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October 31, 2015

Week 8 Fantasy Football: Quarterbacks Start'em, Sit'em

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

As an example, Matthew Stafford is listed below as a "start" for Week 8. And I'd feel very comfortable going into Week 8 with him as my starting quarterback.

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

In other words, if you owned both Aaron Rodgers and Stafford, you should start Rodgers -- and in turn, bench Stafford.

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

With that said, here are some players to potentially start in Week 8:

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

In his past three games, Rivers has thrown 171 pass attempts including back-to-back games with at least 58 attempts. Given this week's matchup on the road in Baltimore, Rivers could once again finish as the weekly leader in attempts even if he doesn't throw it 58 times.

Over his past four games, Rivers has thrown for a minimum of 336 yards and two touchdowns. During that four-game span, he has averaged 390.5 passing yards per game with a total of 10 touchdowns. With a minimum of 20.6 fantasy points in each of those games, Rivers has finished as the QB1, QB9, QB2 and QB4, respectively, in those games.

Not only is Baltimore's pass defense a lot leakier than their run defense, but no team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season than the Ravens. And aside from Peyton Manning (Week 1) and Michael Vick (Week 4), the Ravens have allowed a top-10 weekly finish in every other game.

QB - Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals (at PIT)

Historically, he has been inconsistent on a weekly basis, but Dalton's worst game this season was 18.44 fantasy points. Finishing as a top-12 fantasy quarterback in all six of his games this season, Dalton ranks third in fantasy points scored on the year and only Tom Brady has averaged more fantasy points per game.

Dalton has thrown for 300-plus yards and/or accounted for two-plus touchdowns in every game this season. Averaging 293.5 passing yards per game, he has scored 16 touchdowns -- 14 passing and two rushing scores -- with only two interceptions thrown.

QB - Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (at KC)

Failing to post a top-12 weekly performance in each of his first five games, Stafford has finished as a top-12 fantasy quarterback in back-to-back weeks. Following their Week 7 loss to drop to 1-6 on the year, the Lions fired their offensive coordinator and we could see more deep throws from Stafford as a result. In addition, the matchup is favorable as the Chiefs have allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbackst his season.

Here are some players to potentially sit in Week 8:

QB - Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos (vs. GB)

While it's amazing that the Broncos enter Week 8 with a perfect 6-0 record, they've been winning in spite of their quarterback play and offense in general. Manning is averaging a career-low 6.4 yards per attempt, 254.0 passing yards per game and has thrown a league-worst 10 interceptions. His full-season pace equates to a TD-to-INT ratio of 18.7-to-26.7.

Before the bye, Manning finished as the weekly QB28, QB26 and QB23, respectively, and threw seven interceptions and only two touchdowns in those games. And he wasn't much better in his first three games either. Manning has scored single-digit fantasy points in four of six games this year.

QB - Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (at DAL)

With the Seahawks yet to have their bye, Wilson ranks eighth in fantasy points among quarterbacks so far this season. That is largely due to injuries and byes at the position, however, as Wilson has yet to finish as the weekly QB8 (or better) in any game this year. In fact, he has only one top-12 weekly finish (QB9 in Week 2). On pace for 619 rushing yards, Wilson has yet to score on a rushing touchdown and he has thrown multiple touchdowns in only one game (Week 2).

During a three-game stretch, the Cowboys allowed three top-five fantasy quarterbacks (Matt Ryan, Drew Brees and Brady). In their other three games (vs. Eli Manning twice and Sam Bradford), however, they have allowed only one passing touchdown. I have Wilson ranked just outside of my top-12 fantasy quarterbacks for the week.

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

The good news is that Kaepernick has scored 20-plus fantasy points and has finished as a top-eight weekly fantasy quarterback in three of seven games this season. The bad news, however, is that he has finished outside of the top-20 fantasy quarterbacks in his other four games. And in those four disappointing performances, he has thrown no touchdowns and finished with no more than 165 passing yards.

So far this season, only the Broncos have allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than the Rams. In addition, no quarterback has finished better than QB15 (Russell Wilson, Carson Palmer and Aaron Rodgers all finished as QB15) vs. Rams this season.

- More Fantasy Football Start'em, Sit'em for Week 8

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Week 8 Fantasy Football: Undervalued Players in PPR Leagues

No intro this week, although I’m sure that might be good news for most of you. Right into the meat of it!

Week 7 Results
QBsRBsWRsTEsTotal
+2.3+22.5-36.4-10.5-22.1
YTD Results
QBsRBsWRsTEsTotal
+21.7+51.8-68.0+2.8+8.3

* Stats are based on players recommended (compared to options listed to start those players over).

Best of the week -- Doug Martin +31.2: Martin had a solid week posting 20 points against a solid Redskins run defense. He continues to be the focal point of the Bucs offense and may be inching towards being matchup-proof.

Runner up -- Brian Hoyer +2.3: Despite a horrible real-life performance, Hoyer ended up with a good fantasy day with a ton of garbage-time production.

Worst of the week -- Martavis Bryant –22.6: This had a lot less to do with Bryant, who actually had a decent day, and more to do with Mike Evans finally doing something relevant and Allen Robinson exploiting a usually solid Bills secondary.

Runner up -- Pierre Garcon -13.8: Might as well be a repeat of the Bryant pick.

Quarterbacks

Eli ManningNew York Giants
FantasyPros ECR – 10

Manning has been up and done this season, but has a fantastic matchup this week. The Giants get a Saints defense that is ranked 30th in efficiency and 31st in FPA to QBs. With Odell Beckham practicing in full this week, Manning should have his full complement of weapons and relatively healthy. It all sets up well for a potentially big outing from Manning.

Consider starting him over:
- Aaron Rodgers – ECR 5. Ok, you’re probably not sitting Rodgers ever. But if you have Manning as well, it may be something to think about. Rodgers faces the best pass defense in the league, and while Rodgers has been good this year from a fantasy perspective, he is just barely fifth at his position. It could be a game where Rodgers disappoints.

Running Backs

Charcandrick WestKansas City Chiefs
FantasyPros ECR – 16

West broke out last week as the primary back for the Chiefs, pushing Knile Davis further from competing for opportunities. The Lions made a bunch of changes to the coaching staff last week, but that was all on the offensive end. The Lions defense hasn’t exactly been lights out either, ranking in the bottom half of the league. The Chiefs like to run their offense through the RB, and West proved he can handle the load last week. Expect another good showing.

