Friday, August 18, 2017

Newest Eagle Make a Big First Impression

In one of my previous posts on EaglesLincs, I talked about the crowded situation in the Eagles' current receiving corps. A day later, the team decided to make some room on that list by trading Jordan Matthews and a third round pick in next year's draft to Buffalo for cornerback Ronald Darby.

Given Matthews potential with second-year quarterback Carson Wentz throwing him the ball along with his positive impact with the rest of the team in the locker room, many players and fans were upset to see him go. The reality of the NFL comes down to winning games and sometimes that calls for tough decisions that are designed to ultimately make the entire team better at the expense of losing highly popular players. Darby took the first step towards making this trade a huge plus for the Birds' beleaguered defensive secondary with his play (ironically enough) in Thursday night's 20-16 victory over the Bills.

The third-year vet out of Florida State's biggest play of the night was a 48-yard interception return and he was also instrumental in breaking up a pair of Buffalo pass plays to help seal Philly's first win of the preseason. It was no big secret that one of the biggest areas of concern heading into the 2017 regular season was the shaky play of the cornerbacks that were already on the roster before this trade. The addition of Darby adds some much needed stability in the secondary and his presence in the defensive backfield has the potential to actually elevate the play of the front seven.

Matthews will be missed and the offense now needs players such as Nelson Agholor and rookie Mack Hollins to step up their games to help fill the void. However, Darby's early play is encouraging enough to justify this recent trade.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Three Main Takeaways from Eagles' Preseason Opener

The Eagles opened the 2017 NFL preseason with a 24-9 loss to Green Bay on this road. This is the time of the year when you have to focus on individual performances as opposed to the scoreboard since the idea of winning the game is a pretty low priority on the list. These early exhibition games are more of an extension of training camp in an effort to translate what happens at practice to actual execution on the field. This dynamic will shift a bit heading into the next two preseason matchups with a higher focus on outscoring the opposing team before Game 4 is used to determine which players deserve a spot on the final 53-man roster.

When it comes to Philadelphia's player performances in Thursday's game against the Packers, I came away with three main observations from what happened on the field.

1-Eagles are Ready to Fly in Carson Wentz's Second Season at the Helm

While the second-year quarterback out of North Dakota State only played one series, it was enough to give his team an early 6-0 lead against most of Green Bay's starting defense. He went 4-for-4 for 56 yards including a big fourth down conversion as well as a 38-yard scoring strike to rookie Mack Hollins, who added some nice yards after the catch to make his way into the end zone. Wentz looked extremely comfortable under center and while a winning record and return to the playoffs cannot be built around one scoring series in the first preseason game, he has definitely caught our attention heading into next week's game at home against Buffalo.

2-Rookie Derek Barnett is the Real Deal

Defensive end Derek Barnett was the Eagles' first round pick in this year's draft at No. 14 overall and the former Tennessee Volunteer helped validate that lofty draft position by recording two sacks, four tackles (including two for a loss) and a pair of hits on Green Bay quarterbacks. He is still second on the depth chart behind Vinny Curry with Brandon Graham anchoring the other end of the line, but these early results could land him the starting role in the regular season opener against Washington if he continues to play like he did on Thursday night.

3-The Eagles could be Deeper than Expected at Wide Receiver

Second-year head coach Doug Pederson made a big splash this offseason in free agency with the help of team vice-president Howie Roseman with the addition of wide receivers' Alshon Jeffry and Torrey Smith to address one of the team's biggest needs on offense. While neither player factored into Thursday's game, a few of the wide receivers that did play made an early impact on what could turn out to be one of the most interesting roster battles moving forward. Incumbent No. 1 Jordan Matthews pulled down three balls for 18 yards in his limited time on the field while former No. 2 Nelson Agholar was blanked on the night.

Howard made a strong case for a roster spot on that 38-yard touchdown catch and run alone and he ended the game with four receptions for 64 yards. Second-year receiver Bryce Treggs threw his name into the mix by leading the team with seven catches on eight targets for 98 yards including a 38-yard reception of his own.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Tips for Using Fantasy Football Rankings to Dominate Your League's Upcoming Draft

Whether you are an avid fantasy football fanatic entrenched in multiple leagues while also trying your luck at a multitude of online one-day fantasy leagues or just a casual fantasy fan trying to win your best buddy's league, there is one basic thing to keep in mind. To win your fantasy football league you need to first win your fantasy football league’s annual draft.

The most basic tool used for drafting your team is a fantasy football rankings list. This comprehensive guide can provide just about everything you need when it comes to sorting out the best NFL players by position in terms of their fantasy scoring potential for the upcoming season. There are a number of different fantasy football information sites that compile these ranking lists and while they all use the same basic criteria, the actual player rankings can still be vastly different from list to another.

Your job as team owner is to sift through all the available information on player rankings to come up with your own unique fantasy football player list that you can take into draft day with a high level of confidence. This can be easier said than done since anyone who participates in a fantasy football league is bound to be swayed by what you read and hear from the so-called experts out there. That is why it is beneficial to use at least two or three fantasy football rankings to try and come up with a consensus that makes objective sense to you. The key word here is ‘objective’ since you have to put aside the inherent bias that creeps into everyone psyche based on favorite NFL teams or favorite NFL players.

