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December 28, 2014

Week 17 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Hanson

With 16 weeks in the books and only 16 (regular-season) games to go, it's sad that the 2014 NFL season is about to end.

It's been a solid year in terms of my picks against the spread (ATS) record this season (30-22, 57.7 percent, +19 units). Since these picks are purely for entertainment purposes, I hope that you have been thoroughly "entertained."

Either way, I'd like to thank you for paying attention to my picks and wish everyone reading this week a happy, healthy and prosperous (entertaining) 2015.

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

Minnesota Vikings -6 over Chicago Bears (3 units)

When it comes to Week 17 in the NFL, motivation is a key factor in trying to predict outcomes. While neither of these two teams will be playing January football, the Bears seem as ready as any team in the league for the season to end. Whether Jay Cutler, who will get another start, Marc Trestman or Phil Emery will be around in 2015 remains to be seen, the Vikings are putting together some momentum for 2015 under first-year head coach Mike Zimmer and rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

Over their four-game losing streak, the Bears have allowed an average of 31.5 points per game, which is even worse than their league-worst 28.6 PPG allowed over the full season. Their pass defense has been especially bad as they allowed 269.3 yards per game through the air -- only Atlanta allows more -- and a league-high 33 passing touchdowns.

Bridgewater may have modest full-season stats, but he has strung together a strong four-game stretch. During that span, he has completed more than 70 percent of his pass attempts every week, has a couple of 300-yard games and he has now thrown multiple touchdowns in four of his past five games.

Since October 19th, the Vikings are 4-5 but four of those five losses have been by three points or less and the one exception was coincidentally an eight-point loss to the Bears in Chicago. I expect the Vikings to continue to build some positive momentum for next year in front of their home crowd as the Bears continue the vacation they started a month ago.

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Green Bay Packers -7.5 over Detroit Lions (3 units)

One of the more interesting stats is Matthew Stafford's record on the road against teams that finish the season with a winning record. In those games, Stafford has compiled 0-16 record. To be fair, it's tough to win on the road against good (above-.500) teams for anyone. But 0-for-16 ...

In order to buck that trend, Stafford will have to face the Packers and Aaron Rodgers, who have been dominant at home. Not only is Green Bay perfect (7-0) at Lambeau this season, but Rodgers has a 23:0 TD-to-INT ratio at home (compared to a more human 13:5 on the road). In addition, he's averaging 9.7 yards per attempt at home (vs. 7.3 Y/A on the road).

The Lions have been great on defense this season as they rank second in the league in both scoring defense and total defense -- and it's the first time that they will finish inside the top 10 in either category since 1993. That said, their run defense (first in NFL) is much better than their pass defense (13th).

Eddie Lacy has played great down the stretch -- 670 rushing yards, 26 receptions for 315 yards and a total of nine touchdowns over his past eight games. And while he has given the team's offense the balance over the past two years that it had previously lacked, the offense's strength starts with No. 12.

Here's one more streak of note (although some players in this game weren't even born yet): The last time the Lions won in Green Bay was December 15, 1991 (21-17).

[If the Lions lose and face the Cowboys next week, the most likely playoff scenario, I will be at that game. As a Cowboys' fan, I hope that Stafford's struggles on the road against winning teams will travel with him to his hometown of Dallas next week.]

Pittsburgh Steelers -3.5 over Cincinnati Bengals (3 units)

In the final regular-season game of the week/year, the Steelers will host the Bengals in a game that will determine the winner of the AFC North and which team gets to host a playoff game next week. Perhaps the Bengals have a little extra motivation as they could clinch a first-round bye in the unlikely event that the Broncos lose to the Raiders.

In spite of last week's win over the Broncos on Monday Night Football, the Andy Dalton-led Bengals have far from flourished in these pressure-packed type of games. In front of a national prime time audience, the Bengals have covered only three of their past 16 games going back to 2007. My only real concern with taking Pittsburgh here is the decided advantage that A.J. Green has over any Steelers cornerback as he torched them for a line of 11/224/1 in their first matchup.

That said, the Bengals will have their own challenge in trying to slow down Le'Veon Bell. While he has had two modest performances over the past two weeks, Bell rushed for 185 yards and two touchdowns added six catches for 50 yards and a score in their first matchup, a 21-point Steelers victory.

Ultimately, this pick comes down to trust and I trust Ben Roethlisberger in this spot much more than I do Dalton.

Note: NFL lines are from sportsbook.ag

-> All of our NFL Weekly Picks Against the Spread will be tracked here.

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Week 17 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Beazley

Here are my Week 17 picks against the spread:

Green Bay Packers -7.5 over Detroit Lions (4 units)

Aaron Rodgers and the Pack have struggled the past two weeks on the road, but should get some home cooking this week vs. the Lions. Don't let the Lions defensive numbers scare you. They haven't played a good QB in over a month, and Tom Brady had his way with this Lions secondary. It will cost me a pretty penny, but a Packers stack will be one of my main cash DFS lineups Sunday. Packers rebound at Lambeau, 40-23.

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Houston Texans -9.5 over Jacksonville Jaguars (4 units)

The odds of both San Diego and Baltimore both losing this weekend is pretty slim, but the Texans do have a chance to make the playoffs. It would be a major accomplishment after their dead-last finish last year. I think they should be able to move the ball against the Jags, and J.J. Watt will have another monster game. I'm thinking in the lines of pick-six and three sacks. Houston is one of my favorite DFS defensive plays this weekend as well. Texans, 24-9.

Pittsburgh Steelers -3.5 over Cincinnati Bengals (3 units)

Winner of this one gets a home playoff game and the division title. Let's be honest. Andy Dalton was not the reason why the Bengals had a big win vs. the Broncos last week. It was Peyton Manning's noodle arm in the bad weather. Dalton is not a big-game QB (period!), while Big Ben shines in the big moment. I like the Steelers to take this one at home. Steelers, 27-20.

Carolina Panthers +3.5 over Atlanta Falcons (3 units)

The Panthers defense has only allowed 40 points total over the past three weeks. The Falcons have given up more than double that total (84) and have lost three of five heading down the stretch. I'm a big fan of both Matt Ryan and Julio Jones in the DFS world this week, but I think Ryan chokes late. He is one of those QBs that I just don't think will take his team to the next level. I think the NFC's best TE Greg Olsen is too much for Atlanta as he posts a monster 10/150/3 stat line. Carolina in the upset on the road. Panthers, 30-24.

Note: NFL lines are from sportsbook.ag

-> All of our NFL Weekly Picks Against the Spread will be tracked here.

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Week 17 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Yanotchko

Here are my Week 17 picks against the spread:

Atlanta Falcons -3.5 over Carolina Panthers (4 units)

Yes, neither of these teams can finish with a winning record, but the winner of this game will win the NFC South, and host a first-round playoff game as sad as it seems. I always try to go with games that matter in Week 17, as you never know who may rest starters. I like the Falcons here for a few reasons, as they have history on their side as of late. Carolina has gone 1-5 against the spread in their last six, and Atlanta is 6-3 straight up in their last nine games as well. I also love the Falcons at home in the Georgia Dome, and I think that they will actually use Jacquizz Rodgers and Devonta Freeman (Steven Jackson is likely to sit) against a Panthers rush defense that gives up 115 yards per game and 4.5 yards per carry. I am going to make this one a 4-unit play, as I just don't trust Cam Newton, and that anemic pass rush to get it done on the road.

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Detroit Lions +7.5 over Green Bay Packers (4 units)

This game also has a lot riding on it, as the winner will take the NFC North crown, and also will have the strong potential for a bye week as well as the No. 2 seed (possibly No. 1 if it all falls right). I know the Lions have not won in Green Bay in forever, but I really think that they have the defense that will keep the Packers honest, and certainly within a touchdown. I think the Lions will go heavy with the ground game, and use Joique Bell and Reggie Bush to attack a Packers rush defense that surrenders 120 yards per game and 4.2 yards per carry. I also think the Lions defense will go a long way in hassling Aaron Rodgers, much like the Buffalo BIlls did, as the Lions have compiled some impressive numbers on the year -- 40 sacks and 20 interceptions. I think the Pack will keep the streak alive, but Detroit is certainly in their weight class, and this will be a 4-unit play.

Pittsburgh Steelers -3.5 over Cincinnati Bengals (4 units)

This will be the Sunday night primetime matchup, and of course the winner of this game will take the AFC North, and will also at least host a first-round playoff game. I really don't know what to make of the Bengals, as every time you want to throw dirt on them, they bounce back like they did by beating Denver last week. The Steelers have been quietly plugging along, and they have won four of their last five games while featuring Le'Veon Bell out of the backfield. This is the reason I feel Pittsburgh will win, as I like Bell going up against a team that gives up 122 yards per game, and 4.2 yards per carry. I also like the ability of the Steelers front seven to stifle Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard, as they only give up 99.3 yards per game. I think the Steelers just have too much at home, and it will be yet another Cincy prime time dud, and I'll make this 4 units. Thank you to all the readers for this year!

Note: NFL lines are from sportsbook.ag

-> All of our NFL Weekly Picks Against the Spread will be tracked here.

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Week 17 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Trifone

Here are my Week 17 picks against the spread:

Chicago Bears +6 over Minnesota Vikings (4 units)

I've picked against Chicago for several weeks now, but I actually think they will go out with a win. I expect Jay Cutler to have a good game after the embarrassment of getting benched last week.

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Carolina Panthers +3.5 over Atlanta Falcons (3 units)

The division as a whole has been incredibly inconsistent, but one of these two teams will host a playoff game. The Falcons may pull it out, but I'll take the points in what should be a tight game.

San Diego Chargers -1 over Kansas City Chiefs (5 units)

With Alex Smith out, I don't like Kansas City's chances to win this one. San Diego fought back from 21 down to beat the Niners, and should be able to beat the Chiefs second-string QB.

St. Louis Rams +12 over Seattle Seahawks (3 units)

The Seahawks will likely wrap up home field or a first-round bye, but the Rams play them tough. St. Louis did not play well the last two weeks as a favorite, but have played tough when they're a dog. I think they play their division rival tough this week and cover.

Note: NFL lines are from sportsbook.ag

-> All of our NFL Weekly Picks Against the Spread will be tracked here.

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December 25, 2014

2014 NFL Power Rankings: Week 17

Heading into Week 17, there are three games this Sunday that will directly determine which team wins their division -- and in turn gets to host (at least) a playoff game.

In two of those three games, the loser will still get into the playoffs but face the tougher challenge of having to win on the road. In the other game (Panthers at Falcons), the loser will be watching the playoffs from their homes like the rest of us.

At the moment, the Panthers have a narrow lead in the NFC South, but they will have to go to Atlanta to face the Falcons in what is essentially a playoff game -- win and you're in. (Lose and you're out.)

Following a six-game losing streak, the Panthers have won three consecutive games with quarterback Cam Newton missing the game in the middle. While Derek Anderson played reasonably well in his spot start (and is now a perfect 2-0 against the Bucs this season), Newton has shown the dual-threat abilities that make him tough to defend in the other two games. Not only does he have a 4:1 TD-to-INT ratio in those two games, but he has rushed 24 times for 146 yards and two scores as well.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Stewart has been running the ball extremely well with DeAngelo Williams out of the lineup. Over the past four games, The Daily Show has rushed 78 times for 437 yards (5.60 yards per carry) and a touchdown.

During their three-game winning streak, their defense has held their opponents to an average 13.3 points per game and no more than 17 in any of those three games. Of course, two of those opponents are the low-scoring Buccaneers and Browns, but nonetheless they are playing better defense.

Meanwhile, the Falcons offense has been firing on all cylinders as Matt Ryan has thrown for more than 300 yards in four consecutive games. During that span, he has averaged 342 yards per game with nine touchdowns and three interceptions.

Although Julio Jones missed one of those four games, he has exceeded 100 yards in all three of the other games during that stretch and has 28 catches for 555 yards and two touchdowns in those games.

Over the past five games, the Panthers pass defense has been playing better and no wide receiver has more than 75 yards against them during that span. Coincidentally, the receiver with the 75 yards was Atlanta's Roddy White.

Regardless of who wins this game, the NFC South champion will have an under-.500 record and get to host a playoff game. The other five teams in the NFC playoffs will all have 11 or more wins.

While I think all eight division winners should get into the playoffs regardless of their records, I'd be in favor of seeding the teams based on their records, which would mean the NFC South team would be the No. 6 seed (not the No. 4 seed in this case).

Division, Possible No. 1 seed on line at Lambeau Field

More than likely, the Seattle Seahawks, who are double-digit favorites over the Rams, will own home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. And with the Seahawks playing their best football of the season, winning at Century Link will be an uphill battle for any team.

If the Seahawks lose, however, the winner of this game will be the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs. Either way, the winner will earn a first-round bye. On the flip side, the loser of this game will be the No. 6 seed.

Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers is having an MVP-caliber season and he's playing much better at home. Not only are the Packers are a perfect 7-0 at home, but Rodgers has a perfect 23:0 TD-to-INT at Lambeau this season. Rodgers is also averaging two yards more per attempt at home (9.67 Y/A at home vs. 7.31 Y/A on the road).

With balance on offense, the Packers have two receivers (Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb) with 1,200-plus yards and double-digit touchdowns as well as a 1,000-yard rusher (Eddie Lacy). Over the past eight games, Lacy has 670 rushing yards, 26 receptions for 315 yards and a total of nine touchdowns. In addition, Lacy has 100-plus YFS in all eight of those games. Lacy got off to a slow start this season and rushed for only 36 yards in his first matchup against the Lions in Week 3.

The Lions rank second in the NFL in both total defense and scoring defense and it's the first time they have ranked inside the top 10 in either category since they finished sixth in total defense in 1993.

From December 2000 to October 2013, the Packers have had the Lions' number. During that span, the Lions were 3-23 head-to-head against the Packers. Since then, however, they have won two consecutive games against the Packers by a combined margin of 59-17 although both of those games were in Detroit.

This week, the Lions are more than a touchdown underdog (-7.5) to the Packers, based on odds from sportsbook.ag.

Sunday Night Football for the AFC North Title

Regardless of his lack of success in the postseason, Cincinnati's Andy Dalton will lead the Bengals into the postseason for all four of his NFL seasons. Or maybe it's they advance to the postseason in spite of him.

Over the past four seasons, Dalton has a total of 14,514 passing yards (12th most), 97 touchdowns (11th most) and 64 interceptions (tied for second most).

In back-to-back wins over the Browns and Broncos, rookie running back Jeremy Hill has rushed for 25/148/2 and 22/147/1. Over his past eight games, Hill has four games with at least 147 rushing yards. During that eight-game span, Hill has racked up 829 rushing yards and six rushing scores while averaging 5.56 yards per carry.

On the other side, the Steelers have arguably the league's best running back in second-year back Le'Veon Bell.

Although Bell has rushed 40 times for only 110 yards in his past two games, he scored three touchdowns in those games and has a total of eight scores in the past five games.

On the year, Bell has 282 carries for 1,341 yards and eight touchdowns plus 77 receptions for 774 yards and three scores. Bell's 2,115 yards from scrimmage is a franchise single-season record.

In his first matchup against the Bengals, Bell rushed for 185 yards and two touchdowns and added six catches for 50 yards and another score in a 42-21 win on the road. If Bell has another game like he did three weeks ago, a reversal of fortune for the Bengals would seem unlikely.

Here are my Week 17 NFL power rankings:

1. Seattle Seahawks - Record: 11-4, Last Update: No. 1
2. New England Patriots - Record: 12-3, Last Update: No. 2
3. Green Bay Packers - Record: 11-4, Last Update: No. 4
4. Detroit Lions - Record: 11-4, Last Update: No. 5
5. Denver Broncos - Record: 11-4, Last Update: No. 3
6. Dallas Cowboys - Record: 11-4, Last Update: No. 8
7. Cincinnati Bengals - Record: 10-4-1, Last Update: No. 10
8. Arizona Cardinals - Record: 11-4, Last Update: No. 6
9. Pittsburgh Steelers - Record: 10-5, Last Update: No. 12
10. Indianapolis Colts - Record: 10-5, Last Update: No. 7
11. San Diego Chargers - Record: 9-6, Last Update: No. 16
12. Baltimore Ravens - Record: 9-6, Last Update: No. 11
13. Philadelphia Eagles - Record: 9-6, Last Update: No. 9
14. Kansas City Chiefs - Record: 8-7, Last Update: No. 14
15. Carolina Panthers - Record: 6-8-1, Last Update: No. 20
16. Buffalo Bills - Record: 8-7, Last Update: No. 13
17. Miami Dolphins - Record: 8-7, Last Update: No. 17
18. Atlanta Falcons - Record: 6-9, Last Update: No. 23
19. Houston Texans - Record: 8-7, Last Update: No. 19
20. St. Louis Rams - Record: 6-9, Last Update: No. 18
21. New York Giants - Record: 6-9, Last Update: No. 25
22. New Orleans Saints - Record: 6-9, Last Update: No. 15
23. San Francisco 49ers - Record: 7-8, Last Update: No. 21
24. Cleveland Browns - Record: 7-8, Last Update: No. 22
25. Minnesota Vikings - Record: 6-9, Last Update: No. 24
26. Washington Redskins - Record: 4-11, Last Update: No. 28
27. Chicago Bears - Record: 5-10, Last Update: No. 26
28. Oakland Raiders - Record: 3-12, Last Update: No. 31
29. New York Jets - Record: 3-12, Last Update: No. 27
30. Jacksonville Jaguars - Record: 3-12, Last Update: No. 29
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Record: 2-13, Last Update: No. 30
32. Tennessee Titans - Record: 2-13, Last Update: No. 32

-> Also, check out our weekly 2014-15 NBA Power Rankings

-> Your team out of the playoff hunt? Check out our 2015 NFL Mock Draft.

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December 24, 2014

2015 NFL Mock Draft: Christmas Eve Update

With one week to go in the 2014 NFL regular season, the draft order of my 2015 NFL mock draft is based on the inverse order of current NFL standings. That said, the final 12 picks of the mock draft contain six (current) playoff teams from each conference.

The actual draft order for the first 20 selections of next year's draft will be determined following Week 17 games. For the final 12 picks, however, they will be based on how the 12 playoff teams fare. In other words, the Super Bowl winner will have the 32nd pick, the Super Bowl runner-up will have the 31st pick, et cetera.

With that said, here is my early projection for the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft:

1. Tennessee Titans (Draft History): Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Perhaps the Titans believe that Zach Mettenberger, their sixth-round pick last season, is the quarterback of the future, but their offense struggled to score points this season (16.3 points per game, 30th in the NFL) and it would be hard to imagine the team passing on Mariota or Florida State's Jameis Winston. The reigning Heisman Trophy recipient, Mariota is a talented dual-threat quarterback with off-the-charts intangibles.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Draft History): Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

Given that the team's belief in Josh McCown (or apparent lack of belief in Mike Glennon), the Bucs are likely to go with whichever of the top-two quarterbacks remain on the board at this spot. If it weren't for the off-the-field issues, Winston would likely be the No. 1 overall pick in next year's draft. What makes Winston's poor decisions off the field more of a head-scratcher is the fact that he's a strong leader that makes excellent decisions on the football field. In his two seasons as the team's quarterback, the Seminoles have won 27 consecutive games including last year's national championship.

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3. Jacksonville Jaguars (Draft History): Leonard Williams, DL, USC

The Jaguars could certainly go with a pass rusher like Randy Gregory here, but I think Williams would be in play for this pick as well. With plenty of quickness and strength, Williams, my top-ranked prospect in this year's draft, has the versatility to play a few different spots along the defensive line and there is no such thing as too much defensive line depth.

4. New York Jets (Draft History): Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska

The Jets' defensive line is the team's strength, but both starting outside linebackers (Calvin Pace and Quinton Coples) are due to become free agents after the 2015 season. Plus, Pace will turn 35 years old next October. An explosive and fluid athlete, Gregory has a total of 16.5 sacks over the past two seasons.

