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Are the Rams Admitting to a Rebuild?



The Los Angeles Rams have traded Jalen Ramsey to the Miami Dolphins for a 2023 third-round pick and tight end Hunter Long, according to ESPN. The move helps the Dolphins remain competitive in an increasingly strong division, but for the Rams, it might mean acknowledgment that their time competing for the top spot in the NFC is over.

This is meaningful because Ramsey is still a top-five NFL cornerback. Los Angeles is not trading away an aging veteran past his prime, but a player who has more to contribute than almost any other defensive back in the league.

Ramsey wasn’t traded for a king’s ransom, and adding Long, who did not start any games last year and caught zero passes, doesn’t move the needle. This could be a sign that the good times are over in Los Angeles and have been for some time.

Will the Los Angeles Rams Have a Roster Exodus?

After a 5-12 season following their 2021 Super Bowl campaign, the Rams’ roster underperformed and suffered from significant injury. Rumors swirled in both the previous offseasons about potential retirements for Sean McVay, Aaron Donald, and Matthew Stafford, with McVay acknowledging in a presser on March 10 that it’s not helpful for a potential retirement to be in the news cycle every year.

“What I didn’t want to do,” said McVay, “was make a decision that it comes up every year, because I think when you reflect on, particularly the last two years … you can become a story unintentionally, or you’re really working through things, and you’re open about it, and it becomes more of a distraction than what it’s worth.”

This news comes on the heels of Los Angeles releasing Bobby Wagner in February and letting go of Leonard Floyd and seven other players in the past several days, potentially signaling a mass exodus of veteran talent from the Rams roster. Without a contract re-work, they would not be able to trade away Stafford or Donald, both of whom would cost more against the cap if traded than if they remained on the roster.

MORE: Dolphins Trade for Jalen Ramsey — Miami Wisely Buys Low on Star Cornerback

But everyone aside from those two and Rob Havenstein presents salary cap savings opportunities in a trade scenario, and it might be the only way that LA can quickly get younger and competitive for a run at the 2024 season with 2023 and 2024 draft picks in hand.

The Rams have a dire cap situation and, unlike teams like the Buccaneers or Vikings, don’t have a lot of flexibility in restructuring or otherwise changing the contract situations of their high-cap players to push cap down the road.

As general manager Les Snead outlined in a March 9 press conference, “What’s interesting for us this year, step one is actually getting under the cap. Let’s call it when the bell rings on Wednesday, and that sometimes will limit your ability to hold on to a player until June 1, even though you can designate him [as a post-June 1 cut], he is still counting right in the moment.”

He added, “So, there’s a lot of calculus that goes into that, especially with our roster. It’s a very complicated, complex situation that we got to work through. And I think what big picture is, this year different than probably the past five years for us, we definitely have to engineer a healthier cap situation.”

That cap priority didn’t hit the Rams as hard in the previous several years as they sacrificed draft picks to go all-in on a high-level veteran roster. As Snead said, this will be a new approach, even as they try to maintain their philosophy.

“Our DNA is to attack, hit the gas,” said Snead. “We’re going to hit the brakes a little bit, that does not change how we’re going to approach the season, how we’re going to approach the day-to-day, but it might definitely it will definitely change how we approach constructing the roster.”

Put that way, the exodus of veterans seems inevitable. The way Snead put it, they won’t lose any competitiveness, but there has definitely been talk about moving on from long-time stalwarts, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

“Unfortunately, our situation is that we’re going to move on from some veteran players,” he pointed out. “And with that being said, going back to the weight-bearing walls, we’re definitely going to rely on Sean his coaching staff even, Rahim and his coaching staff, even if we do make it harder on them.”

He added, “In terms of maybe having to play with new partners, younger, less experienced players, we’ve got to continue relying on our scouts, coaching staff, even front office to listen to and make the sound decisions.”

That leaves the Rams in essentially a spot to rebuild.

Do the Rams Have the Ability To Rebuild?

The Rams once again do not have a first-round pick in the NFL draft, marking the seventh consecutive year without a first-round selection, with their prior three picks in the first round resulting in Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, and Greg Robinson.

With a second-round pick and two third-rounders, Los Angeles should be able to take advantage of a strong cornerback class and some of the edge rusher talent that characterizes this year’s pool of available players. But it will be tough to replace a top-five corner and a top-five linebacker on top of very functional pieces like Floyd.

