February 23, 2017

Way-too-early 2018 NFL Mock Draft: Browns Select Franchise Quarterback

We are still a week away from the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine and more than two months away from the 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia.

So, naturally, it makes sense to post my first 2018 NFL Mock Draft. (Of course, it makes no sense as there is so much that will change between now and then.)

But that won't stop me.

For simplicity, the 2018 NFL Draft order used below is based on the draft order for this year's draft. More than anything, the goal of this mock draft is to highlight some players and some possible fits, but this will clearly look so different with future iterations of this mock draft.

With all of that said, here is my early projection of how Round 1 of the 2018 NFL Draft could play out:

1. Cleveland Browns (Draft History): Sam Darnold, QB, USC

It appears to be a lock that the Browns will use their No. 1 overall pick in 2017 to select Texas A&M's Myles Garrett, the consensus top player available in this year's draft. Provided they don't trade for Jimmy Garoppolo or draft a signal-caller with their other first-round pick, selecting a potential franchise quarterback like Darnold would make sense next year if the Browns are once again in this spot.

Not only is the 2018 quarterback class widely viewed as being more talented than this year's crop of quarterbacks, Darnold has the potential to be the best of the group. With prototypical physical tools and outstanding poise and leadership, the redshirt freshman engineered a come-from-behind victory over Penn State in Rose Bowl as he threw for 453 yards and five scores.

2. San Francisco 49ers (Draft History): Arden Key, DE/OLB, LSU

Based on my 2017 NFL Mock Draft (as of 2/17), Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers will get their franchise quarterback in UNC's Mitch Trubisky. There is some uncertainty with Key, who has recently taken a leave of absence for personal reasons, but he's an explosive edge rusher that set the school's single-season sack record (12) as a true sophomore in 2016.

3. Chicago Bears (Draft History): Josh Allen, QB, Wyoming

The Jay Cutler era is likely to end soon and both backup-caliber quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley are due to become unrestricted free agents. In previous versions of my 2017 mock, I've had the Bears select Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer. It's unlikely that they pass on a signal-caller once again if they don't address the position long term this year.

Perhaps the Bears go with another Josh (UCLA's Rosen) at quarterback, but Allen has great size (6-5, 222) and plays in a pro-style offense although he is a bit raw. One AFC Exec told MMQB's Albert Breer, "He’s a big ol’ kid with a big arm, and he’s pretty athletic too. We gotta learn more about him, but the tools are there." Coincidentally, Allen plays for Craig Bohl, who recruited Carson Wentz to North Dakota State.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars (Draft History): Derwin James, S, Florida State

With Tashaun Gipson signed to a free-agent deal before last season, the Jags may go in a different direction here. That said, James is a freakish talent that warrants a top-five selection and one ACC coach said the following of James before the start of last season: "Derwin James is flat scary good. He could probably start at all 11 positions. He’s one of those freaky guys who might be better than Ramsey when it’s all said and done."

5. Los Angeles Rams (Draft History): Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB, Alabama

The Rams could certainly use more weapons for or help protecting Jared Goff and I strongly considered slotting Christian Kirk or Calvin Ridley to them. But defensive back could be a need as well. Trumaine Johnson is a free agent this year, Lamarcus Joyner is a free agent next year and E.J. Gaines graded out as the 107th-best of 112 qualified cornerbacks last season. With experience at both cornerback and safety, the 6-foot-1 Fitzpatrick led the SEC with six interceptions as a sophomore.

6. New York Jets (Draft History): Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA

Perhaps the Jets will address their need at quarterback in 2017 with only two unproven quarterbacks -- Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg -- on the roster. Considering they used a second-round pick on Hackenberg last season, it's possibly the franchise waits another year before investing a high draft pick in the position. Expected to be the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft even before stepping foot on campus, Rosen's 2016 season was cut short by a shoulder injury and he will now have his third offensive coordinator in as many seasons. But if Rosen's still available here, it would be difficult for the Jets to pass on him.

7. Los Angeles Chargers (Draft History): Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame

Left tackle King Dunlap has played in only 19 of 32 games over the past two seasons and will turn 33 years old at the beginning of the 2018 NFL season. While the team's offensive line seems to be in perpetual need of an upgrade, McGlinchey would be a first step in upgrading it.

8. Carolina Panthers (Draft History): Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M

One of the most explosive receivers in college football, Kirk (5-11, 200) has 80-plus catches and 900-plus yards in each of his first two seasons in College Station. In addition, Kirk has averaged 22.25 yards per punt return with five returned for scores over the past two seasons. Meanwhile, WR/PR/KR Ted Ginn Jr. is a free agent heading into the 2017 season.

9. Cincinnati Bengals (Draft History): Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

While his sophomore season (71/776/7) was a disappointment at least compared to expectations and his freshman production (89/1,045/7), Ridley has elite speed, hands and route-running ability to develop into a true No. 1 receiver at the next level. If Tyler Eifert could stay healthy, the Bengals would have one of the best trios of pass-catchers with A.J. Green, Ridley and Eifert for years to come.

10. Buffalo Bills (Draft History): Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State

Originally committed to play lacrosse at Notre Dame and a high school safety, Hubbard is a freakish athlete that closed the season strong. Per PFF, Hubbard had seven total pressures and 12 defensive stops in the team's final three games. If he builds upon that momentum in 2017, Hubbard could become a top-10 pick in 2018.

- Continue reading our 2018 NFL Mock Draft

- Our 2017 NFL Mock Draft

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January 27, 2017

2017 NFL Mock Draft: Three QBs in the Top 10?

Roughly three months until Round 1 of the 2017 NFL Draft in Philadelphia, here's one prediction that's sure to come true: This mock draft will look a lot different in April than it looks today.

It's virtually impossible to predict how things will shake out three minutes before the start of a draft, let alone three months before it. After all, some prospects will rise and fall following workouts at the NFL Scouting Combine and their Pro Days, teams will fill needs (or not) via NFL free agency, etc.

As we get closer to April, I will add more rounds to this mock with the goal to be a full seven-round mock draft.

With all of that said, here is my early projection of how Round 1 of the 2017 NFL Draft could play out:

1. Cleveland Browns (Draft History): Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M

Obviously, it's a quarterback-driven league and the Browns (still) do not have a franchise quarterback on the roster. While the team used a third-round pick on Cody Kessler in the 2016 NFL Draft, he's a low-end, low-upside starter (if not a career backup). That said, if the team passed on a signal-caller at the top of last year's draft class, there's a good chance they won't feel compelled to select a quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick this year.

The Browns defense could use upgrades at all three levels. Not only did the Browns rank 31st in total defense (375.4 YPG) and 30th in scoring defense (28.3 PPG), but only the Raiders (25) recorded fewer sacks than the Browns (26) in 2016. On a positive note, Emmanuel Ogbah, one of the team's 2016 second-round picks, led the team with 5.5 sacks.

With Garrett, the Browns get a difference-making pass-rusher that is widely viewed as the top prospect in this year's draft class. After finishing with 11-plus sacks in his first two collegiate seasons, the explosive edge rusher had just 8.5 sacks in 10 games this season as he battled a high-ankle sprain in addition to facing many double and triple teams from opposing defenses.

2. San Francisco 49ers (Draft History): Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina

As usual, there are several quarterback-needy franchises picking at the top of the draft yet there isn't necessarily a slam-dunk consensus choice at the position. Not only is Blaine Gabbert a free agent (and not a good quarterback), but there is a good chance that Colin Kaepernick won't on the opening day roster either.

Only a one-year starter for the Tar Heels, Trubisky completed 68.2 percent of his pass attempts with 30 touchdowns and only six interceptions in 2016. With good size (6-3, 220), accuracy, a strong arm and mobility, he possesses all of the traits to potentially develop into a franchise quarterback for presumed head coach Kyle Shanahan.

3. Chicago Bears (Draft History): Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama

Will the Bears go with Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer or Clemson's Deshaun Watson here and make it two quarterbacks in the top three? (After all, Dabo Sweeney recently compared Watson to Michael Jordan.) It's certainly possible the Bears draft a quarterback here as they are expected to move on from Jay Cutler, but it wouldn't surprise me if they go with Allen here.

Few prospects are as safe as Allen. With the versatility to play multiple spots along the defensive line, Allen closed his collegiate career with back-to-back seasons with double-digit sacks and will help shore up Chicago's 27th-ranked run defense.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars (Draft History): Jamal Adams, S, LSU

Possessing great size (6-1, 213) and a first-round pedigree (father George was a first-round pick in 1984), Adams has the versatility to play either safety spot, but he is especially good playing in the box. Having his best season, strong safety John Cyprien was the seventh-graded PFF safety (of 90 qualified), but he will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

5. Tennessee Titans (Draft History), via Rams: Marshon Lattimore, CB, Ohio State

With a franchise quarterback in Marcus Mariota, the Titans exceeded expectations in 2016 and have a bright future. One area that needs to be addressed via the draft and/or free agency, however, is their pass defense, which ranked 30th in the NFL last season. One of the deeper positions in this year's draft class, the Titans can double-dip with a pair of first-round cornerbacks as I project in this mock.

