Henry John @HankTimeSports
BANK IT! Hank’s Bank is here to close the vault on the 2017 NFL season! While the Fantasy Football season has come and gone (sorry to the fools playing in Week 17), all 32 teams will be in action on New Year’s Eve making it the perfect time to look back on 2017 and ahead to 2018 for each of them. Do the Browns have anything going for them? Who is my coach of the year? Need to get hyped for America’s Game of the Week? Read on for all of this and more! BANK THAT, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Redskins @ Giants
BANK IT: THE END OF QB ERAS
It has been a brutal, injury-marred season for both the Redskins and Giants, making it no surprise that they are the two teams bringing up the rear of the NFC East. Looking forward to 2018, both franchises could be in for big changes at the quarterback position. If Washington were to place a franchise tag on Kirk Cousins for a record third straight year, they would be digging deep into their pockets, paying him over $30 million next season, should a long-term deal again fail to materialize. While Ben McAdoo is already out in New York after deciding to end Eli Manning’s start streak, the future is cloudy for the rebuilding Giants. It may be best to trade their aging QB to a current contender for some value in return.
Jets @ Patriots
BANK IT: STATE OF THE DEFENSE
While the Jets clearly suffer a significant lack of offensive talent compared to their division rivals, both teams need to prioritize getting their defenses right for next season. The Patriots entered Week 17 ranked last in total defense by Football Outsiders. While the Jets sat a bit higher at 19th, they have given up nearly 24 points per game. Shoring up the secondary for New York will be critical. And while the Patriots are a win in this finale away from the AFC’s top seed, Tom Brady can’t play forever and finding a potential replacement could be a priority come the draft.
Bears @ Vikings
BANK IT: QUARTERBACK TRIFECTA
That is precisely what has occurred in Minnesota this season. When Sam Bradford went out early in the season to injury, Case Keenum stepped in and has played like no Case Keenum anyone had ever seen before. Add in the now healthy Teddy Bridgewater and the Vikings could plausibly shop a QB in the offseason. For now, they will look to keep riding their defense and the re-emerged Latavius Murray to a Week 17 victory and the NFC’s 2-seed. For the Bears, it will be all about building around their hopeful franchise QB, Mitchell Trubisky. Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen proved to be a great backfield tandem, but Trubisky needs some real NFL receivers to throw to going forward.
Packers @ Lions
BANK IT: BITTER DISAPPOINTMENT
For the Packers, 2017’s shortcomings were primarily the result of injuries. Of course Aaron Rodgers is the name that stands out, but the team also dealt with various injuries to the offensive line, as well as running backs Ty Montgomery and Aaron Jones. With Jamaal Williams playing well out of the backfield down the stretch, there may be an odd-man-out situation for one of Green Bay’s rushers. Detroit’s glaring improvement projects for the offseason are their defense which gave up 24.3 points per game, and their own backfield where the tandem of Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick isn’t cutting it.
Texans @ Colts
BANK IT: ONE BRIGHT FUTURE, ANOTHER CLOUDY
The Texans could have been playoff contenders this season and should be next year as well, provided they can avoid the rash of injuries that seems to plague them year after year. Losing their leaders on both sides of the ball in J.J. Watt and Deshaun Watson killed the team. We already know what Watt is capable of and Watson was a superstar in his shortened rookie season. A full season of him and DeAndre Hopkins together is a beautiful image. The Colts meanwhile still have their hands tied to the health of Andrew Luck, but the problems spread all over the team. Don’t expect Chuck Pagano to be anywhere near an Indy sideline next season.
Browns @ Steelers
BANK IT: 0-16
I have tried to give the Browns some props all season, even banking them to win a few games around the midway point. They constantly let me down, so I’m banking one more loss in Week 17 to end a brutal winless season. New GM John Dorsey faces the dilemma of how to spend their top overall draft pick. Deshone Kizer wasn’t great, but he was just a rookie this season. He needs some capable offensive playmakers around him beyond Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman. Meanwhile, the Steelers need a win and help from the Jets to steal the AFC’s top playoff seed, but are guaranteed a bye. The health of Antonio Brown factors in huge to their playoff potential, and there is the possible end of the road for Ben Roethlisberger to worry about in the offseason.
Cowboys @ Eagles
BANK IT: FLY EAGLES FLY!
Just not in this regular season finale. With the NFC’s top seed already sewn up, the Eagles will likely rest or limit the minutes of many key contributors for this meaningless game. Philly fans are keeping their fingers crossed that Nick Foles can get it done in the postseason, but with Carson Wentz back in the fold for 2018, the future remains bright. The Cowboys took a significant step back after being the top NFC team last year. The young core of Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott should be on the field together for the entire year next season, but Dallas needs to address severe deficiencies at wide receiver and on defense.
49ers @ Rams
BANK IT: COACH OF THE YEAR
If Sean McVay doesn’t win said award, he should just up and leave for the CFL. What the Rams’ first year man has done is nothing short of incredible. He has made Jared Goff into a solid quarterback and turned the Rams offense into a fantasy machine, from Todd Gurley to Robert Woods and even Cooper Kupp. And while L.A. no longer plays on turf, they were hands down the greatest offensive show to watch in 2017 and have locked up their first NFC West title since 2003. Meanwhile, the 49ers were right up there in entertainment value down the stretch once Jimmy Garoppolo took over at quarterback. There is plenty of optimism about the future in the Bay Area, but San Fran desperately needs to retool their offensive line to provide him with more protection.
