The Cleveland Browns (7-9 record and last in the AFC North) are coming off of a 2014 season where they had adversity from both of their first round draft picks and more trouble from their best offensive player. Throughout the offseason the Browns found their “franchise” quarterback in rehab. With the off the field distractions of their first round quarterback, the Browns went out and signed an insurance at the position in Josh McCown. The Browns also head into the 2015 season without star receiver Josh Gordon, who finds himself suspended again. There is promise on the defensive side of the ball with incoming rookie Danny Shelton and the signing on Tramon Williams. The longtime Packer looks to be a veteran presence for the immature but talented Justin Gilbert.
The Baltimore Ravens (10-6 record and 3nd in the AFC North) are coming off of a 2014 season where they overcame adversity, dealing with the Ray Rice domestic abuse situation that went viral. Throughout the Ray Rice situation the Baltimore Ravens still found their way to the playoffs. The Ravens defeated their division rival the Pittsburgh Steelers on Wildcard weekend, but was defeated by the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in the Divisional round. The Ravens saw four players selected to the Pro Bowl, with a surprise star in running back Justin Forsett. The Ravens lost deep threat receiver Torrey Smith, traded away troubled nose tackle Haloti Ngata to the Detroit Lions and drafted deep threat receiver Breshad Perriman in the first round. With some new additions and key losses we should see a whole new Ravens team this coming season.
Each NFL season means new players, new coaches, and in some cases, a newly invented team. However, don’t forget new changes to the rulebook. Many rules are put into place with the player’s safety in mind. An example is from a rule alteration in the 2013 season in which it is illegal for ball-carriers and tacklers to lead with the crown of their helmets when the two players are outside of the tackle box. This allows a lesser chance for players to suffer a concussion. Here are some of the more recent changes to the NFL rules and the affect on fantasy football…
For NFL fantasy enthusiasts: Chip Kelly has been under a lot of scrutiny for the moves he has made this off season. They decided not to offer Jeremy Maclin more money and he left for the Chiefs. This opens up a world of opportunities for Matthews to become the #1 receiver on the Eagles, and really put up a stellar season. He was overshadowed a bit by all of the other great rookie wide receivers last year, but in a lot of years, his stats would have been elite for rookie WR’s. The Eagles acquired Sam Bradford in the off-season to replace Nick Foles and Chip Kelly seems to think that he is an upgrade at the position. The Eagles did draft Nelson Agholar out of USC in the first round this year, but I think that actually helps Matthews as teams won’t be able to consistently double him. We all know Chip Kelly runs a very high tempo offense, so the more plays they are running, the more Matthews can get involved.
The Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5 record and 1st in the AFC North) are coming off of a 2014 season where they lost to divisional rival the Baltimore Ravens during Wildcard weekend. During the 2014 season, the Steelers showed one of the most prolific offenses in the entire NFL. With Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown the Steelers showcased one of the best offensive trio’s in the entire NFL. The defense was middle of the road; ranking 18th in total defense, struggling at 27th against the pass, and one of the best against the run ranking 6th in the league. The Steelers used their first two draft picks to fortify the defensive side of the ball. Bringing in OLB Bud Dupree to help rush the passer and DB Senquez Golson to provide speed and depth to a depleted defensive backfield.