2019 NFL Free Agency Predictions: Part 1: Offensive Skill Positions

Welcome to the first article of my 2019 NFL free agency prediction series!  Today, I’ll be sharing my predictions for where offensive skill position players (QBs, RBs, WRs, TEs) end up signing.  Where will Le’Veon Bell be headed after a year away from football?  Where will Nick Foles find himself a starting job?  Keep reading to find out what I think, and you check out my tentative schedule for the entire series below.  In later articles, I will include links to the previously posted articles:

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2019 NFL Free Agency Predictions

Series Schedule

Monday, March 4: NFL Free Agency Predictions: Part 1: Offensive Skill Positions

Wednesday, March 6: NFL Free Agency Predictions: Part 2: Linemen

Saturday, March 9: NFL Free Agency Predictions: Part 3: Linebackers and Defensive Backs

 

QB

In my eyes, Foles is the only viable starter that’s currently on the free agent market. Blake Bortles or Ryan Tannehill could eventually be released/traded, but for now, the choice is targeting Foles or waiting for the draft. Unlike other QB needy teams, the Jags could easily return to the playoffs with the right QB leading them. That being said, a veteran QB makes sense. The Giants, Redskins, and others will go for a combo of a rookie and a veteran mentor.

For Washington, Alex Smith will not be able to serve as a veteran mentor considering his severe knee injury in 2018. Colt McCoy isn’t a viable starter in my eyes either. However, Teddy Bridgewater is a free agent who has experience starting, so he could serve as Washington’s bridge starter (no pun intended) until their young QB, whether it be Kyler Murray, Dwayne Haskins, or someone else, has time to develop.

The Bucs and Dolphins will also be on the lookout for veteran backups. Look for them to resign their 2018 backup QBs, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brock Osweiler. The Bills could also use some depth at QB behind Josh Allen, so bringing back their former QB, Tyrod Taylor, could be smart.

That would leave Josh McCown as the best free agent QB left. I have him going to LA to backup Philip Rivers until they draft Rivers’ successor.

RB

Viable Starters

Bell might be the best player on the open market in a long time. The Steelers refused to pay him what he wanted. But who will be up to pay him? He reportedly wants $25 million annually. I don’t think anyone will give him that, but I think he’d settle for $20 million/year if he ever wants to play again. If the Eagles free up enough cap between Foles’ departure and a release or two, they will be willing to pay for him for some answers at RB. Right now, they have a surplus of RBs, but no clear cut starter.

I see Ajayi, Philly’s last starting RB, leading a refined RB committee in Tampa. Expect an aging Adrian Peterson to do the same in Indianapolis. On the contrary, Ingram and Coleman will leave RB committees to become full time starters on RB needy teams. Coleman will replace Kareem Hunt, while Ingram will replace Marshawn Lynch (I see him retiring). The Ravens’ backfield is getting pretty crowded after the emergence of Gus Edwards, but I think Alex Collins will wind up back in Baltimore.

RB2 Options

The 49ers may have Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida at RB, but a veteran mentor like 3-time Super Bowl champion LeGarrette Blount could be helpful if they resort to an RB committee.  Yeldon will serve a similar role in Green Bay, playing alongside young RBs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams.  The Steelers could also use a veteran in their backfield behind new starter James Conner, and I think Martin could be a good fit.  Despite leading the Rams in the playoffs, Anderson may have to settle for a backup/committee role as well.  He could be a good replacement for Coleman in Atlanta.  Murray was successful in Minnesota, and there’s room for him in the backfield, so I see him coming back.  With Coleman headed to Kansas City, the Chiefs will move on from Spencer Ware as he heads to Dallas to backup Ezekiel Elliott.

WR/TE

Top Tier WRs

Sam Darnold showed flashes of talent in his rookie year.  I think a better RB and a #1 receiver could make all the difference for him.  They should chase after Tate aggressively if they cannot land Antonio Brown (I have him going to San Fran).  Bryant barely played last year, but he still could serve as a WR1.  The Bills could be a fit, but if they pass up on Bryant, they could also take D.K. Metcalf in Round 1 of the draft.