5. Oakland Raiders (Draft History): Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

Without much help, rookie Derek Carr has had an impressive first NFL season. Although he has completed only 58.6 percent of his pass attempts for 5.5 yards per attempt, Carr has thrown 20 touchdowns to only 11 interceptions. Over his past three games including wins over the 49ers and Bills, Carr has posted a 6:0 TD-to-INT ratio. That said, the Raiders would be wise to add upgrades to their receiving corps and start the process with this year's Biletnikoff winner.

6. Washington Redskins (Draft History): Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

For the first time since trading with the Rams for the right to select RG3 with the second overall pick, Washington has a first-round pick. (Of course, there is plenty of uncertainly about RG3's status for 2015 and beyond.) That said, only Jacksonville has allowed more sacks this season than Washington.

7. Chicago Bears (Draft History): Landon Collins, S, Alabama

One of the biggest disappointments in the NFL this season, the Bears have plenty of holes to address and could go in a number of different directions. Starting safeties Chris Conte and Ryan Mundy are scheduled for free agency in 2015 and 2016, respectively, and have graded out as the 62nd and 44th (of 86) safeties this season, according to Pro Football Focus.

8. Atlanta Falcons (Draft History): Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri

An explosive edge rusher, Ray has 21.0 tackles for loss, tied for third-most in the nation, and 12.5 sacks this season. One of the biggest areas of weakness for the Falcons has been their pass rush. Only the Bengals (20) have generated fewer sacks this season than the Falcons (21), who had the third-fewest last season as well.

9. Minnesota Vikings (Draft History): Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford

Starting left tackle Matt Kalil has really struggled this season. Among 83 offensive tackles graded by PFF, only Carolina's Byron Bell has received a worse pass-blocking grade than Kalil through Week 16. If the Vikings were to select Peat, they could kick Kalil inside to guard where left guard Charlie Johnson has also struggled.

10. New York Giants (Draft History): Shawn Oakman, DE, Baylor

After struggling to get to the passer in 2013, the Giants rank fourth in the league sacks this year behind Jason Pierre-Paul's bounce-back season. Not only does JPP have 10.5 sacks on the year, but he has seven of those sacks in the past four games. Pierre-Paul is due to become an unrestricted free agent in March, however. Despite his size (6-9, 280), Oakman possesses rare athleticism and an explosive first step.

11. New Orleans Saints (Draft History): Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

In a disappointing season for the Saints, much of the blame can be placed on the defense. New Orleans ranked 29th in scoring defense (26.9 points per game allowed) and 31st in total defense (390.9 yards per game allowed). With just 31 sacks (only seven teams have fewer), adding an explosive pass-rusher like Beasley would make sense for the Saints. Following up a season with 13.0 sacks and 23.0 tackles for loss last year, Beasley has 11.0 sacks and 18.5 TFL this season.

12. St. Louis Rams (Draft History): Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington

Of the 39 4-3 outside linebackers graded by PFF this season, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, a free agent after the 2015 season, has graded out as the 36th best (or fourth worst?). Not only has he played defensive back and linebacker in his collegiate career, Thompson also rushed for 100-plus yards in back-to-back games against Colorado and UCLA this season and won the Paul Hornung Award as college football's most versatile player.

13. Cleveland Browns (Draft History): Dante Fowler, DE, Florida

Like Thompson, one of Fowler's biggest strengths is his versatility as well as his high motor. Fowler led Florida in tackles for loss (12.0) and QB hurries (15) and ranked second in sacks (5.5).

14. San Francisco 49ers (Draft History): DeVante Parker, WR, Louisville

Saying that Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers offense has struggled this season would be an understatement. Only the Jets have averaged fewer passing yards per game than the 49ers this season. With Michael Crabtree set to enter free agency and Anquan Boldin turning 35 next season, adding an elite weapon like Parker would fill a void in both the short and long term.

15. Houston Texans (Draft History): Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

Perhaps the Texans have overachieved given their variety of starters at the quarterback position, but one of the team's other weaknesses has been their pass defense. Houston has allowed 251.9 passing YPG, ninth-most in the NFL, and 27 touchdowns. In addition, starting cornerbacks Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph are set to become unrestricted free agents in 2015 and 2016, respectively. Given the character concerns with Marcus Peters, who was kicked off Washington's football team, Waynes could end up being the first cornerback off the board in next year's draft.

16. Cleveland Browns -- via Buffalo (Draft History): Kevin White, WR, West Virginia

Although the Browns ended a four-game drought of no passing touchdowns last week, no team has fewer passing touchdowns this season than the Browns (12). While Josh Gordon missed the vast majority of the season serving a 10-game suspension, the Browns surprisingly did not draft a wide receiver last year even though they knew about the looming suspension. With two first-rounders this year, using one of them at the position would make sense.

-> Continue to picks 17-32

-> For more mocks, check out our 2015 NFL Mock Draft Database

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December 21, 2014

Week 16 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Hanson

Here are my Week 16 picks against the spread:

Detroit Lions -9.5 over Chicago Bears (3 units)

Granted, it's a lot of points in a divisional game, but I've got two words for you: Jimmy. Clausen. Yeah, that Jimmy Clausen! Of course, Jay Cutler has been bad, perhaps horrible, but the Bears expect to get a "spark" by benching Cutler for Clausen. There was a report from NFL Network's Mike Silver after the decision was announced that some Bears expected Clausen to "light it up" by running Trestman's offense as prescribed.

Seriously?!

With his career 3:9 TD-to-INT ratio (granted, all of those interceptions and touchdowns occurred as a rookie in 2010), Clausen will face the league's top-ranked scoring defense (17.0 PPG) and second-ranked overall defense (300.3 YPG). Meanwhile, the Lions have 39 sacks, sixth-most in the NFL, which means Clausen won't have a lot of time. And even when he does have time, don't forget -- he's Jimmy Clausen!

On the flip side, the Lions should be able to move the ball at will. On Thanksgiving, Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Joique Bell & Co. lit up a bad Bears defense by scoring 34 points. The Bears rank last in the NFL in scoring defense (29.2 PPG) and 30th in total defense (382.5 YPG).

With only one cover in their past nine head-to-head matchups, I don't see the Bears bucking that trend against the Lions. And did I mention ... Jimmy Clausen?!

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New Orleans Saints -6 over Atlanta Falcons (2 units)

Once dominant at home, the Saints have lost four consecutive games at home. Their recent home woes are nearly impossible to fathom.

Even after covering just one of their past six home games, the Saints are still an incredible 19-5-1 in their past 24 home games coached by Sean Payton.

While both teams in this matchup control their own destiny (win out and they are division champs), I expect the Saints to bounce back at home after their strong showing on the road last week.

The Falcons have allowed six 300-yard passers in their past nine games and Drew Brees has averaged 321.75 yards per game over his past four outings with a 12:2 TD-to-INT ratio during that span. In what is expected to be this week's highest-scoring affair, I like the Saints to put up at least seven more than the Falcons.

Seattle Seahawks -9 over Arizona Cardinals (1 unit)

To use similar logic as my first pick, the two words you need to know in this one: Ryan Lindley!

As much as I hate giving nine points in a divisional game on the road to a team with 11 wins, the last time Lindley started against the Seahawks, he lost by the narrow margin of 58-0. While I expect Arizona's defense to hold the Seahawks to (much) fewer than 58 points, Lindley's passing yards (59) narrowly edged Seattle's points (58) in that one.

The Seahawks defense is playing as well as they have played all season, which makes it tough for high-powered offenses let alone ones that have lost their starting quarterback (Carson Palmer), backup quarterback (Drew Stanton) and starting tailback (Andre Ellington).

I see this game turning out to be something similar to a 17-3, 20-6 type of game with the Cardinals offense struggling to get anything going. In fact, the last time these two teams met (with Stanton and Ellington active), the Cardinals lost 19-3.

Note: NFL lines are from sportsbook.ag

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Week 16 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Beazley

Here are my Week 16 picks against the spread:

Green Bay Packers -12.5 over Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3 units)
Buccaneers vs. Packers -- Over 49.5 (5 units)

The Packers had a rough time up in Buffalo last week. I will bet Aaron Rodgers & Co. get back on track this week against an awful Bucs pass defense. I am targeting as many Packers players as I can in the DFS world, and it wouldn't shock me to see Rodgers throw five or six touchdowns in this one. I think the Bucs offense will be able to move the ball as well, so I'm a little worried about a back-door cover late. If you are looking for some salary relief in the DFS world, Josh McCown is not a bad option. McCown should be in position to throw 50+ times. Packers, 48-27.

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Pittsburgh Steelers -3 over Kansas City Chiefs (2 units)

Pittsburgh has covered six straight at home, and I think they will make seven this week vs. Kansas City. Kansas City is a tough team to figure out, so I am going to keep this game at two units. I think both RBs (Le'Veon Bell and Jamaal Charles) in this contest have multiple TD games in this one, but the difference is Ben Roethlisberger. I think Ben connects on a 60-yard bomb late in the game to seal the W. Steelers, 24-17.

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Week 16 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Trifone

Here are my Week 16 picks against the spread:

New York Jets +10.5 over New England Patriots (4 units)

The Jets played the Pats tough earlier in the year, and I think they'll play them tough again. New England shouldn't have too much trouble winning, but 10.5 seems like too many points.

Carolina Panthers -4 over Cleveland Browns (5 units)

The Browns were one of the feel-good stories of the year, but the sand is running out of the hour glass. Johnny Manziel's QBR of one last week was as bad as it gets. The Panthers played well last week and can still win the division. I like them to win with either Cam Newton or Derek Anderson at QB.

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New York Giants +6.5 over St. Louis Rams (5 units)

I'm not sure when the Rams started becoming big favorites in games. Don't get me wrong, they're a solid team. But at the end of the day, Shaun Hill is their quarterback. They haves two impressive shutouts against bad teams, and it looks like there is still a carry over with the betting public. I took the Cardinals as a dog against them last week and I'm taking the Giants +6.5 this week.

Oakland Raiders +7 over Buffalo Bills (4 units)

The Bills were great the last two weeks defensively against two great quarterbacks. I think this will be a let-down game where Buffalo wins close.

Note: NFL lines are from sportsbook.ag

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Week 16 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Yanotchko

Here are my Week 16 picks against the spread:

Indianapolis Colts +3.5 over Dallas Cowboys (4 units)

The Cowboys have finally looked to avenge December, and they can punch their ticket to the playoffs this week with a win at home against the Colts. The only problem is that they could be missing, or have a less effective, DeMarco Murray with a broken hand this week. The Colts have already qualified for the playoffs, and they are pretty much locked in at the No. 3 seed, but I still think they will win this game. The Dallas passing defense has been taking on water the last few weeks, and on the year they allow 250 yards per game, 66-percent completion rate, and 20 touchdowns with only 23 sacks. They allowed Jay Cutler to throw for 341 yards, Eli Manning for 338, and what do you think the league's yardage leader will do to that defense? I am going to grab the points for the better team, as this will be a close one, and taking 4 units as well.

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Detroit Lions -9.5 over Chicago Bears (5 units)

Normally I stay away from the favorites in divisional games when the line is more than 7, but the Bears are not even a dumpster fire right now, they are an absolute circus that collided with a train wreck. The Lions have history on their side, as they dismantled the Bears on Thanksgiving 34-17, and I just love the matchup edges they have as well. The Bears simply cannot play defense, as they allow 272 yards per game and 33 touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks, and 110 yards per game and 4.3 yards per carry to opposing running backs. And of course the biggest reason I love the Lions this week is easily stated in one sentence -- the Bears have benched Jay Cutler and will start Jimmy Clausen against one of the best defenses in the league. This makes it a 5-unit play, and not even close to trap game.

Denver Broncos -3.5 over Cincinnati Bengals (4 units)

I really don't know what to make of this Bengals team this year, but they will have yet another chance in primetime on Monday Night to prove that they belong with the elites of the AFC. The Broncos have done quite the 180 as of late, as they have been relying a lot more on their rushing game than the pass as of late. The Broncos have also been playing great defense, and their front-seven will have an answer for Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard, as they only give up 71.6 yards on the ground, and 3.4 yards per carry. I know the Broncos surrender a lot of yards through the air, but lets check the numbers for Andy Dalton. In his last nine games: one game over 300 yards, one game with 250-plus yards, three games with 225-250 yards, and the final three sound a lot like my bowling series 176, 116, and 86, and you can see where the beer kicks in. Monday night with Denver still in it for home field, I am taking the Broncos and 4 units.

Note: NFL lines are from sportsbook.ag

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December 20, 2014

Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS): Week 16 DraftKings Fantasy Football Values

Fitting in higher-priced studs into your lineups requires finding values to provide some salary-cap relief. With that said, here are some value plays for Week 16 DraftKings contests (sorted by position, then salary):

QB - Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (vs. ATL), $8,300

Perhaps not a value in terms of absolute cost at $8,300, but Brees is my second-ranked quarterback and the fourth-most expensive option this week. So, in other words, if you're looking to pay up at the position, Brees will provide you with some relative value. Based on projected point totals using Vegas odds, no team is projected to score more points this week than the Saints, who also control their destiny if they win their final two games. Over their past nine games, the Falcons have allowed six 300-yard passers and eight quarterbacks to throw for 292-plus yards. Brees seems like a lock for the three-point scoring bonus at 300 passing yards.

QB - Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins (vs. PHI), $6,100

In relief of an injured Colt McCoy, RG3 had his best outing of the season last week as he finished eighth in fantasy points among quarterbacks. Getting the start this week in such a favorable matchup, it's certainly possible that he puts up another top-eight performance in a favorable matchup yet there are 16 other quarterbacks priced higher than Griffin. With RG3 injured in Week 3 when these teams first met this season, Kirk Cousins got the start and lit up the Eagles secondary for 427 yards and three scores. That said, the Eagles secondary has been consistently bad (good to opposing quarterbacks) as they have allowed 11 of them to finish as top-12 fantasy quarterbacks in their 14 games this season.

QB - Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs (at PIT), $5,600

Smith is an even cheaper and safer option at quarterback than RG3 with a lower ceiling, but he's a great option this week for those looking for some salary-cap relief at the position for cash games. Although he averaged 197.3 yards per game through Week 13, Smith has thrown for 293 and 297 yards in the past two weeks, both of which are easily his highest totals of the year. And even though he has yet to throw a touchdown to a wide receiver, Smith has multiple passing touchdowns in three of his past four games. In addition, the Steelers have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.

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RB - Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers (at TB), $7,300

Lacy is another play that may not be cheap in absolute terms, but he's a solid foundation from which to construct your roster. Playing through his hip injury last week, Lacy has now finished as a top-six fantasy running back (PPR scoring) in six of his past seven games. During that seven-game span, Lacy has averaged 23.87 fantasy points per game with a total of 881 yards from scrimmage, 25 receptions and eight touchdowns. Facing the Bucs, who have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, Lacy has both a high floor and a high ceiling this week.

RB - C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos (at CIN), $6,900

Similar to Lacy, Anderson's high floor and ceiling makes him a great play in both cash games and tournaments. Anderson has a total of 117 touches in his past four games and has exceeded 30 touches in three of those games. Anderson has a total of 534 YFS and five touchdowns during that span. Only the Falcons and Raiders have allowed more fantasy points to opposing running backs than the Bengals this season.

RB - Tre Mason, St. Louis Rams (vs. NYG), $4,600

With difficult matchups in back-to-back weeks (Washington and Arizona are in bottom three in terms of FPA to RBs), Mason's outlook gets brighter as he faces a much more generous defense to fantasy running backs. Not only do the Giants allow the ninth-most fantasy points to rurnning backs, they allow the fourth-most on a per-touch basis (0.93). Since Week 9, Mason has averaged nearly 20 touches per game (19.29). A realistic range of DK points for Mason should fall within 15-20 points this week.

RB - Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins (vs. MIN), $4,400

Despite having any huge games this season, Miller still has scored the 12th-most fantasy points among running backs (PPR scoring) this season. In large part, it's due to Miller's consistency. The Dolphins third-year back has finished as a top-19 fantasy running back (or better) in 10 of 14 games this season. With a plus matchup against the Vikes, Miller should once again post a top-20 performance even though he's priced outside of the top-20 running backs.

RB - Shane Vereen, New England Patriots (at NYJ), $3,800

Trying to predict which Patriots running back(s) will get the most touches and production in a given week is a sure-fire way to drive yourself crazy. That said, Vereen is at least worth a roll of the dice in a GPP at his sub-$4,000 salary as Vereen should be more involved in the game plan against a tough run defense (and bad pass defense). The first time the Patriots faced the Jets (granted, that was pre-LeGarrette Blount), Vereen had his best game of the season (11/43 rushing and 5/71/2 receiving). With 28.4 fantasy points (PPR scoring), only two other backs (Matt Forte and Le'Veon Bell) scored more that week.

RB - Steven Jackson, Atlanta Falcons (at NO), $3,600

Although I have S-Jax ranked inside my top-20 fantasy running backs for the week, he's priced as the 38th-most expensive back. And while S-Jax is better in standard-scoring (or half-PPR like FanDuel) leagues, he has scored double-digit fantasy points in five of his past seven games. During that span, he has averaged 16.9 touches per game with 18-plus in five of those games and has scored four touchdowns. In a high-scoring affair against the Saints, who allow the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, Jackson should have no problem reaching and exceeding value this week.

WR - DeSean Jackson, Washington Redskins (vs. PHI), $5,500

Jackson has been a bit of a boom-or-bust fantasy option throughout his career and this season has been no different. To be fair, he has played with three different quarterbacks. D-Jax has finished as the WR50 (or worse) in three of his past four games. That said, I expect a performance from D-Jax closer to the outing (117 yards and a TD) he had the first time he faced his former team. Aside from the revenge factor, no team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing wide receivers than the Eagles.

WR - Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens (at HOU), $4,600

Only the Ravens have allowed more fantasy points to opposing wide receivers than the Texans this season -- and since he can't play his own defense, this is the best possible matchup for Smith. Dealing with a knee injury the past couple of weeks, Smith's production has understandably taken a hit -- two catches for 16 yards on three targets last week and no targets the previous week. That said, Smith isn't listed on the injury report this week, which indicates that his knee issue shouldn't be a problem. Before the injury, Smith had seven touchdowns in his previous seven games.

WR - Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis Colts (at DAL), $4,100

A goose egg. I had Moncrief in several GPP lineups last week and was obviously disappointed that he couldn't outscore me. One of the positives of that (when it comes to this week) is that several owners will remember last week's dud and not want to get burned again this week, which will help keep his ownership levels down. Given that T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) could potentially sit this week out, it will open up more snaps and opportunities for Moncrief.

WR - Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs (at PIT), $3,200

Not so long ago, Bowe led the NFL in touchdown receptions (15 in 2010). Of course, one of the most amazing statistics of the 2014 season is the fact that none of the Chiefs receivers have a touchdown reception this year. Perhaps that changes this week (or maybe it doesn't), but Pittsburgh has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers and rank 30th in terms of efficiency. If you're in need of some salary-cap relief in a tournament, Bowe is an interesting punt play.

TE - Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs (at PIT), $4,500

Kelce ended a five-game scoring drought with a touchdown last week against the Raiders, but he has still finished as a top-eight fantasy tight end in three of his past four games. On the season, Kelce has 56 catches for 747 yards and five touchdowns despite not getting as many snaps and targets as fantasy owners would like to see. Kelce should exceed value this week as a mid-priced tight end option.

TE - Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys (vs. IND), $4,000

Witten has finished as a top-seven fantasy tight end in four of his past seven games including last week. (And one of the times he finished outside the top seven TEs was a top-11 performance.) In addition, the Colts have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season. Although he doesn't possess the highest ceiling, Witten should have another productive outing this week.

In addition, check out our site's DraftKings Week 16 Cheat Sheet.

Also, check out my weekly fantasy football rankings:

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December 18, 2014

2014 Fantasy Football Week 16 Start'em, Sit'em

When Washington and Philadelphia met in Week 3, neither of the current starting quarterbacks played in that game.

To be honest, I would have thought you were crazy if you told me then that both RG3 and Mark Sanchez would appear on the "start'em" side of this column for Championship Week. But here we are and both of them are viable options as top-12 fantasy quarterbacks for Week 16.

