It’s week 3 of the regular season and the dust is finally starting to settle on who’s good and who’s, well let’s just say ‘rebuilding’. What better way to do that than with the NFL Ireland Team of the Week? Continue reading “NFL Ireland Team of the Week: Week 3”
The Oakland Raiders selected Alabama Wide Receiver Amari Cooper with their first round pick. He looks thrilled about it.
— OAKLAND RAIDERS (@RAIDERS) May 1, 2015
In fairness to him, as big a deal as he was in college the few days around the draft have to be pretty draining especially when you’re one of the top guys at your position. Perhaps the the response to this tweet has been pretty big so the Raiders have Cooper forcing a smile in every other picture they took of him.
Thats a smile right?
— OAKLAND RAIDERS (@RAIDERS) May 2, 2015
The Raiders believe they have their QB, now they’re surrounding him with talent. Edge rusher, Mario Edwards and a Tight End Clive Walford followed in later rounds. Round 4 to 7 take place later tonight.
This week on, ‘What the Raiders did wrong’ QB Derek Carr passes to an ineligible Offensive Lineman, who then Fumbles the ball….enjoy.
Week 6 is usually the point in the year where everything settles down, we know what most teams are and the story of the season starts to take shape. Well obviously the Cowboys, Browns, Panthers, Bengals, Eagles and Ravens are reading from a different playbook, because the surprises keep on coming! The 2014 season is shaping up to be one of the most intriguing in a long time, and the NFL Ireland Team of the Week is here to lavish honour and praise upon those who keep us guessing! So without further ado, here’s the Week 6 Team of the Week!
Offense | Defense
Quarterback: Joe Flacco – Baltimore Ravens
Flacco spent most of last season underperforming. This year, behind a vastly improved offensive line, he has resumed Super Bowl Flacco form. No QB since the AFL/NFL merger in 1970 has passed for 5 touchdowns quicker than Flacco did against the Bucs on Sunday, and he finished the game with 21 completions from 29 attempts, a passer rating of 146.0 and 306 yards through the air. The Buccaneers are in all sorts of trouble, but Flacco put them to the sword on Sunday and the Ravens are looking up.
Running Back: LeSean McCoy – Philadelphia Eagles
Shady’s back. McCoy routed the hapless Giants defense in the NFC East clash on Sunday, carrying the rock 22 times for 149 yards. He had long runs to set up a touchdown and to convert a crucial 3rd down in the first half, as the league’s leading rusher from last year showed the patience and determination we all expect from him. The Eagles are on a bye next week, but with confidence and a rest behind him, I wouldn’t count against a repeat performance against the Cardinals in Week 8.
Tight End: Julius Thomas – Denver Broncos
He didn’t have the complete performance of weeks past, but Thomas hauled in another two touchdown passes against the Jets on Sunday. As he rightly pointed out, it was ‘so f***ing easy’ to get in for his second score of the day, and the stats monster now has nine touchdowns through just five games. That is scary, and that is why he’s in this team once more.
Wide Receiver: T.Y. Hilton – Indianapolis Colts
Hilton took over on Thursday Night Football against the Texans. The wideout pulled in 9 passes for 223 yards – just one yard shy of the Colts single-game franchise record – and a touchdown. Andrew Luck’s team are the highest-scoring outfit in football so far this season, and with Hilton on this form, it’s easy to see why.
Wide Receiver: Andre Holmes – Oakland Raiders
It’s probably not often that you’ll see a Raiders player end up on these pages in 2014. Holmes has emerged as a big-play threat in their last two games however. On Sunday against the Chargers he only had four receptions, but he took two of them to the house, ending up with 121 total receivng yards on the day. Interim Head Coach Tony Sparano might end up with the job full time if Holmes can continue this excellent form.
Offensive Line: Cleveland Browns
For the second week in a row the Browns are our offensive line. They were again dominant against a Steelers side who have traditionally dominated in this AFC North rivalry, but the most impressive facet of this performance was how well they coped with the departure of star centre Alex Mack. He may well be the best centre in the league, but the Browns marshaled the trenches and allowed Ben Tate and Isiah Crowell to combine for 165 rushing yards and 3 rushing TDs.
Defense | Offense
Defensive Line: Detroit Lions
The rotating carousel of punishment that was the Detroit Lines defensive line combined for 7 sacks last weekend as Minnesota’s rookie QB Teddy Bridgewater was afforded no time to get set or more the football in a convincing NFC North victory. The run game was stuffed and the passing game non-existant, as the Lions cemented their place as the best defense in football this year. The front line is a big reason for their place atop the pile.
