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Debut of our Power Rankings

Florida Football Insiders



(Photo by Simon West/Actionplus/Icon Sportswire)

We debut something new, as we close out September with our first edition of the F.F.I. Power Rankings of the three NFL and five prominent college football programs we cover.

We will rank the college and NFL teams together on the same list with the following brief criteria: how has your team looked and importantly, against what type of competition? Have they won easily or in nail bitter fashion? How injured/beat up are they at this point? How’s your team on the “it factor” of star players and looking good, etc?

So, without delay, here goes to this point (and it will change) in descending order:

8. Florida State- The Noles are reeling after their lost last Saturday to N.C. State and at 0-2 are the only winless team in our rankings. Now, you can argue that Alabama would easily hang the “L” on the other four college teams, but, the Noles played them and got handled.

No one is saying that QB James Blackman won’t grow and FSU won’t start winning some games, but for now? They are at the bottom of our list.

7. Miami Dolphins- At 1-1, the Dolphins overcame Hurricane Irma relocation to Los Angeles and beat the Chargers in the in the final minute of week one. But, followed it up with a dismal showing last week at the Jets. The Fins have stars like Ajayi, Landry, Parker, Suh, Wake, etc., but traveling to London for the Saints game Sunday will be challenge for them. Will they pull it together and move up our rankings? Let’s see.

6. Miami Hurricanes- Mark Richt’s team is 2-0. That’s the good news. The bad news is we don’t really know how improved they are. They struggled at the beginning and then blew out Bethune-Cookman. Then, after Hurricane Irma postponed their next two games with Arkansas State and FSU, they looked a bit stale last Saturday with Toledo.

Yet, RB Mark Walton ripped off a 200 yard game and they pulled away. Canes have Duke Friday night as an ACC road test that they need to pass before having the Noles in Tallahassee next week.

5. USF- We know. They are 4-0, but as Olivia Stacey wrote earlier this week, the competition was suspect these first few games for the Bulls. And we’re not sure if they will get much of a game on the road against East Carolina this Saturday.

Yes, Quinton Flowers is a talented QB. But, he has been erratic throwing and just “pretty good” with his legs, so far. There is no doubt while talented, the Bulls have benefited from playing bad teams. We simply need to see more, unbeaten or not, to move them up.

4. Tampa Bay Bucs- An impressive blowout of the Bears at home week one was undone by being manhandled by the Vikings and backup QB Case Keenum in game two. Jameis Winston is the focal point for the Bucs and he threw three INTs last week.

And, the Bucs could not run the ball and really abandoned it last week in Minnesota. They are 1-1, with two large home games coming with the Giants and then a massive Thursday nighter with the Patriots. Time to see what they are made of and if they will move up.

3. UCF- The Knights were very impressive at Maryland in a 38-10 win last week. In fact, when you consider all the prominent college teams games last Saturday, UCF had the most decisive win against the best opponent. And they did so, having just like FSU, and Miami to wait three weeks in between their first game and their second game.

QB McKenzie Milton is a true dual threat and the Knights have run the ball well in their two victories. It is a small sample and they do have a showdown in the American conference with Memphis in a re-scheduled game Saturday night. For now, UCF deserves this slot.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars- Yes. It’s early. But, yes. They are 2-1 with two blowout wins. And while you could dismiss their easy victory over the Texans in week one, you can’t ignore the 44-7 shallacking of the Ravens in London last Sunday. The Jags defense led by veteran newcomer Calais Campbell and young stars in the making like Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack and Dante Fowler has looked good in the wins.

Also, Leonard Fournette has provided the power run game to help take the pressure off Blake Bortles. Borles responded with a 4 TD game last week. You can question the competition a bit, but the Jags have two lopsided victories. They deserve this spot.

1. Florida Gators- Ok. We know this will generate debate and criticism, but let’s be honest. When we all saw how dismal Florida looked on offense in Arlington, TX, against Michigan week one, there were a lot of people speculating the Gators might lose to both Tennessee and at Kentucky. Well, in both cases, Florida did the opposite and gutted out dramatic wins. So, they deserve a ton of credit. The SEC is hard. Ask Missouri the last two years. Ask Vandy, year in and year out.

And Jim McElwain continues to succeed in close games with these last two moving him to 9-1 in SEC games decided by seven points or less. The Gators are still trying to figure out the QB spot. They will go with veteran Luke Del Rio to start this week against the Commodores. Here’s the reality. The Gators won’t stay on the top spot for very long. But for now, those two wins? In the SEC? They deserve this bump.

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Some week one Fantasy “start’em or sit’em” advice

Florida Football Insiders



Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the opening weekend of the NFL season, and also, fantasy football fans are rejoicing at seeing their season is getting underway, too.

So, with the fact that there’s so much interest in the beginning of the year and there are some unknowns involving the three Florida pro football teams, we decided to give out some quick “start or sit” fantasy football advice.

First up is the Buccaneers matchup with the Saints in New Orleans.

And while Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson will be the focus of the Saints secondary, they have veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick throwing to them.  They are probably both still worth the “start” on Sunday, especially Evans, who is off a disappointing season by his standards.

If you’re looking for a “sleeper,” it’s third receiver Chris Godwin, who really came into his own down the stretch of 2017. That included catching the game-winning touchdown pass in the final seconds against the Saints in week 17 .

More than likely, running back Peyton Barber (above) isn’t one of your primary backs in your league, but he will be the guy that gets the ball in key situations, including in the red zone and the goal line.