That said, it's not a universal start recommendation for RG3 or Sanchez (or any player on this list). Ultimately, the decision will come down to the other options on your roster, if applicable.

As my 11th-ranked fantasy quarterback in Week 16, Sanchez is a viable option for those in a 12-team league. That said, if you have Drew Brees and Sanchez as the quarterbacks, you should start Brees, who I have ranked ahead of all quarterbacks not named Aaron Rodgers.

So, in other words, my fantasy football rankings are a better guage of which player I would start out of multiple options.

With this column, however, the goal is to highlight players with favorable (or unfavorable) matchups that I may not otherwise start (or sit) or those that I like (or dislike) more than usual.

Looking ahead to the rest of this week's games, here are some players to consider starting:

QB - Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins (vs. PHI)

Coming on in relief of an injured Colt McCoy, RG3 had his best outing of the season last week as he finished eighth in fantasy points among quarterbacks, an encouraging sign for those considering him this week. It's been a quarterback carousel in the nation's capital and Kirk Cousins made his first start of the season in Week 3 against Philly. In that game, he threw for 427 yards and three touchdowns and finished as the QB2 for the week. In their 14 games this season, the Eagles have allowed 11 of them to finish as a top-12 fantasy quarterback. With such a favorable matchup, I expect RG3 to continue to build positive momentum at the most critical point in the fantasy football season.

QB - Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia Eagles (at WAS)

Based on projected point totals using Vegas odds, only the Saints and Packers are projected to score more points this week than the Eagles (29.50). In addition, no team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season than the Redskins, who have surrendered 10 passing touchdowns over their past three games. Sanchez is coming off back-to-back disappointing performances (10.54 and 6.08 fantasy points, respectively), but the matchup is too good for him to not bounce back this week.

RB - Joique Bell, Detroit Lions (at CHI)

Over the past three games, Bell has finished the week as the RB4, RB3 and RB11, respectively. The first game of that span was against the Bears, who will try to slow him down on a short week. Given that the Bears have benched quarterback Jay Cutler, the line has increased from 7.0 to 9.5 points and there's a good chance that the Lions are playing with the lead for most of this game. Bell has a total of 87 touches over his past four games and I'd expect another heavy workload (and productive outing) from him again in Week 16.

RB - Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins (vs. MIN)

Coming off a disappointing performance against the Patriots, who have been playing much better run defense recently, Miller gets a favorable matchup this week against the Vikings, who have allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. Miller hasn't had many great games, but he's had a lot of good/useful games. Miller has finished as a top-21 fantasy running back in 10 of his 14 games and has the 13th-most fantasy points scored in total among running backs this season.

RB - Steven Jackson, Atlanta Falcons (at NO)

Like Miller, Jackson is coming off a disappointing performance (5.7 fantasy points, RB42) last week. That said, Jackson has finished as a top-22 fantasy running back in five of his previous six games. During that six-game span, S-Jax had a minimum of 18 touches in five of those games. With the Saints allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, Jackson is a great candidate to have a bounce-back week.

RB - Toby Gerhart, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. TEN)

Man, I was so wrong on Gerhart. I was all-in on him being a strong RB2 for 2014, but that obviously did not happen. With an 86/265/1 rushing line heading into Week 16, it may be difficult to trust Gerhart. Given the season-ending injury to Denard Robinson, however, Gerhart should see the largest share of the workload in one of the few games in which the Jags are favored against a team that has allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. Tempering expectations a bit, Gerhart is ranked just inside my top-24 running backs for the week.

WR - Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants (at STL)

At this point in the season, ODB has become a no-brainer must-start, but it's amazing what he has done especially considering the hamstring injury that kept him out of almost all of training camp, the preseason and the first four regular-season games. That said, ODB leads all rookie receivers in receiving yards (972) despite playing only 10 games. Beckham Jr. has a minimum of six catches and 90 yards in seven consecutive games, which ties an NFL record.

WR - Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. GB)

Evans has less than 50 receiving yards in four consecutive games and a total of only 13 catches during that span. That said, four of those 13 receptions have been caught for a touchdown. Evans didn't get his first NFL touchdown until Week 4, but he has a total of 11 touchdowns in his past 10 games played. In a game where the Bucs should be playing most of it from behind, Evans gets a favorable matchup as the Packers allow the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season.

WR - DeSean Jackson, Washington Redskins (vs. PHI)

Jackson has been a bit of a boom-or-bust fantasy option throughout his career and this season has been no different. To be fair, he has played with three different quarterbacks. D-Jax has failed to finish as a top-50 fantasy wide receiver in three of his past four games. That said, I expect a performance from D-Jax closer to the outing (117 yards and a TD) he had the first time he faced his former team. No team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing wide receivers than the Eagles.

WR - DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans (vs. BAL)

Hopkins has really stepped up his performance in his second season as he has 69 receptions for 1,167 yards and six touchdowns through Week 15. The quarterback situation has been less than ideal for the Texans and gets even worse as they move on to their fourth quarterback this week. That said, the matchup against the Ravens, who have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, is too tasty to consider benching Hopkins assuming that he plays this week. (Note: Hopkins is currently dealing with an ankle injury and is listed as a "game-time decision.")

TE - Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs (at PIT)

On the year, Kelce has scored the ninth-most fantasy points among tight ends this season even though he hasn't always seen the number of snaps or targets that fantasy owners would like. In their past five games, the Steelers have allowed four top-10 performances to opposing tight ends. Meanwhile, Kelce has finished as a top-10 fantasy tight end in three of his past four games.

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Here are some players to consider keeping on your fantasy bench(es):

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

The 49ers have allowed only one 300-yard game this season (Peyton Manning) and have held opposing quarterbacks to just one touchdown or less in nine of 14 games. Not only is the matchup difficult, but Rivers is dealing with a back injury. While the injury won't keep him out of the game, it could limit his effectiveness. In addition, Rivers will be without his most talented receiver (Keenan Allen).

QB - Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers (vs. SD)

While the other quarterback in this game has a tough matchup, Kaepernick's matchup is neutral -- San Diego has surrendered the 17th-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. That said, Kaep has scored less than 15 fantasy points in eight consecutive games for an average of 11.01 during that span. In those eight games, he has thrown six touchdowns (no more than one in any game) and six interceptions. And over the past five games, he has thrown for less than 200 yards four times.

RB - LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots (at NE)

In his four games as a Patriot, Blount has averaged double-digit fantasy points per game. And we've seen how effective he could be with them at the end of last season. If anything, however, this week's game shapes up to be one that features Shane Vereen. In fact, Vereen was the top-scoring fantasy running back in Week 7 when they faced the Jets the first time around. Granted, Blount was a Steeler at the time, but he's hard to count on Blount this week as the Jets allow only 87.5 rushing yards per game and 3.5 yards per carry.

RB - Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. DEN)

As well as Jeremy Hill has run the ball lately, Bernard is clearly the "2" in the team's 1-2 rushing attack. Even though Bernard had 18 touches last week for a total of 104 yards, he finished outside the top-24 fantasy running backs in each of his previous three games. For me, Bernard is more of a flex option against the tough Broncos run defense that has allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to the position this year.

RB - Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers (at SF)

Sitting out of practice in back-to-back days, Mathews could end up missing his second straight game due to an ankle injury. If he plays, however, he should remain on your bench against the 49ers. The 49ers rank eighth in the NFL in rushing defense (101.1 YPG). If he sits, I'd keep both Branden Oliver and Donald Brown on my bench as well.

WR - Percy Harvin, New York Jets (vs. NE)

Over the past four games, Harvin has finished as the week's WR100, WR70, WR9 and WR94. Aside from the 6/124/1 line in Week 14, Harvin has a total of two catches for eight yards on 11 targets in the other three games during that span. Even though Harvin also gets some production out of his rushing attempts, he should be on your bench facing a defense that allows the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers.

WR - Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers (vs. SD)

The good news is that Crabtree won't face the Seahawks this week. Facing them twice in the past three games, Crabtree has a total of 85 yards over the past three games. That said, Crabtree has finished outside of the top 30 fantasy wide receivers in seven of his past eight games and it's difficult to trust him given the overall struggles of the passing offense.

WR - Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals (vs. SEA)

The good news is that Fitzgerald has 11 receptions on 19 targets in his past two games. The bad news is that he has only 64 yards -- 5.8 per reception and 3.4 per target -- in those two games. Now he and the Cardinals will face the league's best pass defense with Ryan Lindley under center. The 11-3 Cardinals are projected by Vegas to score the fewest points this week and none of Arizona's offensive options are in play.

TE - Larry Donnell, New York Giants (at STL)

Since scoring three touchdowns in Week 4, Donnell has scored a total of only two touchdowns in the past 10 games. Part of that has been the emergence of ODB, who has dominated Eli Manning's targets. Donnell has now finished outside the top-20 fantasy tight ends in four consecutive games with an average of just 2.45 fantasy points per game. Allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to the position, the Rams have allowed only one top-12 performance to opposing tight ends this season.

To see who I would start based on your team, please consult with my Week 16 rankings:

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Fantasy Football Week 16: Underrated Players in PPR Leagues

Championship Week! At least for most of us. All the hard work pays off and you are guaranteed a top-two finish. In most leagues, that represents a payday.

But there is one common pattern I see in owners come championship time -- a tendency to overthink and overanalyze. Analysis paralysis some might say. Don’t get stuck in that loop. Trust the cadence that got you to this point. Don’t get crafty, don’t get cute, don’t try to pull off the miracle sleeper. If you have to step out of the box, base your decisions on logic and reasoning. There is no reason to stray at this point, just put your best foot forward and hope for the best.

Good luck to everyone playing for a championship this week.

As always, last week’s breakdown is below (see last week's post here). Modest gains to be sure, but I’ll take anything in the black after the previous week’s season-crushing debacle.

Week 15 Results
QBsRBsWRsTEsTotal
+8.7+6.7-3.1-0.4+11.9
YTD Results
QBsRBsWRsTEsTotal
-81.1+204.3-47.0-28.3+47.9
* Stats are based on players recommended (compared to options listed to start those players over). YTD stats are from Week 5 with my first post.

Best of the week -- Kelvin Benjamin +10.9: – Benjamin had a solid game despite Cam Newton missing the game. In some respects, Derek Anderson may actually represent the best passer of the group. No, he isn’t the better player by any stretch; Newton brings a dynamic to the game that is hard to match. But Anderson is more accurate and was throwing some darts on Sunday.

Runner-up -- Eli Manning +8.7: Manning had a very solid day, posting 250 yards and three scores. The vast majority of which went to Odell Beckham Jr. And that ladies and gentleman, is the sole reason I am not playing for a championship in one of my leagues this week. I love ODB, but hated him on Sunday.

Worst of the week -- Steve Smith -14: This Ravens offense, especially the passing game, is hard to figure. They perform well when they are expected to struggle, and they struggle when they should perform well. The Jags represented a great matchup for Smith, and he was not able to capitalize.

Runner-up -- Delanie Walker -.4: Walker had a solid outing by most TE standards, posting 13+ points in a PPR. But Antonio Gates had a big game, leading to the net negative.

Quarterbacks

Alex SmithKansas City Chiefs
FantasyPros ECR – 17

Smith comes off his best outing of the year from a fantasy perspective, dismantling the porous Oakland Raiders. I don’t expect a repeat performance, but the Steelers don’t exactly inspire confidence defending the pass game, ranking 30th in efficiency. Given the Steelers offense should continue to be productive, the Chiefs will need to pass more often than usual. Smith has a good chance to carry over his momentum from last week into another solid outing.

Consider starting him over:
Joe Flacco – ECR 16
RG3 – ECR 13

Kyle OrtonBuffalo Bills
FantasyPros ECR – 22

Orton gets the Raiders defense that just let Alex Smith look like Aaron Rodgers. The Bills are a run-first team, but the Raiders are actually decent against the run. Buffalo is in the thick of a playoff battle and cannot afford to let a team like Oakland hang around and risk an upset. I expect them to take advantage of the weak pass D and try to pull away early.

Consider starting him over:
Colin Kaepernick – ECR 21
Eli Manning – ECR 17

Running Backs

Steven JacksonAtlanta Falcons
FantasyPros ECR – 21

We have all heard the story line, multiple times probably, the NFC South winner is guaranteed to be no better than 8-8, best-case scenario. The Falcons are currently in third place, but control their own destiny and a chance to host a home playoff game if they win out. They have a tough task in New Orleans this week. Both teams struggle on defense, but NO is even worse against the run (ranked 31st in efficiency) than Atlanta. Given the Falcons passing defense woes, their best bet is to hand the ball off and hope to keep Drew Brees off the field. Jackson's usage has been up over the past several weeks, so I would think he is in line for around 20 carries this week.

Consider starting him over:
Latavius Murray – ECR 20
Alfred Morris – ECR 18

Pierre ThomasNew Orleans Saints
FantasyPros ECR – 24

When I said New Orleans had a worse run defense than the Falcons, I didn’t say it was by much. Atlanta is also a bottom feeder against the run, but that’s not why Thomas is here. Thomas has been getting more involved since returning from injury, and is becoming the dominant passing-down back he is known for. Last week, he posted five catches for 83 yards. This week, he gets a Falcons D ranked 27th against RBs as receivers. Seems like a good spot for Thomas to continue his resurgence in the Saints backfield.

Consider starting him over:
Giovani Bernard – ECR 23
Matt Asiata – ECR 22

Wide Receivers

Nate WashingtonTennessee Titans
FantasyPros ECR – 37

This is contingent upon Kendall Wright sitting again this week. If that happens, look for Washington to have a productive outing. Since Justin Hunter’s season ended and Washington regained the starting spot, he has posted no less than eight points in a game, with an average of 13 points per game during that stretch. As the default No. 1 WR last week, he put up six catches for 102 yards. This week, he gets a Jags defense that ranks 32nd against WR1’s in terms of efficiency.

Consider starting him over:
Eric Decker – ECR 36
Andre Johnson – ECR 28 (Seriously, he has Case Keenum or Thad Lewis at QB)

Sammy WatkinsBuffalo Bills
FantasyPros ECR – 24

Watkins had a down week against a good Packers secondary, and in a game where the Bills wanted to run clock as much as possible to escape with the victory – and kudos to the them for a strong performance. Watkins gets a shot at the Raiders defense that made an awful Chiefs receiving corps look good last week. Can you say bounce-back game?

Consider starting him over:
Vincent Jackson – ECR 21
Kelvin Benjamin – ECR 18

Tight End

Travis KelceKansas City Chiefs
FantasyPros ECR - 5

Kelce has been up and down this season, primarily because of his questionable usage by Andy Reid. Although, this is the same guy who has basically ignored Jamaal Charles on three occasions this season … remind me again why everyone thinks he is such a good coach? Anyhow, Kelce has produced in recent weeks and gets a great matchup against the Steelers, who rank 27th in defensive pass efficiency against TEs. KC is likely going to have to throw to keep up with a strong Pittsburgh offense, in a very important game for both team's playoff hopes.

Consider starting him over:
Martellus Bennett – ECR 4
Greg Olsen – ECR 3

Thanks for reading and good luck in Week 16! Follow me on Twitter @rw11687.


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December 17, 2014

2014 NFL Power Rankings: Week 16

Despite missing the first four games of the season, Giants rookie receiver Odell Beckham Jr. continues to put up impressive numbers.

In last week's win over Washington, ODB finished with 12 receptions for 143 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. Beckham now has double-digit receptions and 100-plus yards in back-to-back games as well as in three of his past four games.

Since Nov. 3rd, Beckham has a minimum of six receptions and 90 yards in seven consecutive games.

While Demaryius Thomas had a 6/90 line in seven consecutive games earlier this season, Beckham, Thomas and Isaac Bruce are all tied for the longest such streak in NFL history.

With two weeks to go this season, ODB is a lock, barring injury, to reach the relatively elusive 1,000-yard milestone for rookie receivers. On the season, he has 71 receptions for 972 yards and nine touchdowns plus six rush attempts for 35 yards.

Beckham Jr. won't be the only rookie receiver to eclipse the 1,000-yard milestone, though.

Both Carolina's Kelvin Benjamin and Tampa's Mike Evans are 48 and 52 yards shy of the mark with two games to go. In addition, Buffalo's Sammy Watkins is 150 yards shy of the milestone. Although he is on pace for 971 yards given his current average of 60.7 yards per game, Watkins has had his share of big games earlier this season.

Even if Watkins falls short but the other three do not, 2014 will be the first time that more than two rookie receivers had 1,000-plus yards in a season. The only other time in league history that we saw more than one 1,000-yard rookie receiver was in 1996 when Bill Brooks and Ernest Givins both eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark.

Here are some more NFL notes heading into Week 15:

  • I get the reason behind the line, but the Cardinals, one of only three 11-win teams, are nearly double-digit underdogs (-9.0) at home this week. Bruce Arians has done a remarkable coaching job, but the injuries continue to rack up for the Cardinals. As Ryan Lindley (career 0:7 TD-to-INT ratio) makes his fifth career NFL start, the Cardinals are projected by Vegas to score the fewest points (13.75) this week.

  • Things could not have gone much worse for Johnny Manziel in his debut start (10/18, 80 yards, no TDs and two INTs). That said, the Browns have thrown zero touchdowns and two-plus interceptions in four consecutive games. The last time a team did that was in 1977 (Tampa Bay).

  • Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown has a franchise-record 115 receptions for a league-leading 1,498 yards and a career-high 11 touchdowns. While the overall numbers are impressive, they pale in comparison to his consistency. Brown has a minimum of five catches and 74 yards in all 14 games this season. In the 30 games since the start of last season, Brown has had at least five receptions and 50 yards every single week.

  • Back in 2010, Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe led the NFL with 15 receiving touchdowns. Fast forward to 2014, Bowe and all of his fellow Chiefs wide receivers have zero touchdowns.

  • Deja vu all over again -- the Patriots clinched their sixth consecutive AFC East title and have now won 11 of the past 12 division titles.

  • Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (hand) will be a game-time decision for Sunday's tilt against the Colts even though it appears likely that he'll give it a go. Murray is currently 86 yards from tying Emmitt Smith's single-season franchise record of 1,773 rushing yards set in 1995, which was the last time the Cowboys won the Super Bowl.

  • Heading into Week 16, four teams have better Super Bowl odds than the Cowboys (via Sportsbook.ag): Patriots (5/2), Seahawks (3/1), Packers (5/1) and Broncos (6/1). The Cowboys have 12/1 odds to win the Super Bowl. At 22/1, the Colts have the next lowest odds.

Here are my Week 16 NFL power rankings:

1. Seattle Seahawks - Record: 10-4, Last Update: No. 2
2. New England Patriots - Record: 11-3, Last Update: No. 4
3. Denver Broncos - Record: 11-3, Last Update: No. 3
4. Green Bay Packers - Record: 10-4, Last Update: No. 1
5. Detroit Lions - Record: 10-4, Last Update: No. 8
6. Arizona Cardinals - Record: 11-3, Last Update: No. 6
7. Indianapolis Colts - Record: 10-4, Last Update: No. 5
8. Dallas Cowboys - Record: 10-4, Last Update: No. 9
9. Philadelphia Eagles - Record: 9-5, Last Update: No. 7
10. Cincinnati Bengals - Record: 9-4-1, Last Update: No. 11
11. Baltimore Ravens - Record: 9-5, Last Update: No. 10
12. Pittsburgh Steelers - Record: 9-5, Last Update: No. 12
13. Buffalo Bills - Record: 8-6, Last Update: No. 21
14. Kansas City Chiefs - Record: 8-6, Last Update: No. 16
15. New Orleans Saints - Record: 6-8, Last Update: No. 24
16. San Diego Chargers - Record: 8-6, Last Update: No. 13
17. Miami Dolphins - Record: 7-7, Last Update: No. 14
18. St. Louis Rams - Record: 6-8, Last Update: No. 17
19. Houston Texans - Record: 7-7, Last Update: No. 15
20. Carolina Panthers - Record: 5-8-1, Last Update: No. 23
21. San Francisco 49ers - Record: 7-7, Last Update: No. 18
22. Cleveland Browns - Record: 7-7, Last Update: No. 19
23. Atlanta Falcons - Record: 5-9, Last Update: No. 22
24. Minnesota Vikings - Record: 6-8, Last Update: No. 20
25. New York Giants - Record: 5-9, Last Update: No. 25
26. Chicago Bears - Record: 5-9, Last Update: No. 26
27. New York Jets - Record: 3-11, Last Update: No. 30
28. Washington Redskins - Record: 3-11, Last Update: No. 27
29. Jacksonville Jaguars - Record: 2-12, Last Update: No. 29
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Record: 2-12, Last Update: No. 28
31. Oakland Raiders - Record: 2-12, Last Update: No. 31
32. Tennessee Titans - Record: 2-12, Last Update: No. 32

-> Also, check out our weekly 2014-15 NBA Power Rankings

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December 16, 2014

2014 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Week 16

With Championship Week now upon us, your league's title is now within your sights.

