Todd Gurley
With the NFL Training Camp approaching us, it is time to start thinking about the 2018 fantasy football season. We’ll continue with a first look at the running backs.
1. Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams
2. Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
3. Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys
4. David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals
5. Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints
6. Kareem Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs
7. Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville Jaguars
8. Melvin Gordon, Los Angeles Chargers
9. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
10. Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons
11. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings
12. LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills
13. Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears
14. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers
15. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
16. Jerick McKinnon, San Francisco 49ers
17. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
18. Jay Ajayi, Philadelphia Eagles
19. Kenyan Drake, Miami Dolphins
20. Lamar Miller, Houston Texans
21. Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks
22. Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints
23. Sony Michel, New England Patriots
24. Derrius Guice, Washington Redskins
25. Alex Collins, Baltimore Ravens
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Brady Color Rush
With the NFL Training Camp approaching us, it is time to start thinking about the 2018 fantasy football season. We’ll start with a first look at the quarterbacks.
1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
3. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
4. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
5. Carson Wentz, Philadelphia Eagles
6. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
7. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
8. Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans
9. Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings
10. Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams
11. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
12. Jimmy Garoppolo, San Francisco 49ers
13. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
14. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
15. Philip Rivers, Los Angeles Chargers
You see that I stuck with Brady as my top option as he continues to put Father Time on ice. Wentz can move up if he continues to progress from his knee injury. Brees is another ageless wonder. I think Matty Ice bounces back in a big way. Watson can also potentially move up if his knee continues to progress.

Just because you’re a top athlete in one sport doesn’t mean that you don’t enjoy another one. In fact, many of the best athletes undertake alternative sports to increase their stamina, performance and create some variety in their training schedule.
Even after they have left their main sport behind these alternatives can be a great way to stay fit. If you’re ready to join them you can start cycling with the aid of an electric bike and build up to more strenuous opportunities.
What you may be surprised by is the number of NFL Legends who love cycling:
Chad Greenway
Greenway is currently the second leading tackler for the Minnesota Vikings. However he cycles as much as 60 miles a day in the off season; to assist his training. The fact that he loves cycling is simply a bonus.
It is worth noting that he rarely actually cycles 60 miles; he usually aims for between 20 and 40 to prevent burning muscle.
Cycling is a great interval training sport; simply pedal gently until you find a hill and then cycle up it as fast as you can. You can then rest on the flat and the down hills until the next one. This mimics the way his body needs to respond in a game.
Connor Barwin
This Philadelphia linebacker rides to work every day on his bike. It may only be 3 miles but his consistency helps improve his stamina; as well as competing with his own time every day.
Kellen Winslow II
A motorcycle accident in 2005 could have put this tight end out of the game but a stationary bike helped him to rebuild his strength and stamina.
Since then he developed a love of cycling and now h rides between 30 and 40 miles per day. He is even considering a comeback to the game after a 4 year break!
Team Work
The Falcons have a general manager that loves to cycle. He has even led a group of 50 cyclists on a 17 mile ride round the toughest streets of Atlanta. He is enthusiastic about getting the team to ride to and from work. But he is also realistic, knowing that you need a passion for cycling to really make it work.
He’s certainly in good company as Matt Bryant, Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are already keen cyclists in their spare time; perhaps the Falcons will be the first all cycling NFL team!
Keeping The Balance
It is important for these NFL athletes to get the right balance between a love of cycling and their need to be match fit. Long distance cycling is a cardio activity which will burn fat. However, these guys don’t generally need to burn excess fat.
Long distance training is also likely to reduce the energy and time available for strength training. As an NFL player you need strength and mass so no matter how keen they are on cycling these NFL players need to balance their budding cycling careers against the demands of their current sport.

