Week 3 Preview

While I may have announced our picks for the best game to watch in Week 3 through our Sparring, here is a better platform for discussion on the predictions for upcoming games and player performances.

Game of the Week

Atlanta Falcons at Miami Dolphins

The Falcons are hurt, and the Dolphins are gaining confidence. The Dolphins have developed a dangerous pass defense. They have knocked down opposing quarterbacks 22 times in two weeks, totaled a league leading 9 sacks (tied with TB, OAK, BUF, KC), and also have 18 batted or deflected balls (second on the NFL). I like the direction the Dolphins team is going. Atlanta always poses threats with Julio Jones  and Tony Gonzalez, but Roddy White, Steven Jackson, Asante Samuel, and Sean Weatherspoon are all hurt and starters in their respective positions. Atlanta has two sacks in two games and it’s also worth noting those two sacks came against Drew Brees in Week 1. The Falcons failed to sack Week 2 foe, Sam Bradford.

Prediction– Dolphins 24 – Falcons 20

Fantasy Predictions (Based on ESPN PPR scoring)

Calvin Johnson reflecting off Patrick Peterson's face mask

Calvin Johnson reflecting off Patrick Peterson‘s face mask

Fantasy StudCalvin Johnson @ Washington — (Projected Fantasy Points: 24)

As much as I feel like I took everything from our sparring and put it in this, my stud is Megatron. After a dull Week 1, Johnson went off for 6 Receptions, 116 Yards, and 2 TDS. Good for 29 fantasy points. Going against a Redskins D that has given up six touchdowns in two games, I like my chances for Megatron to have a great day.

Fantasy Bust– Stevan Ridley vs. Tampa Bay — (Projected Fantasy Points: 8)

I gave myself a whole hour to not put his name down, but I couldn’t think of someone else. Ridley has 86 yards on 25 carries… in two games. He loves to mess with my fantasy team and overall positive hope for the Patriots this season. His name is here mainly because he hasn’t shown many owners a reason to believe he’s turning things around. Wait, he doubled his point total from Week 1 (2) to Week 2 (4) so maybe he is picking it up!

Joe Meola

NFL Week 2 Spar

Greg to Joe

I know that we haven’t seen the Monday Night Football game, but I wanted to get your thoughts on Week 2 after some crazy games on Sunday. Let me digress for a second, I am going to finish second in fantasy football points again in our Yahoo league, and your brother is going to beat me, unless Dalton gets hurt. However, starting off 2-0 is always good. I also crushed Chris in our ESPN league because of RGIII and Garcon‘s garbage time. I also did fairly well in predictions this week. The Bills saved me in the end with a ridiculous comeback, and the Packers dominated as expected.

I do think Vegas gave gamblers two easy games this week with the lines of the Patriots and Seahawks games. A depleted Patriots team should not have been given 13 points against a good defense in crappy weather (I know the odds makers didn’t know this when making the line, but it helped making the decision of taking the Jets with the points). I personally thought the Seahawks line was low because that stadium is ridiculous. It was so loud yesterday that it even screwed up the Seahawks.

What’d you like about all the games yesterday? And how did you fantasy teams do?

Joe to Greg

Calvin Johnson reflecting off Patrick Peterson's face mask

Calvin Johnson reflecting off Patrick Peterson‘s face mask

Well, I’m looking like the 8th place team in our Yahoo league, my guys simply can’t perform or pump out crazy numbers. In ESPN, my team won handily with major help from Calvin Johnson, Julian Edelman, and Greg Olsen all scoring over 20 points. There were so many games that came down to the wire which drastically changed betting results at the end of the day. The Saints eeked out a win but couldn’t cover, Dallas lot but still managed to cover, Detroit shot itself in the foot when it was up 10 in the second half and of course, didn’t cover, and I agree the Patriots should not have been given 13 points. I was straight up impressed with the Seahawks last night.

Colin Kaepernick‘s stat line Week 1: (Home versus GB)

27/39, 412 Yards, 3 TD’s, 0 INTs, 22 Rushing Yards, 89.8 QBR, 129.4 RTG

-Colin Kaepernick’s stat line Week 2: (Away versus SEA)

13/28, 127 Yards, 0 TD’s, 3 INTs,  87 Rushing Yards, 14.0 OBR, 20.1 RTG

If that doesn’t tell you how dominant Seattle’s D was, I don’t know what does.

