The Evster's Guide to the NFL's Old Faces in New Places

The Evster's Guide to the NFL's Old Faces in New Places

Last week during my fantasy football draft, I was shocked to find out how many important players switched teams this summer. As the clock ticked down and my blood pressure rose, I scrambled through cheat sheets and depth charts in an effort to figure out which players would elevate their games in their new surroundings. Turns out, Priest Holmes is not one of them, which pretty much killed my draft strategy of taking him with each of my first 11 picks. But you shouldn't have to go through what I went through. So to make it easier on you, I've compiled a list of this year's BIG BOARD CLIMBERS along with my expert, HARD-HITTING analysis of each player who pulled a SUPER DUPER SWITCHAROO this past offseason.

RUNNING BACKS

Steven Jackson -- St. Louis to Atlanta

According to NFL dot com, S-Jax (no one calls him that) rushed for over 10,000 career yards in St. Louis with an average of 4.2 yards per carry. THIS IS A BOLD FACED LIE. I've had this guy on my fantasy team like eight different times and he has never, EVER, done anything besides look totally awesome while running toward the sidelines for a 3-yard loss. Despite his amazing dreads, he is currently banned from my fantasy squad, so I fully expect him to lead the NFC in rushing and probably win the Super Bowl.

Reggie Bush -- Miami to Detroit

Poor Reggie Bush. He went from rebuilding New Orleans to lounging in Miami to now renting a dumpy apartment in America's dumpiest city. Luckily for Reg, he'll have the opportunity to reignite his career in Detroit, joining forces with Lions Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz, whose high-octane offense revolves around pass-catching backs. Unfortunately for Reg, Mike Martz is not really the Lions Offensive Coordinator, I just made that up because it seemed like a good transition from the previous sentence. Either way, I expect Reggie to literally jump over around eight or nine guys this year, because he is still the closest thing to a kangaroo that this game has ever seen.

Rashard Mendenhall -- Pittsburgh to Arizona

Wasn't Mendenhall supposed to be the next Jerome Bettis? I'm pretty sure I once saw a guy's chest cavity explode when he tried to tackle him. Now Mendenhall has been shipped off to Arizona (RIP Beanie Wells) to compete with a person named Ryan Williams and another dude named Stepfan Taylor. Yes, that is the man's name, Stepfan. He's a real person and his name is Stepfan. Unbelievable. What an unbelievable world we live in. I cannot say for certain, but I am 99% confident Stepfan's name is pronounced "Stuh-floggin".

Neymar -- Santos to Barcelona

Very excited for Neymar's move to European football. He could score up to 30 goals this year playing in Spain while also contracting roughly 147 new sexually transmitted diseases.

Danny Woodhead -- New England to San Diego

Whatever happened to the days of bruising Chargers backs like Marion Butts, Rod Bernstein and Bob the Bruiser Brosenberg? (I created Brosenberg in Madden last year and he scored over a hundred touchdowns and was definitely on steroids.) Ugh, now they've brought in Little Danny Woodhead? The idea is to have Woodhead be San Diego's third-down back while also spelling Ryan Mathews from time to time. But I think it's pretty clear that Woodhead will end up the starter considering Mathews will most likely shatter his femur by the time you're finished this blogpost.

Chris Ivory -- New Orleans to NY Jets

I'm not kidding I actually think Chris Ivory is kinda good.

Other running backs who don't deserve to have entire paragraphs written about them:

Felix Jones (Dallas to Philadelphia): Super Bowl bound, baby! Peyton Hillis (Kansas City to Tampa Bay): Peyton Hillis was on the Chiefs? Ahmad Bradshaw (NY Giants to Indianapolis): Starting off the season on the PUP list, which means absolutely nothing to everyone in the world besides his backup, Vick Ballard. LaGarrette Blount  (Tennessee to New England): It doesn't matter, Blount will always be remembered as the guy who blasted that dude in the face while he was at Oregon. Frankly I thought the dude deserved it. Shonn Greene (NY Jets to Tennessee): The former Rex Ryan favorite could take goal line carries away from Chris Johnson and omg seriously who cares.