6. New York Jets (Draft History): DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame

None of the quarterbacks on the 2016 roster have shown that they are the long-term answer at quarterback for the Jets and both Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith are free agents anyways. Perhaps it's too early to judge Christian Hackenberg, but Kizer has all of the physical tools to potentially become the long-term answer for the Jets.

7. Los Angeles Chargers (Draft History): Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

Drawing comparisons to Ed Reed, Hooker is a play-making safety with tremendous range. One year after letting Eric Weddle depart via free agency, Hooker would fill the void.

8. Carolina Panthers (Draft History): Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU

The last time that Jonathan Stewart did not miss at least three games was 2011. Stewart, who turns 30 in March, averaged just 3.8 yards per carry this season and there is some speculation that Stewart could turn out to be a cap casualty. A man among boys, Fournette has a rare combination of size, power and speed and his presence would help take some pressure off of Cam Newton even if Stewart isn't released.

9. Cincinnati Bengals (Draft History): Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford

Viewed by some as a 'tweener, the redshirt sophomore was the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year and was dominant in the Sun Bowl win over UNC. Possessing rare physical attributes, Thomas has drawn some comparisons to J.J. Watt and Aaron Donald, but the long-term upside is tremendous.

10. Buffalo Bills (Draft History): Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson

Tyrod Taylor's days as starter in Buffalo appear to be numbered, so the Bills could be in the market for a starter with this pick if (at least) one of the top-three signal-callers is still available here. First-round bust E.J. Manuel will be an unrestricted free agent and the only other quarterback on the roster is fourth-rounder Cardale Jones.

There is plenty to like about the dual-threat Watson, who led Clemson to a national championship win over Alabama and a runner-up finish the year before. While he has come up big in big games, he has struggled with accuracy and thrown too many interceptions -- 30 over his past two seasons -- so it's possible that Trubisky and/or Kizer are selected before him.

11. New Orleans Saints (Draft History): Rueben Foster, LB, Alabama

The Saints have finished 27th in team defense and have failed to make the postseason in each of the past three seasons. Obviously, adding playmakers to all three levels of their defense should be their offseason priority. The Butkus Award winner as college football's top linebacker, Foster is a devastating hitter with sideline-to-sideline range.

12. Cleveland Browns (Draft History), via Eagles: Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida State

Isaiah Crowell had a number of big games (four 100-yard games), but he also rushed for less than 30 yards in seven of 16 games. Cook is a true difference-maker at the position and is a threat to take it to the house any time he touches the ball.

13. Arizona Cardinals (Draft History): Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan

The first wide receiver off the board in this mock, Davis has dominated lesser competition with 1,400-plus yards and 12-plus touchdowns in each of his past three seasons. The senior receiver has excellent size (6-3, 213), speed, hands and is an outstanding route-runner.

While the Cardinals had a trio of receivers with 50-plus catches for 800-plus yards in 2015, wide receiver has become a position of need with plenty of question marks over the short term. While Larry Fitzgerald is expected back in 2017, his career is winding down, the team cut Michael Floyd earlier this season after his DUI arrest and John Brown has had some health concerns.

** Note: A coin flip will break a tie to determine whether the Colts or Eagles pick 14th or 15th. **

14. Indianapolis Colts (Draft History): Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee

Far from the most explosive edge rusher, Barnett has been one of college football's most productive. After all, Barnett broke Reggie White's school record with 33 sacks in just three seasons.

The Colts had two players that recorded more than three sacks -- Erik Walden (11.0) and Robert Mathis (5.0). Walden is an unrestricted free agent and the soon-to-be 36-year-old Robert Mathis has announced his retirement.

15. Philadelphia Eagles (Draft History), via MIN: Teez Tabor, CB, Florida

Tabor certainly doesn't lack confidence and ex-Florida coach Will Muschamps put Tabor in his "starting five" of trash-talkers. But Tabor has the size, aggressive demeanor and ball skills to help upgrade a positional unit in massive need of improvement.

16. Baltimore Ravens (Draft History): Cam Robinson, OT, Alabama

As PFF's 19th-graded offensive tackle, starting right tackle Ricky Wagner is about to become an unrestricted free agent. Especially if the Ravens are unable to re-sign Wagner, Robinson would be a good fit here. Even though he has started exclusively on the left side at Alabama, he may be a better fit on the right side opposite last year's first-round pick Ronnie Stanley.

- Continue to picks 17-32 in our 2017 NFL Mock Draft

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January 20, 2017

Fantasy Football Rankings: Conference Championship Fantasy TE Rankings

As the final four teams vie for an opportunity to advance to Super Bowl LI, both games should feature plenty of offense with game totals of 61 and 51 points, respectively, for the NFC and AFC Conference Championship Games.

Here are our Conference Championship fantasy tight end rankings:

1. Jared Cook, Green Bay Packers

For the second time this season, Cook had a six-catch, 100-yard performance with a touchdown as he finished Sunday's game with 6/104/1 on 11 targets. The frustrating aspect of starting Cook is his propensity to lay an egg following big games. After his other 100-yard game, Cook had one catch for seven yards in the next game. On a positive note, Cook has eight-plus targets in four of his past five games and Aaron Rodgers is playing as well as ever. In addition, Green Bay's wide receivers are banged up, which could lead to more reliance on Randall Cobb and Cook.

2. Martellus Bennett, New England Patriots

Bennett has had his share of small performances -- three games of five yards or less, six games of 15 yards or less, etc. On the other hand, Bennett has three 100-yard games and another game with three TDs this season. In other words, the range of potential outcomes for the first-year Patriots tight end is wide.

3. Ladarius Green, Pittsburgh Steelers

Here's the good news: Green has 67-plus yards in three of his past four games played. The bad news? Green has played just six games this season and he hasn't played since Week 15. It's unclear if Green (concussion) will be able to go in this week's AFC Championship Game against the Patriots, but he would be a top-three option at tight end if he's cleared by Sunday.

4. Jesse James, Pittsburgh Steelers

James converted six targets into five catches for 83 yards against the Chiefs and he'll be a top-three option at the position if Ladarius Green (concussion) is not cleared in time for Sunday's game.

5. Levine Toilolo, Atlanta Falcons

Toilolo led Atlanta's tight ends in targets (four) and finished with two catches for 26 yards. While he's a TD-dependent option, the Falcons have a weekend-high 32-point team total so touchdowns could be plentiful on Sunday.

6. Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta's tight end of the future, Hooper turned his lone target into a 10-yard reception as Levine Toilolo led the position group with two catches for 26 yards on four targets. Neither option is too appealing on their own merits, but both are daily fantasy tournament dart throws given the dearth of options at the position this week for a team that is expected to be the highest-scoring team.

7. Richard Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

During Green Bay's eight-game winning streak, Aaron Rodgers has targeted the other Rodgers no more than two times in any of those wins. That said, he does have two touchdowns in his past four games and it's always possible that he makes the most of his one reception -- like he did in Dallas.

Conference Championship Round Fantasy Football Rankings:

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January 19, 2017

Fantasy Football Rankings: Conference Championship Fantasy WR Rankings

Among the four major fantasy positions, wide receiver has the most injury question marks going into this Sunday's games. As Sunday approaches, hopefully we will gain clarity about the status of those dealing with injuries.

With that said, here are our current Conference Championship Game fantasy wide receiver rankings:

1. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers

It's rare to call a 106/1,284/12 season a disappointment, but Brown set four-year lows in both catches and yards in 2016. That said, the talented receiver has back-to-back 100-yard games this postseason and is a slam-dunk top-two option this weekend.

2. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons

If there's any concern with Jones, it's his foot but Atlanta's stud receiver will certainly suit up on Sunday. With a 6/67/1 line on eight targets, Jones spent nearly all of the second half of the sidelines due to his foot ailment, but part of that was Atlanta being cautious as they had a commanding lead. No team allowed more fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season than the Packers and Dez Bryant just lit up Green Bay's secondary for 9/132/2.

3. Julian Edelman, New England Patriots

Especially in PPR formats, Edelman has an extremely high floor as Tom Brady's trusted top target. With double-digit targets in seven of eight games, Edelman has had his two best games of the season in his past two -- 8/151/1 and 8/137. Edelman has a minimum of 73 yards in nine consecutive games and at least seven catches in seven of those nine games.

4. Ty Montgomery, Green Bay Packers

Gaining only 47 yards on 11 carries, Montgomery now has four consecutive games with less than 50 rushing yards, but he scored on two of those 11 carries. Not only have the Falcons allowed 19 touchdowns to opposing "running backs," but no team has allowed more receptions (109) to the position.

5. Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers

Cobb had a solid, but not spectacular, performance (7/62/0) in the Divisional Round after he blew up for a 5/116/3 game the previous week. In a heavyweight fight between two offensive juggernauts, Cobb has plenty of upside (as do most of the other options in this game).

6. Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers

Not only did Adams have 12 touchdowns in the regular season and finish just three yards shy of 1,000, but he has double-digit targets in back-to-back games with a total of 13/201/1. If Jordy Nelson (ribs) is unable to go once again, Adams should see double-digit targets from Aaron Rodgers, who's playing as well as he has ever played. That is, assuming Adams is ready himself. Adams is dealing with an ankle injury and may not practice until Saturday. Adams is expected to play but only because it's the playoffs.

7. Taylor Gabriel, Atlanta Falcons

While Gabriel is a gadget player, he has been productive since Week 8 for the high-powered Falcons offense when he caught all three of his targets for 68 yards and a score. The opponent that week? The same one he faces this week. Going back to that game against the Packers, Gabriel has 31/543/6 receiving and 4/51/1 rushing in nine games.

8. Mohamed Sanu, Atlanta Falcons

On a two-game slate, virtually every skill-position player is in play, of course. That said, Sanu is a TD-reliant option for the Falcons as he has scored in back-to-back games, but he has five or fewer targets in five consecutive games. Given that Atlanta has the highest implied total from Vegas odds, touchdowns should be plentiful in an expected shootout Sunday afternoon.

9. Eli Rogers, Pittsburgh Steelers

Rogers has at least four receptions in four of his past five games, but he has 27 yards or less in back-to-back games and no scores in four straight. Rogers is a low-upside option on Sunday's two-game slate.

10. Chris Hogan, New England Patriots

In his first season with the Patriots, Hogan averaged a career-high 17.9 Y/R and had four catches for 95 yards in Saturday's win over the Texans. That said, Hogan has had five targets or less in all but two games this season.

11. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers

Dealing with at least two broken ribs, Nelson sat out the past two games and is likely to sit out this weekend as well, but there is a "small chance" that he is able to go. Nelson had 97 catches for 1,257 yards and 14 touchdowns last season and he'd be a top-three option if he's active. If he's not, it's a boost to Davante Adams, Randall Cobb and the rest of the Green Bay pass-catchers.

12. Malcolm Mitchell, New England Patriots

Mitchell has been battling a knee injury and has missed the previous two games (plus bye week), but he may return this week. If so, it just makes even harder to trust any Patriots receiver other than Edelman.

13. Geronimo Allison, Green Bay Packers

If Nelson sits again, Allison will be counted on as the team's No. 3 "wide receiver," but he could still be fifth in line for targets behind Adams, Cobb, Montgomery and Jared Cook. In addition, Allison is battling a hamstring injury and is less than 100 percent. The UDFA out of Illinois has a total of 13 catches for 211 yards and a touchdown in his past four games combined.

Here are the best of the rest:

14. Justin Hardy, Atlanta Falcons
15. Danny Amendola, New England Patriots
16. Michael Floyd, New England Patriots
17. Cobi Hamilton, Pittsburgh Steelers
18. Jeff Janis, Green Bay Packers
19. DeMarcus Ayers, Pittsburgh Steelers
20. Trevor Davis, Green Bay Packers
21. Sammie Coates, Pittsburgh Steelers
22. Aldrick Robinson, Atlanta Falcons
23. Nick Williams, Atlanta Falcons

Conference Championship Round Fantasy Football Rankings:

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Fantasy Football Rankings: Conference Championship Fantasy RB Rankings

As the final four teams vie for an opportunity to advance to Super Bowl LI, both games should feature plenty of offense with game totals of 61 and 51 points, respectively, for the NFC and AFC Conference Championship Games.

With that said, here are my fantasy football running back rankings for Sunday's games:

1. Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers

The Patriots' defensive game plan typically focuses on shutting (or slowing) down the opponent's biggest weapon. As talented as Antonio Brown is, the Patriots will (likely) make slowing down Bell their primary objective. That is easier said than done. With seven 100-yard rushing games in his past eight, Bell has a total of 220/1,172/8 rushing (5.33 YPC) and 34/259/1 receiving over that eight-game span.

2. Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons

Freeman carried the ball 14 times for just 45 yards on Saturday, but he still racked up 125 yards from scrimmage with a touchdown for a productive fantasy outing. Once again exceeding 1,000 rushing yards and 50 receptions on the season, Freeman has scored a combined 28 touchdowns in his past 32 games. As home favorites in a game with a massive 61-point game total, Freeman should see 18-plus touches and is a good bet to find the end zone.

3. Tevin Coleman, Atlanta Falcons

Not only is Coleman a viable start in playoff and/or daily fantasy leagues, but it's not a bad idea to start him along with Freeman. The 1(b) to Freeman's 1(a), Coleman had double-digit touches in all but two games (Weeks 6 and 7) this season and finished as a top-25 weekly fantasy running back in nine of 13 regular-season games played. Coleman scored 12 touchdowns in 14 games including Saturday's win over Seattle and is a threat to take it to the house any time he touches the ball.

4. Dion Lewis, New England Patriots

With a trifecta of touchdowns (rushing, receiving and return), Lewis (15) had nearly twice the amount of touches as LeGarrette Blount (seven) on Saturday. Projecting workloads for Patriots running backs is always a challenge, but Lewis appears to have emerged as the team's lead back with a team-high 70 combined touches over the past four games.

5. LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots

Setting career highs across the board this season with 299 carries, 1,161 yards and a league-high 18 touchdowns, Blount is no longer a lock for a massive workload if the Pats happen to jump out to a big lead with Lewis' role expanding recently. Blount had a season-low eight carries for 31 yards, which tied a season low, on Saturday.

6. Aaron Ripkowski, Green Bay Packers

On an eight-game winning streak, the Packers have scored 30-plus points in six consecutive games. Ripkowski will get the occasional carry (four last week) or reception (two the previous week), but his biggest chance for fantasy relevance is to potentially vulture a short-yardage touchdown from Ty Montgomery.

7. James White, New England Patriots

It's clear that White has become a distant third in line behind both Lewis and Blount in usage among the team's running backs as he had just one touch -- albeit a 19-yard touchdown reception -- last week.

8. Christine Michael, Green Bay Packers

Finishing the year as Seattle's leading rusher, Michael had zero touches for the Packers in their instant-classic victory over the Cowboys after getting 10 carries in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Despite his talent, it would take an injury for Michael to see fantasy-relevant snaps and usage.

Conference Championship Round Fantasy Football Rankings:

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January 18, 2017

Fantasy Football Rankings: Conference Championship Fantasy QB Rankings

And then there were four.

Down to the NFL's version of the Final Four, the Falcons will host the Packers and the Patriots will host the Steelers in Sunday's Conference Championship games.

Not only do both games have over/unders in excess of 50 points, but the combined totals for the two games is 112.0 points so there should be no shortage of offense.

With that said, here are our fantasy quarterback rankings for Sunday's Conference Championship Games:

1. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

Not only did Ryan lead the NFL in Y/A (9.3), TD% (7.1) and passer rating (117.1), but Ryan gets a soft matchup against the Packers this week. Green Bay ranked 32nd in Y/A allowed (8.1) and only the Browns (36) and Lions (33) allowed more passing touchdowns than the Packers (32) this season. Ryan has been playing especially well lately with 14 touchdowns and no interceptions over his past five games and a minimum passer rating of 121.8 in each of those contests.

2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

It appears unlikely that Jordy Nelson (broken ribs) will be able to return this week, but the future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer is perhaps playing as well as he has ever played. Over his past nine games, Rodgers has thrown 24 touchdowns to only one interception. Not only have the Packers scored 30-plus points in six consecutive games, but Rodgers has thrown for 300-plus yards in four straight. In an expected shootout with an over/under of 61 points, Rodgers has as much upside as any quarterback this weekend.

3. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

With only one 300-yard game in his past eight games played since Rob Gronkowski was injured, Brady has still managed to throw 18 touchdowns during that eight-game span. While he had only three interceptions over that stretch, two of them came last week against Houston's second-ranked NFL pass defense. His upside isn't as high without Gronk, but it's never a bad idea to start Brady in fantasy.

4. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

There is clearly a difference between the home and road versions of Big Ben. In seven home games this season, Roethlisberger has a 22:7 TD-INT ratio, 70.9 completion percentage and 8.66 Y/A. On the road, however, he has thrown as many interceptions (nine) as touchdowns (nine) this season while completing less than 60 percent of his pass attempts (59.9%) for only 6.78 Y/A.

Conference Championship Round Fantasy Football Rankings:

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January 15, 2017

Divisional Round Fantasy Football Projections: Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys

Later today, the Dallas Cowboys will host the Green Bay Packers for the right to advance to the NFC Championship Game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Below you will my fantasy football projections for today's Cowboys vs. Packers matchup.