For my waiver-wire posts, I have a self-imposed rule of only including players with Yahoo! ownership of 50 percent or less. The goal is to give you suggestions of players that (1) can help your fantasy squad and (2) are widely available in leagues.

With that said, here are some players to consider adding to your fantasy roster(s) (Yahoo! ownership in parenthesis):

QB - Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins (31 percent)

For those willing to accept high risk for the potential of high reward, RG3 is an intriguing quarterback play this week. In relief on Sunday, RG3 finished with 236 passing yards and a touchdown plus five rush attempts for 46 yards (and a near touchdown). Griffin is slated to get the start against the Eagles, who have allowed a top-12 fantasy quarterback in 11 of 14 games this season. In fact, the first time they faced Washington, they allowed Kirk Cousins to throw for 427 yards and three touchdowns as Cousins scored the second-most fantasy points among QBs that week.

QB - Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs (37 percent)

The team's wideouts still have zero touchdowns, but Smith threw two touchdowns on Sunday and now has multiple touchdown passes in three of his past four games. In addition, Smith has exceeded 290 passing yards in back-to-back games, his two highest totals of the season. Smith's rushing production is down from last year, but his 240 rushing yards ranks eighth at the position this season. Meanwhile, Smith gets a favorable matchup this week against the Steelers, who have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.

QB - Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings (nine percent)

This week's matchup against the Dolphins isn't favorable, but Bridgewater now has back-to-back 300-yard passing games against the Jets and Lions. If your league's postseason extends into Week 17, however, the Vikings face the Bears in the final week of the season. Only the Redskins have allowed more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this year.

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RB - Joseph Randle, Dallas Cowboys (12 percent)

DeMarco Murray has delivered huge returns to fantasy owners that used their first-round pick on him. Many fantasy owners have advanced to this point of the season in large part to Murray. Unfortunately for those same owners, the timing of Murray's hand injury couldn't be worse. Although he has not yet been ruled out, there is a fairly strong chance that Murray will miss this week's game due to the injury. That would open the door for Randle, who would likely lead the team in touches in Week 16 behind one of the best offensive lines in the league. If Randle is owned, Lance Dunbar deserves a look as well as he would get the change-of-pace opportunities.

RB - Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers (35 percent)

Leaving Sunday's game with back and ankle injuries, the talented rookie ran the ball well when he was on the field as he carried the ball six times for 55 yards against the Seahawks. With Frank Gore suffering a concussion, Hyde could be in store for an expanded role if Gore isn't cleared from his concussion for Week 16. If both Hyde and Gore can't go in Week 16, that would open the door for Alfonso Smith against the Chargers.

RB - Matt Asiata, Minnesota Vikings (38 percent)

Not only does Asiata have double-digit carries in three consecutive games, but he has at least three receptions in six consecutive games. Although he has averaged just 2.84 yards per carry over his past eight games, Asiata has a total of 58 touches over his past three games. After two difficult matchups (Jets and Lions), Asiata closes out the season with more favorable matchups against the Dolphins and Bears.

RB - Toby Gerhart, Jacksonville Jaguars (33 percent)

Gerhart has been an enormous disappointment this season, but he has a chance for a little bit of redemption for fantasy owners this week. Given how much he has struggled (265 rushing yards, 3.08 YPC), however, it's hard to have a ton of faith in Gerhart this week. That said, he had a team-high 13 carries last week and gets a matchup against one of the league's worst run defenses (Titans) this week. The Titans have allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

RB - Kerwynn Williams, Arizona Cardinals (18 percent)

It's a brutal two-game slate to close the season as the Cardinals face the Seahawks and 49ers, two of the league's stingiest run defenses. That said, Williams has been productive over the past two games with Andre Ellington being placed on Injured Reserve. Williams has 34 carries for 175 yards in those two games and is worth a look for RB-needy owners.

WR - Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins (45 percent)

With the 32nd-most fantasy points among wide receivers in PPR formats, Landry has a minimum of five receptions to go along with 50 yards and/or a touchdown in seven consecutive games. In that seven-game span, Landry has finished as a top-36 fantasy wide receiver in PPR scoring every week. Over that stretch, he has averaged 6.57 catches on 8.57 targets per game including double-digit targets in four of his past six games.

WR - Charles Johnson, Minnesota Vikings (32 percent)

One of my favorite sleepers since he entered the league last year, the Vikings are Johnson's third team as he is finally getting an opportunity to showcase his abilities. Last year was wiped out due to injury, but I expected him to have a significant role early in the season with Cleveland given their woes at receiver. In his past five games with the Vikings, however, he has a total of 20 receptions for 355 yards and two touchdowns. That five-game pace extrapolated over a 16-game season would be equivalent to a stat line of 64/1,136/6.

WR - Harry Douglas, Atlanta Falcons (26 percent)

With Julio Jones (hip) sidelined in Week 15, Douglas stepped up for fantasy owners with 10 catches for 131 yards on 14 targets. When Roddy White sat out Week 13, Douglas had nine catches for 116 yards on 12 targets. If Jones is unable to go again this week, Douglas has demonstrated the ability to rise to the occassion when given a more prominent role in the offense. In addition, the Falcons have two favorable matchups against the Saints and Panthers to close the season.

WR - Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars (41 percent)

Shorts has only one touchdown (Week 3) and more than five catches only twice this season. The good news, however, is that Shorts has double-digit targets in back-to-back games and a favorable matchup against the Titans this week. Three of their six 100-yard games allowed to wide receivers have come in the past three weeks to DeAndre Hopkins (238, Week 13), Odell Beckham, Jr. (130, Week 14) and Eric Decker (100, Week 15). I don't know if Shorts (or any Jags' receiver) extends that streak, but Shorts should have a productive outing this week.

WR - Stedman Bailey, St. Louis Rams (14 percent)

Bailey now has five-plus receptions and 74-plus yards in three of his past four games. In those three productive outings, he has finished as a top-25 fantasy wide receiver.

WR - Marquess Wilson, Chicago Bears (29 percent)

Wilson scored his first NFL touchdown last night, but he has three or less receptions and under 20 yards in all five games this season. From a talent perspective, I like Wilson and he has more value in dynasty formats, but it's hard to trust the Bears, their offensive line and Jay Cutler even as Wilson has moved into the team's No. 2 role for the rest of this season. In Week 16, the Bears face the Lions, who rank fifth in the league in sacks (39) and lead the league in scoring defense (17.0 PPG).

WR - Nate Washington, Tennessee Titans (five percent)

Given the injuries to the team's receiving corps, Washington had a big game (six catches for 102 yards on 10 targets) in Week 15. If Kendall Wright (hand) is forced to miss a third game in a row, Washington should see a high volume of targets once again.

TE - Jared Cook, St. Louis Rams (31 percent)

Cook tends to be inconsistent, but he has two plus matchups against the Giants and Seahawks to close the season. Both teams rank in the top 13 of most fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends. In his past six games, Cook has finished as a top-three fantasy tight end twice and outside the top-20 fantasy tight ends the other four times. Feelin' lucky?

TE - Mychal Rivera, Oakland Raiders (26 percent)

Rivera has had seven receptions in back-to-back games and now has six-plus receptions in five of his past eight games. During that eight-game span, Rivera has averaged 8.0 targets per game including a season-high 12 of them last week. That said, this week's matchup against the Bills, who have allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends, is horrible.

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December 15, 2014

DeMarco Murray to have surgery on broken hand, not yet ruled out for Week 16

Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray has a broken bone in his hand and will have surgery on Monday, per team COO Stephen Jones.

While Murray has not been ruled for Sunday's home game against the Colts, it seems unlikely that he'll be able to play.

“Obviously, DeMarco Murray has a broken bone in his hand. At the same time, he hasn’t been ruled out,” said Jones on 105.3 The Fan. “It’s not something that if it responds well after surgery today, that he can’t come back and play this weekend. It’s probably a tough expectation to think that he can, but we’ll see.”

With the same injury and surgery back in 1999, Emmitt Smith missed one game so the injury shouldn't keep Murray out long term, but it couldn't come at a worse time for fantasy owners.

If Murray is unable to go this week, it would be Joseph Randle as the primary ball-carrier with Lance Dunbar mixed in as a change-of-pace back.

Randle is owned in just seven percent of Yahoo! leagues and will likely be the most-added player in Championship Week. In addition, Randle is priced at a position-minimum $3,000 salary in DraftKings contests and just $4,900 on FanDuel ($400 above the position-minimum salary).

Murray has 351 carries for a league-high 1,687 yards and 11 touchdowns plus 54 receptions for 395 yards, all of which are career highs.


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December 14, 2014

Week 15 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Hanson

Here are my Week 15 picks against the spread:

New England Patriots -9 over Miami Dolphins (3 units)

Kicking off the season with a loss to the Dolphins, the first four weeks did not go well as most had expected for the Patriots and Tom Brady. Since Week 5, however, they have been a much different team. During that nine-game span, Brady has thrown 26 touchdowns to only five interceptions and has averaged 307.7 yards per game. Scoring more than 20 points in all nine of those games, the Patriots have averaged 35.7 per game over that stretch.

The Dolphins have one of the league's top-ranked pass defenses, but they have been much more generous on the ground (22nd in NFL). Especially with the addition of LeGarrette Blount, the Patriots have the ability to control the game through their rushing attack. The Dolphins have allowed a total of 661 rushing yards over their past three games.

Not only has Ryan Tannehill thrown only one touchdown pass over the past two weeks despite great matchups, but he completed only 56.3 percent of his attempts for a season-low 178 yards in the first matchup against the Patriots this season. With Darrelle Revis returning to his elite form as a shutdown corner, points could come at a premium for the Dolphins, who have scored just 29 points over the past two weeks.

It's tough for road teams in Foxboro as the Patriots have won 43 of their past 46 regular-season home games and road teams have covered only nine of their past 31 games there. No way I'm betting against Brady, Belichick and the Pats at home in December.

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New York Jets -3.5 over Tennessee Titans (3 units)

The Jets are bad; the Titans are worse.

Although the Jets have been prone to turning the ball over, I would expect another run-heavy approach from the Jets with their 1-2 punch of Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson. (In turn, that limits the potential for interceptions from Geno Smith.) Those two backs both have at least 32 carries in the past two games. Fortunately for the Jets, the Titans rank last in the league in rushing defense (141.5 yards per game) and have allowed 14 rushing touchdowns.

With the inconsistent, inaccurate and injury-prone Jake Locker back under center, I'm not sure that the Titans will be able to exploit the Jets' defensive weakness (secondary). In addition, Justin Hunter was placed on season-ending injured reserve and Kendall Wright is dealing with a hand injury. Against the Giants last week, the Titans offense was shutout (as their only points came off a pick-six of Eli Manning).

This game has the makings of an ugly 17-9 type of game, but the Jets get a win for Rex Ryan and CJ1K in his homecoming.

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys -- Over 55.5 (3 units)

Both of these teams rank in the bottom 11 in total defense as the Cowboys and Eagles allow 365.0 and 371.9 yards per game, respectively. From DeMarco Murray to LeSean McCoy and Dez Bryant to Jeremy Maclin, there are plenty of talented offensive skill players in this game so it's not a huge surprise that this game his the week's highest over/under.

No team runs more offensive plays per game than the Eagles (70.9), who also allow the third-most opponent plays per game (69.7). The Eagles offense had no problems on Thanksgiving, but I expect the Cowboys offense to put together a better showing this week. After all, Tony Romo typically gets his first practice in on Thursdays so a short week, even at home, played a role in the offense's struggles. With extra rest and time to prepare, Romo should be able to take advantage of a less-than-mediocre secondary.

I see this game turning out to be a 34-31, 38-35 type of game.

Note: NFL lines are from sportsbook.ag

-> All of our 2014 NFL Weekly Picks Against the Spread will be tracked here.

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Week 15 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Yanotchko

Here are my Week 15 picks against the spread:

Atlanta Falcons +3 over Pittsburgh Steelers (4 units)

The Falcons have been a strange team this year, as they were filled with so much promise, but they will finish no better than .500 this year, yet still may host a home playoff game. The Steelers have also been quite the strange team this year, winning all of the tough games, but they have embarrassing losses to the Saints, Jets and Buccaneers as well. I think this will be yet another game that Pittsburgh should win easily, but in the end will stumble on the road. I really like the matchup of Matt Ryan, even without the possiblity of Julio Jones playing, going against a Pittsburgh passing defense that gives up 248 yards per game, 26 touchdowns, and they only have 8 interceptions on the year. The Falcons are certainly a different team at home in the Georgia Dome, and they need this game desperately for their playoff hopes. When in doubt, take the small 'dog at home with four units.

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Jacksonville Jaguars +14 over Baltimore Ravens (3 units)

The Ravens have placed themselves in the thick of the AFC playoff hunt, and I know most people are thinking Jacksonville, at home equals a layup win. The Jaguars have been fairly frisky this year, and even though the overall numbers don't show it, they have been playing decent defense. The Ravens are a team that can stop the run, as they have the best run defense in the league, and they shut down the Dolphins last week, even with Haloti Ngata out. The one thing that the Ravens do worse than any other team in the league, though, is defend the pass. The Ravens allow 267 yards per game, 67% opposing QB competion percentage, and 21 touchdowns on the year. I really don't think that Jacksonville will win this one outright, but I do like the aerial weapons Blake Bortles has, and this one yet again screams for a junk TD cover in garbage time. I am going to take the points here, but I am still only going with three units on this game.

Philadelphia Eagles -3.5 over Dallas Cowboys (4 units)

This is the game for the NFC East, and of course it should be the best matchup of the weekend. The Eagles did a number on the Cowboys this Thanksgiving, as they beat them 33-10 in Dallas, and will look to put a stranglehold on the division at home. I think that this game will feature quite a bit of offense, as I look for the Eagles to exploit a Cowboys defense that gives up 252 yards passing per game. Also, the Eagles were finally able to use their feature back LeSean McCoy during the Thanksgiving Day game, as he gashed the Cowboys for 159 yards rushing and a TD. The one hidden matchup that I really like, and what I think will make the difference in the end, is the Eagles pass rush, which has collected 44 sacks on the year so far. This is the type of team that matches up well against Dallas, as Tony Romo does not do so well against the blitz, and also after he's been hit in the pocket. I just think the Eagles have the personnel matchup against Dallas, and their number, and I will lay the points along with four units.

Note: NFL lines are from sportsbook.ag

-> All of our 2014 NFL Weekly Picks Against the Spread will be tracked here.

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December 13, 2014

Week 15 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Beazley

Here are my Week 15 picks against the spread:

Washington Redskins +7 over New York Giants (3 units)

Rivalry game between two bad football teams. Don't let the Tennessee game fool you. The Giants aren't very good. I love the Skins on the road in this one, and can actually see the outright win. The underdog has covered in seven of the last eight, which is a trend I like to continue. Skins win ugly, 23-20.

Detroit Lions -7.5 over Minnesota Vikings (3 units)

I just can't see Minnesota moving the ball consistently against this very good Lions defense. Minnesota is going to need D/ST TDs this week if they want any shot of covering this line. Detroit is in the thick of things for the division and I think they come out strong on Sunday. The Lions won their last two games at home with a score of 34-17, so it is appropriate that I go with a three-peat. Lions, 34-17.

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Chicago Bears vs. New Orleans Saints -- Over 54.5 (3 units)

It doesn't get any better if you are a DFS player on Monday. There is plenty of offensive power in this week's third-highest total. I actually think this game should be the highest total of the week. I absolute love a ton of players from this game. Let's start with Jimmy Graham. Graham has been awful the past two weeks, but the Bears are turrrible defending the TE. I think we may have a big three-TD type of night from Graham on MNF. My favorite play period of the week is Matt Forte. I believe this game will be a shootout and that benefits Forte in full PPR formats like on DraftKings and you would be smart to stack this game if you can. Saints win big, 45-41.

Note: NFL lines are from sportsbook.ag

-> All of our 2014 NFL Weekly Picks Against the Spread will be tracked here.

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Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS): Week 15 DraftKings Fantasy Football Values

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell has rattled off three consecutive games with 200-plus yards, which puts him on a two-player list including Walter Payton as players to accomplish such a feat.

You don't have to be an NFL analyst or historian to know that it's pretty damn good to be on a two-player list along side Sweetness.

If you want to roster Bell in your DraftKings lineups, however, it's going to cost you. Bell's Week 15 salary ($9,600) is more than $4,000 greater than the average player salary ($5,555) on the nine-man lineup due to the $50,000 cap.

That doesn't mean that Bell should not be in your lineups. With his recent production and a matchup against the Falcons, who allow the most fantasy points to opposing running backs, Bell belongs in your lineups. What it does mean, though, is that you will need to find some values elsewhere to make the lineup work.

With that said, here are some value plays for Week 15 DraftKings contests:

QB - Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (vs. PIT), $6,600

This play mostly hinges on the status of stud receiver Julio Jones, who is considered a game-time decision for their Week 15 matchup. The good news is it's a 1 p.m. start so we'll know at least 90 minutes before kickoff. That said, Ryan has thrown for at least 360 yards in back-to-back games and has a total of six touchdowns in those games. Historically, Ryan has been much more productive at home (86:33 TD-to-INT ratio, 7.59 Y/A, 98.2 passer rating) compared to the road (92:55 TD-to-INT ratio, 6.88 Y/A, 85.7 rating). Not only will Ryan be at home, but the Falcons have a favorable matchup as the Steelers have surrendered the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. As my fifth-ranked fantasy quarterback this week, Ryan is the 12th-most expensive option at the position this week.

QB - Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. DAL), $6,500

Based on Vegas odds for Week 15, no team is projected to score more points this week than the Eagles (29.75). A good part of that production could/should come from LeSean McCoy, who gashed the Cowboys two weeks ago for 159 yards and a score, but Sanchez had his second-best performance of the season against the 'Boys as well with 21.48 DraftKings (DK) points. Coming off his disappointing performance against the once-again stifling Seahawks defense, Sanchez could be lesser owned than he otherwise would.

QB - Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers (vs. DEN), $6,200

There are 15 quarterbacks with a higher salary than Rivers, but he is my ninth-ranked quarterback for the week. So, if you decide to not pay up for one of the top options, Rivers is a solid mid-priced value. Rivers had a disappointing performance last week against the Patriots and the Broncos have a talented secondary, but Rivers threw for 252 yards and three touchdowns in his first outing against the Broncos.

QB - Derek Anderson, Carolina Panthers (vs. TB), $5,000

If you're looking to punt at the position, you won't find a cheaper option than D.A., but he's not my lowest-ranked starting quarterback this week. Although I have him ranked as my QB24, he has some upside despite the bargain-basement price. Anderson threw for 230 yards and two touchdowns in his other start this season, which was coincidentally against the Bucs as well. He finished as a top-10 fantasy quarterback that week.

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RB - Joique Bell, Detroit Lions (vs. MIN), $5,900

While the matchups were exploitable, Bell has exploited them. After all, we have certainly seen instances of players getting favorable matchups only to disappoint fantasy owners. In each of his past two games, Bell has finished with 24.7 fantasy points (RB4) and 30.3 fantasy points (RB3). He now has 20-plus touches in three consecutive games and has scored multiple touchdowns in back-to-back games.