 | Posted by | Categories: NFL | Tagged: cycling, NFL |

Saquon Barkley
1. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
Barkley not only is the odds on favorite to be the top rookie running back, he is a strong candidate to finish in the top ten of fantasy football scoring for all running backs. The last two seasons at Penn State Barkley averaged 1,813 total yards and 20.5 touchdowns.
2. Rashaad Penny, Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks have been looking for a Marshawn Lynch replacement for a couple of years now. Penny more than doubled his production last year at San Diego State with 2,027 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns with another 18 catches for 142 yards and a pair of scores. If he can stay healthy, perhaps Penny can solidify Seattle’s backfield.
3. Sony Michel, New England Patriots
Michel ran for 948 yards and 13 touchdowns on a 7.2 yards per carry clip last year for Georgia. He’ll form a committee with James White and Rex Burkhead, but given his explosiveness look for Bill Belichick to find ways to get him the ball.
4. Derrius Guice, Washington Redskins
Guice averaged 1,373 total yards and 13.5 touchdowns over teh last two years at LSU. He should emerge as the lead back for Washington, but Chris Thompson should limit him to 1st and 2nd downs. Samaje Perine could be in the mix for some carries as well.
5. Royce Freeman, Denver Broncos
Freeman finished his collegiate career at Oregon with 6,435 total yards and 64 touchdowns, including 1,639 total yards and 16 touchdowns last year. Freeman may enter the season behind Devontae Booker, but Booker may be better suited as the third down back leaving Freeman for early downs and goal line work.
6. Ronald Jones II, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jones saw his production at USC improve each year culminating with 1,637 total yards and 19 touchdowns last year. He should enter the year as the lead back for the Bucs, which puts him in RB2/3 conversations.
7. Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts
Hines does not have a challenging climb to the top of Indy’s depth chart. He ran for 1,040 yards with 9 touchdowns at 5.7 ypc for NC State last year. If Marlon Mack struggles Hines could see RB3 status based on opportunity.
8. Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions
Johnson had 1,508 total yards and 19 touchdowns at Auburn last year. LeGarrette Blount will cut into goal line work and perhaps some 4th quarter duties if the Lions are ahead. If they fall behind, then Theo Riddick will cut into the time. Johnson is an intriguing dynasty pick though.
9. Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns
Chubb’s prospects would be much higher had the Browns not signed Carlos Hyde. He averaged 6.2 ypc with 1,175 yards and 13 touchdowns for Georgia.
10. Kalen Ballage, Miami Dolphins
Ballage has to get past Kenyon Drake and Frank Gore to make an impact as a rookie. Barring injury, that isn’t a likely scenario. You never know though. Ballage did catch 44 passes as a junior for 469 yards and a touchdown to go along with 536 yard and 14 touchdowns on the ground.

“Brady” by Brook Ward (CC BY-NC 2.0)
In most years, the New England Patriots come into the season on the same page. Their offseason activities look organized and buttoned up, and they look poised to contend for another championship. This offseason, though, the team has looked disjointed and there is a palpable vibe of uncertainty surrounding the best team in recent NFL history.
One of the biggest things that has appeared strange this offseason for the Patriots has been their cutting short of offseason team activities. Bill Belichick isn’t someone who normally cuts his team’s workload short. To see that happen is strange, but feels even weirder given all of the turmoil surrounding the team over the last few months with regard to Belichick and his relationship with Tom Brady.
And Brady’s potentially frosty relationship with Belichick hasn’t been the only issue with the team this offseason. The team has also reportedly thought about trading tight end Rob Gronkowski. While Gronkowski has been an impact player during his career, his inability to stay healthy has hurt the team on a number of occasions. And while the team would want him to stay healthy, dealing the best tight end in the league only furthers the notion that there are some chemistry issues in New England.
The Patriots have also wasted some time on the quarterback position this offseason. They’ve done so by getting in touch with former Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg. Hackenberg has been subpar throughout his entire career, and the Patriots clearly don’t need a quarterback given their reliance on Tom Brady. But with Brady prompting the team to trade Jimmy Garoppolo previously, it’s possible that they want backups who pose no real threat to him.
“Bill Belichick” by Steve Glass (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Heading into the next season, the Patriots will be one of the favorite to win the Super Bowl once again. But they have been notoriously slow starters over the last couple of seasons. As a result, it could well be worth using a free bet from Oddschecker to back their opponents over the first couple of weeks of the season as the team turmoil might make it even harder for them to get off to a good start.
Injuries and suspensions can also derail a season, and the Patriots are dealing with those too. Julian Edelman’s four-game suspension is going to make things difficult on an offense that was looking forward to having him back for week one. And Malcolm Mitchell being hurt thins the receiving corps even further. Even though Brady can make almost anyone into a star receiver, these losses make his job much more difficult.
The Patriots have a lot on their plate this offseason, with injuries, suspensions, and chemistry problems running rampant throughout the squad. Of course, all of the problems in the world can’t stop them from winning the AFC East due to the subpar competition presented by the Jets, Bills, and Dolphins. But come playoff time, these issues may lead to some problems when the Patriots face off with the best teams in the NFL.

