My Circle of Life: First Quarter NFL Notes

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(Getty Images)

Believe it or not, four weeks of the NFL season are in the books. This is the perfect time for overreactions, crazy predictions, and much more nonsense. Some of that nonsense will be detailed below, as I list my thoughts on what we have seen and how it might affect the rest of the season.

  1. First off, what has happened to all the good quarterbacks? While Tom Brady served his four-game suspension, Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton and Carson Palmer — arguably the top tier of QBs, of course along with Brady — have all been nothing special, if not average or even bad. Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck and Matt Ryan are playing better than all of them, though, and Wilson has been injured. Here’s where Rodgers, Newton and Palmer rank among quarterbacks, via PFF’s grading system: 25th, 13th and 30th.
  2. Behind those struggling quarterbacks comes a lot of 1.) new faces that are really playing well or 2.) names we know but were expecting much less of. Rookie Carson Wentz is PFF’s highest rated quarterback and has his Eagles without a loss. Trevor Siemian has also led his Broncos to an undefeated record. Dak Prescott’s Cowboys are 3–1. Guys outplaying expectations: Sam Bradford and…Brian Hoyer.
  3. Speaking of Bradford, how ‘bout them Vikings? What a story. After losing their starting quarterback for the year and starting running back for at least a few months, they are 4–0. And they haven’t been easy wins. After beating Tennessee Week 1 with Shaun Hill, Minnesota beat the Green Bay Packers in the debut of their new stadium, went to Carolina to knock off the defending NFC champs, and shut down the New York Giants on Monday Night Football. The defense is dominating and the offense is doing enough, kind of like last year’s Super Bowl champions.
  4. Speaking of last year’s Super Bowl champions, how ‘bout them Broncos? I wrote about my support for Siemian and belief that he could do this before Week 1, and what has he done? Started all four games, won all of them, and threw for 312 yards and four touchdowns in his first road game. And if he didn’t hurt his left shoulder against Tampa Bay in Week 4 — causing him to miss the rest of the game — he could have had a better game. Before leaving, he was 5-for-7 with 68 yards and a touchdown already. The defense looks just as good, too. As long as Siemian keeps progressing and no major injuries occur, this is a Super Bowl contender once again.
  5. With Newton and Palmer struggling, the Panthers and Cardinals are consequently struggling as well. Both are 1–3 — and with the Falcons and Seahawks surging in their division, they are both in danger of missing the playoffs after playing each other in the NFC Championship last season. There is still a lot of time left, but if Newton and Palmer keep getting hit like they have been, there might not be much hope for them resurging.
  6. The AFC South may be worse than last season, somehow. Houston won the division with a 9–7 record. While they are 3–1 right now, the only tough game they’ve had thus far — New England — was a 27–0 blanking. Their wins have come against Chicago, Kansas City and Tennessee — a combined 4–8 — with no margin of victory greater than 10. Osweiler can’t stop throwing the ball to the other team, either, with six interceptions to his five touchdowns. The Titans, Jaguars and Colts just really don’t have much of a chance to win this division, still, showing how bad they all are. I would say Jacksonville has the best chance with all their bright, young talent, but that also spells inexperience. It is hard to win with inexperience.
  7. Julio Jones is just unbelievable. Three-hundred yards receiving? Are you kidding me?
  8. Pittsburgh has a chance to be really good. I picked them to make the Super Bowl and I’m not backing off that at this current time. They got flattened by Philadelphia, yes, but they also have Le’Veon Bell back and burnt the Chiefs so bad, the smell of Kansas City barbeque filled my living room. Don’t ask me how it got through the TV. Excluding the Philly game, Pittsburgh hasn’t given up more than 16 points and scored 38 or more points in two of three tries.
  9. Tell me why the Eagles aren’t a Super Bowl contender, by the way. I want to see them face another good team (Week 1o, Atlanta; Week 11, @ Seattle; Week 12, Green Bay; Week 13, @ Cincinnati) before actually giving them that status. But, they have the pieces to be that good. Fletcher Cox and the defense has been really good — allowing just nine points a game. Doug Pederson is giving Wentz all sorts of creative plays to run in the offense and that creativity has led to a lot of big plays. It also helps that Wentz is pretty much Andrew Luck with an actual good team around him. And I don’t want to roll their eyes at that comparison. Wentz can throw to all three levels of the field, and the most impressive thing he’s shown me is his audibling at the line of scrimmage. Philly leaves a lot of time on the play clock and allow Wentz to make the necessary changes for him to feel comfortable saying “Hike!” With that time, he looks over the defense, sees what he doesn’t like, communicates to his teammates, sees what he like, then snaps it and makes a play. It’s fascinating to watch and especially impressive for a rookie.