Although we didn't do one of our typical roundtable posts this week, it didn't stop Brendan Donahue from pounding the table on Bell. Here's what he wrote: "Bell has flown under the radar a bit this season, but he's scored 27 points or more in PPR formats in each of his last two games. There is no reason that shouldn't continue this week as he has a great matchup at home against the Vikings. The Vikings have been vulnerable against the run lately giving up 4.6 YPC in their last four games and they have several key injuries up front. In fact, their defense has allowed an average of more than 20 fantasy points per game to opposing running backs."

RB - Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals (at CLE), $4,300

After a couple of modest performances, Hill is expected to get the start this week and should be in store for a larger workload than he got last week. Hill is a powerful downhill runner and he has averaged 5.24 YPC since Week 9 that includes a couple of 150-yard performances. Hill has a great chance to get close to 100 rushing yards and a score despite his discounted price.

RB - Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders (at KC), $4,000

Before sustaining his concussion in Week 12, Murray blew up for 112 yards and two touchdowns on four carries against the Chiefs. While he missed Week 13 with the concussion, it was highly encouraging that the Raiders gave him 25 touches (23 carries and two receptions) against the Niners last week. Although he averaged just 3.3 yards per carry against a tough run defense, the workload is encouraging and he still finished as a top-20 fantasy running back. At a $4,000 salary, Murray has a strong chance of exceeding value on Sunday in his re-match against the Chiefs.

RB - Chris Johnson, New York Jets (at TEN), $3,600

Over the past two weeks, it has been a nearly identical split in carries between Johnson (33) and Chris Ivory (32). Although CJ1K is listed here, both backs are solid values as they should each get heavy workloads against an exploitable run defense. And I will certainly have exposure to both backs in tournaments this week. While Ivory is more likely to find the end zone, Johnson could get more receptions and is $600 cheaper than Ivory ($4,200). Of course, Johnson's return to Nashville is an interesting narrative, especially given the way his release was handled this offseason. Johnson was frustrated that they waited so long to release him, which limited his free-agency options, saying they were "nasty" and "did him dirty." As one of the game's biggest boom-or-bust players, it wouldn't surprise me if this turned out to be a 180-yard type of "boom" performance. Or didn't. But in a tournament, I'm willing to roll the dice.

WR - Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills (vs. GB), $5,600

Since Week 6, Watkins has either scored more than 20 fantasy points (DraftKings scoring) or less than seven points. After a four-game stretch on the under-7.0 side, Watkins had a 7/127 game that was good for 21.7 DK points against the Broncos. Few players priced under $6,000 have the talent and upside that Watkins possesses.

WR - Steve Smith, Baltimore Ravens (vs. JAX), $4,800

I like (this) Smith more if Torrey Smith (knee) ends up sitting this one out, but even if he's active, he could end up playing fewer snaps than usual given the Ravens are two-TD favorites. With Torrey sidelined last week, Steve had 7/70/1 and could see a similar line again this week. While the Eagles are projected for the most points in Week 15, the Ravens are projected for the second-most at 29.50.

WR - Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis Colts (vs. HOU), $4,000

Moncrief has moved ahead of Hakeem Nicks in terms of snaps played and Reggie Wayne has been battling a variety of injuries. Wayne is expected to play on Sunday, but Moncrief has played 52.8 and 60.2 percent of the offensive snaps in the past two games, respectively. With a couple of big games under his belt this season, Moncrief has shown his upside and the Texans have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers (PPR scoring) this season.

WR - Marqise Lee, Jacksonville Jaguars (at BAL), $3,600

Over the past three weeks, Lee has been the most consistent of the Jags receivers with 52-plus yards in each of his past three games. Priced as the 58th-most expensive wideout, Lee has some upside going against the Ravens, who have surrendered the second-most fantasy points per game (PPR scoring) this season.

WR - Marquess Wilson, Chicago Bears (vs. NO), $3,000

As a sophomore at Washington State, Wilson was one of the most prolific wide receivers in college football with 82/1,388/12. In large part to how his career at WSU ended (as opposed to his talent), Wilson ended up as a seventh-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Before he broke his collarbone in August, all reports were glowing and I expected a breakout season from him. Fast forward a few months and Wilson is healthy (and Brandon Marshall is not), which means he's the No. 2 WR this week against a bad Saints secondary. At the position-minimum salary, Wilson offers tremendous value and flexibility for fantasy owners this week.

TE - Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers (vs. DEN), $4,500

Gates has not scored a touchdown in his past five games, but we've seen Gates be a dominant red-zone weapon this season. From Weeks 2 to 8, Gates scored a total of nine touchdowns including two against the Broncos in Week 8. With 12 receptions in his past two games, Gates has been more involved recently in their passing offense and he has the most favorable matchup of the Chargers' skill-position players. Denver has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends (PPR scoring) this season.

TE - Larry Donnell, New York Giants (vs. WAS), $3,800

Donnell has had three relatively quiet performances in a row despite favorable matchups against the Cowboys, Jaguars and Titans. Given his first performance against Washington (7/54/3), Donnell is a solid option among tight ends priced under $4,000. In addition to Donnell in Week 4, Washington has allowed the top-scoring fantasy tight end in each of the past two weeks: Coby Fleener (Week 13) and Jared Cook (Week 14).

In addition, check out our site's DraftKings Week 15 Cheat Sheet.

Also, check out my weekly fantasy football rankings:

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December 12, 2014

Fantasy Football Week 15: Underrated Players in PPR Leagues

Well, that was embarrassing. An outright fiasco. Frankly, I’m still not sure how it could go that wrong. For those that don’t know what I am talking about, this is in reference to my Week 14 suggestions.

Week 14 Results
QBsRBsWRsTEsTotal
-30.8+5.9-59.3-61.0-145.2
YTD Results
QBsRBsWRsTEsTotal
-89.8+197.6-43.9-27.9+36.0
* Stats are based on players recommended (compared to options listed to start those players over). YTD stats are from Week 5 with my first post.

The fact that my picks didn’t have great games doesn’t bother me, all we can do is make educated guesses, it happens. What is eating at me is the perfect storm that essentially crushed my work to this point. Not only did my selections perform poorly despite good situations, SEVERAL of the players I suggested to sit hit top-five status. There is no point in looking back and justifying the selections, but let’s just say I don’t blindly pick players to sit. In all cases the combination of matchup, game flow, and situation aim towards a sub-par performance.

Not this week, and it literally wiped out all progress I made this season. One bad week can ruin it all. I guess it’s fitting though, given that is essentially the definition of the fantasy playoffs.

In an effort to preserve my sanity, I am going to bypass the snippets on the best and worst performances from last week. It would be too painful to relive. I will simply list the numbers and move on.

Best of the week: Jonathan Stewart +6.4
- Runner-up: Golden Tate +5.4

Worst of the week: Randall Cobb -44.2
- Runner-up: Antonio Gates -32.8

Moving on from this debacle ...

Quarterbacks

Eli ManningNew York Giants
FantasyPros ECR – 14

While the Giants have been awful all season, Manning has been fairly steady from a fantasy perspective. With the emergence of Odell Beckham, Manning has a go-to receiver he can count on. The Giants get a horrible Redskins defense this week, who rank 32nd in defensive pass efficiency. Last time these two teams met, Manning went off for 300 yards and four TDs. That may be a little ambitious this week, but a QB1 stat line is not unrealistic.

Consider starting him over:
Russell Wilson – ECR 13
Tony Romo – ECR 10

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Running Backs

Chris IvoryNew York Jets
FantasyPros ECR – 24

Ivory keeps showing up on this list with mixed results. But given the QB situation in New York, this team needs to be focused on the run game. Ivory did well last week averaging 4.6 YPC. Against a weak Titans run defense, I expect that to continue. Tennessee ranks 28th in defensive run efficiency and should not present much of a challenge to the bruising style of Ivory.

Consider starting him over:
Dan Herron – ECR 23
LeGarrette Blount – ECR 21

Fred JacksonBuffalo Bills
FantasyPros ECR – 19

Jackson is the lead dog for a Bills offense that is run-oriented. In a must-win game, at home against the Packers, the Bills should lean heavily on the run game. They do not stand a chance if this turns into a high-scoring affair. They will focus on a ball control type of offensive scheme and attempt to keep Aaron Rodgers on the sideline as much as possible. Luckily for them, the Packers struggle against the run defensively, ranking 23rd in efficiency. As important, they rank 20th against RBs as receivers, a place where Jackson excels, as evidenced by 10 catches last week.

Consider starting him over:
Jonathan Stewart – ECR 15
Latavious Murray – ECR 18

Wide Receivers

Steve SmithBaltimore Ravens
FantasyPros ECR – 27

Smith had a big game last week against a very tough Miami secondary. This week, the ride gets much smoother with a matchup against the Jaguars. Jacksonville ranks dead last against WR1s in defensive efficiency. This game lines up well for a performance equivalent to what we saw from Smith early in the season.

Consider starting him over:
Brandon LaFell – ECR 25
Roddy White – ECR 20

Kelvin BenjaminCarolina Panthers
FantasyPros ECR – 16

Many people look at Cam Newton’s injury as a detriment to the Panthers fantasy outlook. All the best to Cam and good luck with a speedy recovery, but its not like he was burning it up on the field. While it is a small sample size, Anderson has looked good in his one start and several minor stints in blowouts. During that time, Anderson has posted a 115.0 rating. In his lone start, he connected with Benjamin to the tune of six receptions, 92 yards and a TD. Against a Bucs defense that ranks 31st in efficiency against WR1’s, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar line this week.

Consider starting him over:
Josh Gordon – ECR 14
Randall Cobb – ECR 13

Tight End

Delanie WalkerTennessee Titans
FantasyPros ECR - 7

Walker has cooled down considerably after a hot start, other than a big game a few weeks ago. But Jake Locker has resumed starting duties with Zach Mettenberger done for the season. Most of Walker's success came with Locker under center, and that could very easily continue this week. The Jets rank last in the league against TEs and Walker is arguably the Titans best overall receiving option with the injuries to Justin Hunter and Kendall Wright. This could be one of the 100-yard games we have seen from him in the past.

Consider starting him over:
Antonio Gates – ECR 6
Martellus Bennett – ECR 3

Thanks for reading and good luck in Week 15! Follow me on Twitter @rw11687.


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December 11, 2014

Week 15 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Trifone

Here are my Week 15 picks against the spread:

Arizona Cardinals +5.5 over St. Louis Rams (5 units)

The Rams have been rolling lately, shutting out their last two opponents by a combined 76-0. Granted, it was the Raiders and Redskins, but quite impressive nonetheless. Arizona has struggled offensively since losing Carson Palmer, but did manage a win over the Chiefs last week, that few thought they would get. Many pundits believed that Arizona was going to lose out. As good as the Rams have been playing, this is a winnable game for the Cards, and if nothing else, I expect the defense to show up and keep the game close.

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Oakland Raiders +10 over Kansas City Chiefs (4 units)

Oakland is coming off a big win over the 49ers this past week. Their defense is awful against the run, but seventh in the league against the pass. Since the Chiefs passing game is not very good, I like Oakland to really key in on stopping Jamaal Charles. I think this one will be relatively low scoring, so with a 10-point spread, I like the Raiders here.

Houston Texans +7 over Indianapolis Colts (3 units)

Houston is going to put everything into this one, as a win here is their only chance to remain in the hunt. The Colts have been a little more up and down than many expected. Andrew Luck often seems to find a way to win, but he was not particularly impressive against the Browns or Redskins in the last two weeks. Houston is 2-0 since Ryan Fitzpatrick replaced the injured Ryan Mallet. I like Houston with the touchdown.

New Orleans Saints -3 over Chicago Bears (4 units)

This is the battle of the two most disappointing teams in the league. New Orleans has shown flashes of the team they once were, and although they have been anything but consistent, Chicago has been even worse. The Bears have not even been competitive the last two weeks. They got within 13 of Dallas by the end of last week's game, but by halftime, they were already in garbage time. Now with Brandon Marshall out for the year, Chicago has lost their top receiver. I like a bounce-back game from the Saints.

Note: NFL lines are from sportsbook.ag

-> All of our 2014 NFL Weekly Picks Against the Spread will be tracked here.

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December 10, 2014

2014 NFL Power Rankings: Week 15

While it's not mathematically impossible, the likelihood of the San Francisco 49ers getting to their fourth consecutive NFC Championship Game is slim to none.

If the 49ers were to win out, as unlikely as that seems given their recent struggles, they would also need help to sneak into the playoffs.

In a Thanksgiving Day rematch against their biggest division rivals, the 49ers will head to Seattle to take on the Seahawks. Scoring just three points in their loss two weeks ago, the 49ers will obviously need a much better offensive showing if they have a chance on Sunday.

That said, the Niners have been limited to 17 points or less in four consecutive games and six of their past seven games. As the 49ers struggle to score, it should come as no surprise that they have lost four of those seven games.

Not only are they struggling to score, but they are struggling to move the ball. During that span, only the Raiders (4.3649) have averaged fewer yards per offensive play than the 49ers (4.5057).

Meanwhile, the Seahawks have turned things around after their 3-3 start as they have won six of their past seven games. While Russell Wilson is playing well, the biggest key to that turnaround is the defense is once again playing stifling defense.

During the same span over which the 49ers offense has struggled, the Seahawks defense leads the NFL in fewest yards per play allowed (4.5359). And last week, they limited Chip Kelly's high-flying offense to their lowest output (139 yards) since he took over as coach in 2013.

Excluding the Panthers-Buccaneers game, which has no line, the 49ers are projected to score the fewest points this week at 14.25 based on early Vegas odds.

And if it comes down to the fourth quarter with the game on the line, here's an interesting stat that does not bode well for the 49ers: Colin Kaepernick has zero fourth-quarter touchdowns this season.

Here are some more NFL notes heading into Week 15:

  • The Cowboys and Eagles will meet in a rematch of their Thanksgiving Day showdown with identical 9-4 records in a game that could go a long way in deciding the division. Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray is 394 yards away from the 2,000-yard milestone, but Murray had a season-low 73 yards in his first matchup against the Eagles. [Poll: Will Murray get to 2,000 rushing yards this year?]

  • As great as Murray has been this season, Pittsburgh's Le'Veon Bell has been nearly as good. Over the past three games, Bell has eclipsed 200 yards from scrimmage in each game. The only other player in NFL history to have such a streak is the late, great Walter Payton. As Bell and the Steelers face the Falcons, who have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing running backs, Bell should be in store for another monster day in Week 15.

  • One week after a career-best day (10/189/1), Atlanta's Julio Jones set the franchise's single-game receiving record with 259 yards on 11 receptions (17 targets). As Atlanta fights to win the NFC South, it's unclear whether they will have Jones for Week 15 against the Steelers.

  • This just in: Aaron Rodgers is good. Starting his 100th career game, Rodgers was once again dominant as he threw for 327 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Rodgers has a 35:3 TD-to-INT ratio this season and 223:55 ratio over his career. Rodgers has no thrown 396 passes and 36 touchdowns at home since his last interception.

  • Although Oakland and Washington have offenses that have struggled, the Rams have shutouts in back-to-back games as they have outscored the Raiders and Redskins by a combined 76-0. They will host the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday Night Football and the Cardinals have managed to score just 52 points in their past four games combined without Carson Palmer.

  • There are also plenty of surprises every NFL season, but the Saints struggles at home is one of the bigger surprises. New Orleans has now lost four consecutive home games by a combined margin of 59 points including a 31-point loss on Sunday to the Panthers.

  • The Panthers had one of their best games of the season, but they will be without Cam Newton, who was involved in a car accident on Tuesday. Considering his truck flipped multiple times, he appears to be lucky to have escaped with nothing more serious than the two transverse process fractures Newton has in his lower back. That's the same injury that Tony Romo suffered and kept him out of just one game.

Here are my Week 15 NFL power rankings:

1. Green Bay Packers - Record: 10-3, Last Update: No. 1
2. Seattle Seahawks - Record: 9-4, Last Update: No. 5
3. Denver Broncos - Record: 10-3, Last Update: No. 2
4. New England Patriots - Record: 10-3, Last Update: No. 3
5. Indianapolis Colts - Record: 9-4, Last Update: No. 7
6. Arizona Cardinals - Record: 10-3, Last Update: No. 6
7. Philadelphia Eagles - Record: 9-4, Last Update: No. 4
8. Detroit Lions - Record: 9-4, Last Update: No. 8
9. Dallas Cowboys - Record: 9-4, Last Update: No. 9
10. Baltimore Ravens - Record: 8-5, Last Update: No. 15
11. Cincinnati Bengals - Record: 8-4-1, Last Update: No. 10
12. Pittsburgh Steelers - Record: 8-5, Last Update: No. 16
13. San Diego Chargers - Record: 8-5, Last Update: No. 11
14. Miami Dolphins - Record: 7-6, Last Update: No. 13
15. Houston Texans - Record: 7-6, Last Update: No. 19
16. Kansas City Chiefs - Record: 7-6, Last Update: No. 14
17. St. Louis Rams - Record: 6-7, Last Update: No. 21
18. San Francisco 49ers - Record: 7-6, Last Update: No. 12
19. Cleveland Browns - Record: 7-6, Last Update: No. 17
20. Minnesota Vikings - Record: 6-7, Last Update: No. 23
21. Buffalo Bills - Record: 7-6, Last Update: No. 20
22. Atlanta Falcons - Record: 5-8, Last Update: No. 22
23. Carolina Panthers - Record: 4-8-1, Last Update: No. 25
24. New Orleans Saints - Record: 5-8, Last Update: No. 18
25. New York Giants - Record: 4-9, Last Update: No. 26
26. Chicago Bears - Record: 5-8, Last Update: No. 24
27. Washington Redskins - Record: 3-10, Last Update: No. 27
28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Record: 2-11, Last Update: No. 28
29. Jacksonville Jaguars - Record: 2-11, Last Update: No. 30
30. New York Jets - Record: 2-11, Last Update: No. 31
31. Oakland Raiders - Record: 2-11, Last Update: No. 32
32. Tennessee Titans - Record: 2-11, Last Update: No. 29

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December 09, 2014

2014 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Week 15

For most fantasy owners, Week 16 is Championship Week, which means a fantasy title is within your sights. (Assuming that you are reading this, your team is likely still alive in your league's playoffs.)

Of course, a strong fantasy draft is a huge part of the success for almost all owners, but several waiver-wire adds (Justin Forsett, C.J. Anderson, etc., to name a few) have returned huge dividends as well.

For my waiver-wire posts, I have a self-imposed rule of only including players with Yahoo! ownership of 50 percent or less. The goal is to give you suggestions of players that (1) can help your fantasy squad and (2) are widely available in leagues.

With that said, here are some players to consider adding to your fantasy roster(s) (Yahoo! ownership in parenthesis):

QB - Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs (36 percent)

Smith is far from the most exciting option at quarterback, but he is generally a consistent fantasy quarterback despite being a low-upside option. In his first matchup against the Raiders in Week 12, Smith finished as a top-12 fantasy quarterback that week. And in Week 16, Smith will face the Steelers, who have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.

QB - Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Browns (23 percent)

With three losses in their past four games, Brian Hoyer and the Browns offense has struggled. In fact, Hoyer has thrown no touchdowns and seven interceptions in his past three games. While the Browns have yet to announce a starter for Week 15, all signs point to a switch to Manziel. Especially given his improvisational scrambling ability, Johnny Football is a high-upside (but risky) option for owners in need of quarterback help. The Week 15 matchup against the Bengals isn't great, but the Browns have a couple of great matchups in Weeks 16 (Panthers) and 17 (Ravens).

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RB - Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders (49 percent)

After missing the previous seven quarters with a concussion, Murray carried the ball a career-high 23 times for 76 yards against the 49ers. Although he averaged only slightly more than three yards per carry against San Francisco's stingy run defense, Murray has shown his high upside with 112 yards and two touchdowns on only four carries (before the concussion) in Week 12 against the Chiefs. Murray gets a re-match against the Chiefs and could end up doing plenty of damage assuming he stays healthy for the entire game.

