Now that we’ve had a few weeks to decompress and enjoy some stress-free Sundays, I thought a mailbag would be a good way to jump back into the football conversation. Opening kickoff may be months away, but there is always something to talk about. From the draft to next season’s fantasy forecast, this article gives you my take on some of the NFL topics you’re probably discussing at the bar, work or in the dorm right now.
Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter: @TalbotTalks
If you land the number 1 fantasy pick next season, who are you taking? Got to be Jamaal Charles, right?
(Dave S. – Missouri)
Gun to my head, I’m taking LeSean McCoy. Jamaal Charles would be my second choice, followed by Forte and then AP. Crazy to think the greatest running back, maybe ever, falls to fourth on my list, but it’s hard to fully trust the guy. He’s a bit of an injury risk and with opponents stacking the box he needs to work harder than anyone for that extra yard. He’ll have games where he explodes this year (as always), but I can’t trust him to be the #1 guy. I had two #1 picks last year and felt obligated to take him, but I didn’t feel great about it. Truthfully, I felt more comfortable with the second pick. I was targeting Charles there and I worried the odds of AP repeating as the #1 overall back were slim. Turns out my worries were warranted.
I don’t think you can go wrong with Charles or McCoy next year, but I just can’t pass on McCoy. He’s too electrifying, too explosive, and the holes Chip Kelly’s offense opens are sizable enough for a locomotive to pass through. I feared playing against him. If you can’t beat him, join him, right?
Can Josh Gordon repeat his 2013 output in 2014?
(Mike C. – New Jersey)
Honestly, I think he can exceed it – depending on the quarterback situation. Paired with the right gunslinger, Josh Gordon could take the league by storm. He missed two games last season and still finished #1 among all fantasy receivers!! Who could have ever predicted Calvin Johnson would have a 2-game head start on Gordon and still fall short of his production? Unreal. I predicted Gordon would be the breakout receiver of 2013 last August, but I never imagined he would be this good; this fast. The only knock I have on him is his attitude. When the going gets tough, the shoulders start to sulk and his body language gives off a vibe that he doesn’t really care that much. I hope he can keep his head straight. With the right mindset and a good quarterback, this guy could go toe-to-toe with Calvin Johnson statistically for years to come.
I recently saw an article where they shook up the NFL divisions and aligned them from a more geographical sense. Your Giants would play in the AFC North with the Bills, Jets and Pats. How would you feel about that?
(Ryan M. – Connecticut)
Honestly, I wouldn’t hate it. The new alignment carries a lot of risk for Giants fans, but the rewards would be tremendous as well. The risk is that if we continually lose to the Jets and Patriots, we won’t hear the end of it from our friends. Living in NJ and going to college in CT, I know far too many Jets and Patriots fans. I’m good friends with a ton of them too. Not sure I can handle the relentless badgering if their team beats mine. On the other hand, we get to play the Bills and Jets twice a year!! 4 division wins is a strong possibility. Oh, and the other two games? We get to play that “powerhouse” Pats team that stomps on JV high school squads in the regular season and then gets rocked in the playoffs every year – often by us in the Super Bowl. 6-0 in the division every year sounds a lot better than 2-4 in the NFC East, continually getting embarrassed by punk players from Dallas and Philadelphia. I’m on board!
How many celebratory beverages did you have when you heard the news Kevin “Killdrive” retired?
(Adam M. – NY)
I’m still drinking.
Honestly though, as much as I knocked Gilbride, he did help win my team two championships. Every time he was on the hot seat, he seemed to come through. The truth is his offense just grew stale. At one point, when executed, it was effective. It just became tired and predictable over the years. In 2012 and 2013, the talent wasn’t there to compensate for that. It’s a bad sign when I know, just by situation and formation, whether a run or pass is coming. If an armchair fan can see what’s coming, a professional team watching hours of game tape is sure to see it as well. Thanks for the championships Gilbride, but thanks even more for retiring.
I’m excited for McAdoo’s up-tempo, quick-throw system. With that line, Eli can’t afford to drop back and wait for receivers to get open downfield. He has zero mobility. A fresh system, designed to get the ball out and keep pressure away from him could do wonders for the guy. I want the Eli-te conversation to come back. I need it to come back.
Where do you see the Texans going with the #1 overall pick? If you were the GM, who would you take?
(Tim S. – North Carolina)
Taking Clowney seems like a pretty Texans thing to do, doesn’t it? As the draft approaches, Johnny Manziel’s name is sure to be thrown around a lot. But as we saw in 2006, Houston doesn’t mind going against conventional wisdom. I predicted a few months back that Johnny Manziel would be the Cam Newton of the 2014 draft – a guy people are quick to critique, but a guy who ultimately might have too much upside to pass up on. I’m in the #TeamJohnny camp. He’s electric, polarizing, captivating. He’s going to put asses in the seats. And I think he has those intangibles you can’t really measure; that “it” factor. Placed in a situation like Houston (a year removed from a first round bye, with top talent on defense and offense), Manziel is sure to have an immediate impact in my eyes. This guy is a gamer. On the biggest of stages he performs at the highest level. In a lot of ways he reminds me of Russell Wilson (who just won a Super Bowl in his second season by the way). I think you have to take him and I think, ultimately, the Texans will.
Any sleeper tight ends for 2014? You were pretty spot on with Julius Thomas last year.
(Paul S. – Massachusetts)
Too early to tell if you ask me, but I do like Ladarius Green over in San Diego. I think we’ll start to see a changing of the guard between him and Gates this season. He’s younger, more athletic, and maybe the biggest physical mismatch on the field at all times. If I were waiting on a TE, I’d target him, Jordan Reed or maybe even Zach Ertz. Ertz found the end zone a lot last year; seemed to be one of Foles’ favorite targets. Can’t argue with grabbing Jimmy Graham in the second round though. Every team that did that was pretty dominant this year. The people that took Chris Johnson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Steven Jackson, Stevan Ridley and Darren McFadden instead? Not so much.
If you were a gambling man, what Super Bowl odds would you like best for 2014?
(Colin C. – California)
Loved the Seahawks at 12/1 last year (before they added Harvin), only I was 3,000 miles from Vegas at the time.
Interesting value plays this year:
- Seahawks (11/2) – Not bad for a young team that just won the Super Bowl by 35 points, returning everyone AND Percy Harvin.
- Carolina (20/1) – If not for a hobbled Steve Smith (who lost his legs in the second half of that Niner game) and some red zone inefficiencies, Carolina could have conceivably won that divisional round game. The defense is there. The offense is almost there. Add a potentially rejuvenated Hakeem Nicks, and a title is possible.
- Houston (33/1) – It’s Johnny’s world. We’re just living in it.
- Giants (40/1) – You bet I’m putting a few hundo on the Giants at 40:1 when I make my trip to Vegas this summer. McAdoo just needs to get them to the playoffs. From there, Eli and company will take over. That’s the Giants. They don’t always make the playoffs. But when they do, they beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl.
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