We’re less than a week away from Week 1 of the NFL season, and there are a number of household names in the hot seat with their respective teams.
Whether it’s competing for work with teammates or silencing injury worries, the following players have something to prove, and in some cases it has to be done in short order.
10 Notable NFL Players in the Hot Seat
Trey Lance, QB, San Francisco 49ers
As if Lance wasn’t already a question mark given his limited experience as a starting quarterback. The pressure is on as San Fran trades just +1600 on various sports bets to win Super Bowl LVII and the 49ers and backup signal caller Jimmy Garoppolo Restructuring of a one-year contract to keep him on the team this season.
Garoppolo led the Niners to the NFC Championship Game last season and to the Super Bowl in 2019. His 47 career starts make him one of the most experienced No. 2 quarterbacks in the league.
If Lance doesn’t hit the ground running and prove he’s capable of leading an NFL offense, Garoppolo has shown he can take the 49ers deep into the postseason.
Mitchell Trubisky, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
While head coach Mike Tomlin stays steadfast in restraint Who will be his starting quarterback in Week 1 will likely be Trubisky behind center to start the year rather than rookie Kenny Pickett.
Trubisky completed 24 of 34 attempts for 283 yards and two touchdowns without throwing an interception and did nothing to lose the starting gig.
Still, Pickett is a +900 consensus and one of the favorites to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award at the major sportsbooks. So the bookies obviously expect him to see a lot of action this season.
Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys
The 27-year-old rusher has had his two worst stat and PFF scores for the Cowboys over the past two years, while versatile running back Tony Pollard is having his best performance, including being ranked the fourth-best halfback in the NFL according to the PFF.
Add in the long-term loss of eight-time Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith to a fractured left knee and Elliott’s prospects are even bleaker. FanDuel Sportsbook increased Elliott’s rushing yards prop from 850.5 to 800.5 after announcing Smith’s injury.
Injury aside, Elliott will be a key part of Dallas’ offense, but his touches and goals could take a hit if Pollard proves to be the better option outside the backfield.
INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 13: Cam Akers #23 of the Los Angeles Rams runs with the ball in the second quarter during Super Bowl LVI against the Cincinnati Bengals at SoFi Stadium on February 13, 2022 in Inglewood, California. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images/AFPKevin C. Cox/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/Getty Images via AFP
Cam Akers, RB, Los Angeles Rams
During Akers returned to practice Monday, the last year plus was not friendly. An off-season tear in his Achilles kept him out of action through Week 18 last season, and he missed significant time during training camp due to an undisclosed injury.
When Akers was on the field last year, he rushed for just 2.6 yards per carry in four games. Still, he still has +100 to rush for 895.5 yards at DraftKings Sportsbook.
The Rams have running back Darrell Henderson and rookie rusher Kyren Williams to lighten Aker’s workload, and head coach Sean McVay could turn to a committee backfield approach more often to keep his running back corps healthy.
Finally, Henderson has also missed a lot of time throughout his career, including during this summer’s training camp with an undisclosed injury.
Damien Harris, RB, New England Patriots
Harris, who had a 15-touchdown breakout last season, is a surprising addition to this list. However, he is in the last season of his rookie contract and has been mentioned in trade rumours.
New England also has sophomore Rhamondre Stevenson to turn to, and he rushed for an impressive 470 yards with a 4.8 YPC clip in his final seven games of the 2021 season.
The two rushers plan to split the workload in the backfield to start the 2022 campaign, and DraftKings has a unique prop that will combine the duo for over 1,500.5 rushing yards at +125. However, if Stevenson gets the majority of touches, it would take an ever-greater toll on Harris’ last stat line.
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Devin Singletary, RB, Buffalo Bills
Being tied to an elite offense can be a comfortable gig, and Singletary notched a career-high 1,098 yards from scrimmage and eight touchdowns last year. Buffalo is the favorite (+600) to lead the NFL at Caesars Sportsbook this season.
The problem for singletary: Buffalo drafted running back Zack Moss in the third round of the 2020 draft and then doubled by beating RB James Cook in the second round last April.
Singletary projects to see the most touches and target volume early in the season, but this has the potential to morph into a three-man defender committee as the season progresses. Singletary will need to repeat last season’s success to maintain a significant chunk of workload.
TAMPA, FLORIDA – JANUARY 16: Miles Sanders #26 of the Philadelphia Eagles runs the ball against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first quarter of the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Raymond James Stadium on January 16, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images/AFPMike Ehrmann/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/Getty Images via AFP
Miles Sanders, RB, Philadelphia Eagles
Running backs Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell were already battling for game time with Sanders, allowing the Eagles to claim 2021 third-round pick Trey Sermon San Francisco 49ers Disclaimers adds even more uncertainty to Philly’s position.
However, Sanders missed a lot of time in training camp with a hamstring injury return to practice Thursday is encouraging for him to open the year as a top rusher in Philadelphia.
However, he has managed just 73 red zone carries of his career, and after catching 50 passes for 509 yards as a rookie, he has 54 receptions for just 355 yards over the past two seasons. Increasingly, Sanders’ role was to work primarily in his 20s while Gainwell, Scott and quarterback Jalen Hurts limited his options.
Interestingly, Sanders’ touchdown prop total at Caesars is 5.5, with the under trading at -190.
Marquise Brown, WR, Cardinals of Arizona
With No. 1 wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins suspended for the first six games of the season eyeing a golden opportunity, Brown will be under a lot of pressure to start working with his new team right away.
Arizona has a daunting opening schedule with the Kansas City Chiefs, Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Rams on the agenda for the first three weeks. Quarterback Kyler Murray will likely be eyeing Brown a lot while trying to keep up with those three high-score offenses, and Brown is listed at +190 on FanDuel for a touchdown during the week one matchup against the Chiefs.
Not only are the cards likely to run into trouble early on if Murray and Brown don’t get off to a flying start, but Brown’s target share predicts it will shrink once Hopkins returns in Week 7. Getting arrested for speeding in early August wasn’t ideal either.
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – AUGUST 11: Treylon Burks #16 of the Tennessee Titans dashes the ball against the Baltimore Ravens during a preseason game at M&T Bank Stadium on August 11, 2022 in Baltimore, Maryland. Rob Carr/Getty Images/AFPRob Carr/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/Getty Images via AFP
Treylon Burks, WR, Tennessee Titans
It’s been nothing but peaks and troughs for Burks throughout the offseason. The Arkansas product missed time during offseason programs due to asthma and poor conditioning and then treated multiple injuries during training camp.
Burks still showed the game-changing potential that made him 18th overall pick in the April draft, and he caught a touchdown pass in the preseason finale.
Considering his odds of winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award are +1400 at FanDuel, Burks remains an intriguing prospect for his first NFL season. He just needs to stay on the field consistently and solidify himself as a top target in Tennessee’s pass attack.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, Chiefs of Kansas City
Behind tight end Travis Kelce and No. 1 wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, there’s competition for goals on the Chiefs offense — and after a stunning four-year stint with the Green Bay Packers, Valdes-Scantling could face a pivotal point in the season KC.
An element of urgency is the fact that the Chiefs have two additional fast wide receivers in Mecole Hardman and Skyy Moore. Hardman has flashed potential since his pick in the second round of the 2019 draft, and Moore could prove to be a versatile weapon for the Chiefs. Moore was also selected in the second round of this year’s draft and is listed at +1200 to win Offensive Rookie of the Year at FanDuel.
However, Valdes-Scantling sits second on the wide receiver depth chart, so it looks like he’s getting another opportunity to capitalize on his plus athletics.
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