When asked about this problem, Snead brought up an approach that hasn’t been common in Los Angeles — finding acceptable performances instead of a roster full of stars filled in with cheap talent around them. “If, as an example, you don’t think there’s one person who can [rush the passer], is there an element of, let’s call it, constructing a collective,” he said.

“That usually is some version of a four- to five-man rush. And let’s just try to keep it simple. Aaron Donald’s an ‘A’ player, but let’s just say we can’t get another ‘A’ player. Can we find some, let’s call it three to four other ‘B’ players that can partner with Aaron, and then, as a collective, they may be an ‘A’ bunch, an ‘A-’ bunch.”

MORE: Matthew Stafford Trade Rumors — Why Trading Stafford Is a Tough Task for the Los Angeles Rams

That’s not a bad approach for a unit that relies on emphasizing strengths, but pass rush tends to be a “strong link” function in a defense, where the only thing that needs to work out for a play to be a success is one player winning his rep. Coverage is a “weak link” function in a defense, where your weakest player determines your level of play — because everyone has to succeed for it to work.

If they can do that at cornerback, that would be a nice substitution for Ramsey. But with a roster currently featuring just one starting DB under contract — subpackage safety Jordan Fuller — the Rams will have to find ways to re-sign or replace Troy Hill, Taylor Rapp, Nick Scott, and David Long Jr., in addition to Ramsey.

That’s a tall order. But it’s probably the best move for the franchise if they can’t compete now.

Is Los Angeles Giving Up?

LA will need to find a solution for Ramsey’s absence in the long term, and moving on from him now makes that process easier and more efficient. That’s fine, but it’s an open question whether the Rams have the ability to compete in 2023 or whether or not they’ve kicked the can down the road.

As McVay tells it, that’s not the case. In an attempt to focus on what he can control, he said, “We are in some situations and circumstances as it relates to the cap, as it relates to some of the different things that have occurred over the last handful of years. We say, ‘Well, what are our options?’ And what’s the best way that we can figure it out?”

He added that his experience coming into the team in 2017 was in many ways similar because no one knew how competitive they could be or what they needed to do. “Let’s not try to write the story before we even open up the first page of the book,” he said. “Let’s figure out what can we do with the circumstances while there are going to be a lot of tough decisions. I don’t expect to not try to put together the most competitive roster that we can… and then let’s go see what happens.”

More concretely, he pointed out, “We do expect to be able to have some really core pieces that you’re not asking them to be anybody but themselves. And then there will be a need to develop and go with some younger guys, through the draft and through undrafted free agency and have a little bit different approach. But those were things that we have known you work through.”

MORE: Los Angeles Rams Super Bowl Odds

That’s a nice sentiment, and his parallel to the 2017 squad is a good one, but it’s difficult to think that the Rams can find a way to win. The Rams seem like a team content with not winning in 2023, but that probably isn’t the case.

The Rams put it all on the line and got a ring; 2023 is just paying the bill when it comes due. They’ll try to win, but don’t expect stellar results. In the meantime, they added a third-round pick and a backup tight end.

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Best Bets for DC Defenders vs. Houston Roughnecks Includes Abram Smith, Max Borghi, and Deontay Burnett




If you’re looking for Week 6 XFL DC Defenders vs. Houston Roughnecks odds, picks, and predictions for this thrilling Monday night matchup, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve analyzed each team’s highest-probability game scripts to assess the most likely outcomes, including which players are in line to thrive more than anticipated or fall short of expectations.

Defenders vs. Roughnecks Week 6 Odds and Betting Lines

The following odds and betting lines for the Defenders vs. Roughnecks are as of the evening of Thursday, March 23, and come from DraftKings Sportsbook. Clearly, they’re subject to change prior to kickoff. That said, barring an unforeseen injury to a significant starter, we should assume that these lines will remain largely intact.

  • Point Spread: Defenders (-2.5)
  • Moneyline: Defenders (-145), Roughnecks (+125)
  • Over/Under: 42 (-110)

Defenders vs. Roughnecks Picks and Predictions

Full disclosure as always: After going 13-3 on a combined point spread and moneyline of XFL picks in Weeks 3 and 4, I settled into a middling 2-2 performance in Week 5. Fortunately, my struggles with over/unders reversed course, as I finished 3-1.

This Monday night matchup should be thrilling for all the right reasons. Great offenses. Great defenses. Great coaching. Objectively, this is a prime example of what the XFL can offer.

