Schwarz: I give Winston the edge over
Derek Carr as the most likely to produce Hall of Fame numbers.
Every August, the Hall of Fame game marks the beginning of the
NFL preseason, and the entry of new inductees into NFL immortality.
To honor this year’s seven new members, I’ll highlight
their accomplishments and look to the future with guys whose game
are similar to these new Hall of Fame entrants and could/should
make their way into the “Hall” down the road.
1) Terrell Davis – HOF: Davis
was a supernova. He had just four good years, but from his rookie
season in 1995 through 1998 when he posted 2,008 yards on the
ground and 21 rushing touchdowns he was the best at the position.
Over those four seasons he averaged 1,603 yards rushing, 295 receiving
and 15 combined touchdowns. A knee injury in 1999 effectively
ended his career, though he played until 2001.
Johnson - David Johnson’s current backup in Arizona,
reminds me of Davis. He arrived from East Carolina and immediately
made a huge impact. His six seasons in Tennessee were stellar,
including a 2,008 rushing yards, 503 receiving yard, 16 TD season
in 2009. Over those half dozen seasons he averaged 1,661 combined
yards and nine scores.
Elliott – Elliott’s first season was magnificent (and
that’s coming from a lifelong Eagles fan). He led the league with
1,631 rushing yards, posted nearly 2,000 combined yards and scored
16 times. He’ll be tested in Year 2, by a weakened offensive line
and defenses who will stack the box and make second-year QB prove
last season wasn’t a fluke, but there is still plenty to work
with and Elliott should be good for 1,200 yards and double digit
touchdowns for as long as he stays healthy … and on the field.
2) LaDainian Tomlinson – HOF:
Tomlinson is my all-time favorite running back. He was a more
versatile back than Davis. Although he never cracked the 2,000-yard
mark on the ground, from 2001-08 he was the best in the league.
His 2006 season led many a fantasy owner to a title with 1,815
rushing yards, 508 receiving yards and a whopping 31 combined
touchdowns. In addition, LT was 8-for-12 passing over his career
with seven touchdowns and a 146.9 QB rating!
McCoy – McCoy is as elusive as Tomlinson and has great
hands, but isn’t quite the touchdown machine. Still, he’s accumulated
almost 9,000 rushing yards and 73 touchdowns in eight seasons.
He’ll need a couple more big seasons in Buffalo to have a good
shot at the “Hall” but given he’s the Bills’ best weapon that
shouldn’t be an issue as long as he stays healthy.
Johnson – The Cardinals wasted his first season, trying
to make him an all-purpose guy, but figured it out in 2016. Johnson’s
1,239 rushing yards, 879 receiving yards and 20 touchdowns puts
him in elite territory. His stated goal for 2017, a thousand yards
rushing and receiving, is surprisingly not an unreasonable target.
3) Kurt Warner – HOF: The
story of the grocery-store bagger at the Hy-Vee in Cedar Falls,
Iowa to Super Bowl winning quarterback in 1999 is well known.
He was the “field general” for the “Greatest Show on Turf,” but
in actuality he was pretty inconsistent after his three-year explosion
from 99-2001. From 2002-06 he was a ghost before reviving his
career in the Arizona desert for his final three seasons.
Manning – He may be the third-best quarterback in the
Manning family, but Eli has two Super Bowl rings to lord over
father Archie and equal to his more famous brother Peyton. Over
the past eight seasons he’s averaged 4,199 passing yards and 28
touchdowns. He’ll crack the 50,000-yard career passing mark this
season and with the best group of receivers he’s ever had (Odell
Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, and Sterling Shepard), if the offensive
line holds up he could post career-best numbers in his 14th season.
Winston – Of the quarterbacks with three-years or less
experience, I give Winston the edge over Derek Carr as the most
likely to produce Hall of Fame numbers. I was a non-believer after
his disappointing final season at Florida State, but I was wrong.
He should be even better in his third season with the addition
of deep-threat DeSean Jackson and rookie tight end O.J. Howard
to go along with elite pass catcher Mike Evans. Four-thousand
yards passing seems a given and if he’ll use his big body to score
touchdowns as he did in his rookie season (unlike last year),
and his favorable schedule, he could post top-five QB fantasy
numbers in 2017.
4) Morten Andersen – HOF: Andersen
was one of the most accurate kickers in history, but he was helped
by kicking indoors for most of his career. However, 25 years of
kicking in the NFL is a mark not to be trifled with as is his
79.7% field goal accuracy.
Vinatieri – Vinatieri is beginning his 22nd season
in the NFL and has an 84.3% accuracy rate on field goals despite
playing his first 10 seasons in the cold and windy conditions
of New England. He has enough Super Bowl rings to open any doors,
Tucker – In today’s game there is no better kicker
with the game on the line than Justin Tucker. Through his first
five seasons he’s connected on 89.8% of his field goal attempts
and all 166 extra points. He was 10-for-10 on 50-yarders last
season too, so it’s not just short kicks that he’s making. Just
15 to 20 more seasons of this and his trip to Canton is assured.
5) Kenny Easley – HOF: Easley
was the 1984 Defensive Player of the Year, an All-Pro three times
and a member of the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1980s for the
Seattle Seahawks, but his career was shortened by a kidney ailment.
Chancellor – Another Seahawks safety, Chancellor, is
following in Easley’s footsteps. In six seasons, Chancellor has
already made four Pro Bowls as a strong safety and is one of the
leaders of an elite Seahawks defense. It’s not a coincidence that
the Seahawks defense has ranked No. 1 in points allowed in four
of his six seasons and top-seven in all six after finishing 25th
in the three seasons before he arrived.
Collins – The Giants selected Collins in the 2nd round
of the 2015 draft (No. 33 overall) and it’s looking like he was
the “steal” of the draft. Collins made his first Pro Bowl in 2016
and was first team All-Pro. He posted 125 tackles, four sacks,
five interceptions and a fumble recovery. He is a big part of
the reason the Giants went from 27th in points allowed in 2015
(27.6 ppg) to second last season (17.8 ppg).
6) Jason Taylor – HOF: Taylor’s
139.5 sacks rank seventh in NFL history. His six fumble returns
for touchdowns rank first. Said Tom Brady in recommending Taylor
(Taylor sacked Brady 11.5 times) – “He was an explosive, athletic
player, but it was his fierce tenacity that made him one of the
league’s most dominant defenders for 15 seasons.”
Wake – His name doesn’t come up as often as Ndamukong
Suh or Jadeveon Clowney, but Wake sacks quarterbacks a lot more
often. He’s accumulated 82.5 sacks in eight seasons and that’s
despite only playing four games in 2015 (he had seven sacks in
those four games!). He’s finished top-10 among linemen in fantasy
Donald – He’s the leader of the Rams defense averaging
nine sacks in his first three seasons and 17 tackles despite always
7) Jerry Jones – HOF: A former
offensive lineman at Arkansas for Hall of Fame coach Frank Broyles,
he turned billionaire oil man and “real life” fantasy GM of the
Dallas Cowboys. In truth, he’s only been a good GM when he brought
in his former Razorbacks teammate Jimmy Johnson to run things.
It was Johnson along with Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael
Irvin who brought on-field success to the Cowboys. They haven’t
played in a Super Bowl since 1995. However, Jones has made Dallas
and helped the NFL become a monster financial success.
OK, there is no other NFL owner who reminds me of Jones. The Yankees’
George Steinbrenner was a more successful version of Jones as
a “hands-on” owner.
Steve Schwarz served as the fantasy sports editor of The Sports Network and is the 2014 FSWA Football Writer of the Year.