Cobb looks to be leaving Green Bay, and the Steelers may seek depth options at receiver after Antonio Brown leaves.  Cobb could be a fit to play across from JuJu Smith-Schuster.  The Lions have no clear cut WR1 after Tate’s departure, but if they sign a lower tier option like John Brown, Matthew Stafford could look evenly split targets among Brown, Marvin Jones, and Kenny Golladay.

Moncrief and Wallace aren’t viable #1 receivers at this point, but they could still be a big help for WR needy teams.  Moncrief could be a good option for the Pats, rather than overspending for Golden Tate.  I have Wallace returning to the Eagles to play alongside Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor.  This trio never played together despite being lined up as Philly’s top 3 receivers on the depth chart in 2018 training camp.

WR Depth Options

The Bills need more than just Bryant or Metcalf – maybe they can pair up Bryant with Beasley, his former teammate.  The Ravens could also use some more depth at WR.  Funchess isn’t a top tier option, but if they cannot land or draft someone top tier, he will have to do.  Maybe they can pair Funchess with a rookie WR1.  The Chiefs may not bring in anyone new, but they could bring back Conley to play behind Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins.

The Colts could use some more experienced options across from T.Y. Hilton – Matthews could be a good choice.  They could always draft someone to split time as the #2 receiver with him.  Williams upped his value this season, but I still cannot see many teams paying him WR1 money.  The Jets could use another depth option behind Tate, especially if Robby Anderson leaves.  The Patriots need all the quality WRs they can afford, so Dorsett could be a good option to bring back considering his developing chemistry with Tom Brady.

Top Tier TEs

Eifert has a concerning injury history, and I think it’s time for Cincinnati to move on.  But Detroit could pair him with a drafted TE to ensure security at the position.  Kroft will return to Cincy with Eifert on his way out.  Kroft will return to Cincy with Eifert on his way out.  The Saints could also use a veteran TE alongside the young Dan Arnold, and Cook might be the most consistent veteran on the market.  It would be smart for the Texans to target Noah Fant or T.J. Hockenson in the draft, but signing a veteran in the meantime couldn’t hurt, and James could be a good mentor for their new TE.

Lewis and Rodgers are not cut out to be a team’s #1 tight end at this point.  But they can provide depth as a TE2, with Lewis backing up Vance McDonald and Rodgers backing up Chris Herndon IV.

WR/TE Depth Options

Darnold needs more consistent receivers, so I could see the Jets moving on from Robby Anderson.  Anderson could be a good depth piece in Cleveland, serving as the WR2 over Antonio Callaway.  Humphries is also going into free agency expecting WR2 money.  But I think he will have to settle for a little less, and if his price drops, the Pats may be willing to pay for him for additional depth.  He is a good fit in New England.  Despite a disappointing 2018, I could still see Benjamin contributing behind Davante Adams in Green Bay.  They’ll need to draft a younger receiver to play alongside them though.

If the Lions sign anyone else at TE besides Eifert, I don’t think it will be their 2018 tight end Luke Willson.  Josh Hill has a slightly better track record and could be a good bargain for the Lions.  I see Willson returning to Seattle to compete for playing time with Will Dissly, Ed Dickson, and others.  Kendricks was the most consistent of Green Bay’s tight ends this year, so look for them to retain him alongside Jimmy Graham.

 

Wow, that’s a lot of quality free agents.  The madness will begin in a little over a week.  Stay tuned for more predictions later in the week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2018 NFL Week 10 Picks & Previews: Contenders Arise in Unsurprising Outcomes

Welcome to my Week 10 NFL picks and previews.  Last week I went 8-5, putting my overall record at 76-56-2 (76-57-2 including TNF Week 10).  I’m still ahead of 2 ESPN experts and a CBS Sports expert. Don’t expect too many upsets this week.  I see this as a week where contenders will begin to rise after underwhelming starts.  This week will mark the beginning of the end of the surprise runs by teams like the Lions, Redskins, and Dolphins.  Meanwhile, expected contenders that have been struggling so far like the Eagles, Jaguars, and Packers will begin to rise. There will be a couple upsets, but who will pull them? Comment with your thoughts below, and keep reading to see my upset picks.  