Also, congrats to EJ Manuel on his first NFL win. Much deserved for a great player and team in the Buffalo Bills. With two games under our belts, do you see any early trends to look for as the season carries on into Week 3?

Greg to Joe

Colin Kaepernick being tackled Week 2 versus Seattle (Photo Cred: Elaine Thompson/AP)

Colin Kaepernick being tackled Week 2 versus Seattle (Photo Cred: Elaine Thompson/AP)

Kaepernick just has this thing where he can’t beat Seattle. I think it is going to turn into the ManningBrady deal. Kaepernick is going to struggle against Seattle (especially in Seattle) for a majority of his career. He will then have his one breakthrough game when he knocks them out of the postseason and goes on the win the Superbowl. I think the Kaepernick-Wilson rivalry will be compared to the Manning-Brady rivalry very soon.

Seattle opened up as a 19.5 point favorite against the Jaguars. I would not touch this game, but I honestly think that they could win by over 20. Side note- Everyone who bet on the Bengals to win by 6.5 should thank Mike Tomlin and Todd Haley for poor offensive coaching as the game should have been much closer if the play calling had been better.

So are there any trends I see continuing… I see the Texans playing in a 3rd nail-biter to start the season as Ed Reed returns to Baltimore. I think the Redskins will keep losing because their defense is oh so bad and RGIII is playing on one leg. I also think that Ron Rivera is coaching his way to a firing. The Panthers are playing really bad right now and cannot close out games. If I am Rivera, I need to get my team back into form for the upcoming week because if they don’t look good, I might be at home watching games on TV on Sunday the 29th.

With three games that have double-digit point spreads (Jax@Sea, Ind@SF and Oak@Den), do you see any of the underdogs pulling out victories? I would assume that would be a bold prediction and if you don’t have an underdog winning one of those games, any bold predictions for this week?

Joe to Greg

I think you’re spot on with the QB rivalry comparison. Even better, they play at least twice a year unlike Manning and Brady who only had that occasion if they met in the playoffs. If any underdog can pull off a win between those three teams, I’d pick Indianapolis. Unfortunately I don’t think they’re going to win but it’s an interesting line. I wouldn’t say its like the Titans and Texans last week (which was +/-9), but the Titans are a tough out and ended up covering on the road. I think the Colts will be in a similar situation this week. Other than that, I like the Chargers +3 against the Titans but I don’t like the Chargers with the lead sometimes. Regardless, I think Philip Rivers is quietly having a good start to the season despite starting 1-1 (614 Yards, 7 TDs, 1 INT, 82.5 QBR, 115.8 RTG…yet he’s not even owned in more than 50% of fantasy leagues in ESPN). What is your game of the week to watch in Week 3?

Greg to Joe

He isn’t owned in many leagues because no one believes in his talent. His talent has diminished, and it is incredible that Mike McCoy has been able to get so much out of him this year. McCoy is on the precipice of being called an offensive genius considering the lack of talent in the Chargers offense and the amount of points they are scoring.

Game of the week for me would have to be Ed Reed returning to Baltimore. Houston and Baltimore have both been shaky to start the year so I really think this game is a toss up. I am hoping Reed doesn’t play because he improves the Texans secondary, but I do want to see how Flacco handles him. Since picking that as the game of the week may seem a tad bias, I would go with Atlanta at Miami. Miami is looking to start of the season 3-0 and gets to face a depleted Atlanta roster who lost their top linebackers along with Steven Jackson. Matt Ryan should have himself a day, but I just don’t know how the Falcons win this game with a one-dimensional offense.

Now for some big news… Trent Richardson has been traded to the Indianapolis Colts for a first round pick in 2014. I love this trade as a fantasy owner. He goes to a much better offense that is committed to the power running game to try and help their young star quarterback. Overall, it was a good move for the Colts. I do think that they gave up a little too much for Trent, but he should still be very valuable to them for years to come. The Browns also made out well because they now have the ammunition to trade up a couple of spots for the #1 pick in the NFL Draft (Yes, I am assuming they finish in the bottom 5 teams). They better hope that Teddy Bridgewater falls to them; otherwise, I believe they will continue to be in a constant rebuilding mode.