Linebackers: Philadelphia Eagles
The Eagles front seven was dominant against a New York Giants offensive line which had been among the best in football in recent weeks. In a shutout win at home to hated division rivals, the Eagles linebackers Connor Barwin, Brandon Graham and Trent Cole combined for 12 tackles, 5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles, causing havoc in the Giants’ backfield and keeping Eli Manning off his feet and under pressure. A great performance from an improving unit.
Cornerback: Vontae Davis – Indianapolis Colts
Davis is very much the star in this backfield, and the cornerback was solid against a resurgent Texans side. He added a forced fumble and a pass breakup to a four-tackle performance, continuing his improvement as the Colts progressed to 4-2 on the season.
Cornerback: Jason Verrett – San Diego Chargers
If it’s not one Chargers cornerback, it’s the other. The rookie Verrett was excellent in coverage against the Raiders, allowing just 36 yards into his area while also grabbing the game-icing interception to seal a surprisingly close victory in this AFC West matchup. If he continues to improve, Verrett and Flowers make a scary secondary for opposition offenses.
Free Safety: Devin McCourty – New England Patriots
McCourty went into Orchard Park against the Bills and helped himself to five tackles while also forcing a fumble. It was a controlled and intelligent performance from a player who should now be leading the Patriots backfield, and the Bills offense had no answer for it.
Strong Safety: Donte Whitner – Cleveland Browns
Whitner continued to earn his free agent money in Cleveland, contributing in both coverage and against the run to a dominant victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. He has quickly established himself as a capable replacement for T.J. Ward, and the Browns improving defense is reaping the benefits.
We take a look at three ‘off the radar’ players who could make a difference in their week 2 match ups.
[feature_headline type=”left” level=”h2″ looks_like=”h4″]Lorenzo Taliaferro – Running Back – Baltimore Ravens[/feature_headline]
With Ray Rice now off the Ravens’ roster there’s a lot of competition for the feature back role in Baltimore. Bernard Pierce will be on a short leash due to his week one fumble and unimpressive 2013. While Justin Forsett gave a good account for himself after Pierce was benched with 71 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. Forsett, though, has never been able to hold down a starting job in his seven years in the NFL, even when he averaged 5.5 yards per carry in 2009 at Seattle and 5.9 YPC in Houston in 2012. There could be an opportunity for Lorenzo Taliaferro to make a name for himself on this Ravens team. Taliaferro is 6’0 and 226lb, he is a bruiser of a running back. Drafted out of Coastal Carolina, he managed 1,729 yards in his final season with the Chanticleers, averaging over 115 yards per game. He also notched up an impressive 27 touchdowns on the ground, with another two in the passing game. With a similar build and running style, the rookie evokes comparisons to Arian Foster who excelled under Gary Kubiak in Houston.
Keep an eye out for Taliaferro over the upcoming weeks, especially those of you in deep fantasy leagues.
[feature_headline type=”left” level=”h2″ looks_like=”h4″]Denard Robinson – Running Back – Jacksonville Jaguars[/feature_headline]
Toby Gerhart picked up a potential high ankle sprain last weekend against the Philadelphia, while Gerhart came back into the came he has been designated as questionable going into the match up at Washington. If Gerhart doesn’t suit up the rushing duties will fall to Jordan Todman and Denard Robinson. Robinson was drafted out of Michigan in round five of the 2013 NFL Draft, where he played quarterback. From the QB position he managed 723 rushing attempts in his four years, racking up nearly 4,500 yards. Robinson holds the NCAA season record for rushing yards by a quarterback, 1,702 in 2010, and became the first player in NCAA history to pass for 2,500 yards and rush for 1,500 yards in a single season in 2010. His first year in Jacksonville only saw him have 20 rushing attempts, gaining 66 yards. In the 2014 preseason he moved his YPC up from 3.3 to 4.5 on 21 carries. Apparently head coach Gus Bradley was using Robinson to prepare the Jaguars defense for LeSean McCoy last week, as they have similar attributes.
Expect to see the Jaguars utilise his blistering speed, Robinson ran a 4.43s 40, to get around tired defenses late in games.
[feature_headline type=”left” level=”h2″ looks_like=”h4″]Latavius Murray – Running Back – Oakland Raiders[/feature_headline]
Maurice Jones Drew had surgery on his hand after the Jets game last weekend and is questionable to play against a rejuvenated Houston defense on Sunday. Lativius Murray is currently the third running back on the Raiders’ depth chart after Darren McFadden. As Raiders fans and fantasy football players will know; Darren McFadden, while immensely talented, is made of glass. So it may not be long before the Raiders look to the sixth round draft pick out of Central Florida. The 6’3″, 230lb back was not invited to the combine in 2013 but impressed at his pro day running a 4.38s 40 yard dash. Murray was unfortunate to be placed on IR last season due to an ankle injury but is now fully healthy. In the preseason Murray had 23 carries over the four games, putting up 94 yards and a touchdown, which came against Seattle. Murray also gained 40 yards on seven receptions from eight targets.
