The Rival Sports Podcast Episode 23: “Kicking can’t be this hard, right?”

The Rival Sports Podcast is back for Episode 23 and we’re talking more NFL football. The NFC has flip-flopped and we’re now living in the upside down, players legs are falling off, the AFC North is all but settled, and kickers inexcusably suck now.

In Episode 23 Adam and Al are joined by special guest and friend of the pod Ben who sheds some light on this weeks NFL action and give his personal take (as a former kicker) on why everyone but Justin Tucker sucks. Plus we chat about the Eifert puke-inducing ankle break that Redzone didn’t prepare us for, and Earl Thomas shooting his team the bird while getting carted off.

Listen to “Episode 23: “Kicking can’t be this hard, right” on Spreaker here!
Want to hear more? Subscribe on iTunes, listen on Google Play, and be sure to check our archives.
This episode includes:

  • Vikings discussions on whether they’re the real deal anymore
  • Packers talk on crushing the Bills, showing patience with Devante Adams as a number 1 WR in the NFL, and rejoicing in Aaron Jones’ early success
  • Are the Bears really good? and will the Lions ever be good?
  • Earl Thomas obviously breaks his leg and makes it a contract issue while Le’veon Bell can’t help but comment on Instagram on the issue
  • Tyler Eifert has a great game but then his foot pretty much falls off to end his season
  • The Browns and Steelers go quietly into the night as the Bengals and Ravens are in the driver’s seat for the division
  • And we end by discussing kickers in the NFL making their jobs so much harder than it has to be

The Rival Sports Podcast will be posting new NFL episodes on a weekly basis. Please subscribe on iTunes and Google Play to keep up to date on all of our podcasts!

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The Rival Sports Podcast Episode 22: The Bakery is Open!

The Rival Sports Podcast is back for Episode 22 and we’re talking more NFL football. The good teams are losing, the bad teams are winning, and nothing seems to make sense anymore in this wildly unpredictable league.

In Episode 22 Adam and Al are in shambles after their teams, the Vikings and Packers, can’t seem to figure it out, ceding the early divisional lead to the Chicago Bears. New England and Jacksonville follow the NFC North’s suit and let a long-shot team take the divisional lead after two shocking losses, and Greg gives a rundown of the Week 4 edition of #3InOut – who to bring IN and who to kick OUT of your Fantasy Football lineup.

Listen to “Episode 22: The Bakery is open” #Bakeryisopen on Spreaker here!
Want to hear more? Subscribe on iTunes, listen on Google Play, and be sure to check our archives.
This episode includes:

  • Baker Mayfield impressions and expectations moving forward as the starter and savior in Cleveland
  • Green Bay and Minnesota forgetting that they’re good teams
  • Pats losing to the Lions, inviting more questions about the team’s quality, while the Jags go toothless in field goal loss to the Titans
  • Saquan Barkley is good
  • Fitzmagic keeps his job
  • and finally, the AFC North is an unpredictable mess… and we love it!

The Rival Sports Podcast will be posting new NFL episodes on a weekly basis. Please subscribe on iTunes and Google Play to keep up to date on all of our podcasts!

Be sure to follow us on Twitter:
@therivalsports
@HollandGregJ
@Adamsmiiith
@Alex_the_rival

#3InOut – Week 4 Edition

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3 IN

+ CLE WRs Rashard Higgins/Antonio Callaway
Now I won’t normally be naming 2 players from the same team, (and assuming never, ever again from the Browns), but what Baker Mayfield showed us last week fired me up enough to try something crazy. Not only is Mayfield a better option to open things up here for Browns WR’s, being thrust into a situation like that and equipped with an opportunity like he had, it makes it all the more impressive and comforts me to the point I think getting EITHER ONE of these guys is a good idea. They’ve shown the ability to stretch the field and make the catches (when the throw is on target), and being as Cleveland has a semblance of a running game with Carlos Hyde, this offense has a chance to move now that they’ve got the ‘L’ monkey off their back. If anything, I might even say I’m excited to watch the Browns now.

+ ARI WR Christian Kirk
Coming off a pre-season in which he showed the coaching staff what he was capable of, (8 catches, 59 yards, 1 TD), the speedy slot receiver has since fallen victim to Sam Bradford’s inability to throw a football. Part of the hesitance around picking Kirk up earlier was the question on his usage, as Larry Fitz usually occupies the slot. It now appears it’s solely the QB situation, and now that Josh Rosen has been named the starter, it’s safe to roster up Christian Kirk. I’m not promising booming results right away, but it won’t take long.