Another Tragic Loss

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(Major League Gaming)

For the second week in a row, I am writing about an awful, awful death. This time, it’s Phillip Klemenov, best known as “PHiZZURP.”

Like Hernandez last week, Klemenov lost his life due to a reckless motor accident late at night. Hernandez’s was via boat, Klemenov by car.

I doubt any of you know PHiZZURP, so I’ll give some background. Klemenov was a professional Call of Duty player, which I watched religiously during my early high school years. I used to stay up until 5 or 6 in the morning watching these dudes just play Call of Duty competitively, and one of those dudes was PHiZZURP. While I didn’t watch his stream on Twitch.tv very often, he would always be playing with the guys that I watched streaming.

Phil was always there, late at night, working to get better. He wanted to win. There was nothing else on his mind. And he was always just a funny dude. His laugh always got me, and his energy became electric to his teammates.

PHiZZURP decided to go for a drive around midnight last Saturday, Oct. 1, with his best friend Marcelous and girlfriend Adrianna. They lost control of the car and crashed into a pole and several trees.

Klemenov’s girlfriend survived, but he and his friend Marcelous both passed away.

Fernandez died at 24, and Klemenov passed on at the ripe age of 23. Two young men that just lost their lives way too soon.

Rest in peace, PHiZZ.

Fantasy Football: Week 4 Recap, Week 5 Preview

Week 4

(Just a reminder: the recap might not always be on the lineup I talked about last week. My FanDuel squad ended up being poo, but I had a DraftKings lineup that won me a few bucks.)

QB: Dak Prescott ($5,700) — 18.10 — Prescott, believe it or not, was my first quarterback to surpass 18 points this season. Shows my luck drafting that position this season. He’s coming along nicely, fantasy-wise, as he has started scoring touchdowns.

RB: Melvin Gordon ($6,300) — 24.90 — Skill players facing the Saints usually signals a green light. Gordon has been weird this season, as he’s had just one game over 57 yards rushing. And yet, the least amount of fantasy points he has tallied was 17.7. That’s what is nice about PPR. Points tallied as a receiver: Week 2, 4.80; Week 3, 8.30; Week 4, 10.60. Those points add up, and scoring a total of six touchdowns — with two games with multiple TDs — after scoring a total of zero last season helps, too.

RB: DeMarco Murray ($6,800) — 25.90 —Another PPR stud. Murray and Arizona’s David Johnson may be the best feature backs in the league. He’s been able to gain yards on the ground unlike Gordon, with just one game less than 89 yards. Murray’s lowest scoring fantasy game this year was 21.5 points. Tennessee’s offense is clearly run through him.

WR: Michael Crabtree ($6,400) — 33.80 — Derek Carr likes throwing to Crabtree in the redzone, I guess. 88 yards on seven receptions is a nice day already. But, when three of your seven receptions are touchdowns, it’s a nice day.

WR: Marvin Jones Jr. ($7,300) — 12.40 — Playing Jones after the biggest game of his career was probably a bad idea, because the chances of him having another big game like that were slim to none. He could have done a lot better than he did hadn’t the Bears’ defense rattled Matthew Stafford so much. This was one of my two disappointments of the weekend.

WR: Terrelle Pryor ($4,300) — 15.00 — Pryor was very confident coming into this game, lining up across from Josh Norman.

“I’m 6–5, 230. I’m not worried about no corner talking about me,” Pryor said.

Pryor didn’t have a huge day overall — five catches, 46 yards, one touchdown — but his one touchdown did come against Norman, for what it’s worth.

