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.

Jimmy Rollins salutes former Phillies teammate Ryan Howard

Jimmy Rollins salutes former Phillies teammate Ryan Howard

Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley were all drafted and developed by the Phillies. They came to the majors and became the best first baseman, shortstop and second baseman in franchise history.
 
And, of course, they were a huge part of the core of the team that won the 2008 World Series.
 
Time moves on and so do great players.
 
Rollins was traded in December 2014 as the team began a rebuild. Utley was traded in August 2015. On Sunday, Howard, the last piece from that championship season, will play his last game with the Phillies.
 
Rollins took some time Saturday to pass along some thoughts on his friend’s time in red pinstripes.
 
“When Ryan first arrived in Philadelphia, he was merely filling in for Jim Thome in the eyes of many, but he did not let that opportunity to shine pass him by,” Rollins wrote. “He quickly became feared as he won Rookie of the Year and MVP in consecutive years and reached 200 home runs quicker than anyone in the history of the game. He loved the pressure and wanted to be the man at the plate when the game mattered most.”
 
The Phillies won five division titles from 2007 to 2011. Howard led the majors in homers twice and RBIs three times.
 
“During our run, we leaned on him many times for big hits and clutch home runs and he found ways to deliver,” Rollins said. “Ryan never stopped working to better himself and his craft, whether it was getting to the field early for extra defensive work or finding that sweet home run stroke. Although he hit a lot of them, he was more than just a power hitter -- he was a great teammate.
 
“We all hoped to bring more than one championship to Philadelphia, but without Ryan that one may not have been possible. So, many thanks to 'Big Piece' for being such a big piece of the best years of my career in the City of Brotherly Love!”

Union-Red Bulls 5 things: Playoff implications as Union visit Red Bulls

Union-Red Bulls 5 things: Playoff implications as Union visit Red Bulls

Union vs. New York Red Bulls
7:00 p.m. on TCN

Riding a four-game winless run and with just three matches remaining in the season, Alejandro Bedoya and the Union (11-11-9) look to alter their recent misfortune when they take on the powerful New York Red Bulls (13-9-9) on Saturday (7:00 p.m., TCN) at Red Bull Arena, in an Eastern Conference showdown with playoff implications.

Here are five things to know.

1. Playing for Position
With three games left in the season and currently sitting fourth in the East, the Union are closing in on the organization’s second-ever playoff berth.

“Every point matters,” said Union manager Jim Curtin. “We need to take care of business and get as many points as possible down the stretch. We know we have a good team, we know our fans deserve to be back in the playoffs and that is our singular focus at this point."

Though making the playoffs is the club’s singular focus, the Union have their eye on positioning. In MLS, the third and fourth seeds earn home-field advantage in a play-in game against the fifth and sixth seeds. Prior to Saturday, the Union, who have 42 points, are just two points ahead of D.C. United and one point ahead of the Montreal Impact.

All three clubs have played 31 games.

“We recognize it’s going to be a tough task but at the same time, we’ve set ourselves up nice where we control our own destiny,”Curtin said. “That hasn’t been the case in past years.”

But while you’d expect the Union to simply be satisfied making the playoffs and even hosting a game, the club isn’t content with a play-in game -- they want a top-three finish. The Red Bulls are second in the East with 48 points -- six more than the Union, who play them twice, including Saturday.

“It’s certainly realistic,” said Curtin, about claiming a top-three seed in the East. “The fact that we play Red Bull twice, you control your own destiny. But it’s going to be difficult.”

2. Bedoya and Barnetta
Earlier in the week, Tranquillo Barnetta made headlines when the the Union announced that the potent midfielder, who is out of contract after this season, will not return to the club next year.

That news overshadowed the fact that Barnetta might not play a major role on Saturday, after missing last week’s match with an injured knee suffered against the Portland Timbers.

“His injury is one that is manageable,” Curtin said. “We hoped to have him back for [Toronto FC last Saturday] but it just didn’t feel right, so we decided to hold him. I think he’ll play a role in the New York game, whether that’s as a starter or off the bench still remains to be seen.”

With five goals and four assists this season, Barnetta has been the engine that has the Union propelling toward the post-season. And with knee issues, that sidelined him early in the season, now bothering him again, the Union want to be extra careful.

“We have to have an eye on what’s best for him, his body and the club,” Curtin said. “Obviously, getting the most points we can and using him the best way.”

But if Barnetta can’t go on Saturday, the Union will be in decent hands. Last week, while filling in at the center attacking midfield spot for Barnetta, Bedoya scored his first MLS goal, when he chipped a beauty past the goalkeeper. The Union ended up tying the match, 1-1.

“It was a special goal,” Curtin said. “It was a special play from a very talented individual and a heck of a way to open your goal-scoring account for the club.”

3. Streaking Red Bull
The Union take on the Red Bulls in two of their final three matches of the season. And the way the Red Bulls are playing, that’s not a good thing for the Union. Saturday’s hosts are on a 13-game unbeaten streak.

“Red Bull hasn’t lost since early July so to think that you’re just going to take two games from them, there’s no guarantee in that,” Curtin said. “It’s going to be difficult.”

Even while riding the streak, the Red Bulls are still pushing. The club is three points behind New York City FC for tops in the East, with a game in hand.

“We’re full throttle right now,” said Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch. “It’s exciting and it’s at the right time.”

That poses a tougher challenge for the Union, who weren’t the dominant team in a 2-2 draw with the Red Bulls earlier in the season. But if Curtin’s club learned anything, it’s that they have to beat the Red Bulls’ energetic press, if they want a result on the road.

“We have to bypass their press,” Bedoya said. “We need to be calm on the ball, don’t panic and play through it. We can be a high energy, high press team as well, we have great players. Hopefully, we go there and take it to them.”

But the Red Bulls will be ready.

“They’ve done well breaking our pressure at times and establishing themselves as the game has gone on,” Marsch said. “We know the game will be different at Red Bull Arena, we can put it on our terms. This is a rivalry game, it’s a playoff team. We’re going to get their best and we’ll be ready for them.

4. Keep an eye on
• Sacha Kljestian: One of the better playmakers in MLS, Kljestian leads the league with 16 assists. And while it doesn’t hurt that he’s passing to MLS scoring leader, Bradley Wright-Phillips, who has 20 goals, the Union need to stop Kljestian if they want to stop the Red Bulls.

• Fabian Herbers: The rookie has three assists in his last three games for a team-leading seven helpers on the season. As long as Ilsinho is sidelined with a foot injury, the Union will look to Herbers, at right attack midfield, for consistent production. There’s no reason to believe he won’t deliver it.

5. This and that
• For the first time in 2016, Maurice Edu was on a Union game roster last week against Toronto FC. He didn’t play, though Curtin said that day isn’t far off. “He’s getting up closer to the numbers that we want him to get to each day,” the coach said. Mo is working toward getting to those numbers that we see fit for that position in MLS, and what it takes to play a game.”

• While Josh Yaro was suspended last weekend for earning a red card against the Timbers, he also suffered a concussion. He has fully recorded, but still might not make the start at center back after Ken Tribbett’s strong game on Saturday in Yaro’s place. “He was cleared this morning so he’s a good option to  have back in the lineup. It needs to be said that Ken did a really great job for us.”

• The Union are 5-9-3 against the Red Bulls all-time, but are 0-0-1 this season.