I submitted my DNA sample to a famous website and I just found out that I have a 52 year old first cousin who lives in California.
This is going to be a long read.....TL/DR at the bottom. Curious about my heritage, I submitted my DNA to two very reputable companies that asks you to basically spit into a little tube, secure it in a little zip lock bag and mail it out to them. I received my results about six weeks later and when I went to the actual website to check out my results, I clicked on a tab that gives you the option to see who else has submitted their DNA and how we are matched (genetically). I found that many relatives that I know were at the top of my lists (on the two sites). The way it works, is that the person whose DNA is closest to mine will appear at the top of the list as "potential" relatives. On both sites, I saw the name "John Doe" - name changed obv. - at the very top of my list. He was listed as a first cousin. I decided to check my inbox and saw that he had sent me a message weeks ago. (I rarely check those sites). He sent me a message stating that he saw that I was listed as his first cousin and if possible, could I contact him to see if I had any information about his birth father. He went on to explain that by this point, he had already connected with his birth mother's side of the family and they all accepted him and he is now considered part of their family. I decided to make the call. My cousin told me that he was born in California, put up for adoption and was raised in foster care until he was finally placed with a nice family. Since our genetic profile was so similar, he wanted to know if I could give him any information about his birth father. When he started asking questions, he told me that he was able to find his adoption paperwork from a Christian adoption agency. I thought, "hmmm, that's interesting. Maybe I can provide some insight about our side of the family." I wanted to help him as much as I could since I knew he was desperately trying to piece together any bit of information involving his father's side of the family. My mother (RIP) has three brothers. My oldest uncle is like a second father to me. He actually married my dad's sister so his three kids are my "double first cousins." We all grew up together as one big happy family. We shared all four grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc. We live in Texas so NEVER did I think that he could possibly be the son of any of my mother's brothers. I was thinking that he was most likely the child of one my mother's many first cousins who lived in California then and continue to live there now. Then, he emailed me the adoption records. His biological mother had provided all of the information to the agency; thus leaving this as an open adoption situation. When I read the summary, his bio mom stated that the father didn't know about the baby and that he had already left California to return to his home state of Texas. I didn't think much of it until there it was in black and white, my uncle's name was listed as the biological father. I almost fell off my chair. He was 19 years old when he fathered my cousin. At the time, my uncle (and my mom) would go to California in the summers to work as migrants in the fields alongside my grandparents. At summer's end, both he and my mother would travel back to Texas to resume their studies at their respective universities. I sent him a picture of my mom and my uncle. I heard my cousin's wife let out a loud gasp. She told me that my cousin looked exactly like my uncle. Soon thereafter, my cousin and his wife started sending me pictures. I was gobsmacked. He looks more like my uncle than my first cousins that live here. He is basically my uncle's doppelganger. I was in shock. My uncle is like a second father to my brother and me. I don't think I would've been as shocked if my younger uncles had fathered this young man. They were wild in their younger years. But no, as it turns out, my "second father" has a son he never knew about. As it turns out, he (my uncle) has four beautiful grandkids, one of which (was a semi famous) football player at a Big Ten University. My uncle has two great grandchildren. A son, grandchildren and great grandchildren that he never knew about. My cousin had so many questions. He knew absolutely NOTHING about his paternal side of the family. In a matter of two hours, I provided a door into our lives. He and his wife were crying. I was crying. I felt a connection to him. His voice sounds like my uncle's. His sense of humor and his love for his family and tender heart remind me so much of my uncle. Now comes the hard part. I called my father to tell him about everything that I had just uncovered. My father isn't an asshole but he is a very private person who doesn't take to change well. As I gave him more information, he interrupted me and demanded that I CEASE communication with my cousin. He stated that I've lived 45 years without knowing him so why should I begin to even care now? He warned me that this could be a scam to extort money from our family. We are not rich. My father lives forty miles away and I asked him to drive to my house immediately because I was NOT going to go through this alone. When he arrived, he was still quite skeptical about the whole thing. Being a man with a Master's Degree and an IQ of (not sure what it is but it's high), he insisted that this could be a hoax. I told him, "even if this was some random man claiming to be my uncle's son, GENETICS AND DNA DON'T LIE." I had printed out all of the pictures my cousin sent me because I wanted my father to see them on paper; rather than scroll through my camera roll on my phone. Every time he tried to deny that this man wasn't my uncle's biological child, BAM, I'd place a picture of my cousin on the table for him to see. Still, stubbornly, he'd say, "he looks nothing like your uncle or your cousins." Then, BAM, two more pictures. His eyes widened, he looked uncomfortable and continued to deny that this man was related to us. Again, BAM....more pictures. After that, I presented my father with the adoption agency's summary. As he read it, I could see that he was trembling. Keep in mind, as I mentioned earlier, his sister is married to my uncle. Finally, he placed the pictures and the adoption papers to the side and looked me in the eyes. He said, "You are never to speak of this. You will cease all communication with this young man TODAY. Yes, I do know that he is genetically tied to you and your mother's side of the family but SO BE IT."He stayed quiet, most like processing everything and finally said, "If my sister finds out, SHE WILL DIE." (My aunt suffers from high blood pressure). I started crying, calling him a "cold and insensitive man." I asked him, "what would you do if you found out that there was a HUMAN BEING out there that could possibly be YOUR SON?" I told him that this occurred when my uncle was NINETEEN. Yes, he was engaged to be married to my aunt but nonetheless. He was a kid who made a mistake. My father replied, "It would devastate me." However, he reiterated that we will be taking this information to the GRAVE. I talked to my brother about it and he said the same thing (my brother is an asshole). I know that dropping a bomb like this would shake up my family to it's core. However, my heart breaks for my cousin. He wants to know so much about his dad. I'm 45 years old. I'm old enough to make my own fucking decisions. My father, as much as I love and respect him, is NOT going to dictate who I allow, and don't allow into my life. My father ended up telling my uncle. I couldn't stand not knowing what my uncle was thinking or feeling so I finally made the decision to call him. I asked him to please go into a room where we could have a private conversation. I didn't have to say a word before he began speaking. The first thing he said was, "Mi'jita, I had no idea about any of this. It was the 60's. We were hippies." I kind of chuckled at that but then he told me, "If this gets out, your aunt will kick me out of the house. I WILL LOSE EVERYTHING. My wife, my children, my grandchildren." As tears were streaming down my face, I promised him that I would, indeed, take this to the grave. I have to respect his wishes. This is not my story to tell. Since then, my cousin and I have been communicating on a daily basis. I told him that sadly, we may not have the "happy ending" that we were hoping for. He understood. I'm sure it hurt him but I assured him that I would always be there for him as an extension of the one side of his family that he knew NOTHING about before. He asked so many questions. It saddened me to think that our whole lives, we grew up in a loving, nurturing, and stable environment. The irony in this situation is that during this exact time, I had a first cousin who was entangled in the foster care system. I'm not knocking the system itself, but he did share some very sad stories from his past. I gave him our family's medical history. He shares many of my uncle's afflictions. He promised me that if his father decides to never reach out to him, he would leave it at that and not create chaos within our family. He is a kind, hard working family man. I feel such a strong connection to him but this is NOT about me or how I feel. I need to respect my uncle's wishes; however, I am not going to be cruel and cut my cousin out of my life. Our daily conversations have turned into daily texts now. In a perfect world, we'd invite my cousin, his wife, his kids and grandkids to come and meet us all. I'd love to be at the airport holding up signs welcoming him to our city (and metaphorically, family). I know that that's never going to happen. Edit: I realize that this is an "Advice" Subreddit and some have pointed out that I haven't asked for advice. I apologize for that. I feel like I'm drowning here and desperately need your advice. I've read through many replies who have offered a lot of advice and that's exactly what I was looking for. Thank you so much for helping me. TL;DR: I submitted my DNA to two reputable companies. My results came in and as it turns out, I have a first cousin who lives states away who was fathered by my uncle 52 years ago. My family wants me to cease communication. I refuse to.
[OC] CASH ME OUTSIDE: Which future free agents have the most to gain or lose if basketball resumes in the Orlando bubble ?
Back in 2016, young Danielle Bregoli appeared in a Dr. Phil segment eloquently titled: "I Want To Give Up My Car-Stealing, Knife-Wielding, Twerking 13-Year-Old Daughter Who Tried To Frame Me For A Crime." She made the most of it, and even gained fame for her instant catchphrase "cash me outside". Usually, that's where a viral moment ends. However, Bregoli (now known as Bhad Bhabie) has actually parlayed that one moment into a legitimate career. She's a rapper signed by Atlantic Records, and her videos have millions and millions of views. We see this happen often in sports and in basketball specifically. The national media and even front offices start paying more attention to high-profile televised games -- the NCAA tournament, the NBA playoffs, etc. If a player can make the most out of their time in the spotlight, then they can parlay that into huge success themselves. College players who have big tournaments shoot up draft boards. NBA players who have good playoff performances can drive up their prices in free agency. We've seen it time and time again, from Austin Croshere, to Jerome James, to Ian Mahinmi. The continuation of the NBA season (barring a Kyrie Irving led rebellion) means that some players are going to get their time in the spotlight again. That's hugely important for players who are about to reach free agency. Now, there are a lot of big name free agents that are going to cash in regardless. Anthony Davis has a player option; I suspect he'll do all right. Similarly, there are veteran players like Danilo Gallinari or Joe Harris who are more "known commodities." We've seen plenty of them, and we understand their skill sets and values. Their prices are somewhat fixed (aside from concerns about a COVID-infected cap.) Alternatively, there are a group of future free agents that have more volatile stock. They have a lot to gain -- but they have a lot to lose. This is their moment. This is their last impression. They're heading into the Orlando bubble to do business, with the hope that teams will cash them outside.
READY FOR THEIR CLOSE-UP
C Jakob Poeltl, San Antonio If you just glanced at the raw stats, you might not understand why anyone would fuss about Jakob Poeltl. He averages 5.3 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Ho hum. He's only started a grand total of 38 games in his four-year career so far. Yawn. He's a true center who can't shoot threes? Yikes, go back to 1973. Can we move on to free agents who actually matter? Not so fast, my friend. Jakob Poeltl is a lot more interesting than those numbers suggest. He may be a 7-foot true center from Austria, but he's hardly a stereotypical "stiff." He's more nimble than you'd expect, and shows good defensive instincts inside. Overall, he's a smart player with a natural feel for the game. Those skills are born out in the advanced stats, which LOVE Poeltl's impact. Over the course of his career (4-year sample size here), teams with Poeltl on the court have scored 126 points per 100 possessions, and only allowed 107 per 100 possessions. That's the type of difference (+19) that ranks up with the elite in the NBA. Now, we have to take those numbers with a grain of salt. On/off figures rely heavily on your teammates, and Poeltl's had the good fortune of being on some great bench units in Toronto and now San Antonio. Still, you'd have to guess that he's contributing to those units in a major way. Fortunately for teams and for Poeltl, we don't have to "guess" much more. LaMarcus Aldridge (who had been playing 95% of his minutes at center) is out for the season, clearing a huge pathway for Poeltl to play 25-30 minutes a game and prove his worth. Or not. This is exactly the type of volatility we're looking for in this exercise. upside/downside: If the season had ended prematurely, the Spurs could have effectively "hidden" Jakob Poeltl and retained him for a modest price. As a restricted free agent, his value may have been depressed even more. He may have returned on his qualifying offer ($5M) or signed a team-friendly extension in the neighborhood of $6-8M a year. However, if he has a monster bubble-bracket showing, then teams are going to look at him as a potential starter and pay him accordingly. Gone are the days when Ian Mahinmi or Timo Mozgov would get $15M a season, but $10-12M isn't unrealistic. Heck, Mason (the good one) and Miles (the bad one) Plumlee both got more than that. PG Shabazz Napier, Washington Shabazz Napier knows all about shining under the spotlight. He helped UConn pull off an upset NCAA title, and consequently boosted his draft stock. LeBron James even publicly praised him as his "favorite player in the draft." The Miami Heat then acquired Napier (perhaps as a way to keep the King happy?) However, James left in free agency that summer anyway, and the Heat never seemed too invested in Napier after that. He'd be in Orlando the next year, and Portland the following year. Napier's kept bouncing around since then. In fact, he's already been traded SIX times in his young career. In his journey around the league, Napier has been up or down. Sometimes he flashes and makes you think he could be a high-end backup or even a low-end stopgap starter. Other times, he disappears or shoots poorly, and you start using his name as a trade filler contract. This bubble in Orlando may represent Napier's best chance at latching on to a role and a landing a decent contract. At the moment, he's soaking up minutes for the Washington Wizards, who have lost John Wall to an Achilles injury and have lost Isaiah Thomas to awful defense-itis. In their wake, Napier and veteran Ish Smith are platooning at PG, and both trying to show their competence. If Napier can take advantage of these 25-30 minutes he's getting, then he will go a long way to securing his future in the league. upside/downside: If Shabazz Napier can outplay Ish Smith and hold the fort well at PG, then teams may start viewing him, as mentioned, as a high-end backup/low-end starter. That may not sound like any great shakes, but that's a lucrative role. Ish Smith himself makes $6M a year -- D.J. Augustin makes $7M. Those figures would represent a major pay raise for Napier, who's never made as much as $2.5M in any season so far. On the other hand, if he flops and the Wizards fold, then he'll be back to looking at 3rd PG spots and fighting to stay in the league.
BREAKOUT STARS WHO CAN'T AFFORD TO BREAK DOWN
PG Fred VanVleet, Toronto Fred VanVleet had to work hard to convince NBA teams to buy into him. That's bound to happen any time you're an undrafted player who looks like he should be selling pretzels at a game at not playing point guard. But finally, after several years of proving himself, Fred VanVleet put himself in prime position to cash in this summer (or whenever free agency actually happens.) He carried over his great Finals performance to this regular season, averaging 17.6 points and 6.6 assists. He can shoot -- he can defend. Hell, he can even defend across positions despite his limited height thanks to his strength and his basketball IQ. In fact, basketball-reference listed VanVleet at SG for 54% of his minutes this season. Presumably, FVV will be a lead guard going forward, but that versatility only adds to his value. You can make an argument that he offers similar value to a player like Malcolm Brogdon, who got over $20M in salary in Indiana. What's the "volatility" here? Why can't we lock in VanVleet for a fat contract yet? Well, VanVleet needs to finish the job, essentially. We all remember how great he played in the Finals, but we tend to forget how badly he played in the playoffs prior to that. In their seven game war against Philadelphia, VanVleet shot a combined 3-24 from the field (12.9%) and averaged 2.0 points per game. Perhaps he was distracted by issues at home, but he was also rattled by the Sixers' length. He can't have that happen again, or else it'd leave a sour taste in the mouth of the NBA front offices, and scare them from trusting him as a surefire starter going forward. upside/downside: If Fred VanVleet plays well (the same level as he's played throughout the year), then he's looking at a healthy deal. He's 26 right now, so he may land a 4-year deal in excess of $60M ($15M per year). But if he struggles in the playoffs, then that may go down to something like 3 years, $40M ($13M per year) as teams view him as more of a fringe starter instead. C Montrezl Harrell, L.A. Clippers Doc Rivers and the Los Angeles Clippers will enter the bubble with genuine and realistic title aspirations. They're loaded from top to bottom, and as deep as any team in the field. That said, they may be too deep for their own good. In some ways, it still feels like two teams fused together like the Man with Two Heads. On one shoulder, there's the "old Clippers" from last year -- the plucky overachievers fueled by the chemistry of Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell. On the other shoulder, the "new Clippers" -- the would-be Super Team featuring two superstars in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Because the Clippers have been coasting through the regular season and load managing their stars, they haven't gotten the chance to lock in rotations and nail down their final form as a cohesive group yet. That's especially apparent in terms of the PF/C spot. Like last year, the team starts young center Ivica Zubac, but then cedes major minutes and a bigger role to Harrell off the bench. However, they've also brought in PF Marcus Morris, fresh off a strong half-season for the Knicks. There are contenders here, but no clear plan. When push comes to shove, is the team going to play a traditional lineup with a PF and a C? And if so, which center will close out games? And if the team needs to adjust and go to a "smallball" approach against a team like Houston, who will that lone big be -- Harrell or Marcus Morris? For Harrell, winning that role will be important as a matter of pride, but also important as a matter of market value. He'll be an unrestricted free agent (as will Marcus Morris). But unlike Morris, Harrell hasn't gotten a huge contract in the NBA yet. This summer was supposed to be his year to cash in. However, if Doc Rivers and the Clippers don't feel like he can hang on D at the end of games, then that will give his stock a big hit. upside/downside: If you're a free agent coming off a championship team, you're bound to get paid (and likely overpaid.) Of course, to benefit from that ring, you'd have to be seen as a key member of that team. As a result, Harrell needs to lock down the closing minutes at center. If that happens, then he's in line for a big contract in the range of $15M per year. However, the nightmare scenario for him would be if he gets played off the court due to his defense; if that happens, then he'll be seen as a niche role player and his contract will likely go down to the $10-12M range.
