1. The 2019 quarterback class has exceeded expectations in Year 1.
John Schmeelk: Fiction: I think they have met expectations but not surpassed them. Kyler Murray has had some ups and downs as a passer, but he has shown promise, something you would expect from the first overall pick in the draft. Daniel Jones, selected sixth but projected by many to go a little later on, has had some extremely productive games. He looks comfortable throwing in a traditional NFL offense, and other than his turnover issues, he looks like a NFL signal caller probably earlier than most expected. Haskins was always going to take some time to develop given he only started one season at Ohio State. He has looked as many would have expected, showing the same strengths and weaknesses from college. Gardner Minshew has certainly exceeded expectations in Jacksonville after being drafted in the sixth round by the Jaguars.
Lance Medow: Fiction: 11 quarterbacks were selected in the 2019 NFL Draft. Six have started at least one game and Will Grier will make it seven when he starts for the Panthers in Week 16. Keep in mind, Denver's Drew Lock and Ryan Finley of the Bengals have each made just three starts. That means four rookies have made at least six starts: Arizona's Kyler Murray, Daniel Jones, Dwayne Haskins of the Redskins and Jacksonville's Gardner Minshew. Murray is the only one who has started every game and considering he's the only player in the NFL to have thrown for over 3,000 yards and run for 500, I'd say he has exceeded expectations, as has Minshew, who no one expected to see on the field after the Jaguars invested in free agent Nick Foles last offseason. While there have been a number of players who have flashed, including Jones, I still think that's too small of a group to say the class, overall, exceeded expectations in year one.
2. WR Darius Slayton will score a touchdown before RB Saquon Barkley on Sunday.
Schmeelk: Fiction: With Saquon Barkley coming off his best game of the season last week, I think he finishes his season strong. The Redskins defense actually does a pretty good job of preventing big plays, which is Slayton's bread and butter. Barkley will punch it into the end zone to cap a long touchdown drive before Slayton gets another score.
Medow: Fiction: When these teams last met in Week 4, Saquon Barkley didn't play because of a high ankle sprain and Darius Slayton was limited to just two catches for 13 yards. Despite Barkley's absence, the Giants posted a season-high 164 rushing yards as a team and Wayne Gallman ran in for a score. The Redskins have been more effective this season in defending the pass (T-12th NFL) than the run (28th NFL) in terms of yardage per game, but they've surrendered more touchdowns through the air (26) than on the ground (12). Last season, in Week 14, Barkley ran 14 times for 170 yards and a touchdown against the Redskins at FedEx Field and given he's coming off one of his best performances since returning from his ankle injury, I think Barkley will find the end zone before Slayton.
3. DL Dalvin Tomlinson has been the most impressive Giants player in the month of December.
Schmeelk: Fact: Without much fanfare, Dalvin Tomlinson has had a very disruptive month of December. While he has been his usual stout self in the running game, he has also added some pass rush to his repertoire. According to PFF, he has a sack, two quarterback hits, and four hurries in his last three games. There are also plays that don't show up in the box score, like his penetration (with B.J. Hill) that helped force a safety against the Dolphins last week. He is playing the best ball of his career right now.
Medow: Fiction: Dalvin Tomlinson has quietly put together a very productive December as he's recorded 11 tackles, including one a half for a loss, a sack, three quarterback hits, a force fumble. Tomlinson is the type of player in which the stat sheet alone doesn't do him justice. With that being said, I also think Markus Golden (13 tackles, including two for a loss, one and a half sacks, eight quarterback hits), Oshane Ximines (3 tackles, including two and a half for a loss, two and a half sacks, 3 quarterback hits) and Julian Love (18 tackles, including three and a half for a loss, one pass defensed and one quarterback hit) have been impressive this month. While all four of those players have posted noticeable stats, they all trail Darius Slayton, who has collected 13 receptions for 229 yards and three touchdowns in the last three games. His game-changing plays have made quite the statement.
4. Coming off last week's performance, CB Sam Beal is the player you're most interested to watch.
Schmeelk: Fact: As Sam Beal gets more experience at cornerback, his play is certain to continue to improve. He made a great tackle in space for the safety against Miami and forced some incomplete passes down the field. Until the last two weeks when he logged 152 snaps, Beal only had 63 in his prior NFL experience. Though technically a second year player, he really is just a rookie from an experience standpoint. It will be fun watching him, DeAndre Baker, Corey Ballentine and Julian Love all grow together in the defensive backfield.
Medow: Fiction: I'm going with the fiction sweep this week. Yes, Sam Beal put together a very nice performance last week against the Dolphins with a team-high 11 tackles, including one for a loss for a safety and it's an encouraging sign for a young cornerback, but I'm more interested in seeing whether Saquon Barkley can build off his first 100-yard rushing game since Week 2. Was that just a flash or a sign of what's yet to come? Given the challenges Barkley has to deal with this season, I'm curious to see how he performs against another defense that has struggled to stop the run.
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