GREEN BAY PACKERS

Quarterbacks

PlayerComp.Att.YardsTDINTRushYardsTDPoints
Aaron Rodgers26.640.12872.30.53150.121.78
Against the Giants on Sunday, Rodgers threw for 362 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions to extend his streak of 300/4 games to three. Over his past eight games, Rodgers has thrown 22 touchdowns and no interceptions. Jordy Nelson (ribs) has already been ruled out this week, but as well as Rodgers has been playing, he's easily the top quarterback option in fantasy this weekend.

Running Backs

PlayerAtt.YardsTDRec.YardsTDPoints
Christine Michael6.927.30.30.31.604.69
Tied his season high in carries (10) since joining the Packers, Michael led the team in rushing with 47 yards on the ground. That said, Michael's carries didn't come until the second half and I'd still expect Montgomery to handle a larger share of the workload this weekend.
Aaron Ripkowski1.87.80.11.79.50.23.53

Wide Receivers

PlayerRec.YardsTDRushYardsTDPoints
Davante Adams677.20.800012.52
Falling just shy of the 1,000-yard milestone (997), Adams finished with 12 touchdowns and the seventh-most fantasy points in the regular season. With Jordy Nelson (ribs) leaving Sunday's playoff game early, Adams had 8/125/1 on 12 targets against the Giants and should lead the Packers in targets in the Divisional Round.
Ty Montgomery4.237.10.110.551.309.44
Montgomery wasn't very efficient running the ball -- 11 carries for 27 yards -- and he exited the game briefly due to an ankle injury. That said, he had 41 receiving yards, which was his second-most over his past 10 games. In large part due to their ball-control offense, the Cowboys led the NFL in rushing defense (83.5 yards per game allowed) as opponents ran the ball a league-low 340 times against them.
Randall Cobb5.557.90.40.61.708.36
A non-factor down the stretch, Cobb had a huge game against the Giants with five catches for 116 yards and three touchdowns. While I wouldn't expect another three-TD performance, Aaron Rodgers is playing as well as ever and he should look Cobb's way often.
Geronimo Allison2.741.90.40006.59
With Nelson forced to sit due to his ribs injury, Allison will be counted on to step up as the team's No. 3 receiver. In an Aaron Rodgers-led offense and given how well he has played over the past half-season, that gives Allison some upside.
Jeff Janis0.54.600.11.500.61

Tight Ends

PlayerRec.YardsTDPoints
Jared Cook5.262.10.27.41
Cook had 5/48 on Sunday and his nine targets were second on the team behind only Davante Adams (12). With Jordy Nelson (ribs) sidelined this week, Cook should see six or more targets in a favorable matchup. The Cowboys allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season.
Richard Rodgers0.65.600.56

DALLAS COWBOYS

Quarterbacks

PlayerComp.Att.YardsTDINTRushYardsTDPoints
Dak Prescott21.331.92561.60.53.1140.318.84
Playing unlike a rookie, Prescott completed 67.8 percent of his pass attempts for 8.0 Y/A and threw 23 touchdowns to only four interceptions. In addition, he ran for another 282 yards and six touchdowns. Early in the season, Prescott led the Cowboys to a 14-point victory over the Packers as he completed 18-of-27 for 247 yards and three touchdowns. Even though the Packers have been playing much better defense lately, this is still a plus matchup for Dak and the Cowboys.

Running Backs

PlayerAtt.YardsTDRec.YardsTDPoints
Ezekiel Elliott24115.812.526.30.120.81
Even though he sat out Week 17, Elliott led the NFL in carries (322) and rushing (1,631 yards) while scoring 15 touchdowns and finished just six yards shy of 2,000 yards from scrimmage. With 20-plus touches in 12 of 15 games this season, Elliott never scored fewer than 10 fantasy points in any game this season.
Darren McFadden3.111.600.63.801.54
Lance Dunbar0001.18.500.85
Alfred Morris0.31.100000.11

Wide Receivers

PlayerRec.YardsTDRushYardsTDPoints
Dez Bryant4.7730.700011.5
Returning from a multi-game absence in Week 8, Bryant missed the first matchup against the Packers (Week 6), but he posted a 39/646/7 line over a nine-game stretch from Weeks 8 to 16. Even though the Packers have played better defense recently, no team allowed opposing wide receivers to haul in more touchdowns than the Packers (26). Only the Eagles (15.01) allowed more yards per reception than the Packers (14.37) to opposing receivers.
Cole Beasley4.654.80.40.10.707.95
Beasley had a two-TD performance against the Packers the first time these two teams met, but Bryant missed that game and Beasley's fantasy production has slowed considerably since that point. In the final six games of the season, Beasley finished as the WR50 or worse in every game and he had less than 50 yards in his five final games of the season.
Terrance Williams3.345.30.30006.33
After a six-game stretch from Weeks 8 to 13 with just nine catches and 83 yards, he has 15/200 over the final four games of the season. That said, Williams isn't much more than a TD-dependent dart throw as he has scored in three of his past six games.
Brice Butler0.34.20.10001.02
Lucky Whitehead0.34.700.64.500.92

Tight Ends

PlayerRec.YardsTDPoints
Jason Witten3.638.20.25.02
Witten had a solid season (69/673/3), but he is a low-upside option at the position as he had just three top-12 weekly performances (standard scoring) this season.
Gavin Escobar0.21.800.18

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January 13, 2017

Divisional Round Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings

Perhaps the best weekend of the football year kicks off on Saturday as the final eight teams will square off for the right to advance to the AFC and NFC Conference Championship Games.


Here are our top-eight fantasy football quarterback rankings for this weekend's slate of games:

1. Aaron Rodgers, Packers: Against the Giants on Sunday, Rodgers threw for 362 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions to extend his streak of 300/4 games to three. Over his past eight games, Rodgers has thrown 22 touchdowns and no interceptions. It appears that Jordy Nelson (ribs) is unlikely to play this week, but as well as Rodgers has been playing, he's easily the top quarterback option in fantasy this weekend.

2. Matt Ryan, Falcons: Only Aaron Rodgers scored more fantasy points this season than Ryan, who had a career (and MVP-caliber) season. Not only did Ryan set career highs in yards (4,944) and touchdowns (38) and a career low in interceptions (seven), he led the league in TD% (7.1), Y/A (9.3) and passer rating (117.1). Along with Carson Palmer and Tom Brady, Ryan was one of just three quarterbacks to throw for 300-plus yards against Seattle this season.

3. Tom Brady, Patriots: Since Week 11, Brady has thrown for 300-plus yards in only one of seven games, but he does have a 16:1 TD-INT ratio during that seven-game span. With one of the league's best secondaries, the Texans allowed the second-fewest passing yards this season and the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.

4. Dak Prescott, Cowboys: Playing unlike a rookie, Prescott completed 67.8 percent of his pass attempts for 8.0 Y/A and threw 23 touchdowns to only four interceptions. In addition, he ran for another 282 yards and six touchdowns. Early in the season, Prescott led the Cowboys to a 14-point victory over the Packers as he completed 18-of-27 for 247 yards and three touchdowns. Even though the Packers have been playing much better defense lately, this is still a plus matchup for Dak and the Cowboys.

5. Russell Wilson, Seahawks: Coming off an efficient 23-of-30 playoff performance, it has been an up-and-down season for Wilson and Seattle's offense. That said, Wilson has finished as a top-five weekly fantasy quarterback in six of his final 13 games this season. As much as the Seahawks would like to run the ball, control the clock and keep Matt Ryan and the high-powered Falcons offense off the field, they could find themselves needing to keep (or catch) up in what should be a high-scoring game.

6. Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers: Big Ben was a walking boot after Sunday's game, but it appears that his foot won't be an issue for this week's matchup against the Chiefs. Earlier in the season, Roethlisberger completed 22-of-27 for 300 yards and five touchdowns against the Chiefs. That was at Heinz Field, however, and Roethlisberger has some sharp home-road splits. Dominant at home (24.65 fantasy points per game this season), he averaged just 13.03 fantasy points in eight road games.

7. Alex Smith, Chiefs: An efficient but low-upside option, Smith set career highs of 3,502 yards and five rushing touchdowns, he also set four-year lows in passing touchdowns (15) and rushing yards (134).

8. Brock Osweiler, Texans: A distant eighth (among eight starting QBs) in this weekend's fantasy rankings, Osweiler led the Texans to a win over a Derek Carr-less Raiders team on Saturday. While he didn't play horribly, Osweiler still threw for just 168 yards (6.7 Y/A) and one touchdown last weekend. More than two-TD underdogs, Osweiler and the Texans are projected to score fewer than 15 points based on implied totals from Vegas odds.

Divisional Round Fantasy Football Rankings:

Divisional Round DFS Cheat Sheets:

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January 01, 2017

Week 17 NFL Picks Against the Spread (Beazley)

Every week, four of our contributors pick between two and five games each and assign a number of units (one to five) to their selection based on their confidence in the pick.

With that said, here are my Week 17 NFL picks against the spread:

New Orleans Saints +8 over Atlanta Falcons (5 Units)

Too many points here. Drew Brees does have notable home/road splits, but he actually isn't too bad in road dome games. This game has a total of 58 for a reason. I think the Saints upset the Falcons on the road here. Saints 38, Falcons 34.

