Tag Archives: 2015 nfl preview

2015-2016 NFL Preview: NFC West

NFC WEST

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

GET: TE Jimmy Graham, CB Cary Graham, CB Will Blackmon, RB Fred Jackson, DT Ahtyba Rubin

LOSE: CB Byron Maxwell, C Max Unger, DT Kevin Williams, OLB Malcolm Smith, OLB O’Brien Schofield, G Stephen Schilling, G James Carpenter, QB Tarvaris Jackson, TE Tony Moeaki

RE-SIGNS: RB Marshawn Lynch, FB Will Tukuafu, DT D’Anthony Smith

DRAFT: 2nd round: DE Frank Clark, Michigan     3rd round: WR Tyler Lockett, Kansas State     4th round: OT Terry Poole, San Diego State     G Mark Glowinski, West Virginia     5th round: CB Tye Smith, Towson     6th round: DE Obum Gwacham, Oregon State     DE Kristjan Sokoli, Buffalo     7th round: S Ryan Smith-Murphy, Oregon State

SUMMARY: The Seahawks look primed to return to the Super Bowl for a third straight year. If they do, it will be the first time since Jim Kelly’s Bills that a team made it to the Super Bowl three consecutive years. With the play-makers and talent this team has, they come into this season as my favorite to win the Super Bowl. They signed a lot of their young talent over the offseason and re-signing Lynch was huge. Lynch comes into this season as the league’s top back and the Seahawks success hinges on him carrying this offense. With that said, the offensive line needs improved. Trading for Jimmy Graham may have been the biggest move of the offseason, but I remain skeptical of how he will be inserted into the offense. Graham isn’t known for his run-blocking and with the Seahawks being so run-heavy, I’m unsure how he’ll make an impact. The insane contract Seattle signed Russell Wilson to was a gross overpay. When Wilson has to be the star of the offense, he struggles. He’s a game manager, similar to Alex Smith, and making him one of the league’s highest-paid players is a move I think management will regret.

However, the only way Seattle loses their grip on the NFC is if Dan Quinn’s departure causes the defense to lose their identity and if the offensive line struggles to run block. If Lynch is stuffed, I have little confidence in the receiving tandem of Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse. Tyler Lockett looks like an exciting commodity though.

For fantasy, Lynch, the Seahawks defense and perhaps Lockett in deeper leagues.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 12-4

Week 1: @STL   Week 2: @GB   Week 3: vs. CHI   Week 4: vs. DET   Week 5: @CIN   Week 6: vs. CAR   Week 7: @SF   Week 8: @DAL   Week 9: BYE   Week 10: vs. ARI   Week 11: vs. SF   Week 12: vs. PIT   Week 13: @MIN   Week 14: @BAL   Week 15: vs. CLE   Week 16: vs. STL   Week 17: @ARI

ST. LOUIS RAMS

GET: QB Nick Foles, DT Nick Fairley, OLB Akeem Ayers, QB Case Keenum

LOSE: DE Alex Carrington, LT Jake Long, RB Zac Stacy, QB Sam Bradford, DT Kendall Langford, OT Joe Barksdale, QB Shaun Hill

RE-SIGNS: TE Lance Kendricks, WR Kenny Britt

DRAFT: 1st round: RB Todd Gurley, Georgia     2nd round: OT Robert Havenstein, Wisconsin     3rd round: OT Jamon Brown, Louisville     QB Sean Mannion, Oregon State     4th round: OT Andrew Donnal, Iowa     6th round: WR Bud Sasser, Missouri     G Cody Wichmann, Fresno State     7th round: ILB Bryce Hager, Baylor     DE Martin Ifedi, Memphis

SUMMARY: The St. Louis Rams may have the best defensive line in football. The Seahawks are great but the argument could be made that the Rams have surpassed them. Chris Long, Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers, Robert Quinn, and Nick Fairley complete an undersized defensive line, but they make up for it with their speed. Few backs will surpass 100 yards against this defensive front. Alec Ogletree, the always reliable James Laurinaitis and Akeem Ayers complete what should be one of the best front sevens in football. The secondary will have room to grow with the buffer this front seven will deliver. On offense, 20th in rushing and 23rd in passing should improve considerably now that the offense is playing with starters instead of the second-stringers and in some cases third-stringers that had to start last season. The offensive line is still struggling. That’s got to change. If it does, the Rams will contend for a wild-card spot.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 9-7

Week 1: vs. SEA   Week 2: @WAS   Week 3: vs. PIT   Week 4: @ARI   Week 5: @GB   Week 6: BYE   Week 7: vs. CLE   Week 8: vs. SF   Week 9: @MIN   Week 10: vs. CHI   Week 11: @BAL   Week 12: @CIN Week 13: vs. ARI   Week 14: vs. DET   Week 15: vs. TB   Week 16: @SEA   Week 17: @SF