Consider starting him over:
- Giovani Bernard – ECR 13. The Steelers are solid against the run and Bernard is still splitting work. Not to mention, Jeremy Hill was called out during the bye week by the RB coach. I think he may come out on fire and garner more looks than he has been receiving.
- Chris Ivory – ECR 12. No question, Ivory has been great this season. But he isn’t right now and the Raiders are surprisingly good against the run, ranking 11th in efficiency.

Chris PolkHouston Texans
FantasyPros ECR – 38

The Texans have already stated they will be going with a committee approach at RB. But Polk is the most talented (of those that are healthy) back on the roster and was the primary backup when Foster returned. I think he will get the majority of opportunities this week, and against a Titans run defense that ranks 30th in efficiency, he has the chance to produce sneaky good numbers.

Consider starting him over:
- Dexter McCluster – ECR 36. Committee approach, bad offense, enough said.
- C.J. Anderson – ECR 35. The Packers defense is above average against the run, and really, what’s he done to show he could do anything against even the worst run defense?

Wide Receivers

Tavon AustinSt. Louis Rams
FantasyPros ECR – 38

Austin has had his best season of his career to this point. The Rams seem to be focused on ensuring he gets the ball every game, which gives him a decent floor. But the explosiveness that led to being a first-round pick a few years ago hasn’t gone away, and he always threatens to break a big play. Against the weak Niners defense, that could happen this week.

Consider starting him over:
- Anquan Boldin – ECR 36. Rams are solid against WR1’s and I just can’t trust this passing game to be any good.
- Michael Crabtree – ECR 27. Crabtree has been a nice addition for the Raiders this season, but he gets a lockdown Jets team this week. They rank No. 1 against WR2’s in efficiency.

Chris ConleyKansas City Chiefs
FantasyPros ECR – 63

Want a really really deep sleeper this week? Check out Chris Conley. Expecting Maclin to return this week, he will fly way under the radar. But he is the No. 2 guy in this pass game and the Lions rank dead last against WR2’s in efficiency. With Alex Smith focused on protecting the football, he will take what the defense gives him, which could be a lot of Conley this week.

Consider starting him over:
- Dorial Green-Beckham – ECR 58. Didn’t do much of anything last week with increased playing time. Don’t think he all the sudden figures it out.
- Andre Johnson – ECR 54. If you have to make the decision between these two guys, go with the youth with the better matchup.

Tight End

Larry DonnellNew York Giants
FantasyPros ECR – 14

Same reason Manning is on this week’s list, the Saints defense stinks. They are last in efficiency against TEs and 28th in FPA. I expect this whole passing game to get on the right track this week.

Consider starting him over:
- Jimmy Graham – ECR 7. Graham is still working to be a more consistent option in this offense, and I don’t expect him to break out this week against the Cowboys, who rank fourth in FPA against the TE position.

Thanks for reading and good luck in Week 8!

Check out my full Week 8 Fantasy Football PPR Rankings and follow me on twitter @rw11687.

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October 30, 2015

POLL: Will Todd Gurley rush for 125+ yards in 4 consecutive games?

Before his team's bye in Week 6, St. Louis Rams rookie running back Todd Gurley had rushed for 146 and 159 yards in back-to-back games against the Cardinals and Packers, respectively.

While he didn't rush for as many yards as either of those two outings, Gurley continued to dominate on the ground in Week 7. Against the Browns last week, Gurley carried the ball 19 times for 128 yards and two touchdowns, the first and second touchdowns of his NFL career.

If Todd Gurley rushes for 125-plus yards in a fourth consecutive game, it will be the 13th time that it has been done in NFL history. The NFL record of consecutive 125-yard games is six (Chris Johnson, Eric Dickerson and Earl Campbell).

Over his past three games, Gurley has racked up a total of 433 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 68 carries (6.37 yards per carry) with six catches for 50 yards.

In his second career divisional matchup, Gurley will face the 49ers in Week 8. This season, the 49ers have allowed only two 100-yard rushers, both of which play in the division -- Chris Johnson (110 yards and two TDs) in Week 3 and Marshawn Lynch (122 yards and a TD) in Week 7.

A popular choice among our contributors in our weekly DFS Roundtable post for favorite DraftKings play of the week, Gurley is ranked second in my Week 8 fantasy football running back rankings behind only Pittsburgh's Le'Veon Bell.

Will Gurley rush for at least 125 yards in Week 8 against the 49ers to extend his streak to four games?

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October 29, 2015

2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Week 8 (Trifone)

Here are my picks against the spread (ATS) for Week 8 of the 2015 NFL season:

Miami Dolphins +8.5 over New England Patriots (3 units)

This spread has been bet up from 7 and 7.5, and I like Miami to cover here. The Patriots always get everyone's best effort, and that applies even more in the division. They are coming off a tough game against the Jets - a game they were losing for quite a bit of.

While New England is still undefeated, they have not been destroying teams the way I suspected they might do all season, after their first couple of games. They have not covered either of the last two weeks, and now they face a Miami team that always plays them tough. The Dolphins have been much better since firing coach Philbin, and I think they have the offensive firepower to keep this one close.

Pittsburgh Steelers -1.5 over Cincinnati Bengals (4 units)

The Bengals have been great this year and look like they might be the most complete team in football. However, they're not going undefeated, and this looks like the game that may be their first loss. Ben Roethlisberger will be returning to action (Antonio Brown fantasy owners rejoice), and I think it will serve as the spark the Steelers need to win this game. Pittsburgh did a great job keeping it together, going 2-2 in Ben's absence. This is a win that could help propel them to the playoffs.

Atlanta Falcons -7.5 over Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3 units)

The Falcons didn't look good last week, which surprised me. I picked them to cover six and they were only able to eek out a three-point win. I don't think Atlanta is a great team, but traditionally, they play much better at home and they win the games they're supposed to win against poor teams.

Tampa blew a huge game to Washington, losing 31-30 after having a four touchdown lead. The offense had a very good game, but I'm expecting more mistakes from Jameis Winston this week. If they turn the ball over on the road, I can't see them hanging with Atlanta, who only put up 10 points last week. I'm thinking they will put up close to 30 against Tampa this week.

- Note: We will track all of our 2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread here.