Raiders @ Chargers
BANK IT: BLACK AND SILVER BUSTS
The Raiders have to be the most disappointing team in the NFL this season, having stumbled their way into a losing record regardless of Week 17’s outcome. Derek Carr was vastly underwhelming and aside from Week 7, WR1 Amari Cooper was absent from the receiving game. But the inferior defense needs to be the immediate offseason focus. Meanwhile, the Chargers erased an 0-4 start and are a win, plus a Titans loss away from reaching the postseason. Their defense has taken a huge step forward with Joey Bosa and Casey Hayward playing superb, and Philip Rivers has finally had a healthy complement of targets for the whole season. Hopes of any magical playoff run will depend on the health of Melvin Gordon.
Chiefs @ Broncos
BANK IT: PAT MAHOMES DEBUTS
The Chiefs can’t move up or down from the 4th spot in the AFC Playoff picture, so Andy Reid is resting Alex Smith and likely several other starters and giving the ball to rookie QB Patrick Mahomes. For all the disappointment in Denver this season, the defense remains stout and Sunday’s game could be a huge indicator for the Chiefs’ future plans, depending on how Mahomes fares. Denver will be in a rampant quarterback search of their own this offseason. Still possessing elite wideouts Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, the Broncos just need a 2015 Peyton Manning-esque game manager to get back into contention form.
Jaguars @ Titans
BANK IT: SUPER MARI…BORTLES
It felt like I was banking Marcus Mariota to rediscover his passing prowess every single week, and he never did. It was an uncharacteristically poor season for Mariota, yet the Titans just need to win on Sunday to secure a playoff berth. Dubbed by many an NFL bust, Jacksonville’s Blake Bortles has been the one to put together an incredible season, staying in stride with the elite Jaguars defense. What makes it even more impressive is the receiving corps he has done it with. With Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns both going down with injuries this season, Bortles has been connecting with the likes of Keelan Cole, Marqise Lee, and Dede Westbrook to help Jacksonville secure the 3rd seed in the AFC Playoffs.
Saints @ Buccaneers
BANK IT: TWO TALENTED TEAMS, ONLY ONE CONTENDER
The Saints have had a tremendous season and have done so in the most un-Saintiest of ways. The running back tandem of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara has carried the offensive load and taken much of the pressure off of Drew Brees and the passing game. It sure helps to finally have a competent defense as well, and New Orleans can clinch the NFC South with a Week 17 victory. Meanwhile, all of the optimism surrounding the Bucs preseason has vanished. Despite talent including Jameis Winston, Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, and Doug Martin, Tampa has underachieved on both sides of the ball and all of those stars had a down year or are perhaps down for the count (Exhibit A: Martin). It will be a long offseason as Dirk Koetter tries to pick up the pieces.
Bills @ Dolphins
BANK IT: AN ATTEMPT TO END THE STREAK
That streak is the Bills’ 17-year playoff drought. It seems improbable to think that this year’s Bills would have a shot to do that in the final week of the season after trading away Sammy Watkins and getting vastly mediocre receiver production. Tyrod Taylor has battled through injuries to give them all he could, and of course LeSean McCoy has been terrific. Buffalo needs some help to get in, but a win in Miami is a must. The Dolphins’ Jay Cutler experiment has been very much bipolar. Essentially, when he decides to show up, they look great and can beat the Patriots. When he doesn’t they can lose to the Jets. One good thing that has come from Miami’s season is the discovery of Kenyan Drake as a solid running back option moving forward.
Cardinals @ Seahawks
BANK IT: LEGION’S LAST GASP
A week after getting trounced at home by the Rams, Seattle went down to Dallas and ended the Cowboys playoff hopes while keeping their own alive. Now, Russell Wilson and Co. must pull off one more victory over the Drew Stanton-led Cardinals and get some help to reach the postseason. Ravaged by injuries on defense and without a solid offensive line or running game, many view the Seahawks title contention window as officially closed. Provided they can shore up the O-line, I still give it another year, given how banged up their key players have been. Arizona’s season also went the way of injuries, with those to David Johnson and Carson Palmer looming largest. One positive has been the ageless Larry Fitzgerald etching his name on a bust in Canton with another remarkable year.
Panthers @ Falcons
BANK IT: AMERICA’S GAME OF THE WEEK
That’s what FOX will bill it as, and that’s exactly what it is. The Falcons need to win to clinch a playoff spot. The Panthers need to win to have a shot at locking up an NFC South title and possibly a first round bye if they can get help elsewhere. The implications of this game on other teams around the NFC could be enormous. Carolina has successfully rediscovered its defense that led them to a Super Bowl appearance just two years ago. While Cam Newton hasn’t been an elite passer, he has done enough. For Atlanta, Matt Ryan and the offense have regressed significantly from last year’s Super Bowl team. But with Julio Jones taking on a struggling Carolina secondary, the Falcons have the season right in front of them on their home field for the taking.
Bengals @ Ravens
BANK IT: BALTIMORE’S DESTINY
A slow start has turned into a red-hot finish for the Ravens. The offense has been playing much better in recent weeks, and a win on Sunday ensures Baltimore of the 5th seed in the AFC Playoffs. There are still a plethora of scenarios that could get them into the postseason with a loss, but I don’t envision Joe Flacco, Alex Collins, and the bunch having much trouble with the Bengals. Cincinnati did however spoil the Lions playoff hopes last week. This will be Marvin Lewis’ final game on the sideline to cap a 14-year run as the head man. While the Bengals were mostly competitive during his tenure, they also went 0-7 in playoff games. A.J. Green remains a stud, but he needs more offensive talent around him moving forward.
Thank you for reading Hank’s Bank! The vault will return for the 2018 Fantasy Football season with a special NFL Draft Edition before then! To stay up to date on all Fantasy Hotread content throughout the offseason, Follow @FantasyHotRead on Twitter and Like/Follow The Fantasy Hot Read on Facebook.
By: Henry John