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New York Jets franchise quarterback Sam Darnold was supposed to have a breakout season this year under offensive guru Adam Gase. That idea is now on hold for a few weeks. The Jets announced Darnold will miss Monday night’s game against the Cleveland Browns because of mononucleosis and he’s likely to miss more games this month as he recovers.

Mono is a tricky thing for athletes because it severely dehydrates the body and significantly lowers energy levels. Darnold will get the best possible treatment, so it’s possible he’ll be able to return faster than us common folk would.  Trever Siemian, formerly of the Broncos, will step as quarterback in the interim.

Hiding under the bad Darnold news was Le’Veon Bell going for an MRI on his shoulder and the health uncertainty of pro-bowl middle linebacker CJ Mosley. If both cannot play Monday night, in addition to Darnold, the Jets will be in for a rough evening against a desperate Browns team that was blown out in their opener. But wait, it gets worse. The Jets next five games are at New England, at Philly, home verses Dallas, then home verses New England. The Jets could easily be 0-7 in the blink of an eye and Adam Gase could be fighting with reporters come mid-October. Might be time to cancel the football season in New York as the Giants don’t look to be in much better shape. At least the New York Yankees are going to make the playoffs this year.

Every football fan’s favorite Monday night of the year is week 1 of the NFL season where ESPN’s Monday Night Football has not one, but two feature games to open the season. Unfortunately, for ESPN, the start of the first game was not positive. Their new scoreboard graphic was roundly criticized. Throughout the first half of the New Orleans Saints – Houston Texan game, fans took to Twitter destroying the new scoreboard graphic which featured a yellow background where the down & distance is found. The color yellow, which usually signals there was a flag on the play, flashed after every play when the down and distance changed. People were confused and bothered enough to tweet. Despite the original mistake, give them credit, ESPN adjusted. Mid-game, the production team put a new background in place and launched it live for the second half.  Order was restored to down & distance and fans were no longer confused about whether or not there was a flag on the previous play.
Antonio Brown’s offseason with the Oakland Raiders has been as well documented as any story in the news this year. From his frostbitten feet, to threatening to retire over a helmet, then threatening to punch his general manager and then posting a controversial video to YouTube, Brown had driven the Raiders officially insane. So they released him and in the process managed to recoup all of his $29 million dollars of guaranteed money. That happened Saturday morning after it was rumored Brown would be suspended for the season’s first week and then to be rumored he would play week 1 for the Raiders. The football world was in a frenzy over the situation, with many wondering whether another team would take a chance on the troubled receiver. Of course they would, he is a Hall of Fame caliber player! Which franchise rose to the occasion? Who else? The New England Patriots, that’s who. Brown inked a 1-year deal with $9 million guaranteed and another $6 million in incentives with New England just hours after being released from Oakland. He was ineligible to suit up Sunday night against – oh the irony – his other former team, the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Pats have been the island for misfit toys for over a decade under the guidance of Coach Bill Belichick and future Hall of Famer, Tom Brady. Randy Moss, Darell Revis, Aqib Talib, Lagarrette Blount and Josh Gordon all came over to the Patriots and turned their careers around in one way or another. Brown will likely do the same. His talent is still through the roof and, if anyone can keep his personal nonsense at bay, it’s Bill and Tom. The Patriots, fresh off their 6th Super Bowl win under Tom and Bill, now at a team-friendly cost add to an already dynamic offense, arguably the best wideout in football and they immediately surpass the Kansas City Chiefs to become Super Bowl favorites for 2020.  The Evil Empire is back for another run as the rich got richer.
Is your fantasy team in total shambles after week 1? We hope not! The NFL season has officially completed its first weekend of action. Result: There were a ton of fantasy surprises and a couple of fantasy stinkers in week 1. We take a quick look at the top 5 best surprises of this past week and guys who may be able to help your team all season long.

1. Lamar Jackson (Quarterback, Baltimore Ravens)

The scrambling quarterback had just six rushing yards week 1, yet managed to put up about 40 fantasy points. Wait …. what? Everyone knew Lamar Jackson would be a threat to run and could be a good fantasy QB this year, but he never put up huge numbers last year like he did over the weekend. He went 27-30 with 345 passing yards and five passing TD’s on his way to a perfect quarterback rating. Granted, it was against the lowly Dolphins, but we expect Jackson to continue down this path and have a huge year as the Ravens look like a formidable team in the AFC North.