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DFS Roundtable: Favorite DraftKings Play for Week 8

Every week this season, our contributors will give their favorite plays for the week in DraftKings contests.

Q: Who is your favorite DraftKings play for Week 8?

Brendan Donahue - Todd Gurley, St. Louis Rams (vs. SF), $6,300

I am going to keep riding the Gurley Train until DraftKings decides to wake up and price him accordingly. Was he the most owned player last week? Yes, but he still delivered and if you didn't have him, you most likely had a hard time cashing. Coming off of a 35.3-point performance, he is still only $6,300 and going against a San Francisco defense that has given up the sixth-most fantasy points to running backs this season. Fade at your own risk!

Sean Beazley - Todd Gurley, St. Louis Rams (vs. SF), $6,300

Chasing big weeks is generally something I don't do, but sometimes it is warranted. One cash game must for me this week is Rams RB Todd Gurley. Gurley's price was bumped $1,300 to $6,300, but I believe this is still too good to pass up. Gurley had 23 touches last week, and I expect the same, if not more, vs. the 49ers. The Rams are eight-point favorites at home so the game script in this one should go Gurley's way.

Bonus Play: Saints D $2000. The Saints defense has scored in double digits the past two weeks and that is against two pretty good offenses (Indy and Atlanta). I do not like a lot of options this week at the position, so punting with a home team who does have a return threat to take one to the house is a very sneaky play. This play along with some of the other value plays really sets you up to roster some of the big stars this week that I absolutely love.

Ryan Watterson - Stefon Diggs, WR, Minnesota Vikings (at CHI), $4,800

Diggs is Teddy Bridgewater's new favorite target and the only Vikings WR that has produced much of anything with his opportunities. Coming off a strong performance against the Lions, Diggs takes on a Bears defense that is one of the worst in the league against the pass. Diggs represents great value this week at the WR position and allows you to spend elsewhere.

Kevin Hanson - Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at ATL), $6,800

For me, Gurley is an obvious choice at running back and a strong consideration to list here, but considering Brendan and Sean both went with Gurley, I'll change it up for a little variety. I also considered listing Justin Forsett as the Chargers have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. In fact, they have allowed a top-9 weekly finish in six of seven games, four 100-yard rushing games and 10 touchdowns to the position this year.

My favorite receiver for tournaments this week is Tampa's Mike Evans. One of the more talented young receivers in the NFL, the 22-year-old Evans had a huge game following Tampa's bye with eight catches on 12 targets for 164 yards and a score against Washington last week. While it was Evans first touchdown of the 2015 season, he is one of the better red-zone options at 6-foot-5 and finished with 12 touchdowns as a rookie last year. Given the team's injuries at receiver (Louis Murphy out for the year and Vincent Jackson expected to miss this week's game), Evans should be targeted heavily in a game they are expected to trail. There is plenty of upside for Evans this week at a modest cost ($6,800).

Week 8 DFS cheat sheets:

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October 28, 2015

2015 Fantasy Football QB Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 8 to 16

Now that the season is approximately half over, we have a better sense of each team's defensive identity.

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

A player's fantasy strength of schedule is far from the most important aspect of his outlook.

But if you're debating a pair of players to pick up off the waiver wire (our Week 8 waiver-wire post) or evaluating a trade proposal, a more favorable fantasy schedule could potentially break the tie in a close decision.

Five most favorable SOS for QBs (Weeks 8-16):

1. Tennessee Titans (Marcus Mariota, Zach Mettenberger): 18.17
2. St. Louis Rams (Nick Foles): 17.83
3. Denver Broncos (Peyton Manning): 17.78
4. New York Jets (Ryan Fitzpatrick): 17.49
5. San Diego Chargers (Philip Rivers): 17.46

Five least favorable SOS for QBs (Weeks 8-16):

28. Green Bay Packers (Aaron Rodgers): 15.78
29. Arizona Cardinals (Carson Palmer): 15.69
30. Chicago Bears (Jay Cutler): 15.50
31. New England Patriots (Tom Brady): 15.41
32. Oakland Raiders (Derek Carr): 15.39

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

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2015 Fantasy Football RB Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 8 to 16

Now that the season is approximately half over, we have a better sense of each team's defensive identity.

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

A player's fantasy strength of schedule is far from the most important aspect of his outlook.

But if you're debating a pair of players to pick up off the waiver wire (our Week 8 waiver-wire post) or evaluating a trade proposal, a more favorable fantasy schedule could potentially break the tie in a close decision.

Five most favorable SOS for RBs (Weeks 8-16):

1. Kansas City Chiefs (Charcandrick West): 21.32
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Doug Martin, Charles Sims): 20.82
3. Carolina Panthers (Jonathan Stewart): 20.66
4. Indianapolis Colts (Frank Gore): 19.90
5. New York Jets (Chris Ivory): 19.81

Five least favorable SOS for RBs (Weeks 8-16):

28. New York Giants (Orleans Darkwa, Shane Vereen, Rashad Jennings): 17.21
29. Houston Texans (Alfred Blue): 17.20
30. Oakland Raiders (Latavius Murray): 17.01
31. Cleveland Browns (Duke Johnson, Isaiah Crowell): 16.88
32. Dallas Cowboys (Darren McFadden, Joseph Randle): 16.18

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

Full Strength of Schedules:

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2015 Fantasy Football WR Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 8 to 16

Now that the season is approximately half over, we have a better sense of each team's defensive identity.

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

A player's fantasy strength of schedule is far from the most important aspect of his outlook.

But if you're debating a pair of players to pick up off the waiver wire (our Week 8 waiver-wire post) or evaluating a trade proposal, a more favorable fantasy schedule could potentially break the tie in a close decision.

Five most favorable SOS for WRs (Weeks 8-16):

1. San Diego Chargers (Keenan Allen): 26.17
2. Buffalo Bills (Sammy Watkins): 25.53
3. Philadelphia Eagles (Jordan Matthews): 25.11
4. Denver Broncos (Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders): 24.53
5. Cleveland Browns (Travis Benjamin): 24.44

Five least favorable SOS for WRs (Weeks 8-16):

28. Carolina Panthers (Ted Ginn): 21.44
29. Green Bay Packers (Randall Cobb, James Jones, Davante Adams): 21.41
30. Arizona Cardinals (Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, Michael Floyd): 21.28
31. Minnesota Vikings (Stefon Diggs, Mike Wallace): 21.06
32. Chicago Bears (Alshon Jeffery, Eddie Royal): 20.96

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

Full Strength of Schedules:

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2015 Fantasy Football TE Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 8 to 16

Now that the season is approximately half over, we have a better sense of each team's defensive identity.