+ CIN WR Tyler Boyd
In the ADD I feel may get the most push-back I say – YES to Tyler Boyd. The entire fantasy world remained unconvinced after his Week 2 performance of 6 rec on 9 targets for 91 yards & 1 TD, but he came back and surprised absolutely everyone with 6 rec on 7 for 132 yards and another TD. As receivers generally go hand in hand with their QB’s performance, it’s important to note that Dalton did throw 4 INT’s Week 3, but he still went for 352 & 2 TD’s. Dalton looks like he’s taken a step forward this season. Another thing to watch out for that could help increase Boyd’s target share is if AJ Green were to miss any time with the injury he left the last game with. Either way – he’s a pickup this week and available in 83% of Yahoo leagues.

3OUT

Every 49er.
The arrival of Marquise Goodwin on the Week 3 scene (3 rec, 30 yards, TD), is not tantalizing enough to overcome the loss of Jimmy G, it’s as simple as that. The only offensive players worth rostering at this point are RB Matt Breida and maybe even TE George Kittle. C.J. Beathard under center is not ideal to replace Jimmy in a generally underwhelming offence. Just stay away from them, and if you can find someone who doesn’t read our stuff, (good luck), try and sell high-ish on Goodwin.

NYJ WR Robby Anderson
3rd time unlucky for Anderson. A guy who last year flashed pretty consistent brilliance, (with Fitzpatrick coincidentally), has come smashing back to earth with only 6 catches in the first 3 weeks, putting up 90 yards and a TD. The one TD looks okay, but knowing it came on his only catch of Week 1, its put into perspective. Anderson may be worth keeping an eye on as Darnold gets more comfortable throwing to someone outside of Enunwa, but right now there’s just too many better options available.

SEA RB Rashaad Penny
Well, I hate to say I told you so, but the Chris Carson show has officially begun in Seattle. With a paltry 43 yards on 20 attempts, it’s safe to say Penny hasn’t had the start he wanted. While it may not be a real reflection on his abilities personally, the inability to overcome Seattle’s offensive line deficiency as well as Carson has done has made expendable. Like Anderson, this situation is worth monitoring in dynasty leagues, but there are many more productive streamers available.

Mahomes: He is Real

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Since waking up on the Monday after Week 1, I have been crying inside. Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes has made me cry tears of sadness.

Now you may be asking yourself why would this be? Why would I be crying in the midst of a record breaking performance? Because this guy was my guy. He was stashed on my bench last year in the hopes Alex Smith would be gone for 2018 and he’d get the starting job. As it turned out, I needed a roster spot for a running back and had to drop him.

To paraphrase Eminem, “last year he was a nobody, this year he’s breaking records…”

He is the story of his NFL season through 2 weeks.
2 GS – 582 YDS – 10 TD’s – 0 INT – 143.3 RTG

This start has placed him in the history books, passing Peyton Manning and Drew Brees for most TD passes through the first 2 games of a season. Not only has he bested two legends of the game, he did in his FIRST TWO games as an undisputed starter.

The 6’3” 230 lb quarterback out of Texas Tech is enjoying success in his 2nd season alongside the NFL’s most explosive offense that includes fellow sophomore RB Kareem Hunt (who led the NFL in rushing last season as a rookie), Pro Bowler TE Travis Kelce, and elite playmaker WR Tyreek “the freak” Hill.
Combine the skill in this lineup with the mind and play-calling of head coach Andy Reid, and that is just scary good. This team will score a lot, and can do so in any possible way.

Mahomes is not only in possession of a canon for an arm, he’s been known to do some work with his legs as well.

In 2015, as a sophomore, he rushed 131 times for 456 yards and 10 (TEN!) touchdowns. The following year on another 131 attempts, he only went for 285 yards but eclipsed the previous year’s mark with 12 (YES, TWELVE!) rushing touchdowns. These aren’t eye-popping numbers by any means as far as yards-per-carry goes, but those TD’s show us he can in fact get the job done two ways.

I for one am going to have to settle for owning Mahomes in only 2 of 3 fantasy leagues, but I will be watching him play and loving it from here on out.

