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    • Retool or Rebuild? How These Teams Should Approach the Offseason
      by David Latham, Managing Editor on December 7, 2023 at 7:00 pm

      While some teams enter December with their eyes on the playoffs, other teams are deciding whether to rebuild or retool over the offseason. While the Panthers are the only team mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, the season is effectively over for a good 10-12 organizations. Long-term sustained success is always the goal, but can these teams accomplish that in 2024? If a team is in a rebuild, that means that there is something fundamentally wrong with the roster or coaching staff that will take years to fix. A retool, however, simply means that a team is only missing one or two key pieces to become a contender. Should These Teams Retool or Rebuild In the Offseason? Carolina Panthers For better or worse, this team is going to be Bryce Young’s for at least one more season. Thanks to their aggressive trade in the 2023 NFL Draft, the team does not have their first-round pick in 2024. Without that high draft capital, the Panthers have no choice but to hope that Young’s unimpressive rookie year is due to a terrible supporting cast. The only question now is how can the team rebuild this roster. Carolina has a lot of cap space, and they’ll need to throw a lot of money at wide receivers and offensive linemen during free agency, because Adam Thielen is the only player on the offensive side of the ball that should have any type of job security. Verdict: Rebuild New England Patriots The New England Patriots offense is historically inept. While the defense is still pretty good, Bill Belichick has created an offense that would be bad even by the standards of the 1940’s. Belichick is one of the greatest head coaches in the history of the game, but time comes for us all eventually. After Tom Brady’s departure, the eight-time Super Bowl champion built the team in his image, and this is the result. The Patriots are still looking for their first playoff win in the post-Brady era, and this team will have to rebuild with a new head coach and quarterback. Verdict: Rebuild Arizona Cardinals Despite the record, the Arizona Cardinals have some reason for optimism in the future. The team is 2-2 with Murray at the helm, with both wins coming against teams that would be in the playoffs if the season ended today. The 2023 version of this team isn’t ready to seriously contend, but they’re not that far away. A good offseason and someone like Marvin Harrison Jr. could have this team fighting for a playoff spot in 2024. Verdict: Retool Washington Commanders Sam Howell may or may not be a franchise quarterback, but he’s just about the only good thing going for the Washington Commanders. The defense is among the worst in the league, the offensive line can’t block anything, and Terry McLaurin is starting to show signs of slowing down. On top of the questionable roster talent, head coach Ron Rivera is about to post his ninth losing season in 13 years as a head coach. This team could use an upgrade at just about every position, so hopefully, the new ownership is ready to put their money where their mouth is. Verdict: Rebuild Chicago Bears Justin Fields may or may not be a franchise quarterback, but Matt Eberflus is not an NFL-caliber head coach. The Bears will need to find a new mind to lead the team in 2024, and they might need a new quarterback as well. Fields can get the job done, but he’ll probably never be a high-level starter. If the team believes that Caleb Williams or Drake Maye will be better, then they’ll be foolish to pass on either prospect. Regardless, the offense is in decent shape, but the defense needs help at every level. Verdict: Rebuild New York Jets The New York Jets have a strong roster that just happens to feature one of the worst quarterback situations in recent memory. Aaron Rodgers in a wheelchair is probably better than the woeful combination of Zach Wilson, Tim Boyle, and Trevor Siemien. Quarterback is the most important position in football by leaps and bounds, and these three have singlehandedly wasted a great defense, even with Garrett Wilson making their lives a lot easier. The good news is that this team won’t need a rebuild – they just need a healthy Rodgers and a better backup plan if things go sideways. Verdict: Retool New York Giants The 2022 New York Giants were one of the luckiest teams in the league and weren’t nearly as good as their record implied. That luck stabilized in 2023, but not before the Giants spent the entire offseason chasing lightning in a bottle. Daniel Jones is not worth $40 million a year, Saquon Barkley will likely join a new team in a few months, and the Giants are going to have to be one of the many teams embracing a multi-year rebuild. Verdict: Rebuild Tennessee Titans Will Levis has had moments of gold during his rookie season, but it’s hard to know exactly how good he can be when the offensive line can’t hold a block and the wide receivers can’t separate. DeAndre Hopkins can still play, but everyone else on the offense is an active liability. The defense, while not elite, is fine, so this team should spend the entire offseason trying to rebuild their offense and give Levis a chance to prove what he can do. Verdict: Rebuild New Orleans Saints The New Orleans Saints are stuck with Derek Carr for at least one more season. Thanks to his large cap hit, New Orleans can decide to run it back in 2024 with the hope that Carr improves, or they can just accept that they won’t be good in 2024 and make a move for a quarterback anyway. The Saints have been mortgaging the future for the sake of mediocrity ever since Brees retired. It’s about time this team finally looked towards the future and embraced a rebuild. Verdict: Rebuild Tampa Bay Buccaneers The Tampa Bay Buccaneers went all-in on Tom Brady’s final years, and that decision paid off. However, now it’s time to pay the bill. Baker Mayfield is a good bridge quarterback, but Todd Bowles shouldn’t be a head coach and the rest of the roster is aging. This team needs to rebuild while using Mayfield as a short-term starter. Verdict: Rebuild Las Vegas Raiders The Las Vegas Raiders need help at just about every position imaginable. This is one of the easiest decisions on this list. Verdict: Rebuild Los Angeles Chargers Any team that has Justin Herbert under center will have a shot at the playoffs. However, there is a lot of work to do here. The defense is terrible, the offense is filled with aging playmakers, and the team has no cap space to work with. Firing Brandon Staley is step one in fixing this mess, but this could be a long offseason. That said, Herbert will keep this team competitive so long as he has some talent to work with. Verdict: retool The post Retool or Rebuild? How These Teams Should Approach the Offseason appeared first on Last Word on Pro Football.