Editor's note: DraftKings is running a $3 Week 17 contest with $50,000 paid to 1st place and is FREE for new depositors. Enter here.

Green Bay Packers -3.5 over Detroit Lions (5 Units)

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are on fire just at the right time. Cowboys fans better hope Detroit can win here because they definitely do not want to see this Packers team in the playoffs. I think both offenses play well, but Rodgers wins it late. Packers 30, Lions 24.

Houston Texans +4 over Tennessee Titans (5 Units)

The Texans have nothing to play for, but I still think they need to get things right on offense before next week's playoff game. The Titans secondary is atrocious. I think Houston keeps this one close enough, although I do think Tennessee wins to finish above .500. Tennessee 23, Houston 20.

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Week 17 NFL Picks Against the Spread (Hanson)

Every week, four of our contributors pick between two and five games each and assign a number of units (one to five) to their selection based on their confidence in the pick.

With that said, here are my Week 17 NFL picks against the spread:

Kansas City Chiefs -5 over San Diego Chargers (3 Units)

A win over San Diego -- coupled with an Oakland loss -- would allow the Chiefs to leapfrog the Raiders for the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in the playoffs. Nobody should confuse the Chiefs for being a high-flying offense, but Travis Kelce has taken a big step forward with 100-plus yards in five of six games and Tyreek Hill can definitely change the game any time he touches the ball.

With Melvin Gordon sitting out the finale (and Kenneth Farrow placed on IR), the Chargers will rely on Ronnie Hillman and Andre Williams at running back. In other words, that will allow the Chiefs defense to tee up on Philip Rivers as San Diego should struggle to move the ball on the ground. While Rivers has eight consecutive games with multiple pass TDs, he's thrown 15 interceptions over the past half-season as well.

Editor's note: DraftKings is running a $3 Week 17 contest with $50,000 paid to 1st place and is FREE for new depositors. Enter here.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers -3.5 over Carolina Panthers (3 Units)

While the calendar has technically turned to 2017, the Panthers are ready to put this (last) year behind them and begin their offseason. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers will try to close the season out with a bang even if their playoff hopes require a near miracle. If the Bucs win this game, it will be their first winning season since LeGarrette Blount reached the 1,000-yard milestone for them as a rookie in 2010. Given how their seasons have gone, I expect the Bucs to take care of business at home on Sunday and enter the offseason with some positive momentum.

Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions, Over 50.0 (3 Units)

It's a win-and-in regular-season finale for the Packers and Lions. Ultimately, I expect the Packers to win this game, but I think both offenses will be able to move the ball. In their Week 3 matchup at Lambeau, these two teams combined for 61 points as Green Bay won that game, 34-27.

Despite any early-season questions about the offense, Aaron Rodgers is playing MVP-caliber football and Green Bay has scored 30-plus points in three consecutive games. Over his past six games, Rodgers has completed nearly 70 percent of his pass attempts for 8.5 Y/A with 14 (passing) touchdowns and no interceptions.

Earlier this season, Matthew Stafford threw for 385 yards and three touchdowns against Green Bay, who has allowed a league-high 8.0 Y/A this season. And only the Browns have surrendered more passing touchdowns than the Packers (30).

Arizona Cardinals -6.5 over Los Angeles Rams (2 Units)

While the Rams have moved on from Jeff Fisher, he was right about this team not going 7-9. A surprising 3-1 start has been followed up by 10 losses in 11 games.

This game features a second-year running back that would be in the MVP mix if it weren't for a poor team record. Of course, I'm not referring to Todd Gurley, the 10th-overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Instead, I'm talking about David Johnson, who has reached the 100-yard mark in all 15 games this season. (As a comparison, Gurley has yet to reach 100 yards in any game this year.)

Clearly, it's been a disappointing season for the Cardinals, who were a game away from the Super Bowl last year. And even though a win over Los Angeles may be a small consolation prize, it would allow the Cardinals to go into the offseason on a positive note.

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Week 17 NFL Picks Against the Spread (Trifone)

Every week, four of our contributors pick between two and five games each and assign a number of units (one to five) to their selection based on their confidence in the pick.

With that said, here are my Week 17 NFL picks against the spread:

Chicago Bears +6.5 over Minnesota Vikings (5 Units)

In a meaningless game from a playoff perspective, both teams will still have individuals looking to show off talent. The Bears have been surprisingly competitive of late while the Vikings have been a pretty big disappointment. An outright Chicago win would not surprise me so I'll definitely take the points.

Editor's note: DraftKings is running a $3 Week 17 contest with $50,000 paid to 1st place and is FREE for new depositors. Enter here.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers -3.5 over Carolina Panthers (4 Units)

Cam Newton will probably play, at least some in this game. But the Panthers look like a team ready for next year. After a 15-1 Super Bowl season last year, I don't think they much care if they finish 7-9 or 6-10 at this point. The Bucs need a miracle to get into the playoffs but I think they look to finish the season strong at home and I like them to take care of business this week.

New Orleans Saints +8 over Atlanta Falcons (5 Units)

While this game has no playoff implications for the Saints, they still have some individual numbers to hit, and I expect all the starters to play. It's still a division game and the Saints can still play the role of spoiler for the Falcons seeding. I like a shootout, and eight points just seems like too much to me. I'll take the Saints here.

Seattle Seahawks -9 over San Francisco 49ers (3 Units)

The Seahawks still have a chance to finish as the two seed, and home-field advantage may not mean more to any other team. The 49ers have been bad all year, and it anything, a loss may help them get the first pick in the draft, depending on the outcome of the Browns game. I like Seattle to roll and cover the nine.

Denver Broncos -1.5 over Oakland Raiders (4 Units)

I just don't think you can lose your quarterback having an MVP-caliber season and pick up where you left off. Both Trevor Semien and Paxton Lynch will get some run this game and both will be looking to prove they belong as an NFL starter. I'll take Denver to win this one.

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December 31, 2016

Week 17 NFL Picks Against the Spread (Yanotchko)

Every week, four of our contributors pick between two and five games each and assign a number of units (one to five) to their selection based on their confidence in the pick.

With that said, here are my Week 17 NFL picks against the spread:

Miami Dolphins +9.5 over New England Patriots (4 Units)

Happy New Year to all, and as always, Week 17 gives us divisional matchups, but most of the playoff questions have already been answered. The Patriots will either be the No. 1 or 2 seed, so I really think with Tom Brady and Malcolm Mitchell hobbled, you will see the starters exit the game in the 3rd quarter. The Dolphins have been the Patriots kryptonite at home, as the Patriots are 0-4 against the number in their last four trips to Miami. I think the Patriots will win this game, but winning by 9.5 will be a tall order on the road.

Editor's note: DraftKings is running a $3 Week 17 contest with $50,000 paid to 1st place and is FREE for new depositors. Enter here.

Denver Broncos -1.5 over Oakland Raiders (5 Units)

This is a series that the Raiders have had the best of in the last few years, but I think Denver will rise up and play this one hard for pride. The Raiders were dealt a stunning loss in losing quarterback Derek Carr to a broken leg last week. The Raiders will enter this game with backup Matt McGloin facing the league's best passing defense that only gives up 187 yards per game. The Broncos have also been great against the number in recent history as well, as they have gone 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. The Broncos will load up the box, so they won't be gashed as bad as they were by the Raiders earlier this year, and I will give the points here.

Detroit Lions +3.5 over Green Bay Packers (3 Units)

This is definitely the marquee game of the week, as the winner guarantees their ticket to the playoffs. The Packers have been on a roll as of late, and Aaron Rodgers is just one game shy of his prediction to run the table. I really like the Lions at home though, due to the fact that they get a Packers passing defense that gives up 265 yards passing per game, and 30 touchdowns on the year. Both of these defenses will have problems stopping the pass, and I have a feeling that the last team to get the ball will win this game. As a berth in the postseason is on the line, I suspect this one will be close, and give me the home 'dog here, even though I think Green Bay will win.

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Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS): DraftKings Tournament "Draft" for Week 17

Sean Beazley and I collaborated recently on putting together a tournament lineup for DraftKings main slate (Sunday games only) of Week 17 games.

Essentially, it was a draft with each of us alternating picks for the lineup. Sean had the first and odd-numbered picks; I had the second and even-numbered picks.

Below we will include analysis of each pick, but here is how the final roster shaped up:

QB - Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (vs. GB), $6,000
RB - Thomas Rawls, Seattle Seahawks (at SF), $5,800
RB - Jacquizz Rodgers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. CAR), $4,900
WR - Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks (at SF), $7,200
WR - Golden Tate, Detroit Lions (vs. GB), $6,600
WR - Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers (at DET), $5,700
TE - Jared Cook, Green Bay Packers (at DET), $3,100
FLEX - Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons (vs. NO), $8,400
DST - New York Jets (vs. BUF), $2,300

Below are the players in the order they were "drafted" (with comments by boths us):

1. Sean - Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks ($7,200): The Seahawks have one of the easiest matchups on the slate with a game vs. the 49ers. The Seahawks are one of the playoff teams with something to play for. With Tyler Lockett out for the rest of the year, Baldwin should get peppered with targets. He is very likely to be one of the highest-owned WRs this week, but I think he could 4-5x his price. I will have at least 30% exposure this week.