The dynamics of fantasy football change radically every season. You have your standout players that can be considered ‘blue chip’ picks, but really winning your fantasy league’s draft is more about the players you pick up in the later rounds. If you operate in an eight person league, you can almost script the first two or three rounds of the draft. With your customized fantasy football ranking list on hand, you will most likely go with the best available player on the board with your first two or three picks. The debate between taking a running back or a wide receiver in the first round rages on, but if you trust your rankings, then you should already know which player you are going to draft first.

Things start to get interesting once you move away from making the easy picks. If you did your homework by comparing the rankings from two or three fantasy football player lists, you are bound to come up with a few second-tier players that have scored well across the board. This is the best way to build the actual core of your team. Maybe you can find a running back that has some huge upside potential in 2017 based on the numbers he put up in the final few games last season.

Another tip to winning your draft is to make sure that you are up to speed on rookies since some fantasy football rankings do not include them in their lists or they are basically guessing on what their weekly point potential might be. One easy guide to putting a value on a first year player in a skill position is to check their betting odds to win NFL Rookie of the Year. Heading into last season, Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott was the odds-on favorite to win this award and we all know what kind of year he had.

Knowledge is king when it comes to dominating your fantasy football draft and it all starts with taking the time to put together your own player ranking list that is a product of all the information that is out there.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Expectations are Running High as Eagles Open Training Camp

Last year at this time, the Eagles were just a blip on the NFL radar screen when all 32 teams went back to work to prepare for the upcoming season. Doug Pederson was in place as the team’s new head coach in light of the failed “Chip Kelly Experiment” and Sam Bradford was in place as the incumbent starting quarterback while the Birds’ top draft pick Carson Wentz was relegated to No. 3 on the depth chart.

I distinctly remember having to search long and hard for any type of news on the team when it came to national sites such as and The Eagles were picked to finish last in their division and their projected win total stood at seven games. Both of those projections held true with a 7-9 record and last-place finish in Pederson’s first season as a NFL head coach, but the winds of change were in the air.

Flash forward to the present and the expectation level for the Eagles this season has moved in the right direction with a projected third-place finish in the NFC East behind Dallas and New York to go along with their projected eight-game win total. That may be the national view, but the bar has been raised much higher than that from the Philly faithful with summer camp in full swing.

Wentz showed flashes of greatness in his first 16 games as the Eagles new franchise quarterback, the defense took a big step forward last season under the guidance of Jim Schwartz as the team’s new defensive coordinator and you have to be impressed with the front office’s aggressive offseason moves to address some of its biggest needs. With the addition of offensive weapons such as wide receivers’ Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith and running back LeGarrette Blount as free agents along with Derek Barnett and Rasul Douglas on the defensive side of the ball through the draft, there has been a major upgrade in personnel over the past few months.

The Eagles still have more questions than answers since everything looks good on paper and it still comes down to winning games on the field, but I do think it is safe to say that expectations are running high for bigger and better things from the Birds in 2017.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Eagles Open Camp at Nova Care Center on July 24

Philadephia Eagles 2017 Summer Training Camp

Rookies: July 24

Veterans: July 26

First practice: July 27

Site: NovaCare Complex

Location: Philadelphia

The Eagles officially open their 2017 training camp on Monday, July 24 with rookies reporting to the Nova Care Center in South Philadelphia. The veterans are set to report two days later with the first full team practice scheduled for Thursday, July 27. It is an exciting time to be a Philly fan with the addition of free agent wide receivers' Alshon Jeffrey and Torrey Smith and running back LaGarrette Blount to the offense and rookie defensive end Derek Barnett and cornerbacks' Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas to the defense via this year's draft.

Philadelphia went 7-9 in Doug Pederson's first year at the helm as head coach and the pieces are now in place for bigger and better things in 2017. While the Birds are not favored to win the NFC East this season behind both Dallas and the New York Giants, the ever-revolving spot at the top of this division has continually been up for grabs over the past several years. In fact, you would have to go all the way back to 2004 to find the last time that the reining NFC East Champion repeated as the top team the following year with the Eagles laying claim to their fourth-straight division title in a run that also included four-straight trips to the NFC title game and one run to the Super Bowl.

I may be a homer, but I like the Birds' chances to win the division this season as much as any other team in the NFC East. Dallas went from just four wins in 2015 to an impressive 13-3 last year behind a pair of rookies named Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. The problem for the Cowboys this time around other than playing a first-place schedule is that they are not going to sneak up on anyone. Defensive coordinators have a knack for scheming against an opponent's top weapons on offense and both of these standouts could be headed for a sophomore slump. The Giants could be the team to watch in this division in 2017 after jumping up to 11 victories last year. This followed three seasons of a sub-.500 record so the big question heading into this year's campaign is which direction does New York go in 2017?

Washington has been an up and down team for the past few years. The Redskins won the NFC East title in 2012 with a record of 10-6 before plummeting to just three victories the following year. After going 4-12 in 2014, the Skins managed to win nine games the following season to claim the title again. Last year's 8-8 record puts Washington into a very interesting situation this year; however most of the NFL experts have the Redskins to bring up the rear in the NFC East this season.

It all gets started in late July in what should be one of the most interesting division title battles in the NFL this season.