Considering the age and frailty of the first two running backs on the depth chart, it really is only a matter of time before Murray starts and he should make a good impression.
Jacksonville are the bottom in our Power Rankings can they move up? Here is 25-32
#32 Jacksonville Jaguars
If Blake Bortles was the starting quarterback, this #32 would rise to at least #28 and the Jaguars could battle the Titans for second place in the AFC South, but he is not and Chad Henne is, which might benefit Bortles in the long-term, but will surrender the franchise for another season.
#31 Buffalo Bills
Losing Kiko Alonso to an ACL injury after a breakout season in 2013 coupled with the free agency loss of Jairus Byrd to the New Orleans Saints will be difficult for Buffalo to digest. The Bills offence has looked average at best during its preseason and E. J. Manuel in particular looks like he’s still going through growing pains. The season has not yet begun, but already looks doomed for the New York team.
#30 Houston Texans
The Texans did not use a high pick on a quarterback in the 2014 NFL Draft, they did however just pick up Ryan Mallet but is he enough to save their 2014 season?. Their D line, as ferocious as it is, will only get them so far.
#29 Oakland Raiders
Matt Schaub is not the answer at quarterback and if he does begin the season as the starter, it will not be long before rookie Derek Carr takes over – he’s already made a lasting impression on the fans. The Raiders are capable of winning at least a couple more games in 2014 thanks to their savvy offseason additions and draftees, but a trying schedule that includes match ups against the NFC West may prevent them from fulfilling their potential.
What a preseason finish for Derek Carr! The Raiders rookie leads 4-touchdown drives, finishes 11-14, 143 Yds, 3 TD. pic.twitter.com/eZzNtLMyB1
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 29, 2014
#28 Tennessee Titans
The Titans are one of the NFL’s biggest enigmas, but the fact is they could finish as high as second in the AFC South in 2014. New Head Coach Ken Whisenhunt helped the San Diego Chargers become a playoff team last year when he served as Offensive Coordinator and will now look to do the same with Tennessee. A more stable O line should help keep Jake Locker upright, while Justin Hunter and ‘Fantasy Sleeper’ Bishop Sankey make plays. However, an uneven Titans defence could hold its offence back.
#27 Cleveland Browns
As if learning a new system was not difficult enough, the Browns will be without their best offensive player (Josh Gordon) in 2014. A quarterback competition which culminated in the naming of Brian Hoyer as the starter also likely made life in Cleveland a bit more troubling, as first-team reps were divided. The AFC North is a competitive division, which any first-year team would struggle in. It appears star players Joe Thomas, Alex Mack and Joe Haden will be forced to settle for another ‘regular’ season.
#26 Minnesota Vikings
Like the Rams, the Vikings have handed their starting quarterback job to a seasoned veteran in Matt Cassel. Once upon a time (2008), Cassel led the New England Patriots to a 11-5 record. 5 years on, he still has the ability to lead a team, but it is only a matter of time before the gap between his experience and Teddy Bridgewater’s ability closes. The NFC North team has a lot of talent and a ton of potential all over the field, but they are trapped in a very tough division which will likely subject them to an average record once again.
#25 St Louis Rams
The loss of Sam Bradford to another ACL injury is unbelievable. Now, the Rams look ready to make former Detroit Lions backup quarterback Shaun Hill their “guy”. Hill, 34, will enter his 13th season in the NFL with an impressive touchdown to interception ratio – 41-23 that shows off his ability to be careful and make smart decisions. His ‘game manager’ status will be exactly what the team from the midwest needs in 2014, as they look to capitalise off a ground and pound offence and a reliable defence that features the best D line in the league.
Check out his post here:
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Can Peyton keep Kansas and San Diego at bay? We find out in our AFC West 2014 Preview
Last season the AFC West provided three playoff teams, with the Chiefs, Broncos and Chargers all making it past Christmas. Will Peyton Manning’s Denver Broncos reign again in the west, or will last year’s improvement from San Diego and Kansas City carry over into 2014?