QUARTERBACKS

Tim Tebow -- NY Jets to New England

It's honestly really sad what's going on with Tim Teebs. Two years ago, he was leading the Broncos to a playoff victory and now he has been relegated to Tom Brady's backup's backup. I mean, I understand that the guy can't throw a football anywhere near where it's supposed to go, but he is REALLY FUN to watch. I'd never wish a player to get injured, but I really, really, really wish Tom Brady and Ryan Mallett would get injured so I guess I would wish a player to get injured -- actually two players -- so c'mon God let's make this happen!

Also, I made a bet with my brother around three years ago that one day Tim Tebow would lead a team to the Super Bowl. The loser has to spend 10 whole minutes talking to an employee in Macy's perfume department. Please, Lord, please give Tebow a shot. I'm begging you.

Carson Palmer -- Oakland to Arizona

I know, I know, I know, as Mr. Funny Football Joke Man I'm supposed to say something snarky here about Carson Palmer and then zing it on home with a joke. But there is nothing, nothing, nuttthhh-innngggg that I can write that would be as funny as the simple fact that the Arizona Cardinals signed Carson Palmer to be their starting quarterback.

Have you seen Carson Palmer play football in the last four or five years? Have you SEEN this guy play football?!?! OF COURSE YOU HAVEN'T, because he suckkkkssssss. No human being in their right mind would want to watch Carson Palmer play football!!! I don't know why I'm using all these exclamation points!!!

Alex Smith -- San Francisco to Kansas City

I think I've figured out what Andy Reid is doing this season (and what he did during his first year with the Eagles). By choosing Alex Smith as his starter (and Doug Pederson in '99), Reid is hoping to start off his tenure in Kansas City by being THE WORST FOOTBALL TEAM ON THE PLANET. Then, at around week six, he'll replace Alex Smith, take over the play calling duties from his offensive coordinator WHO JUST SO HAPPENS TO BE DOUG "THE DING DONG" PEDERSON and lead the Chiefs out of the cesspool he got them into. Chiefs fans will be inspired by the team's turnaround, Reid will restore pride in the city and ultimately be remembered as a coach who really, really, really liked to laminate his play charts.

Other quarterbacks who will have little to no effect on this season:

Matt Cassell (Kansas City to I Have No Idea): but I'm sure you could easily google it. Kevin Knob (Arizona to Buffalo): Knob is competing for the starting job with scintillating rookie, EJ Manuel. The stud from Florida State recently injured his knee during a preseason game and is questionable for week one. According to BuffaloBillboBaggins.com, the Bills have hired EVERY SINGLE DOCTOR IN THE WORLD in order to get Manuel healthy for opening day. Ryan Fitzpatrick (Buffalo to Tennessee): With the arrival of Knob and Manuel, Fitz moved onto the Titans where he'll back up Jake Locker and be featured in the most boring sentence that has ever been written on this entire website.

Evster's note: I originally intended to include a section for defensive players in this post (Darrelle Revis to TB, James Harrison to Cincy, Charles Woodson to Oakland, and more), but it's currently 11:30pm and my wife is yelling at me to come to bed. I would like to add however that former Eagle and 49er, David Akers, is now kicking for Detroit, replacing 64-year-old Jason Hanson (aka the only player in my fantasy team's history to have his jersey retired).

WIDE RECEIVERS

Mike Wallace -- Pittsburgh to Miami

The 27-year-old speedster cashed in this offseason by signing a $60 million contract with the Dolphins despite the fact that he can only catch a football when the other guys promise not to hurt him. Regardless, Wallace is a major upgrade over Miami's 2012 starting receiving corps which consisted of Brian Hartline and do you really have to hear the other guy I mean Brain Hartline on his own should be enough to hammer this point home.