Thoughts on the trade, game of the week and another other Week 3 thoughts moving forward.

Joe to Greg

I was shocked by the Richardson trade honestly. I think it’s great from a fantasy perspective because now defenses have to respect Andrew Luck and Reggie Wayne, while worrying about Trent gashing through the lines. It will be interesting and makes it even more compelling to think about what would of happened had the Colts gone after RGIII. Like would the Colts have been better off with RGIII and Trent or Luck and Trent? Or would RGIII never have gotten hurt because he wasn’t playing on Washington’s horrific field? Man, I love the “what ifs” of draft day. I think the Browns continue their trend of rebuilding (obviously) but there doesn’t seem like many happy days coming up this season.

My game of the week is the Atlanta Falcons-Miami Dolphins game. The Dolphins could start the season 3-0 and send the Falcons into an early season 1-2 hole. Injuries have amounted for the Falcons, who lost Steven Jackson and Asante Samuel in last weeks game against the Rams. Combined with the already injured Roddy White, the Falcons are missing some key pieces.

Ryan Tannehill and Mike Wallace during training camp (Photo Cred: Joe Cavaretta / Sun Sentinel)

Ryan Tannehill and Mike Wallace during training camp (Photo Cred: Joe Cavaretta / Sun Sentinel)

On the flip side, I hate to admit that the Dolphins look somewhat competent. They are a team that as Ron Jaworski says, “Get better than the week before”. Mike Wallace had 1 catch for 15 yards in Week 1, yet in week two he caught 9 passes for 115 Yards and a TD. Lamar Miller rushed for 3 Yards on 10 attempts in Week 1, yet in week two he rushed for 69 yards on 14 attempts and added a TD. If I were to pick who would take out the Patriots in the coming years atop the division, it’s the Dolphins, followed closely by the Bills, followed by Bernard Pollard, and followed not so closely by the Jets (In that order). Week 3, I say RGIII goes 0-3 mainly because of the Redskins poor excuse for a pass defense. They’ve already managed to let up 1023 yards in two games and with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson coming to town for a visit, it could spell trouble.

Editor Note:

Check out the Game of the Week column posted on Friday by Joe and I again.

Greg Danchik and Joe Meola

NFL Week 1 Spar

Joe to Greg

Well, we can finally say it. It’s football season my friend, best of luck this year (in fantasy and with the Ravens). More on that later but for now, give me your biggest surprise, some standouts from the weekend, and some players that may need to step it up in Week 2.

Greg to Joe

Fantasy football was rough in Week 1. I can’t make any more ridiculous line up mistakes like in our league that Chris runs. I also would have won the 10 bucks in Week 1 for our yahoo league if LeSean McCoy didn’t go off against the Redskins, but I will have plenty more chances to win weeks.

Wes Welker's 3rd Down Drop that was Not Challenged (Screenshot of NBC Telecast)

Wes Welker’s 3rd Down Drop that was Not Challenged (Screenshot of NBC Telecast)

The actual football games had some crazy things happen. The Ravens got crushed by the Broncos. Just annihilated… It was hard to watch the second half. The tide turned tremendously on the non-challenge of Wes Welker‘s 3rd down drop. I wrote about that game before so I won’t get too much into it.

My biggest surprise was EJ Manuel and the Bills taking it to the Patriots after playing only one preseason game. The Patriots have some serious work to do in my opinion. I also saw that Brady is not working well with the rookie receivers in practice, and with Amendola out, they are going to have to perform for the Patriots to win. I thought the Patriots would be top class because of Brady, and maybe they are. It would just mean the Bills are a lot better than we thought.

David Wilson really screwed me. And I AM NOT happy about it. HOW DO YOU FUMBLE TWICE?!?! You know its your weakness. Did you not work on it in the offseason? Did Coughlin not teach him how to hold the football? Did you need to lift more to make sure defenders couldn’t strip the ball from you? God, I am so mad at David Wilson. I do think he’ll bounce back though and have a good season.

What are your thoughts on your questions? And what did you think of Chip Kelly’s offense on Monday night?