ARIZONA CARDINALS

GET: G Mike Iupati, DE Cory Redding, LB Sean Witherspoon, RB Chris Johnson, LB LaMarr Woodley, LB Darryl Sharpton, DT Corey Peters, CB Alfonzo Dennard

LOSE: CB Antonio Cromartie, DT Darnell Dockett, LB John Abraham, LB Larry Foote, S Adrian Wilson, DT Dan Williams, RB Jonathan Dwyer, DT Tommy Kelly, TE Rob Housler, WR Ted Ginn, Jr., QB Ryan Lindley

RE-SIGNS: WR Larry Fitzgerald

DRAFT: 1st round: OT D.J. Humphries, Florida     2nd round: DE Markus Golden, Missouri     3rd round: RB David Johnson, Northern Iowa     4th round: DT Rodney Gunter, Delaware State     5th round: DE Shaq Riddick, West Virginia     WR J.J. Nelson, UAB     7th round: TE Gerald Christian, Louisville

SUMMARY: Arizona was hot to start last year but once Palmer was ruled out for the year, Arizona’s future slowly crumbled. Palmer’s inability to stay healthy is a concern and the Arizona backfield is weak. Arizona is the only team in the NFC West that hasn’t boosted their backfield in recent years. Andre Ellington has great burst but also has suffered injuries in recent years, leading to the team finishing second to last in rushing in 2014. Larry Fitzgerald on almost any other team would be a top-15 receiver but has slowly disappeared into the background because of the continued setbacks in Arizona. He and Michael Floyd form an adequate receiving tandem and when Palmer’s healthy, the chemistry is there but injuries have plagued this team the last two seasons and I don’t see that changing because these players have just gotten another year old. The departure of some of the team’s franchise players, including Antonio Cromartie, Darnell Dockett and Adrian Wilson leaves Arizona with a young group and little veteran leadership. With the secondary the Cardinals have, there’s no excuse for their 29th ranking against the pass. I just don’t think Arizona is built for the long run.

If you have a solid backup, Palmer is a competent starter and I’ve been drafting Ellington despite his recent injury issues. I’d wait to see how the Cards’ defense does before I draft them.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 7-9

Week 1: vs. NO   Week 2: @CHI   Week 3: vs. SF   Week 4: vs. STL   Week 5: @DET   Week 6: @PIT   Week 7: vs. BAL   Week 8: @CLE   Week 9: BYE   Week 10: @SEA   Week 11: vs. CIN   Week 12: @SF   Week 13: @STL   Week 14: vs. MIN   Week 15: @PHI   Week 16: vs. GB   Week 17: vs. SEA

 

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

GET: WR Torrey Smith, CB Shareece Wright, RB Reggie Bush, LB Philip Wheeler, WR Jerome Simpson

LOSE: G Mike Iupati, LB Patrick Willis, LB Chris Borland, LB Dan Skuta, DL Justin Smith, RB Frank Gore, CB Chris Culliver, CB Perrish Cox, WR Michael Crabtree, T Jonathan Martin, WR Steve Johnson, WR Brandon Lloyd, WR Trindon Holliday

RE-SIGNS: CB Chris Cook, S Craig Dahl, QB Blaine Gabbert

DRAFT: 1st round: DE Arik Armstead, Oregon     2nd round: S Jaquiski Tartt, Samford     3rd round: OLB Eli Harold, Virginia     4th round: TE Blake Bell, Oklahoma     RB Mike Davis, South Carolina     WR DeAndre Smelter, Georgia Tech     5th round: P Bradley Pinion, Clemson     6th round: G Ian Silberman, Boston College     7th round: G Trent Brown, Florida     TE Rory Anderson, South Carolina

SUMMARY:

The 49ers had quite possibly the worst offseason I’ve ever seen in my 21-plus years on this planet. Half of their team left shop. Four starting linebackers, (Willis, Borland, Skuta, Smith) gone. Three starting offensive lineman, (Iupati, Martin, Davis) gone. Two starting defensive lineman, (McDonald, Smith) gone. Both starting corners, (Culliver, Cox) gone. A starting running back and receiver, (Gore, Crabtree) gone.

Whether it was Jim Harbaugh’s brash coaching style or the fact that all of them felt like it was the right time to retire, I don’t know, but the 49ers that made two straight NFC Championship games are no more. They had one of the best defenses in the league for the last five years, but that train has left the station. Any 49ers fan that expects the same is being unrealistic.

