The 2016 NFL Draft is rapidly approaching and one of the trickiest positions to fill is that of a tight end. For every Rob Gronkowski in the league, there are ten Vance McDonalds. Former Stanford Cardinal Austin Hooper is somewhere between my Gronk-McDonald comparison. He wasn’t a featured target with only 74 career receptions in two years of work, so film work is a bit limited. I reviewed his 2015 game against USC, a 2014 Notre Dame game, and his career highlights to get a better idea of what skills and attributes he will deliver to the next level. These are my thoughts:
Tag Archives: Zach Ertz
The witching hour is finally here. Preseason game three, the dress rehearsal for every NFL franchise and the most important game for fantasy football. The players get placed in real game scenarios and get game planned against. The only constant about the NFL is that it is always evolving and this week’s games are no different. I watched at least three-quarters to get the best idea about how these players would be used. Here are my observations:
Steelers vs. Eagles
Biases aside, this was an ugly game for Pittsburgh. You could almost feel the shadow of the drug arrests from the day before on runners Le’Veon Bell and LaGarrette Blount. Bell got touches early, bounced off some of the defenders, but left a lot of blocked openings unanswered. The second year back took a head shot, but came back a series later. Blount, however, appears strong/powerful at the point of attack with quick feet and good balance. Rookie Dri Archer got sent in motion the majority of the time he lined up in the backfield. The Eagles front seven seemed more ready for his quicks and wiggle than the other teams the Steelers faced as they did not allow many openings in the first three-quarters of play. Chemistry issues plagued second year receiver Markus Wheaton and Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben tried to get him involved early, but either their timing was off or Wheaton would bobble the pigskin. Last week’s highlight reel, rookie backer Ryan Shazier, was less active. He did not do as good of a job using his speed to prevent plays; instead the youngster spent most the game chasing down ball carriers several yards down the field. Ertz caught him out of position twice.
Here it is, another week of NFL preseason games. Hopefully your fantasy football starters play a bit more, so we might get a few more glimpses into what each team will look like in the regular season. Keeping up with the latest news is very important as it can get you a jump on the waiver wire and possible trade scenarios. My efforts concentrated on the younger players and/or new team additions. Here are some quick observations based on around the first three-quarters of each game:
Jags vs Bears
There wasn’t anything of note on the Bears side due to the broken collarbone of second year receiver Marquess Wilson. The Jaguars brought out one of their biggest free agent acquisitions, running back Toby Gerhart. He has good leg drive, uses a nice stiff-arm, and does well when running north and south. His problems start when the runner gets forced to run east and west; Gerhart does not have the speed to turn the corner and usually gets spread out to cause a negative or unproductive play. Rookie receiver Marqise Lee ran smooth routes, caught the ball in stride, and was heavily targeted. The wide out tells a story with his routes. On his touchdown catch, Lee played possum acting like it was a run play; then he reversed his direction sharply to break free into the end zone. Even though Jaguars aren’t saying it right now, first round quarterback, Blake Bortles, is fighting for the starting job now. The young signal caller gets the ball quickly, scans the field, and shows good ball placement. Bortles looks confident in the pocket, stepping up from danger, and sets his feet to deliver the pigskin accurately.
At dynasty blitz, I am watching each preseason game and let my readers known what I’m seeing. The NFL landscape is very fluid, so please consider that this is only the first week. My efforts concentrated on the younger players and/or new team additions. Here are some quick observations after watching the first half of each game:
The return of Doug Martin got met with a whimper instead of applause. He looked rather ordinary with little room to run. The offensive line did not get off their stances quicker than the Jags defensive line. In regards to the quarterbacks, second year Mike Glennon seemed more poised than newly acquired journeyman Josh McCown. I have a feeling the younger player could make a push into the starting lineup before we all get to see “The Great Pumpkin”. Then again it could be that Glennon played against the second team while McCown faced the fearsome attacking Jacksonville starting defense.
Here is another one of the recent dynasty fantasy football teams that I built (start up in late February with the rookie draft in May). I am the commissioner of this 14 team league and recruited most of the owners. There are a few luminary Tweeters in this league like Brian Quinlan aka @The_Street_FA . The PPR fantasy scoring features a tiered scoring: .5 pts for running backs, 1 pts for wide receivers, 1.5 pts for tight ends. Passing touchdowns are worth 5 pts and all others are worth 6 pts. It is tackle heavy scoring with return/rushing/receiving yardage all worth .1 pts per yard and passing is .05 pts per yard. For the IDPs, it is a tackle heavy scoring system. This is a super-flex league so every owner has a lot of flexibility: 1-2 QBs, 2-3 RBs, 3-4 WRs, 1-2 TEs, 2-3 DLs, 3-4 LBs, and 2-3 DBs. Once again, the goal is to look at the composite of the team http://football22.myfantasyleague.com/2014/options?L=63805&O=07&F=0001:
QBs- Cam Newton, Ben Roethlisberger, Bruce Gradkowski, Mark Sánchez, Ryan Griffin (start 1-2)
Since the draft got held before Newton’s injury and the NFL reveal of their schedule, I am happy with my starting quarterbacks. Both can put up top ten numbers with one still reasonably young (Newton is 25) and Big Ben, who is 32, has another three to four years left of high fantasy production. Since Roethlisberger did not get injured last season, I thought he played on borrowed time so I grabbed Gradkowski. The only two quality backup quarterbacks on the waiver wire were Sánchez and Griffin. Obviously Griffin is more of a project, but I will need to start one of them Week 12, because the Steelers and Panthers share the same bye week this season.
I have played fantasy football for over 20 years and there is nothing like the brand new startup draft. After several years off from commissioning a league, I decided to get back on the horse and start a 14 team $200 dynasty league. The vet draft started at the end of February and the rookie draft began two weeks after the NFL Draft. Draft position got determined by the Kentucky Derby format where all owners emails get placed in a random number generator and whomever drew the first gets to choose their draft spot until the last owner is left with the last spot available. We are using the three round reversal in both drafts for the first year and the team that picked 14th in vet draft will get to pick first in the rookie draft. This made the 14th pick a coveted selection as that team gets four huge picks: the vet 1.14, 2.1,3.1, and rookie 1.1.
The starting lineups are as follows: 1-2 QBs, 2-3 RBs, 3-4 WRs, 1-2 TEs, 2-3 DLs, 2-3 DBs, and 3-4 LBs, so basically everyone starts one offensive flex (that could be a QB) and one defensive flex. You can find the league here: http://www99.myfantasyleague.com/2014/home/63805#0