Joe to Greg

You rightfully beat me in our one league but I got off to a good start in our ESPN league. Drew Brees lit it up for me and I had all but one starter fail to reach double digits so I like where this season is headed. Back to real football, I think I was most surprised about the competitiveness of some of the weaker teams from last year. Starting with the Buffalo Bills giving the New England Patriots a scare. EJ Manuel made some nice throws but simply couldn’t play for the whole 60 minutes and keep up. While the score was close towards the end, the Bills had some questionable drives in the fourth quarter but nonetheless impressed many people, including me (I’m going to refrain from discussing the Patriots situation until more games are played/Gronk comes back within a reasonable timespan). Another instance is the Oakland Raiders, lead by former Buckeye Terrelle Pryor. Rushing for over 100 yards and throwing for over 200 yards was impressive in a near underdog win against Andrew Luck and the Colts. Luck showed off his knack for winning games in the fourth quarter once again but Pryor had a chance to bring the Raiders back. Unfortunately, his 2 interceptions on the day doomed the Raiders. Look out for this Raiders team to win a game or two more because of Pryor’s playmaking abilities.

    Adrian Peterson went off on the first play of the season for him, but other than that was outperformed by Reggie Bush, who was showing off some of his old school USC speed. Colin Kaepernick performed as well as anybody and the scary thing was, he was using his arm most of the day. RGIII certainly didn’t look like the player we know him to be. I think that game was more of him shaking off the rust than anything else.

    Stevan “Needs a nickname related to fumbles” Ridley drove me nuts on Sunday. Fumbling once without anyone even touching him. It’s ridiculous how good he is at fumbling the ball. Wilson and Ridley need to step it up, but luckily for Ridley, he’s the Patriots only option which may mean he’ll be let out of the dog house a little early.

    My thoughts on Chip Kelly’s offense can pretty much be summed up in a conversation I had with a true Philadelphia Eagles fan, Andrew Gerdes.

This was a short text exchange during the first half and some of the second half when the offense was clicking.

Joe: “I know I love watching this, I can only imagine how you feel”

Gerds: “This is insane”

Joe: “It’s incredible honestly, its a work of art”

Gerds: “They’ve maybe had 5 five plays where they haven’t had positive yardage”

It was entertaining to watch and that above all else is why I like it. Its new, you really never know who will get the ball, and its effective BUT time will tell. Remember, it’s only week 1…

Greg to Joe

RGIII did not look good at all. It was bad. He looked timid and just could not perform physically like we saw all of last season, but if he was at full health, the Redskins would have been in that game the whole way. The ‘Skins’ defense played extraordinarily well considering they were facing a brand new NFL offensive system. That being said, the Eagles offense is going to be filthy all year. Early I wrote for half a year and maybe the whole year, but I have to think its going to be the whole year now. They really do have a lot of talent on offense and the O-Line doesn’t have to be great because the offense is designed to tire out defenses so they will be facing D-Lines that are constantly fatigued. Their skill players are awesome, and if Vick can stay upright, the Eagles could be really good by just simply outscoring other teams and not worrying too much about how bad their defense is. I think the first time that team will be tested fully will be against the Broncos and Giants in Weeks 4 and 5. I think the Broncos will do ungodly things to that defense, much like the Ravens game. The reason I call the Giants a test is they have the offense (assuming Eli, Cruz, and Nicks are healthy) to keep up with the Eagles considering the Eagles defensive woes. I hate the Eagles and I can’t stand Eagles fans, but I will admit that offense will be one of a kind.

EJ Manuel at the 2013 NFL Draft (Photo Cred: Jason DeCrow/AP)

EJ Manuel at the 2013 NFL Draft (Photo Cred: Jason DeCrow/AP)

I love EJ Manuel. He definitely wasn’t as good as Cam Newton was in college, but he has a similar body type. With Doug Marrone at the helm in Buffalo, I am expecting big things out of him. I made a bold prediction for Week 2 in my weekly article at BucStop.com. I am calling for a Buffalo victory at home against Carolina, not too crazy considering they at 3 point home dogs. The crazy part is I’ve got EJ Manuel throwing for 3 touchdowns and running another 1 in to out play Cam Newton in his second NFL game. The pocket passer will never die, but the running quarterback, when used properly, can bring a whole new weapon to an offensive system. That is what Manual will do for the Bills and if Spiller can get his head straight, they could surprise some people.