Lock of the Week (SNF)

Look for QB Carson Wentz to start off the 2nd half of the season strong with a 3+ TD game.  The Eagles don’t have that difficult of a schedule remaining, which could provide an opportunity for Wentz to make a run for MVP with a big 2nd half.  Dallas should look alright on offense here, but Philly’s front seven will limit RB Ezekiel Elliott and overwhelm QB Dak Prescott. Philly will come out on top thanks to Wentz’s big game, as he connects with 7+ different receivers.  

Upset of the Week

Look for the TE duo of Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron to help the Colts offensively.  Jacksonville’s D will improve from the last couple of weeks, but I don’t see them holding Indy TD-less.  The Jaguars offensive rebound will make up for it. With RB Leonard Fournette healthy, this run game will thrive.  They suddenly have a lot of depth between Fournette, Carlos Hyde, and T.J. Yeldon. Look for QB Blake Bortles to improve as well.  He should have minimal issues against a rebuilding Colts defense that’s regarded as one of the NFL’s worst.  Indy will give up 30+ points in a loss here.

The Other Games

TNF (Posted to Twitter Thursday Night; Actual Score: 52-21 Steelers)

Carolina should struggle to contain QB Ben Roethlisberger and his receivers.  But they will shut down a Le’Veon Bell-less Steelers run game. At this point, Bell will likely miss the whole season.  The Panthers should also be strong on offense again, as QB Cam Newton and his receivers lead Carolina to victory up against a mediocre Steelers defense.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

With TE Rob Gronkowski out, the Pats offense will not be up to full speed.  But expect a New England win anyway, as the Pats step it up on D against the young Titans offensive core.  QB Marcus Mariota will struggle to find open men as the Patriots defense keeps him and his receivers pressured.  The lack of WR depth will hurt the Titans in a loss.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

 

The Bills are down to their fourth string QB with Nathan Peterman struggling regressively and Derek Anderson and Josh Allen hurt.  However, the Jets are also without their starter, Sam Darnold.  Look for QB Josh McCown to succeed in filling in for Darnold, leading the Jets to a high scoring victory.  The defense will slip a little against QB Matt Barkley and the Bills, but Buffalo will not be able to put up enough points with Allen and TE Charles Clay injured.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

The Saints find themselves with a lack of WR depth with Dez Bryant, Cameron Meredith, and Ted Ginn Jr. all on IR now.  That being said, New Orleans will not be at their best offensively.  But the Bengals shouldn’t look much better without WR A.J. Green.  QB Drew Brees and his receivers should edge out a victory despite an underwhelming performance.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Look for QB Matt Ryan and his receivers to put up another big game in Cleveland.  The Browns will try to keep up, but their young core won’t quite do it. The Falcons D will continue to struggle and give up a good number of points to the Browns, but the offensive dominance will be enough for Atlanta.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

This will not be easy for Kansas City.  QB Josh Rosen, RB David Johnson, and the Arizona offense should have a day against a banged-up Chiefs D.  However, QB Patrick Mahomes II should keep up the good work and this offense should be enough for the Chiefs to keep rolling at home despite defensive struggles that may cost them when it matters.  I’m honestly surprised they didn’t seek defensive help at the deadline.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick should be able to take advantage of his deep core of receivers to lead Tampa to victory here.  Also expect the Bucs D to surprise many with as they get in the way of QB Alex Smith and the Redskins offense.  Smith will struggle to find his receivers with the Bucs pressuring him and WR Paul Richardson sidelined with an injury.  The Buccaneers will play complimentary football and win triumphantly here.
Sunday, 1:00 PM EST

Detroit’s offense will continue to miss WR Golden Tate as they struggle in Chicago.  Look for another big game by the Bears defense here.  QB Mitch Trubisky and the Chicago offense won’t be on their best either, but the shut down defense should be enough for the Bears to hold on for a victory.
Sunday, 4:05 PM EST