Comments by Kevin: Baldwin exploded for 13/171/1 on 19 targets against the Cardinals in Week 16. While he may not match last week's career-best numbers, the matchup against the 49ers is about as good as it gets and Baldwin had a nearly identical line (8/164/1) the first time he faced the Niners this season. In a week full of many meaningless games, the Seahawks can earn a first-round bye with a win and Falcons loss.

Editor's note: DraftKings is running a $3 Week 17 contest with $50,000 paid to 1st place and is FREE for new depositors. Enter here.

2. Kevin - Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($4,900): One of my favorite plays of the week, as noted in our Week 17 DFS Roundtable post, Rodgers is set up for a massive workload. Not only is Doug Martin (four-game suspension) out again, but Charles Sims was placed on IR this week. Earlier in the year, Rodgers had 35 touches against the Panthers when both Martin and Sims were out. While I don't expect 35 touches, it's possible that 'Quizz sees in the neighborhood of 25 touches as home favorites and one of seven teams projected to score 25-plus points based on implied totals from Vegas odds.

Comments by Sean: When Doug Martin and Charles Sims were out earlier this year, we saw Rodgers get around 30 touches per game. Carolina has absolutely nothing to play for here, and while the Bucs are pretty much drawing dead, they do have a shot so they will be all over this one. Rodgers, like Baldwin, will be popular I believe, but he should pay off his price given the volume.

3. Sean - Matthew Stafford, QB, Detroit Lions ($6,000): The Lions/Packers game is the chalk game to stack this week. It's a winner-take-all, and it's the prime time hammer. Taking Stafford over Aaron Rodgers gets you almost $2K of savings, which I think is significant given I think each QB has the same ceiling.

Comments by Kevin: Playing in the final game of the week (and regular season), Stafford and the Lions are small home underdogs against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in a win-and-in matchup. Speaking of matchups, it's good for Stafford as the Packers have allowed an NFL-high 8.0 yards per pass attempt and only the Browns (33) have allowed more passing touchdowns than the Packers (30). Earlier this season, Stafford threw for 385 yards and three touchdowns against Green Bay.

4. Kevin - Golden Tate, WR, Detroit Lions ($6,600): With a minimum of five catches in nine of his past 10 games, Tate has averaged 6.8/86.6 on 9.4 targets per game over that stretch. Not only should he see steady volume in a fantasy-friendly matchup (only Titans allow more DK points to opposing WRs) with plenty of real football significance, but he has shown upside with four top-five PPR finishes during that 10-game span.

Comments by Sean: If I am playing Stafford, I am definitely pairing him with Tate. Tate has had double-digit targets in three of his last four. It wouldn't surprise me here to see Tate flirt with 10+ receptions in this one especially if the Lions are playing from behind. My only fear here is the Lions get ahead and control the clock like they did vs. the Saints earlier this year. I won't have all my eggs into this game like I did that one.

5. Sean - Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay Packers ($5,700): Jordy Nelson will likely be the highest-owned WR of the week. He is off a monster game so you have the recency bias, plus he is in a killer spot vs. the Lions. Jordy should see a majority of Darius Slay which is why I am going heavy Adams. Slay isn't a shut-down corner by any means, but Rodgers isn't afraid to spread the ball around. Adams has 30-point upside and should be 15-20% less owned than Jordy.

Comments by Kevin: With more from the running game these days, Adams now has six consecutive games with five or fewer receptions. That said, Adams has four 100-yard games in his past 10 and a total of 10 scores this season. Given how often Aaron Rodgers looks his way in the red zone, Adams has enormous upside and should be much less-owned than Jordy this week.

6. Kevin - Thomas Rawls, RB, Seattle Seahawks ($5,800): If you started Rawls in DFS or season-long leagues last week, he let you down even before he departed with a shoulder injury. Rawls will be good to go in Week 17 and the matchup means that Rawls could turn even a reduced workload into 100 yards and a score or two. Rawls didn't play in the first matchup, but Christine Michael had 20/106/2 in that game for the Seahawks. Unless you're Todd Gurley, who doesn't run for 100 yards against the 49ers? The only concern here is a potential blowout early or the Falcons establish a big lead early over the Saints. Either scenario could keep Rawls on the sidelines in the third and/or fourth quarters.

Comments by Sean: I got burned by Rawls last week big time. I had a couple of lineups in the 190 range with Rawls as my lone bust. I am not afraid to go back to the well here. The 49ers get destroyed in every aspect of the game. The Seahawks should cruise in this one which should lead to plenty of Rawls touches late.

7. Sean - Jared Cook, TE, Green Bay Packers ($3,100): I think the TE lock of the week will be Travis Kelce. Kelce has dominated the position this season. Given our team is pretty much chalk spots/players, I am going a little off the board here with Cook. Pairing Adams/Cook and fading Jordy could be extremely profitable if Rodgers has a big game. The Lions have been better vs. TE lately, but at one point this year you were just locking in opposing TEs vs. them.

Comments by Kevin: Cook is the boom-or-bust type play that makes sense for GPPs. Typically I roster him in his "bust" weeks, however, so I typically have limited exposure. Given the matchup, this has the potential to be one of his "boom" weeks.

8. Kevin - Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons ($8,400): Active after a two-game absence, Jones had a mediocre 4/60 on seven targets in a 17-point win last week. Putting in a full practice on Friday, Jones should be more involved in a potential shootout against Drew Brees and the Saints. No team is projected to score more points this week than the Falcons and Jones has GPP-winning upside when healthy.

Comments by Sean: Another player that burned me last week was Jones. For whatever reason, the Falcons just don't look to Julio in the red zone, which means his production is basically reliant on long pass plays. Atlanta still has a shot at the No. 2 seed so It's pedal to the medal for the Falcons. I think the Ryan/Julio stack will be very low-owned even with a great matchup vs. the Saints.

9. Kevin - New York Jets DST ($2,300): The Jets have been a massive disappointment this season, but there is reason for some Week 17 optimism. That reason, of course, is E.J. Manuel. With Tyrod Taylor on the bench, the Bills will roll out the former first-round bust out of Florida State on Sunday. At their price point, I'm willing to roll the dice on the Jets defense this week.

Comments by Sean: There are a lot of defenses I like this week. One of those defenses for GPPs is the Jets. You get them at 1K savings off the rest of the ones I like, and they get a good matchup vs. E.J. Manuel, who will probably be rusty. This is a GPP play only as the Jets have been destroyed in recent weeks.

Week 17 Fantasy Football Rankings:

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December 29, 2016

DFS Roundtable: Favorite DraftKings Plays for Week 17

Every week of the 2016 NFL season, our contributors will provide their favorite DraftKings play of the week and share their thoughts in our weekly DFS Round Table post.

In some cases, the play is intended for tournaments (i.e., Guaranteed Prize Pools or GPPs); in other cases, it's for cash games (e.g., head-to-heads and 50-50's). Or both.

Who is your favorite DraftKings play for Week 17?

Kevin Hanson: Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Carolina Panthers ($4,900)

The great (and not-so-great) thing about Week 17 is that it's more difficult to figure out than any other week on the year. That said, there should be an abundance of value plays by the time Sunday rolls around. During other weeks, there are some value plays become extremely chalky.

Following a surprise inactive status for Doug Martin, Rodgers led the team in both usage and production -- 15/63/1 rushing and 2/15 receiving -- in Week 16. With Martin now suspended four games and set to be inactive on game day, Rodgers will dominate early-down work with Charles Sims assuming a change-of-pace role.

Not only are the Bucs six-point home favorites this weekend, but only the Falcons and Patriots are projected to score more points based on implied totals using Vegas odds. Rodgers won't get the 35 touches he had in his first matchup against the Panthers in Week 5 (with Martin/Sims out), but I could see 20-plus touches this week.

Editor's note: DraftKings is running a $3 Week 17 contest with $50,000 paid to 1st place and is FREE for new depositors. Enter here.

Sean Beazley: DeAngelo Williams, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers ($5,500) and DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans ($6,500)

Week 17 is a tricky week to play because of all the meaningless games for playoff teams. It is important to keep track of all the news before 1 PM. These picks are purely speculation at this point, because they are from two playoff teams who have nothing to gain from a win on Sunday.

DeAngelo Williams ($5,500) -- Mike Tomlin has said that Le'Veon Bell is a candidate for rest on Sunday, and it makes complete sense to me that he sits. We just saw the Raiders Super Bowl dreams crumble last week when Derek Carr broke his leg. An injury to Bell would clearly hurt the Steelers chances to push forward in the playoffs.