    • NFL Insider Predicts Grim Outlook For Multiple Coaches
      by David Latham, Managing Editor on November 28, 2023 at 7:00 pm

      The NFL is a “what have you done for me lately” league, and that is never more obvious than during the end of each and every season. No matter what happened in the past, if the team isn’t winning, you know coaches are going to get fired. So far in 2023, the Las Vegas Raiders and Carolina Panthers have already parted ways with their coaches. However, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, this could just be the beginning. We know for a fact that a few coaches will be fired following the 2023 regular season. Using last year as an example, the Houston Texans and Arizona Cardinals fired their coaches following Week 18, while the Panthers, Denver Broncos, and Indianapolis Colts cut ties with their coaches during the 2022 season. However, this year could put 2022 to shame. ESPN’s Adam Schefter recently appeared on the Pat McAfee Show, and the conversation turned towards potential firings. During the segment, the NFL insider suggested that seven to 10 coaches will be fired at the conclusion of the season. ESPN’s Adam Schefter Predicts 7-10 Fired Coaches Which Coaches Will Be Fired? Obviously, this is a big prediction, but looking across the league, it’s not too surprising. Several teams have disappointed this year, and there are a handful of coaches who will need a borderline miracle to keep their jobs. Ron Rivera, for instance, is in his fourth year with the Washington Commanders and has yet to produce a winning record. With new ownership in town, Riverboat Ron is probably in his last season with the team. In a similar vein, Matt Eberflus has had two years to turn this ship around, and the Bears have yet to show any signs of life under his leadership. Justin Fields may or not be the long-term answer, but he deserves a shot with a better head coach. Rivera and Eberflus were unable to lift mediocre talent, but Brandon Staley and Dennis Allen have failed to make the most of talented rosters. Justin Herbert is one of the best young quarterbacks in the league, and the Chargers have one of the most expensive defenses in football. Despite all this, Staley’s unit is simply incapable of winning football games, and the defense is consistently one of the worst in the game. The Saints, meanwhile, spent a boatload of money to remain competitive in a weak NFC South, but despite the heavy investment, this team is currently trailing a relatively poor Atlanta Falcons team for the division lead. Sean Payton is not coming through that door, but Dennis Allen will be walking out of it shortly. So, this gives us six fired coaches, including the two who already lost their jobs. However, those are just the obvious choices, and there are quite a few coaches who might have run out of goodwill. For instance, Todd Bowles inherited an aging roster, but he still has consecutive losing records. Bill Belichick, meanwhile, is a legendary coach, but he is starting to look like Tom Landry in the late 1980’s. Other coaches on the hot seat include Robert Saleh, Sean McDermott, Arthur Smith, Mike Vrabel, and Brian Daboll. Finding the Next Coach It is no secret that you need a great head coach if you want to consistently compete for a Super Bowl title. The NFL is a passing league, and guys like Kyle Shanahan, Andy Reid, and Mike McDaniel are capable of generating offense out of thin air. Everyone wants to find the next Shanahan, but the problem is that there simply aren’t enough good coaches to go around. Even when “only” five coaches lose their jobs, it’s still hard for teams to find the right man for the job. Now, there will likely be more job openings than qualified candidates, which will inevitably lead to some bad hires. From the outside looking in, Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson appears to be one of the most sought-after coaches on the market. He’ll likely have his pick of the litter, which means that a team like the Carolina Panthers are not going to get him. Carolina has a serious ownership problem, a giant question mark at quarterback, and no first-round pick in 2024. Quite frankly, it’s not an appealing opening, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a coach who wants to tie their future to this franchise. At the end of the day, there are only 32 NFL head coaching jobs in the world, and every team will find somebody willing to replace the fired coaches. However, for teams like the Panthers, there might be slim pickings, which will only make the inevitable rebuild even harder. Main Photo: Marc Lebryk – USA Today Sports The post NFL Insider Predicts Grim Outlook For Multiple Coaches appeared first on Last Word on Pro Football.

