Top Rookies to Target on Draft Day
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs
Landing spots can be critical to a fantasy freshman’s success, and it’s hard to think of a better place Clyde Edwards-Helaire could have landed than the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Super Bowl champs scored the fifth-most points per game last season. They also cycled through several different running backs, as no one ran away with the starting gig.
Andy Reid’s offense has propped up fantasy backs before, and Edwards-Helaire could restart that trend. His all-around skills seem the perfect addition to this offense, and he was handpicked by starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
“I think the first thing that stood out from Clyde is when the competition and the games got bigger, it seemed like he played better,” Mahomes told reporters. “I always like guys that can rise to the competition, and whenever you’re on the biggest stage, you play your best football, and you rise up and compete with your team.”
The Atlanta Braves are another MLB franchise that has frequently been called out for their moniker, most recently following news that the Aunt Jemima brand would be abandoning its longtime name and removing its logo, which is based on a racial stereotype. Those opposed to the team’s current identity object not just to the name, they also find the team mascot the celebratory “Tomahawk Chop” offensive.
Another NFL franchise, the Kansas City Chiefs, was being eyed as next in line by many who took to Twitter on Friday night.
DT MIKE PENNEL
The true value of Pennel’s arrival last year wasn’t felt until the second half of the season.
Without Pennel, the Chiefs’ run defense allowed a dismal 148.9 yards rushing per game from Weeks 1 to 7. When he became a permanent fixture as part of the interior defensive line rotation from Weeks 13-17 alongside Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi and Khalen Saunders, the Chiefs allowing a more-respectable average of 95.4 per game.
Pennel’s production in eight games won’t blow away anyone, as he totaled just 24 tackles, a sack and a quarterback hit.
But there’s no debate about his willingness to be the player capable of commanding attention from interior blockers, thus freeing up teammates around him — so much so that Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu categorized Pennel’s arrival as one of the team’s most underrated signings of 2019.
Dallas Texans became Kansas City Chiefs
One of the AFL’s first franchises, the Dallas Texans, led by Hall of Fame coach Hank Stram, won the league title in 1962. But despite their on-field success, the Texans were struggling to attract large crowds, as the team was competing with the crosstown Cowboys for fans. With his team struggling to make ends meet, team owner Lamar Hunt moved the franchise to Kansas City, where it changed its team name to the Chiefs. The franchise continued its winning ways in its new city, capturing a second AFL title in 1966 before becoming the second AFL team to win the Super Bowl at the end of the 1969 season.
Chris Jones, IDL, Chiefs
Jones invoked running back Le’Veon Bell’s name by suggesting he wouldn’t pay this season unless signed to a long-term deal. Bell sat out the 2018 season rather than play for the Steelers under a $14.544 million franchise tag. One big difference between Jones and Bell’s situations is Bell gained a level of financial security that Jones doesn’t have by waiting until he was franchised for a second time before taking such an extreme stance. Jones made just over $6.125 million during the four years of his rookie contract. His $16.126 million franchise tender is close to three times as much as he made on his rookie deal.
The Pats selected Patrick Chung with that pick and that ended up working out tremendously. Aside from one lone year with the Philadelphia Eagles, Chung has been with New England for 10 years and won three Super Bowls with the team, racking up 719 tackles, 11 interceptions, 54 passes defensed and 4 fumble recoveries in 141 games.
As for the Chiefs? Well, they signed Cassel to a six-year, $63 million contract and cut ties with him after four seasons, though we will not omit the fact he went 10-5 as a starter in 2010 and made the Pro Bowl. Vrabel started 30 games across two seasons (2009 and 2010) and then retired.
4. AFC West
Melvin Gordon, Philip Lindsay, Royce Freeman (Broncos), Damien Williams, Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Chiefs), Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson (Chargers), Josh Jacobs, Jalen Richard, Lynn Bowden (Raiders)
Gordon has not been a particularly efficient runner. He’s failed to top 3.9 yards per carry in four of his five seasons, and he’s been considerably below-average in Football Outsiders’ success rate in three of his five seasons. However, he’s been a valuable pass-catcher, chipping in with an average of 45 catches for 375 yards and two scores while playing only 13 games per season. Lindsay took a step backward last season, but he was still very effective as both a runner and pass-catcher. Freeman seems likely to be a non-factor when everyone’s healthy, but at least provides an element of depth.