The most controversial decision of night one of the NFL Draft was Cleveland’s selection of quarterback Baker Mayfield at number one overall. But the second pick in the draft could have been just as controversial, as the New York Giants drafted running back Saquon Barkley at number two. Given the team’s current situation, should the Giants have drafted a quarterback instead of opting for the ultra-talented Barkley?
Giants Quarterback Woes
New York Giants fans have not had to worry about who their quarterback would be in the future for a very long time. That is because the team grabbed Eli Manning in a trade with the San Diego Chargers for Philip Rivers early in their draft class. Since then, Manning has been the starter for all but a handful of games for the team. But his struggles in recent seasons had our mock draft leaning toward the Giants taking a quarterback second overall.
Manning threw for less than 3,500 yards last season despite throwing the ball 571 times, the fifth highest number of attempts in a season during his career. He has thrown 13 or more interceptions in every season of his career since 2009, and the Giants looked impotent offensively with him out there last year. Of course, not all of this was his fault, but it is clear that Eli may be past his prime as a quarterback in the NFL.
That is what made the second overall pick the perfect opportunity to take a quarterback. The Giants could have given themselves a future at the position to improve for years to come. And while Saquon Barkley has the support of some former Giants, he will need to be great to justify being picked second.
More Important Issues
There is no doubt that the Giants were one of the worst rushing teams in the NFL last season. They finished 26th in the NFL in rushing yardage, with less than 1,600 yards as a team for the campaign. Bringing in Saquon Barkley is an attempt to fix that, but it does nothing to solve the root of the Giants’ issues: their offensive line.
In the 2017 season, the Giants scored six rushing touchdowns total. That anemic mark was the result of the offensive line of the Giants failing to get a push at the line of scrimmage. And while Saquon Barkley is a good player, he will not be able to block for himself. While some are choosing to be critical of Barkley for the wrong reasons, it is a fact that he will need help to get enough space to be effective.
Moreover, the Giants drafted Barkley thanks in large part to his receiving abilities. There is nothing wrong with wanting a running back who can catch the ball, but the Giants already have a loaded receiving corps. Drafting a running back who averaged less than 20 carries per game in two of his three seasons at Penn State when you need a Zeke Elliott type of bell cow in the back field is a decision worth questioning.
Chance To Repeat History
In the NFL, there is the saying that it is a quarterback league. And with the Giants at preseason odds of 50/1 to win Super Bowl LIII according to the bookmarker Betway as of May 2, the second overall pick would have been a great chance to let history repeat itself for the Giants by drafting a quarterback. Doing so would have let the young player learn from Manning, the same way Manning had the chance to learn from veteran quarterback Kurt Warner.
This would have been especially prudent in an NFL landscape where even the slightest injury to a quarterback can damage their hopes of winning a title. Right in the Giants’ division, the Philadelphia Eagles will be set for years to come thanks to their decision to draft Carson Wentz. If Barkley is anything short of a great player, the Giants will regret not making a similar decision.
There is, of course, a great chance that Saquon Barkley becomes a talented and useful player for the Giants for years to come. But in a quarterback league, failure to solidify yourself at the quarterback position for as long as possible can be disastrous. For the Giants, only time will tell if they made the right decision.

2018 NFL Mock Draft

22 February 2018

Here’s the Lester’s Legends 2018 NFL Mock Draft.
1. Cleveland Browns – Sam Darnold, QB, USC
2. New York Giants – Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA
3. Indianapolis Colts – Bradley Chubb, DE, NC State
4. Cleveland Browns – Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State
5. Denver Broncos -Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming
6. New York Jets – Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
8. Chicago Bears – Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama
9. San Francisco 49ers – Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
10. Oakland Raiders – Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
11. Miami Dolphins – Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
12. Cincinnati Bengals – Mike McGlinchey, T, Notre Dame
13. Washington Redskins – Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
14. Green Bay Packers – Joshua Jackson, DB, Iowa
15. Arizona Cardinals – Connor Williams, T, Texas
16. Baltimore Ravens – Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma
17. Los Angeles Chargers – Vita Vea, DL, Washington
18. Seattle Seahawks – Derwin James, S, Florida State
19. Dallas Cowboys – Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
20. Detroit Lions – Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
21. Buffalo Bills – Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
22. Buffalo Bills – Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A & M
23. Los Angeles Rams – Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
24. Carolina Panthers – Marcus Davenport, DE, UTSA
25. Tennessee Titans – Will Hernandez, G, UTEP
26. Atlanta Falcons – Isaiah Wynn, G, Georgia
27. New Orleans Saints – Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
28. Pittsburgh Steelers – Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama
29. Jacksonville Jaguars – Hayden Hurst, TE, South Carolina
30. Minnesota Vikings – Billy Price, G/C, Ohio State
31. New England Patriots – Donte Jackson, CB, LSU
32. Philadelphia Eagles – Kolton Miller, T, UCLA