Before the season has started, it seems fair to say the 49ers are back in the cellar of the NFC West. No stats from last year matter because this is a completely different team. There’s no way to determine how bad this team will be, but it’s not looking good. Kaepernick, as I originally predicted, was a one-hit wonder, and has shown to be an immature and not-at-all polished quarterback. With the offensive line San Fran has, it’s embarrassing that Kap found a way to get sacked 52 times last season, tied for third-most in the league.

The signing of Torrey Smith is interesting when you consider Kap’s inability to throw the deep ball and while I have a lot of confidence in Carlos Hyde, it seems unfair he’s expected to carry the whole offense by himself. Despite all of the losses on the defensive side of the ball, I could easily argue Frank Gore was the team’s biggest loss. Gore had been a stalwart in the backfield for a decade. He broached the 1,000-yard mark in eight seasons and missed 12 games in ten years, including none in the last four seasons. Frank Gore is the oldest starting running back in the league and while many consider that a cause for concern, I would argue it demonstrates his incredible ability to endure. Is his career coming to an end? Of course, but I think the signing of Gore should have been the 49ers’ top priority.

Next on that list should have been G Mike Iupati, one of the best guards in the league, but he was allowed to go to division rival Arizona.

The team just looks desolate. All of this team’s best play-makers have departed or retired. The departure of LB Chris Borland, who led the team in tackles last year, was especially painful. The team was hoping he could be their next franchise linebacker.

San Francisco’s secondary was weaker last year than it had been in the past and now has only fallen farther off the cliff. Safeties Antoine Bethea and Eric Reid will be expected to bail out its young corners. Thankfully, the Niners are deep at the safety position, with second-year safety Jimmie Ward ready to come in at a moment’s notice.

This team’s depth and starters have been cut in half and given their competition of the AFC and NFC North, San Francisco is looking at a down year for sure. It will give the young team a chance to prove themselves and show new coach Jim Tomsula what he has to work with, but little more than that. If the Niners expect to compete, these are the things that have got to happen:

  1. They’ve got to get pressure on the quarterback. Last year, San Francisco had a below-average 36 sacks. That won’t cut it.
  2. The secondary must hold. They led the league with 23 interceptions but there’s no way they can repeat that. The 86 passes defended, good for fifth in the league? That should be their goal.
  3. Hyde has to eclipse 1,000. With Kap’s imminent struggles ready to resume, Hyde must outperform him and make the transition from Gore as easy as possible.
  4. They’ve got to find offense. Last year, they averaged 19.1 ppg, 25th in the league. The teams below them? Washington, Cleveland, New York Jets, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Oakland and Jacksonville. Not the bunch you want to be with. The defense allowed 21.3 last year, good for tenth-best. That’s right, even with that highlight-reel roster, the team allowed more points than they scored.

Those are the four things that have got to happen if the Niners want to remain relevant, but I’d be surprised if two of those things happen let alone four. It will be an interesting year in San Francisco. We will know this team’s identity early on.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 6-10

Week 1: vs. MIN   Week 2: @PIT   Week 3: @ARI   Week 4: vs. GB   Week 5: @NYG   Week 6: vs. BAL   Week 7: vs. SEA   Week 8: @STL   Week 9: vs. ATL   Week 10: BYE   Week 11: @SEA   Week 12: vs. ARI   Week 13: @CHI   Week 14: @CLE   Week 15: vs. CIN   Week 16: @DET   Week 17: vs. STL

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2015-2016 NFL Preview: NFC North

NFC NORTH

GREEN BAY PACKERS

GET: None

LOSE: CB Tramon Williams, LB A.J. Hawk, CB Davon House, LB Brad Jones, LB Jamari Lattimore, WR Jarret Boykin, QB Matt Flynn, RB DuJuan Harris

RE-SIGNS: WR Randall Cobb, DT B.J. Raji, DT Letroy Guion, OL Bryan Bulaga, FB John Kuhn

DRAFT: 1st round: S Damarious Randall, Arizona State     2nd round: CB Quinten Rollins, Miami     3rd round: WR Ty Montgomery, Stanford     4th round: OLB Jake Ryan, Michigan     5th round: QB Brett Hundley, UCLA     6th round: FB Aaron Ripkowski, Oklahoma     DE Christian Ringo, Louisiana-Lafayette     TE Kennard Backman, UAB

SUMMARY: The loss of one of the league’s best receivers in Jordy Nelson was a huge hit to the deadly Packers offense. However, if there’s any team that can overcome this loss, it’s the Packers. Aaron Rodgers, fresh off a league MVP and 38:5 touchdown-interception ratio, no longer has to face an elite Bears’ squad or a decapitating Lions’ defensive line. In other words, Rodgers is set for a huge year, Nelson or not. Eddie Lacy should expect more carries this year but I still remain skeptical of his production since he still stars for a pass-happy team.