RB - Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers (41 percent)

With DeAngelo Williams sidelined, Stewart ran with his increased opportunity (pun intended). The (biggest) concern with Carolina's committee backfield is always the platoon-limiting workload, but The Daily Show had 20 carries for 155 yards, both of which are season highs, and a touchdown against the Saints last week. Going back to the Week 8 matchup against the Seahawks, Stewart has averaged 5.74 yards per carry on his 74 carries during that span.

RB - Matt Asiata, Minnesota Vikings (38 percent)

While he's far from the most talented running back on the waiver wire, few running backs on the waiver wire will get as much work as Asiata will down the stretch with Jerick McKinnon placed on Injured Reserve. Asiata had 19 carries for only 54 yards against the stout Jets run defense and he faces another tough run defense (Lions) this week. The matchup in Week 16 against the Dolphins, who have allowed the 12th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, should at least put him on the flex radar in Week 16 for owners looking ahead.

RB - Kerwynn Williams, Arizona Cardinals (three percent)

Coming off a 19-carry, 100-yard performance, it's unlikely that Williams is that productive in any of his remaining games even though Andre Ellington has been placed on season-ending Injured Reserve. Bruce Arians has said that the team will use a committee the rest of the way, but Williams has earned the opportunity to continue to get the largest share of the workload even if he isn't officially the starter.

RB - James Starks, Green Bay Packers (eight percent)

Depending on the status of Eddie Lacy (hip) for Week 15, Starks is certainly worth rostering as one of the league's most talented handcuffs. Lacy admitted that he couldn't finish the game due to his hip injury and Starks racked up a total of 12 touches for 101 yards and a touchdown last night. That said, the Packers have a tough matchup against the Bills in Week 15.

WR - Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins (47 percent)

Perhaps Landry underperformed compared to expectations in Week 14 against the Ravens with six catches for 55 yards. That said, the rookie out of LSU now has at least five receptions and 50 yards or a touchdown in six consecutive games. During that span, Landry has double-digit targets in three games and a total of four touchdowns.

WR - Charles Johnson, Minnesota Vikings (20 percent)

With a great combination of size and speed, Johnson continues to get plenty of run with the Vikings. In his past four games, Johnson has a total of 30 targets that he has converted into 15 receptions for 283 yards and two touchdowns. The matchup against the Lions in Week 15 isn't great, but it's much easier to throw the ball against the Lions than it is to run the ball against them.

WR - Marqise Lee, Jacksonville Jaguars (four percent)

Of the (healthy) Jaguars receivers, Lee has been the most productive of the group since the team's Week 11 bye. In his past three games, Lee has a minimum of 52 yards in each game and has a total of 14 catches for 194 yards and a touchdown. This week, the Jaguars face the Ravens, who have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season.

WR - Malcom Floyd, San Diego Chargers (40 percent)

With Keenan Allen typically drawing the coverage from the opponent's top cornerback, Floyd has had a relatively productive season. Floyd has at least 50 yards and/or a touchdown in 11 of 13 games this season even though he has only one game with more than four receptions this season. On the season, Floyd has 42 catches for 743 yards and five touchdowns and is averaging 17.7 Y/R.

WR - Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis Colts (28 percent)

Certainly a better option in dynasty than re-draft formats, Moncrief has played more, many more, snaps than Hakeem Nicks recently, though. As the No. 3 wide receiver in one of the league's best offenses, the talented rookie possesses plenty of upside as we've seen in Week 8 (7/113/1) and Week 13 (3/134/2), but he has seen only four targets in each of the past three games despite his expanded role.

WR - Marquess Wilson, Chicago Bears (two percent)

One of my favorite sleepers in the preseason (before he broke his collarbone), Wilson has plenty of talent to flourish as the team's No. 2 wide receiver with Brandon Marshall placed on IR. The Bears will host the Saints on Monday Night Football this week and New Orleans has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season.

WR - Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks (34 percent)

The problem with any of the Seahawks receivers is that they don't throw the ball enough for any of them to consistently have productive outings, but Baldwin is the team's No. 1 receiver and had a strong outing (5/97/1) against a bad Eagles secondary in Week 14. In his previous five games, Baldwin had 45 yards or less and averaged just 29.6 yards per game. So, again, if there's a Seahawks receiver that is likely to have a useful fantasy outing, it's Baldwin, but it's just as likely that he finishes outside of the top-36 fantasy wide receivers in all of his remaining games.

TE - Jared Cook, St. Louis Rams (28 percent)

Cook was on last week's list primarily due to his matchups in Weeks 15 to 17, but he ended up having a huge outing in Week 14 (4/61/2) against Washington. Cook's remaining games are against the Cardinals, Giants and Seahawks, who all rank among the top-11 most generous defenses to opposing tight ends.

TE - Mychal Rivera, Oakland Raiders (24 percent)

Rivera has had some quiet games, but he has the fourth-most fantasy points among tight ends from Weeks 8 to 14 and the fifth-most on a per-game basis. During that seven-game stretch, Rivera has averaged 5.0 catches for 51.9 yards with four touchdowns.

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December 07, 2014

Bengals WR A.J. Green sets career high with 224 yards and TD

Spectacular in defeat, Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green had 11 receptions for a career-high 224 yards and a touchdown.

Not only did Green lead the team in receiving (obviously), but he had 201 more yards than Jermaine Gresham, who had the second most (23) on the team.

It was Green's first 200-yard game of his career and it was the sixth 200-yard receiving game this season. Only DeAndre Hopkins (238, Week 13) and Demaryius Thomas (226, Week 5) have had more.

Green now has exceeded 120 receiving yards in three of his past four games and has a total of 56 catches for 910 yards and six touchdowns in nine games this season.

Next week, Green and the Bengals will face cornerback Joe Haden and the Browns.

Green's worst game this season came in Week 10 against the Browns (3/23 on 10 targets). In fact, that was the only game this season that Green did not finish with 100-plus yards and/or a touchdown.


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Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell goes over 200 YFS for third consecutive game

The good times continue to roll for Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell as he rushed for 185 yards and two touchdowns and added six catches for 50 yards and another score.

With 235 yards from scrimmage on the day, Bell has now exceeded 200 yards from scrimmage in three consecutive games. The only other player in NFL history with a three-game streak of at least 200 YFS is Hall-of-Famer Walter Payton.

During that three-game stretch, Bell has a total of 80 carries for 484 yards with 16 receptions for 227 yards and a total of five touchdowns.

With 1,924 yards from scrimmage through 13 games, Bell is on pace for 2,368 and only DeMarco Murray (1,998) has more this season.

The only player with more YFS in Steelers history is Barry Foster, who finished with 2,034 YFS in 1992. Bell has a great matchup next week after the Falcons, who have allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs entering this week's games.


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POLL: Will DeMarco Murray reach the 2,000-yard milestone this season?

Although he has played one more game than Le'Veon Bell, Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray has a 540-yard lead over Bell to win this year's rushing title.

Barring injury, there is no chance that Bell catches Murray, but will Murray become the seventh player in league history to reach the 2,000-yard milestone?

On the season, Murray has 320 carries for 1,606 yards and nine touchdowns plus 53 receptions for 392 yards. In addition, Murray has exceeded 100 yards in all but two games this season and his 11 100-yard games ties him with Emmitt Smith for the single-season franchise record.

If Murray, who is averaging 123.5 rushing yards per game, is to reach the 2,000-yard mark, he will need to average 131.3 yards per game.

The Cowboys will face the Eagles, Colts and Redskins in their final three games and all three teams currently rank in the top 12 in the rush defense. Murray had a season-low 73 yards against the Eagles two weeks ago, but he had 141 yards against Washington earlier this season.

Will Murray reach the 2,000-yard milestone?


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Week 14 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Hanson

Here are my Week 14 picks against the spread:

Miami Dolphins -3 over Baltimore Ravens (3 units)

One of the plays that I really like every year is Baltimore at home. This week, they are on the road, however, as they travel to Miami to take on the Dolphins. The Dolphins have one of the league's best defenses as they rank sixth in the league in both scoring defense (19.3 PPG) and total defense (316.8 YPG).

Despite owning one of the league's best run defenses (86.3 YPG, tied for fourth in NFL), the Ravens pass defense (273.9 YPG, 31st) leaves a lot to be desired. Facing a four-game PED ban, the loss of Haloti Ngata hurts the Ravens on both fronts.

Not only is Ryan Tannehill completing 66.5 percent of his pass attempts and on pace for a career-best 27:12 TD-to-INT ratio, but he ranks fifth among quarterbacks in rushing yards (289). While Mike Wallace leads the team in receiving yards (661), rookie Jarvis Landry leads the team in receptions (57) and has emerged to give Miami a strong second option to help exploit the Ravens weakness in coverage.

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Cincinnati Bengals -3 over Pittsburgh Steelers (3 units)

After playing (and losing to) the Saints on Monday night, the Steelers have to travel for a key division game on a short week. Putting together game plans for division rivals may take less time, but cutting the days of rest by one can hurt (literally) at a time of the season when all players are banged up.

Bengals receiver A.J. Green has 22 catches for 305 yards and two touchdowns over his past three games and he's a difficult matchup for everyone. That said, the Steelers corners have really struggled as Ike Taylor and Cortez Allen are graded by PFF as the 99th and 115th (of 117) cornerbacks this year. And in the past two games, William Gay has allowed 236 yards and two touchdowns in coverage.

Returning home from a three-game road trip, the Bengals have struggled a bit recently at Paul Brown Stadium going 0-3 against the spread in their past three home games. But they covered their previous 12 games at home and I expect them to get back on track at home this week.

New York Giants -1.5 over Tennessee Titans (3 units)

The Giants are bad, but the Titans are worse, much worse. It's rare for 3-9 road teams to be favored, which is an indication of how bad the Titans are.

Despite a 21-3 lead at halftime last week, the Giants managed to lose their seventh consecutive game as the Jaguars returned to two fumbles for touchdowns and Josh Scobee kicked the game-winning field goal with 28 seconds to go.

Provided the Giants protect the football, they should be able to move the ball at will against the Titans, who rank 30th in total defense (385.3 YPG) and 31st in scoring defense (28.2 PPG).

The Giants defense is nearly as bad, but the Titans will be without Justin Hunter, who was placed on season-ending IR, and likely without Kendall Wright (hand) although he is listed as questionable.

Note: NFL lines are from sportsbook.ag

-> All of our 2014 NFL Weekly Picks Against the Spread will be tracked here.

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Week 14 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Yanotchko

Here are my Week 14 picks against the spread:

St. Louis Rams -3.5 over Washington Redskins (4 units)

The Rams come into this road game riding a pretty impressive win streak, as they have gone 3-1 in their last four, while Washington is still busy playing musical quarterbacks. The Rams have quite the edge going for them this week, as they are 5-1 against the spread in their last six against Washington, and I really like the offensive and defensive numbers behind this game as well. I like Shaun Hill going against one of the worst secondaries in the league, as Washington gives up 241 yards passing, 26 touchdowns, and they have only picked the ball off five times this year. These two teams will always be linked by the RG3 trade, and much like on draft day, the Rams will get the better of this one. I will go with four units on this game.

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Buffalo Bills +10 over Denver Broncos (5 units)

Not many people would have thought that here in Week 14, the Buffalo Bills will still have something to play for, as they are still in the AFC wildcard hunt. The Broncos will look to continue their march to home-field advantage, but I really think they will be tested this week by Buffalo's stout defense. The Bills have a great front-seven, and they limit opposing teams to 96.3 yards per game rushing and 3.9 yards per carry. We all know that Peyton Manning is one of the hardest quarterbacks to get to, but the Bills also have a great pass defense that only allows 216 yards per game, they have 48 sacks, and 15 interceptions on the year. This is the type of game that Manning hates, with a good front four that can bring pressure up the middle, much like the St. Louis game earlier this year, where they only scored seven points. I don't think the Bills will win this one, but they will certainly be within 10 points with this defense, and I like it so much, that I will go with five units.

New England Patriots -4 over San Diego Chargers (4 units)

This is the final game of a brutal stretch for the Patriots, which saw them play Denver, Indianapolis, Detroit, Green Bay and they finish up on the west coast against the 8-4 Chargers. The Chargers are right in the thick of the playoff race, and much like the Patriots, they always play their best football in December. There are a few reasons why I like the Pats this week, as they have been in San Diego all week getting acclimated to the weather, and of course the hardest time to beat the Patriots is when they are coming off of a loss. The Chargers defense is average, and this week I think the Patriots will use more of a ground-based attack against a unit that gives up 110 yards per game and 4.3 yards per carry. The other intangibles, Tom Brady is 5-0 against Philip Rivers, and the Chargers are working on a patchwork offensive line that has featured four centers and counting this year. I will go with four units while laying the four points on this game.

Note: NFL lines are from sportsbook.ag

-> All of our 2014 NFL Weekly Picks Against the Spread will be tracked here.

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Week 14 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Beazley

Here are my Week 14 picks against the spread:

Green Bay Packers -13 over Atlanta Falcons (4 units)

I usually don't play almost two-touchdown favorites in the NFL, but this one is too good to pass up. The Packers are fighting for home field throughout the playoffs in the NFC, and I believe Aaron Rodgers comes out firing against this Falcons defense that ranks 31st in the NFL against the pass. I believe the game will be in hand by halftime. I am going against recent trends in this one as Atlanta has covered four straight in Lambeau, and the road team is 7-1 ATS over the last eight. Falcons get humiliated on Monday Night, 45-17.

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New England Patriots -4 over San Diego Chargers (4 units)

I called the San Diego upset last week in Baltimore. This week, they have a tough home game against the Patriots, who will be ready for this one. I'm not sure of the exact record, but a Tom Brady-led Patriots team generally does not lose two games in a row, especially this late in the year where they are fighting for home-field advantage. (On a side note, I'm matched up against Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski in my fantasy playoffs this week, so that probably means big things for the Patriots!) I think the Patriots have too much on offense, and Philip Rivers throws a pick-six late. Patriots, 31-20.

New York Jets +6 over Minnesota Vikings (4 units)

I really like the Jets this week, and actually think they could pull the straight out win in Minnesota on Sunday. The Jets struggle against teams with a good passing attack. They won't have to worry about that with Teddy Bridgewater and the Vikings. The Vikings will also be without Jerrick McKinnon for the rest of the year, so I expect this to be very low scoring. The Jets will try to utilize the same game plan they did vs. the Dolphins on Monday night. I expect a big dose of Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson. Jets with the upset, 20-16.

Note: NFL lines are from sportsbook.ag

-> All of our 2014 NFL Weekly Picks Against the Spread will be tracked here.

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Week 14 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Trifone

Here are my Week 14 picks against the spread:

San Diego Chargers +4 over New England Patriots (3 units)

San Diego went through a little lull in the middle of the year, but they are back playing good football. They got a big win at Baltimore last week and will need to carry that momentum into this week to beat New England. The game could go either way, but I like the Chargers to at least keep it close.

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San Francisco 49ers -9 over Oakland Raiders (3 units)

Now that the Raiders have gotten their first win, I don't think they will be playing with the same intensity. They got crushed last week, 52-0, and this week will host the 49ers. San Francisco needs a win to stay in the hunt, after a bad loss to the Seahawks. Colin Kaepernick has received a lot of justified criticism of late, and I think the offense will bounce back from only scoring three last week. SF should win this one with relative ease.

New York Giants -1.5 over Tennessee Titans (4 units)

The Titans are a bad football team. The Giants have played terribly, but the sum of their parts should really be much better. Last week's loss to the Jags after a 21-3 lead looks to me like rock bottom, and I believe the team will go into Tennessee playing for professional pride. As essentially a pick'em game, I like the Giants to win this one.

New York Jets +6 over Minnesota Vikings (4 units)

The Jets were very competitive last week hosting Miami and almost won it. With Geno Smith back as starter, he is playing for any chance he might have to remain the starter going into next year or to impress another team. I'll take the points here on a team who has a poor record, but still plays hard for their coach.

Detroit Lions -10 over Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4 units)

The Lions seem destined for the playoffs and I don't see Tampa as a major road block. The Lions defense should feast this week, and I think they will keep the Bucs scoring to a minimum.

Note: NFL lines are from sportsbook.ag

-> All of our 2014 NFL Weekly Picks Against the Spread will be tracked here.

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December 05, 2014

2014 Fantasy Football Week 14 Start'em, Sit'em

We are one game into the Week 14 slate and the lineup decisions that you make for the rest of this week's games can be the difference between advancing to the next round of the playoffs and ending your season.

With our Start'em, Sit'em columns, we highlight some players that we like (or dislike) for the week for various reasons -- recent production, opportunity, matchups, etc.

That said, players listed on the "start'em" side shouldn't be started blindly -- or vice versa.

In other words, I like Russell Wilson going against Philadelphia's weak secondary this week. However, if you own Aaron Rodgers and Wilson on the same team, you should start Rodgers, my top-ranked fantasy quarterback, over Wilson.

For a better guage of which player I'd start over another, check out my fantasy football rankings.

Looking ahead to the rest of this week's games, here are some players to consider starting:

QB - Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (at PHI)

Wilson has averaged 19.62 fantasy points per game with three top-eight finishes over the past four weeks. Wilson isn't going to put up gaudy passing statistics, but he has accounted for 19 touchdowns -- four are rushing scores -- with only five interceptions. Not only has he rushed for more than 30 yards in nine of his past 10 games, but he has three 100-yard rushing games this season. Allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, the Eagles have allowed a quarterback to finish as a top-12 scorer in nine of their 12 games this season.

QB - Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins (vs. BAL)

Over the past seven games, Tannehill has been a bit boom or bust. While he has finished as a top-eight fantasy quarterback four times including three top-four finishes over that stretch, he also has finished as the QB19 or worse three times. And while he failed to capitalize on the favorable matchup against the Jets this week, he has another favorable matchup this week against the Ravens, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.

RB - Daniel Herron, Indianapolis Colts (at CLE)

The Browns are middle of the pack in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs (19th most), but they rank 29th in the league in rushing defense (132.5 yards per game allowed). Since the season-ending injury to Ahmad Bradshaw, it's been a fairly even split in touches between Herron and Trent Richardson with Herron getting the edge due to his involvement as a receiver. That said, Herron has been much more productive -- 20 carries for 153 yards and a touchdown plus seven receptions for 39 yards in his past two games. (For a T-Rich comparison, scroll down to the Sit'em side of this column.)

RB - Tre Mason, St. Louis Rams (at WAS)

It was a tremendous week for Mason, his fantasy owners and the Rams in Week 13. Mason carried the ball only 14 times, which ties a five-game low, but he rushed for a career-high 117 yards and two touchdowns and added three catches for 47 yards and a third touchdown. Mason has exceeded the 100-yard mark in two of three games and he has 17-plus touches in five consecutive games. This week's matchup isn't favorable (Washington allows the fourth-fewest fantasy points to RBs), but Mason has become a must-start given his volume of work and recent production.

RB - Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns (vs. IND)

Facing the stout Bills run defense, Crowell averaged a career-low 0.24 fantasy points per touch last week. That said, he had a career-high 18 touches and he finished as the RB17, RB23 and RB6 in the previous three weeks, respectively. In Week 14, Crowell gets a more favorable matchup against the Colts, who have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

RB - Joique Bell, Detroit Lions (vs. TB)

Even though Coach Caldwell dubbed Reggie Bush the team's "starting" running back, it's Bell -- not Bush -- that should be in your starting lineups. Bell is coming off his best performance of the year with 23 carries for 91 yards and two scores as well as two catches for 16 yards. Scoring a season-high .908 fantasy points per touch on 25 touches, also a season high, Bell finished fourth in fantasy points among RBs last week. Over the past four weeks, three opposing running backs have finished as a top-eight scorer against the Bucs.

WR - Kenny Stills, New Orleans Saints (vs. CAR)

Stills is coming off his best performance of the season (5/162/1), but he's had a productive stretch since Week 7. During that seven-game span, Stills has 34 receptions for 550 yards and three touchdowns and the 14th-most fantasy points among wide receivers. With the second-most favorable fantasy strength of schedule, Stills should finish the season strong. The Panthers have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season.