Aaron Rodgers Is Worth The Money, And Then Some.

Aaron Rodgers is entering the 2018 season as the highest paid player in the NFL, and deservedly so. The contract he signed is a 4 year $134 million deal with the potential to reach $180 million if he hits incentive bonuses. In a salary cap world, there will always be a debate on whether a player is worth his cap space. Being over paid can hinder a team from competing, so obviously the highest cap in the league is worth analyzing.

There are a couple different reasons why Aaron Rodgers is absolutely worth this deal, and could actually be a steal for Green Bay.

First and most importantly, Rodgers simply deserves to be the highest paid player based on factual statistics. Not only is he statistically the best QB in the game right now, he’s the best statistically of all time. He boasts the highest QB rating ever for a starting QB, and the lowest interception percentage. That is insane. We can debate all day about whether that puts him in the conversation of best ever, but those facts cannot be disputed. Statistics aside, anyone who has been following the NFL for the last decade can tell you Rodgers is an extremely special player. He’s carried Green Bay through some rough years, and brought them to playoffs for all but his second year as a starter. He’s not only known for his pin point accuracy, but also his mobility, his decision making, and his clutchness tossing ridiculous Hail Marys to win games. In other words, he’s elite at everything.

Secondly, it is important to remember that the salary cap is always rising, and the cost to retain franchise QB’s will continue to rise with it. Aaron himself is a perfect example of this. When he signed his last contract, he was the highest paid player in the league, but it wasn’t long before this was overtaken in the coming years by contracts given to EIGHT other quarterbacks, including Joe Flacco, Alex Smith, Derek Carr, Matthew Stafford and Jimmy Garoppolo. Look at this list. Even barely above average QB’s are costing an arm and a leg to keep. So with that said, it won’t be long before Rodgers contract will look like a complete steal (which is only $3 million more per year than Kirk Cousins for comparison).

And finally, this is the time for Green Bay to go for it all. Rodgers isn’t exactly young anymore. Randall Cobb and Jimmy Graham probably only have a few more years of consistent productivity. And while the defense does have some promising young talent, particularly at the DB position, the team lives and dies by Aaron’s arm. I can’t say how long he will decide to play football for, but you can be sure that his replacement is extremely unlikely to replicate his impact on the team. Give him as much money as he wants now and go for gold.

The only possible downside here is the idea of Rodgers being injury prone and potentially wasting a ton of money. It’s not a concern without warranted discussion, however all I can say is that all football players get hurt. If you haven’t missed parts of a season this far into your career, you are extremely lucky. At the end of the day, Rodgers has played 15 or more games in 8 out of 10 seasons as a starter. The entire idea of him being injury prone is completely blown out of proportion.

Fantasy Football Is Back; Don’t Sleep On These Players

It’s that special time of year again. You’re getting your notifications to sign up for another year in your fantasy football league. The draft isn’t too far away and you need a quick cheat sheet to help you out. Well look no further!

Everyone knows the big name guys who will go in the first round. This is for the lesser known “value” guys you should be picking up later in your draft. Have at it!

Ronald Jones II – RB

With the departure of Doug Martin, Tampa Bay has potentially drafted his replacement in Ronald Jones II. There is a lot to like about this pick. With all the attention of the class going to Saquon Barkley, Jones could easily fly under the radar to later rounds and still put up RB1 numbers. Rookie running backs have been thriving for a while and I expect Jones to continue the trend as a start out of the gate. Add to the fact that the Bucs passing game is a bit of a mess, they should be looking to establish a strong running game.

Jack Doyle – TE

A very underrated fantasy performer over the last 2 seasons. In fact he lead the Colts in catches last season as a tight end. Now with Andrew Luck back, he will have ample opportunity to tack on a few more touchdowns to go with his high volume of catches. One thing to keep an eye on is Eric Ebron who was picked up by Indy in the off season. He may steal a few catches away from Doyle, but not enough to offset the return of Luck. Expect another top 10 season from him.

Jared Goff – QB

The Rams offense hit on all cylinders last season, and while Gurley deservingly gets a lot of the credit, don’t forget the great play from Goff. Another year experience under his belt and the best weapon he’s had in Cooks should propel him to one of the best value QBs in the league. And let’s be honest, no one wants to draft a QB early.

