Storylines around the NFL

Three biggest takeaways from every NFL week one game:

The first of 18 NFL weeks is now in the rear-view mirror and while we don’t want to overreact to what we saw, there are some things that we were able to learn. Therefore – just like I did last year – I put together a list of three takeaways that I have coming out of all 16 games. Some of these may concern an individual player, a coach, a position group or a team as a whole. Obviously, there would more things to point out here, but for the purpose of this exercise, I chose the ones that were most apparent to me.

This is what I took away:

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NFL Predictions

Predicting the entire 2021 NFL season:

We are exactly a week away from the NFL kickoff game between the Cowboys and Buccaneers. So as I do every year, I predicted the three top candidates for every major award, like MVP, Defensive Player of the Year and so on. To go along with that (since I’m a football psycho), I went through the whole schedule and decided on the winner of every single game, considering bye weeks, travel schedule and of course how the teams match up against each other. The result is a list of the seven playoff teams in each conference, a prediction of every postseason round and ultimately who I have winning the Super Bowl.

My Excel sheet, where I filled out the entire schedule is at the very end, if you want to check it out or see where I have your team finishing at, if they’re not listed among the playoff squads.

Here’s how I have the season shaking out:

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Fantasy Football

Fantasy diamonds for 2021:

We’re back once again with my fantasy diamonds piece, where I try to give you some names I think are undervalued based on current ADPs (average draft positions) across the three major platforms – NFL.com, ESPN & Yahoo.

I realized this wasn’t posted here until now, so R.I.P. J.K. Dobbins …

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NFL Power Rankings

Power Rankings ahead of the 2021 NFL season:

Just three weeks away from the season-opener between the Cowboys and Buccaneers, I once again ranked all 32 NFL teams and split them into six different tiers, from Super Bowl contenders to – how I liked to call it – tanking teams. Putting this list together, I considered talent on the roster, how all the pieces fit together, the level of coaching and I project these teams to develop until the new year.

Of course, these will change over the course of the season, as injuries become a bigger factor, players improve/regress and teams get into a certain rhythm. Therefore I’ll come back to it, at the latest, mid-way through the 2021 season and move these groups up or down the board accordingly.

Here’s my list:

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NFL Top 100

My NFL Top 100 players of 2021:  

As I have done the last seven years and as the actual reason I started with my page, I have put together my personal list of the NFL’s Top 100. This was originally designed to be a ranking of the top 100 players in the league, regardless of position, for the upcoming season. And while this has more and more become a comparison of resumes and altered its criteria, in the spirit of what this was intended to be, I listed what I thought were the very best players, in relation to how good they are at their position coming into 2021. What I changed this year was actually putting ratings on these players – sort of Madden style – and one by one incorporating them into the list, while debating back and forth when multiple guys shared the same number.

There are six names to start off with, who didn’t qualify for my list. I believe they all deserve to be on it, but I just didn’t know where to put them, because of how long it’s been since we’ve seen them on the field, how often they’ve gotten hurt recently or because we just don’t know if/when we will see them play again.

I also added the 30 names that just missed the cut. So it’s almost a top 130, because I always have a tough time leaving those names off, but I feel pretty good about the ultimate rankings that I put together here.

For analysis, just click on the video, where I work my way from the bottom to the top!

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The official countdown premieres five days from now, but I’m filming this here on August 4th – just in case any players were to suffer an injury or some other news coming out, that would change the availability of certain players.

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NFL Offseason

Key position battles at 2021 NFL training camps:

With training camps for all 32 NFL teams under way now, I thought it was time to go through every single roster once again and identify what I believe are some of the more key position battles, which I would classify as an actual competition, which could take all of preseason to play out potentially.

I tried to include one example for each position, without repeating teams, and at the end I will mention a few other competitions that I will have my eyes on.


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NFL Offseason

Second- and third-year NFL players ready to break out in 2021 – Defense edition:

Once again, we have reached a part of the offseason, where there’s not many transactions or otherwise important moves to analyze around the NFL. So I took the time to put on the tape of players from the 2019 and ’20 drafts and identify which of them are bound to break out this upcoming season.

To avoid subjective interpretation of which players are or are not eligible for making this list anymore, I already stated that they can’t have made a Pro Bowl / All-Pro team so far or are just generally considered one of the top players at their position already, like a Quinnen Williams or Darnell Savage for example. To go along with that, players that have reached double-digit sacks or tackles for loss, or led his team in another major category, are excluded. Oh, and the players that made my list already last year, won’t repeat doing so.

Defensive Rookie of the Year candidates like Antoine Winfield and Jeremy Chinn did not qualify, Derrick Brown may not be in position to rack up big numbers, but he was already dominant for stretches in the middle of that Panthers defense this past season and Cardinals linebacker Isaiah Simmons was too obvious for me, since he was my number two overall prospect a year ago and should be in much better position to make plays, in a more defined role.

Just like the offensive edition, two of the first three players mentioned here were selected in the middle of the first round, but the other six names all went on day two or later.

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NFL Offseason

Second- and third-year NFL players ready to break out in 2021 – Offense edition:

Now that we’re in this sort of dead part of the offseason, where all the main player acquisitions have been processed and all the moves have been analyzed, it was time for me to put on the tape of players from the 2019 and ’20 drafts and identify which of them are bound to break out this upcoming season.

Since that is a subjective definition, I set myself parameters of some statistical milestones and other factors that these players must not have reached yet. So you won’t find anybody who has already made a Pro Bowl or All-Pro team, quarterbacks are excluded if they have already thrown for 4000 yards or 25 touchdowns in a season and for running backs and receivers, they’re not allowed to have already cracked 1000 yards rushing or receiving respectively and/or double-digit touchdowns. And if somebody is just generally considered one of the top players at their position already, I didn’t mention them either. Plus, you won’t see guys on here that already my list a year ago.

A lot of these lists primarily include first-round picks and a couple of guys that already broke out, but people didn’t really know about before last season. You won’t see any running backs or wide receivers from 2019, because those guys have either broken out already or I had them on my list last year – D.K. Metcalf, A.J. Brown, Terry McLaurin, Josh Jacobs, David Montgomery and others. As far as last year’s rookie class goes, Joe Burrow to me has already shown the ability to be a franchise quarterback, other than Henry Ruggs III and Jalen Reagor, all the other receivers that went in the first round last year were at least flirting with the 1000-yard mark, and two of the three offensive tackles drafted in the top 20, that actually played the majority of games as rookies, have established themselves as long-term starters in my opinion (Jedrick Wills and Tristan Wirfs).

So while we start with a high draft pick from 2020, most of the guys on this list went quite a bit later.

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NFL Offseason

Biggest remaining needs for each team in the NFC:

The main parts of the NFL offseason are in the books, in terms of player acquisition via free agency, trades and the draft. But while team building is mostly complete, there are still a few needs that need to be addressed, and we’ll run through them team-by-team – starting with the NFC today!

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