We have seen what DeAngelo has done in the past as the lead back. He gets a dream matchup at home against our favorite punching bag defense, the Cleveland Browns. If Bell is out Sunday, I will be locking DeAngelo in on nearly 100 percent of my tournament teams. His price is far too low to what we can expect him to score.

DeAndre Hopkins ($6,500) -- Had Randy Bullock made that kick Sunday night, I would have been 100% Hopkins this week in a winner-take-all matchup vs. the Titans. The Texans have the division wrapped up, so I do think there will be some key players resting like Lamar Miller. I do think Nuk plays though, because the Texans really need to get this passing attack figured out before the playoffs start. This is the perfect spot to iron out the kinks versus the Titans, who get torched by opposing WRs.

John Trifone: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers ($7,700)

Week 17 has a lot of uncertainty right now. We're still waiting to find out who exactly will be resting, who will be taking a look at rookies, who may start the game but not finish, etc. Some we know, much we will find out later in the week. At this point, I think Aaron Rodgers is as safe a bet to give you a great floor and high ceiling. He's expensive, but you know what you're getting with Rodgers and the Green Bay offense. They need to win at Detroit to clinch the division, and the Lions pass defense has been the worst or among the worst most of the year. I think Rodgers is worth the hefty price tag this week.

Dan Yanotchko: Golden Tate, WR, Detroit Lions ($6,600)

This week you have to take guys that have something to play for, so I like Golden Tate of the Lions. He has a great last-four split with 378 yards on 34 receptions on 40 targets. The Packers give up a ton of passing yards per game with 265 and 30 touchdowns to boot. I look for a shootout in the dome, with the winner going to the playoffs.

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December 24, 2016

Week 16 NFL Picks Against the Spread (Hanson)

Every week, four of our contributors pick between two and five games each and assign a number of units (one to five) to their selection based on their confidence in the pick.

With that said, here are my Week 16 NFL picks against the spread:

Green Bay Packers -7 over Minnesota Vikings (4 Units)

One of the hotter teams in the NFL at the moment, Aaron Rodgers has played himself into MVP discussion. Historically, Rodgers has been dominant at home in December. In his past 12 December home games, the Packers are 12-0 and Rodgers has compiled a 30:2 TD-INT ratio in those games.

Meanwhile, Ty Montgomery has given them production on the ground as he's coming off a 16/162/2 performance in Week 15. The Vikings defense has been less stellar more recently as they have allowed 4.52 yards per carry (eighth-most in the NFL) from Weeks 8 to 15 after holding their opponents to just 3.74 YPC (26th) in Weeks 1 to 7.

Minnesota's offense has had their challenges as well and Adrian Peterson won't play this week after returning to the field in Week 15. With the ability to control their own destiny if they win out, I like Rodgers and the Packers at Lambeau to take care of business.

Editor's note: DraftKings is running a $3 Week 16 contest with $50,000 paid to 1st place and is FREE for new depositors. Enter here.

New York Jets +17 over New England Patriots (2 Units)

Clearly the Patriots are better than the Jets. A LOT better than the Jets. And this game could easily turn into a blowout. That said, 17 points to any team is a lot. Even though I expect the Patriots to win easily, I think the Jets get the cover.

Pittsburgh Steelers -6 over Baltimore Ravens (3 Units)

One of the better modern-day rivalries, this is typically a hard-fought battle. Given how Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers play at home (vs. the road), I think the Steelers are able to score a lot of points in this one. On the other hand, the Ravens have a lot of question marks outside of their elite run defense. That said, Le'Veon Bell is outstanding as a receiver out of the backfield so even if he's slowed somewhat as a runner, he should have a major impact as a receiver.

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Week 16 NFL Picks Against the Spread (Yanotchko)

Every week, four of our contributors pick between two and five games each and assign a number of units (one to five) to their selection based on their confidence in the pick.

With that said, here are my Week 16 NFL picks against the spread:

San Diego Chargers -4.5 over Cleveland Browns (4 Units)

I think this one is almost too good to be true, but looking at this Cleveland defense I can't justify them hanging close with the Chargers. The Browns have been historically bad this year, and this is probably their best shot to win a game as they have Pittsburgh to finish up the season. The Browns just can't stop anyone as they allow 155 yards rushing per game and 4.8 yards per carry, and they allow opposing passers 245 yards per game and 31 touchdowns. I just think the Chargers have too much for them, and also RG3 looked really bad in his return. I just don't think the Browns will win a game all year, and San Diego should easily win big here.

Editor's note: DraftKings is running a $3 Week 16 contest with $50,000 paid to 1st place and is FREE for new depositors. Enter here.

Los Angeles Rams -4.5 over San Francisco 49ers (3 Units)

I know the history trend is always to take the 49ers anytime they are playing the Rams, but this week for the Rams at home will be different, as the 49ers are playing some really awful ball right now. The 49ers have one of the worst rushing defenses in memory, as they allow 176 yards rushing per game, and also 5.0 yards per carry. I think the Rams game plan will be to run Todd Gurley about 600 times this game, as they might not even let Jared Goff attempt a pass. I also like the ability of the Rams front four to get pressure on Colin Kaepernick, and they will be able to bottle up Carlos Hyde. In a game that is unwatchable, I like for Gurley to have his breakout game for the fantasy championships.

Detroit Lions +6 over Detroit Lions (4 Units)

I think this game is pretty simple, as Dallas has nothing to play for, and the Lions have everything to play for. The Cowboys have home field throughout the playoffs sewn up, and I think this will be a rotation game where Ezekiel Elliot will see a lot less touches. The Lions have traditionally had good luck against the Cowboys, as they have gone 4-1 against the spread in their last five. The main reason I like Detroit, is that they can attack a weak Dallas pass defense that allows 265 yards passing per game, a 68% completion percentage, and 23 passing touchdowns on the year. We all know the Lions are the king of the comeback this year, and they will certainly be within a touchdown of the Cowboys.

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Week 16 NFL Picks Against the Spread (Beazley)

Every week, four of our contributors pick between two and five games each and assign a number of units (one to five) to their selection based on their confidence in the pick.

With that said, here are my Week 16 NFL picks against the spread:

Pittsburgh Steelers -6 over Baltimore Ravens (5 Units)

Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown at home? Yes please! The Ravens defense is good, but Ben rolls at home. This game is for the AFC North crown, and I think the Steelers lay the smack down on the Ravens. Ben has a four-TD game in the win. Steelers 37, Ravens 20.

Editor's note: DraftKings is running a $3 Week 16 contest with $50,000 paid to 1st place and is FREE for new depositors. Enter here.

New Orleans Saints -3 over Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5 Units), Over 52.0 (4 units)

I'll take Drew Brees and the Saints at home vs. the Bucs in this one. I believe Brees and the Saints offense has a monster game. I like the over in this one as well. I like the Bucs to keep pace. I like Mike Evans/Cameron Brate for DFS. Saints 37, Bucs 30.

Houston Texans -1.5 over Cincinnati Bengals (5 Units)

Houston technically doesn't need a win here to win the division, but a win gives them some outs just in case they lose to Tennessee next week. I like that Tom Savage is starting this week and I think he gets DeAndre Hopkins the ball a lot. The Bengals have nothing to play for at this point but possibly Marvin Lewis’s job. I think they fall short here. Texans 24, Bengals 21.

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Week 16 NFL Picks Against the Spread (Trifone)

Every week, four of our contributors pick between two and five games each and assign a number of units (one to five) to their selection based on their confidence in the pick.

With that said, here are my Week 16 NFL picks against the spread:

Washington Redskins -3 over Chicago Bears (4 Units)

The Redskins had an opportunity this past weekend at home vs. Carolina that they let slip away. I don't think that happens again this weekend as they travel to Chicago. I like Kirk Cousins to have a big game and Washington to win this one pretty handily.

Editor's note: DraftKings is running a $3 Week 16 contest with $50,000 paid to 1st place and is FREE for new depositors. Enter here.

Carolina Panthers +3 over Atlanta Falcons (4 Units)

The Falcons are clearly better than I've given them credit for all year, but I think they get beat by the Panthers on the road this week. Carolina has blown a lot of games late this year but are clearly better than their record would indicate. I think they play well again this week against their division rival and finish the season strong.

Minnesota Vikings +7 over Green Bay Packers (4 Units)

The Packers have been awesome of late, and Aaron Rodgers has been terrific. They have gotten back into the division hunt and now control their own destiny to win the NFC North, which I think they'll do. Minnesota has fallen off, but they will be looking to bounce back from an absolutely embarrassing loss to the Colts at home last week. Packers win the game but seven is too many points.

Indianapolis Colts +3.5 over Oakland Raiders (5 Units)

The Colts are coming off one of their best games of the year, going into Minnesota and winning easily. Cold December weather may slow down Andrew Luck and the Colt offense at some point, but that won't be the case this week in Oakland. Two high-powered offenses should give us a high-scoring affair here. I'll take the Colts with the outright upset so I'll take the 3.5.