LAST CHANCE FOR A BIG CONTRACT
SF Jae Crowder, Miami Veteran Jae Crowder is a great addition to any contending team. He's a strong, dogged defender. He can hit threes. In a world that craves 3+D players, he fits the bill to a T. At least, that's his reputation. In reality, Crowder has never reached the heights that he did back in Boston (a familiar trend among former Celtics, it appears.) The most obvious issue is the inconsistent shooting. He had never been seen as a shooter originally, but he worked on that aspect of his game. In 2016-17, Crowder hit on 39.8% of his three-point attempts. The presumption is that he'd finally clicked into another gear, and could only get better from there. He became a valuable trade piece (and ended up going to Cleveland in the Kyrie Irving deal.) More and more, it's starting to look like that one season was an outlier. Crowder's three-point percentage has fallen back down to Earth, registering 32%, 33%, and 32% over the next three seasons. His defense also may have been overrated. At 6'6" with a 6'9" wingspan, he has only average size for a SF and only registered an average impact in terms of advanced stats. He's bounced around lately, from Cleveland to Utah to Memphis and now to Miami. Interestingly enough, Crowder got off to a hot start in Miami, and may have started to resurrect his stock. The Heat had been playing him more as a smallball four (basketball reference listed him at PF for 60% of his minutes), and he looked rejuvenated by that change. He hit on 39.3% of his threes (13 game sample size) and also looked better defensively as well. The question now is... can that continue? Miami will be healthier coming back from the break, and may not envision heavy minutes for Crowder in this playoffs. Are they going to rely on him? Or bury him? TBD. These next few months will be crucial for Crowder's stock as he heads into unrestricted free agency. upside/downside: If Jae Crowder can continue to play well as a smallball PF (and also soak up minutes at SF), then it'd give credence to the idea that he's a legitimate starter. And as a result, he'd be looking at salaries in the $10M+ range. However, there's also a lot of potential downside here. If his shooting stumbles again, it's difficult to imagine smart teams viewing him as anything more than a depth player at this stage (29, turning 30 in July.) He may have trouble matching his current salary of $7.5M. C Derrick Favors, New Orleans We're trying to focus on players with "volatile" stock and some unknown elements to their game. I'm not sure that describes New Orleans big man Derrick Favors right now. After some very high expectations as the # 3 pick, he appears to have settled into a known commodity right now at age 28. He's never going to be an All-Star, but he's developed into a capable starter (9.2 points, 9.9 rebounds this year) who is particularly sturdy on the defensive end. So what's the lingering question here? For Favors, it's more about a matter about whether he's a long-term "fit" with this New Orleans team. After rotating between PF and C in Utah, Favors has been locked in as a true center with the Pelicans, playing 100% of his minutes as a 5. That certainly feels like his best position moving forward. But the question is... do the Pelicans need a center? They just invested the # 8 overall pick in Jaxson Hayes, a naturally springy 7-footer. Moreover, there's still the lingering question about whether Zion Williamson may be best served as a smallball center himself. Between the two, there may not be loads of minutes at the 5 in New Orleans. Realistically, the team could retain Favors on a 1 or 2 year deal and utilize him as a placeholder until Hayes fills out and develops into a viable starter. At the same time, Favors is likely looking for a longer-term deal than that; this may be his last big contract. The Pelicans haven't had their full roster together all season, so they still need to work out their rotations. Will coach Alvin Gentry want to lock Favors in at the 5 (with Zion Williamson at the 4)? If push comes to shove, will Favors be squeezed out? Those decisions may go a long way to determining his free agency future. upside/downside: As mentioned, Derrick Favors' "value" may be more locked into place than his peers on the list. He's likely worth around a 3 year, $40M contract ($13.3M per year.) But for him, the question will be where that money will come from. A lot of the playoff teams that could use him (say Boston, for instance) don't have the cap space to offer those prices. If he wants to get bowled over with money, it'll likely come from a young team with cap room (like an Atlanta or Charlotte). But for them to justify paying big money to a big man, he'll have to keep playing heavy minutes and keep putting up solid numbers.
THE COMPLETE WILD CARD
SG Andre Roberson, Oklahoma City Remember him? There are younger fans out there (the babies and toddlers among us) who may not even recall the extreme strengths of weaknesses of Andre Roberson. It's not an exaggeration to say that, at his peak, Andre Roberson was the best perimeter defender in the NBA. Armed with length (6'11" wingspan), nimble feet, and a tenacious style of play, he could slow down anyone from 1-4. In 2017-18, ESPN's real plus minus metric graded his defensive impact as a +4.3 per 100 possessions, second best in the league behind Rudy Gobert. Alas, Roberson only checked one box on the 3+D prototype. He's a career 25.7% shooter from beyond the arc, and a particularly ugly 46.7% at the free throw line. That free throw percentage even dipped as low as 31.6% in that 2017-18 season. So why do I keep citing the 2017-18 season? Because that's the last time we actually saw Andre Roberson play. He ruptured a patellar tendon, then had setbacks in rehab. All in all, he missed the entire 2018-19 season, and he's missed the entire 2019-20 season so far as well. Allegedly, Roberson is ready to come back now. If that's true, that would be a huge boon to his stock as he approaches unrestricted free agency. If any team is going to pay Roberson, they want to see that he's healthy and that he can keep up his defensive impact. And hey, if his shooting form looks like it's improved, then that'd be a major bonus. The mystery is likely to continue though, because we're not sure if Roberson is healthy, and we're not sure if he'd actually play even if he is healthy. Oklahoma City has found a good rhythm right now, and has had success combining their guards in lineups together. If Shai Gilgeous-Alexander can serviceably guard SGs and SFs, then there's not a huge need for Roberson in the starting lineup. At the same time, the wing depth is still pretty thin, so a healthy Roberson could help on the margins. upside/downside: It's difficult to imagine Billy Donovan throwing Andre Roberson out there for 20+ minutes a night after such a long layoff. Given that, the most likely scenario is that we see faint glimpses of Roberson this season, which forces him to take a modest one-year "prove it" deal in 2020-21 to rehab his stock. However, IF Oklahoma City finds itself struggling to contain a player like James Harden in the playoffs, then you'd figure they'd break the glass in case of emergency and call in Roberson. If Roberson can prove that he's back to his old stopper ways, then he's a valuable piece for a team. He'll never get HUGE money if his shooting continues to suck, but he can be a $8-10M role player. And if he ever learns to shoot at a modest clip (even 33% from three) then his stock will balloon.
Welcome back to the Rookie Report! We’re on the brink of a new season, albeit a strange one. Stadiums with no fans, the Raiders in Vegas, 14 playoff spots, and no Tom Brady in New England are just a few of the things that will feel strange this year – but football will go on. Of course, there’s always the looming threat of a Covid-19 outbreak derailing things, but I’m going to operate from the optimistic point of view that things will go on as scheduled. If you’re new to the Rookie Report, each week I’ll be breaking down the matchups that the rookie class will be facing and letting you know which ones are good fantasy options and which ones should be avoided. I’ll throw in some sleepers and guys to stash on the bench as well, and I try to cover all of the fantasy relevant rookies each week (kickers excluded). Make sure to read the details on each player and not just what header they’re under since some of these may be format specific. Any players under the same header that play the same position are listed in the order that I would play them this week. The rookies are always a tough group to predict for fantasy production, but week 1 is always tough since we don’t have any on field production to go off of when making decisions. This year we don’t even have preseason games. For some of these predictions you have to read the tea leaves a bit and read between the lines of the coachspeak, and sometimes you just have to trust the talent of the player to win out. With all that in mind, let’s dive in and talk about week 1…
Rookies to Start:
RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, KC (Wk. 1: vs. Hou.): If you have CEH, you likely took him in the first round, so you don’t need me to tell you that you’re starting him every week unless he gives you a reason not to. The Chiefs have the highest projected point total in the league this week at 31.75, and the Texans were in the bottom-6 in the league last year at limiting RB fantasy points. They were especially vulnerable to receiving backs, allowing more receptions per game to backs than every team other than the Colts. There’s no reason to shy away from CEH in DFS lineups despite a $7,000 price tag in DraftKings. Editor's Note: this article was posted here on/fantasyfootballafter TNF aired, although it was composed earlier. Sheesh. :) RB Jonathan Taylor, IND (Wk. 1: @ Jax.): Taylor will be in a prime spot to make a splash in his NFL debut. You likely drafted him as your RB2 unless you started with 3 straight running backs, so you’re probably going to play him regardless of what I write here. I won’t try to stop you. He’ll likely be splitting the backfield work with Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines this week, but the Jaguars were one of the worst defenses in the league against opposing running backs last year and lost Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue and AJ Bouye from that defense in the offseason. They’re projected to be one of the worst teams in the league and are an 8-point home underdog in week one. The Colts should be able to run plenty in this one, and I expect Taylor’s talent to show through even if his opportunities are limited. He’s a solid RB2 option this week. WR CeeDee Lamb, DAL (Wk. 1: @ LAR): Lamb is the best of the rookie receiver crop in my opinion, and he gets a great opportunity to start proving me right in week 1. The Rams consistently use Jalen Ramsey to shadow the opposing team’s #1 receiver, and with Dallas that means Ramsey will be chasing around Amari Cooper. This will be good news for both Lamb and Michael Gallup who get to face off with Troy Hill and Darious Williams instead. Advantage Cowboys. Despite Zeke Elliott racking up plenty of carries last season, the Cowboys ranked 10th in pass attempts, 2nd in passing yards and 5th in passing TDs in 2019, so there is plenty of volume to go around, and this week that volume should be finding Lamb and Gallup. The Cowboys also have the 3rd-highest implied point total of the week at 27.5. You may not have drafted Lamb as one of your top 3 wide receivers this season, but this could be a week to get him in the lineup over someone you drafted before him. At just $4,100 in DraftKings, he’s a screaming value for tournaments.
RB Cam Akers, LAR (Wk. 1: vs. Dal.): Akers enters week 1 listed as the number 3 running back on the depth chart with Malcolm Brown as the starter and Darrell Henderson at #2, but I see ‘starter’ as a nominal title for Brown. He’s a guy the team trusts to do the job if the others don’t step up, but he’s not a feature back that you build around. Darrell Henderson is playing catch-up a little bit after being banged up in camp, and I think Akers has a real chance to take over the lead role in week 1. I expect the team will ride whoever gets the hot hand this week, but this is an offense that creates plenty of fantasy production for the running back position. We know that Todd Gurley was an otherworldly talent at his peak, but McVay has also gotten productive fantasy seasons from Alfred Morris and Rob Kelley when he was in Washington, and an incredible 3-game stretch from a seemingly washed up CJ Anderson in LA. Dallas was a middling run defense last season, so if Akers is able to get the bulk of the work this week, he’s got obvious RB2 upside. RB Zack Moss, BUF (Wk. 1: vs. NYJ): The Jets boasted one of the best run defenses in the league a year ago, but in the offseason they lost two of the guys that were big reasons why they were so effective. CJ Mosley opted out of 2020, and Jamal Adams was dealt to Seattle. Even if the Jets are able to be a solid run defense again without those guys, they’re likely going to be playing from behind so much that the RB counting stats are still going to add up. Moss enters the season expected to be the Bills’ early down running back. The Bills had the 7th-highest rushing percentage in the league last year, running on 47.5% of their offensive snaps, and they figure to be run-heavy again. I’d expect Moss to finish week 1 around 15 touches, and he’d be first in line for any goal line carries. That puts him firmly on the flex radar in 12-team leagues and is a better play in non-PPR formats. WR Henry Ruggs, LVR (Wk. 1: @ Car.): Ruggs was the first receiver off the board in April, and he’ll open the season as the team’s WR1 with Tyrell Williams out for the year. Ruggs has the speed to be a dangerous deep threat, but with Derek Carr at QB he’ll likely have to make his living on schemed touches in the short part of the field where he creates yards after the catch. As the WR1, I’m sure Jon Gruden will make sure Carr is getting the ball to Ruggs, but the group of pass catchers that thrives in the short part of the field is crowded in Vegas. Hunter Renfrow, Darren Waller, and Jalen Richard are all good receivers in that area, so I don’t see Ruggs being a target hog early on. His road to being a fantasy standout will be through creating big plays. He’ll get a chance to do that against a Carolina defense that isn’t terrible against the pass but isn’t imposing either. Ruggs is a boom-or-bust option who is capable of a Marquise Brown style week 1 breakout (Brown went 4-147-2 in week 1 last year), but is also capable of falling short of 40 yards. WR Jerry Jeudy, DEN (Wk. 1: vs. Ten.): Jeudy is an outstanding talent and landed on a team where he’ll walk right into the WR2 role in the offense, but it’s not a high volume passing offense and he’ll likely start the year behind both Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant in the pecking order. That outlook may have changed on Thursday with Sutton suffering a shoulder injury in practice. If Sutton sits, Jeudy could be the WR1 in week 1. No cornerback on the Titans should be capable of stopping Sutton, but they probably won’t be quite as overmatched by Jeudy. Fant should be in line for a nice day as the Titans struggled to contain tight ends last year, allowing the 6th-most points per game to the position. Keep an eye on the Sutton updates. If Sutton sits or is going to be limited, Jeudy should see enough volume to be a playable WR3 option. If it seems like Sutton is going to be fine, I would probably keep Jeudy benched until we see what his target share looks like as the WR2. WR Brandon Aiyuk, SF (Wk. 1: vs. Ari.): Aiyuk’s status is still up in the air this week, as is Deebo Samuel’s. If Aiyuk plays and Deebo doesn’t, there should be some consideration for getting Aiyuk in your lineup as a flex option. He may be facing off with Patrick Peterson in that scenario, but Peterson was anything but his typical self after returning from a 6-game suspension to open the 2019 season. He rounded into form late in the year, but Peterson is on the wrong side of 30 and Aiyuk is the type of receiver that can win at all levels of the field. The 49ers’ offense is going to run through George Kittle and their running backs, but they do have an implied point total of 27.25, so it’s likely that *some* receiver puts up a nice fantasy game Sunday. If he plays, Aiyuk is likely to lead the wide receiver group in targets, giving him the best shot of being that guy.