The Chargers D should look better than usual against a deep but struggling Oakland offense.  Meanwhile, QB Philip Rivers and his receivers will put up another big game as Rivers throws multiple TD.  The combination of these two things will cause the Raiders to fall short again at home.
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST (OT)

Look for another overtime thriller out of QB Aaron Rodgers and his receivers.  Expect the Packers D to nearly cost them the game as they struggle more than they should against a Brock Osweiler-led Miami offense, but look for Rodgers to come up clutch and save the Packers once again.
Sunday, 4:25 PM EST

The dominance of the LA defense should continue with DE Dante Fowler Jr. on board.  Expect them to hold Seattle TD-less here.  The Rams offense won’t be at their best here, but QB Jared Goff and his WR trio will help lead the Rams to victory, supplemented by the shut-down D.  The Seahawks will continue to miss WR Brandon Marshall as the Rams keep Seattle’s other receivers well-covered for majority of the game.
Monday, 8:15 PM EST

 

Expect the struggles of QB Eli Manning to continue as he throws just 1 TD and multiple picks.  RB Saquon Barkley will keep this close with a big game despite Manning’s struggles. But the Giants will fall short as the defense limits, but cannot stop QB Nick Mullens and the young 49ers offensive core.  

That’s all for this week.  Stay tuned for my NFL midseason report later today, and stay tuned for my MLB off-season coverage throughout the rest of November.  

NFL Week 7 Picks

NFL Week 7 Picks

Yay!  Another great week last week.  I went 12-2, and now am 61-32, ahead of Pete Prisco.  If you count my Thursday Night pick, it’s 62-32.  So, let’s keep this up.  Is the NFL turning out the way I expected, after a cuckoo week 1-3, or am I just getting smarter and keeping up with experts opinions better?

Lock Of The Week

Chargers, 28, Raiders, 26

week-7-lock

The Chargers will blowout the Raiders again.

These Raiders definitely are getting better, and are no longer the worst NFL team, (that’s a 4-way tie for Titans, Bucs, Redskins and 49ers).  Derek Carr is becoming a much better quarterback, and his weaponry improved when they added Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and Clive Walford.  But one thing for sure, remember how I said Latavius Murray would suck?  He sorta has the past couple weeks.  That should give backup Roy Helu a chance to finally break out against an empty Chargers rush defense.  Taiwan Jones or Marcel Reece could even contribute.  And, the passing game can work around Brandon Flowers and Eric Weddle.  Flowers will surely have Cooper covered, but Michael Crabtree will really have his chance to shine, along with tight ends Clive Walford and Mychal Rivera.  One will have a weak linebacker guarding them, and that one will score.  The other one won’t because they’ll have Eric Weddle.

But the Chargers are in a better position, if they can remain healthy.  The rush could be in trouble, but the passing game can save the Chargers’ butts.  Passing back Danny Woodhead could even see a big game, let alone Keenan Allen and Antonio Gates.  And even if Allen, Gates and Stevie Johnson are all out, they still have guard-less Malcom Floyd and Jacoby Jones, and no matter what Ladarius Green is primed for a breakout as Gates could be limited even if he plays.  Charles Woodson may be an annoyance to Keenan Allen or Antonio Gates, but the rest of the receiving game should be fine, and still be at full speed, giving San Diego the edge.  Besides, although Oakland may score some reception touchdowns where unguarded, but the running game doesn’t have enough to take advantage of the weak rush D.

Notable Locks: Rams over Browns, Seahawks over 49ers

Upset Of The Week

Jaguars, 7, Bills, 6

week-7-upset

The Jaguars will run away with the win and turn around the Bills.

Look, the Bills are DONE until they can maintain health.  They’re missing QB Tyrod Taylor, RB Karlos Williams and healing RB LeSean McCoy and WRs Percy Harvin, (non injury related) Sammy Watkins, Marquise Goodwin and Marcus Easley.  That leaves the starting six (excluding lineman) looking like this:

QB E.J. Manuel
RB Daniel Herron
RB Anthony Dixon
WR Robert Woods
WR Chris Hogan
TE Charles Clay

CHRIS HOGAN????  WHO’S THAT? It has gotten that bad.  At least (knock on wood), Charles Clay can play, and hopefully Harvin and McCoy can suck it up.  Then it would be Manuel, McCoy, Herron, Harvin, Woods, Clay.  Not bad.  But no offense means no scoring, and no scoring means this game will be a bore-a-thon.   At least Dan Carpenter can knock in a couple field goals to keep the audience awake.