2. Sammy Watkins (Wide Receiver, Kansas City Chiefs)

The Kansas City Chiefs WR2 played like a WR1 in week 1. In fact, he played like the number 1 wideout in the league! Tyreek Hill went down with a shoulder injury early in the first quarter and Watkins was already having a big day before that. He ended his day with 9 catches for 198 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns. This was against a Jacksonville Jaguars’ defense that is supposed to be tops in the league. With over 40 fantasy points on week 1, Watkins should be a major threat for the Chiefs’ number 1 offense all season, with or without Tyreek Hill active.

3. John Ross (Wide Receiver, Cincinnati Bengals)

A year removed from running one of the fastest ‘40’ times in NFL combine history; John Ross finally had the big game everyone had been waiting for, especially the Bengals. Ross caught 7 passes for 158 yards and 2 touchdowns against a good defense. Bengals new head coach, Zac Taylor, formerly of the Sean McVay’s LA Rams staff, might have the passing attack rolling for Cincy this year. The Bengals may not be a winning team, but they could surprise people and score a bunch of points all season. Ross is available in over 85% of fantasy league formats. After a 30+ point fantasy week, you’ll have to move on the speedster quickly.

4. Danny Amendola (Wide Receiver, Detroit Lions)

Danny Amendola’s career never seems to be over. After being a major contributor to the Patriots, Amendola went to the Dolphins and the masses believed he was done. Now he’s reunited with a former Patriots’ assistant, Matt Patricia, in Detroit and is immediately in the Golden Tate role on the offense. Danny grabbed 7 passes off of Matt Stafford with a whopping 13 targets and racked up 107 yards with a touchdown. Thirteen targets are no fluke and Danny is surely still available in your league. Snag him before it is too late, he is a WR3 until further notice.

5. Jamison Crowder (Wide Receiver, New York Jets)

Jamison Crowder was one of the top slot receivers in Washington while Kirk Cousins was in his prime years. He has fallen off since Kirk left and has also battled some injuries. Crowder signed with the Jets this offseason and immediately became Sam Darnold’s security blanket. Crowder had a whopping 17 targets on week 1, hauling in 14 of those targets for 99 yards. In a PPR format, Crowder is a major player. He won’t score a ton of touchdowns this year, but he will rack up major receptions every week and is available in over half of league formats. A must add player.

Notable Mentions

  • Mark Andrews, TE Baltimore Ravens
  • DJ Chark Jr, WR Jacksonville Jaguars
  • TJ Hockenson, TE Detroit Lions
  • Malcolm Brown, RB Los Angeles Rams
Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, WR Baltimore Ravens Check back in with us week-to-week as we will have all the fantasy advice and breakdowns you need to win your league this season.
The NFL season is 17 weeks long, but teams, players and organizations always want to get off to a good start. Week 1 can set the tone for the entire season or put a team in an immediate state of panic. We dive into the biggest disappointments from the NFL’s opening weekend.

1. The Cleveland Browns

A consensus pick to go to the Super Bowl, the Browns reminded everyone that they are still the Browns until they aren’t. Adding major stars to your roster doesn’t just make you a good team. You have to do it in all three phases, with everyone playing as a cohesive unit, week in and week out. The Browns under new head coach Freddy Kitchens didn’t do it as they suffered an embarrassing defeat in their home opener against the Tennessee Titans.  They lost 43-13, a 30-point loss in their home opener when they’re supposed to be a Superbowl contender! The Browns’ postgame meal was a large slice of humble pie. Let’s see what kind of character they have after a complete dismantling in their own building. They go to New York to take on the Jets next Monday night in primetime.

2. The Miami Dolphins

OK, we knew they would be bad, but this bad?  The Dolphins allowed scoring records to be set left and right as they gave up nearly 60-points to the Baltimore Ravens. They looked inept. It’s one thing to not have talent and to tank, but at least play hard! The Dolphins host Tom Brady and the Patriots next weekend.  Good luck.