Rookies to Sit:
QB Joe Burrow, CIN (Wk. 1: vs. LAC): I like Burrow’s upside over the course of the year as a QB2, but I think there will be some growing pains in the early part of the season. The Chargers are not an inviting matchup for an NFL debut. They’ve got a solid pass rush anchored by Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. No team blitzed less than the Chargers in 2019, and yet they ranked 13th in the league in QB pressure percentage. It didn’t translate into a lot of sacks, but the addition of Linval Joseph to the middle of the line should help free up the edge rushers to be more disruptive this season. The team will be hurt by the loss of Derwin James to injury, but they still boast one of the best starting pairs of corners in the league in Casey Heyward and Chris Harris. I think there is a good chance the Chargers make Burrow look like a rookie in his debut and would be hesitant to play him in 2 QB leagues if I didn’t have to. RB JK Dobbins, BAL (Wk. 1: vs. Cle.): If I drafted Dobbins as my RB3 this season, I’d be tempted to play him this week. The Browns ranked 30th in Football Outsiders’ run defense DVOA stat last year, and the Ravens are favored by 8 in the opener. There could be some garbage time for Dobbins once the Ravens get out in front, but Baltimore may still try and keep Gus Edwards and/or Justice Hill involved in the run game as well. The official team depth chart listed Dobbins as the 4th-string back. I expect he’ll work as the number 2 guy behind Mark Ingram but would like to see how the rotation plays out before putting Dobbins in my lineups. I RB Antonio Gibson, WAS (Wk. 1: vs. Phi.): Gibson has had a ton of buzz around him during camp after Washington cut Adrian Peterson. He’s a versatile player who has drawn comparisons from the coaching staff to Christian McCaffrey. That’s obviously a pretty big stretch, but the head coach and offensive coordinator making the comparison were both in Carolina last year. I think Gibson will be the best fantasy back on the team this year, but I don’t love him for week 1. The Eagles ranked third in run defense DVOA last season, and I expect we’ll see Peyton Barber handle most of the early down work early in the season for Washington. Gibson will also be competing with JD McKissic and Bryce Love for 3rd-down work. The team is thin at wide receiver, so you could even see Gibson line up in the slot a bit since he played a lot of wide receiver in college. All in all, there’s just too much uncertainty about what his week 1 role will look like to trust him in fantasy lineups. RB D’Andre Swift, DET (Wk. 1: vs. Chi.): Swift has been working through a couple injuries in camp but should be able to suit up on Sunday. The problem is that with the signing of Adrian Peterson this backfield figures to be a three-headed monster, and that’ll be a headache for fantasy players. Swift may get the valuable 3rd down passing work, but I’d like to see how the workload is divided before relying on any Lions running back in my fantasy lineups. I’d take a wait and see approach with Swift. RB AJ Dillon, GB (Wk. 1: @ Min): Dillon enters week 1 listed as the 3rd running back on the depth chart in Green Bay, and while I would normally tell you to ignore the official team depth charts at this point, this one feels like how it’ll actually play out on the field. I’d expect Aaron Jones to be the clear lead back with a mix of Jamaal Williams and Dillon spelling him for some early down work. The best bet for Dillon getting a healthy workload would be garbage time in a blowout win, but that seems unlikely with the Vikings favored by 3. I’d keep Dillon away from your lineups. RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn, TB (Wk. 1: @ NO): In case you drafted Vaughn early and have been living under a rock in recent weeks, the signings of Leonard Fournette and LeSean McCoy will make Vaughn mostly useless for now in fantasy leagues. He’ll likely be limited to special teams early in the season and won’t have much value without injuries in front of him. Feel free to drop him outside of dynasty leagues. WR Michael Pittman Jr., IND (Wk. 1: @ Jax): Pittman should see the field quite a bit in week 1, but I don’t expect it to translate into fantasy production just yet. The Colts played 61% of their snaps last season in 11 personnel (3 WR), and their 3-WR sets to open the year should feature Pittman, TY Hilton and Parris Campbell, but the bulk of the passing volume should go through Hilton and Campbell (along with Jack Doyle and Nyheim Hines). The Colts are an 8-point road favorite this week, and I’d expect them to lean heavily on the running game which will limit how many targets there are to go around. If Pittman makes it to even 5 targets, I’d consider his week 1 to be a successful one. WR Chase Claypool, PIT (Wk. 1: @ NYG): The Steelers have spent much of the summer talking up Claypool, but this is an offense with a lot of mouths to feed. The return of Ben Roethlisberger should make this a much more fantasy-friendly offense than it was last year, but Claypool enters the season as no higher than 4th in the target pecking order. The Steelers do have a favorable matchup this week and have the 5th-highest implied total of the week, and Big Ben hasn’t really played much with James Washington or Diontae Johnson, so if you want to roll the dice on Claypool in a DFS tournament (just a $3,000 price tag in DraftKings) I wouldn’t fault you for it. For season-long leagues you should have safer options for week 1. WR Denzel Mims, NYJ (Wk. 1: @ BUF): It sounds like Mims is going to play this week, but after missing much of camp with a hamstring injury, I wouldn’t count on him getting a full workload in this one. It also remains to be seen which outside receiver will tangle with standout corner Tre’Davious White. Breshad Perriman is coming off an injury of his own, and both players make for poor options against a tough Bills defense with the Jets having an implied point total of just 16.5 points. WR Justin Jefferson, MIN (Wk. 1: vs. GB): Jefferson is a very talented receiver, and the Vikings obviously believe in him after drafting him in the first round in April, but he’ll likely open the season splitting WR2 snaps with Bisi Johnson. The Vikings play with 3 WRs less often than any other team in the league. They consistently operate out of a 2 tight end base set with Kyle Rudolph and Irv Smith Jr. Jefferson will eventually work his way past Bisi, but I’d want to see what kind of opportunities he gets early on before trusting him in my fantasy lineup. His week one matchup isn’t all that appealing either. Green Bay is one of just 2 teams in the league that allowed less than 10 receptions per game to opposing wide receivers last year. WR Tee Higgins, CIN (Wk. 1: vs. LAC): With AJ Green expected to play week 1, it’ll be hard for Higgins to get on the field much. It looks like Green, Tyler Boyd and Auden Tate will be the trio on the field in 3 wide receiver sets, and Higgins will be competing with John Ross for any leftover reps. There’s no reason to consider Higgins for week 1. TE Cole Kmet, CHI (Wk. 1: @ DET: Kmet was the first tight end drafted in April, but he doesn’t figure to play a large role early in his rookie season. He’ll open the season behind at least Jimmy Graham on the depth chart, and possibly Demetrius Harris as well. The Lions were a middle of the pack defense against tight ends a year ago, but Kmet shouldn’t be a consideration in any formats this week.
Deep League Sleepers, Stashes, and Cheap DFS Options:
QB Tua Tagovailoa, MIA (Wk. 1: @ NE): I don’t list Tua here with any thoughts of you using him in week 1. I mention him in case you’re in a 2-QB league where he’s sitting on the waiver wire. He’s going to take over for Fitzpatrick at some point this season, and when he does he’s going to have big-time upside. He’s worth stashing if you have the roster spot in superflex and 2-QB leagues. I would rather have Tua than fellow rookie Justin Herbert. RB Josh Kelley, LAC (Wk. 1: @ CIN): Kelley enters week 1 as the likely backup to Austin Ekeler, but that role will probably come with 10-12 touches and possibly more if the Chargers pull away. Ekeler isn’t built to be a 20+ touch per game kind of back and the Chargers are shifting to a more run-heavy approach this season with Philip Rivers gone. Kelley looks like the back who will pick up the slack the Melvin Gordon left behind. Only 4 teams allowed more rushing yards last season than the Bengals, and while Cincy could be improved with the addition of DJ Reader to their D-line, I expect they’ll still find themselves in a lot of negative game scripts. For week 1, Ekeler has RB1 upside, but Kelley isn’t a terrible option as a flex in deep leagues. He’s someone you should be picking up everywhere if he’s on the waiver wire. I expect his role will grow as the season progresses. RB James Robinson, JAX (Wk. 1: vs. Ind.): What a difference a week makes for Robinson. A week ago Robinson looked like he was going the be the number 4 or 5 running back on the depth chart, but since then Leonard Fournette was cut, Ryquell Armstead went back on the Covid-reserve list, and Devine Ozigbo landed on IR. Robinson is suddenly the projected starter this week. Chris Thompson will handle most of the 3rd down work, but Robinson is going to be on the field a lot. The Colts didn’t give up many running back touchdowns last season (6), but they gave up plenty of yards to them, both on the ground and through the air. The Jaguars project to be playing from behind in this one, so Chris Thompson is probably the guy that will lead this backfield in fantasy scoring this week, but in deep leagues a starting running back is hard to ignore. Robinson certainly shouldn’t be on your waiver wire and he has 10+ point upside this week. WR Bryan Edwards, LVR (Wk. 1: @ Car): Ruggs is the guy with the draft capital, but Bryan Edwards may emerge as the alpha receiver on this Vegas team. He excels in the intermediate part of the field where few other receivers on the team do, and he’s easily the most physical of their receivers, which will serve him well in the red zone. His QB has compared him to former teammates Davante Adams and James Jones, both of whom excel at getting in the end zone. The Raiders have a reasonable implied point total of 25.25 this week, and if I had to bet on any Vegas pass catcher getting in the end zone it would be Edwards. He costs just $4,200 in DraftKings and is very likely to outperform that price tag. He may not get as many targets as Ruggs, but don’t be surprised if he outscores the first rounder in week 1. WR Laviska Shenault, JAX (Wk. 1: vs. Ind.): After all of the changes and injuries that have come up for the Jaguars over the last week or 2, about the only thing that seems clear with this offense is that DJ Chark is going to be targeted a lot. I’ll add a second thing here – Laviska Shenault is going to be very involved in this offense. Reports out of camp this week are that the Jaguars are getting VERY creative with the ways they’re using him. He’s a versatile player that lined up all over the field in college and is dynamic with the ball in the open field. I expect Jacksonville to make it a point to get the ball into his hands any way they can, even if it means handing it to him out of the backfield. Viska has a higher DraftKings price tag than some of the other rookies at $4,400, but he could be a really interesting option in limited slate contests. 10 touches isn’t out of the question in week 1. WR Van Jefferson, LAR (Wk. 1: vs. GB): I wasn’t high on Jefferson coming into camp, but he’s been impressive. He’s not an explosive athlete, but his football IQ and feel for the game are off the charts. He’s a route running technician who was a tough cover for Jalen Ramsey in camp. It remains to be seen if he’s fully overtaken Josh Reynolds for the WR3 role in the offense, but if he has he’ll be on the field a lot. The Rams like to line up with 3 wide receivers on the field as much as anyone. Dallas was stingy against wide receivers a year ago, but they said goodbye to their number one corner Byron Jones in the offseason. Jefferson is more of a stash right now, but if he’s on the field as the WR3 a 4-60 kind of game wouldn’t be that crazy for him this week. WR John Hightower, PHI (Wk. 1: @ Was): Hightower has a chance to benefit from a couple of injuries ahead of him this week, and also from the extra attention the Washington secondary will give to DeSean Jackson. D-Jax burned them in the opener last year with 2 TDs of 50+ yards. They’re going to do everything they can to make sure that doesn’t happen again. That means less attention for JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Greg Ward, and Hightower. Of that trio, Hightower is the only one with the burner speed to hurt Washington deep. He’s a DFS tournament dart throw who will cost the minimum in DraftKings, and can have a nice NFL debut with just one or two deep balls. That’s all I’ve got for this week. Hopefully it helps you as you try to figure out what to do with the rookies on your team for week 1. Keep a close eye on the injury report this week to make sure you don’t end up playing anyone inactive. Feel free to hit me up on twitter (@Shawn_Foss) if you have any questions or want to yell at me about anything written above. As always: Good luck, trust your gut, and have fun. It’s just a game. Original article from drinkfive.com
RAV4 Prime SE: One month of driving, impressions, data, and one issue. AMA?
(EDIT: Got distracted, didn't finish a thought about electric rates and total costs. Fixed it!) (EDIT 2: BIG wow on the gold! Thank you, kind redditors!) (EDIT 3: Don't edit on mobile, you'll break your post. Just logged back onto my computer to fix it.) (EDIT 4: Thanks for all the support, folks. I've edited my awful data representation because I added new data, and I'm adding to the Fuel Economy and "Why on earth..." sections with some stuff I've learned.) (EDIT 5: This guy does a great job talking about suggested maintenance and what not to do with a Prius/RAV4 Prime.I HIGHLY RECOMMEND WATCHING THIS. He talks about a lot of good things like actually using the ICE, good charging habits [which are also in the Prime's manual], tires, proper use of charge mode, etc, and there's some good discourse in the comment section about battery health.) (EDIT 6: I swear, the amount of edits I'm doing will be as long as the original post soon. Maybe I'll make a resources section. Anyway, this guy did what I wanted to do to test the fuel system. I say watch the whole video, but I've linked to the end where he goes through the numbers. He drove in HV mode (with a full battery backup) with the car telling him to refuel, implying it was nearly out of gas. He drove for about 70-80 miles, and when he filled up he still had just over a gallon of gas left in the tank. This lines up with my experience of the one visit to a gas station. This car is insane.) Howdy all! I'm new to the club, and this will belong. On July 31 (a day before his birthday), I retired my grandfather's 1999 Ford Explorer (RIP, 3/6/99-7/31/20) after driving it for 5 years after his passing, and traded it in for a shiny new 2021 RAV4 Prime SE. In this thread I'll talk about my buying experience (context: USA, East Coast), present a little bit of data I had collected, and the only glaring issue I have with this car. I've driven over 1000 miles already (had to drive for a work trip, which was a great way to refine the HV fuel economy). Feel free to ask questions, and I'll answer as best I can! I'm not gonna talk too much about the specs and overly technical stuff, because plenty of great videos exist that explain it better than I could. I want to bring this a little more down to earth for us normal folks and our normal people concerns. Disclaimer: My only experience driving a "new" car was in 2017, doing a short drive in my mom's new Jeep. I have a sense of awe and wonder at some of the features modern cars have, because I haven't had them. Also, many people in my family have had Toyotas over the years (many RAV4s both ICE and Hybrids, some Corollas, an early Highlander Hybrid come to mind), so I knew I was pretty partial going into this ordeal. Most of the pictures I've used to collect my data can be found in this Imgur album (which I made before making a proper Imgur account, so I can't edit it. Sigh.)
The dealership I bought from had one (1) SE delivered earlier than planned. Another dealership in the area also only had one (1) SE, but with different upgrade packages. There was less than $1.5k difference between the models (IIRC). The one I bought included weather and moonroof package, all-weather floor liners (good because winter), roof rack crossbars (not necessary, but always nice to have), frameless homelink mirror (basically buttons for garage door openers on a snazzy mirror), and the protection package (includes edge guards on doors, mudguards on the fenders, etc). The dealership experience was mostly good. The staff was courteous and friendly, and even the finance officer was honest and blunt with me about stuff I could get cheaper elsewhere, or stuff I could sign up for later if I want it. The big downside came with the rarity of the car: There was very little negotiation available in any aspect, and the dealership included an "Adjusted market price" increase of $5000. Yes, you read that correctly. According to them (and I had also heard of this through a few sources), many other dealerships had a much higher markup which would put an SE with comparable upgrade packages over $50k before any taxes/fees. With limited availability, I didn't really have a choice. I tried to play the game, but the three different people I talked to at the dealership (salesman, manager, and finance) basically all said "yeah, no." It was pretty frustrating when they were like "what can we do to make this sale for you?" and I replied at least three times "you can make the price what was on your website, for a start." (The website showed the MSRP, plus upgrade packages, with a line through it. When you clicked on the button to get a deal/more details, it said that you already had the best price. They claimed it was bad website design, I told them straight up it was a nice case of false advertising and they should get their act together.) I used my trade-in value (not much, but I was able to negotiate it up a bit) toward an extended warranty (jumps from 3-year to 10-year, I think, which I felt was worth it given how much driving I do), and put down a healthy down payment with reasonable financing through a local credit union to cover the rest. I know that the situation will change once I receive the tax rebates (The Prime qualifies for the full $7500 federal rebate, and my state offers a $1000 rebate). Am I a fool for going through with this ordeal? From most points of view, absolutely. But when you drive a 21-year old car and have to fill it up 2-3 times per week (pre-COVID) at the tune of $40-50 per fill up, it's time for change. But I mean, she's so pretty. The actual email I got from the dealership. It here, indeed. And there she is, safely at home.
Features I like
I didn't know you could have heated seats that aren't leather or leather alternative. I've also never heard of a car having rear heated seats. Color me surprised when I found out that it's got it all! The weather package also included a heated steering wheel, which is great because I don't mind bundling up for the cold, but my fingers typically are colder than the rest of my body. I'm a musician, specifically a bass player, and if there's one thing I'll splurge on it's good sound. Because I got the SE, I didn't have the option of upgrading the audio system. Honestly: I didn't need to. The stock system sounds great to me, and I don't think the extra inch on the infotainment display would make a huge difference. Also, the big reason that this vehicle stood out to me is because there aren't a ton of options for hybrid/PHEV SUVs that get good mileage. I need the cargo area to haul music equipment from time-to-time The ability to switch between Normal, Eco, Sport, and Trail modes satisfies my need to control the AWD of the car. My Explorer let me choose between 2WD and 4WD. Before the Explorer, I drove a Mitsubishi Montero which let you choose 2WD, 4WDH, 4WDL, and 4WDL with locked center differential, and that car had literally saved my skin in some nasty winter weather, as well as some infrequent off-road usage. Obviously this is different than that, but the absolute shift in the feeling of driving in the different modes is awesome (Note: I haven't needed to use Trail mode yet, and I'm not doing that on a paved road). I've only used Sport mode a few times while driving on the interstate back from work, and I absolutely love it. I primarily use Eco mode (the whole point of me getting this car was to save money on gas). Sport mode, to me anyway, is just for fun. With those two options, normal mode is just kind of "whatever" and I'll probably never use it. If I have a need to use Trail mode, I'll update the post. I was literally ecstatic when I saw a traditional style shifter in here, and not just a twist knob to go between gears. Also, having the manual shifting option is always a huge plus to force yourself into lower gears during winter weather. Ignore the AM radio stations listed, I've just had that piece of paper forever.
Things I Wish Were Different
The 6.6kW onboard charger as a standard (only available as an upgrade option on the XSE), and Level 3 charging capabilities (DC fast charging). The SE is limited to a 3.3kW onboard charger. The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has all 3 levels of charging for a base price comparable to the SE (yes, I know it gets less EV miles). I get that this is Toyota's second foray into PHEVs recently, so I genuinely hope that they add it as an option in future model years, but it's a shame it wasn't available this time. I feel like it will really restrict the practicality of using public charging stations, since even at a 240V station it would still take 4.5 hours for a full charge. Realistically, I suppose if you're at one all day at your place of employment then it's good regardless. But if you're going to just be at a parking lot/garage for an hour, or if lower power charging is the only option, it's almost not even worth it and you may as well drive home in HV mode. (Note: I don't have the option of charging at work, and there aren't many options for public charging stations near me. The nearest one is a highway rest-stop that has a bunch of Tesla chargers on one side of a huge lot near the building, and a single 240V charger far away near the tractor-trailer parking. Even with an adapter the Tesla chargers, if I understand it correctly, would literally blow up my car because I don't have DC fast charging. No thanks.) The "Auto EV/HV" button is very self-explanatory: If you press that button, you drive as an EV until the car decides it needs some extra oomph and switches to HV mode. And then when it doesn't, it'll switch back. That's how I normally drive. Excellent work, Toyota, 10/10. The "EV<->HV, Chg Hold" button is not as intuitive because it FORCES the car between the two modes and holds it there. My big gripe is the second function, which makes it sound like you switch to HV mode just to hold the charge of the EV mode. In reality, if you hold the button it tells the car to use the motor as a generator to charge the batteries. This was explained very poorly at the dealership to me, so I had to figure it out for myself. If you want to burn the extra gas while you're driving to try and charge the batteries back up, go for it? Otherwise, I'd just drive in normal HV mode. No fog lights? Seriously? Is that still considered a "premium" feature? A better way of capturing driving/fuel economy data would be grand. See the next two sections.