Chris Hogan – WR

Okay so maybe not so unknown anymore if you paid any attention to New England last year. Hogan started 2017 as the third receiver and quickly catapulted his way up the depth chart. With Cooks gone and Edelman suspended to begin the season, Hogan will get a ton of looks. He proved to be a reliable catcher last year and he has no one in his way anymore. Snag him up before someone else does.

 

Everton Miss Malcom and the Mark With Richarlison – 200takes

Richarlison for £50m is a weird transfer and valuation for Everton and the player. It is clear that Everton need more options in attack after their mid-season sputter last season, however is overpaying for an unproven asset the resolution?

The history of Everton’s valuations being off is there:

https://twitter.com/TeamFA/status/1021321720370728960

But for new manager Marco Silva, Richarlison is a friendly face and one he got the best out of as his manager at Watford (Richarlison scored all five of his goals last season with him as manager). Still, despite the impressive upside of the 21 year old Brazilian, £50 million seems like a lot for a player who only managed five goals in 36 games, going 26 games without scoring.

What really puts this move into perspective is the signing of 21 year old, Brazilian winger Malcom by Barcalona from Bordeaux. Malcom managed 12 goals (7 more than Richarlison) and 7 assists, and only cost Barcelona a rumored fee of £36.5.

Simply put Everton have missed the mark on their new attacker – that is not an indictment on the player who could prove us all wrong, but the board of Everton. Valuations can save your club from wasting money, allowing it to be used more effectively elsewhere. In this case Everton’s budget has been busted on an unproven player.

Keeping Snodgrass Makes Sense for West Ham

Bought in the January 2017 trasnfer window to lessen the blow of Dimitri Payet up and leaving West Ham, Robert Snodgrass had a brutal second half with West Ham. The team sputtered without their star player and Snodgrass being played out of position didn’t help. From unfair criticism on his play, to being slagged off by West Ham’s board members, Snodgrass has had a tumultuous time at West Ham.

Following a truly superb season on loan at Aston Villa for Snodgrass, Manuel Pellegrini has apparently been very impressed with the Scotsman’s work ethic and performances in the Hammers’ preseason so far. So, should West Ham keep the attacking midfielder?

As it stands now, not only is Snodgrass a solid locker room figure for his teammates, he has also found his form again from his Hull days. These are both two massive points that should turn Pellegrini into a Snodgrass supporter. As well, the formation Pellegrini plays seems to fit Snodgrass’ abilities and play style perfectly, built on attacking midfielders who have creative license on the pitch.

This organizational fit that is on the horizon under Pellegrini is a stark contrast from Bilic’s days at the helm when he bought Snodgrass and forced him to play left wing. Snodgrass, a noted right sided or central attacker willingly tentatively agreed to play on the left but was certainly not a one-for-one replacement for Payet.

No, Pellegrini won’t force his players to play out of position, but rather will tailor the formation to better suit them – for Snodgrass this means roaming attacking midfield positions that allow for creativity from the centre of the pitch. It is well documented that Pellegrini likes formations with two strikers and 2-3 attacking midfielders in support behind them. Snodgrass has shown so far in preseason that he can play this AM role and back up the strikers.

Outside of a brief and ongoing preseason Snodgrass proved at Villa last season that he still has the ability to perform. In Birmingham Mail‘s Aston Villa season player rankings Snodgrass got an 8/10 for his massive contribution in Villa’s promotion playoff final loss season. Dubbed the assist king, Snodgrass registered 14 assists, good enough for tied-first ranking in the Championship. He also added 8 goals, proving he still has that offensive touch Bilic and West Ham believed he did when they bought him.

At worst Snodgrass pushes the squads pace in training and provides depth for Pellegrini’s attacking midfield focused formations. He is controllable, and offers probably more value as a squad player than he would return dollar-wise in a transfer out. I say keep him, give the Scotsman a chance to prove himself at the highest level of English football again.

…oh and my feelings on Snodgrass have NOTHING to do with the fact that I bought his jersey when he signed with West Ham. I swear.

West Ham get their man, but where does Anderson fit into the squad?

West Ham and their new manager Manuel Pellegrini have got their man in Lazio attacking midfielder Felipe Anderson. Anderson boasts some extremely potent speed and some slick dribbling skills that seem to get him into the oppositions area in dangerous areas. For a team that lost their main midfield attacker in Manuel Lanzini, Anderson offers some reprieve for what could have been a dampened season.