After an embarrassing Super Bowl shellacking at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks, the Denver Broncos approached this pre-season with a vengeance. Eric Decker, Knowshon Moreno, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Champ Bailey were all allowed to walk, with big-name free agents Aqib Talib and TJ Ward signed to bolster the secondary, while the addition of DeMarcus Ware to a healthy Von Miller makes for a formidable pass rush. The loss of Danny Trevathan to injury and Wesley Woodyard to the Titans creates problems at linebacker but, with a cadre of young LBs waiting to plug the gap, the Denver defense should still take a step up from last season. On offense Decker’s targets should be handled by Emmanuel Sanders, while Wes Welker’s concussion scare in Presseason Week 3 appears to be nothing serious. Questions remain about the backfield however. Manning has never had a problem making mediocre running backs look good (just look at Moreno last year) but with only Ronnie Hillman and CJ Anderson backing up 2nd-year back Montee Ball, depth is an issue, and if Ball goes down Denver could find its offense becoming more predictable. Still, with an improved D and Peyton under centre, it’s hard to see the Broncos not topping the division and making another run at the Super Bowl.
San Diego Chargers:
A surprise package from last season, the Chargers not only made the playoffs but were also the only team to topple the Broncos at Mile High Stadium, The emergence of Keenan Allen as a dynamic playmaker, the canny acquisition of versatile running back Danny Woodhead and Ryan Matthews finally reaching his potential as the team’s bell cow all contributed to a multi-threat attack that Philip Rivers could really marshal down the field. The addition of Donald Brown adds veteran insurance to the backfield while the impressive form down the stretch of TE Ladarius Green should allow the offense to show multiple looks and keep defenses guessing. The problems came on pass defence, where the team ranked a paltry 29th in completions allowed, yards per game and total yards in 2013. The off-season acquisition of Brandon Flowers and a D-heavy draft class featuring cover corner Jason Verrett should improve this side of the ball. The rest of the defense is only average, but can compete enough to keep the team in touch. Rumours coming out of camp suggest that the team has moved to an up-tempo offense under new co-ordinator Frank Reich following Ken Whisenhunt’s departure to Tennessee. San Diego has the versatility and personnel on offense to make the most of such a Rivers-led, audible-heavy approach, and the intelligence and experience of their QB will be an invaluable asset. Expect another playoff run.
Although QB Alex Smith still has yet to be pinned down to a new contract, the Chiefs did seal a deal with offensive centrepiece Jamaal Charles this offseason. They’ll need another huge year from the Pro Bowl RB because they failed to add any weapons of note for Alex Smith to play with next season. While the offensive line is uncertain given the losses of Brandon Albert, Geoff Schwartz and Jon Asamoah in free agency, they still have 4 top-75 draft picks slated to start. The unit has looked like the worst unit in the NFL in preseason, so that potential will need to be reached extremely quickly if they’re to give Smith any chance of being productive. Factor in their lacklustre receiving corps and the team will be hoping for Donnie Avery to find some consistency and exciting TE Travis Kelce to carry his playmaking preseason form into September, especially with Dwayne Bowe set to miss the first game through suspension. On defense the losses have been less damaging. Last year’s excellent linebacker corps remains, while their defensive front should still be strong with Mike DeVito and the superb Dontari Poe. KC has an average secondary after Eric Berry though, and even naming their starting cornerback duo is a challenge. The Chiefs also have a much tougher schedule than a year ago, so it’s easy to see Andy Reid’s team regressing in 2014. They absolutely won’t start out 9-0 again. In fact, Kansas City will do well to stay relevant in the AFC playoff race, and they’ll need a lot of improvement, particularly on offense, if they hope to overtake either San Diego or Denver in the division
The Raiders continued their policy of bringing in big-name free agents this offseason, with
names like Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley, James Jones, Maurice Jones-Drew and Matt Schaub arriving in the Bay Area over the summer. After another miserable sub-.500 season the Silver and Black needed help all over the field, and got upgrades at CB with former 49ers Carlos Rogers and Terrell Brown joining DJ Hayden, while their pass rush was boosted by the arrival of outside linebacker Khalil Mack with the fifth pick of the draft. They remain, however, the only team in the division with a question at QB. For anyone who watched Matt Schaub implode in Houston last season this will not be a surprise, and second-round pick Derek Carr might be thrown into the deep end sooner than the organisation might have hoped. If they feel that the rookie isn’t ready, Matt McGloin looked more than competent in a bad situation last season, and has been impressive again in preseason play, so he could also be in the mix. The Raiders have added quality veterans, no doubt, but the haphazard and slapdash approach, doubling down on injury-prone running backs, a benched QB, ageing secondary and linemen and Green Bay’s fourth receiving option, does not inspire confidence. This team needs to break six wins if they are to even be considered a work in progress this season, and given their division and their tough schedule, it’s difficult to project even that much improvement. It looks as though GM Reggie McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen will be looking for work come 2015.