But everyone will wake up in the fourth quarter, when the Jaguars take charge and the Bills defense finally wears off.  They have plenty of improving weapons.  No T.J. Yeldon, but Denard Robinson, Allen Robinson, Julius Thomas (if active) and Marcedes Lewis should be enough the get the game winning touchdown.  Even without Thomas the snoozy, banged up Bills offense will fall to an improving Jaguars team that is destined to get more than four wins for the first time in ages.  They already have won, and have another easy one this week, so 2 down, 3 to go.  That just means winning one of every three from Week 8 on.  Is it possible?  Keep an eye on these Jaguars and they might surprise you big time.

Notable Upsets: Titans over Falcons, Lions over Vikings

Other Games

Seahawks, 34, 49ers, 24
Patriots, 30, Jets, 17
Dolphins, 10, Texans, 6
Chiefs, 27, Steelers, 14
Cardinals, 23, Ravens, 20
Rams, 17, Browns, 7
Colts, 33, Saints, 13
Titans, 20, Falcons, 13
Panthers, 27, Eagles, 23
Giants, 24, Cowboys, 23
Redskins, 28, Buccaneers, 27
Lions, 31, Vikings, 30

Team Of The Week
1. This team hadn’t been to the super bowl before the 21st Century.
2. This team has three well known modern mottos.
3. This team has a star quarterback, cornerback and running back.
4. This team plays near a famous video game company’s American headquarters.
5. This team lost Super Bowl XLIX.
What team is this?  Guess in comments.
Last Week: Jets

NFL In Detail 2.0: Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars are the second of those three bad teams who made slight improvements.  Guys like Julius Thomas were key additions, and they were unbelievable throughout the entire draft.

Fantasy and Training Camp Outlook

QB

Blake Bortles is your starter, but if he was to get hurt, there is plenty of backup.  Chad Henne, former Jags QB is one option.  Jeff Tuel, signed in free agency from the Bills is another.  And Stephen Morris is an emergency option.  But Bortles is a lock-in number one guy.

RB

Toby Gerhart may be able to regain as number 1, but many guys challenge.  I think former Raven Bernard Pierce should be the number 1.  He was for the Ravens before Justin Forsett went on his run.  T. J. Yeldon, drafted with the Jaguars second round pick, is another option.  He helped Alabama to the final four in college, and he should definitely help Jacksonville.  But they should definitely consider youngsters Storm Johnson and Denard Robinson as backups.  Johnson could have a breakout year, like Robinson last year until he got hurt.  I see a good year in Yeldon, Gerhart and Johnson along with decent ones in Robinson and Pierce.

WR

NFL Network thought Allen Robinson would be the Jags breakout receiver.  But that was just out of him, Hurns, or Marqise Lee.  They have other guys too.  Out of those guys, I say Hurns or Lee.  But they have rookie Rashad Greene, and veterans Tandon Doss and Justin Blackmon as well.  Breakout year?  Justin Blackmon.  He will recover from last years indefinite suspension and blow up, as long as Blake Bortles is willing to pass to him.  Start Blackmon, with Lee, Hurns and Robinson behind him.  Will Bortles remember to throw the rock to him?

TE

Julius Thomas is your starter, even at a descending point in his career, but you also need to put Marcedes Lewis and Clay Harbor in mind.  They both handled starting jobs at some point last year, and were OK.  Start Thomas, then Lewis. then Harbor.

Defense

A young defense will help the Jags to victories.  Rookies Michael Bennett and James Sample, along with veteran Nick Marshall, are some new guys to the once empty defense.  They also drafted Dante Fowler Jr. with the third overall pick, but he will miss 2015 with a torn ACL, so they screwed up.