The defense, however, remains awful. On paper, this team doesn’t look bad, but the defensive line is completely shot minus Raji. Imagine this defensive line if they hadn’t re-signed him.

Outside linebackers Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers are sure to pressure quarterbacks and add to the team’s 41 sacks, tied for ninth-best. The secondary, at least on paper, should be more than adequate. Sam Shields is a serviceable corner and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is an emerging star. While the stats are middle of the road for this team, it’s worth noting the Packers played the weak NFC South last year. Against the NFC and AFC West, the Packers will have a much tougher time.

However, there’s no one in the NFC North that can dethrone Green Bay and they’re one of the few teams who can beat Seattle, so a division crown and a playoff run is a given.

For fantasy, Rodgers, Lacy, Cobb, James Jones and Davante Adams are all great pickups.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 11-5

Week 1: @CHI   Week 2: vs. SEA   Week 3: vs. KC   Week 4: @SF   Week 5: vs. STL   Week 6: vs. SD   Week 7: BYE   Week 8: @DEN   Week 9: @CAR   Week 10: vs. DET   Week 11: @MIN   Week 12: vs. CHI   Week 13: @DET   Week 14: vs. DAL   Week 15: @OAK   Week 16: @ARI   Week 17: vs. MIN

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

GET: WR Mike Wallace, CB Terence Newman, OLB Casey Matthews, QB Shaun Hill, TE Brandon Bostick, S Taylor Mays

LOSE: WR Greg Jennings, DE Corey Wootton, FB Jerome Felton, OT J’Marcus Webb, QB Matt Cassel, LB Jasper Brinkley, OT Vladimir Ducasse, QB Christian Ponder

RE-SIGNS: LB Chad Greenway, OL Joe Berger, OL John Sullivan, RB Matt Asiata

DRAFT: 1st round: CB Trae Waynes, Michigan State     2nd round: ILB Eric Kendricks, UCLA     3rd round: DE Danielle Hunter, LSU     4th round: OT T.J. Clemmings, Pittsburgh     5th round: TE MyCole Pruitt, Southern Illinois     WR Stefon Diggs, Maryland     6th round: OT Tyrus Thompson, Oklahoma     DE B.J. Dubose, Louisville     7th round: OT Austin Shepherd, Alabama     OLB Edmond Robinson, Newberry

SUMMARY: The Vikings had a great year without their star player, Adrian Peterson, in 2014, going 7-9 with little offensive talent. Mike Zimmer’s squad finished 14th in total defense, including an impressive 7th against the pass and 41 sacks. However, they need to improve against the rush. Without Peterson, the Vikings averaged 20.3 points per game, 20th in the league, a stat that needs to be improved.

The expectations for the Vikings are high. The running game should be huge with the return of Peterson and Teddy Bridgewater’s inaugural highlight reel demonstrated potential. They should contend for a wild-card spot.

For fantasy, Adrian Peterson and Teddy Bridgewater catch my eye, although I don’t know if I’d select Bridgewater as a QB1.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 8-8

Week 1: @SF   Week 2: vs. DET   Week 3: vs. SD   Week 4: @DEN   Week 5: BYE   Week 6: vs. KC   Week 7: @DET   Week 8: @CHI   Week 9: vs. STL   Week 10: @OAK   Week 11: vs. GB   Week 12: @ATL   Week 13: vs. SEA   Week 14: @ARI   Week 15: vs. CHI   Week 16: vs. NYG   Week 17: @GB

DETROIT LIONS

GET: DT Haloti Ngata, C Manny Ramirez, DE Corey Wootton, WR Lance Moore, WR Greg Salas

LOSE: DT Ndamukong Suh, DT Nick Fairley, DE George Johnson, RB Reggie Bush, DT Andre Fluellen, DT C.J. Mosley, C Dominic Raiola, G Rodney Austin, FB Jed Collins, CB Cassius Vaughn, TE Kellen Davis, QB Kellen Moore

RE-SIGNS: K Matt Prater, CB Rashean Mathis

DRAFT: 1st round: G Laken Tomlinson, Duke     2nd round: RB Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska     3rd round: CB Alex Carter, Stanford     4th round: DT Gabe Wright, Auburn     5th round: FB Michael Burton, Rutgers     6th round: CB Quandre Diggs, Texas     7th round: OT Corey Robinson, South Carolina

SUMMARY: The Lions had one of the worst offseasons this year, losing Suh, Fairley, George Johnson, Mosley and Fluellen, all defensive line contributors. Haloti Ngata may be one of the league’s most dominant forces in the trenches, but he’s 31 and I don’t know how much gas he has in the tank. Either way, it’s a temporary fix and Detroit will need to address that in the draft. Jim Caldwell has a lot less to work with this year.