    • The 5 Biggest Busts of the 2023 NFL Draft (So Far)
      by David Latham, Managing Editor on November 20, 2023 at 7:00 pm

      The NFL Draft is an inexact science, and every year, there are a handful of busts that fail to capture their collegiate form at the professional level. Now, the season is only 11 weeks old, so there is still plenty of time for every highly-drafted rookie to turn their respective careers around. However, based on the early tape, these five players are looking like they won’t have much of a future in the NFL. Before we get into the list of NFL Draft busts, let’s begin with a couple of disclaimers. First off, any player who suffered a significant injury is ineligible for this list. Football is a violent sport and anyone can get hurt at any given moment, so it wouldn’t be fair to punish a player for taking a tough hit or two. Secondly, only players selected in the first round can qualify as a bust for this article. Adjusting to life in the NFL is ridiculously difficult, and it’s completely unreasonable to expect anyone selected outside of the first round to compete from Day 1. Top 5 2023 NFL Draft Busts, Ranked 5. Bryan Bresee The New Orleans Saints lost a lot of defensive line talent during free agency, and they relied on the NFL Draft to fill those holes. Unfortunately, so far, those early investments have not paid off. The team selected Bryan Bresee in the first round to be their anchor along the interior of the defensive line. However, so far, that hasn’t happened. The Clemson product is exclusively used as a rotational player, recording just 1.5 sacks and 13 tackles on the season. Stats don’t always tell the full story with defensive tackles, but his 51.3 PFF grade certainly doesn’t paint a better picture. 4. Emmanuel Forbes Widely considered a reach at the time, rookie cornerback Emmanuel Forbes has not done anything to justify the trust of the Washington Commanders decision makers. The Mississippi State product is a featured part of one of the worst secondaries in the league and entered Week 11 as PFF’s 98th-best cornerback out of 109 eligible players. However, what makes Forbes one of the biggest NFL draft busts is Christian Gonzalez. Selected one pick after Forbes, New England’s rookie cornerback was playing like one of the best defenders in the league before suffering a season-ending injury. Yes, it’s early, but it sure looks like Washington took the wrong guy. 3. Tyree Wilson The Las Vegas Raiders are a mess for a whole bunch of reasons, and Tyree Wilson’s lackluster performance has slipped through the cracks. While most of the focus has been on the failed Josh McDaniels Era, Wilson has quietly been one of the biggest busts of the NFL Draft, recording a 40.3 PFF grade through 10 games. This ranks 101st out of 105 eligible players, which is obviously not what you expect from a top-10 pick. The Raiders desperately need somebody to step up opposite Maxx Crosby, and so far, Wilson has been unable to answer the call. 2. Bryce Young Let’s get this out of the way: Bryce Young is not in a position to succeed. The Carolina Panthers have arguably the worst wide receivers in the league, a subpar offensive line, and a bad head coach in Frank Reich. Nobody would look like an All-Pro in this environment, but Bryce Young should look better than this. The rookie has had a few flashes here and there, but they have been too few and far between to justify any serious excitement. When factoring in that Carolina chose him over a potential MVP candidate in C.J. Stroud, it’s easy to see why the Alabama product is one of the biggest busts in the 2023 NFL Draft. 1. Quentin Johnston Every other player on this list of NFL Draft busts has at least had one or two positive moments throughout their young career. Quentin Johnston looks like he’s never touched a football before. The TCU product can’t run routes, spends his life with a defender attached to his hips, and drops the ball even on the rare instance when he actually gets open. Most young receivers would kill to have an elite quarterback like Justin Herbert, and Mike Williams’ injury opened up a great opportunity in the offense. Despite all this, Johnston still can’t get the job done. At this rate, his mother might have an abrupt end to her retirement. Main Photo: WM Glasheen – USA Today Sports The post The 5 Biggest Busts of the 2023 NFL Draft (So Far) appeared first on Last Word on Pro Football.

