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The Jacksonville Jaguars Get A New Toy

With the Fourth Pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars selected... Leonard Fournette.  (Jaguar fans go nuts)  This is a great pick for the Jaguars; as Fournette is a big powerful back that can step in and play immediately.  He is in the mold of the traditional three down back and should see the bulk of the goal line carries (if Blake Bortles finds a way to not throw the ball to the other team first).  

Fournette immediately leaps to the top of the running back depth chart in Jacksonville; ahead of Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon.  The aging and underwhelming Chris Ivory may not even be on the Jaguars' Week One roster given the addition of Fournette.  As for Yeldon, he has yet to impress since being taken in the second round in 2015 by Jacksonville.  In 312 carries, Yeldon has gained only 1,205 yards and one touchdown.  Therefore, the starting job is Fournette's to lose.  

Jacksonville is making a concerted effort to improve the offense in what looks to be Bortles' last chance as the lead man in Jacksonville.  Taking Fournette and Cam Robinson with their first two picks is a clear attempt to shore up their offensive shortcomings.  Cam Robinson is the big tackle from Alabama that the Jags hope will open up some holes for their new power back.  While Fournette is not Ezekiel Elliot and will not be walking into as favorable situation as Elliot did in 2016; the expectations for Fournette will not be any lower.  Fournette will get the ball early and often.  

NFL Draft Prospect: OJ Howard

With the 2017 NFL Draft a little over a week away, there are many players to get excited about for fantasy football owners.  There are several dynamic running backs, a few exciting receivers, and a couple quarterbacks which will hear their name called in the first round.  One of the draft's most intriguing prospects prospects is Alabama's OJ Howard.  

OJ Howard

If you watched any of Alabama's games last year, you could not help but be impressed by this dynamic playmaker.  At 6'6", 251 lbs,, and a 34" wingspan, the kid has the look of a superstar NFL tight end.  He is not just a big guy, he can move too.  Howard ran a 4.51 second 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine.  Howard has size to match his elite athleticism;  which could prove to be a matchup nightmare for linebackers and safeties.  Need an example?  OJ Howard showed what he could do in the National Championship game two years ago; where he hauled in 208 receiving yards and two touchdowns.  

Let's face it, 2016's rookie tight end class was underwhelming.  Hunter Henry and Austin Hooper led the class; but never really impressed.  Hunter Henry only averaged 31 yards per game; however, he did haul in 8 touch downs.  Austin Hooper averaged 19 yards and scored 3 times.  OJ Howard is better than both, Henry and Hooper.  

There is talk that OJ Howard could be a top 10 draft selection next Thursday night.  If a team takes him with a top 10 pick; you better believe that they plan on using their new toy often.  Expect to see OJ Howard to really turn some heads next year.  And do not be surprised to look back on the 2017-2018 season see OJ Howard finish as a top 10 tight end.

How Good Is Mike Trout Really?

How good is the Angels' center fielder, Mike Trout?  Pretty damn good; it turns out.  If you are lucky enough to have the number one overall pick in your league's 2017 fantasy baseball draft, you will have the entire major league pool at your fingertips.  However, do not get cute and mess it up; because, you will not have another pick until everyone else gets two.  Be smart and take the consensus number one fantasy baseball player: Mike Trout.  

Mike Trout

Mike Trout has everything you want in a number one overall pick.  He is young, super talented, experienced, and entering the prime of his career.  At 25 years old, Mike Trout is entering his seventh full season in the Major Leagues.  In that short time period, he has collected two MVP awards and five All-Star game appearances.  Let that consistency sink in for a moment.  Trout is not some kid with just one good year under his belt; you have a steady track record of stellar play.  

Since entering the league, Trout has never finished with less than 27 home runs in a full season.  Two years ago he belted 41 home runs and 90 RBIs to go with .299 average.  He is not just a power hitter though; three times in his career he has stolen 30 bases or more.  Fantasypros.com projects Mike Trout to belt 33 home runs, 101 RBIs and hit for a .303 average in 2017.  Furthermore, he is projected to steal 21 bases and score 110 runs.

Mike Trout

Mike Trout

Mike Trout is the total package and should be the number one pick in your up coming draft; and it is not really up for discussion.  Look no further for the best option to build your team around.

Narrowing Down the Romo Sweepstakes

The Tony Romo Sweepstakes looks to be down to two teams.  As Dak Prescott played his way to the becoming Dallas Cowboys' quarterback of the future AND the present; Tony Romo's role with the team became very clear... there is not one.  His contract is too large to be a backup quarterback and he was not willing to take less money to sit the bench.  Several weeks ago the list of possible landing spots ranged from bad teams like the Browns to talented teams that lack that missing piece at quarterback.  It seems that the list of potential landing spots for Romo has been narrowed down to two teams.  On February 18, 2017, Andre Vergara of Fox Sports reported that there are really only two teams with a real chance to land Romo: the Arizona Cardinals and the Houston Texans.

First and perhaps foremost, Romo wants to play for a Super Bowl contender.  This eliminates teams that are in the rebuilding process.  So you an go ahead and scratch the Browns, the Bears, and the Jets off of the list.  Arizona is one year removed from making the NFC Championship game; so they are a prime spot.  Similarly, Houston was a playoff team that gave the Super Bowl Champs all they could handle without J.J. Watt.