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

A player's fantasy strength of schedule is far from the most important aspect of his outlook.

But if you're debating a pair of players to pick up off the waiver wire (our Week 8 waiver-wire post) or evaluating a trade proposal, a more favorable fantasy schedule could potentially break the tie in a close decision.

Five most favorable SOS for TEs (Weeks 8-16):

1. Carolina Panthers (Greg Olsen): 8.62
2. Minnesota Vikings (Kyle Rudolph): 8.60
T3. Oakland Raiders (Clive Walford): 8.45
T3. Jacksonville Jaguars (Julius Thomas): 8.45
T5. New York Jets: 8.32
T5. Tennessee Titans (Delanie Walker): 8.32

Five least favorable SOS for TEs (Weeks 8-16):

28. San Diego Chargers (Antonio Gates, Ladarius Green): 6.95
29. Miami Dolphins (Jordan Cameron): 6.84
30. Seattle Seahawks (Jimmy Graham): 6.03
31. Philadelphia Eagles (Zach Ertz, Brent Celek): 6.78
32. Buffalo Bills (Charles Clay): 5.74

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

Full Strength of Schedules:

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October 27, 2015

2015 Fantasy Football: Wide Receiver Waiver-Wire Options Heading Into Week 8

Every week, we examine players that may be available on your league's waiver wire that could help your team in the short- and/or long-term.

For a player to be listed, he must be owned in 50 percent (or less) of Yahoo! leagues. The goal is to provide recommendations of players that have a greater chance of being available on your league's waiver wire.

With that said, here are some waiver-wire options that I like heading into Week 8 (Yahoo! ownership in parenthesis):

[Note: Players listed below are sorted by my preference to add.]

WR - Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals (46 percent)

Given the injuries at quarterback, specifically to Carson Palmer, the 2014 season was essentially a lost year for the entire Cardinals offense. Two seasons ago, however, Floyd eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in his sophomore campaign. The 25-year-old receiver (turns 26 next month) may be third in line for targets behind Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown, but he now has scores in back-to-back games and 50-plus yards in three of four games. Going forward, he could post top-36 fantasy receiver numbers on a point-per-game basis.

WR - Stevie Johnson, San Diego Chargers (41 percent)

After missing the previous two games, Johnson returned to the field on Sunday and caught four-of-eight targets for 50 yards. The short-term schedule for Johnson, Keenan Allen and the Chargers receivers is fantastic. Going into Week 8, the Chiefs, Ravens and Bears allow the most, second-most and third-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. While the order is different, Johnson's next three games are all against those top-three matchups.

WR - Terrance Williams, Dallas Cowboys (48 percent)

At some point, Williams will benefit from the return of Dez Bryant on the opposite side and then eventually the return of Tony Romo, who will miss (at least) four more games on short-term IR. In Sunday's loss to the Giants, Williams caught four-of-seven targets for 70 yards. Williams has been hit or miss this season, but he has four top-37 finishes in six games.

WR - Marvin Jones, Cincinnati Bengals (40 percent)

With a season-high 12 targets in Week 6, Jones hauled in nine receptions for 95 yards and a score against the Bills. A TD-dependent receiver, Jones has two or less receptions in three of six games this season. But he has also scored in half of the team's games and has a total of 13 touchdowns in his past 22 games.

WR - Danny Amendola, New England Patriots (12 percent)

Even though Brandon LaFell returned on Sunday, Amendola continues to play well. Targeted nine times for a second game in a row, Amendola finished with 8/86/1 in Week 7 after hauling in seven receptions for 105 yards in Week 6. If LaFell didn't return last week, Amendola would be higher on this list, but he's at least worth a look in PPR formats.

WR - Eddie Royal, Chicago Bears (32 percent)

Royal had five catches for 49 yards on seven targets before last week's bye and now has at least five receptions in three of his past four games played. Finishing as a top-32 receiver in either scoring format last season with the Chargers, Royal's career-best season (91/980/5) happened when he and Jay Cutler were in Denver.

The upcoming schedule for Royal and the team's receivers is unfavorable, however. Their next four games are against the Vikings, Chargers, Rams and Broncos, all of whom are among the seven stingiest defenses to opposing fantasy wide receivers.

WR - Robert Woods, Buffalo Bills (five percent)

In Sunday's loss to the Jaguars in London, Woods was targeted 13 times and finished the game with nine catches for 84 yards and a touchdown. More than likely, Sammy Watkins will return after the team's Week 8 bye, but Percy Harvin's status is less clear. If both Harvin and Watkins miss their Week 9 matchup, Woods would be in the WR3 mix against the Dolphins.

WR - Albert Wilson, Kansas City Chiefs (one percent)

With Jeremy Maclin (concussion) sidelined, Wilson finished with three catches for 71 yards on six targets on Sunday. In Week 6, Wilson had three catches for 57 yards and a touchdown on six targets. Assuming Maclin returns in Week 8, Wilson won't have much fantasy value this week, but Maclin was a surprise scratch after clearing the concussion protocol earlier in the week.

- More Fantasy Football Waiver-Wire Advice Heading Into Week 8

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2015 Fantasy Football: Running Back Waiver-Wire Options Heading Into Week 8

Every week, we examine players that may be available on your league's waiver wire that could help your team in the short- and/or long-term.

For a player to be listed, he must be owned in 50 percent (or less) of Yahoo! leagues. The goal is to provide recommendations of players that have a greater chance of being available on your league's waiver wire.

With that said, here are some waiver-wire options that I like heading into Week 8 (Yahoo! ownership in parenthesis):

[Note: Players listed below are sorted by my preference to add.]

RB - Darren McFadden, Dallas Cowboys (35 percent)

With Joseph Randle departing early on Sunday, it was McFadden -- not Christine Michael -- that dominated touches in the Cowboys backfield. McFadden rushed for 152 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries and added a couple of receptions for 10 yards.

While his Week 8 matchup against the Seahawks is difficult, McFadden is the favorite to lead the team in touches this week and beyond (until he eventually gets hurt). Even if one of the team's other backs eventually gets the most early-down work, McFadden should have a prominent role as the team's top pass-catching back. In Week 6, McFadden had nine receptions for 62 yards.