You have a bold prediction for next week and do you think someone will disappoint fantasy owners in Week 2 much like David Wilson disappointed me in Week 1?

Joe to Greg

Not too many bold predictions. I say that RGIII burns the Packers much like Kaepernick was able to do last week. Thinking that Aaron Rodgers starts a season 0-2 seems weird. Regardless, I think one other surprise could be Eli getting his first Manning Bowl victory, currently losing (0-2). This is tough or at least down right bold. Peyton‘s either going to go off again or it’ll be a shootout coming down to come of the last possession in the fourth. I hope it’s an entertaining game throughout.

Some fantasy disappointments… I can see Frank Gore pissing me off this weekend with a subpar performance playing in the Seattle opener. Gore does get the chance to play there every season so he could bring experience to the table, but every now and then he drops a goose egg. Other than Gore, some tough calls to make… Chris Johnson against the Houston Texans. Yes the Texans let Philip Rivers almost beat them, but their defense is still a force. Combined with Johnson’s recent fantasy struggles dating back to last year, I like the chances. I’m calling a big day from Terrelle Pryor. Something about him makes me feel like he can have a little success. Even if that is for a game, I’ll take my chances since he’s playing a Jaguars team that gave up 28 to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Any big performers this week?

Greg to Joe

The line for the Jags-Raiders game is ridiculous in my opinion. I would say that the Raiders are so talentless (much like the Houston Astros) they don’t deserve to ever be more than a 3 point favorite. I say 3 points because home teams automatically get a 3 points deducted in the books for NFL games. I can see Pryor going off, but I think that MJD will have a big game as well. There just won’t be a lot of passing. It will be like a game from the 60’s.

I have to wholeheartedly disagree with your Redskins assessment. Kaepernick is much better than RGIII right now, considering health. RGIII won’t be able to tear up the Packers like Kaepernick did. I’m calling for a Packers blowout actually. RGIII is trying to recover on a short week from his first NFL game since an ACL reconstruction. The Redskins defense is probably still trying to catch their breath from Monday. The Packers offense is deadly and will carve up the Redskins in a different way than the Eagles did. I think the Packers just take it to them and don’t let up in their first game at Lambeau for the new season. Your Eli vs Peyton prediction is outrageously bold. I think the Broncos beat them pretty bad because the Giants won’t be able to run any better than the Ravens did so the Broncos will just gear up and attack Eli.

My big performers include the EJ Manuel prediction, but I also think Alshon Jeffery will get a TD or two. The Bears offense is remade under Mark Trestman, and they will try to score as quickly as possible to take the game out of Adrian Peterson’s hands. I am starting Jeffery over Mike Wallace in one of my leagues. That is partially because of Jeffery, but it also has to do with the concern I have will Wallace and Tannehill‘s chemistry (even with chemistry issues, I see them beating the Colts in Indianapolis). I’m just pumped for Week 2 to start tonight in Foxboro (the line for that game is ridiculous in my opinion, but we’ll see if I am wrong).

Good luck in fantasy this week and to the Pats tonight.

Greg Danchik and Joe Meola

A look back at the 2008 NFL Draft: Part 1

A Look Back: The 2008 NFL Draft First Round Part I

2008 NFL Draft Invitees

2008 NFL Draft Invitees

Teams are always looking for the best pick in a draft, whether it concerns an actual NFL team or a college kid’s fantasy team. Originally this post was going to include all 32 picks with some extra comments. The post will now be broken down into two parts and will become an annual column for the The Sports Dojo. With that being said, a draft can determine the success a team has in the future. Here’s a look back at the first round selections of the 2008 draft (with other standouts and analysis; and some help from the Dojo Master).

First Round:

  1. Jake Long — Miami Dolphins: Sturdy and reliant seem to be understatements for Long. After being the first overall selection, he went on to start his first 61 games of his career. Also winning pro-bowl nominations in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011. Over the summer, Long became a free agent and turned down a contract extension to join the St. Louis Rams, who interestingly are the next pick in the draft.

  2. Chris Long — St. Louis Rams: Long’s biggest asset is his agility and athleticism for a big man. One of the more unknown statistics in the league, Long led the league in hurries in 2010 along with being named a Pro Bowl Alternate. He was named to the 2008 All-Rookie team as well, recording 4 sacks in his rookie campaign. This past season, Long finished with 11.5 sacks and was named once again as a Pro Bowl alternate. Look for his reliability and maturity to emerge this season, don’t forget this name.