    • NFL Week 10 Power Rankings
      by David Latham, Managing Editor on November 7, 2023 at 3:15 pm

      The latest entry into the NFL Power Rankings are finally here as the contenders start to seaprate themselves from the pretenders. With nine weeks of action in the books, some teams are on the rise while others are already looking forward to the 2024 NFL Draft. NFL Power Rankings: It’s A Good Week For Bird Teams Tier 1: Elite Super Bowl Contenders 1. Baltimore Ravens There is a case to be made that the Baltimore Ravens belong in a tier of their own in these NFL Power Rankings. After a relatively slow start to the season, this team has steamrolled over any and all competition over the past four weeks of action. While the Arizona Cardinals put up a fight in Week 8, Baltimore beat the Detroit Lions and Seattle Seahawks by a combined score of 75-9. The defense is elite, the offense is on fire, and Lamar Jackson is playing at an MVP level. Until further notice, this is the team to beat. 2. Philadelphia Eagles Historically speaking, the team that loses the Super Bowl has a hard time getting back in the following year. While a lot can happen between now and February, the Philadelphia Eagles look ready to break that trend. Jalen Hurts isn’t as good as Lamar Jackson and the defense isn’t quite as legitimate as Baltimore’s, but this team doesn’t have a single weakness on the roster. Howie Roseman did a phenomenal job in the offseason and now he’s reaping the rewards. 3. Kansas City Chiefs Patrick Mahomes has a top-10 defense. If that thought doesn’t terrify you, then you’re probably a Chiefs fan. The reigning Super Bowl champions are poised for another deep playoff run, but the only thing potentially holding them back is a lack of offensive weaponry. Travis Kelce hasn’t been as consistent as usual, and nobody else on the depth chart has stepped up. This team won’t have to win too many shootouts, but they might be in trouble if and when they go up against another elite offense. 4. Dallas Cowboys The Dallas Cowboys came THIS close to pulling off the upset against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 9. While the loss all but ensures they won’t win the NFC East crown, the fact of the matter is that this team is loaded with talent and can beat any other team in the league when everything is clicking, and their spot in the NFL Power Rankings reflects that. 5. San Francisco 49ers Week 9 provided a much-needed bye week for the San Francisco 49ers. After coming out of the gate hot, the team slugged through a three-game losing streak while Brock Purdy’s turnover luck ran out. Hopefully, Purdy is fully recovered from his concussion and go back to looking like the guy from September for the rest of the season. Tier 2: Deep Playoff Runs Incoming 6. Cincinnati Bengals Joe Burrow is healthy, which means the Cincinnati Bengals are back! As of this posting, we do not know the severity of the supposed Ja’Marr Chase injury, so that will not be taken into account for these NFL Power Rankings. However, assuming Chase isn’t done for the season, this offense should remain one of the best in football. The defense, while not superb, is easily good enough to hold opposing teams in check while this high-powered aerial attack works its way down the field. 7. Buffalo Bills The Buffalo Bills will go exactly as far as Josh Allen can bring them. At his best, Allen is the most unstoppable force in the league, capable of doing anything and everything on any given down. However, this style also leads to turnovers and erratic swings in play, and the Bills don’t have the talent to consistently make up for Bad Josh Allen. When Allen is at his best, this team can beat anyone. However, if Allen isn’t playing like a demigod, then the aging roster simply doesn’t have what it takes to hold its own with the rest of the elite teams. 8. Detroit Lions Are the Detroit Lions for real? So far, the answer is yes. While they did suffer a massive loss to the Baltimore Ravens, everything else about this team suggests they have what it takes for a deep playoff run. Jared Goff is playing some of his best football while Detroit’s young defense is starting to put it all together. This team is probably one more year away from serious contention, but they should hold on to the NFC North lead and make it to the divisional round, at the very least. 9. Miami Dolphins The Miami Dolphins are one of the hardest teams to place in the NFL Power Rankings. When the offense is on schedule, they’re the single most dangerous unit in the league. However, if you can mess up the timing, everything starts to fall apart. Tua Tagovailoa isn’t as good as his numbers suggest, and the fact that Miami hasn’t beaten a winning team in a full calendar year is a little concerning. That said, this team is still one of the best in the business with an elite coaching staff and wide receiver talent. 