RB - Alfred Blue, Houston Texans (15 percent)

With the season-ending injury to Arian Foster (Achilles), Blue figures to lead a committee backfield in Houston. In the three games before Foster returned from groin surgery, Blue had a massive workload (31 touches in Week 3), led a committee (10 touches in Week 1) and had a secondary role (six touches in Week 2) to Chris Polk. In other words, it's not a slam dunk that Blue gets enough work in any given week to be an RB2. But if you lost Foster to the injury or need running back depth, he'd be my first choice among Houston's healthy running backs.

RB - Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns (48 percent)

Among Cleveland's backs, the only one that can be trusted is Johnson. Since Week 2, Johnson has double-digit touches in six consecutive games and an average of 13.17 per game over that span. Especially worth an add in PPR formats, Johnson is averaging 6.2 receptions for 52.6 yards over his past five games.

RB - Charles Sims, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (33 percent)

Before Week 7, Sims had three consecutive RB22 (or better) outings. And for a second week in a row, Sims had double-digit carries as he rushed for 49 yards and added two catches for 17 yards against Washington on Sunday. He also lost a fumble on Sunday, but assuming his steady workload continues, Sims' upcoming matchups are favorable as the Falcons, Giants and Cowboys all rank in the top-12 most-favorable matchups for opposing running backs this season.

RB - Christine Michael, Dallas Cowboys (47 percent)

Provided you have the bench space, Michael is worth a stash based on talent and upside assuming his role will continue to expand further. But it was obviously a disappointing week for those that expected a larger increase in touches than the six he got last week, especially given the injury to Randle. I'll take a wait-and-see approach with Michael, but Randle is expected to miss "some time" with an oblique injury.

RB - Orleans Darkwa, New York Giants (three percent)

Given eight carries on Sunday, Darkwa looked good as he gained 48 yards and scored a touchdown. Perhaps he will once again lead the Giants backfield in touches in Week 8, but the four-headed backfield of Darkwa, Rashad Jennings, Shane Vereen and Andre Williams limits the upside of all the team's backs.

RB - Chris Polk, Houston Texans (two percent)

As noted above, Polk led the Texans in touches in one of the three games that Foster missed to begin the season. While I expect Blue to get more touches rest of the season, it's possible that Polk has several productive outings and emerges as the team's lead back. After all, Blue has averaged just 3.3 yards per carry in his two NFL seasons.

RB - Antonio Andrews, Tennessee Titans (14 percent)

While this may not be saying much, Andrews is my preferred active Titans running back to own. Not only is he the favorite for goal-line carries, but he has double-digit touches in four consecutive games. Meanwhile, Bishop Sankey had no touches and one target in the passing game last week after getting just four touches in Week 6. That said, the return in a couple of weeks of David Cobb, who is on short-term IR, diminishes the outlook for Andrews.

- More Fantasy Football Waiver-Wire Advice Heading Into Week 8

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2015 Fantasy Football: QB/TE Waiver-Wire Options Heading Into Week 8

Every week, we examine players that may be available on your league's waiver wire that could help your team in the short- and/or long-term.

For a player to be listed, he must be owned in 50 percent (or less) of Yahoo! leagues. The goal is to provide recommendations of players that have a greater chance of being available on your league's waiver wire.

With that said, here are some waiver-wire options that I like heading into Week 8 (Yahoo! ownership in parenthesis):

[Note: Players listed below are sorted by my preference to add within their position group.]

QB - Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets (28 percent)

Fitzpatrick has scored 20-plus fantasy points in back-to-back games and has finished as the weekly QB4 and QB8, respectively, in those two games. Not only does Fitzpatrick have the ability to make some plays with his legs, but he has multiple touchdowns in five of six games this season. And with his bye behind him, he has a great schedule coming up with his next four opponents -- Raiders, Jaguars, Bills and Texans -- all being plus matchups, which makes him an ideal option for streamers or as a bye-week fill-in.

QB - Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears (30 percent)

Prior to last week's bye, Cutler has finished as a top-13 fantasy quarterback in three consecutive games. The good news is that the team's wide receivers are getting healthier and no quarterback on this list has a more talented group of pass catchers. Unfortunately, the matchups over the next month are not good. Three of his next four opponents -- Vikings, Rams and Broncos -- are three of the seven stingiest pass defenses in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks.

QB - Brian Hoyer, Houston Texans (16 percent)

Hoyer and the Texans could not have started Sunday's game much worse as they trailed 41-0 at the half. That said, garbage-time production led to another strong finish for Hoyer, who now has four consecutive games with multiple touchdown passes. Finishing as a top-12 weekly quarterback in each of those four games, Hoyer has thrown 10 touchdowns and only two interceptions during that stretch.

QB - Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings (43 percent)

In his first top-12 performance of the season, Bridgewater threw for 316 yards and two touchdowns against the Lions in Week 7. Over the next three weeks, Bridgewater has two top-10 favorable matchups against the Bears and Raiders, which makes him a solid bye-week replacement in Weeks 8 and 10.

QB - Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders (35 percent)

Excluding Week 1 when he departed the game early, Carr has three top-eight outings in his five games finished this season. Carr has thrown multiple touchdowns in four of those five games as well and has compiled an 11-to-3 TD-to-INT ratio on the year. Through the remainder of the season, however, no quarterback has a less favorable fantasy strength of schedule than Carr, who faces the Jets this week.

QB - Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans (38 percent)

It's unclear if Mariota will be able to return to the field in Week 8 after sitting out last week due to his MCL injury. And before the injury, the rookie finished outside the top-20 fantasy quarterbacks in three of his previous four games. Due to his dual-threat abilities, however, there is plenty of upside and he's at least worth stashing until he is able to return to the field.

TE - Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions (24 percent)

After missing back-to-back games, Ebron caught all five of his targets for 89 yards and a touchdown on Sunday. Ebron has a touchdown and/or 60-plus yards and a top-12 weekly finish in four of five games this season. Even though he has missed two games this season, Ebron has scored the 10th-most fantasy points among tight ends on the year. Unfortunately, Ebron faces the Chiefs, the stingiest defense to fantasy tight ends, in Week 8 and is on bye in Week 9, but he should be owned in more than a quarter of leagues.