Typical Driving, Fuel Economy Data
As far as money spent, electric rates in my area are around $0.12/kWh (including all fees, charges, etc.). With the 18.1kWh battery pack, that equates to about $2.17 for a full charge. Less than the cost of a gallon of gas ($2.30-2.50/gal near me) to go 45 miles, or whatever. And that's such an insignificant part of my electric bill, especially considering that I don't empty and recharge it every single day (thanks, COVID?). Unfortunately I live in a rental, and can't have too many nice things. But if you have solar panels, wind power, or an absolutely electric connection with Zeus, well, it's basically free miles. And if you can recharge at work, it is literallyfree miles (for you, sort of). Also, imagine the money you're saving on not having engine wear. When do I get an oil change, anyway? (EDIT: Please get regularly scheduled service and maintenance. Watch the video I linked at the top.) Anyway, for those not familiar, the dashboard looks something like this. Super intuitive, gives you great information, please ignore the EV battery being depleted. Dashboard when the car is on. Dashboard when you turn the car off. So from that screen, I compiled a bunch of information (not consistently, mind you), and wanted to share that performance data. EDIT: Something important to note with EV mode is that by having the fan/air conditioning on, even with ECO heat/cool is that it will reduce your estimated EV miles on the counter by one or two. If you just turn the A/C off, the fan icon disappears and you'll typically get an extra mile. It's not much, but if your goal is to maximize EV driving, every bit helps. My running average, as you can see from some pictures, is 2.9mi/kWh. With an ~18kWh battery, that math works out to a suggested 52.2 miles of EV driving, but I'm sure I really am losing a few miles between climate control and idle time while driving. Context: My typical commute to work is about 39-40 miles one way, and the coffee shop is in the path of my normal commute so it doesn't add anything substantial, maybe like 200 feet of driving. Because of this commute, I pretty much burn through my battery on my way down, maybe I have a little left to start my drive home. EDITED 10 Sept, 2020 to include new data/better charts. Sorry that this is a chart for ants. Added a few more lines of data. Don't ask why the EV ratio bar is so big, I have no idea what's happening in Excel. Changed this so that EV ratio is a bar associated with each drive (as it should have been) and total economy is a set of lines.
Why on God's Green Earth Would I Represent Data This Way?
Because the the infotainment display doesn't save the information in a helpful/useful way. You've probably noticed that absolutely enormousjump in the last two data points. That's because in trying to use this awful system during my a recent drive, I basically erased my MPG and reset the counter. What this did was save the total economy for a "trip" and then start tracking it from scratch. At the time, I was driving in HV mode, and when I parked at home it was at something like 53MPG (jumping from 0 all the way up into the 60s and then back down). What was interesting was when I did a short, all EV drive the next day, which meant I got "99MPG" (I wasn't using gas, so...) which just brought the average way up across so few miles. I'm sure this will start to drop once I do a few longer drives that drain the battery or switch into HV mode. I'm not sure if there's a recommended frequency at which you "update" your fuel economy history, but maybe I'll play around with it more in the future. Well that isn't helpful. What the heck am I even looking at? What does the placement of those E's mean?? I rest my case. But I'll try to do better next time. Having EV Ratio as another bar made it feel really cluttered, but I realize now that having it the way I do is objectively worse. I was tired when I made it and probably meant to have Total Economy be that kind of chart. FTFY. Whatever. You get the idea. The car is awesome.
Let them work out manufacturing kinks, fix the gas tank issue (if that's a huge deal to you), and finalize the charging to at least have the bigger charger on both models (ideally add Level 3), and GET ONE. If you need me, I'll be driving around silently. EDIT: Here's a neat thing. When I bought the car and charged it for the first time, I had 33 EV miles. It crept up to 40 after a week, and has slowly crept up even more, and I was recently greeted with this when starting up. (Edited again because it GOT BETTER.) Not too shabby, considering the battery is rated for 42 EV miles. Also, my mi/kWh finally bumped from 2.9 to 3.
2020 Offseason Review Series Day 26: The New England Patriots
New England Patriots
Division: AFC East 2019: 12-4, Division Win Before I dive in, I want to give a massive, massive thanks to timnog - who is a national treasure and the resident .gif queen of the Patriots - and arbrown83 - who provides excellent high-quality OC and manages patriotsdynasty.info, a definitive repository for content complete with data and .gifs spanning the past 20 years. Basically everything in this piece that isn't sourced in the click (twitter, youtube etc.) came from one of them and I don't want to imagine what this would look like without them.
Joe Judge: After eight seasons with the team, five as our Special Teams coordinator, Joe Judge has left New England to take on a head coaching job with the New York Giants. New England's special teams units have been consistently good to great during Judge's tenure with the team and particularly played a massive part in the 2018 Super Bowl victory against the LA Rams. With Judge's departure the team faces special teams uncertainty for the first time in nearly a decade
Dante Scarnecchia: One of the few dedicated position coaches in the NFL with broad name recognition among many fans, Dante Scarnecchia has been one of the best position coaches in the league and a franchise legend. Scar has survived 5 General Manager transitions, 4 different head coaches, 3 decades of coaching, 2 sales of the franchise and a partridge in a pear tree return to work after a two year hiatus in retirement. Scar has been pivotal in the franchise's ability to continually identify and develop raw physical talent into serviceable or better starting linemen over the past 20 years. He heads off into retirement (part 2) and will be sorely missed
Bret Bielema: After two years with the team as a consultant and defensive line coach, Bret Bielema has departed with Judge to take on a defensive advisory role with the Giants
Jedd Fisch: Added to the offensive staff as the Quarterback's coach, Jedd Fisch has spent the better part of 20 years bouncing around between college and the NFL with the Texans, Ravens, Broncos, Seahawks and Jaguars before landing most recently with the LA Rams as a senior offensive assistant and assistant offensive coordinator in 2018/2019. Fisch brings a broad scope of experience to the table as an offensive mind. The linked article goes into some schematic possibilities that his addition may foretell, but we'll look closer at that in a later section
Troy Brown: After stepping in last August to try his hand coaching, team Hall of Famer, fan favorite, RecevieReturneCornerback Troy Brown has been officially added to the coaching staff. While he spent much of last season working with the receivers, recent news says Brown will be working with the running backs as we go into camp. Whatever the case, if the man can impart even a fraction of his work ethic and selfless attitude onto the players he will be a welcome addition to the staff
After last year's mass coaching exodus there are relatively few losses among the coaching staff this season, but two of them are major losses that will certainly be felt. The team has remained true to form this year in handling coaching turnover - losses have been addressed by promotions from within and the team has brought in one mid-priority, experienced outsider to supplement.
2 yrs, $50M
Kyle Van Noy
4 yrs, $51M
3 yrs, $30M
2 yrs, $8M
1 yr, $3M
1 yr, $2M
1 yr, $2M
1 yr, $1M
Tom Brady gets his own dedicated posts. It's simply impossible to talk about Tom Brady's Patriot tenure and legacy or what he has meant to the team, fan base and the sport of football inside a larger body post like this. The reddit limit for text posts is 40k characters and I could easily eclipse that talking about Brady and his career. I wouldn't be doing anybody justice by trying to shoehorn that commentary in here next to comments about Kyle Van Noy and Danny Shelton. It's simply a different universe of impact and significance from both objective and emotional angles. Suffice it to say in this section that he leaves a Lovecraftian void in his wake
Kyle Van Noy received a well-deserved payday after delivering above and beyond expectation on his opportunity in New England. Acquired in a trade-deadline deal in 2016, Van Noy worked his way through backup duties into a significant role as a hybrid edge defender. In 2017 after Dont'a Hightower went down for the season injured, Van Noy stepped into the #1 LB role, playing starter's snap share as a valuable run stuffer and pass rusher, from the interior or from the edge, standup or hand in the dirt, even in coverage or blowing up screens, sometimes doing multiple in the same play. KVN became Mr. Utility in the front 7 and spent the past few years making plays in any way a front 7 player can. Van Noy leverages a well rounded skill set to impact games in any manner possible, and he's helped the team to three super bowl appearances and two wins doing it while being one of the best players on the field in SB53. He leaves for Miami to rejoin the man who helped unlock that skill set and I will not be happy seeing him on the other side of the field twice a year in the immediate future
Jamie Collins leaves the Patriots for a second time after an excellent 2019 and a major bounce back from his poor showing in Cleveland. Initially drafted by New England in 2013, Collins rose quickly to become a key defensive force early on, capitalizing on explosive athleticism and a well rounded skill set (I know it's repetitive but it's the truth. I suggest you get used to the terms "well-rounded" and "versatile" now) to create a major impact in the 2014 playoffs, to earn 2nd team All Pro honors in 2015, and to get himself traded away to the gulag Cleveland in a surprise move in the middle of 2016. Collins came back home on a one-year deal in 2019 to try and show the world he deserved one more big pay day. He delivered with gusto. Through the first half of the season Collins was performing at an all pro level for a nightmarish New England Linebacking corps, primarily contributing exceptional coverage and explosive pass rushing skills but also playing a key role against the run. Contrasting with Van Noy, who is much more of a by-the-book type player without any outstanding athletic traits for the position, Collins has made his career largely on his absurd athletic potential and instincts, which were still on full display at age 30 this season. He leaves for Detroit to rejoin the man who helped unlock his skill set and it's nice that the Patriots won't need to see him across the field twice a season
Danny Shelton heads to Detroit as a big man who delivered in a big way on his 2019 one-year prove-it deal. Shelton is not the kind of name that turns heads, but he brought a significant physical presence to the interior of a defense that had been fairly vulnerable to the ground game when opponents could lean into it. He wasn't much of a pass rusher - though he did have his moments - but he was a stout run-stuffer and anchor in the middle of the D, playing the second most snaps of all of Patriot DL on the season. He leaves some large shoes to fill and his loss significantly weakens the Patriot hair game
Ted Karras also heads to Miami after taking on a starter's role at Center with less than one month's notice on the heels of David Andrews' season-ending blood clot situation. Karras, a 6th round pick in 2016, played just 430 snaps over three seasons as a reserve OL before responsibility was thrust upon him this season. Karras played admirably on over 1000 snaps and while he wasn't blowing any doors off the center position - particularly early on when he was still hammering out some snap-issues that had also flared up in 2017 - the fact that he was able to play 90% of New England's offensive snaps from a reserve role without creating glaring issues was nothing short of a godsend. Karras took home the 2nd highest paycheck league-wide from the NFL's Performance Based Pay program for his efforts, and frankly the $3M contract he received from Miami was surprisingly low given how hard it is for some teams to find a competent starting center
Nate Ebner follows Special Teams coordinator Joe Judge to New York after carving out an 8 year career as a dedicated special-teamer. Did you know he also played rugby?
Elandon Roberts wraps up an impressive Patriot tenure that was largely spent wanting to run through mother fuckers' faces. I've given Roberts some shit in the past for being the one player I've seen with a unique ability to fill the right hole at the right time but manage to not even touch the ball carrier, but the guy is an awesome locker room presence, willing special teamer, named team captain and just all around up for anything. Recently seen filling a need at receiver, Roberts heads out to join Patriots south where he'll go do whatever the hell they need him to
Phillip Dorsett heads to Seattle on a minimal 1-year deal. He leaves New England much the same way he came, as a former 1st round pick with a ton of speed and not much production. He has flashed for the team at times in a 3rd/4th/5th target role but struggled when asked to do more. He'll haul in a few long bombs when things go just right though, and that's always a treat
2 yrs, $7M
2 yrs, $6M
1 yr, $1.6M
1 yr, $1.3M
1 yr, $1M
1 yr, $1M
1 yr, $1M
New England entered the 2020 Free Agency period without much cap space to speak of. After placing a franchise tag on Left Guard Joe Thuney and re-signing Free Safety Devin McCourty, the team was left without much of anything to work with. Trading away Duron Harmon turned out to be a necessary move solely for the cap ramifications.
Beau Allen is a very large man who plays in the middle of defensive lines. He's worked as a depth IDL for the Eagles and Bucs, and would seemingly be the replacement for Shelton. Certainly not a disruptive pass rusher with just 2.5 sacks to his name across 6 seasons, he's done some good work against the run in limited snaps and appears to have an open path to a more significant role. He'll even attempt to replace Shelton in the hair game, just with his face
Adrian Phillips has been a depth/rotational safety for the Chargers for 6 years while contributing on special teams at an all-pro level. He's the exact kind of guy Belichick loves to pick up for versatility and depth purposes, but he's also done enough on the field as a true safety to believe he can function in that capacity as well. Phillips is my favorite addition this season and given the age of the other safeties on the roster he'll have an opportunity to break into the lineup with significant snaps
Damiere Byrd is a very fast receiver. He hasn't been able to really break out in the pros, but he's shown up with brief flashes as a returner and deep threat. He'll have an open opportunity to seize that role without many major challenges in his way
Dan Vitale is a Fullback who has opted out of the 2020 season to put in even more work on his biceps due to conerns over COVID-19
Marquise Lee was brought in as a veteran option to compete for a receiver role. He's a talented player who has struggled significantly with injuries in recent years. He has recently opted out of the season due to concerns over COVID-19
Brandon Copeland is a versatile linebacker who has performed mainly in a rotational role for the Jets over the past few years. He's shown an ability to play the deep hole zone coverage, which was a Jamie Collins special, and to put a hand on the ground and rush a passer or run a stunt. He's an unheralded name but those qualities might allow him to step into the giant chasm of opportunity left at linebacker in the wake of Collins and Van Noy's departures
Not much in the way of splashy names. Those signings left New England without even enough money to sign a draft class. Without even enough cap space to fit a veteran minimum contract, the team couldn't have possibly added any more players..... Wait. What?