Carson Wentz
The Eagles’ triumph at Super Bowl LII, one of the most thrilling showpiece games in living memory, represented the success of a team that is the most complete in the NFL. From the work of Eagles Executive Vice President of Football Operations Howie Roseman, who put the finishing touches to the roster he built last year, bringing in players such as Torrey Smith and Jay Ajayi, to the expert play-calling of Doug Pederson and the astonishingly calm professionalism of Nick Foles, every part of the puzzle came together to produce a victory cheered in (almost) every part of the US.


As they calmly amassed a 13-3 record during the regular season, despite a string of potentially tough match-ups, this group of players forced pundits and experts to constantly reassess their merits. At every stage, there were predictions that the good run was about to come to an end, and then, when star quarterback Carson Wentz was ruled out, they just kept on confounding the experts as Foles steered the team all the way to the final, where he outplayed the great Tom Brady in a classic encounter.


Now that they’ve won their first Super Bowl in the history of the franchise, where do they go next? Can they turn a stunning victory into the beginning of a dynasty?


Well, in case they needed any motivation, Foles, Wentz, and the Eagles players need only look at the sports betting markets. In early betting for the 2019 Super Bowl, the Eagles are ranked some way behind the New England Patriots and on the same level as the Pittsburgh Steelers. That seems to significantly underestimate the potential of this group.


Any postseason strengthening must first take account of the quarterback position. Wentz, Foles, and Nate Sudfeld represent perhaps the strongest resource in this position in the whole of the NFL. Wentz is likely to return as starter next season, injuries permitting, and the Eagles will do all they can to persuade Foles – who has a year left on his contract – to stay with the franchise in the event of any doubt on the matter.


Assuming that Foles does stay, the champions do have a number of areas for consideration, though at $9 million or so over the pay cap, they have limited room for manoeuvre.


Away from the quarterback role, the most pressing need for strengthening is at linebacker. Jordan Hicks is recovering from a serious leg injury, Nigel Bradham could be on his way out as a free agent, and Mychal Kendricks’ position is uncertain. With Najee Goode and Dannell Ellerbe also possible departures, the entire linebacker department is up in the air. If they only strengthen one area during the off-season, this should be it.


If the Eagles lose both Trey Burton and Brent Celek – who contributed 765 backup snaps during the season – the squad would be left with no cover for Zach Ertz. Ertz is one of the best in the NFL, but tight end is such an important part of this team’s offense that they need at least one quality backup. Focusing on picking up cover at the draft and then adding a reliable third-choice veteran through the open market could be a good strategy.


Perhaps the hardest decision that the Eagles have to make is whether to keep hold of Jason Peters or give the nod to Halapoulivaati Vaitai? This decision at tackle will in turn shape their strategy for the whole of the offensive line, which is one of the older units in the NFL. Adding strength in depth in this crucial department is also likely to be high on their agenda.


The need for new blood in the receiver positions isn’t as clear-cut, but would become more pressing if Smith is allowed to leave. That would likely lead to Mack Hollins stepping up to play starting receiver with Alshon Jeffery, making a cheap but reliable free agent receiver a good option to have on board in case Hollins doesn’t work out.


Finally, with question marks over Donnel Pumphrey and Wendell Smallwood and the possibility that Darren Sproles may retire, the cover for Corey Clement and Ajayi looks threadbare, so the champions may also think about drafting another running back.


This might seem like a lot of potential areas in which to make changes, but good teams, if they want to become dominant teams, don’t rest on their laurels. Strengthening in these areas would give the Eagles momentum going into the new season and put them in the ideal position to prove the experts wrong all over again!

 | Posted by | Categories: NFL | Tagged: NFL, Philadelphia Eagles |

The Super Bowl ended painfully. Not a good postseason run for my prediction segment. When you repeatedly pick against the Champions, it does damage to your winning percentage.
Playoff Record:  4-7 (.363)
Pro Bowl Record:  0-1 (.000)
Overall Record: 164-104 (.612)
Lock Picks: 14-3 (.824)

 | Posted by | Categories: NFL, NFL Picks | Tagged: NFL, NFL Picks |

Trey Flowers
Here are the Lester’s Legends fantasy football team defense for Super Bowl LII.
1. New England Patriots
2. Philadelphia Eagles
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