Detroit might have been 13th against the pass last year, but I’d like to emphasize that ranking did not come because of the play of Darius Slay, James Ihedigbo, Glover Quin and 35-year-old Rashean Mathis. Without the insane amount of pressure the Lions were able to cause up front, there is no way Detroit replicates its 20 interceptions last season, tied for third-most, or its 42 sacks. Detroit was 28th in rushing last season and there’s no way that total with prove adequate this season. Matthew Stafford has thrown more than 600 passes for four consecutive seasons, a trend that must change in Detroit. Do you know when the Lions were last in the top-half of the league in rushing? 1998. Do you know who the star running back was that year? Barry Sanders.

That’s correct. It has been 17 seasons, nearly two decades, since the Lions were ranked 15th or better in rushing. During those 17 years, Detroit has ranked 28th or lower in rushing nine times, including dead last twice. Hopefully newcomer Ameer Abdullah can be the franchise’s back of the future because Detroit hasn’t had one since Sanders left. With the loss of its defensive line and with a one-dimensional offense, expect the Lions to fall, especially given their schedule of the AFC and NFC West.

I’d avoid everyone on the Lions with the exception of Calvin Johnson. Stafford is trending down and the Lions defense won’t be dominant nor Tate as efficient as he was last year.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 6-10

Week 1: @SD   Week 2: @MIN   Week 3: vs. DEN   Week 4: @SEA   Week 5: vs. ARI   Week 6: vs. CHI   Week 7: vs. MIN   Week 8: @KC   Week 9: BYE   Week 10: @GB   Week 11: vs. OAK   Week 12: vs. PHI   Week 13: vs. GB   Week 14: @STL   Week 15: @NO   Week 16: vs. SF   Week 17: @CHI

CHICAGO BEARS

GET: S Antrel Rolle, LB Mason Foster, DE Pernell McPhee, WR Eddie Royal, LB Sam Acho, CB Alan Ball, OT Vladimir Ducasse, DE Ray McDonald, C Will Montgomery, RB Jacquizz Rodgers, TE Bear Pascoe,

LOSE: WR Brandon Marshall, CB Charles Tillman, LB D.J. Williams, LB Lance Briggs, C Roberto Garza, C Brian De La Puente, S Chris Conte, S Danny McCray, DT Stephen Paea, WR Josh Morgan, LB Darryl Sharpton, K Jay Feely

RE-SIGNS: TE Dante Rosario, QB Jimmy Clausen

DRAFT: 1st round: WR Kevin White, West Virginia     2nd round: DT Eddie Goldman, Florida State     3rd round: C Hroniss Grasu, Oregon     4th round: RB Jeremy Langford, Michigan State     5th round: S Adrian Amos, Penn State     6th round: OT Tayo Fabuluje, TCU

SUMMARY: If you want to know why the Bears have been struggling, I give you two stat lines: 16th and 27th. That’s how Chicago has finished in rushing the last two seasons under Trestman. Matt Forte, still underrated after all these years in the league, is the guy who defines the Chicago offense. As dominant as Brandon Marshall was as the number one receiver and now number one Alshon Jeffery, Forte has been the cornerstone in the offense. My favorite stat from last season: Guess who was fourth in receptions last year? Matt Forte. That’s right, a running back last year had more receptions than everyone not named Antonio Brown, Demaryius Thomas and Julio Jones. Forte was second in the league in rushing in 2013 with 1,339 yards. Last year, he was 12th with 1,038. If the Bears want to succeed on offense, the Bears need to make Forte the figurehead again. As for the defense, there’s not many positives here. They were third-last against the pass last year. Kyle Fuller is an emerging star as is new OLB Pernell McPhee, but the team is aging with Jared Allen and Antrel Rolle expecting to lead this team. They can still ball, but this team needs to find some franchise players on defense quick.

Forte should be a huge pickup this year and I think Jeffery, if he can get healthy, should have the targets to become a top-15 receiver.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 4-12

Week 1: vs. GB   Week 2: vs. ARI   Week 3: @SEA   Week 4: vs. OAK   Week 5: @KC   Week 6: @DET   Week 7: BYE   Week 8: vs. MIN   Week 9: @SD   Week 10: @STL   Week 11: vs. DEN   Week 12: @GB   Week 13: vs. SF   Week 14: vs. WAS   Week 15: @MIN   Week 16: @TB   Week 17: vs. DET

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2015-2016 NFL Preview: AFC South

Just want to apologize for not getting the rest of these previews finished before Week 1. They’ll definitely be done before Thursday. None of my predictions have been changed.

