We are starting to reach the tough part of the schedule where seasons are either made or broken. Individual players are beginning to shine as well, so it’s an overall exciting time of the year. We’ve handpicked a player and matchups that are worthy of further examination.
Player to Watch
Benny Snell Jr. has been quietly making waves at Kentucky. While most people outside of the SEC haven’t heard much about him, he’s steadily become one of the best running backs in the league. He’s always been productive, but often his name was lost among other star Wildcats like Stanley “Boom” Williams.
He’s second in the SEC in rushing yards right now and is the key piece in an exciting offense. He should keep getting a bunch of touches so expect him to have an impressive season. He’s a powerful runner who doesn’t go down on the first contact. But he also has the speed and agility to be an elusive runner in the open field. “Of his 175 yards at Florida, 122 came after contact, according to ProFootballFocus.” Those are the type of numbers that will start to earn you a lot of praise. If he can continue that success all season, then he will be among the select few who are considered for the Heisman conversation.
All of that success should snowball into him jumping into the 2nd round of the draft. Depending on how his season and combine performance go he could go as high as 1st round.
Games of the Week
Raiders vs. Dolphins
Gruden is still hunting for that first win in his new tenure. He’s had some tough losses and is still taking a ton of heat for the Khalil Mack trade. To compound the matter, Mack has been playing better than the entire Raiders defense so far in Chicago. I think Gruden will need some time to mold his players into the scheme he wants to run. Without Mack, they will need to address the pass rush issues. LSU rookie Arden Key is a guy that they need to step up. He has the tools to be a really good defensive end he just needs to catch up to the speed of the NFL. Amari Cooper (Alabama) is their go-to receiver in this offense. After only registering one catch against the Rams he managed to haul in ten catches last week. He’s almost back to WR1 status in fantasy leagues.
The Dolphins have looked fairly impressive so far. They earned a weird win against the Titans in week one. And they won this past week as well. Adam Gase has brought some new life into the Dolphins it appears. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill (Texas A&M) has looked like his usual self after missing all of 2017. Kenyan Drake (Alabama) is a game changer at running back. He adds another dimension to an offense that has looked fine-tuned through two games. I would have him in my fantasy lineup this week if you’re in a deep league. He’s a solid RB2 option.
I think this is going to be close game based upon how these two teams matchup. Ultimately, I think Gruden gets his first victory in his second Raiders tenure.
Sun 9/23 – 1:00 ET – CBS
Final Score: 28-24 Raiders
#22 Texas A&M vs. #1 Alabama
The season may still be young, but it already looks like no one can stop Alabama. Saban has his team firing on all cylinders through the first three games. They’ll face a tough Texas A&M squad led by Jimbo Fisher. It’ll be the first SEC matchup in what should be many for the two coaches now that Fisher is leading the Aggies. The quarterback controversy quickly turned into a quarterback revelation. Alabama seemingly has figured out how to operate an offense using two quarterbacks equally. The hallmark of this team yet again is there insanely good defense. They just don’t let anyone score, and they make dynamic plays all across the board.
Jimbo will need all the help he can get if he wants to squeak out a win against his former boss. He’s got his team in a good position through three games. They are 2-1 with their only loss being a two-point heartbreaker against third-ranked Clemson. Kellen Mond has been electric at the quarterback position and could give the tide defense some fits with his athletic ability. The offense put up over 500 yards against Clemson so they should be able to get some sort of production against Alabama.
The current spread has Alabama winning by 27. I’m not sure they cover, but I do think they continue their 50 point streak.
Sat 9/22 – 3:30 ET – CBS
Final Score: 52-35 Alabama
Florida vs. Tennessee
This long-standing rivalry will feature two head coaches in their first year at their respective schools. They will both be trying to secure a win to start their new rivalry. Florida coach Dan Mullen has taken a lot of flack early in Gainesville for his soccer mom euphemisms that sound eerily like a certain Tennessee head coach who now makes coffee runs for Nick Saban. SEC fan bases are vicious animals when it comes to unproductive sugar coaters. Dan Mullen quieted a lot of those naysayers this past weekend with a solid win against Colorado State, but he will need to prove himself against his SEC East foes.
On the flip side of the champions of life spectrum, we have new Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt. He is not a long-winded fellow and likes to be to the point and very matter of fact. He learned well under Saban at Alabama, and I’m sure he gleaned information from Jimbo and Kirby Smart during his Florida State and Georgia tenures. His brand of football is old school in its feel but very much modern in its scope. Even though they go into I-formation and throw to tight ends in the flat, they’ll still run RPO plays. Pruitt is in the same boat as Mullen in that he also needs to prove he can win against SEC teams. It’ll be a good test for both coaches.
I think that Florida is more polished at this point and they have more talent on their roster than Tennessee. But I love everything about what Pruitt is doing in Knoxville, and I think he’ll have his young guys ready for a statement win under the lights in Neyland Stadium. Go Vols.
Sat 9/22 – 7:00 ET – ESPN
Final Score: 35-24 Tennessee
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(Photo Courtesy Athlon Sports)