3. The New York Giants Pass Defense

After a strong preseason and a rebuilt culture, the Giants came into week 1 full of belief and confidence. All of which dissolved quickly on the realization they can’t cover receivers or tight ends and they can’t rush a quarterback. The Giants pass defense made Dak Prescott look like Joe Montana as he racked up over 400 yards and 4 touchdowns, while hardly breaking a sweat. The G-men managed a stout run defense and their offense looked fluid, but we don’t think they can stop anyone with an average, or better, passing game. The Giants will host the Buffalo Bills next Sunday in their home opener.

4. The Pittsburgh Steelers

All the talk about cleaning up the locker room and setting the tone for a new culture is great, until you lose by 30-points in primetime. The Steelers didn’t make the Patriots work for one minute of their Sunday Night Football clash and looked to be way behind on the execution side of things. If their culture is strong, they can rebound, but their performance level is in question. The Steelers host a strong Seattle Seahawks team next week in their home opener.

5. New York Jets Kicker, Kaare Vedvik

The Jets have enough talent to be a winning team this season and potentially make the playoffs. Their offense looked good and defense was solid as long as linebacker C.J. Mosley was on the field. Their kicker however, a question mark coming into the season, cost them the game Sunday. He missed an extra point and a field goal. The Jets lost by one point. Vedvik needs to turn it around quickly or he will be jobless before October.
Social media often functions, wittingly or unwittingly, as a major form of advertising.  When users post pictures of themselves drinking Pepsi, they are unwittingly promoting it. Given the incredible amounts of time that millions of people spend on social media, it makes sense that companies would be looking to social media for predicable, controlled advertising solutions. To that end the NFL recently announced a new collaboration with TikTok, a social media service owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. The NFL hopes that TikTok will help to get popularity points with its generation z users given that it was the third most downloaded application in the US during the first quarter of this year. The need comes after Morning Consult data showed that football is losing popularity among younger people – TikTok’s audience – because they’re watching less TV and they’re playing less football because of head injury concerns. The NFL is going where their future audience is to drive them back into the fold. Adapt or die.
Football is back! The season officially gets underway tonight with a matchup of storied NFL franchises as Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers roll into Chicago to take on Khalil Mack and the Bears. We take a deeper look at this matchup and some of the other notable week-1 games.

Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears

With Aaron Rodgers at the helm, The Packers have been the class of the NFC North for the better part of this decade, but last year thanks to injuries, rifts between coaching staff and players, along with an improved division, it was Chicago who represented the NFC North in the playoffs. Arguably, The Bears feature the top defense in the NFL with perennial Pro Bowler Khalil Mack at the forefront of that stout unit. He drove the Packers absolutely nuts last year in the season opener, a game that the Packers miraculously came back to win.  But Rodgers was not the same all year due to the beating he took that night. Green Bay comes into Soldier Field with a new head coach, Matt LaFleur. He brings an entirely new offensive system that we have yet to see Rodgers execute this preseason. With Rodgers at the helm, Green Bay is never out of it. We like them to upset the Bears tonight thanks to a classic Aaron Rodgers comeback. Final Score prediction: Packers 27, Bears 24 Here are our other notable matchups from week-1:

Atlanta Falcons vs. Minnesota Vikings

With a new cast of coordinators, the Falcons look to get back to their winning ways in 2019 after a disappointing and injury ridden 2018 season. Just two years removed from a Super Bowl appearance, their defense should be back to normal and they still have an explosive offense with Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Devonta Freeman. Meanwhile, the Vikings choked away their playoff chances down the stretch last season despite having one of the top defenses in the NFL. Major question marks surround Kirk Cousins who has an elite level contract, but has not lived up to expectations. With a healthy Dalvin Cook and the likes of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen on the outside, the Vikings have as good a chance as anyone to win the NFC North this year. Final Score prediction: Falcons 24, Vikings 20