  3. Matt Ryan — Atlanta Falcons: Ryan’s been a good quarterback, but no super bowl and only one lucky playoff win… unlike quarterback taken at 18… 11-4 postseason record plus a Super Bowl win… no big deal or anything EXCEPT Peyton Manning only has 9 wins to go along with his 11 losses… no big deal… just kind of good is that guy who got drafted at 18. There are a couple of statistics that stand out in Ryan’s career. One of the more impressive ones was pointed out by Grantland’s Bill Barnwell. Ryan is now an incredible 27-10 (72.9 percent) in one-touchdown games during the regular season for Atlanta. The down side to this, he is 1-2 in those games during the playoffs. While his playoff appearances are a low, expect to see big things from him in the future.

  4. Darren McFadden — Oakland Raiders: In five professional seasons, McFadden has shown glimpses of the potential he displayed coming out of Arkansas. Through five seasons, he has only surpassed 1,000 yards rushing once (2010). Another problem has been health issues in his career. McFadden has never played a full season, due to to shoulder and ankle injuries. McFadden has displayed several signs of his value, whether that comes from the run game or catching balls out of the back field. Fantasy wise, you’re always looking for running backs that can catch the ball as well as run.

  5. Glenn Dorsey — Kansas City Chiefs: The big defensive end out of LSU remains a competitive force. With a fresh new look in San Francisco and a two year deal, hopefully the level Dorsey was expected to reach in Kansas City will come about. One of the factors that plagued Dorsey’s early career was the shift to a 3-4 defense in Kansas City. Forcing him to change his natural position, defensive tackle, to what he now currently plays, defensive end.

  6. Vernon Gholston — New York Jets: Unfortunately in every draft, there are the occasional busts. Gholston may just be one of them. After being drafted by the Jets, Gholston saw limited time in his rookie position as the perfect outside linebacker the Jets defense was looking for. After three years, Gholston failed to record a sack and was henceforth released by the team. He bounced to the Chicago Bears during the summer of 2011, but after just one month, was prompted released again. After being picked up by the St. Louis Rams during the 2012 offseason, one week into the signing, he was again released. Simply not the career you expect from the sixth overall pick, unfortunately, it happens.

  7. Sedrick Ellis — New Orleans Saints: He started at least ten games each of his five seasons with the Saints, including a Super Bowl win in 2009. Ellis also recorded at least 30 tackles in each of his five seasons. For one reason or the other, Ellis left the Saints following the 2012 season. In June 2013, Ellis signed a one-year contract with the Chicago Bears, after two months, he decided to let the Bears organization know of his plans to retire from the NFL.

  8. Derrick Harvey — Jacksonville Jaguars: Being the last 2008 first-round pick to sign a contract didn’t bode well for the rest of his career. Harvey was waived by the Jaguars following the 2010 season and picked up by the Denver Broncos for the 2011 season. He had zero sacks to go along with two tackles, which inevitably ended with his release. In March of 2012, the Cincinnati Bengals signed Harvey but in August, he was yet again released.

  9. Keith Rivers — Cincinnati Bengals: Victim of the creation of the “Hines Ward Rule” which caused a season-ending injury, the incident would henceforth make it illegal for blockers to land a blindside block using their helmet, forearm or shoulder, to strike at the head or neck area of a defender. Rivers has had success with the Bengals but was traded to the New York Giants for a 5th-Round pick in the 2012 draft.

  10. Jerod Mayo —  New England Patriots: In a rookie year in which he eclipsed the 100 tackles mark, Mayo was named defensive captain for the Pats in 2010. A year in which he tallied a stellar 175-tackle total and a Pro Bowl nomination. His work ethic is the best in the game. On draft day, instead of being in New York under the spotlight with the other top ten picks, he was at home in Virginia raking leaves. One can only hope he leads the career of another famous and now retired linebacker… Ray Lewis.