Percy Harvin -- Minnesota to Seattle

THERE SURE ARE A LOT OF GUYS WHO SWITCHED TEAMS THIS YEAR. I'm honestly amazed that Harvin's still alive. The oft-injured playmaker had offseason hip surgery, and while Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is hopeful he'll be back on the field at some point this season, there is no timetable for Harvin's return. "Percy has been working really hard on his rehab," said Carroll earlier this week. "Luckily we've got a bunch of guys on this team who can step right in and fill that void though." When it was later explained to Coach Carroll that the "bunch of guys" he was referring to were Golden Tate and Doug Baldwin, Carroll took off his shoe and started repeatedly slugging himself in the tits.

Wes Welker -- New England to Denver

Absolutely nothing will change about Wes Welker.

Danny Amendola -- St. Louis to New England

[Joke about how Danny Amendola and Wes Welker are the same person.] Actually, did you know that both Amendola and Welker went to Texas Tech? That's kinda interesting. Even more interesting though is the fact that Amendola is the first receiver in NFL history who was born without feet.

Greg Jennings -- Green Bay to Minnesota

This summer, Jennings traded in Aaron Rodgers as his quarterback for Christian Ponder. Feel free to read that last sentence 85 more times until it really sinks in. There are some people out there who feel like Minnesota will offer a fresh start for Jennings, allowing him to play alongside Adrian Peterson while giving him an opportunity to be the Vikings' go-to guy. Those people can generally be found hanging around 10th and Market street wearing milk cartons on their feet. It's CHRISTIAN PONDER. I expect Jennings to be out of the league by week 6 and Ponder to be featured in The Evster's 2014 NFL Guide to Old Faces in New Places.

Anquan Boldin -- Baltimore to San Francisco

One of these days Anquan Boldin is going to die on a football field.

Other wide receivers who would probably be shocked to see that they were mentioned in this article:

Ted Ginn, Jr. (San Francisco to Carolina): This is Ginny's year! Darrius Heyward-Bey (Oakland to Indianapolis): Pull your 81 jerseys out, one clap. Devery Henderson (New Orleans to Washington): It actually must be very exciting for Henderson to get out of the shadow of the 15 other wide receivers on the standard Saints roster. Kevin Walter (Houston to Tennessee): Have fun with Jake Locker, dude. Have. Fun.

Follow The Evster @TVMWW.

Wideouts Rueben Randle, Chris Givens among 8 players cut by Eagles Sunday

Wideouts Rueben Randle, Chris Givens among 8 players cut by Eagles Sunday

The Eagles released Rueben Randle and Chris Givens on Sunday, ending the brief and disappointing Eagles careers of both veteran wide receivers.

The two receivers were among eight players released by the team on Sunday evening.

Randle caught five passes for 26 yards in the preseason and Givens caught one for 19 yards.

The Eagles tried to bolster their receiver corps by adding the two receivers this offseason, signing Randle to a one-year, $1,025,000 contract and Givens to a one-year $760,000 deal.

Randle got $500,000 guaranteed and Givens $180,000 guaranteed, so the two moves will count $680,000 against the Eagles’ 2016 adjusted salary cap of $161,570,362.

The moves leave the Eagles with eight wide receivers: Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, Dorial Green-Beckham, Josh Huff, Paul Turner, Marcus Johnson, Cayleb Jones and David Watford.

Barring any other personnel moves, Matthews, Agholor, Green-Beckham, Huff and Turner appear headed for the final 53-man roster.

Randle’s decline is fairly astonishing.

Two years ago with the Giants, he caught 71 passes for 938 yards, and last year he caught 57 passes for 797 yards and eight touchdowns. He had four catches of 40 yards or more in 2015, fourth-most in the NFL. In four seasons in New York, he caught 188 passes for 2,644 yards and 20 TDs.

Yet the Giants had no interest in re-signing him. Now the former second-round pick’s career is in jeopardy at the age of 25.

Givens, a fourth-round pick of the Rams in 2012, was with his third team in two years this summer. His once-promising career could be over at the age of 26.

Most notable among the six other players released was offensive tackle Andrew Gardner, who started 11 games in an Eagles uniform.