New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys

There is no love lost between these two teams. The New York Giants aren’t expected to have a good season, but almost anytime the Giants matchup with the Dallas Cowboys, it’s a grudge match. And this will be Eli Manning’s last trip to Jerry-world (AT&T Stadium; formerly Cowboys Stadium) where he famously signed his name in the locker room after winning the first-ever game played there. The Odell-less Giants have a new look offense with Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram, and Sterling Shepard carrying the load as coach Pat Shurmer gets to roll out his system for a second year. Meanwhile, the Cowboys, who are legitimate Super Bowl contenders, are happy to have Ezekiel Elliot signed and back to go along with their other potent offensive pieces and that dangerous pass rush. The key this season for Dallas will be whether Dak Prescott can lead the aerial attack like the Super Bowl caliber quarterback he’s expected to be. Final Score prediction: Cowboys 28, Giants 24,

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New England Patriots

Fresh off their sixth Super Bowl title, Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots begin the march for their number seven Brady-era championship without familiar face, Rob Gronkowski. It will be interesting to see how they fill the void, but we know for sure this is the Patriots and someone will step up. They welcome into town the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football, who like the Giants, cleaned house of some toxicity by trading away Antonio Brown and not resigning Le’Veon Bell. There is no reason the Steelers shouldn’t be good this year, as their defense is improved and they still have Big Ben, Juju Smith-Schuster, James Connor and a powerful run-blocking offensive line. The problem is, the division is stronger with the Browns as the mainstream favorite and the Ravens lurking in the shadows. Weeks 1-4 are a great time to play the Pats as Belichick typically uses the first four games as warm-ups. Still, the Pats own the Steelers, especially since they’ve been in Foxboro. We expect the Pats to take this one as they raise yet another banner before kickoff. Final Score prediction: Patriots 26, Steelers 23

Houston Texans vs. New Orleans Saints

The final game on our notable slate is one of the two Monday Night Football games for week-1, New Orleans Saints vs. Houston Texans at the Mercedes Benz Superdome. The Saints return with their prolific offense led by Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, and Michael Thomas.  It goes along with an up and down defensive unit that has the potential to be very good, but has to prove it. The Saints were a bad pass-interference no-call away from making the Superbowl last year. As a result, the League changed the rule; pass interference can now be challenged by coaches in 2019. They’ll be hungry to get back as their Brees window is closing. The Texans decided to go all-in, especially after hearing Andrew Luck retired. They traded a ton of draft picks to Miami for offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil and wideout Kenny Stills while trading away Jadeavon Clowney, who they had no intention on signing to the mega deal he’s likely to get when his contract is up. Deshaun Watson can be a top 5 NFL quarterback if given the protection and Tunsil should provide just that for the former Clemson Tiger. Defensive end JJ Watt is nearing the end of his NFL career and wideout DeAndre Hopkins is in the prime of his career. The time is now for the Texans, but they’ll have to wait until week-2 for their first win of the season. New Orleans is just too good at home in primetime. Final Score prediction: Saints 31, Texans 26 The remaining games of the week are as follows. Enjoy the week-1 games, good luck to your fantasy teams and check back in for our week-2 preview
  • Kansas City Chiefs vs Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Tennessee Titans vs Cleveland Browns
  • Buffalo Bills vs New York Jets
  • Baltimore Ravens vs Miami Dolphins
  • Washington Redskins vs Philadelphia Eagles
  • Los Angeles Rams vs Carolina Panthers
  • Indianapolis Colts vs Los Angeles Chargers
  • Cincinnati Bengals vs Seattle Seahawks
  • San Francisco 49ers vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Detroit Lions vs Arizona Cardinals
  • Denver Broncos vs Oakland Raiders

Ezekiel Elliot and the Dallas Cowboys have settled their contract dispute just in time for the season.  As expected, the deal is for 6 years and $90 million.

Now the focus shifts to Melvin Gordon and the Los Angeles Chargers, who are going through their own contract standoff. Gordon, like Zeke, is a top running back in the NFL. Despite the fact he has had injury troubles throughout his career, his production when he’s on the field and healthy is through the roof. The Chargers know it, but they have zero leverage when it comes to potentially trading him. Here’s why.

It is reported that Gordon is looking to earn about $13 million a season which is less than what Zeke got from Dallas. Though Gordon is only 26, he’s had injury problems unlike Zeke who has been healthy so far. With that said any team that would be enticed to trade for Gordon would have to consider his contract demands, potential for injury and the Chargers compensation package. The latter is incredibly high given the value put on the running back position in the NFL.