And if Jontre Kirklin weren’t out for the rest of the season with a chest injury, I would have picked Houston in a minor road upset. Or, if Kirklin had been healthy, perhaps the Roughnecks would have been narrow favorites.

I don’t want to overstate Kirklin’s importance to the Roughnecks’ dynamic offense. But yeah, his loss is potentially devastating for this championship-caliber squad. In just four full games, he was among the league leaders with 253 receiving yards and four receiving scores.

MORE: 100% Free Mock Draft Simulator!

Most teams have a big-play receiver. Kirklin was that guy for Houston. He had five 20+ yard receptions. That’s still only one off from the league lead. That’s how much he meant to this offense.

We cannot speak fully about Brandon Silvers’ impressive QB play without highlighting Kirklin. Silvers connected on only one reception of more than 17 yards last week, when Kirklin was knocked out early. Those are back-breaking plays for defenses. Now that DC doesn’t have to worry about Kirklin, they can focus more on Deontay Burnett and Houston’s secondary options.

No doubt, those options might be good enough to topple the Defenders, which somehow have yielded the third-most passing yards per game. Burnett, Cedric Byrd, Travell Harris, Justin Smith, and Ben Putnam will be among those trying to carve out yards. It’s doable. But it’ll be harder with their top guy out.

Speaking of “top guy,” not long ago, Max Borghi was regarded as the top XFL running back. An injury crushed his momentum, and last week, he struggled on the ground (although, in fairness, Borghi excelled in the air, just like he did in college).

While Brycen Alleyne has stepped up, I believe Borghi is the X-factor for the Roughnecks, who need to establish the run against a defense yielding the second-fewest rushing yards. But one reason so few teams have run successfully on the Defenders is because of game script. DC is 5-0. Opponents frequently have been forced to play catch-up through the air.

DC’s run defense isn’t actually elite by XFL standards. They’ve surrendered 3.8 yards per carry. In the NFL, that would be outstanding. In the XFL, it’s barely middling.

I expect Silvers to operate more conservatively than usual, at least at the start, as his team tries to control the tempo on the ground while wearing down DC’s defense.

Will they be successful? That depends largely on what DC can do on offense. We already know how dominant their run game is. Jordan Ta’amu at QB and Abram Smith at RB are crushingly efficient. Whether or not Ryquell Armstead returns might be moot.

Now, Houston’s yielding a slightly better 3.7 yards per carry. However, aside from Seattle, they’ve faced four subpar backfields: Orlando twice, Arlington, and San Antonio.

So let’s not pick apart the starts too much. Big picture: DC has beaten St. Louis twice and Seattle once. That’s three games versus high-end offenses on the ground and through the air.

MORE: Betting Markets for C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, and Others in Latest Mock Draft

The Defenders have weathered every tough storm. They don’t need a capable passing attack — at least, not until/unless a team figures out how to stop their run. And DC doesn’t necessarily need to hold the Roughnecks to less than 20 points, although that would help.

The keys here are Ta’amu and Smith. Collectively, they’re averaging exactly 5.0 yards per carry on 25.6 rushing attempts per game.

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The Roughnecks will do everything in their power to slow them down. However, I’m betting on DC to continue breaking through. Houston has won primarily through the air, and now they’re missing their top target. DC, meanwhile, has won primarily on the ground, and they seem to be getting better every week.

  • Recommended Point-Spread Bet: Defenders (-2,5)
  • Recommended Moneyline Bet: Defenders (-145)
  • Over/Under: Under 42 (-110)

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Fantasy Outlook, Value, Projections, and Rankings




As we inch toward the new season, the ever-changing NFL landscape has player fantasy values constantly on the move. Whether you’re used to the dynasty platform or are still learning the dynasty rules, let’s dive into the latest dynasty value of Jelani Woods.

Jelani Woods’ Dynasty Outlook and Value

The Colts’ 2022 third-round pick, Woods, absolutely belongs on fantasy rosters.

Fantasy managers know not to expect much from rookie tight ends. Woods saw just a 33% snap share and a 7.7% target share. But man, the ceiling on this guy is sky-high.

Woods is a super-athlete. He ran a 4.61 40-time at 6’7″, 252 pounds. His athletic measurables are off the charts. He just needs to learn how to be an NFL tight end, which takes time.

MORE: 100% Free Mock Draft Simulator.