AFC SOUTH

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

GET: WR Andre Johnson, RB Frank Gore, G Todd Herremans, LB Nate Irving, DE Trent Cole, DE Kendall Langford

LOSE: RB Ahmad Bradshaw, WR Hakeem Nicks, S Laron Landry, WR Reggie Wayne, DE Ricky Jean-Francois, S Sergio Brown, LB Shaun Phillips, DE Cory Redding, DE Fili Moala, CB Josh Gordy, RB Trent Richardson, WR Josh Cribbs

RE-SIGNS: S Mike Adams, LB Jerrell Freeman, QB Matt Hasselbeck, CB Darius Butler

DRAFT: 1st round: WR Phillip Dorsett, Miami     3rd round: CB D’Joun Smith, Florida Atlantic     DE Henry Anderson, Stanford     4th round: S Clayton Geathers, UCF     5th round: DT David Parry, Stanford     6th round: RB Josh Robinson, Mississippi State     ILB Amarlo Herrera, Georgia     7th round: G Denzell Goode, Mars Hill

SUMMARY: Franchise quarterback Andrew Luck continues to improve from year-to-year and I don’t see any precursor to suggest that trend will stop. He threw for 4,761 yards, third-most in the league and a league-high 40 touchdowns last year. He only threw 16 interceptions so his ball management has improved a lot since his rookie campaign. T.Y. Hilton has been solidified as his right-hand man with his latest contract extension and two valuable veterans in Frank Gore and Andre Johnson have been brought in.

With that said, the running scheme in Indianapolis is not effective. I don’t think the problem with the Colts’ running game is the running back. I think it’s the scheme itself and if they continue utilizing the scheme they have been, it won’t matter who the back is.

On the flip side, the defensive line of the Colts has been completely wiped out with the losses of Ricky Jean-Francois, Cory Redding and Fili Moala. Their 18th ranking against the run last year is sure to fall further down and at the end of the day, the Colts are still a one-dimensional offense. No matter how dynamic their aerial attack, that’s still a huge concern for me.

The Colts are sure to win the AFC South regardless, especially given their tame schedule, but down the road, I don’t know how they’ll be able to hang in with the big boys with their razor-thin defensive line.

As for fantasy, Luck and Hilton should be great pickups but I remain adamant about avoiding Frank Gore.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 12-4

Week 1: @BUF   Week 2: vs. NYJ   Week 3: @TEN   Week 4: vs. JAC   Week 5: @HOU   Week 6: vs. NE   Week 7: vs. NO   Week 8: @CAR   Week 9: vs. DEN   Week 10: BYE   Week 11: @ATL   Week 12: vs. TB   Week 13: @PIT   Week 14: @JAC   Week 15: vs. HOU   Week 16: @MIA   Week 17: vs. TEN

HOUSTON TEXANS

GET: QB Brian Hoyer, WR Cecil Shorts, S Stevie Brown, S Rahim Moore, DT Vince Wilfork, WR Nate Washington, RB Chris Polk

LOSE: WR Andre Johnson, LB Brooks Reed, S Danieal Manning, S D.J. Swearinger, DT Jerrell Powe, S Kendrick Lewis, DT Ryan Pickett, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB Case Keenum, QB Thad Lewis, WR DeVier Posey

RE-SIGNS: CB Kareem Jackson, LB Whitney Mercilus, QB Ryan Mallett, WR Damaris Johnson, LB Akeem Dent

DRAFT: 1st round: CB Kevin Johnson, Wake Forest     2nd round: ILB Benardrick McKinney, Mississippi State     3rd round: WR Jaelen Strong, Arizona State     5th round: WR Keith Mumphrey, Michigan State     6th round: OLB Reshard Cliett, South Florida     DT Christian Covington, Rice     7th round: RB Kenny Hilliard, LSU

SUMMARY: The Texans had more than their fair share of losses this offseason, including franchise player Andre Johnson. Three safeties and three quarterbacks departed, as well as two defensive tackles. The grabbing of longtime Patriot Vince Wilfork was one of the biggest signings of the offseason. Houston’s defense against the pass took a step back, so the changing of the guard might be the spark the team needs in the secondary. The defense should be top-ten, but the offense is concerning. The receiving core is lacking with Andre no longer in the mix and Hopkins standing all alone. He should have a big year in fantasy but there aren’t any reliable stars on this team. Arian Foster’s injury is going to hurt this team out of the gate but when he returns, they’ll be a whole different team. As for the quarterback position, you might as well flip a coin.