New York Jets +17 over New England Patriots (4 Units)

This is just way too big of a spread. The perception of the Jets is just so low, but they still have guys looking to make a roster next year and they're not just going to roll over against the Patriots. This game is the last real meaningful game they will play this season because it's against their hated rival. The Patriots should win easily, but too many ways this one plays out that end within 17 points. I like the Jets side.

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Week 16 Fantasy Football: Quarterbacks Start'em, Sit'em

Ultimately, the decision of which player to start is largely determined by the composition of your roster (as well as your league's settings).

As an example, Philip Rivers is listed below as a "start" for Week 16. And I'd feel comfortable going into Week 16 with him as my starting quarterback.

That said, he may be a sit for your team.

In other words, if you owned both Tom Brady and Rivers, you should start Brady -- and in turn, bench Rivers.

So while you won't find absolute start-sit recommendations below (use my Week 16 Fantasy Football Rankings for that instead), the goal here is to highlight some players that I like (and would feel comfortable starting) as well as some players that I dislike for this week (and would prefer to keep on my bench).

Week 16 Fantasy Football QB Start'em

QB - Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers (at CLE)

Reaching the 300-yard mark in only one of his past seven games, Rivers has also failed to finish as a top-12 weekly quarterback in nine consecutive games. And while he has thrown multiple touchdowns in seven straight with a total of 16 during that span, he has also been a turnover machine with 14 interceptions in those seven games.

There is reason for optimism in Championship Week, however, as Rivers and the Chargers head to Cleveland to face the winless Browns. Not only have the Browns allowed the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this year, but no team has allowed multiple passing touchdowns in more games this season than Cleveland (11).

QB - Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders (vs. IND)

With back-to-back disappointing performances, Carr completed just 17-of-41 for 117 yards and no touchdowns in Week 14 and 19-of-30 for 213 yards and a score in Week 15. In what is expected to be a shootout against Andrew Luck and the Colts, Carr should have a have a bounce-back performance in Week 16. In fact, the Raiders are projected to score the second-most points this week based on implied totals from Vegas odds.

Meanwhile, the Colts have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. And that's after allowing just one passing touchdown to five passes intercepted over their past three games. Of course, that dominance is primarily due to the matchups against the likes of Bryce Petty, Brock Osweiler and Sam Bradford.

Editor's note: DraftKings is running a $3 Week 16 contest with $50,000 paid to 1st place and is FREE for new depositors. Enter here.

QB - Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins (at CHI)

Second in the NFL to only Drew Brees, Cousins is averaging 311.4 passing yards per game and has seven 300-yard games this season. With the exception of Week 5 against the Ravens, Cousins has either thrown for 300-plus yards and/or accounted for multiple touchdowns. Due to that consistency, Cousins has finished as a top-12 weekly fantasy quarterback in seven of his past eight games.

Week 16 Fantasy Football QB Sit'em

QB - Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals (at SEA)

The good news is that Palmer has thrown for 300-plus yards in two of his past three games and multiple touchdowns in five consecutive games. In fact, he has finished as a top-three weekly quarterback in both of those 300-yard games.

That said, Palmer and the Cardinals head to Seattle this week to take on the Seahawks, who have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. Even without Earl Thomas, it's a difficult matchup, especially on the road at CenturyLink. In fact, only the Jets and Broncos are projected to score fewer points this week than the Cardinals.

QB - Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals (at HOU)

The good news is that Dalton gets back A.J. Green this week. The bad news is that it is unclear what we should expect from AJG and Dalton will miss Tyler Eifert, one of the league's best tight ends and red-zone weapons. In addition, the Texans have allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to the position, which makes Dalton a poor streaming option this week.

QB - Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (at DAL)

Scoring the eighth-most fantasy points through Week 15, Stafford has been up-and-down this season. While Stafford has seven top-10 weekly performances, he has also finished as the QB20 or worse in five games this season including three of his past five. During that five-game span, Stafford has thrown for multiple touchdowns in just one game with a total of only four passing touchdowns over that stretch. Only five teams are projected to score fewer points than the Lions this week.

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Week 16 Fantasy Football: Running Backs Start'em, Sit'em

Ultimately, the decision of which player to start is largely determined by the composition of your roster (as well as your league's settings).

As an example, Bilal Powell is listed below as a "start" for Week 16. And I'd feel comfortable going into Week 16 with him as one of my starting running backs.

That said, he may be a sit for your team.

In other words, if you owned DeMarco Murray, Le'Veon Bell and Powell and can only start two running backs, you should start Bell and Murray -- and in turn, bench Powell.

So while you won't find absolute start-sit recommendations below (use my Week 16 Fantasy Football Rankings for that instead), the goal here is to highlight some players that I like (and would feel comfortable starting) as well as some players that I dislike for this week (and would prefer to keep on my bench).

Week 16 Fantasy Football RB Start'em

RB - Todd Gurley, Los Angeles Rams (vs. SF)

A few players -- DeAndre Hopkins, Allen Robinson, etc. -- could earn the dubious honor as well, but Gurley has arguably been the biggest first-round fantasy football bust of the 2016 season.

Despite the high cost on draft day, there has been little to show for it. With double-digit fantasy points in only four of 14 games, Gurley has yet to exceed 85 rushing yards any week and has averaged just 55.6 per game on the season.

If you somehow advanced to Week 16 with Gurley as your first-round pick, the good news is that he could finally deliver for his owners with a soft matchup against the 49ers. San Francisco has allowed the most fantasy points to the position and 5.11 yards per carry and 22 touchdowns to the position, both of which are league highs.

Even worse (or better from Gurley's standpoint), the 49ers have allowed a 100-yard rusher in 11 of their past 13 games. Stated differently, the 49ers have allowed 12.94 percent (11 of 85) of the 100-yard rushing games this season.

Editor's note: DraftKings is running a $3 Week 16 contest with $50,000 paid to 1st place and is FREE for new depositors. Enter here.

RB - Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears (vs. WAS)

In a season where little has gone right for the Bears, Howard has been a bright spot. Heading into Championship Week, the ex-Hoosier has racked up the seventh-most yards from scrimmage (1,348) and has been even better more recently.

Since Week 8, Howard has a minimum of 15 touches and 99 YFS in seven straight games. During that seven-game span, Howard ranks fourth in the NFL in touches (152) and YFS (868).

Granted, the Bears are home underdogs this week, but Howard has a plus matchup. Washington has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. In addition, only three teams have allowed more yards per carry (4.52) and combined touchdowns (18) to running backs this season.

RB - Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders (vs. IND)

In the 12 games he has played, Murray has finished outside the top-30 fantasy running backs in only one game (RB52 in Week 4 at Baltimore). So, in other words, Murray has a minimum of seven fantasy points in 11 of 12 games this season.

Finishing as the RB30 last week, Murray should bounce back in a plus matchup against the Colts. Not only have the Colts allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, but only the Patriots are projected to score more points this week than the Raiders. It wouldn't surprise me if Murray, who has averaged a rushing score per game this season, found the end zone once again.

RB - Bilal Powell, New York Jets (at NE)

With Matt Forte (knee) active last week, Powell once again dominated touches. In his past two games, Powell now has 61 total touches -- 45/229/2 rushing and 16/112 receiving.

Even though the Jets are 17-point underdogs and projected to be the lowest-scoring team of the week, according to implied totals from Vegas odds, Powell should be heavily involved in the passing game and get 20-plus touches once again as Forte is listed as doubtful for Saturday's game.

Week 16 Fantasy Football RB Sit'em

RB - Terrance West, Baltimore Ravens (at PIT)

One week after carrying it twice for just two yards, West erupted for 77 yards on 13 carries and added four catches for 45 yards against the Eagles in Week 15. The 122 yards from scrimmage and 17 touches were five-week highs.

It's possible that he has another productive game, but it's difficult to know whether West or Kenneth Dixon will get the larger share of the workload and we've seen the Ravens abandon the run even in games where they are successfully running the ball. Therefore, West and Dixon are both flex options as opposed to RB2 starts.

RB - Tevin Coleman, Atlanta Falcons (vs. CAR)

Since returning from injury, Coleman has scored three touchdowns in four games. That said, he has averaged just 3.62 yards per carry and 5.2 yards per reception over that four-game span. Meanwhile, the Panthers have allowed the third-lowest yards per carry (3.58) to opposing running backs this season and Coleman had just 19 yards on eight carries earlier this season against Carolina.

RB - Devontae Booker, Denver Broncos (at KC)

In two games with the Broncos, Justin Forsett has nine and 14 touches, respectively. Meanwhile, Booker has just five and eight touches in those same games and has failed to finish as a top-50 fantasy running back in both games. Before Forsett was signed, Booker had averaged 20.5 touches over a six-game span including 25 the first time against the Chiefs. Forsett is a solid flex option and Booker is completely off the fantasy radar.

- More Fantasy Football Start'em, Sit'em for Week 16

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Most-Accurate 2015 NFL Mock Draft
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> Hanson's early 2016 NFL Mock Draft






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