Gardner, who had also spent time with the Dolphins and Texans, started eight games at right guard and right tackle for the Eagles in 2014 and was the Eagles’ opening-day starter last year at right guard. He suffered a Lisfranc injury in his left foot during a Week 3 game against the Jets at the Meadowlands and missed the rest of the season.

Also released was a member of last year’s draft class, sixth-round pick Randall Evans out of Kansas State. Evans spent most of his rookie season on the practice squad but was activated for the Pat Shurmur season finale against the Giants at the Meadowlands and got into the game on special teams.

The Eagles also released veteran defensive tackle Mike Martin, who played in 46 games for the Titans the last four years, including five starts. Also released were long snapper John DePalma and cornerback Denzel Rice, the latter of who played in five games last year and got 20 defensive snaps in the season finale against the Giants last year.

The Eagles also placed linebacker Joe Walker (knee) and defensive end Alex McCalister (calf), two rookie seventh-round picks, on season-ending Injured Reserve.

Teams have until Tuesday to reduce rosters to 75. The Eagles’ roster is currently at 73, and they have to reduce it to 53 by 4 p.m. next Sunday.

The Eagles finish the preseason on Thursday night at the Linc against the Jets.

Best of MLB: Josh Donaldson mashes 3 home runs to lead Blue Jays past Twins

Best of MLB: Josh Donaldson mashes 3 home runs to lead Blue Jays past Twins

TORONTO -- Josh Donaldson had his first career three-homer game, Troy Tulowitzki also went deep and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Minnesota Twins 9-6 on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.

Donaldson hit a solo homer off Kyle Gibson in the second, then delivered a go-ahead, two-run blast off Pat Light (0-1) in the seventh.

Dozens of fans tossed hats onto the field to celebrate the home run hat trick after Donaldson, the AL MVP in 2015, hit a solo shot off Alex Wimmers in the eighth. Groundskeepers and even the Blue Jays mascot helped clear the hats away.

Donaldson's fourth multi-homer game this season and the 10th of his career also marked the 17th three-homer game in the majors this season.

Jose Bautista had his first three-hit game of the season for the AL East-leading Blue Jays.

Minnesota lost its season-worst 10th straight. The Twins have lost seven straight in Toronto.

Scott Feldman (7-4) earned the win by getting two outs in the seventh. Jason Grilli worked the eighth and Roberto Osuna finished (see full recap). 

Pirates win 8th straight on road, sweep Brewers 3-1
MILWAUKEE -- Ivan Nova threw six sharp innings before leaving early because of a hurting left hamstring and the Pittsburgh Pirates hit three solo homers to rally past the Milwaukee Brewers 3-1 on Sunday for their eighth straight road victory.

John Jaso and Gregory Polanco each homered in the sixth off Brewers starter Chase Anderson (7-11) to complete Pittsburgh's first sweep at Miller Park since 2004. Starling Marte added a solo shot in the eighth.

Nova (4-0) retired 10 of his final 11 batters after allowing Jonathan Villar's solo homer in the third. He scattered three hits and struck out four before being pinch hit for in the seventh.

Tony Watson pitched a clean ninth for his 10th save in 13 opportunities (see full recap).

Archer strikes out 10, Rays hit 3 HRs in 10-4 win vs Astros
HOUSTON -- Chris Archer struck out 10 in seven innings, Corey Dickerson hit a three-run homer and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Houston Astros 10-4 on Sunday.

Matt Duffy and Nick Franklin also went deep for the last-place Rays, who have homered in 21 of their last 24 games.

Houston, in the hunt for an AL wild card, had won three straight.

Archer (8-17) gave up three runs and four hits with two walks. With his strikeout of A.J. Reed in the sixth, the right-hander joined David Price and James Shields as the only Tampa Bay pitchers with multiple 200-strikeout seasons.

The Rays jumped out early against Doug Fister.

Fister (12-9) allowed four runs and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings, the fourth time in his past seven starts he has permitted four or more runs (see full recap). 