I would be very surprised if Woods was unable to secure the Colts’ starting TE job this season. If he does, he’s a prime candidate to see a significant spike in value.

Woods flashed his elite upside in limited rookie action. Despite averaging just 12.8 routes run per game, Woods posted two top-five weekly finishes. He scored 15.3 points in Week 3 and 17.8 points in Week 12. Perhaps most encouraging is the clear increase in usage over the latter part of the 2022 season.

From Weeks 1-9, Woods never reached a 40% snap share in a single game. He played a season-high 64% of the snaps in Week 12. After barely playing in Weeks 13 and 15, Woods saw snap shares of 63%, 60%, and 52%, respectively, over the final three weeks of the season. I’m expecting him to average over a 60% snap share in 2023.

Jelani Woods’ Fantasy Ranking

With natural improvement and him being just 24 years old, Woods could be a weekly fantasy starter as soon as this season.

We have him at TE20 (No. 162 overall) in our dynasty Superflex rankings. He seems a bit undervalued at his low-TE2 price tag. Given where he’s going, if I needed a tight end, I’d take a shot at Woods’ upside in dynasty startup drafts.

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Fantasy Outlook, Value, Projections, and Rankings




As we close in toward a new season, the ever-changing NFL landscape has player fantasy values constantly on the move, with key events like free agency continuing to roll on and the 2023 NFL Draft still to come.

Whether you’re used to the dynasty platform or are still learning the dynasty rules, let’s dive into the latest fantasy football value of San Francisco 49ers RB Christian McCaffrey

Christian McCaffrey’s Dynasty Outlook and Value

For years, we wondered what it would look like if Christian McCaffrey was placed into a top-tier offense. We finally have the answer, and it’s as good as we could’ve dreamed.

Playing the first six games in 2022 with the Carolina Panthers, McCaffrey averaged 21.4 opportunities and 111.7 yards with three total touchdowns. He was healthy and playing well but somewhat held back due to the state of the Panthers’ offense. That all changed when McCaffrey was traded to the 49ers.

From Weeks 8 through 17, McCaffrey was the RB1 in fantasy by a staggering 24 points ahead of Los Angeles Chargers RB Austin Ekeler. That’s over a full game ahead of the competition. McCaffrey was also the RB1 in points per game (23.7 PPR), averaging 22.4 opportunities, 118.8 total yards, and one touchdown per game.

MORE: FREE Mock Draft Simulator with Trades

For context, that’s a pace of over 2,000 total yards, which would be baffling if it were anyone but McCaffrey, as we’ve seen him cross that number before. In the end, McCaffrey accounted for 1,880 total yards from scrimmage on 211 touches with 10 total touchdowns.

He also dominated the opportunities when he joined San Francisco, which points to his year-over-year stability. Although Elijah Mitchell dealt with a knee injury, it’s still impressive that McCaffrey accounted for 58% of the rushing attempts, 76% of the RB targets, and a 20% team target share.

I’ve said it for years, and I will repeat it. McCaffrey is the closest thing we have seen to prime LaDainian Tomlinson in fantasy football. When healthy, he is the best running back in dynasty. Period. And after playing in only ten games combined in 2020 and 2021, watching McCaffrey stay healthy last year was a massive success. Those who “bought low” got a significant deal, even though he was never cheap.

Christian McCaffrey’s Fantasy Ranking

But how long can McCaffrey keep this up? He’s entering his age-27 season, which is nearing the traditional age apex for the position (around 28 years old). But McCaffrey is an outlier in every sense of the word, and his versatility as a receiver likely will extend his window in dynasty leagues.

Throw in the fact that McCaffrey has three more years under contract with the 49ers, and there’s no reason to expect him to fall off a cliff for at least the next two seasons.

MORE: Running Back Dynasty Rankings 2023

McCaffrey is, at worst, the RB3 in dynasty alongside Jonathan Taylor, Breece Hall, and Bijan Robinson, but from a per-game standpoint, I don’t think anyone will touch him. For now, he is the RB2 overall in PPR formats and will be in third after Robinson is added. In Superflex formats, where QBs see a jump in value due to positional scarcity, McCaffrey is the No. 19-overall-ranked player.

Unless you have him on your roster, McCaffrey is virtually untouchable in dynasty, barring a seismic, team-altering trade. Even then, you’ll still have to overpay just to get conversations started.

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