WR - DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans (at JAX)

Coming off a career day (9/238/2), Hopkins now has four games with at least 100 yards and seven games with at least 80 yards. Hopkins has a favorable matchup against the Jaguars, who have allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers.

WR - Odell Beckham, New York Giants (at TEN)

Like Stills (second-best) and Hopkins (eighth-best), ODB has a favorable strength of schedule to close the season as the Giants have the sixth easiest schedule. Beckham Jr. had a somewhat disappointing game last week, but he still finished with eight receptions for 90 yards. He now has a minimum of six catches and 90 yards in five consecutive games and he faces the secondary that allowed Hopkins to get 238 yards in Week 13.

WR - Brandon LaFell, New England Patriots (at SD)

Over his past five games, LaFell has averaged 6.8 receptions on 9.4 targets for 75.0 yards per game and has scored a total of four touchdowns. Only seven teams have allowed more fantasy points per touch to wide receivers than the Chargers (1.91). Only the Packers, Saints and Broncos are projected to score points than the Patriots this week based on Vegas odds. LaFell is solid WR2 this week.

TE - Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans (vs. NYG)

One week after finishing with 155 yards, Walker had just six yards on one reception in Week 13 against the Texans. The Texans have been one of the league's stingiest defenses against opposing tight ends, but this week's opponent has been much more generous. The Giants have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season.

TE - Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins (vs. STL)

The matchup for Reed is not favorable, but he is one of the league's more gifted tight ends when healthy. After missing Week 12, Reed had nine catches for 123 yards on 11 targets in Week 13 to finish the week with the second-most fantasy points among tight ends. Given the matchup, I wouldn't expect the same type of production, but I do expect him to still be heavily involved in the game plan and finish the week as a top-12 option.

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Here are some players to consider keeping on your fantasy bench(es):

QB - Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers (at OAK)

The 49ers are favored by nine points this week and the Raiders are coming off a 52-0 drubbing by the Rams last week. It wouldn't surprise me if Kaepernick finished as a top-12 fantasy quarterback this week, but the last time he did so was Week 6 (mid-October). Kaepernick has thrown one or no touchdowns in six consecutive games and has less than 200 passing yards in two of his past three games. In addition, he has just 24 rushing yards or less in six consecutive games.

RB - Trent Richardson, Indianapolis Colts (at CLE)

A touchdown? Jumping into the Dawg Pound? That's sort of like me talking about where I'm going to take Mila Kunis if we go on a date. Ain't gonna happen. Ok, T-Poor's likelihood to score is greater than mine as he scored a touchdown in Week 12 against the Jags, but he has averaged just 2.0 YPC since Bradshaw got hurt in Week 11. (That's bad, even by Richardson's deflated standards.) And last week, he rushed eight times for 12 yards with his "long" rush being only three yards. In the Colts "Boom" (Herron) and "Bust" (Richardson) backfield, the Colts running backs to start (and sit) are fairly obvious.

RB - Latavius Murray, San Francisco 49ers (vs. SF)

Doing tons of damage on just four carries (112 yards and two touchdowns) before sustaining a concussion in Week 12, Murray missed last week's game but he has been cleared via the league's concussion protocal. And although I have him ranked highest among Raider running backs, Murray has a difficult matchup this week against the 49ers, who have allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

RB - Steven Jackson, Atlanta Falcons (at GB)

With the 21st-most fantasy points among running backs this season, Jackson has been especially productive over the past five weeks with double-digit fantasy points in four of those games. Although it's an average matchup for S-Jax in terms of fantasy points allowed, the Falcons are this week's biggest underdogs (nearly two TDs). It's certainly possible that this game gets out of hand early and the Falcons are forced to abandon the run, which could limit Jackson's upside. Jackson has averaged just 1.3 receptions per game this season.

WR - Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at DET)

Going against the league's top-ranked scoring defense, it should be no surprise that the Bucs are projected to score the fewest points this week (15.75). Even though he had 117 yards just two weeks ago, V-Jax has only one top-25 finish this year and that was Week 5. Coincidentally (or not so coincidentally), that was the one week that rookie Mike Evans did not play.

WR - Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers (at OAK)

Despite being healthy, it's been a disappointing season for Crabtree (51/577/4, WR40 through Week 13). If I start a 49ers wide receiver this (or any) week, it's going to be Anquan Boldin, who has been a much more reliable option this year. In his past nine games, Crabtree has exceeded 6.2 fantasy points only twice and he has averaged just 5.67 fantasy points per game over that span.

WR - Eric Decker, New York Jets (at MIN)

The Jets threw the ball only 13 times last week, which resulted in seven receptions. Only four of those receptions went to wide receivers even though Decker had the most (two for 18 yards). In fact, the Jets wide receivers had more carries (nine) than the entire team had receptions. Assuming that the Jets use a similar ground-and-pound game plan, I'd keep all Jets receivers on my bench although Percy Harvin may get enough rush attempts to flirt with flex-level production.

WR - Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs (at ARI)

When Bowe catches his next touchdown this season, it will be his first. To be fair, he is tied for the most receiving touchdowns among his position group this season. (Then again, so am I.) Although Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson has had an up-and-down season, Bowe has averaged just 2.3 receptions for 26.0 yards per game over his past three outings and he's outside my top 60 fantasy wide receivers.

TE - Owen Daniels, Baltimore Ravens (at MIA)

No team has allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season than the Dolphins, who have surrendered an average of only 4.68 fantasy points to the position this season. The Dolphins have not allowed a top-12 fantasy tight end since Week 3 (Travis Kelce) and only one tight end has had more than 40 yards against them (Martellus Bennett, 58, Week 7). Meanwhile, Daniels has just six catches for 57 yards over his past three games combined.

TE - Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers (at OAK)

Davis has become a Sit'em staple. Held out of the end zone since Week 1, Davis has had 30 receiving yards or less in eight consecutive games. Based on talent, Davis has the potential for a two-touchdown game any given week, but he's averaged just 1.64 fantasy points per game over his past eight games. That makes him hard to trust in a do-or-die playoff scenario.

To see who I would start based on your team, please consult with my Week 14 rankings:

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Daily Fantasy Football Roundtable: Favorite Week 14 DraftKings Plays

The fantasy playoffs are under way for most as Week 14 typically marks the beginning of the playoffs in fantasy leagues. With daily fantasy sports, however, it's like championship week every week as the season lasts for only that week's games.

Like in previous weeks, our contributors have offered their favorite DraftKings play for the remainder of this week's games.

Here are our picks for Week 14:

Brendan DonahueJonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers (at NO), $3,800

This is purely a value pick. Stewart is the 41st-most expensive running back this week, but with the news that D'Angelo Williams could miss Sunday's game, Stewart should be the featured back. The Panthers should be giving Stewart the lion's share of the work anyway. Stewart is averaging 4.25 YPC on the year compared to 3.47 for Williams, and Stewart is also tied for fifth in the entire league in yards after contact per attempt. New Orleans has given up the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs (DK scoring) this season so I would expect Stewart to provide top-25 production and is a great value pick this week.

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Ryan WattersonRandall Cobb, Green Bay Packers (vs. ATL), $7,400

The Packers offense has been on a tear for several weeks with Cobb playing a large role in their success. Cobb gets a matchup with the hapless Atlanta secondary this week -- the Falcons rank 31st in defensive pass efficiency, but Cobb really benefits from the matchup within the matchup. As porous as the Falcons have been, Desmond Trufant has been very solid as their No. 1 CB. The same cannot be said on the other side of the ball, especially with the injury to Robert Alford (although he wasn't doing all that well even when healthy). Trufant is expected to shadow Jordy Nelson, and we all know Rodgers is not the kind of QB to force anything. As a result, Cobb should be the go-to guy this week and take advantage of a very positive matchup. At $7,400, you can't call this a bargain or value play, but Cobb should significantly outperform his salary this week.

Sean BeazleyBrian Hoyer/Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns (vs. IND), $5,200/$8,100

This Sunday, I will be rolling out a QB-WR combo that only takes up $13,500 off my $50,000 cap. The big news this week was that Brian Hoyer will start for Cleveland and I love the Hoyer/Gordon combo this week. Hoyer will be on a short leash with Manziel looming, but the Colts pass defense has been horrible the past few weeks so I think Hoyer will rise to the occasion. I have Josh Gordon as my No. 1 fantasy WR this week, and Hoyer is a steal at $5,200. With the savings at QB, it allows me to roster a few more higher-tiered players (Jordy Nelson/Odell Beckham Jr.) I really like this week.

Dan YanotchkoJarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins (vs. BAL), $5,600

This week a guy on my must-have list on Draft Kings for $5,600 is Jarvis Landry of the Miami Dolphins. Landry has one of the best matchups of the week, as the Ravens defense allows a whopping 274 yards passing per game, which is second-worst in the league, and also they have surrendered 20 touchdowns as well. Landry also has an impressive stat line this year, as he has 57 receptions for 518 yards and five touchdowns, and he has evolved into a WR2 that is knocking on the door of WR1 with a split of 27 catches on 37 targets, 217 yards receiving, and three touchdowns in his past four games.

Kevin HansonEddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers (vs. ATL), $7,800

Although he finished with just 13.5 DK points last week, he had more than 20 DK points in each of his previous four games and has at least 13.5 points in six consecutive games. A workhorse back with more than 20 carries in each of his past two games, Lacy is set up for another huge workload as the Packers are this week's biggest favorites and projected by Vegas to score the most points. Lacy is averaging 5.21 YPC over his past three games and he has five touchdowns in his past four games. Not only are the Packers expected to win big this week, but Lacy's matchup against the Falcons (second-most fantasy points to RBs) is also one of the best at the position in Week 14. With a high floor and plenty of upside, Lacy is ideal for both cash games and GPPs.

More Week 14 content:

Good luck in Week 14!


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December 04, 2014

2014 NFL Power Rankings: Week 14

In case you haven't looked at a calendar recently, the month of December is now upon us.

Given the lack of success in the season's final month in recent history, many Cowboy fans would probably prefer to turn the clock (calendar) back to November.

Since becoming a starter in 2006, Tony Romo has posted a 12-17 record in the month of December. Of course, all of those losses aren't exclusively Romo's fault, but that split is one of the main reasons many believe an inevitable Cowboys' collapse could be on the horizon.

A glimmer of hope that history does not repeat itself is Romo's better results on the road in the month of December as well as the team's overall success on the road up to December this season.

While Romo has posted a 3-10 record in December at home, the Cowboys have won nine of his 16 road starts in December. And not only are the Cowboys the only unbeaten road team (5-0) this season, but Romo's road stats have been as good as anyone's this year.

In his five road games, Romo has completed 70.07 percent of his pass attempts for 8.5 yards per attempt and a passer rating of 122.0. In addition, he has posted a 12:1 TD-to-INT ratio on the road this season as well.

With the exception of hosting Andrew Luck and the Colts in Week 16, the Cowboys other three December games are on the road including tonight's matchup against the Bears.

Here are some more NFL notes heading into Week 14:

  • Given that the Browns are still in the playoff hunt, I think it makes sense to stick with Brian Hoyer (vs. Johnny Manziel) at quarterback, but Hoyer has a 1:6 TD-to-INT ratio over his past three games. It wouldn't surprise me if Hoyer has a short leash should the team's offense struggle against the Colts this week.

  • Ex-Browns (and current Colts) running back Trent Richardson says that he will jump into the Dawg Pound if he scores a touchdown against his former team this weekend. Perhaps he should set his sights a little lower than a touchdown like, say, a four-yard run. T-Rich gained 12 yards on eight carries last week with a long run of three yards. Over his past three games, he's averaging 2.0 YPC (27 carries for 54 yards).

  • The Cowboys are the only unbeaten team on the road this season. Meanwhile, the Bucs are the only winless team at home (0-6). The good news, I guess, is that the Bucs play on the road this week and next.

  • The Chargers have historically had strong December finishes to their season, but they have a brutal four-game schedule this month. The Chargers host the Patriots and Broncos and then have to play the 49ers and Chiefs on the road.

  • Through Week 13, there are four 1,000-yard rushers so far this season with Justin Forsett being the biggest surprise among the bunch. Forsett has 1,009 rushing yards on 179 carries and leads all running backs in YPC (5.6) as well as number of 20-yard runs (13).

  • Green Bay's Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb now have 10 receiving touchdowns each to become the franchise's first receiving duo to each have double-digit touchdowns. Nelson is on pace for 86/1,337/12 and Cobb is on pace for 80/1,135/12.

  • Houston's J.J. Watt has now scored five touchdowns this season. FIVE! Only DeAndre Hopkins (six) and Arian Foster (four) have more receiving touchdowns than Watt (three). And on defense, Watt has 11.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and an interception (that he returned 80 yards for a score).

  • This could be a week of blowouts. Based on odds from Sportsbook.ag, there are currently four games with double-digit spreads: Saints over Panthers, Lions over Bucs (maybe going on the road isn't so great), Broncos over Bills and Packers over Falcons. In addition, the 49ers are nine-point favorites over the Bay Area counterparts.

  • Then again, if the Raiders lose by only nine points, it will be a 43-point improvement over last week. After a long 16-game stretch without winning any games, the Raiders won their first game in Week 12. Any positive emotions from that win was completely wiped out after last week's 52-0 beatdown by the Rams.

Here are my Week 14 NFL power rankings:

1. Green Bay Packers - Record: 9-3, Last Update: No. 3
2. Denver Broncos - Record: 9-3, Last Update: No. 4
3. New England Patriots - Record: 9-3, Last Update: No. 1
4. Philadelphia Eagles - Record: 9-3, Last Update: No. 6
5. Seattle Seahawks - Record: 8-4, Last Update: No. 7
6. Arizona Cardinals - Record: 9-3, Last Update: No. 2
7. Indianapolis Colts - Record: 8-4, Last Update: No. 9
8. Detroit Lions - Record: 8-4, Last Update: No. 13
9. Dallas Cowboys - Record: 8-4, Last Update: No. 5
10. Cincinnati Bengals - Record: 8-3-1, Last Update: No. 10
11. San Diego Chargers - Record: 8-4, Last Update: No. 17
12. San Francisco 49ers - Record: 7-5, Last Update: No. 8
13. Miami Dolphins - Record: 7-5, Last Update: No. 16
14. Kansas City Chiefs - Record: 7-5, Last Update: No. 11
15. Baltimore Ravens - Record: 7-5, Last Update: No. 15
16. Pittsburgh Steelers - Record: 7-5, Last Update: No. 12
17. Cleveland Browns - Record: 7-5, Last Update: No. 14
18. New Orleans Saints - Record: 5-7, Last Update: No. 20
19. Houston Texans - Record: 6-6, Last Update: No. 18
20. Buffalo Bills - Record: 7-5, Last Update: No. 19
21. St. Louis Rams - Record: 5-7, Last Update: No. 22
22. Atlanta Falcons - Record: 5-7, Last Update: No. 24
23. Minnesota Vikings - Record: 5-7, Last Update: No. 23
24. Chicago Bears - Record: 5-7, Last Update: No. 21
25. Carolina Panthers - Record: 3-8-1, Last Update: No. 26
26. New York Giants - Record: 3-9, Last Update: No. 25
27. Washington Redskins - Record: 3-9, Last Update: No. 27
28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Record: 2-10, Last Update: No. 28
29. Tennessee Titans - Record: 2-10, Last Update: No. 29
30. Jacksonville Jaguars - Record: 2-10, Last Update: No. 31
31. New York Jets - Record: 2-10, Last Update: No. 30
32. Oakland Raiders - Record: 1-11, Last Update: No. 32

Also, check out our fantasy football rankings:

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Fantasy Football Week 14: Underrated Players in PPR Leagues

Win or go home.

For pretty much everyone reading this, that’s what is at stake this week. In most cases, this week represents the first round -- a championship is only a few wins away. But heartbreak and anger are only one loss away. There are no pushovers in the playoffs, you don’t get the opportunity to face the guy who stopped submitting lineups in Week 5. There are no garbage teams to run over. Every week from this point forward will be a challenge.

Trusting the studs that got you to this point is always a good decision, but those are usually no-brainer lineup decisions anyways. It’s the ancillary starters that make or break you. Picking the right WR3 out of a group of boom-or-bust options. Deciding between upside or steadiness. Championships are won and lost on these critical decisions, and it’s not for the faint of heart. We’ve all been there -- you've pulled your hair out all week deciding between two players, only to watch the player you benched put up just enough points to give you victory, while the player you started lead you to defeat. Below are some underrated options that just may help steal victory from the jaws of defeat.

As always, we will first take a look back at my previous picks. Due to technical issues last week, there was no Week 13 version. So, we have to go all the way back to Week 12 for review. Seems like ages ago, doesn’t it? Other than the QB position, I had a strong showing and hope to continue in Week 14.

Week 12 Results
QBsRBsWRsTEsTotal
-30.6+40.8+79.3+1.9+91.4
YTD Results
QBsRBsWRsTEsTotal
-59.0+191.7+15.4+33.1+181.2
* Stats are based on players recommended (compared to options listed to start those players over). YTD stats are from Week 5 with my first post.

Best of the week: Odell Beckham Jr. +42.0 -- Wow. ODB lit up the Cowboys to the tune of 10 catches, 146 yards, and 2 TDs. Not to mention one of the most incredible catches you will ever see. Beckham turned in the best WR performance of Week 12, and blew Roddy White and Jeremy Maclin out of the water. White had a very solid game in his own right, but couldn’t hold a candle to ODB’s incredible performance. This kid is fun to watch.

Runner-up: Anquan Boldin +34.0 -- Boldin is the lone bright spot on an anemic 49ers offense. He continues to perform at a high level despite Colin Kaepernick’s continuing struggles. Boldin turned in the third-best fantasy performance for WRs in Week 12.

Worst of the week: Joe Flacco -20.0 -- I am in a slump when it comes to QB picks, and it continued in Week 12. Flacco was mediocre at best, putting up 16 fantasy points. But he was thoroughly outperformed by Russell Wilson and Ryan Tannehill, with Tannehill responsible for the majority of the negative spread.

Runner-up: Brian Hoyer -10.0 -- Hoyer had everything lined up in his favor to put up a strong game. Instead, he limped to another mediocre finish which began the whispers of Johnny Football's potential emergence. An unexpected outbreak from Eli Manning was the reason for the -10, but I guess I was playing with fire when suggesting to start ODB and sit Manning.

Now, let’s get to players that hopefully will help you take the first step in the quest for a championship.

Quarterbacks

Philip Rivers -- San Diego Chargers
FantasyPros ECR -- 11

I typically like to suggest two QBs, but this week just didn’t line up well for that. There was only one I really felt comfortable with and I don’t want to make a suggestion just for the sake of it. But honestly, given my recent QB track record, who the hell is going to listen anyways??

As for Rivers, there is no question the Patriots secondary is a bit daunting. However, they can be had, as Aaron Rodgers showed last week. Rivers isn’t Rodgers, but he does spread the ball around and makes good decisions like Rodgers does. With Keenan Allen returning to his rookie form recently, the Chargers have an underrated set of receiving options. But more than anything, I think Rivers has a big game as a result of game flow. The Chargers secondary (and defense in general) has struggled mightily since a strong opening to the season. They rank 30th in defensive pass efficiency -- you think Tom Brady may have some fun with that? Coming off a tough loss, the Patriots are going to come out firing. With the Chargers in a heated playoff battle, they will do everything they can to keep up, which should mean throwing early and often.

Consider starting him over:
Russell Wilson -- ECR 6
Matthew Stafford -- ECR 8

Running Backs

Lamar Miller -- Miami Dolphins
FantasyPros ECR -- 24

Miller has been a very solid fantasy RB this season, ranking as a low-end RB1 in PPR formats. He often gets overlooked for some reason, and that remains the case this week with a ranking of 24. Granted, the Ravens defense has been good against the run this season, but Miller has been fairly matchup proof this season. He rarely explodes for huge games, but that is more a result of his limited usage -- he has yet to see 20 carries in a single game and has only topped 15 a handful of times. But when he gets the rock, he produces. Consider he has only had two games where he has averaged less than 4 YPC, and that was in Weeks 5 and 6. And this isn’t a result of an easy schedule, as one-third of his games have been against top-10 rush defenses (three games were against top-five defenses).