1 yr, $1.75M
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Kyle Dugger became the 6th defensive back in a decade to be taken by the Patriots in round 2 of the NFL draft. I'm going to take a minute to address this elephant in the room because the track record there is, frankly, abysmal. The most successful second round DB taken by the Patriots in the last decade is Tavon Wilson, and the gap between Wilson and the second best DB the team has taken in round 2 is incomprehensibly large considering Wilson started a grand total of 4 games in New England. Ras-I Dowling was healthy for 9 games in 3 years. Jordan Richards stuck around as a special teamer while inducing panic any time he played in an actual safety role. Cyrus Jones muffed approximately one million 4 punts and fumbled another on just 14 return opportunities before being sent to Baltimore as a sleeper agent. Duke Dawson was traded for a 6th/7th round swap 1 year after being drafted, having played exactly 0 snaps. Joejuan Williams murdered twelve puppies can't be faulted for not breaking into the starting lineup in a ridiculously strong cornerback room in year 1 and isn't a lost cause yet, thankfully. This is what comes to mind when Patriot fans think about drafting DBs in the second round. It's not any player's fault that the Patriots draft them when they do, but it's such a well-known string of failures that it became a talking point when the team traded a 2nd round pick for Mo Sanu. Enter Kyle Dugger. Dugger played for Lenoir-Rhyne, a D-II school with a sports-reference page that looks like this, boasting 6 whole names of NFL players who combined to produce 16 AV. Dugger is the highest draft pick to come out of Lenoir-Rhyne by over 100 slots, and for good reason. He arguably only ended up playing D-II because of a very late growth spurt, and by the time he had it his combination of explosive athleticism and pro-size physique left him looking a man among boys. Film on Dugger is scant, and much of what exists looks like the Zapruder tape, but even in the blurry mess you simply can't miss the guy being disruptive in coverage, flying around like a missile, decleating ball carriers and running circles around - or straight through - punt coverage. Dugger is pretty raw. A few seasons flexing on physically outmatched competition in D-II is not the best way to prepare for sophisticated NFL defenses and opponents with more similar athletic profiles. That said, the physical tools are elite even when measured by NFL standards. He's a 99th percentile SPARQ athlete who reportedly smothered TEs and receivers in senior bowl week. It's hard to say too much about Dugger until we see more but he seems to have every tool he needs to become an impact safety, a box roamer, even play some nickel/dime slot coverage in the NFL. I specifically see a Tight End eraser and eventual Pat Chung replacement if he develops well. I'm more optimistic about him than I've been about any of the other 2nd round DBs since Dowling. The age in the safety group, Chung's opt out and Harmon being traded away have opened things up for someone to take over a large chunk of the snaps and whether it happens sooner or later Dugger looks like he can be the one to break a series of sadness a decade old. I'm ready to either get hurt again or watch him become the next Brian Dawkins. At least he wasn't a projected 6th rounder
Josh Uche became the second Michigan defender drafted to New England in two years. While he played primarily on the edge he was deployed in off-ball alignment and crowding A gaps over guards, displaying the versatility New England loves in its front 7. An excellent quick-twitch athlete, Uche produced a pressure on over 22% of his pass rush snaps in 2018 and 2019, 1st in the nation per PFF and displays explosive ability as a pass rusher off the ball to blow past OTs and as a run defender with a blazing fast closing speed. The major knocks against Uche in the draft process were a general lack of reps - as he did not break out until his junior year and was still ceding snaps to Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich - a slightly undersized frame and a lack of drill numbers owing to a hamstring tweak suffered in the senior bowl then a canceled pro day due to COVID-19. He's shown great bend and reasonably polished hand fighting technique to complement the athletic gifts, and whether he ends up primarily in a pass rushing role or moving around the front, he's a welcome addition to a severely depleted front-7. Find an excellent OC film breakdown by Memokerobi in this thread
Anfernee JenningsAnfernee Jennings mainly filled an edge role in Alabama's hybrid defense. In contrast the quick-twitch and bend we saw in Uche, Jennings provided a stout, strong, physical presence for one of the country's best defenses. Jennings was a productive pass rusher and a particularly dominant run stuffer, at times manhandling some of the best blocking TEs in college to get there. Despite playing a majority of his snaps at the edge last season, Jennings has the physical tools to line up off-ball as a downhill thumper as well. He has experience lining up everywhere from the 4-tech to wide 9, stand-up or hand in the dirt, and he's displayed a sophisticated game IQ in play diagnosis. While his game is markedly different from Uche's, he finds himself facing the same opportunity to make an immediate mark in the linebacking corps. To this point if you think I've been repetitive while talking about the draft picks, it's because I have been. The first three picks in the 2020 draft have all been versatile defensive pieces that should be able to move around the formation fluidly. As the league evolves and offenses adapt to answer the recently-popularized "big nickel" personnel grouping, the need for defenders who can fill a variety of needs has only increased. That factor and the loss of versatile defenders Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins creates a pretty clear picture of what the Patriots were working towards early in the draft
Devin Asiasi became the first TE drafted by the Patriots inside the top 200 picks since 2010. Asiasi is a well-rounded player who has shown the ability to play in-line or split wide, albeit in limited time as he's only had one season of significant usage and production. In that year, he displayed very reliable hands and solid route-running ability while making impacts at all three levels of the passing game. He was also a competent, if raw, blocker with the frame to match many edge defenders. He's a tough runner with the ball in his hands, though he's not going to outrun most defenders and with a bit of development he should be able to fill the all-around TE role the Patriots desperately need filled
Dalton Keene became the second TE drafted by the Patriots inside the top 200 picks since 2010. Keene is a versatile guy, the proverbial H-back type who spent a significant amount of time moving all around the formation at Virginia Tech last year. He's a tenacious blocker and is described by basically everybody as having relentless effort. The main drawbacks with Keene are his production - with just 748 yards receiving across 3 college seasons - and the fact that his route tree is more a shrub. He's a player who has predominantly gotten open by leaking out of a blocking assignment or against motion on play action. That said, George Kittle makes a significant amount of his hay running leak or counter motion routes too so it's not as if that role doesn't have value. Keene is extremely unpolished, but he's shown the skills necessary to become an impactful TE if he can prove himself with a major increase in responsibilities, volume and overall refinement
Michael Onwenu (#50) is a strong, stocky interior lineman who simply bullies people in tight spaces, but he doesn't move very well and can be stiff in his stances and footwork. New England has had success in the past with coaching up stiff or awkward movers into useful offensive linemen - Marcus Cannon is a prime example - and Onwenu should have time to work on his weaknesses as he was drafted into a very strong IOL group with established starters. With some coaching up he could end up a great value for a 6th round investment
Justin Herron is a long Tackle with decent hands and mobility who's main criticisms are a lack of any particular strength or control in the run game. After bouncing back nicely from an ACL tear in 2018, Herron played well enough at Wake Forest to earn a late round draft selection. With the uncertainty around New England's Tackle situation, he could have a good chance to stick as a depth piece for future development
Cassh Maluia was a solid three year starter for Wyoming with good athleticism for the position and notable closing speed. Physically he's similar in build to Elandon Roberts. The gaping void that opened up at linebacker this offseason and the loss of a few dedicated special teamers should give him a chance to make the roster and leave his mark
Dustin Woodard was a long-time starter at Memphis. He moves pretty well but he's on the small, stocky side and will need to add strength and refine his technique if he's going to contribute in the NFL. He'll have some stiff competition for a depth role as an interior lineman
It's never easy to talk about Patriots drafts. In 2020 the team clearly wanted to add versatility on multiple levels, and they did something we've seen them do multiple times before and double dipped at positions of significant need. A number of pundits have panned the Pats 2020 draft class because it didn't include a Quarterback or receiver, while others have praised it because the team moved around a number of picks and that must be a good sign. If forced to give a grade I'd throw out a B/B-. Dugger has a ridiculous potential ceiling but his rawness is scary. I absolutely love the Uche pick. He was a favorite of mine through the process with nice tape who seemed generally undervalued due to lack of volume. He could return major upside. Jennings is a classic Patriots prototype pick who could be great for the team, and he was selected at about "expected" range. Asiasi is someone I liked in the scouting process as a competent receiver but I would have preferred Adam Trautman as the more complete package. I liked Dalton Keene for fit but I didn't expect him before the middle of day 3. Trading 2 4ths to the Jets to move up for Keene there just doesn't sit right. The Rohrwasser pick is another Belichick staple on the current rookie wage scale. Once the 5th round rolls around he starts taking his "reach" shots on special teamers or long-shot projects e.g. Punter Jake Bailey, Long Snapper Joe Cardona, Punter Zoltan Mesko or reclamation projects Byron Cowart and Marcus Cannon. Most of those picks have turned out pretty good for the team. Given that track record and the need, I expected and don't hate taking the kicker there. I know nothing about Rohrwasser except he apparently went 100% from 50+ yards and had a handful of impressive kicks in bad weather, but Belichick has been on point with specialists and the team hasn't brought in any competition so I believe in his ability. The rest of the selections are just prospective depth, which is hard to get excited about but is also something the team desperately needed. I'm glad the team didn't try to take a QB and instead focused on addressing a lack of roster depth, an aging safety group, an eviscerated LB corps and the worst TE room in the league. For the oldest roster in the NFL and for how many contributing bodies the team lost in free agency, this draft class isn't exactly sexy, but it is a necessity and very on-brand for the Patriots.
James Develin, long time fullback, has retired from the NFL and will be sorely missed. That .gif is basically his Patriot tenure and his personality in a nutshell. He gives a relentless effort, displaying hard-nosed tenacity, and you can feel the sheer joy emanating from Legarrette Blount. Develin was a positive personality in the locker room, a versatile utility knife on the field and an all around great guy.
The world is in the middle of a pandemic. This is very obviously affecting every team and the league as a whole. Specific to New England, the Patriots have had eight players opt out of the 2020 season. In order of 2019 snap count, the team has lost RT Marcus Cannon, LB Dont'a Hightower, safety Patrick Chung, RB Brandon Bolden and TE Matt LaCosse. On top of this, Free Agent signings Marquise Lee and Danny Vitale have opted out, as well as Guard Najee Toran, who was signed to a futures contract this past December. This is the highest number of opt-outs in the NFL. When combined with the free agent losses and the trade of Duron Harmon, the New England defense has lost 4,141 high-quality snaps and another 598 role-player snaps from 2019. That represents an absolutely staggering 45% of all defensive snaps lost from year to year. The important takeaway here isn't about football though.
Thanks for reading if indeed you have. If not, thanks for at least scrolling to the bottom. I hope it's been enjoyable and informative. Stay safe and be good to each other. E: Of course within hours of posting this the Patriots finalized multiple roster moves. Lamar Miller was signed to a 1 year deal. While the terms are unknown at the moment, he'll be a strong candidate to come in and carry a significant workload. The signing suggests that the team is unsure of Sony Michel's availability after the foot surgery that currently has him on the PUP list and does not feel comfortable leaning on Burkhead or Harris in the event that Sony misses time. Jordan Leggett has also been signed and could push Ryan Izzo for a roster spot.
After tonight's lottery, I figured I would post a two-round mock draft. I didn't make any trades. I tried to go based on what I thing teams will do, not necessarily what I think they should do, though my opinions obviously impact the decisions as well. I also included my personal grades and some undrafted fits that I liked. Let me know what you think!
MIN - LaMelo Ball PG (NBL) - LaMelo is the best player in the draft and is worth the gamble for the Timberwolves. It is reasonable to be concerned about his fit with their roster on both ends, but that concern would be fair regardless of who the Timberwolves select. Their defense would probably struggle with either LaMelo or Edwards. The fit with D'Lo would be clunky with either LaMelo or Edwards. LaMelo is a great passer and an underrated off-ball player. He played off-ball in high school and is a high IQ player on that end of the court. I expect him to be able to adjust to sharing time on ball with Russell. The offensive potential, particularly the two-man game with Towns, is far too enticing to pass up on at this spot.
GS - Anthony Edwards SG (UGA) - Edwards adds depth to their backcourt that is lacking in talent outside of Steph and Klay. He can also gives them another ball handler to take some pressure off Draymond. The Warriors’ closing lineup has Draymond at the 5, so having Edwards on the roster could allow for him to play important minutes in a lower-usage role where he plays next to both Steph and Klay. The Warriors are a well-run organization and I expect them to get him to buy in on the defensive end and be more of a team player on offense, where they can take advantage of his underrated cutting abilities.
CHA - James Wiseman C (MEM) - Wiseman will help anchor the Hornets’ defense for the foreseeable future. He fits well with Washington, who is big enough to provide weakside rim protection but also quick enough to guard the 4 and space the floor on offense. Wiseman can be a quality roll-man for Rozier and Graham and can help those guys get open by setting screens with his 7’1” frame.
CHI - Deni Avdija SF (BSL) - Deni is a great fit for a Chicago team that needs a wing who can help their pieces fit together. He is a competent defender who plays hard on every possession, though his lack of length may limit his upside on that end of the floor. Offensively, he is a very good cutter and a capable ball handler. Even though he is not a good shooter, he is an intelligent floor spacer and knows where to be on the court. He can do a little bit of everything, and if his skills coalesce, he should be able to provide the Bulls with their wing of the future.
CLE - Isaac Okoro SF (AUB) - Okoro is a great pick for the Cavaliers here at 5. They get one of the best defensive players in the class and fill a very substantial need in their roster, that being wing depth. Okoro is a good ball-handler and passer, which could help take some of the pressure off of Sexton and Garland, both of whom are probably undersized shooting guards, not true point guards. If Okoro is developed properly, he could turn into one of the best players in the class and could be an important building block for the Cavs in the future.
ATL - Tyrese Haliburton PG/SG (ISU) - Haliburton can be the secondary ball-handler the Hawks desperately need. He is a smart defender and can help make up for some of Trae’s shortcomings, particularly if he is able to add strength. He will keep the ball moving and help make their pieces fit together better. He can play both on and off the ball thanks to his shooting ability, which is a plus for his fit next to Trae offensively.
DET - Obi Toppin PF (DAY) - At the 7th pick, Obi will probably be viewed as the best available player. The fit with both Blake and Wood is less than ideal, but Obi has a bunch of avenues to being an effective offensive player. This is probably not a draft where you can get high level talent, particularly at pick 7, so it makes sense to go with a high floor player who can be an important piece of their multi-year rebuild. They can grab a star in next year's draft, and Obi will hopefully fit in with that player.
NY - Killian Hayes PG/SG (BBL) - Though the Knicks unfortunately fell, they will still have the ability to acquire a good player for their future. I view Hayes as a tier 1 prospect, and although the consensus is lower on him than I am, I expect Hayes to be the pick for New York as they continue with their rebuild. He can run their offense and create for himself and others in the PnR. He is a good defender both on and off the ball. Surrounding Hayes with shooters will be crucial to the success of the Knicks in the future. The two-man game with Robinson looks like it could be a great way for the Knicks to reliably generate offense.
WAS - Onyeka Okongwu PF/C (USC) - Okongwu is a great addition to the Wizards frontcourt and can be an anchor for the defense in the short and long term. Thomas Bryant has been relatively inconsistent and they lack depth outside of Bryant at the center position. Okongwu will be a good PnR partner with Wall and should be a solid paint presence for the Wizards.
PHX - Devin Vassell SG/SF (FSU) - Vassell and Mikal Bridges on the court at the same time will be hell for opposing wings. Both are such instinctual and smart defenders who can get in passing lanes and disrupt the flow of the offense. Vassell is a capable offensive player, particularly on the perimeter, and if his off-the-dribble shot-making flashes are real, he could be a valuable secondary creator for a team lacking in creation outside of Booker.
SA - Patrick Williams SF/PF (FSU) - I trust the Spurs development staff to mold Williams into the incredible player on both ends that he has the potential to become. They needed to improve their front court and Williams can provide value at the 4 spot with his elite weak-side rim protection. He has shown some ability to create off the dribble and his shot profile looks solid enough for me to believe in him as a capable floor spacer. Williams could turn into one of the better players in this class and his youth and athleticism would be great for a Spurs team in need of both.
SAC - Aaron Nesmith SG/SF (VAN) - Nesmith would add much needed wing depth for the Kings. He has a 6’10” wingspan and may be able to guard some bigger players because of it, particularly if he is able to add strength. His off-ball movement coupled with Fox’s ability to create advantages off the dribble would be a lethal combination. Nesmith will be able to find a nice role on the Kings and be productive from day 1 as a lethal shooter and valuable floor spacer.
NO - Cole Anthony PG (UNC) - Cole can provide a scoring punch off the bench for the Pelicans and give some clarity to their backcourt situation, as he can play both on and off the ball and should be successful with either Lonzo or Jrue as his backcourt partner. He would not be expected to be a big decision-maker for the Pelicans, which should help him integrate into the NBA more seamlessly and allow him to focus on his high-level shotmaking that should take the Pelicans’ offense to the next level.
BOS (via MEM) - Tyrese Maxey PG/SG (UK) - The Celtics need bench scoring (they finished 29th this year). Maxey isn't a point guard in the NBA, but he wouldn't have to be one in Boston. His 3-level scoring will be a great addition to their bench and his defensive abilities would bolster one of the best defenses in the league. He can play off of Smart, Hayward, and Tatum on the offensive end and benefit from the advantages that Tatum can create. Watching he and Smart terrorize the other team on the perimeter would be amazing.
ORL - Kira Lewis Jr. PG (ALA) - For a team that doesn’t have a ton of young offensive talent, Kira could be a very welcome addition and he fits reasonably well next to Fultz. His rim pressure could certainly help break defenses down and create open looks for shooters or dump-offs to their forwards. His small frame isn’t a huge concern when placing him on a team with such a deep and defensively versatile frontcourt.
POR - Saddiq Bey SF/PF (VILL) - The Blazers have needed wing depth for the entire season, but the bubble certainly helped bring his issue to light. Bey is a great fit with the Blazers as he should be able to play either the 3 or the 4 and he can knock down perimeter shots. He may not be the wing stopper that the Blazers desperately need to compete in the West due to his limited lateral mobility, but he is still a better option than most of the players they have on their roster currently. He is a polished player who will be ready to help the Blazers compete from day 1.
MIN (via BKN) - Precious Achiuwa PF/C (MEM) - Precious is a pretty good fit next to Towns if he can be a solid interior defender. He had a lot of moments where he was a good rim protector this season. He is also ostensibly switchable and should be able to bolster the Timberwolves’ defense. On offense, he fits well with Towns as well because Precious can play on the interior and Towns can space the floor.
DAL - Jalen Smith PF/C (MD) - After losing Dwight Powell to an Achilles injury that could keep him from being 100% for a good portion of next season, it makes sense to invest in the frontcourt. Smith will be able to space the floor and should be able to provide rim protection as well. It may be difficult to play Smith and Porzingis simultaneously because Smith doesn’t move particularly well, but Smith should be able to provide floor spacing with Porzingis off the court. A frontcourt of Kleber and Smith might be among the better shooting frontcourts in the league and will help open up the floor for Luka and the rest of their perimeter players.
BKN (via PHI) - Josh Green SG (ARIZ) - Brooklyn could definitely benefit from some wing depth, and with a backcourt of Kyrie and Dinwiddie, they are going to need some guys who can defend the other team’s guards. Green is very athletic and has great hips, making him one of the best on-ball wing defender in the class. If his shot comes around, Green will be a contributor for the Nets for a long time.