TE - Ladarius Green, San Diego Chargers (47 percent)

Connecting on only four of his nine targets from Philip Rivers last week, Green finished the game with 45 yards and a touchdown in addition to two two-point conversions against the Raiders. In his six games played, Green has finished as a top-eight weekly tight end four times and just missed a top-12 finish (TE13) in one of his over two games. If Antonio Gates (MCL) isn't able to play in Week 8, Green would be a solid TE1 against the Ravens.

TE - Benjamin Watson, New Orleans Saints (41 percent)

One week after his monster 10/127/1 game, Watson had four catches for 59 yards on five targets against the Colts in Week 7. Watson has 50-plus yards and/or a touchdown in three consecutive games. Including Josh Hill and Michael Hoomanawanui, Saints tight ends have caught a touchdown pass in four consecutive games. Given the lack of playmakers for Drew Brees in the passing game, Watson has the potential to approach low-end TE1 numbers in any week.

- More Fantasy Football Waiver-Wire Advice Heading Into Week 8

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October 25, 2015

2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Week 7 (Hanson)

Here are my picks against the spread (ATS) for Week 7 of the 2015 NFL season:

Minnesota Vikings -1.5 over Detroit Lions (3 units)

While Adrian Peterson was downgraded to questionable on the injury report due to illness, he is expected to play on Sunday. With the exception of the Panthers, no team has run the ball on a larger percentage of their plays than the Vikings. Going into this week's matchup, the Lions have allowed the 26th-most rushing yards (120.7/G) in the NFL. And in 13 career games against the Lions, Peterson has averaged 107.1 rushing yards per game and 5.27 yards per carry with a total of 12 touchdowns.

Meanwhile, the Lions rank last in the NFL in rushing offense and no team has a worse turnover differential than Detroit (-8). One of the things the Lions have done well is creating turnovers (10), but only four teams have turned the ball over less than the Vikings (six), which makes sense given their conservative play-calling.

The Lions got their first win of the season last week, but they haven't had much success against the spread following a win. In the game following their previous 28 wins, the Lions have covered only seven times. And in the head-to-head matchups with the Vikings, the Lions have covered only five of their last 18.

Indianapolis Colts -5 over New Orleans Saints (3 units)

Going into Week 7, the Colts have turned the ball over 12 times -- only Detroit and Philadelphia have more -- and rank 23rd in the NFL in scoring offense (21.0/G). Among 34 qualified quarterbacks, Andrew Luck (75.0) ranks 32nd in passer rating just behind Nick Foles (29th), Jameis Winston (30th) and Kirk Cousins (31st).

Yep, the season isn't off to the start many had expected for Luck and the Colts.

Fortunately for their offense, the Saints could be just what the doctor ordered for a breakout. No team has allowed more yards than the Saints (409.7/G) and only four teams have allowed more points (27.3/G). In addition, the Saints rank in the bottom 10 in both pass and rush defense.

Historically, Luck has been much better at home. Only .500 against the spread on the road (15-15), Luck is 19-8-1 ATS at home. In addition, the Colts have covered 19 of their past 23 games against teams with a losing record.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers +3.5 over Washington Redskins (2 units)

The Buccaneers have surrendered a lot of points -- only the Bears have allowed more per game -- yet they rank fifth in the NFL in total defense (322.8 yards per game). Both teams have struggled with turnovers, but Washington has 11 giveaways on the year -- only the Colts, Eagles and Lions have more.

One of the ways that I expect the Buccaneers to limit turnovers this week is to rely on Doug Martin, who has back-to-back 100-yard rushing games and a total of four touchdowns in those two games. Meanwhile, Washington's run defense hasn't played up to their talent level and have allowed Devonta Freeman (197 yards from scrimmage) and Chris Ivory (196 YFS) to run all over them in back-to-back games.

Coming out of their bye, Tampa should get talented second-year receiver Mike Evans more involved -- at least in the red zone. But if Tampa is able to run the ball effectively, it's possible that the Bucs limit Jameis Winston's pass attempts (like the 19 times he had in their Week 5 win).

I think Tampa gets the straight-up win on the road, but at a minimum, I expect them to keep this game within a field goal and cover.

*** Dan Yanotcho's picks ***

Dan and his wife welcomed their second child to the world this past week so Dan has made picks for this week's games, but he won't have a chance to do writeups.

Here are his picks: Patriots -8 (3 units), Chargers -4 (4 units) and Lions +1.5 (2 units).

- Note: We will track all of our 2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread here.

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October 24, 2015

2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Week 7 (Beazley)

Here are my picks against the spread (ATS) for Week 7 of the 2015 NFL season:

Indianapolis Colts -4.5 over New Orleans Saints (5 units)

I think Andrew Luck has finally recovered from injury. He looked pretty decent against the Patriots on Sunday night. I like Luck and the Colts to absolutely EAT vs. the dreadful Saints secondary. If you're a DFS player than I would definitely get exposure to this game. Luck will likely be low-owned compared to others like Carson Palmer & Philip Rivers. I'll also be targeting both T.Y. Hilton & Donte Moncrief. I love the Colts in this one, 38-24.

San Diego Chargers -4 over Oakland Raiders (4 units)

The Chargers have a ton of injury concerns on the offensive side of the ball. Antonio Gates is dealing with his first knee injury of his career, so it wouldn't shock me to see him sit, or be very limited this week. Keenan Allen is also battling a hip injury, but he did practice on Friday which is a good sign for Sunday. This is a must-win game for the Chargers after two tough losses the past two weeks.

The Raiders are fresh off a bye, and if they want to win this game they will need to rely on Latavius Murray. I think Murray should be able to run vs. the Chargers D, but I like the Chargers at home. Chargers, 26-20.

Baltimore Ravens +9 over Arizona Cardinals (3 units)

The Ravens secondary is absolutely BRUTAL. They have made quarterbacks like Derek Carr and Josh McCown look like Hall of Famers this season. I expect Palmer and the Cardinals offense to have a pretty big game.

I'm worried about the health of Cardinals WR John Brown, who is dealing with a hamstring. Brown really opens up the middle of the field. My gut tells me that Brown doesn't play Monday night. The Ravens aren't just going to roll over and play dead. It wouldn't shock me to see them win this game outright to be honest with you, but I'll take the points. Cardinals, 23-17.

