By JEFF PAUR
Sr Fantasy Writer
Gianfrancesco picked Brady
Despite having just two players remaining for the Super Bowl, Antonio Gianfrancesco was able to win the Postseason Shootout contest because of a great start by his team and huge performances by his remaining players in the big game. Gianfrancesco takes home the big prize of 50,000 dollars for his great accomplishment of finishing first overall.
"Brady and Gronk were a must have for me as they're a great go to connection, which is why I was able to win the contest on the night of the Super Bowl," said Gianfrancesco.
If you aren't familiar, rules for the Postseason Shootout contest are pretty simple. For an entry of 125 dollars (or three teams for 350 dollars), you select a roster from all the teams in the NFL playoffs that you think will score the most points this postseason (you can't select more than two players from each NFL team, though). Your roster will consist of two quarterbacks, two running backs, two wide receivers/tight ends, two flex players (RB/WR/TE), a defense/special teams and a kicker. There is no draft or head-to-head games. It is a total points contest. If you finish in the top 150, you are going to win some money. First place takes home 50,000 dollars while finishing 150th gets you 250 bucks.
With those rules in place, Gianfrancesco setup a strategy for picking the correct roster, which turned out to be a contest-winning strategy.
"Constructing my roster took a few hours of planning," Gianfrancesco said. "I actually drew on a sheet of paper pros and cons of each team. I also broke it down further before finalizing my choices. I looked at factors such as yards per catch and how many receptions per game by receivers and running backs."
Gianfrancesco's detailed preparation paid off, picking a roster that was able to defeat all the fantasy players in the contest. Every player he selected won at least a game in the playoffs, which helped pad Gianfrancesco's numbers early in the contest. He had two big first weeks, scoring 100.1 points in Week 1 and 230.45 points in Week 2. His roster was led by Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, the only two players that advanced all the way to the Super Bowl.
"Super Bowl week I knew I had a chance, 17.20 points behind first place," Gianfrancesco said. "Gronk cleared to play and both teams with great offense. I got my wish of a high-scoring game and with Dion Lewis being a non-factor. This allowed me to take a lead in the final minutes of the Super Bowl with Gronk's second touchdown of the game."
Although, it came down to the last game and near the end of that game, Gianfrancesco had high hopes early in the contest, mainly because of his fast start.
"After the first week, I felt great," Gianfrancesco said. "I believed I had a top-10 chance at that point. I got key victories from Tennessee, which upset all those fans with Kansas City Chiefs' players. Rams lost to my Falcons. Saints beat the Panthers, and Jags went on to give me protection for the second round."
So what is Gianfrancesco going to do with all his winnings? Well, he isn't going to going on a shopping spree, taking a more conservative approach to his big prize.
"I do not have any plans other than some minor vehicle repairs and saving the money," Gianfrancesco said. "We may decide to take a vacation before the start of the next football season, depending on our work schedules."
If you want a chance to take down Gianfrancesco next season, sign up for the Postseason Shootout before the start of the playoffs. We'll have links up on our site and home page. You won't watch postseason football the same way going forward.
"It really took until the minutes of the game to realize it could become reality," Gianfrancesco said. "Unbelievable how everything played out. This event had me on the edge of my seat all playoffs."
Click on this link to see more details about the contest or to sign up: Postseason Shootout.
Cleveland Browns beat reporter Mary Kay Cabot, of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, expects the team to use to No. 1 overall pick on Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield in Thursday's NFL draft. Cabot cited the fact that general manager John Dorsey has liked Mayfield since he scouted him last fall and that Cleveland draft consultant Scot McCoughan loves the 23-year-old and has been pushing for the team to take him since being hired. Cabot also mentioned the fact that Dorsey defended Mayfield's character when he was asked about it at the Senior Bowl. Mayfield, of course, has had his character linked to that of former Browns draft bust Johnny Manziel. More signs are starting to point to the Browns taking Mayfield but it also wouldn't be a huge shock to see them go in a different direction.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are re-signing running back Charles Sims to a one-year deal Thursday. Sims ran just 21 times for 95 yards and no touchdowns in 2017, but he also added 35 receptions for 249 yards and a score. He's merely running back depth behind Jacquizz Rodgers and Peyton Barber in Tampa, and the team is fully expected to invest in the position in this weekend's draft.
A story on ESPN.com on Thursday listed Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant as a player who could get traded by the end of the 2018 NFL draft. Bryant, of course, made news during the season when he used social media to voice his displeasure over how the team was utilizing him on offense. He was subsequently punished by the team and not much has been heard about the situation since. Bryant has one year remaining on his contract but he is still buried behind Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster on the depth chart. He has made it known that he would like to be a No. 1 option somewhere and there are several teams out there who could use the help at the receiver position.
The Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks have engaged in trade discussions centering around defensive back Earl Thomas. The Cowboys reportedly offered the 50th overall pick of the draft, which the Seahawks were satisfied with, but Dallas did not want to make the trade unless they knew Thomas would sign an extension. After a game last season, Thomas told Cowboys coach Jason Garrett "come get me" so it would seem Thomas would be willing to stick around in Dallas. At this point, it would almost be more surprising to see Thomas remain a Seahawk after Thursday's draft.