MIA - Théo Maledon PG (LNB) - Though Kendrick Nunn had a productive rookie year, he struggled in the bubble and it might make sense for the Heat to invest in a better long-term option at point guard, as Maledon is about 6 years younger. Maledon is a good fit for Miami to strengthen their backcourt, which could be pretty thin if they don’t hold onto Goran Dragic. If they can develop him, Maledon could turn into a very effective guard for the Heat with his potential to dribble, pass, and shoot at a high level.
PHI (via OKC) - Tyrell Terry PG (STAN) - Though I have soured a bit on Terry’s fit with the Sixers, particularly because I think he might be too weak to contribute in the short term, this is still a good pick for Philadelphia. Terry is one of the better shooters in the class and someone who can score from the outside both off the catch and off the dribble. Has some playmaking ability and fits very well next to Simmons. The Sixers’ size should be able to make up for his poor frame in the short term; as he develops physically, he should be able to be a competent finisher around the basket due to his high-level shooting touch.
DEN (via HOU) - Jaden McDaniels SF/PF (WASH) - McDaniels is a great addition to a Nuggets team that is deep enough to take a risk on a high-upside prospect. Though there may be some overlap between McDaniels and MPJ in terms of role, McDaniels is not the shot-creator that Porter is and would likely end up playing a more complementary role, without the ball in his hands. He has shown potential as a weakside rim protector, which is helpful next to Jokic, especially as Millsap ages. McDaniels could be a fantastic 4th option for the Nuggets in the future if he is able to develop properly.
UTAH - Aleksej Pokuševski PF (GBL A2) - Poku probably doesn’t fit the timeline that the Jazz are currently operating under, but he is worth the swing anyway. They desperately need athleticism in their frontcourt and although Poku isn’t a ridiculous athlete, he is still a very fluid mover and is highly coordinated for his size. If he is able to hit a high-end outcome, the Jazz should be a dangerous defensive team moving forward with Gobert in the middle and Poku providing weak-side rim protection. His floor-spacing potential should also open things up for Mitchell even more.
MIL (via IND) - RJ Hampton PG/SG (NBL) - Milwaukee can take a swing here because of how well their roster is already built. RJ can develop his shot and decision-making in the G-League as a rookie and can then slide into a bigger and bigger role as Bledsoe gets older and he gives them the option to move on from George Hill at the end of next season if RJ can develop as I think that he can.
OKC (via DEN) - Desmond Bane SG/SF (TCU) - With Gallinari potentially walking this summer and the Thunder being near the bottom of the league in terms of 3PT attempts, Bane makes a lot of sense as a 3&D player who may end up being the best shooter in the draft. Couple that with the playmaking flashes he has shown and you’re left with a really solid player who fills a clear need for the Thunder.
BOS - Xavier Tillman PF/C (MSU) - Tillman is the smartest player in the class and would greatly bolster the Celtics interior defense. He is very strong and had a lot of success against bigger centers in the Big 10 this year like Garza and Oturu. I expect him to be able to carve out a similarly valuable role in the NBA. He will be able to do a lot of the little things that Theis does well, such as helping to give Tatum cleaner driving looks by sealing off in the paint. He's also a good passer and ball-handler for a big and may be able to fill some of the void left by Horford's departure. The Celtics have done a good job teaching big men to shoot (Olynyk, Baynes, Horford), and if Tillman can be a respectable shooter, he should be an incredibly valuable role player.
NY (via LAC) - Robert Woodard II SF (MSST) - The Knicks could absolutely use a 3&D wing, and Woodard is one of the better ones available at this spot in the draft. He is a capable off-ball defender and is fairly athletic. Woodard shot 43% from three this year and has shown flashes of passing and ball-handling. He is exactly what the Knicks need and can be a valuable piece as they move forward.
LAL - Grant Riller PG (COFC) - The Lakers lack self-creation from any of their perimeter players outside of LeBron. Adding Riller, who can get to the basket and finish better than any player in the class, would be a great addition to their offense. Riller could take some of the creation load off LeBron as he ages and he will provide them with an entirely new avenue of offensive opportunities, particularly with LeBron on the bench. Riller is an older prospect and is ready to contribute right away for a team that will be competing for the title next year. He has been good on spot-ups (albeit on limited volume), and continued success in that regard will be crucial to his fit with the Lakers.
TOR - Zeke Nnaji C (ARIZ) - It is unlikely that the Raptors will be able to retain both Gasol and Ibaka barring one of them taking a massive pay cut. Adding Nnaji to their frontcourt would be a great move. He is mobile, can play on the interior on offense, and has shown some signs of being able to develop as a floor spacer, though there are better bets at this point in the draft if that is the desire. He is a smart big who can play a meaningful role for the Raptors long into the future.
BOS (via MIL) - Leandro Bolmaro PG/SG (ACB) - Bolmaro is another draft-and-stash prospect (possibly for multiple years, if he wants) and could end up as one of the best players in the class. He's a high level passer already and as he matures, he should only get better in that regard. He's a phenomenal on-ball defender and that skill should be able to translate to the NBA, especially as he gets older and stronger. If he is able to hone his scoring craft overseas, he would be a great addition to this team in a year or two to take care of some of the ball-handling duties, especially as Kemba ages.
DAL (via GS) - Jahmi'us Ramsey SG (TTU) - Ramsey can provide the Mavs with his perimeter shotmaking, particularly off the catch, and is a fairly dynamic athlete, which would be a great boost for a Mavs team that lacks traditional athleticism in their backcourt. Ramsey struggles to get to the basket, but Luka is good enough to create advantages and open looks for Ramsey. He still has a fair amount of room to grow as an off-the-dribble shotmaker, but he should be a valuable scorer for the Mavs. There are question-marks about his defensive awareness, but he is a good enough athlete to where he should be able to improve on that end of the floor.
CHA (via CLE) - Elijah Hughes SG/SF (CUSE) - Hughes outside shot-making will be great for the Hornets. He can operate effectively as a catch-and-shoot player, but he may be given an opportunity to show off his off-the-dribble shotmaking as well. He probably needs to improve as a movement shooter and show that he can consistently defend outside of a zone in order to be a meaningful contributor on the Hornets, but Hughes is a great selection to add some wing depth in Charlotte.
MIN - Tyler Bey SF/PF (COLO) - Tyler Bey is a smart and athletic forward who can complement Towns very well. He consistently makes great rotations and has a 40-inch vertical, making him a guy who can be a solid weakside rim protector next to Towns. The fit with Achiuwa is sub-optimal, but with a core of LaMelo, D'Lo, & Towns, the Timberwolves have to find impactful defenders wherever they can get them.
PHI (via ATL) - Malachi Flynn PG (SDSU) - Though it may look strange to double dip at PG, especially when the two guards are broadly similar players, Flynn is too good of a fit with the Sixers to pass up. He is one of the best PnR players in the class and provides a lot of abilities that the Sixers are otherwise lacking. Flynn can be the Sixers answer at PG in the short term while Terry takes the time to develop his body and decision-making.
SAC (via DET) - Daniel Oturu C (MINN) - With Harry Giles hitting free agency, Dwayne Dedmond getting traded earlier this year, and some reasons to be concerned about the durability of Richaun Holmes/Marvin Bagley, it makes sense for the Kings to invest in a big man who can grab rebounds, potentially space the floor, and add some depth. Though I am skeptical of Oturu’s defensive IQ and his offensive projection at the next level, he can slide into a fairly comfortable role with Sacramento where he doesn’t have a ton of responsibility.
PHI (via NY) - Paul Reed PF/C (DEP) - Reed is among the better 2nd round bigs for the Sixers to select. This might be a bit of a reach considering his draft stock at the moment, but Reed is athletic and fairly coordinated. He should be able to hold things down on the defensive end when Embiid is not on the floor and has shown some ball-handling ability that makes me cautiously optimistic about his ability to develop some sort of perimeter game that would allow him to play some minutes with Embiid.
WAS (via CHI) - Tre Jones PG (DUKE) - Though the Wizards might opt for a wing at this point in the draft, Jones is a borderline first round talent and a guy who can provide value for the Wizards as a backup point guard right away. He can defend on the ball and has improved greatly as a shooter. He also provides some assurance should John Wall be less that 100% after his injury. This is good value at this point in the draft.
NY (via CHA) - Devon Dotson PG (KU) - Grabbing Dotson at 38 is a steal for the Knicks. With a bevy of point guards and relatively small number of teams in need of one, it makes sense that some might fall. Dotson can provide rim pressure that the Knicks do not have on their roster outside of Barrett and can be a menacing defender despite his small size. The fit next to Hayes is probably better than one would think at first glance because they add value in different ways; Hayes will succeed in a PnR-heavy offense, while Dotson will probably be maximized being able to drive to the basket and finish, which Hayes can struggle with at times.
NO (via WAS) - Cassius Stanley SG/SF (DUKE) - The Pelicans could use added wing depth and Stanley has the ability to provide that for them. There are reasons to be concerned about how he adapts to the pros given how raw he is for his age, but he is at least a decent 3PT shooter and is a ridiculous vertical athlete. If he can put his tools together, he and Zion would make for an incredibly athletically impressive frontcourt.
MEM (via PHX) - Isaiah Stewart PF/C (WASH) - Stewart may be viewed as one of the best players available at this spot and he fits reasonably well into the Grizzlies’ long-term plans. He is a solid rebounder, which they need next to Jaren Jackson, and has flashed some ability to space the floor, which could create space for Ja to drive. It may be hard to get him minutes in the short term with Valanciunas and Dieng ahead of him, but it is reasonable to assume they will move on from Dieng when his contract is up and Stewart can then get more minutes. JJJ and Clarke should be able to cover for some of his mobility issues, and Stewart should be able to provide a hard-nosed edge to their frontcourt that has defined Memphis basketball for a long time.
SA - Vernon Carey Jr. C (DUKE) - Carey may be viewed as one of the best players available at this spot, and although his playstyle does not fit seamlessly within the modern NBA, he is certainly talented enough to carve out a role for himself. Compared to other bigs such as Stewart & Oturu, Carey is a much more willing passer and may be able to conduct some offense out of the post if his awareness improves. There are reasons to be concerned about his defensive IQ, but he is fairly nimble for someone his size and may have more success than one might think on the defensive end after the Spurs coach him up.
NO - Abdoulaye N’Doye PG/SG (LNB) - N’Doye is among the better 2nd round stash prospects, and although he is relatively old, he has many avenues to becoming an impactful NBA player in the future because of his combination of size, length, and ball-handling. Because the have 3 2nd round picks, adding a stash prospect makes sense for the Pelicans, even if he is only stashed for one year. If N’Doye’s jumper can improve, he may end up as a steal for the Pelicans.
SAC - Nico Mannion PG (ARIZ) - Mannion is a very capable decision-maker and will benefit from being in NBA offenses with more spacing. Yogi Ferrell’s contract expires after this year and Cory Joseph’s contract isn’t guaranteed after next year. Nico could easily slide into the backup point guard role and fill that role perfectly. If his shooting can develop, he may be able to play off-ball next to Fox due to his ability to move without the ball.
CHI (via MEM) - Isaiah Joe SG (ARK) - The Bulls struggled to make 3s last year, but Joe should help to solve that problem off their bench. He will probably have fewer opportunities to create with the ball in his hands, which he was pretty good at in college, but he is a very good off-ball player as well, which should be great for the Bulls offense. Defensively, Joe can hold his own with his 6’5” frame and plus wingspan, though he may have to take fewer gambles in order to be successful on that end of the floor. The Bulls get a first round talent in the second round and begin to shape up their roster nicely.
ORL - Cassius Winston PG (MSU) - Double dipping at PG might not look like the best decision, but Winston and Lewis fill different roles. Winston’s outside shooting is something the Magic are in need of, particularly if Fournier doesn’t re-sign. Winston also proved to be a great PnR playmaker with Tillman this year, and I expect him to have similar levels of success at the NBA level off the bench with Gordon, Vucevic, or even Bamba. Though they probably won’t ever play together, Winston and Lewis could be a very interesting contrast of offensive styles.
POR - Skylar Mays SG/SF (LSU) - Mays is another solid addition to the Blazers roster to add to their wing depth. While Bey is ostensibly a 3/4 tweener, Mays should be able to play the 2 or the 3. He is another mature, smart player who produce in a relatively small role. He can hit open 3s, defend both on and off the ball, and take advantage of his craftiness to make a play with the ball in his hands. He is not a high ceiling player, but he is what the Blazers need for their roster.
BOS (via BKN) - Udoka Azubuike C (KU) - The Celtics tend to struggle against big men who dominate in the paint (as we have seen with Embiid this week). Azubuike is not a high-minutes player, but he can play a necessary role in the NBA and fills a void on the Celtics roster as a rim protector, post defender, and lob catcher. He's much better than Tacko and could easily be given a 2-way and contribute meaningfully in small minutes.
GS (via DAL) - Killian Tillie PF/C (GONZ) - If Tillie is fully healthy, he is a first-round talent. He can provide floor spacing, is a capable passer, particularly in the post, and is one of the more mobile bigs in the class. I really like the fit next to Draymond and if he is able to be the passer that I think he can be, Steph and Klay should be able to use their off-ball movement abilities to get open, where Tillie will easily find them. This pick has the potential to be a steal for the Warriors.
PHI - Jordan Nwora SF (LOU) - Nwora is 6’7” and will probably shoot 40% from 3 in the NBA. That alone makes him worth taking a look at, though his ancillary skills are lacking. The Sixers could use a sharpshooter, and Nwora could be that player for them. He is not the best defender, but the Sixers have a number of high-level defenders who could make up for some of his deficiencies.
SAC (via MIA) - Boriša Simanić PF (KLS) - With their 4th pick in the draft, the Kings will probably take a draft-and-stash candidate. Simanić is a solid stretch big with really high level shotmaking instincts. He could potentially fill a role similar to Bjelica should the Kings move on from him in the future, and if Simanić can be more aggressive offensively and improve defensively, he could be a welcome addition to their frontcourt.
GS (via UTAH) - Yam Madar PG/SG (BSL) - Looking forward, the Warriors could greatly benefit from adding another ball-handler. Madar is one of the better 2nd round stash prospects and should be able to be a capable 3rd guard once he comes over. If the Warriors can improve upon his shot, he would have the potential to be a very productive player as a solid 3-level scorer and aggressive defender at the NBA level.
OKC - Reggie Perry PF (MSST) - Perry could add depth to OKC’s frontcourt and give them another dimension on offense. Perry showed some ball-handling and passing abilities with team USA and if those abilities can translate, he should be a valuable piece for the Thunder moving forward, particularly because their frontcourt depth is lacking. Perry should also be able to bang in the post a bit and provide value off the bench.
ATL (via HOU) - Payton Pritchard PG (ORE) - The Hawks are very thin at PG after Trae, particularly because there are concerns about whether or not Haliburton can be a full-time point guard and because Teague is unlikely to be in their long-term plans. Adding Pritchard, who can dribble, pass, and shoot at a high level will be a good addition to their backcourt. He doesn’t defend all that well, but the Hawks are accustomed to having a poor defender at the PG position.
IND - Immanuel Quickley SG (UK) - Quickley may be viewed as one of the better players available at this spot due to his shooting ability and the defensive upside he showcases thanks to his wingspan. The Pacers could use another guard/wing, particularly if Oladipo continues to have injury issues, and Quickley may be able to be that player. He can find a role on the team as a sharpshooter and floor spacer.
BKN (via DEN) - Mamadi Diakite PF/C (UVA) - Diakite is one of the better shot-blockers in the class and should be able to provide value for the Nets in that regard. Though he lacks the size to play full time center, the Nets already have Allen & Jordan, and Diakite's mobility is pretty good for a big, making me think he could play a bit at the 4. He showed some ability to stretch the floor this season and knows what it takes to win a championship, meaning he should be able to be a valuable role player for the Nets as they aspire towards a championship.
CHA (via BOS) - Mason Jones SF (ARK) - Rozier and Graham had FTr’s of .202 and .242 respectively, which are not good. Enter Mason Jones, who, although limited athletically, was an exceptional off-the-dribble creator at Arkansas, leading him to an absurd .668 FTr. He can provide another avenue for offensive creation for the Hornets and is a great pick at the end of the 2nd round, despite the obvious defensive concerns.
LAC - Nick Richards C (UK) - The Clippers could greatly benefit from a rim protector and paint presence, and Richards should be able to provide that for them in a low-minutes role. I have some concerns about how his game translates to the NBA, but he posted relatively good block rates during his time at Kentucky. Richards should be able to be a solid role player for the Clippers when they need to guard 7 footers.
PHI (via LAL) - Georgios Kalaitzakis SF (LKL) - With a total of 5 picks in the draft, it makes sense for the Sixers to go with a draft-and-stash. Kalaitzakis doesn’t shoot the ball very well, which is particularly concerning with this Sixers team, but he is good ball handler and defender. If he can learn to shoot, he should be a solid bench contributor.