Could Geno be one of the best 2014 Fantasy Sleepers?
Everyone knows that the draft is one of the most important parts of your fantasy football season, as it shapes your entire team for the season. However, it is those late round selections or waiver wire pickups that can really make the difference and help you to win your league. Every year some lesser known players emerge and become critical to your teams chances of winning your league. If you can identify who they might be at this stage of the season, you can be ahead of the curve and have them on your bench and ready to help you when they seize their opportunity. Over the next few articles I intend to identify a number of players who are going late in drafts or players who could outperform their adp, and could help you win your league. I will be starting off with Quarterbacks and Wide Receivers.
The Quarterback position is deeper than ever and due to the fact that most league only start 1 it has also become devalued. I would recommend waiting as long as you can before selecting a QB.
Geno Smith: NYJ
Smith was a bit of a Jeckyll and Hyde player last season having some great games and some truly awful ones. However he should have learned a lot from his 1st season under centre and the Jets have done a lot to improve offensively. Last season Smith had a non-existent receiving core and still managed to produce on occasions. With the addition of Eric Decker this season he has a legitimate WR1 and should find much more success. The addition of Chris Johnson at RB should also help open up the field for Smith to make more throws. I also believe that Stephen Hill could emerge into a good starter and give Smith another weapon on offense. In most leagues Smith will be waiver wire fodder, but I would select him late in the draft as I see plenty of upside in the Jets QB.
Ryan Tannehill: MIA
Tannehill is entering his 3rd season at QB and has been a little disappointing so far. However over the past 2 seasons he has shown signs that he could make the plays to make his team succeed, and can make the players around him better. This season with the introduction of a new offensive co-ordinator I expect his numbers to improve and think he is a good selection late in drafts. His chemistry with Mike Wallace has been improving and he already has good chemistry with Hartline and Clay. Quarterbacks tend to make a leap around age 25 or 26 and I think this can be Tannehills year.
Other QB sleepers I like:
He had a decent season last year, and the Cardinals have improved a lot this year. He has plenty of weapons around him and is going very late in drafts.
Manning is coming off a terrible season where he threw interception after interception. This season he will be operating in a new offensive scheme and this could make him one of the top scoring QB’s. He has had a shaky preseason so far, but that should only push his adp even lower and he could end up being a potential bargain
Dalton has been a real boom or bust player so far in his career. However, if he can become more consistent he could be a steal in drafts, as he has lots of offensive weapons and has shown he can put up big numbers.
The running back position is one of the most important in Fantasy Leagues (especially Redraft) and can make or break your season. Therefore it is important to have a good collection on your team.
James White: NE
The Patriots Offensive Line is one of the best in the league for run blocking and their offense should lead to plenty of production for fantasy purposes. Rookie James White who was taken in round 4 of the draft, has looked good so far in pre-season and practice and could have a good shot at seeing playing time this season. The only player standing in his way is Steven Ridley (who could be one fumble away from the bench) as Shane Vereen is more of a change of pace back who will be used in different packages. I think the Patriots will find a way to use him and he will eventually emerge as the starter ahead of Ridley. He is also a good investment in Dynasty as both Vereen and Ridley are in the last year of their contracts. If he continues to perform well in pre-season he will start to rise up draft boards, but currently he is a good investment towards the end of your draft.
Andre Williams: NYG
Jennings is the clear starter in New York, but with Wilson having to retire it leaves the path open for Williams to become part of a 1-2 punch for the Giants. Coach Tom Coughlin has been known to use multiple backs and Williams has looked very good in practice and in the pre- season games so far. He has been getting looks at the goal line and should see enough touches in each game to become a viable starter. His only downside is that he is a terrible pass catcher and needs to improve in pass protection. However, he should improve over time and if Jennings were to get injured at any stage throughout the season his touches would greatly increase. At the moment he can still be had late in drafts, but his adp is on the rise.
Other RB sleepers I like:
Terrance West (CLE)
There has been a lot of hype about West, but his adp has remained quite low. Tate is his main competition, and he is quite injury prone. He could take over the starting job at some point this season.
Darren McFadden (OAK)
When the Raiders signed MJD from the Jags it caused McFadden’s adp to plummet. They should form a committee this season. However when healthy McFadden is the more explosive back and is the back I would draft in Oakland.
Jonathan Grimes/Alfred Blue (HOU)
Arian Foster has a history of missing games, so it is entirely possible that he will miss some time this season too. The Texans just cut Brown which shows they have confidence in Foster’s other backups. Whichever back wins the no.2 job(and at this point it looks like Grimes) will be worth selecting in the late rounds of your draft.