TE: Jacob Tamme ($3,400) — 8.30 — Matt Ryan may be the best quarterback in the NFL right now, so playing his tight end seemed like a good idea. I wish I had decided to pay for Julio Jones — who caught for 300 yards and tallied 51 points in DraftKings. But, hey…8.30 is good!

Flex: T.Y. Hilton ($7,000) — 17.20 — Jacksonville’s secondary isn’t too great right now — although rookie Jalen Ramsey has been a real bright spot. So, decided to go with Hilton here, and I would say it paid off. Kind of like Marvin Jones, it came after a huge week, so wasn’t a high chance he would snap again. I’ll take the 17.20 points, though.

D/ST: Jets ($2,800) — 2.00 — Yeaaaah, was really thinking Russell Wilson wouldn’t play and the Seahawks’ offense would continue to idle. It didn’t, and the Jets just mustered up two sacks to manage a couple of points. This was my other disappointment of the week.

But hey, I won $7!

Week 5

DraftKings

QB: Dak Prescott ($5,600) — Prescott remains the best value at quarterback in the league. A little bit worried about him facing the Bengals’ defense, but at this point I am expecting mediocrity out of my quarterbacks anyway.

RB: Jordan Howard ($5,200) — Howard is going to remain the Bears’ starting running back when Jeremy Langford returns from injury. He has played really well, registering 111 yards on the ground in Week 4 and even caught a few balls. He’s facing the Colts this week, who just released linebacker Sio Moore — he led the team in tackles at 30.

RB: David Johnson ($7,900) — I finally got some sense knocked into me and remembered how good David Johnson is. He’s been one of the few bright spots in the Cardinals’ offense this season. San Francisco is the perfect matchup, as well, after giving up an average of 122 rushing yards and 1.5 touchdowns to Ezekiel Elliott and Christine Michael the last two weeks.

WR: Jarvis Landry ($7,000) — This is honestly just an inkling more than anything. Landry has had a good fantasy season already, though, so there’s some logic behind it.

WR: Emmanuel Sanders ($6,800) — I’m sure after scoring 35.7 and 22.8 points the last two weeks, Sanders will have an off week when I play him. He should do well, though. His first two games — 9.9 and 6.9 points — were a rough start, but as Trevor Siemian has gotten more comfortable, Sanders’ production has rose. Paxton Lynch also tossed him a touchdown last week as Siemian got his shoulder looked at.

WR: Sterling Shepard ($5,500) — Shepard has arguably been the best rookie receiver in the league this season, and he’s facing a Green Bay secondary that gives up the second most fantasy points to wide receivers in the league.

TE: Zach Miller ($3,600) — Zach Miller is a good tight end, as Brian Hoyer has discovered the past two weeks. With Cutler: 4.4 and 7.3 points. With Hoyer: 27.8 and 12.1 points. For my selfish reasons, I hope Cutler takes at least one more week off so Miller has a shot at a good day.

Flex: Devonta Freeman ($5,000) — Starting anyone against the Denver and Minnesota defenses scares me. But at his price, I think he’s worth the roll of the dice this week. Tevin Coleman will likely miss the game, too, meaning Freeman will pretty much get the full load. Jeremy Hill showed all running backs that there is hope to do well against Denver after a 97-yard, two touchdown Week 3 performance.

(Worth noting on Hill: 50 of those 97 yards came on one run. He averaged just under three yards per carry on his other 16 attempts, although he did get another score.)

D/ST: Vikings ($3,400) — Don’t feel like messing around this week, so no Jets. Can’t miss out on Vikings vs. Houston, which will be soon known as “The Game Where Brock Osweiler Turned The Ball Over A Lot.” I mean, really, Osweiler just got and he has five touchdowns and six interceptions through four weeks.

Hope the Vikings are hungry, because they will for sure be eating.

Week 5 Picks

Week 4: 8–7

Season: 39–24

Cardinals over 49ers

Eagles over Lions

Ravens over Redskins

Vikings over Texans

Titans over Dolphins

Bears over Colts

Patriots over Browns

Steelers over Jets

Broncos over Falcons

Bengals over Cowboys

Raiders over Chargers

Bills over Rams

Packers over Giants

Buccaneers over Panthers

Written by

Sports Journalism Graduate, IUPUI. Writing about money, business, electric vehicles, and more.

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