10. Jacksonville Jaguars Trevor Lawrence might not have made a jump to MVP-caliber play, but he’s still the best quarterback to set foot in Jacksonville in the 21st century. Armed with an impressive defense and a talented collection of complementary weapons, this team could make a deep postseason run if everything clicks at the right time. 11. Los Angeles Chargers Justin Herbert hasn’t played up to his usual elite standards this year. However, he’s still good enough to get this team to a .500 record after eight games. Keenan Allen refuses to give into age, and the defense looks notably better without J.C. Jackson on the field. If Herbert can recapture his 2020-2021 form, then the sky is the limit. Tier 3: Playoff Hopefuls. 12. Cleveland Browns The Browns have the best defense in football by a comfortable margin, a great wide receiver in Amari Cooper, and a solid offensive line. If they had a quarterback like Baker Mayfield, they’d probably be a top 5-10 team in the NFL Power Rankings. Instead, they have Deshaun Watson, a quarterback that was supposed to bring them over the hump but is instead holding them back from reaching their true potential. 13. Seattle Seahawks Nobody had a worse Week 9 than the Seattle Seahawks. Entering the game with the division lead, the team had their teeth kicked in by the Baltimore Ravens. This was an ugly affair, but it was only one game. While the San Francisco 49ers deserve to be divisional favorites, this team can still make the Wild Card. 14. New Orleans Saints The New Orleans Saints are going to win the NFC South by default, but this team is starting to show some signs of life. Derek Carr is starting to look more comfortable and Taysom Hill is developing into a legitimate weapon in the offense. However, unless Carr and Chris Olave figure out their connection, this team will always have a limited ceiling. 15. Houston Texans Don’t look now, but the Houston Texans are only one game out from a wild card spot. C.J. Stroud looks like the real deal, and General Manager Nick Caserio has done a remarkable job at surrounding his quarterback with reliable young talent. This team probably lacks the experience for a deep playoff run, but the future is bright. 16. Pittsburgh Steelers The Pittsburgh Steelers are probably the worst 5-3 team in the history of the NFL. The Steelers have a -30 point differential, have been outgained in every game of the season, and are 5-0 in one-score games. Winning games in this manner is wildly unsustainable and it’s only a matter of time before regression catches up to them. 17. Minnesota Vikings Who needs Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson when you have Joshua Dobbs and Brandon Powell? Seeing as he was with the team for less than a week, Dobbs deserves all the credit in the world for his wild win over the Atlanta Falcons. This team clearly has some fight in them, and while Cousins isn’t coming back, Jefferson should return before long. Dobbs is a serviceable bridge quarterback, and that might be enough for this team to make some noise down the stretch. 18. New York Jets The New York Jets would be a lot higher on the NFL Power Rankings if they had any other quarterback. Zach Wilson just isn’t the answer, and for the second straight year, he’s wasting an incredibly talented roster littered with game-changing talent. Aaron Rodgers is off the cart, so if Wilson can keep the ship afloat, perhaps the four-time NFL MVP can defy the odds and make it back on the football field before the Jets are out of the playoff hunt. 19. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Baker Mayfield is playing like his 2020 self, but every other aspect of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is a disaster. Todd Bowles is showing that his disastrous stint with the New York Jets wasn’t a fluke, and this aging roster is showing signs of slowing down. Ultimately, this is the price you pay for (wisely) going all-in on the final years of Tom Brady’s career. Tier 4: Some Signs of Life 20. Washington Commanders The Washington Commanders sold at the trade deadline, signaling that they know 2023 is not their year. There is some good news though, as Sam Howell looks to be their quarterback of the future. He might not be a future Hall of Famer, but the former fifth-round pick is clearly a starting-caliber quarterback and should give the team something to build around in 2024. 21. Denver Broncos Sean Payton brought back the good Russell Wilson, but at what cost? This defense is the worst in the league by just about every metric, and none of the wide receivers are playing up to their ability. This version of Wilson is a starting-caliber quarterback, but is he good enough to keep Denver from drafting an heir to the throne in April? 22. Atlanta Falcons The consequences of Arthur Smith’s unjustified arrogance are starting to show up in the standings. Taylor Heinicke has stolen the starting job from Desmond Ridder, and a series of questionable personnel choices are keeping this team from reaching its ceiling. If the Falcons continue on their downward trajectory, it could spell the end of Smith’s time in Atlanta. 