  11. Leodis McKelvin — Buffalo Bills: This seems to happen more and more in the NFL. Crazy, super-athletic cornerbacks that have a knack for returning kickoffs or performing other position duties. McKelvin has made some electrifying plays courtesy of his speed and change of direction. The Bills recently re-signed McKelvin to a four-year $20 million deal in March. His 40-yard draft at the combine was an impressive 4.39, a full second slower than another player at the same position coming up on this list.

  12. Ryan Clady — Denver Broncos: If there is one pick that has paid its dividends, its Ryan Clady. As an offensive tackle, he placed third in the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award votings. The only offensive linemen to receive any votes. Clady set a new NFL record for most consecutive games without letting up a full sack (20 games). To go along with the 2008 season and to the delight of Peyton Manning, Clady allowed just one sack the entire 2012 season. This prompted the Denver Broncos to use their franchise tag (worth $9.823 million) on Clady this offseason and in July, they agreed to a five-year, $52.5 million deal.

  13. Jonathan Stewart — Carolina Panthers: Another player that make people feel like their potential hasn’t been reached. Stewart has always fluctuated his carries with fellow counterpart DeAngelo Williams as well as other running backs for his tenure in Carolina. During the 2009 season, both Williams (former first round pick in 2006) and Stewart rushed for over 1,000 yards, becoming the 6th rushing duo to accomplish the feat. Stewart and Williams also created buzz when they dubbed their one-two punch ‘smash and dash’. This combined with a 300 yard performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers forced Chris Johnson to claim his name to the nickname first. Stewart and Williams ultimately let this fans decide their new name, ultimately going with ‘Double Trouble’. Look for these two to make some noise. Fantasy wise having two running backs receiving equal reps during the game never helps your team.

  14. Chris Williams — Chicago Bears: The last of five SEC players to be selected in the top 15, Williams has shown promise as an offensive tackle. He’s been matched up against the likes of Jared Allen and didn’t allow a sack. Injuries to his hamstrings and back have hurt his playing time and during the 2012 season, he was released by the Bears. Interestingly enough, the team that claimed him mid way through the season and resigned him to a one year deal in 2013…yes, you got it…the St. Louis Rams (now have three players out of the top 15).

  15. Branden Albert — Kansas City Chiefs: The first offensive guard taken in the draft, Albert showed durability during his first five seasons in the NFL. While he struggled in his sophomore season, allowing nine sacks (5th most in the league) and committing 10 penalties. Albert started all sixteen games in 2010 and the Chiefs decided to place the franchise tag on him in 2013. Over the past two seasons, Albert has allowed fewer sacks and fewer combined quarterback hits than both Ryan Clady (12th overall pick) and Jake Long (1st overall pick).

    Notice some of the smaller themes from the top fifteen picks. Whether than be remaining with the team that drafted them, leaving for another team, or even retiring. Success in the NFL correlates with how much work a player puts in. Clearly there are some players who wanted to win and become successful more than others. Keep these ideas in mind and stay tuned for the release of Part II later in the week.

Joe’s god given ability to untangle any knot has shown that he’s a valuable asset to The Sports Dojo Team. Not to be confused with Daniel ‘Smilin Wanderer’ Dicce, Joe ‘Wicked Pupil’ Meola has been known across Philadelphia as one of the most prolific culinarians. @brosephmeola

EPL Review 8/27-9/2

int_130902_ESPN_FC_Arsenal_big_buyThe Dojo Premier League review comes a day late this week to cover the ending of the transfer window. Major headlines emerged with league changing consequences as a flurry of last minute transfers shifted power in the Premiership.

Fixture Review:

The league week was contained to just Saturday and Sunday this week, the former holding the less exciting but important nonetheless fixtures.

Manchester City rebounded after their disappointing loss to Cardiff, with a 2-0 win at home. Summer signing Alvaro Negredo found the net for his second goal in as many games. Yaya Toure put Hull City away with his second free kick goal in the 90th minute. While their defence looked better, the Sky Blues are certainly missing their skipper Vincent Kompany. Stoke City continued their fine start with another win over West Ham United. Three points on the road is no easy task, especially at the intimidating ground of Upton Park. Stoke face Man City and Arsenal in their next two games.Everton’s goal scoring problems continued with a 0-0 draw at Cardiff. Roberto Martinez is still waiting to record his first win as manager. These early points Cardiff are taking from Europe quality teams early in the season will help them late in the season. As Everton’s goal drought begins, Newcastle’s ended with a brilliant strike from Ben Arfa. The simple 1-0 scoring line did not give justice to the stat line as Newcastle hammered Fulham. However, the single goal proved enough. Crystal Palace beat Sunderland 3-1 at home. When Sunderland Captain John O’Shea was sent off for taking down Puncheon in the box, Gayle put away the game winning goal. Palace face Man Utd next game at Old Trafford. Norwich City earned their first win of the season beating Southampton at home. The deciding strike came midway through the second half with a driven ball from Nathan Redmond. Redmond’s performance was enough to land him on the Premier League’s team of the week.

