Four Downs – Monday, August 21st: Fantasy Football Observations Before Draft Day

For those of you like me with a flurry of fantasy football league drafts starting this week, it’s time to seriously get studying. A few weeks back I wrote a list of 30 players I liked or disliked but now it’s time to elaborate.

Unfortunately there will be no mention of Anquan Boldin, who I have repeatedly criticized the Cardinals for not signing. Well so much for that…Boldin retired Sunday after a brief stint in training camp with the Bills. In my mind, he’s certainly a player who deserves Hall-of-Fame consideration.

FIRST DOWN: Don’t believe the “experts” who advise waiting on the top QBs…Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady are worth AT LEAST high 2nd round picks.

If you play in leagues where QBs achieve six points per passing touchdown, this is a no-brainer.

In his last three seasons (48 games), Rodgers has thrown for 12,630 combined yards and 109 touchdown passes. In that same time, he’s also run for nearly 1,000 combined yards and 7 TDs. It’s reasonable to expect another season of 4,200+ passing yards and 38 TDs…so why shouldn’t you give Rodgers serious consideration late in the 1st round of your drafts? Green Bay upgraded the tight end position by adding former Cowboy / Giant / Bear / Patriot Martellus Bennett and former Ram Lance Kendricks. His wide receivers are among the best in the league as a unit and the Packers’ primary RB, Ty Montgomery, is a converted wide receiver with excellent hands.

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Four Downs – August 14th: Is the Ezekiel Elliott suspension justified?

FIRST DOWN: Should the NFL reduce the six game suspension levied upon Cowboys second year RB Ezekiel Elliott?

To be honest, if the allegations are true, Elliott is getting off easy with only six games. The NFL did its due diligence by undertaking a year-long investigation into Elliott’s misdeads against his girlfriend (see the TMZ photos for more) and had to take action. Remember the Ray Rice controversy from several years back…where he knocked his girlfriend unconscious in an elevator? Rice got a four game suspension but has never played in the NFL since. Domestic violence should absolutely not be tolerated under ANY circumstances.

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Four Downs – August 7th: It’s time to shorten the NFL’s preseason

I had a great time co-hosting “The Saturday Morning Tailgate” with Jeff Dean talking two hours of college football and an hour of NFL this past weekend. Jeff is a true pro, a fellow UofA grad, and even better, the public address voice of Arizona Basketball at McKale Center! If you’re looking for some (fairly) intelligent football talk, take a listen here (see the audio player at the bottom of the page).

FIRST DOWN: The NFL preseason is WAY too long.

Someone please tell me how or why it’s necessary that the Cardinals and Cowboys are scheduled to play FIVE preseason games. By virtue of both teams playing in the Hall of Fame Game last Thursday night, each team had another meaningless game added to their schedule.

And now the Cardinals are down their rookie speedster / likely #1 kick returner, T.J. Logan for half the season due to a dislocated wrist.

As I mentioned in Friday’s blog and on Saturday’s radio show, the second half of just about every preseason game is unwatchable. As someone who loves college football and will watch even the most meaningless of games, don’t compare Kansas-Iowa State to the 2nd half of Cardinals-Cowboys.

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Four Downs – July 31st: Making some early NFL predictions

Training camps are underway which means the NFL preseason is almost here! Before the Cardinals and Cowboys get things started on Thursday night, here’s a four-pack of what I think will happen in 2017-18. I’ve probably mentioned at few of these in previous blogs but here I’ll go in-depth:

FIRST DOWN: The New England Patriots will once again go undefeated in the regular season.

Hey they did it in 2008, why not again this season? After battling back from a 28-3 third quarter deficit to win Super Bowl LI in overtime, I have to believe the Pats’ momentum will continue into the regular season. In the offseason they made some key personnel changes:
RB: Mike Gillislee (from Buffalo) and Rex Burkhead (from Cincinnati) for LaGarrette Blount (went to Philadelphia)
WR: Brandin Cooks (from New Orleans)
TE: Dwayne Allen (from Indianapolis) for Martellus Bennett (went to Green Bay)
DE: Kony Ealy (from Carolina)
CB: Stephon Gilmore (from Buffalo) for Logan Ryan (went to Tennessee)

To sum it up, they acquired more running back depth, an elite wide receiver, a very solid backup tight end, an underrated defensive end, and a shutdown cornerback.