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Week 7 Fantasy Football: Wide Receivers Start'em, Sit'em

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

As an example, Allen Hurns is listed below as a "start" for Week 7. And I'd feel very comfortable going into Week 7 with him as my starting quarterback.

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

In other words, if you own both Julio Jones, Larry Fitzgerald and Hurns, you should start Jones and Fitzgerald -- and in turn, bench Hurns -- if your league starts two wide receivers, as an example.

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

With that said, here are some players to potentially start in Week 7:

WR - John Brown, Arizona Cardinals (vs. BAL)

Brown is dealing with a hamstring injury, but he has said that he expects to play on Monday night against the Ravens and is coming off a career-best game with 10 catches for 196 yards on 14 targets. Brown now has double-digit targets in two of three games and a minimum of 62 receiving yards in four straight games. On the season, Brown is averaging 5.5 catches for 82.8 yards per game with two scores.

There are a number of elite wide receivers on bye this week -- A.J. Green, Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Randall Cobb and Alshon Jeffery. While I have Fitzgerald ranked as a top-four fantasy wide receiver this week, Brown is inside my top-12 wideouts as well due to the impact of byes, Brown's production and this week's matchup.

So far this season, only the Chiefs have allowed more fantasy points to opposing wide receivers than the Ravens. Baltimore has allowed four 100-yard receivers and a total of nine touchdowns to the position this year.

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

Teammate Brandon Marshall is off to a great start with 100-plus yards and/or a touchdown in every game this season. On the year, Marshall has a total of 37 receptions for 511 yards and four touchdowns in five games. Decker hasn't been as productive in terms of receptions and yards, but he has scored in all four of the games he has played.

Given that the Jets are nearly double-digit underdogs to the Patriots, it's possible that they will play much of the game in catch-up mode. With the Patriots allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, I have Decker ranked inside my top-15 fantasy receivers for Week 7.

- Poll: Will Brandon Marshall extend streak of 100-yard games to 5?

WR - Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at WAS)

It's been a disappointing season for Evans so far. After sitting out Week 1, Evans has had one productive week (7/101 in Week 3, WR24). In his other three games played, Evans has a total of six catches for 73 yards and no touchdowns.

That said, the talent for the 22-year-old second-year receiver is undeniable. As a rookie, the 6-foot-5 Evans finished with 68 catches for 1,051 yards and 12 touchdowns. In a favorable matchup coming out of the team's bye, perhaps Evans gets his first touchdown of the year this week.

WR - Allen Hurns, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. BUF)

Like with Brown and Decker, Hurns is the No. 2 receiver on a team that features two wideouts ranked as starters in my Week 7 rankings. While Allen Robinson (WR5 in 2015 scoring) has been more productive, Hurns (WR15) has 29 receptions for 460 yards and four touchdowns on 43 targets.

Hurns had just two catches for 30 yards last week, but he extended his scoring streak to four consecutive games. And before last week, Hurns had 60-plus yards in five consecutive games.

WR - Travis Benjamin, Cleveland Browns (at STL)

As big of a fantasy surprise as teammate Gary Barnidge has been, Benjamin is a big play waiting to happen and has a league-high four receptions of 40-plus yards. In addition, only three receivers have scored more fantasy points than Benjamin this season.

With at least 79 yards in five of six games, Benjamin has a total of 31 catches for 528 yards and four touchdowns. Actually, he has five scores counting his return touchdown. And as far as 79-yard games go, no receiver has more than Benjamin and only Fitzgerald and DeAndre Hopkins have as many such games as Benjamin.

Given his steady stream of targets and big play ability, Benjamin has a solid floor with plenty of upside on a weekly basis.

Here are some players to potentially sit in Week 7:

WR - Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints (at IND)

It's been an incredibly disappointing season for Cooks. Through six games, he has yet to see double-digit targets in any game and he's finished as a top-36 receiver only once. Once again, I have Willie Snead ranked ahead of Cooks -- and that's a sentence I could have not imagined writing a couple of months ago. Ranked outside of my top-24 receivers, Cooks is a WR3 or flex option this week.

WR - Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans (vs. ATL)

With Marcus Mariota ruled out for Sunday's game, Zach Mettenberger will get the start. While he may be one of the league's better backup quarterbacks, Wright's production was modest when the two were on the field together. And this season, Wright has been hit -- two games with 95-plus yards and a score -- or miss -- three games with 34 yards or less. There may be some garbage-time production for Wright, but the Falcons have held opposing receivers to the fourth-fewest fantasy points this season.

WR - Golden Tate, Detroit Lions (vs. MIN)

Good news first: Tate has 27 targets in his past two games combined. The bad news: Tate has finished as the WR39 and WR30, respectively, in those two games. Tate did find the end zone last week on a controversial call, but he's averaging just 9.5 yards per reception this season. The Vikings have held opposing wide receivers to the eighth-fewest fantasy points this season.

WR - Andre Johnson, Indianapolis Colts (vs. NO)

The good news is that Johnson has had his two best games in the past two weeks. The bad news is that he scored 3.5 fantasy points last week to finish as fantasy's WR69 in Week 6.

Apparently, the rule is to start Johnson against the his former team; bench him against everyone else. Against the Texans in Week 5, Johnson finished with 77 yards and two touchdowns and scored more points than all other receivers that week. In every other game, he has a total of 10 catches for 86 yards and no touchdowns.

- More Fantasy Football Start'em, Sit'em for Week 7

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Week 7 Fantasy Football: Running Backs Start'em, Sit'em

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

As an example, Danny Woodhead is listed below as a "start" for Week 7. And I'd feel very comfortable going into Week 7 with him as one of my starting running backs.

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

In other words, if you owned Le'Veon Bell, Devonta Freeman and Woodhead, you should start Bell and Freeman -- and in turn, bench Woodhead.

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

With that said, here are some players to potentially start in Week 7:

RB - Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders (at SD)

Since rushing for 139 yards and a touchdown in Week 3, Murray has had two disappointing performances and his team's bye. Through five games, Murray has less than 50 rushing yards in three games including his past two games (49 and 39 rushing yards, respectively). The good news for Murray owners is that Week 7 sets up for a bounce-back week.

Not only have the Chargers allowed the most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season, but they have allowed a top-10 weekly fantasy running back in all six games this season. On the other hand, the Chargers have limited wide receivers to the third-fewest fantasy points this season and have allowed only one top-30 fantasy wide receiver this season.