Calming presence behind plate, A.J. Ellis provides offensive spark in Phillies' win over Mets

Calming presence behind plate, A.J. Ellis provides offensive spark in Phillies' win over Mets

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK -- A.J. Ellis’ first game as a Phillie certainly went a lot better than Carlos Ruiz’s first game as a Dodger.

Ellis’ first hit with his new club helped the Phils salvage one game of a weekend series with the New York Mets on Sunday afternoon. The Phillies won it, 5-1 (see Instant Replay), behind a solid start from Vince Velasquez, excellent bullpen work and Ellis’ big hit, a tie-breaking, two-run double in the top of the seventh.

The Phillies had lost the first two games of the series by a combined score of 21-5. Their pitchers gave up eight homers in the first two games.

On Sunday, Velasquez and a quartet of relievers held the Mets to seven hits, all singles.

Ellis joined the Phillies just 24 hours earlier after being traded from the Dodgers on Thursday. He had been with that club his whole career.

Ruiz, of course, had been with the Phillies his whole career.

Ruiz’s first game with the Dodgers did not go nearly as smooth. The veteran catcher had trouble handling the pitches of closer Kenley Jansen in the ninth inning Friday night and that contributed to the Dodgers blowing a one-run lead and losing to the Chicago Cubs in 10 innings.

Leaving the Dodgers was difficult and emotional for Ellis. He was able to bury himself in the game Sunday and came away feeling pretty good.

“It’s just great to be playing baseball again,” he said, standing in front of his locker, a blue Dodgers equipment bag (that will soon be swapped out for a Phillies bag) at his feet. “You kind of lose yourself in the competition and then just play again.

“Regardless of what’s happened in the last four days, it feels good to drive in runs, feels good to help put your team ahead and help contribute to a team win.”

During his 24 or so hours with the Phillies, Ellis has immersed himself in learning a new staff of pitchers. He caught starters Jerad Eickhoff and Jake Thompson in the bullpen before Saturday’s game and warmed up several relievers during that game.

On Sunday morning, he arrived at Citi Field, saw his name in the lineup and immediately began prepping to catch Velasquez, the hardest-thrower on the Phillies’ starting staff.

Velasquez bounced back from three poor outings in which he gave up 19 runs in 17 1/3 innings and held a hot Mets lineup to a run over five innings. The only negative was that Velasquez could not pitch deeper into the game because his command was poor and needed 103 pitches to complete the five innings.

Nonetheless, Ellis, who was the personal catcher for Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw in Los Angeles, liked what he saw of Velasquez.

“His pitch count got elevated the first two innings and he was able to grind through the last three,” Ellis said. “The stuff is electric. He has so many weapons, so many options. When he keeps growing and keeps polishing that gift up, it’s going to be really, really special.

“So I’m excited to be able to continue to work with him, excited to work with him and (pitching coach) Bob McClure and (No. 1 catcher) Cameron Rupp, kind of talk to them about things, things he sees, things we see, and together we can build a plan for him going forward in his career.”

Two things are going to help the 24-year-old Velasquez reach his potential.

First is good health. He’s had arm problems in the past and there remain concerns about his long-term durability. That’s why the Phillies are closely monitoring his workload as this season winds down.

Second is command, control, economy of pitches – whatever you want to call it. Velasquez needs to be more efficient. Too many times he’s left games in the middle innings because of a high pitch count.

“Definitely,” he responded when asked if lowering his pitch counts and working deeper into games was the key to his improvement. “It’s going to help the longevity, it saves the bullpen, it helps out everybody. Not just on my end, but the whole team in general.

“And,” he joked, “then I can also work on my swing by getting some more at-bats.”

Despite the high pitch count, Velasquez walked just one. He struck out seven. He is up to 129 innings for the season. That includes five innings in a rehab game at Double A Reading. The Phillies will look to keep him at about 150 innings for the season. That could be three, four or five more starts, depending on how long the right-hander lasts. He’s averaged just over five innings in his starts this season.

“I think that would be the right move,” Velasquez said of the 150-inning target.