In addition, Miller averages nearly 1 YPC more at home than on the road -- checking in at an impressive 5.4 YPC. To me, this has the makings of a grind it out game as both teams are lock-step in the AFC playoff race. I think the Dolphins go to Miller more than usual and he outperforms his current back-end RB2 ranking.

Consider starting him over:
Isaiah Crowell -- ECR 18
Fred Jackson -- ECR 23

Chris Ivory -- New York Jets
FantasyPros ECR -- 36

Admittedly, this is a risky choice. Ivory has been up and down all season. His usage varies drastically from game to game for some unknown reason. Oh, wait, I guess it’s not that much of an unknown… Marty Mornhinwig is the OC and he just isn’t that smart. The fact is Ivory is productive when given the opportunities and he faces a Vikings defense that is ranked 27th in defensive run efficiency. Given the Jets horrible QB situation, and Rex Ryan’s motivation to screw his soon-to-be former employer out of a potential No. 1 pick (just guessing, but doesn’t he seem like the vengeful type?), perhaps the Jets actually mix it up for a change and put together a game plan that exploits the opponent's weakness. Or not. I will readily admit this could go the other way, but Ivory has upside this week, and upside can be all you need to pull off a victory.

Consider starting him over:
LeGarrette Blount -- ECR 32
Reggie Bush -- ECR 34

Jonathan Stewart -- Carolina Panthers
FantasyPros ECR -- 27

DeAngelo Williams has a fractured finger and even if he does attempt to play, I can’t imagine they get him overly involved with Stewart available. Stewart has been solid this season, albeit in his typical split role. But if he gets the opportunity to be the lead back this week, the potential for a big game is there. In his previous game against the Saints, Stewart put up 46 yards on only eight carries, averaging 5.8 YPC. New Orleans has consistently been near the bottom of the league in rush defense, and they check in at 29th this week. Not to mention, Stewart was already involved in the passing game, but an uptick in targets is likely with increased playing time and the potential to be in catchup mode early. That bodes well for his PPR prospects.

Consider starting him over:
Frank Gore -- ECR 26
Joique Bell -- ECR 14

Wide Receivers

Randall Cobb -- Green Bay Packers
FantasyPros ECR -- 11

Look, if you have Cobb, you are more than likely starting him regardless. But this is just a reminder -- don’t try and get cute. Cobb is my No. 1 WR this week. The Packers offense is rolling right now and the Falcons defense isn’t going to slow it down. Atlanta ranks 25th against WR2’s, but almost as importantly, they rank 8th against WR1’s. Rodgers isn’t one to force anything, especially when he has a talent like Cobb as the second option. This is setup for Cobb to explode as the primary target while Jordy Nelson is stuck against Desmond Trufant, who is really playing well.

Consider starting him over:
Julio Jones -- ECR 6
Antonio Brown -- ECR 3

Brandon LaFell -- New England Patriots
FantasyPros ECR -- 24

LaFell has a great matchup against the Chargers this week, who rank 22nd against WR2’s. He continues to be heavily involved in this Patriots offense and has Brady’s trust in any scenario. Coming off a painful loss to the Packers, the Patriots will come out with a vengeance and look to pour it on the Chargers. This feels like a game where regardless of the score, Brady keeps flinging the ball around.

Consider starting him over:
Jeremy Maclin -- ECR 23
Mike Evans -- ECR 16
Roddy White -- ECR 22

Golden Tate -- Detroit Lions
FantasyPros ECR -- 20

While the Lions offense has largely struggled this season, Tate has been a steady, and sometimes stellar, fantasy performer. Even with the return of Calvin Johnson, Tate has continued to put up numbers. Coming off of their best offensive performance of the season, the Lions take on a porous Bucs secondary. Tampa ranks 21st overall against the pass, but 27th against WR2’s. Conversely, they rank 12th in rushing defense, meaning the matchup suggests a heavier passing attack may be in order. While Johnson will always get a lot of targets, his presence gives Tate a lot of single coverage, which he is more than capable of exploiting.

Consider starting him over:
Josh Gordon -- ECR 9 (Josh, meet Vontae Davis. Oh, and over here is Brian Hoyer. He will be serving you ducks today.)
Brandon Marshall -- ECR 14

Tight End

Antonio Gates -- San Diego Chargers
FantasyPros ECR - 6

As mentioned previously, I think this game has shootout potential. At the very least, I think the Chargers will be forced to throw a lot. This bodes very well for Gates’ fantasy prospects, given that the Patriots rank 31st against TEs. With the strong corner play the Patriots can offer, Rivers will be looking old faithful’s way time and time again. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gates take top TE honors this week.

Consider starting him over:
Greg Olsen -- ECR 5
Martellus Bennett -- ECR 4

Tim Wright -- New England Patriots
FantasyPros ECR -- 20

If you are desperate or in need of large upside, Wright is a valid option this week. For all the reasons I have already mentioned about this game, he has the potential to put up a big week. He is very up and down, and could just as easily put up a one-catch game. But I think the Chargers will focus on taking away Gronk, which leaves Wright in a position to be open often. The image of Wright standing wide open in the front corner of the end zone against the Lions keeps running through my mind. It seemed like he was the very last option and it took Brady hours to find him. But there he was, not a Lion within 10 yards for what felt like an eternity. There is a good chance we see that same thing this week, whether it is in the end zone or not is the question. My guess is yes.

Consider starting him over:
Charles Clay -- ECR 18
Jared Cook -- ECR 19

Thanks for reading and good luck in Week 14! Follow me on Twitter @rw11687.


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December 02, 2014

Fantasy Football QB Strength of Schedule (SOS): Fantasy Playoffs (Weeks 14 to 16)

Before the season began, we created fantasy football strength of schedule (SOS) pages for each position based on last year's production. Through the season, however, we have made weekly updates to our strength of schedule tables for the remaining games based on what their upcoming opponents have done so far this season.

In a way, we are now on to a new season as most leagues conduct their playoffs from Weeks 14 to 16.

A player's fantasy strength of schedule is far from the most important aspect of his remaining outlook. But if you're debating a pair of players to pick up off the waiver wire (Week 14 waiver-wire post) and they are otherwise comparable in your view, a more favorable fantasy schedule at least help to break the tie.

Five most favorable SOS for QBs (Weeks 14-16):

1. Dallas Cowboys (Tony Romo): 18.74 average fantasy points allowed among remaining opponents
T-2. New Orleans Saints (Drew Brees): 18.15
T-2. St. Louis Rams (Shaun Hill): 18.15
4. Tennessee Titans (Zach Mettenberger, Jake Locker): 18.12
5. New York Giants (Eli Manning): 17.98

DraftKings Millionaire Maker Week 14 Contest: Turn $27 (entry fee) into $1 Million (top prize).

Five least favorable SOS for QBs (Weeks 14-16):

32. Oakland Raiders (Derek Carr): 13.84
31. Arizona Cardinals (Drew Stanton): 14.43
30. Denver Broncos (Peyton Manning): 14.65
29. Pittsburgh Steelers (Ben Roethlisberger): 15.02
28. Baltimore Ravens (Joe Flacco): 15.13

* Note: Totals above are the average fantasy football points allowed based on their remaining opponents.

Full Strength of Schedules:

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Fantasy Football RB Strength of Schedule (SOS): Fantasy Playoffs (Weeks 14 to 16)

Before the season began, we created fantasy football strength of schedule (SOS) pages for each position based on last year's production. Through the season, however, we have made weekly updates to our strength of schedule tables for the remaining games based on what their upcoming opponents have done so far this season.

In a way, we are now on to a new season as most leagues conduct their playoffs from Weeks 14 to 16.

A player's fantasy strength of schedule is far from the most important aspect of his remaining outlook. But if you're debating a pair of players to pick up off the waiver wire (Week 14 waiver-wire post) and they are otherwise comparable in your view, a more favorable fantasy schedule at least help to break the tie.

Five most favorable SOS for RBs (Weeks 14-16):

T-1. Cleveland Browns (Isaiah Crowell, Terrance West): 21.31 average fantasy points allowed among remaining opponents
T-1. New York Jets (Chris Ivory, Chris Johnson): 21.31
3. Carolina Panthers (Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams): 20.56
4. Pittsburgh Steelers (Le'Veon Bell): 20.48
5. New Orleans Saints (Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas): 20.20

DraftKings Millionaire Maker Week 14 Contest: Turn $27 (entry fee) into $1 Million (top prize).

Five least favorable SOS for RBs (Weeks 14-16):

32. Oakland Raiders (Latavius Murray, Darren McFadden): 15.00
31. Seattle Seahawks (Marshawn Lynch): 15.95
30. Arizona Cardinals (Andre Ellington): 16.08
29. Minnesota Vikings (Jerick McKinnon): 16.19
28. St. Louis Rams (Tre Mason): 16.33

* Note: Totals above are the average fantasy football points allowed based on their remaining opponents.

Full Strength of Schedules:

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Fantasy Football WR Strength of Schedule (SOS): Fantasy Playoffs (Weeks 14 to 16)

Before the season began, we created fantasy football strength of schedule (SOS) pages for each position based on last year's production. Through the season, however, we have made weekly updates to our strength of schedule tables for the remaining games based on what their upcoming opponents have done so far this season.

In a way, we are now on to a new season as most leagues conduct their playoffs from Weeks 14 to 16.

A player's fantasy strength of schedule is far from the most important aspect of his remaining outlook. But if you're debating a pair of players to pick up off the waiver wire (Week 14 waiver-wire post) and they are otherwise comparable in your view, a more favorable fantasy schedule at least help to break the tie.

Five most favorable SOS for WRs (Weeks 14-16):

1. Jacksonville Jaguars (Cecil Shorts, Allen Hurns): 27.21 average fantasy points allowed among remaining opponents
2. New Orleans Saints (Kenny Stills, Marques Colston): 25.45
3. Carolina Panthers (Kelvin Benjamin): 24.97
4. Atlanta Falcons (Julio Jones, Roddy White): 24.88
5. Baltimore Ravens (Torrey Smith, Steve Smith): 24.78

DraftKings Millionaire Maker Week 14 Contest: Turn $27 (entry fee) into $1 Million (top prize).

Five least favorable SOS for WRs (Weeks 14-16):

32. San Francisco 49ers (Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree): 19.41
31. Denver Broncos (Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders): 20.20
30. Arizona Cardinals (Michael Floyd, Larry Fitzgerald): 20.38
29. San Diego Chargers (Keenan Allen, Malcom Floyd): 20.43
28. Philadelphia Eagles (Jeremy Maclin, Jordan Matthews): 20.47

* Note: Totals above are the average fantasy football points allowed based on their remaining opponents.

Full Strength of Schedules:

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Fantasy Football TE Strength of Schedule (SOS): Fantasy Playoffs (Weeks 14 to 16)

Before the season began, we created fantasy football strength of schedule (SOS) pages for each position based on last year's production. Through the season, however, we have made weekly updates to our strength of schedule tables for the remaining games based on what their upcoming opponents have done so far this season.

In a way, we are now on to a new season as most leagues conduct their playoffs from Weeks 14 to 16.

A player's fantasy strength of schedule is far from the most important aspect of his remaining outlook. But if you're debating a pair of players to pick up off the waiver wire (Week 14 waiver-wire post) and they are otherwise comparable in your view, a more favorable fantasy schedule at least help to break the tie.

Five most favorable SOS for TEs (Weeks 14-16):

1. Tennessee Titans (Delanie Walker): 9.57 average fantasy points allowed among remaining opponents
2. Philadelphia Eagles (Zach Ertz): 9.55
3. St. Louis Rams (Jared Cook): 9.29
4. Dallas Cowboys (Jason Witten): 9.26
5. Kansas City Chiefs (Travis Kelce): 8.91

DraftKings Millionaire Maker Week 14 Contest: Turn $27 (entry fee) into $1 Million (top prize).

Five least favorable SOS for TEs (Weeks 14-16):

32. Green Bay Packers (Andrew Quarless, Richard Rodgers): 5.74
31. Carolina Panthers (Greg Olsen): 5.79
30. Baltimore Ravens (Owen Daniels): 6.04
29. Denver Broncos (Julius Thomas): 6.21
28. Oakland Raiders (Mychal Rivera): 6.62

* Note: Totals above are the average fantasy football points allowed based on their remaining opponents.

Full Strength of Schedules:

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2014 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Week 14

Considering that most leagues begin their playoffs in Week 14, a congratulations is in order if you're reading this week's waiver-wire post.

For my waiver-wire posts, I have a self-imposed rule of only including players with Yahoo! ownership of 50 percent or less. The goal is to give you suggestions of players that (1) can help your fantasy squad and (2) are widely available in leagues.

With that said, here are some players to consider adding to your fantasy roster(s) (Yahoo! ownership in parenthesis):

QB - Colt McCoy, Washington Redskins (six percent)

While his two starts weren't in consecutive games, McCoy has thrown for 299 yards in Dallas and 392 yards in Indianapolis in those starts. On the season, he has a total of four touchdowns and one interception. While McCoy certainly doesn't possess the strongest of arms, the offense has moved the ball well with him under center and he has limited the turnovers. Assuming that McCoy maintains his role as the starter in part by limiting the turnovers, he has great matchups in Weeks 15 and 16 against the Giants and Eagles.

QB - Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars (seven percent)

Bortles has only one touchdown pass over his past three games, but he has a couple of things working in his favor. In his 10 games this season, Bortles is averaging nearly 30 rushing yards (29.6) per game. In addition, the Jags face the Texans, Ravens and Titans in their next three games. The Texans and Ravens both rank in the bottom four in passing yards allowed and the Titans just gave up six touchdowns to The Amish Rifle.

QB - Zach Mettenberger, Tennessee Titans (five percent)

Knocked out of Sunday's game with a shoulder injury, Mettenberger says that he he plans to play in Week 14. Mettenberger had thrown for at least 250 yards and two touchdowns in three of his four games prior to Sunday's injury-abbreviated outing. Assuming he plays in Week 14, he gets favorable matchups against the Giants, Jets and Jaguars from Weeks 14 to 16.

QB - Shaun Hill, St. Louis Rams (three percent)

Washington just allowed 370 yards and five touchdowns to Andrew Luck and have allowed a 24-to-four TD-to-INT ratio to opposing quarterbacks in their past 10 games. While Hill is far from the most prolific passer in the league, the matchup this week against Washington and the Giants in Week 16 could be attractive for QB streamers in deeper leagues.

Turn $27 (entry) into $1 Million (top prize) in DraftKings' Week 14 Millionaire Maker contest.

RB - Daniel Herron, Indianapolis Colts (47 percent)

With the workload split fairly evenly between Herron and Trent Richardson, it's not a huge shock to most of us that Herron has vastly outperformed T-Rich on a per-touch basis. Herron has 20 carries for 153 yards and a touchdown (compared to 21/54/1 for T-Rich) and seven catches for 39 yards. Going forward, I'd certainly prefer to own Herron over Richardson.

RB - Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders (49 percent)

Despite sustaining the concussion on Thursday night of Week 12, Murray wasn't able to get clearance for Week 13. More than likely, Murray will be cleared for this week and although he's "close," he is still in the concussion protocol. With his unique combination of size, speed and power, Murray showed us a glimpse of his upside with 112 yards and two touchdowns on his four carries before leaving early in Week 12. That said, his matchups are far from favorable over the fantasy playoff slate with games against the 49ers, Chiefs and Bills (and even Broncos in Week 17).

RB - Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (45 percent)

Martin rushed 18 times for 58 yards, both of which were season highs, and a touchdown in Week 13 against the Bengals. Martin still averaged a pathetic 3.2 yards per carry last week and is averaging just 2.9 YPC on the year, but the workload is certainly positive and Martin had more touches (19) than Charles Sims and Bobby Rainey combined (12).

RB - Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers (27 percent)

The Daily Show gained 85 yards on 12 carries on Sunday and added two catches for 25 yards. Although DeAngelo Williams has a broken middle finger, it appears he's likely to play in Week 14. While I'd like Stewart more if Williams were to miss time, Stewart has a favorable fantasy schedule with his remaining matchups against the Saints, Bucs, Browns and Falcons.

RB - Marion Grice, Arizona Cardinals (one percent)

With Andre Ellington leaving Sunday's game with a hip pointer, Grice had eight touches (five carries and three receptions) compared to one touch (a reception) for Stepfan Taylor. Although the team added Michael Bush as well, I'd expect Grice to get the largest share of touches should Ellington to be forced to miss additional time.

WR - Kenny Stills, New Orleans Saints (41 percent)

Stills racked up 162 yards and a touchdown on his five receptions in Week 13 and has now finished as a top-30 fantasy wide receiver with a minimum of 9.2 fantasy points in three consecutive games. Even though he has averaged just 6.0 targets per game over the past seven games since the team's bye, Still has averaged a stat line of 4.9/78.6/0.4. With matchups against the Panthers, Bears, Falcons and Bucs left on the schedule, Stills is set up to close the season out strong.

WR - Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins (40 percent)

Landry had eight catches for 68 yards on 11 targets in last night's win over the Jets. Although it was only the second time this season that he has exceeded 53 receiving yards, his production and role within the offense continues to expand. Landry has double-digit targets in three of his past four games and has four touchdowns in his past five games.

WR - Charles Johnson, Minnesota Vikings (18 percent)

After two strong outings (6/87 and 3/52/1) on 18 total targets, Johnson had a relatively quiet day with 2/41 on four targets. With the defense scoring twice, Teddy Bridgewater threw the ball only 21 times for 138 yards. With a rare combination of size and speed, Johnson is even better in dynasty formats but his increased involvement in the offense over the past three weeks gives him some appeal in re-draft formats as well. Johnson has played all but three offensive snaps in the past two games and over the past three games, he has 22 targets vs. 24 for the rest of the team's wideouts combined.

WR - Robert Woods, Buffalo Bills (seven percent)

In his past seven games, Woods has a pair of duds, but he also has a minimum of 50 receiving yards in the other five games. During that seven-game span, Woods is averaging 5.0 receptions and 56.3 yards with a total of three touchdowns. And if Sammy Watkins (hip) is unable to play in Week 14, Woods could see more targets thrown his way.

WR - Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers (11 percent)

Adams had just four catches for 33 yards in his previous three games combined, but the second-round rookie had the best game of his young career against the Patriots on Sunday. Adams was targeted 11 times and finished with six catches for a career-high 121 yards. With defenses giving their attention to Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, there is plenty of value in being Green Bay's No. 3 wideout, especially with Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball.

WR - Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis Colts (five percent)

With the exception of Week 8 against the Steelers, when Moncrief finished with 7/113/1 on 12 targets, Moncrief has played his most snaps over each of the past two games. Targeted four times in each of those games, Moncrief made the most of those targets Sunday by turning them into three receptions for 134 yards and two scores. Not only has Moncrief's playing time increased over the past two weeks, but Hakeem Nicks has since his snaps drop to 36.8 and 32.1 percent of the team's snaps over the past two weeks, respectively. Worth adding for his upside, keep in mind that it's also possible that Moncrief doesn't finish with 134 yards in the next games combined.

TE - Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins (50 percent)

Reed was one of my favorite tight ends in the preseason. While there is no denying his talent, he has struggled to stay healthy in both of his first two NFL seasons. That said, Reed finished with nine catches for 123 yards on 11 targets Sunday and hopefully he can stay healthy down the stretch. While he doesn't have a favorable matchup in Week 14, he'll be a top-10 fantasy tight end over the fantasy playoff slate provided he can stay healthy.

TE - Jared Cook, St. Louis Rams (30 percent)

Cook recorded a Week 13 goose egg, but he has a favorable schedule down the stretch with games against the Redskins, Cardinals, Giants and Seahawks, all of whom are plus matchups.

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