If you drafted rookie 2nd round pick speedster Ronald Jones, don’t expect much this week. While Jones will likely be active, he will probably be third-string behind Barber and Veteran Jacquizz Rodgers. And, he may not see the feel very much.

As for the Dolphins, Ryan Tannehill is back at the helm and that means receivers Kenny Stills and free agent newcomers Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson are guys he will look to spread the ball around to against Tennessee.

As a Fins sleeper? We’ve been touting second round draft pick tight end Mike Gesicki. He will especially be a threat to score TDs in the red zone.

Similarly with Barber for the Bucs, Kenyan Drake will likely get the bulk of the carries in this game. However, different from the Tampa Bay situation, it’s veteran Frank Gore is in the Miami mix. And, no one is not clear yet, who will get the ball in the red zone and on the goal line.

So therefore it’s dangerous to play Drake, if you have other options.

As for the Jaguars who are in New York to play the Giants, Leonard Fournette is always going to be a “must-play.” He looks to get his second year off to a big start against a shaky Giants front seven.

The real question becomes whether you trust Blake Bortles to get the ball to any of Jacksonville’s receivers, if you drafted them?

With Marqise Lee lost for the season with his ACL injury, Donte Moncrief will assume the role as the number one receiver. Players like Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole are also good options. And we will have to  play the” wait-and-see game” with how much rookie second-round pick wide receiver D.J. Chark will be used?

Again, most of the Jags receivers would be in the “sit’em” category, if you have other options.

Good luck with your team and roster and just remember this advice is worth every penny that you paid for it

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Bucs, Dolphins, and Jaugars had surprises on cut down day

Florida Football Insiders



Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a tough day all over the NFL has every team had to be down to 53 players at 4 p.m. eastern time. That meant for the Bucs, Dolphins and Jaguars, as well as everyone else, you were saying goodbye to 37 players that have been with you throughout the off-season and training camp.

There were some surprising names put on the waiver wire by each team:

In Tampa Bay, coach Dirk Koetter and staff parted with veteran safety and special-teams ace Keith Tandy. This one was a bit of a surprise because the six year veteran Tandy had moved into significantly more playing time the last couple of seasons. He started five games at the end of 2016 with 41 tackles and four interceptions. And by all accounts, he was a very hard-working and popular player. Bucs will apparently go with rookie Jordan Whitehead and also may move rookie defensive back MJ Stewart to safety some to compensate.

The Buccaneers also released two receivers in Bernard Reedy and Bobo Wilson, who saw a bunch of playing time and each had five catches in the final preseason game with Jacksonville.

Meanwhile for the Dolphins, they also released a veteran defensive back in Tony Lippett Saturday. Lippet had battled back from an achilles injury last year, but obviously was not effective enough for Adam Gase and staff to keep him on board. The Fins do have young DBs in Xavien Howard and Cordrea Tankersley, as well as veteran Bobby McCain.

Miami also released fourth string QB Bryce Petty who had an oblique injury the last two weeks of camp. The Fins kept David Fales as the third string QB behind Ryan Tannehill and Brock Osweiler. Also, Miami cut WR Leonte Caroo, who was a third round pick in 2016.

In Jacksonville, a bit of a surprise, as the Jaguars did not keep third string quarterback Tanner Lee. Lee a rookie from Nebraska fared well on Thursday night in the preseason finale against the Buccaneers. However, for now, the Jaguars seem to be content to go with Blake Bortles and Cody Kessler as the only two quarterbacks on the roster. Lee could come back on the practice squad.

Jacksonville cut veteran WR Shane Wynn and also injured tight end Ben Koyack in their moves.

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Browns coach Jackson to Antonio Callaway- “I’ll have your

Florida Football Insiders



The second edition of “Hard Knocks” with the Browns aired Tuesday night on HBO and the dominant story line involved rookie former Gators WR Antonio Callaway.

One of the draws for the series each August is the the show has 24/7 access to the team through NFL Films’ cameras and microphones. And, it typically reveals insight and conversation not yet known.

And, the segments with Callaway did not disappoint in that department.

First, “Hard Knocks” already had Callaway mic’ed up for the Sunday afternoon August 5th workout, which was hours after Callaway was cited, but not arrested in a nearby town of Strongsville, OH, for driving with a suspended license and a small amount of marijuana in his car.

Something he did not tell anyone about.

We recapped the incident and wondered, if Callaway isn’t about to be out of chances already with his new team.

Callaway’s story took up the first approximate 10 minutes of the show. And on the episode, both coach Hue Jackson (above) and offensive coordinator Todd Haley could sense something is wrong with Callaway, as his body language and ineffective play were going on that day.

Then, came the most intriguing and riveting part of entire show, as GM John Dorsey and Jackson met with Callaway after the news media found out about the traffic citations and told the team.

Dorsey was upset, as much with Callaway not telling them, as anything, but it was Jackson, who cut to the chase on Callaway’s expected behavior accountability in the future. “If you’re lying to me, I’ll have your ass,” he told the rookie.

Later in the episode, Jackson had Callaway stand up and apologize to the entire team.

And, then, as we wrote about Tuesday morning, when “Hard Knocks” filmed during the Browns opening preseason game with the Giants, you got more insight into Callaway playing the entire four quarters and 57 snaps of action. Callaway excelled during the game, including a catch and run touchdown from Baker Mayfield in the fourth quarter.

Again, Jackson, while mic’ed up for the show, was shown standing and putting his arm around Callaway in the fourth quarter and telling him that he believes in him.

Time will tell, if Callaway will continue to do the right things and stay out of trouble

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