Oh yeah…and New England gets the best tight end in the league, (former UofA standout) Rob Gronkowski, back after missing the last half of the 2016 regular season and playoffs.

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This roster is EASILY the best in the league and I’m not sure anyone else’s is close.

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Four Downs – July 24th: Is Kyrie Irving to the Suns a real possibility?

Well I can tell you from on-scene experience, if you like to play the horse favorites at Del Mar, it’s a losing proposition.

FIRST DOWN: Does Kyrie Irving to the Suns actually make sense?

Yes, depending on the return. If the Suns can acquire Irving from Cleveland without giving up Devin Booker or Josh Jackson, then I’m ALL for it! But would Cleveland really consider that?

Eric Bledsoe, Tyson Chandler, and a future 1st round pick or two…is that enough? Maybe throw in T.J. Warren instead of the draft pick(s)?

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Irving is clearly unhappy and knows that the 2016 NBA Champions are a sinking ship. LeBron James is leaving (for L.A.) in 2018 and immediately Cleveland goes from the East’s best team to an also-ran.

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Four Downs – July 17th: Solving AZ’s stadium dilemma

FIRST DOWN: The Phoenix area needs new stadiums / sporting attractions – where should / will they go?

This one is super easy to me and would make everyone happy.

But let’s first run down what needs fixing / replaced:

Chase Field: Opened in 1998. The Diamondbacks are asking for $180 million in stadium improvements from Maricopa County…and they’re not getting very far.

Talking Stick Resort Arena: Opened in 1993. To me, I think it’s still a fine arena as it’s been renovated multiple times and still feels fresh. The Suns disagree and will likely be getting a replacement sooner than later.

Gila River Arena: Opened in 2003. Great hockey venue except for the fact that the Coyotes won’t be playing there come Fall 2018.

-Turf Paradise Race Course: Opened in 1956. Completely run down and archaic. Something needs to be done or the Phoenix-area will lose horse racing for good very soon.

-Soccer Stadium: The small pop-up stadium at McKellips and McClintock is fine for a minor league soccer team but will need to be fully constructed with 30,000+ seats for an MLS team. At least the location of the larger soccer stadium, if and when necessary, is ideal.

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Pretty much every team / professional sport other than the Cardinals needs a new venue. And there’s a logical place to put most of these teams…on the Native American land across the 101 from Salt River Fields and next to Talking Stick casino. It makes perfect sense.

Here’s what I would propose:

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Four Downs – July 10th

FIRST DOWN: I’m done with the 2017 Chicago Cubs.

There…I said it. I feel like I’m in therapy for my favorite baseball team. They won the World Series last November but since then, what a train wreck!

Let’s be honest here…bad things started for the Cubs when they went down 3-1 in the World Series. Yes I know they won the next three games…but look how poorly Joe Maddon began managing the club! He was never a managerial genius but his mis-managing of Aroldis Chapman’s workload defied common sense. On top of that, his disastrous handling of the pitching situation in Game 7 which resulted in a “secure” lead being blown will never be forgotten.

As a notable baseball announcer with ties to the Cubs told me in-person in December, there is a 99.9% chance the Cubs would’ve lost Game 7 if the heavens hadn’t opened up before the 10th inning in Cleveland that night. If the game plays on without delay, the Cubs likely are retired quietly in the 10th inning before losing in the bottom half of the inning.

Flash forward to this season…the Cubs are 43-45 at the All-Star break with only one player selected to the National League All-Star team. Their run differential, which last year was +252 now sits at a whopping 0. Yes…that’s right…Z-E-R-O (hey at least it’s not negative)! Then again, giving up 10 runs in the first inning in the last game before the All-Star break didn’t help matters much…

This year’s team is going nowhere fast. Chicago sits 5.5 games behind Milwaukee in the NL Central and tied with fellow underachievers, the St. Louis Cardinals. While there are still 74 games to play this team is not playoff bound, even in the weakest division in baseball.

I’ll give you a bonus prediction: it’s going to be an ugly offseason in Cub-ville.

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The ‘L’ flag has flown much too often at Wrigley Field thus far in 2017.

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