Hopkins and the Houston defense should be on your radar for fantasy and when Foster returns, I expect more of the same from him.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD:8-8

Week 1: vs. KC   Week 2: @CAR   Week 3: vs. TB   Week 4: @ATL   Week 5: vs. IND   Week 6: @JAC   Week 7: @MIA   Week 8: vs. TEN   Week 9: BYE   Week 10: @CIN   Week 11: vs. NYJ   Week 12: vs. NO   Week 13: @BUF   Week 14: vs. NE   Week 15: @IND   Week 16: @TEN   Week 17: vs. JAC

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

GET: TE Julius Thomas, DT Jared Odrick, OLB Dan Skuta, C Stefen Wisniewski, RB Bernard Pierce, S Sergio Brown, DB Davon House

LOSE: WR Cecil Shorts, DE Red Bryant, RB Jordan Todman, LB Geno Hayes, CB Will Blackmon, CB Alan Ball, LB J.T. Thomas

RE-SIGNS: LB Paul Posluszny, DE Tyson Alualu, TE Marcedes Lewis

DRAFT: 1st round: DE Dante Fowler, Jr., Florida     2nd round: RB T.J. Yeldon, Alabama     3rd round: G A.J. Cann, South Carolina     4th round: S James Sample, Louisville     5th round: WR Rashad Greene, Florida State     6th round: DT Michael Bennett, Ohio State     7th round: WR Neal Sterling, Monmouth     TE Ben Koyack, Notre Dame

SUMMARY: Blake Bortles was drafted third overall with the intention of being a franchise leader and has the weapons on offense to thrive at an average level. Allen Hurns, Allen Robinson and last year’s rookie addition, Marquise Lee, all have potential as does fifth-round pick Rashad Greene. Julius Thomas has also come to Jacksonville from Denver and if he can compete at a level comparable to what he did with Peyton, the Jaguars will have another big name on offense. What the team will do in the running game is anyone’s guess. They drafted T.J. Yeldon, but the backfield is crowded with Denard Robinson and offseason addition Bernard Pierce. The offensive line must be better for either area of the offense to excel. They allowed a league-high 71 sacks last year, 13 more than second-place Washington.

On defense, the numbers aren’t great but there’s some hope to be gathered from the play of the defensive line, which had 45 sacks last year, tied for sixth in the league.

The Jaguars are a young team with potential but it’s going to take a few years for that potential to become talent.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 4-12

Week 1: vs. CAR   Week 2: vs. MIA   Week 3: @NE   Week 4: @IND   Week 5: @TB   Week 6: vs. HOU   Week 7: vs. BUF   Week 8: BYE   Week 9: @NYJ   Week 10: @BAL   Week 11: vs. TEN   Week 12: vs. SD   Week 13: @TEN Week 14: vs. IND   Week 15: vs. ATL   Week 16: @NO   Week 17: @HOU

TENNESSEE TITANS

GET: S Da’Norris Searcy, WR Harry Douglas, CB Perrish Cox, LB Brian Orakpo, TE Anthony Fasano

LOSE: OT Michael Roos, OT Michael Oher, OT Will Svitek, DB Brandon Ghee, S George Wilson, RB Leon Washington, WR Nate Washington, OLB Quentin Groves, G Chris Spencer, QB Jake Locker, RB Jackie Battle, RB Shonn Greene,

RE-SIGNS: DT Karl Klug, K Ryan Succop, LB Derrick Morgan

DRAFT: 1st round: QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon     2nd round: WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri     3rd round: G Jeremiah Poutasi, Utah     4th round: DT Angelo Blackson, Auburn     FB Jalston Fowler, Alabama     5th round: RB David Cobb, Minnesota     6th round: OLB Deiontrez Mount, Louisville     C Andy Gallik, Boston College     7th round: WR Tre McBride, William & Mary

SUMMARY: The Tennessee Titans start the season as the clear favorite for worst team in the NFL. The offensive line is one of this team’s strong points and yet the Titans still managed to allow 50 sacks last year. With limited receiving options in Kendall Wright, Harry Douglas and Justin Hunter, the team doesn’t have a ton of choices. Bishop Sankey isn’t a bright light at the running back position either. Marcus Mariota is sure to bring a lot of Titans fans alive but I don’t know how much he can do with so few tools.

As for the defense, it allowed the second-most yards on the ground last year but an acceptable 15th against the pass. If the Titans had a better front-seven, their defense would be a whole lot better and could be leaned on when the offense struggled. Until then, I’m putting this team at the bottom.

As for fantasy, if you’re looking for someone on the Titans, you’re pretty desperate.

SCHEDULE     PROJECTED RECORD: 3-13

Week 1: @TB   Week 2: @CLE   Week 3: vs. IND   Week 4: BYE   Week 5: vs. BUF   Week 6: vs. MIA   Week 7: vs. ATL   Week 8: @HOU   Week 9: @NO   Week 10: vs. CAR   Week 11: @JAC   Week 12: vs. OAK   Week 13: vs. JAC   Week 14: @NYJ   Week 15: @NE   Week 16: vs. HOU   Week 17: @IND

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2015-2016 NFL Power Rankings: Preseason

Hey guys! This year I’m doing my own NFL Power Rankings each week. Here’s what I’ve got going into week one.