According to Josina Anderson of ESPN, the Chargers are asking for a 1st round pick for next year’s draft or a 1st and 5th round pick in the 2021 draft. In a time when players like Alvin Kamara and Kareen Hunt were drafted in the third round, it’s hard to justify paying a 1st round premium for a position that runs deep in drafts. Gordon is among the elite tier of running backs in the league, but the position he plays is working against the Chargers in their negotiations with other teams. Don’t be shocked if Gordon has already played his last game in Charger blue or he doesn’t play until late in the season or doesn’t play this season at all.

When looking at the talent on TV across NFL coverage, many of the personalities are former players and or coaches. Excluding the broadcaster-hosts for each network; NFL Network has Michael Irvin, Kurt Warner, Deion Sanders, and LaDainian Tomlinson; FOX has Michael Strahan, Terry Bradshaw and Howie Long; ESPN has journalist, Steve Smith Sr, with Teddy Bruschi, and Randy Moss. TV having become a great option for a former player’s life after football, but only if he/she has the personality for it. So who are in the next wave of NFL talent that can crush it in the studio? Some of the current on air talent weigh in on their picks. Spoiler alert, Baker Mayfield is a top choice. “I want any piece of Baker,” said Kyle Brandt, co-host of Good Morning Football on the NFL Network. “I want Baker Mayfield because he just doesn’t follow the rules. He breaks all those sports media rules that have been around for 25-50 years on the ancient scrolls [like] don’t talk this way about a teammate or an opponent. He just doesn’t care and that would be great on the air.” Baker Mayfield is likely a long way away from retirement, but would be big ratings on TV.  Baker has already made many controversial comments, as Brandt alluded to, most recently regarding the Giants and the Daniel Jones draft selection. Other TV personalities, like LT and Steve Smith, have suggested the likes of Josh Norman, Jalen Ramsey, Greg Olsen, and Aqib Talib. For us, the most obvious choice right now is Rob Gronkowski.  Gronk, unlike the aforementioned players is actually retired, so the opportunity is more realistic. He is hilarious, he was one of the best to ever play his position and he is relatable to the full spectrum of viewers and listeners. The question is less about can Gronk do it, it’s more about does he wants to do it.
In case you missed it, World Cup Champion and US Women’s National Team Legend Carli Lloyd was at the Philadelphia Eagles camp this week and she drilled a 55-yard field goal, no problem. The South Jersey native, who has Philly sports ties, was welcomed by Eagles. Back to the field goal, Lloyd probably would have been good from 60-yards on that attempt, but, mind you, it was done without game pressure and without pads – a totally different ball game. With the buzz swirling around the video, many have suggested Lloyd could kick in the NFL, and after thinking about it a bit, so does she. “I was laughing about it with my husband at first. But now I’m sort of entertaining the idea.” She said. “I think that I definitely could do it with the right practice and the right technique and get my steps down and figure all that out. I don’t want to go in there blindly. I want to actually attempt to do it. But I know that I definitely could do it because anything I set my mind to do, I can do it. And I actually do kick balls for a living. So, yeah, it’s all about the technique, and we’ll see what happens.” Now, as cool as it was to see Lloyd blast one in from 50+, the idea of her playing in the NFL may be unrealistic. Though she is a legend on the soccer field, maybe the most accomplished woman in our country’s soccer history, to suggest her 135-pound frame could stand up to a broken NFL kicking play is a stretch. Keenan Allen tweeted, “Sound sweet, ’til somebody block the kick and all of a sudden she on defense. Would be like the stampede scene in the Lion King movie. She do got a boot tho!” Let’s be honest, people are retiring from the NFL because of how physically dangerous the sport can be. While Lloyd has one heck of a leg and can probably drill NFL field goals, the rough side of the game that kickers do encounter from time-to-time would be physically challenging. These are 250+ pound elite, male athletes with incredible strength and speed. It is not a question of toughness.  And it’s not men verses women, it is just simple biology. In the brutal game of football, very big, strong and fast v. much, much, much smaller = potential danger for the smaller. Lloyd would be better served finishing her soccer career strong and keeping her body healthy for retirement.