The New Orleans Saints have made calls about potentially moving up from the No. 27 pick in the first round of Thursday's draft, according to sources. They could be interested in moving up if a certain quarterback that they like falls. Quarterback Drew Brees is getting long in the tooth and is only under contract through next season, so securing a quarterback for the future is high on their list of priorities. New Orleans may have to give up a lot in order to move up from late in the first round, though.
Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen signed a two-year extension worth $8.55 million on Thursday, according to a source. The deal has a max value of $10.05 million, which could make him the highest paid tight end in the league. A broken foot limited Olsen to a career-low seven games last season, and he wasn't his normal self when he returned. He ended up catching just 17 passes for 191 yards and one touchdown. The 33-year-old could be a bounce-back candidate as a midrange TE1 in Carolina's new offense this year.
Even though the Miami Dolphins haven't ruled out trading up in the first round to take a quarterback on Thursday, they have made it clear that quarterback Ryan Tannehill is their starter for the 2018 season. Tannehill missed all of 2017 with a knee injury he suffered late in 2016. He had a career year in 2016 before his injury, but he only managed to throw for 2,995 yards and 19 touchdowns, but he completed a career-high 67.1 percent of his passes. Coming off a major injury minus his best target in Jarvis Landry, Tannehill shouldn't be taken as anything more than a solid QB2.
New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (ankle) was seen catching passes and doing non-contact work in individual drills Thursday. It's a great sign for OBJ, and he should be able to take part in organized team activities, assuming he suffers no setbacks. After some trade speculation this offseason, it looks like Beckham isn't going anywhere, and he and the team will try to work out a long-term extension. Assuming he's back to full health to start the season, Beckham will be a top-flight WR1.
New York Giants running back Paul Perkins (pectoral) required surgery for his pectoral injury that he suffered while working out before the team's offseason workouts, according to a source. There is no timetable for how long he'll be sidelined. It's not good news for a running back that was looking at a decreased role heading into 2018 with veteran Jonathan Stewart now in the mix. The Giants are expected to draft Penn State running back Saquon Barkley at second overall on Thursday, too. Perkins could end up being sidelined into training camp.
Seattle Seahawks FS Earl Thomas is still receiving interest from the Dallas Cowboys, according to industry sources. Trade talks have centered around the Cowboys' second-round pick (No. 50 overall), but no deal will be done unless the Cowboys believe they can re-sign him.
Pittsburgh Steelers WR Martavis Bryant has quietly remained in trade discussions over the last couple of months. However, most of the teams needing receivers are rivals to the team.
According to a tweet by ESPN's Adam Schefter, there's "mounting belief" that the Cleveland Browns will use the first overall pick in the draft on Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield. Schefter cited that many head coaches and executives around the league are hearing that Cleveland will tab Mayfield with the No. 1 pick on Thursday. Cleveland has now been linked to quarterbacks Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, and now Mayfield over the past few weeks. They could possibly be trying to drum up interest for another quarterback-needy team to try to move up. The first overall pick goes on the clock at 9:00 PM EST on Thursday, April 26.
Carolina Panthers TE Greg Olsen will sign a two-year extension Thursday, April 26, worth $8.55 million per season with a maximum value of up to $10.05 million per year. He could become the highest-paid tight end in the league.
Updating previous reports, New York Giants RB Paul Perkins (pectoral) had surgery on a torn pectoral muscle. The extent of his injury and timetable are unknown.
Free-agent RB Charles Sims (Buccaneers) agreed to a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Thursday, April 26. Financial terms weren't disclosed.
San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster's girlfriend is apparently initially lied to police about Foster injuring her during a February incident at his home, according to the girlfriend's attorney. The attorney, Stephanie Rickard, said that the girlfriend's injuries were suffered in a fight with another woman and there was video evidence of the fight. "(Foster) did not strike her, injure her or threaten her," said Rickard. With this new information, it's unlikely that Foster will be charged at all, which is a huge break for both his career and the 49ers. The 24-year-old was promising in his rookie season, collecting 72 tackles in just 10 games. He has breakout potential in IDP leagues at a good value.
The San Francisco 49ers covet Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds at nine overall in the draft. If he's already gone by then, the 49ers could decide to trade back and target Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. Linebacker is an area of need for the Niners, but promising sophomore Reuben Foster may not be suspended now, so there may be less of a need in the first round.
Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson has enough arm strength to be drafted as a quarterback in the NFL, but his inconsistent accuracy and lack of football IQ remain a big question. "He's an awesome athlete. He will not be able to play (quarterback) in this league, mark my words," an offensive coordinator said. "When he throws, he hopes." Jackson is physically skilled, but scouts are concerned with his ability to grasp offensive game plans, especially at the next level. Jackson probably has the most athleticism of any of the quarterbacks that will be taken in the first round on Thursday, but he may be the biggest project in terms of teaching him the playbook. The Patriots seem to be the most interested in Jackson, which would make some sense if they want him to sit behind Tom Brady for a season or two and learn from the best.
Atlanta Falcons DE Vic Beasley's fifth-year option was officially picked up Wednesdays, April 25.
Free-agent wide receiver Dez Bryant turned down a multi-year offer from the Baltimore Ravens because he apparently prefers a one-year, prove-it deal, according to a source. Baltimore wouldn't have been the best landing spot for the aging receiver anyway after they added Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead in free agency. Bryant may be angling to join the Giants so he can play the Cowboys twice a year, but he hasn't garnered much interest outside of the Ravens. He's no longer an elite fantasy receiver, but he could still be valuable in the right environment.