1. Seahawks

The Seattle Seahawks had few changes over the offseason and looked like a strong favorite for Super Bowl 50.

2. Packers

Even with the incredible loss of Jordy Nelson, the Packers look like the only team in the NFC who could contend with the Seahawks right now.

3. Broncos

Denver’s playoff struggles aside, Peyton Manning is still there last time I checked as is their more than serviceable defense.

4. Colts

Andrew Luck has advanced further into the playoffs every year since he entered the league and one would think that the addition of veterans Frank Gore and Andre Johnson only strengthen his case for a serious playoff run.

5. Patriots

Tom Brady’s suspension lifted, I can’t see how I can put the Super Bowl champions outside the top five. The receiving core is the same as last year and while the loss of Shane Vereen will hurt, it can’t compare with the huge losses of Revis and Cromartie. Their front seven should carry them through.

6. Cardinals

Bruce Arians is one of the best coaches in the league, demonstrated by his continual persistence and ability to coach a team despite nagging injury concerns. A healthy Palmer might be the only thing needed to put this team over the hump.

7. Chargers

If Rivers’ receivers can bounce back from last year’s woes and Melvin Gordon is the back we think he is, the Chargers are certain to grab a wild-card spot.

8. Ravens

The front seven is dangerous and Forsett was huge last year. Will they be able to handle the losses at receiver though?

9. Cowboys

The Cowboys’ offensive line is the best in the league, hands down. In a division with little defense, the Cowboys should own.

10. Eagles

However, the Eagles are right behind them. If the Eagles flop this year, the hate that Chip Kelly will get will be insurmountable and will surely end in his firing. The moves he made must work out because last year they had a great team and fans spent the offseason watching Kelly tear it apart and trade for Sam Bradford.

11. Vikings

I’ve got to believe the addition of Adrian Peterson boosts the Vikings a couple spots up. Mike Zimmer is one of the best defensive minds in football and a young squad should be up to the task.

12. Jets

The Jets are a whole different team after this summer’s additions. A whole different team. On paper, that defense looks scary.

13. Dolphins

I got to believe the Fins are right behind them. The Fins’ defense has a lot of potential and the addition of Suh is huge. Tannehill and Miller are a solid tandem.

14. Chiefs

The addition of Jeremy Maclin was huge for Kansas City. The defense is sturdy with last year’s sack-leader Justin Houston. I just worry there aren’t enough weapons on this offense for this team to succeed down the stretch.

15. Texans

I have the same concerns with Houston as I do with Kansas City. The defense is great and Vince Wilfork should be a huge addition for the defensive line. DeAndre Hopkins is a great up-and-coming receiver and Arian Foster, when healthy, is a top-five back. The when healthy part is becoming an issue for this team and I wouldn’t be surprised if they trade Foster or draft a running back next summer.

16. Steelers

Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell may very well be the best trio in the league, but that secondary is one of the worst in the league.

17. Rams

Same story as with Kansas City and Houston. Where is the offense? This team’s offensive line is a huge problem and especially in the NFC West, will lead to struggles in division play.

18. Bills

The Bills are lower on this list than they should be but again, where’s the offense? Watkins wasn’t lights-out last year and uncertainties at quarterback make me skeptical.

19. Lions

The loss of almost their entire defensive line will reveal how weak this team’s secondary actually is.

20. Giants

This team’s defense? Where is it exactly?

21. Buccaneers

The defense has the talent to perform leagues better than they did last year.

22. Browns

Cleveland would have made the playoffs last year if they hadn’t choked down the stretch.

23. Bengals

This team has got to be better. They have the talent. Time to execute.

24. Falcons

Dan Quinn’s new team should make some strides on defense.

25. Panthers

This team’s receiving core is dry without Benjamin. Jonathan Stewart has big holes to fill. Can the defense take the pressure early on?

26. Saints

The loss of Jimmy Graham stings and the defense was putrid last year.

27. Bears

The defense was so bad last year. The Bears have lost their identity and are more offensive then they have been in a long time.

28. Jaguars

The defensive line had a lot of sacks last year and Posluszny returns. Bortles needs to step up to the plate.

29. 49ers

After quite possibly the worst offseason in sports history, the 49ers look doomed to struggle.

30. Redskins

All the talent on offense is there except for the quarterback position, which is what has led to continual struggles for the offense. The defense, on the other hand, is one of the worst in the league.

31. Raiders

Oakland holds a place in the bottom five once again.

32. Titans

Last and certainly least, Tennessee has a long way to go.

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