football)

Triple Zeros Ep. 💯!!

City of Big Shoulders (and Bad Football)

 
🏈Steelers Imperfectly Perfect
🏈Nuk the Jumpman
🏀On the Move
🏀It’s #NBADraft-mas Eve
+More!
 

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Triple Zeros: Patrick Ma-MVP

Triple Zeros

Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes is the MVP

NFL: Alex Smith, Starter | Saints Bless Bucs
NBA: Who’s Number One? | A Quick Turnaround
+More!

Anchor

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Clocker Sports

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NFL Week 6 Primetime Moneymakers

In the age of COVID, NFL games are constantly subject to being rescheduled. We have already seen the Tennessee Titans, New England Patriots, and several other teams have their seasons rearranged already and it’s a safe bet there will be more to come. We’ve already had this week’s Thursday night matchup moved to Monday afternoon since the Buffalo Bills had to play on Tuesday.

We went 1-2 on our picks last week and missed on our weekly prop of Rob Gronkowski scoring a touchdown. Woof. Alas, there is more money to be made. And if anyone is going to make it, it should be us, right? With that let’s dive into three games to eye this week for their earning potential.

Road Teams Dominate in ‘NFL Week 6 Primetime Moneymakers’

Los Angeles Rams (4-1) -3 vs San Francisco 49ers (2-3)

Are the Los Angeles Rams good again, or at least, as good as their record says they are? Who knows, but they have been getting the job done against the spread this season (3-2 ATS) including last week’s 30-10 drubbing of the Washington Football Team. San Francisco isn’t as bad as Washington, but they are plenty banged up, especially on defense. L.A., averaging 27.2 points per game, should be able to score almost at will after the Miami Dolphins hung 43 on the 49ers defense.

San Francisco is 0-3 at home and 2-3 against the spread and just had their starting quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, benched for throwing two picks and taking several sacks. In his defense, it was his first start since suffering an ankle injury. Working against him is the Rams defense is worlds better than Miami’s surprising bunch. An early Rams lead could spell quick doom for a 49ers team undoubtedly looking to run it a lot in this one.

One team has looked playoff-ready most of the season and are laying just 3.5 points to a team that has looked disjointed and is certainly in diminished form. San Francisco looked decent against the New York Giants a couple of weeks ago but the Miami game is probably closer to what we should expect from their defense. That spells trouble against Los Angeles. The over has been hitting for the Rams but the expected emphasis on the run from the 49ers could suppress the score so the under looks more attractive here.

Kansas City Chiefs (4-1) -4 vs Buffalo Bills (4-1)

These two teams should come into this one pissed off. Both suffered embarrassing losses in Week 5. The Kansas City Chiefs watched the Las Vegas Raiders beat them 40-32 in Arrowhead playing their own game as Derek Carr threw touchdowns of 59 and 72 yards. Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills got shellacked by the Tennessee Titans on Tuesday. Perhaps they wouldn’t have won the game anyway, but losing 42-16 wasn’t in anyone’s forecast.

Allen was the clubhouse leader for MVP but his performance surely allowed Russell Wilson to at least close the gap. More concerning is how simple he was rendered ineffective by the Titans. Playing a bunch of zone coverage, they limited Buffalo’s ability to stretch the field with Stefon Diggs and kept Allen from breaking off any big runs. Patrick Mahomes was harassed all game by the Raiders so Buffalo will have to pressure him better than they did Ryan Tannehill or they’ll suffer the same fate.

Both teams have the same records straight up (4-1) and against the spread (3-2) so nothing immediately jumps to mind. If it simply comes down to who do you have more faith in, it’s hard to vote against the guy who already won an MVP against a guy chasing his first. To be honest the only thing we might have any comfort in is the under hitting; 57.5 is fairly high.

Arizona Cardinals (3-2) -1.5 vs Dallas Cowboys (2-3)

The Arizona Cardinals are still a team in transition. They have victories over the lowly New York Jets and Washington Football team one top of their surprise win over the 49ers in the opener. Their losses have come against the Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers, teams whose offensive talent is closer to that of the Dallas Cowboys than any of the opponents Arizona beat. The x-factor in this one will be Andy Dalton who takes over for the Cowboys at quarterback following Dak Prescott’s ankle injury.

Kyler Murray was the preseason favorite in this space for MVP but he has been inconsistent. and turnover prone. He’s thrown a pick in all but one game this season and threw three against the Lions in Week 3. Dalton steps into a role that had Dak breaking records for passing yards to start the season. There aren’t many better backups in the NFL, as evidenced by his completing nearly 82 percent of his passes in a comeback win against the Giants last week.