The Cardinals are a dangerous offense with the least talked about superstar running back in the league, David Johnson.  Further, the future Hall of Famer, Larry Fitzgerald announced he will be returning to a dangerous receiving corps.  One of the biggest problems with the Cardinals offense in 2016 was the inaccuracy of Carson Palmer.  In 2015 he was hitting tight windows and pushing the ball down the field.  2016 was a different story as passing yards, touchdowns, quarterback rating, and completion percentage were all down from 2015.  Further, interceptions increased from 11 to 14.  With Palmer announcing he is returning to play in 2017, the issue for Arizona would be choosing Romo over the 38 year old Palmer.  I am not an NFL general manager... yet... but I believe that choice is an easy one.  Palmer is an aging quarterback that is losing his touch.  Romo, is a gunslinger with some tread left on the tires.  Romo could quickly step into this offense and put up solid numbers in Bruce Arians' offense.  Will the Cardinals make the tough decision to push aside a veteran that has given the Cardinals some great seasons in favor of a younger veteran in the hopes of winning now?  We shall see.

The Texans defense allowed the fewest yards in 2016 without former NFL Defensive Player of the Year, J.J. Watt.  The combination of Jadeveon Clowney, Whitney Mercilus, and a healthy J.J. Watt makes for a devastating defense in 2017.  The plan in 2016 was to ride that great defense and retool the offense with the additions of Lamar Miller and Brock Osweiler.  This plan came off of the rails when Brock Osweiler fell flat on his face.  The Texans dealt a lot shekels to get the Peyton Manning backup to take this offense to the next level.  Unfortunately for the Texans, Osweiler was down right awful in 2016.  So much so, that the Texans are now exploring other options after one year of the Osweiler Experiment.  Romo would be a significant upgrade from Osweiler in every category.  The Texans are setup to win now.  Keeping these defensive superstars happy and properly paid will be increasingly difficult in the coming years.  As such, the Texans need to get a quarterback that can lead an offense that has the potential to be very good.  DeAndre Hopkins is an elite receiver that had an awful year.  He will bounce back in 2017; he is too good not to.  The Texans also have a talented young receiver in Will Fuller and a talented young tight end in C.J. Fiedorowicz.  One hurdle to signing Romo is Osweiler's big contract.  It will be difficult to pay both Romo and Osweiler; and moving Osweiler to another team will be just as difficult due to his poor play and big contract.  If the Texans can find a way to land Romo, they could truly make a run at the Super Bowl in 2017.  

Tony Romo is expected to be released by the Dallas Cowboys instead of traded; therefore Romo's destination is in his own hands.  If he chooses the Cardinals or the Texans it would be a win-win for both Romo and the team.  Romo will not lead the league in passing next year but he could be the missing piece that the Cardinals and the Texans need to make a serious run at the Super Bowl this season.

Will Leonard Fournette Be 2017's Ezekiel Elliott or Derrick Henry?

When the 2017 NFL draft rolls around around in a few months, you will hear the term "once in a generation talent" thrown around.  This label is only reserved for players held in the highest regard. (see the athletic freak that is Jadeveon Clowney)  That label will undoubtedly be attached to LSU running back Leonard Fournette.  As a borderline obsessive college football fan, I watched many of Fournette's games at LSU.  Each time I saw him play, I was more and more impressed with this kid's pure talent.  He is a violent runner coupled with great speed.  He is listed at 6-1, 235 lbs.  Compare that to Ezekiel Elliott's 6-0 225.  The two boast similar builds and similar running styles; but will they have similar rookie campaigns?

Will Fournette perform as an Elliott-like rookie sensation next year or will he be a great running back stuck behind another solid back; locked in a timeshare?  That question comes down to which team he goes to and what offensive line he ends up running behind.  Ezekiel Elliott had the great fortune to be drafted by the Dallas Cowboys; which boasts one of the best offensive line in the NFL.  As such, he was able to amass an eye-popping 5.1 yards per carry as a rookie.  On the other side of Lady Luck was Derrick Henry; the bruising Heisman Trophy winner from Alabama.  Henry was selected by the Tennessee Titans; a team with an average offensive line and Demarco Murray sitting atop the depth chart.  Due to the consistently good production from Demarco Murray, Henry's touches were limited in 2016.  In limited action, Derrick Henry averaged 4.5 yards per carry.  I believe that Fournette is a better back than both Ezekiel Elliott and Derrick Henry.  No matter how talented Fournette is, his fantasy production will depend on what type of situation he will he be drafted into.

Mel Kipper Jr.'s latest mock draft has Fournette being selected by the Carolina Panthers with the 8th pick in the first round.  This would delight Panthers fans as Jonathan Stewart is injury prone and on the downside of his career.  However, this will ultimately cap the fantasy upside for Fournette in 2017 as he will be locked into a timeshare with JStew.   Furthermore, when Leonard does get carries, he will be running behind an offensive line that had a tough time run blocking in 2016.  In his 9th year, Stewart averaged a career worst 3.8 yards per carry last year behind that offensive line.  Fantasy footballers should look to Derrick Henry's 2016 stat line as a guide for Leonard Fournette's rookie campaign if Fournette does go to the Panthers at number 8.  Ultimately, Fournette will have an extremely productive NFL career with the Carolina Panthers... just not in 2017.