23. Indianapolis Colts Any time you draft a quarterback with a top-five pick, you know that the upcoming season is going to be more about building for the future than competing for a title. That’s especially true when that quarterback ends up on the injured reserve. Gardner Minshew has done a fine job in relief of Anthony Richardson, but there’s a reason he’s a backup quarterback. There’s also a reason this team had a top-five pick last year. There simply isn’t a lot of talent here, although the Colts appear to have struck gold with Josh Downs. 24. Green Bay Packers The Jordan Love Era might be over after just one year. The quarterback has not played well, and this incredibly young roster has not done enough to support him. It’s never easy moving on from a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers, and this offseason could be a long one for the Packers. 25. Las Vegas Raiders The Las Vegas Raiders hated Josh McDaniels so much that simply removing him from the locker room resulted in the team’s best performance of the season. While it was a good morale booster, it’s hard to see this team keeping it up with so many holes on defense and a rookie quarterback in Aidan O’Connell running the offense. 26. Tennessee Titans The good news is that Will Levis looks really good. The bad news is that the rest of the team doesn’t. If Tennessee knows what they’re doing, they’ll devote the rest of the season to seeing what they have in the youngster. 27. Los Angeles Rams This portion of the NFL Power Rankings assumes that Matthew Stafford isn’t going to suit up for a bit. The quarterback suffered a UCL sprain in his right thumb, and that sort of injury takes time to heal. Even if he comes back after the bye week, he probably won’t look like his old self. Without Stafford, this is a flawed roster with question marks at just about every position. After all, there is a reason most analysts projected the Rams to finish the season with a top-five pick. 28. Chicago Bears Justin Fields is better than Tyson Bagent, but neither player is good enough to fix this terrible roster. The D.J. Moore trade has paid dividends, but all the offseason investments in the defense failed to make a meaningful difference. Combine this with some bad coaching and you have the perfect formula for a top-five pick. Tier 5: Try Again Next Year 29. New England Patriots The New England Patriots just lost to a Washington Commanders team that sold all their good pass rushers at the trade deadline, despite having three points gifted to them on one of the worst roughing the passer penalties you’ll ever see. Bill Belichick’s rebuild has completely failed, as every single part of this team needs to be torn down over the offseason. 30. Carolina Panthers It can’t be fun for Carolina Panthers fans to watch Bryce Young throw two pick-sixes on the same day that C.J. Stroud throws for five touchdowns. Young was improving on a weekly basis, but Week 9’s performance is a big step in the wrong direction. 31. Arizona Cardinals Clayton Tune had his chance, and he did not make the most of it. While the Cleveland Browns defense can make anyone look bad, it’s safe to say that he’s a clear downgrade on Josh Dobbs. Maybe Kyler Murray can squeeze out a win or two when he returns next week, but the complete lack of talent on this roster will even make that an uphill battle. 32. New York Giants The walking MASH unit known as the New York Giants took another hit in Week 9 when Daniel Jones went down for the season. Now, this team has no quarterback, no receivers, no defense, and no hope for 2023. Main Photo: Jason Rapfogel – USA Today Sports The post NFL Week 10 Power Rankings appeared first on Last Word on Pro Football.

    • Week 9 Draftkings Plays: Bijan Robinson, Demario Douglas, and More
      by Robert Norton on November 4, 2023 at 3:00 pm

      It is so exciting to have real, live NFL football back in our lives. One of my favorite parts is fantasy football. One of my favorite aspects of fantasy football has become playing on DraftKings. Every week is like a new puzzle to figure out. Whether you are more of a cash game player or a tournament player, each presents a unique challenge. Let’s take a look at my favorite Week 9 DraftKings plays. READ MORE: Week 9 Streamers | Running Back Rankings | Tight End Rankings Week 9 DraftKings Plays Week 8 Recap It’s always good to be completely transparent and demonstrate accountability. That’s what I like to do with everything I do and that goes for fantasy football as well. Whether it’s bold takes or DraftKings recommendations, I always like to keep track of wins and losses. It’s good for the readers and helps me learn from mistakes moving forward. Looking back at Week 8, it was better than Week 7 from a recommendations standpoint. This week only 60% of my recommendations hit the 2.5x value we look for in cash game lineups. This time the wide receiver group led the way tied at a 62.5% success rate. Meanwhile, the running back group brought up the rear tied at a 57.1% success rate. Personally, it was not a profitable week this week. We’ll look to get it going even better with the picks and get back in the