Dallas laying any points (+1.5) at home is funny when you think of where we thought this team would be. But Arizona is a challenging foe capable of taking advantage of a suspect Cowboys defense that’s allowed no fewer than 24 points in any game this season. Dalton should have time in the pocket after the Cardinals lost Chandler Jones for the season, but will he be as effective as most think he can be in this offense? It’s hard to confidently bet on a team switching quarterbacks, especially with Dallas 0-5 against the spread this season at full strength. It still feels like people are undervaluing the rest of the talent on the Cowboys and overvaluing the Cardinals. Take Dallas plus the points even if you expect Arizona to win outright.

The NFL’s Best Off-Seasons of 2020

Who had the best off-season in the NFL ahead of the 2020 season? It’s a fair question on its own, but even more so after we laid into the worst of the worst in our previous installment. That list included two members of the NFC North and one AFC South representative. This time around, three divisions are represented and we still span both conferences.

2020’s Best NFL Off-Seasons

3. Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills, who went 10-6, had by far the best 2019 of any of the teams mentioned here. But that in and of itself was a surprise so the efforts made by the front office to make it a regular occurrence is encouraging. It doesn’t hurt they made one of the biggest moves of the offseason and followed our theme of surrounding your young passer with targets.

Maybe it doesn’t really qualify as a free agent acquisition, trading for Stefon Diggs was big time. Their package that included only one pick in the first round is good value; only outdone by the Cardinals nabbing Hopkins. Head coach Sean McDermott didn’t just give his quarterback someone to lean on. He brought in a number of his former Panthers players to further his defense.

In the draft, Buffalo surprised many by going with A.J. Espenesa but they needed a power end who could set the edge. The real smart pick was Zack Moss to pair with Devin Singletary. The diminutive pair should make for a nice crutch for Josh Allen and the passing game. Getting Gabriel Davis in the fourth was also a nice steal.

Buffalo has a path to owning the AFC East now that the Patriots as we know them are no more. But with the Dolphins fast-tracking their rebuild and the Jets still growing around Sam Darnold, it won’t be easy. It appears the front office recognizes this and has set out to ensure they are the next perennial winners of the division.

2. Denver Broncos

Offensive weapons are the name of the game in today’s NFL and in this article. The Denver Broncos off-season has been a terrific example of how to go about stockpiling them. They already have their franchise quarterback and a 1,000-yard receiver and running back in the trio of Drew Lock, Courtland Sutton, and Phillip Lindsay. That didn’t stop them.

Free agency saw the Broncos lose Ronald Leary, Connor McGovern, Chris Harris, and Derek Wolfe (all starters) but replace all four. And in a surprising case of the rich getting richer, they also managed to lure Melvin Gordon over after the division-rival Los Angeles Chargers let him walk. Gordon and Lindsay are the best 1-2 running back combo in the league.

Sometimes the draft just falls in your favor. That happened when Lock fell to Denver a year ago and it happened again in this draft. Jerry Jeudy was in the conversation to be the first wide receiver taken and even a top-five pick. So his falling to 15 is almost inconceivable. Add to that landing KJ Hamler in the second round and you see why Lock was quoted saying the Broncos “…got some stallions”.

Denver went 7-9 with lock going 4-1 completing 64 percent of his passes for 1,020 yards, seven touchdowns, and three picks. That is impressive for a player thought to be too raw to start as a rookie. With a year under his belt and an improved supporting cast, Lock is poised to breakout. It’s too soon to be talking dark-horse MVP candidate, but Offensive Player of the Year, maybe?

1. Arizona Cardinals

An off-season in which a team nabs a versatile, top-tier talent in the draft after stealing arguably the best wide receiver in the league absolutely has to make any list of best off-seasons. When that team’s other moves highlight their desire to improve their porous defense, like the Arizona Cardinals, they have a good shot at “winning” the off-season.

Free agency was too kind to the Cards. DeAndre Hopkins is third in receptions and yards and is second in touchdowns since he entered the league in 2013. All it took to land him was David Johnson’s bloated deal and a mid-round pick. The Houston Texans made the bad version for this list largely on this trade. Adding De’Vondre Campbell, Jordan Phillips, and Devon Kennard should make Chandler Jones happy.

The reinforcement of the defense didn’t stop in free agency, either. Arizona took Isaiah Simmons of Clemson with the eighth overall pick. The versatile defender will play linebacker to start but expect him to line up all over the field in just as he did in college. Getting Houston tackle Josh Jones in the third round is a boon.

If there is one knock on what the Cardinals did it has to be they didn’t add more talent to the offensive line. Adding Jones and free-agent addition Marcus Gilbert is nice, but Kyler Murray took 48 sacks last season. That number will come down as he learns to get rid of the ball quicker or pull it down and run sooner. But the offensive line was not good in 2019. Will it improve in 2020?

Best Off-Seasons of 2020 in the NFL

This was not meant to be a slight to the other teams that had really strong off-seasons. The Dallas Cowboys, Carolina Panthers, and  Baltimore Ravens all had great off-seasons as well. But Dallas and Carolina lost Travis Frederick and Luke Kuechly, no small blows, and Baltimore was 14-2 last season. It’s hard to see them winning more games in 2020.