As we wrote prior to the Super Bowl, Williams is a perfect fit for the pass-heavy Kansas City offense. As a former third-down back, he’s well-equipped to pass block and get out on routes, and he can take advantage of lighter boxes Kansas City often faces. Edwards-Helaire is just as good a fit. He was the best pass-catching back in the draft, and while taking him in the first round wasn’t the best use of resources, he should prove extremely effective in this offense.
Around the NFL
• Americans/Warriors:I think either of these names accomplish something important for Snyder; something he is no doubt worried about during this process. By leaning into an excessively American theme, with the ability to name-check the military, drape a new set of uniforms in red, white and blue, and repurpose the American flag for design purposes (or in some other way borrow from the Trumpian aesthetic), he heads off criticism from the people who will be most indignant and vocal about the change.
“At this time, the team is preparing to have fans in attendance with new policies and safety measures to allow for appropriate social distancing, which will require the stadium’s seating capacity to be significantly reduced,” the announcement stated. “Face coverings also will be required, and other necessary precautions will be in place. As a result, the special experience to which fans are accustomed at Lambeau Field will look and feel very different.”
The Canadian Football League team said Friday it is keeping the Eskimos moniker following “an extensive year-long formal research and engagement program with Inuit leaders and community members across Canada.”
“The consistent feedback was a desire for more engagement with the club,” the team said in a statement. “There were a range of views regarding the club’s name but no consensus emerged to support a name change. The club has therefore decided to retain its name.”
Nate Burleson: The great Larry Fitzgerald is back for one more season. Why not send the future Hall of Famer out with a championship like the Denver Broncos did with John Elway or the Baltimore Ravens with Ray Lewis? Fitz and the Cardinals were thisclose to winning the title in the 2008 season, when they narrowly lost to Pittsburgh. That was Arizona’s only Super Bowl appearance, but the Cardinals fans have been loyal nonetheless. The team has made huge moves this offseason to move up the ladder in the NFC West, NFC and league as a whole. I wouldn’t be all that surprised to see Kliff Kingsbury’s team catch fire in the desert this season. This organization is due.
The Browns told Njoku, 23, that they would like to keep him, but Rosenhaus told the team he’s intent on a trade.
“It is in David’s best interest to find a new team at this time,” Rosenhaus told Schefter.
The Browns announced in April that they would pick up Njoku’s fifth-year option, worth $6.4 million.
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
While Jones is a great pass rusher, it’s not a secret that he struggles to consistently defend the run well. His tall frame can be a disadvantage in the trenches — and he has a tendency to try and make a play by shooting another gap that isn’t his assigned run fit.
Defensive tackles Derrick Nnadi and Mike Pennel are known for their run-stuffing and gap-holding. With Jones not on the field, it would make sense to start them next to each other on the interior of the defensive line for early-down situations. The 3-tech position is usually occupied by an explosive, penetrating defender (like Jones) for passing plays, but both Nnadi and Pennel could play the spot in scenarios where a run is likely.
Offenses have understood Jones’ rush defense tendencies during his career. Teams will run at him to tire him out and get him out of position. With that target no longer on the field, teams may try to avoid running against a more stout, disciplined front and take their chances throwing — knowing that Nnadi and Pennel’s pass rush is nowhere near as effective as what Jones can do.
A tweet to make you think
Even with Washington’s statement, I never thought the Chiefs would consider a name change as some have fairly suggested and encouraged, but if this falls like dominoes, with the Atlanta Braves and Florida State Seminoles next, for example, it might get interesting in Kansas City. https://t.co/8Rs2MndcEK— Pete Sweeney (@pgsween) July 4, 2020
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