TOR - Ty-Shon Alexander SG (CREI) - Ty-Shon is a great fit for the Raptors, regardless of whether or not VanVleet leaves in free agency. Ty-Shon has shown some ball handling ability but can also play off ball and spot up on the perimeter. He is a good 3&D prospect and will add another quality perimeter defender to a team that is already loaded with them.
NO (via MIL) - Naji Marshall SF (XAV) - The Pelicans struggled defensively this year, so adding a versatile defensive wing in Marshall should help them in that regard. He will probably have to improve as a shooter in order to get real minutes in their rotation, but if he can, he will be a great addition. Given the success they have had with Ingram as a ball-handler, it may make sense for the Pelicans to take one of the better wing ball-handlers in the draft in Marshall, as he can slide into that role with Ingram on the bench or if he misses time due to injury.
Mock Draft Results by team (& my personal grades) Atlantic Celtics - Tyrese Maxey (14), Xavier Tillman (26), Leandro Bolmaro (30), Udoka Azubuike (47); GRADE: A Nets - Josh Green (19), Mamadi Diakite (55); GRADE: B Knicks - Killian Hayes (8), Robert Woodard II (27), Devon Dotson (38); GRADE: B+ 76ers - Tyrell Terry (22), Malachi Flynn (34), Paul Reed (36), Jordan Nwora (49), Georgios Kalaitzakis (58); GRADE: B+ Raptors - Zeke Nnaji (29), Ty-Shon Alexander (59); GRADE: A- Central Bulls - Deni Avdjia (4), Isaiah Joe (44); GRADE: B+ Cavaliers - Isaac Okoro (5); GRADE: B Pistons - Obi Toppin (7); GRADE: B- Pacers - Immanuel Quickley (54); GRADE: B Bucks - RJ Hampton (24); GRADE: A Southeast Hawks - Tyrese Haliburton (7), Payton Pritchard (53); GRADE: B- Hornets - James Wiseman (3), Elijah Hughes (32), Mason Jones (56); GRADE: B- Heat - Théo Maledon (20); GRADE: B+ Magic - Kira Lewis Jr. (15), Cassius Winston (45); GRADE: B+ Wizards - Onyeka Okongwu (9), Tre Jones (37); GRADE: B Northwest Nuggets - Jaden McDaniels (21); GRADE: B Timberwolves - LaMelo Ball (1), Precious Achiuwa (17), Tyler Bey (33); GRADE: B Thunder - Desmond Bane (25), Reggie Perry (52); GRADE: B TrailBlazers - Saddiq Bey (16), Skylar Mays (46); GRADE: B+ Jazz - Aleksej Pokuševski (23); GRADE: A Southwest Mavericks - Jalen Smith (18), Jahmi’us Ramsey (31); GRADE: B- Rockets - N/A; GRADE: N/A Grizzlies - Isaiah Stewart (40); GRADE: C+ Pelicans - Cole Anthony (13), Cassius Stanley (39), Abdoulaye N’Doye (42), Naji Marshall (60); GRADE: A- Spurs - Patrick Williams (11), Vernon Carey Jr. (41); GRADE: B+ Pacific Warriors - Anthony Edwards (2), Killian Tillie (48), Yam Madar (51); GRADE: A- Clippers - Nick Richards (57); GRADE: C- Lakers - Grant Riller (28); GRADE: A- Suns - Devin Vassell (10); GRADE: A- Kings - Aaron Nesmith (12), Daniel Oturu (35), Nico Mannion (43), Boriša Simanić (50); GRADE: B- Undrafted fits that I like (Only NCAA players were counted for the undrafted pool; no international players were counted; I assumed every player who has declared but was not drafted was eligible): Bucks: Anthony Lamb; Bulls: Lamar Stevens; Cavaliers: Kaleb Wesson, Kristian Doolittle; Celtics: Justinian Jessup; Clippers: Jordan Ford; Grizzlies: Nate Hinton; Hawks: Ashton Hagans; Heat: Caleb Homesley; Hornets: Kahlil Whitney, Nathan Knight; Jazz: Yoeli Childs; Kings: Jay Scrubb; Knicks: Jalen Harris, Jake Toolson; Lakers: Malik Fitts; Magic: CJ Elleby, Nate Darling; Mavericks: Trent Forrest; Nets: Rayshaun Hammonds; Nuggets: Trevelin Queen; Pacers: Dwayne Sutton; Pelicans: TJ Holyfield; Pistons: Markus Howard, KJ Martin; Raptors: Lamine Diane; Rockets: Emmitt Williams; 76ers: Jon Teske; Spurs: Tres Tinkle; Suns: Saben Lee, Freddie Gillespie; Thunder: Myles Powell; Timberwolves: Josh Hall; TrailBlazers: Sam Merrill; Warriors: De’Riante Jenkins; Wizards: Christian Vital
https://preview.redd.it/ulhht7w4cfh51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=8160adeefa53ee8d6b739f06be3dcbc6cae0c0df Every year NFL Network puts out a list of the Top 100 Players for the upcoming season, as voted by their peers. I have talked about the flaws of that whole process a few times already – the players only write down their top 20 players, which is understandable, but also doesn’t result in the proper results, since everybody is somewhat to put their guys on, not all players actually get to watch a lot of games, if they don’t include teams they actually face or are limited to watching highlights, and the voting concludes before the playoff are even here, which can be the only somewhat logical reason, Patrick Mahomes was only number four on the official list – even though that would still be wrong. For the purpose of this list, I first put together my rankings of the top players at every single position, but then somewhat went off script by just writing down names in the order that they shot into my head, before comparing it with the positional rankings and trying to weigh guys against each other. And just to make this clear – these rankings are based on players regardless of their position, since otherwise would have almost half the starting quarterbacks in the league within the top 20 or so. And of course this is a bit of a projection and not solely built on what these players did this previous season, but also not about where they will be at the end of 2020. Here is my list: https://preview.redd.it/6lv7eu5ecfh51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=7e060476b8bbdf264b77e46aa6eccaff6e78c91d
What is there still to say about Mahomes? In just two years as a starter, he has been a league MVP and just led his team to three consecutive double-digit comebacks to get that Lombardi trophy. He is the most talented player I have ever seen and will now have the Chiefs as contenders in the AFC for the next decade, after signing that blockbuster deal. You can not tell me there are three humans on earth that are better at football than this guy. If we lived in a world without Mahomes, Donald would be the obvious pick here for the best player regardless of position. You can easily argue that the gap between the two-time Defensive Player of the Year and the next-closest players is even bigger (since I have a QB at three), since Donald doesn’t just have the numbers despite facing constant attention, but does so much more that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet, in terms of blowing up plays before they can even get going. Wilson to me has earned his way up to being the second-best quarterback in the league. He throws those unbelievable rainbow deep balls, is elusive as it gets at extending plays as a passer and seems to always come through when his team needs him most. He has covered up a lot of issues for the Seahawks – leading his team to a winning record every single season of his career – and the only thing that can hold him back is his own conservative coaching staff. I “only” have the league’s reigning MVP at number four, because I think there are two more proven quarterbacks and there are definitely things he can still improve upon, but holy crap, was this guy exciting last season. Lamar led the league with 43 total touchdowns and a ridiculous 9.0 touchdown percentage. His QB-record 1206 yards on the ground helped the Ravens break the all-time rushing mark for a team, but as spectacular as he was in the open field, the stats say he was also elite from within the pocket. The reigning DPOY shows up at number five here for me and while there were other worthy candidates, Gilmore was on a different level as the other corners in the league last season. He was tied for the lead-league in interceptions and scored more touchdowns (2) than he was responsible for in coverage (1), while allowing a league-best completion percentage of 44.6 and 41.8 passer rating. Outside of a week 17 blunder, he shut down every top receiver he faced. Julio to me is still the best receiver in the game and it’s not that close to be honest. His freakish combination of size, speed, leaping ability and hands set him apart from most guys, but it is the way he has continued to advance as a route-runner and technician that have paved his way to being an all-time great. Over the last six seasons, he has averaged 1565 receiving yards per season and his 96.2 yards per game is almost ten yards more than any player in NFL history. The best and most complete tight-end today is Kittle. There are only five players in the entire league with more receiving yards over the last two seasons, despite seeing about 60 targets less than the five guys ahead of him, and his 1507 yards after the catch over that stretch is second only to Christian McCaffrey. As impressive as all that is, he is equally valuable as a run-blocker, being a huge factor in setting things up for the 49ers’ second-ranked rushing attack. I know he has only been in the league for two years, but I would already take Nelson over any other interior offensive lineman in football without a doubt. When I evaluated his college tape, I thought he was a generational prospect and he has come nothing short of his expectations. Nelson has only been responsible for one sack in those two seasons combined and been named a First-Team All-Pro in both of them. If you want to know how great Adams is, just check out the kind of compensation Seattle gave up to acquire a disgruntled player at a position that is deemed undervalued by most people. The Jets are probably happy to still get as much back as they did, but Adams was their best run-defender, coverage player and pass-rusher. He is a chess piece, that improves every area of a defense and gives them an attitude and tremendous versatility. The one guy who can challenge Stephon Gilmore for the title as best corner in the league is Ramsey. While the numbers in coverage didn’t look quite as impressive last season, switching teams mid-season and missing four games, he still only allowed 45.6 yards per game and one total touchdown in coverage. Ramsey is one of only two or three guys at the position, who can match up with the opposing’s top receiver every single play. https://preview.redd.it/hd5k3rzfcfh51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=44027dfe6dcc5ecee7f8499e0b14b5387ddae6eb
It was a very close race for the top back in the game, but I just had to go with the unbelievable talent of Saquon here. He is so explosive, elusive and powerful. Barkley was banged up for pretty much half of last season, but still averaged 5.4 yards per touch and 60 percent of his rushing yards came after contact, with bad offensive line play in front of him, that had him avoiding defenders as soon as he got the handoff at times. His 279 scrimmage yards against Washington in week 16 was the most since Julio Jones’ 300-yard performance in 2016. McCaffrey comes in right behind Barkley, coming off a highly impressive season. CMac became just the third player in NFL history to put up 1000 rushing and receiving yards in the same season and also easily leading the league with 2392 scrimmage yards. Maybe even more impressive – he had eight yards more after the catch (1013) than total receiving yards. Nobody is a bigger asset running routes out of the backfield, but he has also become a much more efficient in-between-the-tackler runner. Thomas set a new all-time record with 149 receptions last season and led the league with 1725 receiving yards. The crazy thing about that is the fact he lead all receiver in catch percentage last season at 80.5, despite being really the only guy the Saints could rely upon at that position on a weekly basis. He’s not nearly as dangerous after the catch or on vertical patterns as guys like Julio Jones or Tyreek Hill, but he is so physical and constantly comes through on third downs. When you look at what Mack had done in the five years since his rookie season (49 sacks and 76 TFLs over four seasons), he didn’t quite live up to his lofty standards last season. With that being said, he is still the most impactful guy coming off the edge when totally healthy. He is an elite run-defender, routinely puts offensive tackles on skates and has a knack for getting the ball out (11 forced fumbles since 2018). Similar to Mack – and as it has been like for several years now when these two have been right next to each other in any rankings – Miller had a down-year in 2019. He did not reach double-digit sacks for the first time since 2013, when he was put on IR mid-season, but I expect that to go back to normal with more help around him. His burst, ability to bend and smarts for the position will create issue for offenses once again this season. Deshaun is just an absolute baller. Like his former college head coach Dabo Swinney said, he is Michael Jordan-like in the big moments. Over the last two seasons, he has completed 67.8 percent of his passes for just over 4000 yards on average and 52 touchdowns compared to 21 INTs over that stretch. More importantly, he gets the Texans out of the toughest situations and has led five game-winning drives in both years. I don’t think anybody else could have led this team back in that Wildcard game, other than maybe Mahomes. After coming over from Miami via trade early last season, Fitzpatrick completely turned around this Steelers defense by bringing the secondary together and became one of the premiere play-makers in the entire league. He came up with eight takeaways and scored two touchdowns himself, with both of them completely shifting the momentum those respective games. Minkah is most valuable patrolling the deep middle of the field, but offers the versatility to play just about everywhere. I know this may be a little bit of a controversial pick, with other guys at the receiver position deserving consideration, but to me Adams right now is the third-best receiver in the game. He came up with three yards short of cracking the 1000-yard mark due to missing four games and dealing with a banged up toe, but he came up big in two playoff games, with 300 combined yards and two TDs. Adams offers the best releases in the game, as well as beautifully setting up routes with head-nods and body language, to go with tremendous body-control. Now that Luke Kuechly has retired, B-Wagz to me is the clear choice as the top middle linebacker in football. He displays great range and has to cover a lot of ground with how much base personnel the Hawks run. Wagner is also a very secure tackler, who led the league in take-downs for the second time in his career last season, after missing just one of his attempts the year before. What doesn’t get enough attention is his football IQ and the process of getting to the ball in the first place. If I told you the next player has caught 200 passes for 2565 yards and 15 touchdowns over the last two seasons, you would say that’s a great receiver – since that ranks behind only Julio, Mike Thomas, D-Hop and Mike Evans. What is even more impressive about those numbers is that Kelce has averaged 9.0 yards despite that high target share. He is the premiere flex receiving tight-end, who can be moved all over the formation and create problems. https://preview.redd.it/r5uajc1c7gh51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=2a39e3d399818439538f76d064580220b18ed765
In a world without Aaron Donald, Cox would be known as the best defensive tackle over the last decade. He has only reached double-digit sacks once in his career and to be fair, dipped a little last season, but the numbers will never tell the whole story as what kind of player he is. He has that quickness to shoot through gaps and show up in the backfield, but he can also bench-press 330-pounders and toss them to the side when he needs to. Just watch him destroy the interior O-line of the Seahawks and almost singlehandedly keep them in that Wildcard Round game without Carson Wentz. Nipping at the heels of Cox is another game-wrecker on the inside of the defense for the reigning Super Bowl champs. Jones may not nearly be the same run-stopper at the point of attack, but his length and burst off the ball allow him to impact plays in a penetrating role and he is an elite pass-rusher at his position. 24.5 sacks and 49 QB hits in his last 29 games is highly impressive, but in the biggest game, he only logged on tackle and still made a huge impact, with a couple of batted passes and directly forcing a pick. The most overlooked edge rusher and maybe overall player in the league over the last several years has been Chandler Jones. Since coming over to Arizona in 2016, he has led the league with 60 sacks and 17 forced fumbles, while also being near the top in total pressure numbers every single season. That is despite playing on one the worst defensive units over the last couple of years and having no legitimate threat up front with pretty much the entire time. Cam Jordan is a very unique player. He has more of a 3-4 defensive end body type, rather than your typical edge rusher. He has great power and strings his hands and feet together really well, but what makes him special is the way he can read pass-sets and take advantage of weight-distribution and how far tackles open up their hips. Not only did Jordan set a personal high with 15.5 sacks last season, but he is also an excellent run-defender (15 TFLs). Even though his trade to Arizona is still confusing for most people, when you see how little his new team had to give up, don’t let that make you think D-Hop isn’t a top-tier receiver anymore. If you take out the 2016 season, when Brock Osweiler could not have gotten the ball to his superstar receiver, even if he were just inches away, he has averaged 1369 receiving yards and 9.6 touchdowns since his rookie season. He may not as homerun-hitter, but he might be the most physical receiver off the ball and at the catch point, plus he has the best hands in the game. Did I just say homerun hitter? Outside of Julio, I think there is an argument to be made that Tyreek is the next-best receiver in the league. He breaks the game open with his next-level speed and changes how defensive coordinators have to call coverages. However, he is much more than just a deep threat, with quick feet to stop and start on his routes, he shows great concentration when the ball is in the air and he does now shy away from the physical aspect of football. We have not seen Rodgers play at that elite level since 2016, when he led the league in touchdown passes (40), but he is still one of the best in the game. He has lost just a little bit of his elusiveness to extend plays and does not take as many chances down the field as we are used to from him, but his quick release, ability to see the field and the arm talent to throw off platform are all still special. Just watch what he does in his second year in Matt LaFleur’s system, with added motivation. The younger T.J. Watt stepped out of the shadow of his older brother last season, when he finished top five in sacks (14.5) and quarterback hits (36), while also leading the league with eight fumbles forced and recovering another four, to go with a couple of picks. He finished behind only Stephon Gilmore and Chandler Jones in the hunt for his first DPOY trophy and will be a terror on Pittsburgh’s ferocious defense for years to come. At 29 is the player that shamefully didn’t even make the official top 100 list. Maybe it is people still saying Nick Foles won the Eagles their Super Bowl or they call him injury-prone, but let’s not forget Wentz set this team up with home-field advantage through the playoffs back in 2017 in an MVP-level season and he has actually missed only eight of 64 career regular season games. Last year he put the team on his back, with practice squad players catching passes and both his tackles missing multiple weeks, and led them to a home playoff game. Closing is the top 30 is the older Watt brother. I gave the slightest edge to the Pittsburgh outside backer. He certainly the track record as one of only two guys to be named Defensive Player of the Year three times in his career, but injuries have started taking a toll on him and over the last four years, he has missed the equivalent of two full seasons. However, when he played all 16 games in 2018, he still topped his little bro with 16 sacks and 18 tackles for loss. He played at a very high level when healthy last season and miraculously returned in the playoffs to make a big impact against Buffalo. https://preview.redd.it/68e2613kcfh51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=3f99e76d5524ab4aeff016746711b1012ae62130
One of the most underrated guys on the player’s countdown is Humphrey. To me there are no five corners in the game that you can tell me are better than this guy – and I actually have him at number three. He is long and physical in press-coverage, he can move into the slot, he is a hard hitter from that position and he is like a magnet for the ball, with three interceptions, two fumbles forced and three recovered. Humphrey is only 24 years old and already near the top of football. NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah recently said something pretty interesting, when he tweeted that “if you put all players in a league-wide draft, Derwin James would be the top safety on every board”. To me Jamal Adams has done enough to earn the title as best player at that position and Derwin only played five games, but the Chargers superstar can do pretty much everything Jamal does, in terms of defending the run as a box-defender, blitzing off multiple spots and just being a position-less player, while also having the range to basically play free safety. Big Mike has now become only the second receiver in NFL history alongside Randy Moss to start his career with six consecutive 1000-yard receiving seasons. He gets in and out his breaks better than you would ever think of a 6’5”, 230-pound guy, he is much more of a vertical threat than people label him as, averaging 1.5 yards more per catch than Tyreek Hill (17.5), and he obviously dominates at the catch point, while also bullying DBs as a blocker. At 34 I have another defensive back, who has become a highly underrated player in my opinion. Somehow Eddie Jackson didn’t make the official list, which is still mind-blowing to me, because just a year ago, he was right up there among the premiere defensive play-makers in the game. His takeaways went way down on a Bears defense that took a step back, after coming up with eight of those in 2018 and scoring a league-high three defensive TDs, but he is still one of the smartest and rangiest player on the back-end we have in the game. That third running back behind Saquon and McCaffrey was a tough choice, which is indicated by four players at that position over the next six spots, but I went with Kamara here. He recently that he basically played on one leg last season, which may be a little exaggerated, but when healthy, his explosiveness and contact balance are second to none, plus he is an elite weapon out of the backfield, who is basically un-coverable on option routes. The next guy here is the reigning rushing leader Derrick Henry. This may seem a little low for him and he is the only one of this group to get that second contract so far, but since he is only a factor on screen plays in the passing game, I could not put him any higher. Still, what King Henry did down the stretch was unbelievable. He put the team on his back, rushing for 896 yards over his final six games in the regular season and 374 yards combined in wins over the then-reigning Super Bowl champs and the team with the best record in the league, on the way to the AFC title game. Another corner that I just love to watch is the Bills’ Tre’Davious White. While he plays in a zone-heavy system, that doesn’t leave him on an island as much as a Stephon Gilmore or a Jalen Ramsey, he is tremendous in that role and can match up against some top receivers one-on-one. What makes him special is the ability to anticipate routes and read the receiver and the quarterback at the same time. He was tied for the lead-league with six INTs, while deflecting another 17 passes and forcing a couple of fumbles. Martin has been as consistent as it gets. He has started all but two of his 96 career games at right guard and been named First-Team All-Pro in four of six NFL season. Over the course of his career, he has allowed just eight total sacks and he was flagged for holding just once last season and four times in the last four seasons. He is a road-grader on gap and zone schemes, while having a tremendous anchor and clamps in protection. Did you know Dalvin Cook finished second behind only Christian McCaffrey in scrimmage yards per game? He was tremendous for Minnesota last season in that zone-based rushing attack and a real weapon out of the backfield, catching 53 of 63 targets for over 500 yards. Dalvin is so good at pressing the front-side and then transitioning in one step to cut off the backside, while also having the burst to threaten the edges of a defense, and he has become a very tough runner. My final RB here is Nick Chubb. There were a lot of stars on this underperforming Browns team last season, but this guy was the best player for them pretty much every single week. Similar to Henry, Chubb is not the most valuable receiver, but his physical running style was the best part about Cleveland’s offense. He can run inside and outside zone, does a great job setting up power plays and not only is he patient with letting plays develop, he has great acceleration once he puts on the gas and consistently falls forward. https://preview.redd.it/3zr305de7gh51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=f52704036f55e8bf1e5ae2c9396d45338dc07c39
Odell Beckham Jr.