profits in the Week 9 DraftKings plays. Week 8 – $460 → $195 ($265 LOSS) Year Total – $2,891 → $2,565 ($326 LOSS) Quarterbacks Jalen Hurts (PHI) – $8,000 v DAL It feels like it’s been a bit of a down season for Jalen Hurts but then again he’s also still averaging 25.0 DraftKings points per game this season. He hasn’t scored less than 21.9 DraftKings points since Week 1 and has the best floor-to-ceiling combination of any quarterback in fantasy football. It looks like a tough matchup on paper as the Philadelphia Eagles take on a Dallas Cowboys defense that has allowed the third-fewest DraftKings points to quarterbacks this season. Still, the overall offensive environment outweighs that here. This week’s slate is littered with games with very low totals so this game stands out as having the highest combined total at 46.5 points. The Cowboys offense should be able to put some points on the board and hopefully push Hurts and the Eagles toward a ceiling game. Add it all up and Hurts looks like one of the best Week 9 DraftKings plays at quarterback this week, even at an elevated price tag. Aidan O’Connell (LV) – $4,500 v NYG I’m not sure I can remember another single week in the NFL that had so many quarterback changes but luckily for fantasy managers, it could end up being something to take advantage of on DraftKings as prices will be low on many of them. The cheapest one this week is Aidan O’Connell for the Las Vegas Raiders. The Raiders decided to give O’Connell a shot and bench Jimmy Garroppolo this week against the New York Giants. The Giants are decent on defense but not a team to be feared, especially after dealing away arguably their best defender, Leonard Williams. The 37.5-point combined total isn’t enticing but the Raiders have a 19.5-point implied team total in a game with a close spread. On top of that, this game will be played in a dome which is a boost to passing offenses. Ultimately, O’Connell is simply too cheap as a starting quarterback in a decent spot. Others to Consider: Baker Mayfield (TB) – $5,200 @ HOU, Deshaun Watson (CLE) – $5,400 v ARI, Mac Jones (NE) – $4,900 v WAS Running Backs Bijan Robinson (ATL) – $6,100 v MIN Bijan Robinson had been priced in the mid $7,000 range for most of the season before his price dropped dramatically last week down to $6,000 following the “headache gate” situation. This past week he returned to his normal role seeing 11 carries and five targets but his price has stayed low as it only increased $100. It’s simply too low for someone as talented as Bijan who sees 15+ opportunities on a weekly basis. The matchup against the Minnesota Vikings is somewhat tough as they’ve allowed the sixth-fewest DraftKings points to running backs so far this season but so was last week’s matchup. Robinson didn’t catch any of the five targets he saw last week, but that’s simply an outlier as he caught 26 of his 32 targets on the season heading into last week. The Atlanta Falcons also made a quarterback switch to Taylor Heinicke so hopefully, that can spark the offense. They currently sit as 2.5-point favorites with a 20.5-point implied team total. Robinson is simply too good and too cheap and that makes him one of the best Week 9 DraftKings plays. Chuba Hubbard (CAR) – $5,000 v IND It’s been a lost season so far for Miles Sanders in his first year as a Carolina Panther. That’s been to the benefit of Chuba Hubbard as he’s all but taken over as the lead running back. Over the last two games, he’s seen 34 carries and three targets and scored 23.4 DraftKings points. In both games has played at least 66% of the snaps and seen at least 71% of the rushing attempts. Last game Sanders was active but only saw two carries and zero targets. Hubbard seems to have usurped Sanders at this point and this week gets a juicy matchup against the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts have allowed the fifth-most DraftKings points to running backs this season. This game’s 43.5-point combined total is the third-highest on the slate. There is some risk that Sanders could take back some more work but at Hubbard’s cheap price tag, that risk is mitigated a good amount. Others to Consider: Rhamondre Stevenson (NE) – $5,400 v WAS, Josh Jacobs (LV) – $6,900 v NYG, Devin Singletary (HOU) – $4,300 v TB, Tony Pollard (DAL) – $6,800 @ PHI, Alvin Kamara (NO) – $8,100 v CHI Wide Receivers Chris Olave (NO) – $6,300 v CHI I’m not sure people have really ever been lower on Chris Olave than they are right now. His price tag has hit a season-low and the narrative around him isn’t good right now. Fantasy managers are frustrated with him and that creates an opportunity here because his underlying metrics are still great. Olave is averaging over 9 targets and 130 air yards per game. He’s still got a 27% target share and 40% air yards share on the season. Those are elite numbers and it’s only a matter of time before he has a monster game. It’s possible it could be this week when the New Orleans Saints take on the Chicago Bears. The Bears are not a good defense and Vegas agrees as the Saints’ 24.75-point