Sunday’s matches held more interesting fixtures. Manchester United played Liverpool on the road while Tottenham and Arsenal clashed in the first North London Derby. Liverpool and Tottenham were playing to remain at a perfect 3-0-0 start. First, West Brom hosted Swansea. Both sides had a disappointing opening record, however Swansea had the tougher fixtures. Swansea handled West Brom with a controlling 2-0 win. Laudrup’s side had previously faced Tottenham and Manchester United and have Liverpool and Valencia to look forward to after the break. The first Derby of the day was Liverpool vs Manchester United. Brendan Rodgers beat Manchester United for his first time in his tenure at Anfield. Daniel Sturridge opened the scoring with a tidy flick in the third minute. The game was filled with the emotion one could come to expect from this derby. Robin Van Persie and Steven Gerrard had words more than once but Gerrard’s soccer is what ultimately did the talking. The early goal was enough to keep Liverpool on top for another week. The final match of the week was the North London Derby fought between Arsenal and Tottenham. Arsenal was the home side for the first leg of the year. Much more than three points were on the line this match. Record summer signings for the Spurs prompted many pundits to predict this to be the year that Tottenham finally overtake Arsenal in the table. Conversely, at the start of the game, Arsenal had still yet to spend any money in the transfer window. Arsenal had managed to grab former midfielder Flamini on a free transfer. Flamini played a pivotal role in the second half. The game was seemingly make or break for Arsene Wenger. Olivier Giroud continued his scoring streak with a crafty finish midway through the first half. However, this game was won in the midfield. As Jack Wilshere stepped off just before halftime, Flamini entered the game. Ramsey and Flamini’s box to box play disrupted play in the middle of the field. The Gunners held on for an important moral victory at 1-0.

Goals of the Week:

1. Real Sociedad vs Lyon


2. Newcastle vs Fulham


3. Celtic vs Shaktar Karagandy


4. Valencia vs Barcelona


5. Barcelona vs Valencia (First Neymar and Messi link up. Complete hat trick)


Transfer Market Closing Day:

While Real Madrid were busy debuting their all-time record transfer Gareth Bale, Arsenal moved quickly to be the talk of Europe. Earlier in transfer market a series of seemingly unrelated moves ended dramatically today. Gervinho headed to Roma from Arsenal. The arrival of a striker/winger alleviated the need for Roma’s Lamela. Lamela headed to Tottenham Hotspur for 30 million pounds presumably to fill the shoes of Gareth Bale. Gareth Bale left Tottenham to head to Real Madrid, becoming the most expensive transfer in history at 85 million pounds. To finance this deal, Real Madrid sold arguably their second best player Mesut Ozil to Arsenal for 42.5 million pounds. There was wide outrage at Real Madrid President Perez, so much so that they chanted “Ozil no se vende” at Gareth Bale’s unveiling. Ozil will be replaced by Isco in the middle of the park where the youngster has been Ancelotti’s first choice. Arsenal also reinforced at goalkeeper by acquiring Emiliano Viviano from Palermo on loan with an option to buy. However, Arsenal failed to reinforce at cb and striker, the club’s most pressing needs. Manchester United failed to seal the deal with Atletico Bilbao midfielder Ander Herrera after a long, drawn out negotiation process. They finally ended Marouane Fellaini’s buyout clause to purchase him from Everton. Manchester United also failed to bring Fellaini’s teammate Baines with him. Everton received Lukaku on loan from Chelsea. With Everton’s scoring problems, Lukaku could potentially become their first choice striker.

Daniel Dicce is going to name his first born Mesut, regardless of gender. @DanielDicce