What happened in that week 11 Steelers game was not pretty and I’m sure people will bring it no matter what this kid continues to accomplish, but he just got a mega contract and to me is ready put his name among the elite defensive players in football. Garrett has only played 37 career games so far, but he has already put together 30.5 sacks and 32 tackles for loss, with one QB take-down per game last season. He is obviously an athletic freak, but his pass-rush arsenal has come a long way already. DeFo is one of the most talented defensive linemen in all of football, but his technique has improved every single season and among all that talent on the NFC champions’ roster, he was named team MVP. As great as he was all the way throughout the regular season, he terrorized the interior O-line of the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. The 49ers had to move on from him this offseason due to cap reasons, but he immediately a key piece for that Colts D. He might be the GOAT, but Brady lands at number 43 for me heading into 2020. Contrary to popular belief, his arm isn’t far off from what it was when he entered the league at the start of the millennium and his pocket movement is impeccable, but what bothered me when watching him play last season, was that reluctancy to stand tall in the pocket and take the punishment in order to deliver big plays, which will be an interesting mesh with Bruce Arians’ vertical passing attack. While there about five guys in that conversation for me right now, Ryan Ramczyk earned the top spot here. More of a luxury pick three years ago, he ended up sliding right in at right tackle and has been absolute stalwart for them ever. Ramczyk has started 47 of 48 games and improved every single season, earning first-team All-Pro honors last season, when he did not allow a single sack and had did not have a holding call accepted against him past week two. This is the lowest I have had Odell in my rankings since his rookie season. I have never been a huge fan of the antics with him, but the media constantly bashing on him has turned me into a fan, and I believe he will make all the haters shut up in 2020. OBJ was dealing with a foot injury all of last year and the amount of miscues between him and Baker Mayfield was countless, when it comes to break off or adjusting routes on the fly. He is still one of the all-time talents. New to the list is a guy, who was quietly getting the job done as a rotational piece in Baltimore’s defensive front for a few years, before getting a big contract by the Packers. Smith instantly went from a nice player to one the premiere edge rushers in the entire league. While he “only” finished sixth with 13.5 sacks, he led all players with 93 total pressures and also had the fourth-most TFLs (17). I love the way Mike Pettine moves him around all over the formation in Green Bay. The one thing I actually learned from the official top 100 is the fact Tyrann Mathieu was actually named team MVP, despite playing with the best player in the entire league. As explosive as that Chiefs offense is, the difference for this team was how the Honeybadger helped turn around this defensive unit and the energy he brought to the table. Mathieu can line up in the box, cover the slot, drop into deep coverage, blitz from multiple spots and tackle in the open field. Another guy in that tackle conversation is maybe the most athletic one of the bunch. Johnson only played in 12 games last season, but he was tremendous in those, allowing just one sack and being called for holding once, despite facing some great pass-rushers in the NFC East and the conference overall. He has the feet to seal the edges in the run game and works up to the second level as well as anybody in the league. The top rookie on the list this year is Nick Bosa. Making the top 20 on the official list seems a little rich, but this guy was dominant from the moment he stepped onto the field. Bosa finished one sack short or cracking double-digits, but he easily blew away the rookie record for total pressures (80) and finished tied for fifth overall in the regular season, plus another crazy 22 in the playoffs. He was also tied for fifth in tackles for loss (16) and got a pick, whilst constantly playing with all-out effort. One of the biggest breakout players last season was Godwin. I predicted this already the year prior and wasn’t wrong necessarily, when he finished with 842 yards and seven touchdowns, but he took it to another level in 2019, when he finished third in receiving yards (1333) and tied for fourth in touchdowns (9) despite missing two games. He is so tough going over the middle to get those hard-earned yards, is incredibly hard to bring down after the catch (577 YAC) and led the league in 20+ yard receptions (25). https://preview.redd.it/8chiv76ogih51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=2687f4fbab6202fb4312d6aef3704f605c66186a
The title for best center in the league has been in Philadelphia for at least the last three years and to me also for the decade. He may not as powerful as a few other guys, but the mobility to beat linebackers to the spot or can put hands on people as a puller or on screen plays allows the Eagles to do pretty much anything, while also doing a great job of recovering in pass-pro and transitioning assignments. Kelce has allowed multiple sacks just once since 2015. There is a pretty significant drop-off between the first and second linebacker, but right now I would take Leonard behind only Bobby Wagner. Over his two years in the league (28 games), he has put together 284 tackles (including leading the league as a rookie), intercepted seven passes, forced six fumbles, recorded 12 sacks and deflected another 15 passes. “The Maniac” shows up all over the field and truly has a knack for the ball. My top left tackle in the league is Ronnie Stanley. He took his game to another level last season, when he was named a first-team All-Pro. On 515 pass-blocking snaps, he did not allow a single sack and didn’t surrender any pressures in nine games. He also was a huge piece to the Ravens breaking the NFL’s all-time rushing yardage record (3296 yards) that had stood for over 40 years, as Stanley had the lowest percentage of negatively-graded run blocking snaps according to PFF. Joey comes in five spots below his younger brother for me. While I believe Nick Bosa is a little more athletically gifted, Joey came into the league slightly more technically refined in his hand-usage. He may not quite have the burst off the ball like a Danielle Hunter or the ability to bend like a Von Miller, but Bosa is as complete a defensive end as we have in the game. He does a great job setting the edge in the run game and when he gets after the passer, he is so smooth with his hand-combos and finds the weakness of the tackle’s pass-sets. Another one of those enormous snubs from the actual list is Byard, who has become one of the premiere safeties in the game. Over the last three seasons, he leads the league with 17(!) interceptions and broke up another 33 passes. The range he presents as a deep-middle safety and the confidence he has in his game, combined with extremely dependable tackling in space (just two of 86 attempts missed last season), definitely earn him a spot. Since I just talked about Hunter, this is where he comes in. The Vikings D-end is another one of those guys, who has improved pretty much every year, since coming in as a pretty raw product from LSU. Hunter has put up 14.5 sacks in each of the last two seasons, but he massively improved his total pressure number of 97 (including the playoffs) and he actually got the ball out of the quarterbacks as well (three forced fumbles). He is an athletic phenom, who has learned to string moves together incredibly well. We have started a bit of a run on offensive tackles here, with Schwartz coming in slightly outside the top 50. There is a good argument to be made for this guy being the best at his position, especially if you base it off that incredibly postseason run he just had, when he allowed no sacks and just one total pressure on 142 pass-blocking snaps against some of the baddest dudes on the planet. Schwartz wasn’t responsible for any sacks through the regular season either and the Chiefs averaged an NFL-best 5.93 yards per carry through the gaps to either side of him. If you just base the list on this past season, you could argue Kendricks was the best linebacker in all of football. He has been a beast against the run pretty much since coming into the league, but what put him on a different level last season was his play in coverage. Kendricks allowed only 53.3 percent of the passes his way to be completed (very low for a LB) and broke up 12 passes, leading to a forced incompletion rate of 21.9 percent, which is more than four percent better than Luke Kuechly in his best season (who had been the previous record-holder). Let’s get this out of the way – Clowney can be an absolute game-wrecker. However, I really struggled with his ranking, because he is such a disruptive player when on the field – which the stats simply don’t tell you – but injuries have just been too much of an issue for him. That is also a big reason why he is still signed. Yet, you can not overlook how incredibly gifted Clowney is and how much better he has gotten with his hands. That week ten game at San Francisco was the best performance from a defensive player all season long. It’s always great when you predict a player to break out and he actually does. Jones already was on all my fantasy teams two years ago, but I said he would take another step forward in 2019 and he surprised even me. His 1558 scrimmage yards were the eight-most in entire league and he was tied for the most touchdowns at 19, while touching the ball almost 60 times less than the backs ahead of him (285 touches). He is so explosive and can just slither through defenses, while also being a true downfield threat as a receiver. https://preview.redd.it/imk396cc7gh51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=7a468004843b4c94a11ceb2890e4b2415daf5aac
I always thought Barrett was a good player as part of that rotation in Denver, but when he finally got a chance to shine, that’s exactly what he did. After posting 14 combined sacks over his four season with the Broncos, he led the league with 19.5 in his first year with Tampa Bay. He also finished second in tackles for loss (19) and forced six fumbles. Watching him rush the passer, his game is built on the bull rush and long-arm, off which he can covert power-to-speed, in terms giving a little hesitation and then winning on a quick burst to the outside. Talking about the top backs in the game, Elliott’s name doesn’t come up too often for me anymore. He still finished fourth in the league with 1357 rushing yards, but that was running behind a top-five offensive line and he just looked a step slow to what we have seen from him, without that explosion through the hole and turning those good runs into big gains. With that being said, he might still be the most complete back in the game and could return to glory in 2020. It almost feels bad to put Bakhtiari this low, but he is still one of those five elite offensive tackles. I think what puts him as last of that group is the fact he is closer to the average in terms of his run-blocking than the other guys. Still, he has been the best pass-protector over the last four years at least, when he did not allow more than three sacks once and the lowest amount of total pressures, despite his QB finishing in the top six of time to throw in all but one of them. While he did allow two sacks through the first half of last season, from week ten all the way through the NFC Championship game, he did not surrender a single one. If you asked me who the best route-runner in the game today was, I would probably say Keenan Allen. He is so elusive off the line, deceptive with how he sets up his breaks and he has that quick-twitch to create separation on the short and intermediate level. He does lack some vertical speed and his YACability isn’t among the best at the position, which is why he isn’t even higher, but if you need somebody to get open on third downs, this is your guy. He terrorized Darius Slay last season. Hicks did miss missed 11 games last season, but unlike the players around the league apparently – I did not forget about him. With just one sack and five TFLs in the five games he did play, it’s understandable that he would drop in the rankings, but let’s forget that in 2018 he rivaled Fletcher Cox and Chris Jones for the league’s best D-tackle not named Aaron Donald. Hicks was a frequent visitor in the backfield, with both ten marks in QB pressures and defensive stops. His impact was felt most when he wasn’t on the field for the Bears last season and they were closer to average than number one. While Kittle and Kelce to me are clearly in a tier of their own, Ertz is still that third guy at the tight-end position. He has been one of the most productive pass-catchers in the entire league for several years now. After setting a new record for most receptions in a season for a TE (118) in 2018, he took a little step back last year. Ertz is by far Carson Wentz’s favorite target, having lead the Eagles in both receptions and receiving yards in all four seasons the QB has been there for. Since he isn’t as much of a downfield or YAC threat as the other two guys at his position – as well as only being an okay blocker – this is where he falls for me. Somehow I think the player just don’t respect safeties, since this is the third guy now that should have clearly made the list at that position. I have always been a fan of Simmons and called for him getting more playing time, after mostly being a backup his rookie season, when the Broncos last won the Super Bowl. His range, instincts and smarts as a single-high free safety have allowed him to become a true difference-maker. And he certainly had the stats to back it up last season, with four picks and 15 more plays on the ball. Matty Ice has never gotten the love he deserves on this list or from people covering the league as a whole. People seem to still think about the 28-3 game and while his MVP season was more of an outlier due to playing with the game’s best offensive mind in Kyle Shanahan, he has thrown for 4000+ yards in nine straight seasons, completing exactly two-thirds of his passes for a TD-to-INT ratio of 2.26 and a passer rating of 97 over that stretch. He has pretty much always been second tier for me, but he has had to deal with some bad O-line play and a couple of questionable years of play-calling under Steve Sarkisian. 2019 was not a good season for Juju by any means. He missed four games and had less than half the production of the year prior. However, a lot of that had to do with the worst quarterback situation in the league and you don’t put over 2300 yards and 14 TDs before you even turn 23, if you aren’t a special player. With Big Ben under center in ’18, Juju finished top five in the NFL with 1426 yards and was named team MVP over Antonio Brown – which the latter let us know later on. I know this is what will get me the most hate, but whenever people want to give me all the stats on Drew Brees, they forget to mention that he is playing behind an elite offensive line, a record-setting receiver, one of the premiere pass-catching backs and one of the all-time great play-callers. I have called him a well-oiled machine in that Sean Payton offense several times and his command of that group is impeccable, but the raw arm talent simply isn’t quite there anymore. https://preview.redd.it/ngz596km7gh51.png?width=900&format=png&auto=webp&s=91b89cf581eefed34fbf6bced8d7170d18de00ed
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