implied team total is the second-highest on the slate. This game is also being played in a dome so that gives him and the passing offense another boost. This might be the last time Olave is this cheap. The talent and utilization are simply too good for the salary making him one of the best Week 9 DraftKings plays, especially from a point-per-dollar standpoint. Demario Douglas (NE) – $4,000 v WAS Make no mistake, the New England Patriots have looked like one of the worst offenses (and teams) in the NFL this season. It’s been a far cry from what they were not too long ago. JuJu Smith-Schuster has had knee issues all year that have caused him to miss games and now Kendrick Bourne, who had been their most productive wide receiver, just suffered a torn ACL and is out for the season. Rookie Demario Douglas looks to be the biggest beneficiary. Douglas had already been coming on strong lately. Over the last two weeks, he’s caught nine of his 13 targets for 79 yards on his way to 19.3 DraftKings points. It’s no coincidence that he set career-highs in route participation at 76% and 84% in those two games as well. His role should be cemented now as a full-time player and looks like the most explosive and simply best wide receiver on the Patriots right now. The matchup is also juicy as well as the Washington Commanders have a truly awful secondary and have allowed the second-most DraftKings points to wide receivers so far this season. Douglas should be able to put up a career-best game in this one. Others to Consider: Terry McLaurin (WAS) – $5,600 @ NE, Noah Brown (HOU) –  $3,100 v TB, Adam Thielen (CAR) – $7,500 v IND, Zay Flowers (BAL) – $5,700 v SEA, Tank Dell (HOU) – $5,300 v TB, Wan’Dale Robinson (NYG) – $3,500 @ LV Tight Ends T.J. Hockenson (MIN) – $5,200 @ ATL This recommendation would feel much better if Kirk Cousins hadn’t suffered a torn Achilles and is out for the year, but even still, T.J. Hockenson is one of the best and most heavily utilized tight ends in the league. He’s one of only six tight ends with at least 80% route participation. His 22% target share is only 1% behind the league leaders. Hockenson’s 66 targets and 53 receptions are only one behind Travis Kelce, who leads all tight ends in both categories. The Vikings are also still without Justin Jefferson so that should mean Hockenson remains a clear focal point of this offense. Jaren Hall didn’t look very good in relief of Cousins last week but he should be good enough to make the easy throws to Hockenson. As previously mentioned, this game is played in a dome which is a nice boost for Hockenson and the passing offenses. The Vikings also check in as 2.5-point underdogs so they should be throwing early and often. With plenty of value at other positions, Hockenson looks like one of the best Week 9 DraftKings plays. Trey McBride (ARI) – $3,700 @ CLE It was so nice we’ll do it twice. Unfortunately, Trey McBride’s salary jumped big time this week but he’s still underpriced considering the recent utilization. The shift from Zach Ertz to McBride started in Week 6 but with Ertz now on the IR, Week 8 was when the takeover was complete. McBride had an 88% route participation, 39% TPRR, 40% target share, and 41% air yards share. All of those are elite numbers and season-highs for McBride. He ended up catching 10 of his 14 targets for 95 yards and a touchdown on his way to 25.5 DraftKings points. It’s unlikely he can match that production this week against a tough Cleveland Browns defense, but last week’s matchup was a very tough one as well. The Arizona Cardinals do currently have the lowest implied team total at 14.5 points but they are 8.5-point underdogs. That means they should likely be throwing early and often, much to the benefit of Mcbride. Others to Consider: Logan Thomas (WAS) – $3,500 @ NE, David Njoku (CLE) – $3,800 v ARI, Kyle Pitts (ATL) – $4,100 v MIN Defense/Special Teams In terms of choosing a defense/special teams, it’s the last spot I fill in every week. It’s pretty random but there are a few areas to gain an advantage. I look to target the heavily favored teams as they usually are playing with a lead. This forces their opponent to throw it more often which can help lead to extra sacks and turnovers and hopefully a touchdown. Another aspect to target is turnover and sack-prone quarterbacks. I advise filling out the rest of your lineup first and then picking your favorite D/ST out of the remaining money. My Tentative Cash Game Lineup QB – Deshaun Watson RB – Alvin Kamara RB – Bijan Robinson WR – Adam Thielen WR – Terry McLaurin WR – Demario Douglas TE – Logan Thomas Flex – Josh Jacobs DST – New England Patriots Make sure to tune in next week to see the results from my Week 9 DraftKings plays and to see the best picks for Week 10. Best of luck to everyone and let’s all enjoy some football and win some money! Main Photo: Jasen Vinlove – USA Today Sports The post Week 9 Draftkings Plays: Bijan Robinson, Demario Douglas, and More appeared first on Last Word on Pro Football.

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