West Ham have smashed their transfer record for Anderson who is believed to have cost around £40 million. The transfer record was previously at £22 million from another Pellegrini transfer acquisition in Issa Diop brought in this window; it is fairly clear that Pellegrini is not wasting his time at West Ham United.

So, where does the pacy attacker fit into West Ham’s team? Well that depends on the formation. Pellegrini is known for two formations: 4-2-2-2 or 4-1-3-2; in either formation we would see Anderson in a wide attacking midfield position. He did feature on the right side for Lazio, even as a wingback opposite West Ham target Jordan Lukaku. With West Ham’s new recruits on defense Anderson won’t have to worry about tracking back too far.

Possible formations
4-2-2-2:

Fabianski/Adrian
Fredericks – Diop – Ogbonna – Masuaku
Rice – Wilshere
Yarmolenko             –               Anderson
Chicharito – Arnautovic

4-1-3-2:
Fabianski/Adrian
Fredericks – Diop – Ogbonna – Masuaku
Rice
Yarmolenko – Wilshere – Anderson
Chicharito – Arnautovic

In both of these proposed lineups we see a dedication to having two strikers; for Anderson this should be exciting. Not required to dribble into the box every attack to create offense, Anderson can pick and choose when he cuts inside and will constantly have options to cross to.

Also, in both of these formations I would line up Anderson on the left side, which he can play, behind Arnautovic. Arnie has the ability to pick up the ball and bring it forward, and could overlap with Anderson in attack. Yarmolenko, while a strong dribbler, looks more dangerous from range which would make him a solid winger/attacker behind Chicharito.

An underrated aspect of the Anderson signing is his age, at just 24 years old Anderson is just entering his prime. Anderson also signed a four year contract, “locking him in” at West Ham for the foreseeable future. For the Hammers they are getting a dynamic playmaker with elite speed and quality finishing. He has been playing top flight football in Italy’s Serie A for five season, bringing European experience with him to East London.

This is a true signing of intent for Pellegrini, the board, and West Ham in general. The Hammers are looking to put a few abyssal season behind them with a completely revamped squad. The new team is built upon speed and skill and should be able to put on a show for the West Ham faithful.

World Cup Final: France

In this summary – The Rivals compare the pre-tournament outlook on Croatia with how they look coming into the Final and who can have an impact.

In one of the more predictable groups, France’s star-studded roster brings along with it the highest expectations they’ve had in quite a few years.

It’s safe to say they’ve met expectations, but these players could become legends in their country and kick-off an amazing decade in French football if their young core can come together and pull out a win for the French. They’d become heavy favourites to take the next one in 2022.

Antoine Griezmann – Coming off a 19-goal campaign in La Liga where his club finished 2nd place, the striker looks to build on the success he’s had in previous international duties, scoring at a rate of a goal every 2 games. Much more is expected of him this time around as he’ll be looked at as the main man on France’s front line.

His WC: Antoine has kept this pace going on football’s highest stage, chipping in with 3 goals in 6 matches, and doing exactly what he needed to do to get his team to the Final. A world-class player, Greizmann will look to contribute at least one more in Russia to bring the gold back to France and maybe even have his face put on a stamp.

Paul Pogba – Paul Pogba is expected to be the main man in France’s quest to take back their place as giants.

His WC: While Pogba hasn’t been a firecracker on the scoresheet, (0 goals), he’s been the main point man in the middle of the pitch, which is most important. He’s doing his job exactly as he should be. The spine of the French team has been strong to this point, and while he’ll have his hands full with Modric and Rakitic, he’s more than capable of winning that battle.

Kylian Mbappe – At only 19 years old, he was also one of the highest priced transfers on record, falling behind only his PSG teammate, and perennial Ballon d’or challenger, Neymar. While it’s not known exactly how involved he’ll be when the tournament commences, it’s intriguing to think of how potent this offense could be with him included. My prediction is, he’s going to play a lot, and bring it.

His WC: Well, I have to say I was bang on with this one. Mbappe has taken the world by storm, and it looks as if there’s nobody that can stop him. He’s made blazing runs, scored 3 goals from open play, and dazzled audiences. The Croatian defence is going to get a steady dose of Mbappe today, and they’ll be hard-pressed to stop him.