In other words, not only does Murray have a favorable matchup, but Amari Cooper and the passing game in general have an unfavorable matchup. Logic would dictate that the Bolts will likely utilize a run-heavy game plan in Week 7.

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

With the exception of one game in 2013, Miller never had more carries than he had in Week 6. Against the Titans, Miller turned those 19 carries into 113 yards -- 5.95 yards per carry -- and a touchdown. Miller has always been productive on a per-touch basis (career 4.60 YPC), but the ousted Philbin was reluctant to give him the workload that his fantasy owners hoped he would receive.

Miller's workload in his first four games this season was 13, 10, seven and seven, respectively. Before last week, Miller exceeded 15 carries in only eight of 49 career games. Given the mindset of the team's interim coach, it wouldn't be a surprise if Miller's Week 6 workload turned into the norm going forward. At a minimum, he should routinely approach (or exceed) 15 carries per game over the rest of the season.

The Texans have allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. In addition, they have allowed four top-12 weekly RB finishes in six games this season.

RB - Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at WAS)

Martin has back-to-back games with 20-plus carries, 100-plus yards and a score (or three). In those two games combined, Martin has rushed 44 times for 229 yards with eight receptions for 72 yards and scored a total of four touchdowns. On the season, Martin has scored the sixth-most fantasy points among running backs.

Although he may not post a third consecutive top-five weekly performance, Martin should have another strong outing. Over the past two weeks, Washington's run defense has been leakier as they have allowed Devonta Freeman (27/153/1, RB2) and Chris Ivory (20/146/1, RB4) to go off. In those two games, opposing running backs have averaged 5.24 YPC and racked up a total of 456 yards from scrimmage.

RB - Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts (vs. NO)

The Colts offense has struggled more than expected this season as the team currently ranks 23rd in the NFL in scoring offense. And although Gore hasn't been great, he has the 17th-most fantasy points through six weeks of action. Another positive is his consistent workload -- a minimum of 15 touches in five consecutive games and an average of 18.0 touches per game over that stretch.

A number of factors point to a productive week for Gore. Not only does he consistently get a sizable workload, but the Saints have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. In addition, the Colts are projected to score the second-most points this week based on Vegas odds.

RB - Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers (vs. OAK)

Through six games this season, Woodhead has finished as a top-15 fantasy running back three times. In the other three games, he has finished outside of the top-30 weekly running backs. Better in PPR formats, Woodhead has finished as a top-25 PPR running back in five of six games this year.

Woodhead has a minimum of 63 receiving yards in three consecutive games and he has reached that total four times this season. In addition, he leads all running backs in receiving yards (332) this season. Given the ball-security issues of rookie Melvin Gordon, however, it wouldn't surprise me if Woodhead saw a larger number of carries as well this week. It's certainly possible that we see another top-15 finish for Woodhead this week.

Here are some players to potentially sit in Week 7:

RB - Melvin Gordon, San Diego Chargers (vs. OAK)

As noted above, Gordon has had some issues with ball security. Gordon has lost a fumble in back-to-back games and had a season-low seven carries last week after being benched for the second half. Not only did he lose a fumble, but he put another one on the ground although the Chargers recovered it. Dealing with an ankle injury as well, Gordon is listed as questionable for Sunday's matchup against the Raiders.

The matchup against the Raiders is favorable, but it's difficult to have a lot of -- or any -- faith in him this week. I'd certainly prefer to see him have a fumble-free game with the coaching staff showing confidence in him (i.e., a larger workload compared to last week) before I insert him back into my starting lineup.

RB - Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions (vs. MIN)

Speaking of ball-security issues for a rookie running back, Abdullah is tied with Gordon for most fumbles (four) by a running back this season. With Theo Riddick getting plenty of looks as a receiver out of the backfield and Joique Bell expected to return this week, Abdullah isn't much more than a flex option in Week 7. In addition, the Vikings have allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

RB - Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals (vs. BAL)

It's possible that Ellington once again gets sizable workloads at some point this season and I expect that to happen eventually, but he has three touches in back-to-back games. Meanwhile, Chris Johnson remains in the lead-back role as he has double-digit touches in every game this season. With the Ravens stronger against the run than the pass, Ellington should see more than three touches, especially as a receiver, but I don't expect him to finish as a top-24 running back in Week 7.

RB - Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns (at STL)

It's been boom or bust with Crowell this season. Through six games, Crowell has finished as a top-20 fantasy running back three times and outside the top-50 running backs three times. The Rams run defense hasn't been stout (21st in NFL), but the addition of Robert Turbin (10 carries last week) limits the upside of Crowell, who was already in a timeshare with Duke Johnson. Nothing says "sit" more than a three-way timeshare.

- More Fantasy Football Start'em, Sit'em for Week 7

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Week 7 Fantasy Football: Tight Ends Start'em, Sit'em

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

As an example, Charles Clay is listed below as a "start" for Week 7. And I'd feel very comfortable going into Week 7 with him as my starting tight end.

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

In other words, if you owned both Rob Gronkowski and Clay, you should start Gronk -- and in turn, bench Clay.

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

With that said, here are some tight ends to potentially start in Week 7:

TE - Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills (at JAX)

Against the Bengals last week, Clay was targeted 13 times and finished the game with nine receptions for 62 yards. It was the second time in three games that Clay was targeted 13 times and the team's injuries at wide receiver should lead to a high volume of targets his way in London on Sunday.

Through six games, Clay has a total of 31 catches for 324 yards and two touchdowns on 46 targets. Only Martellus Bennett has been targeted more than Clay among tight ends this season.

TE - Gary Barnidge, Cleveland Browns (at STL)

Barnidge has transformed from a fantasy non-factor to an elite option at the position. In fact, the only tight end to score more fantasy points this season than Barnidge is New England's Rob Gronkowski. (Just like we all expected, right?!)

Over his past four games, Barnidge has finished no worse than the weekly TE3 with a minimum of 13.5 fantasy points every week. During that span, he has racked up 23 receptions for 358 yards and five touchdowns.

The Rams have allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season. It still feels a little weird to write this, but Barnidge has become matchup-proof despite his less-than-favorable Week 7 matchup.

- Poll: Will Barnidge score a TD for a fifth straight game?

TE - Ladarius Green, San Diego Chargers (vs. OAK)

With Antonio Gates (MCL) missing practice on Friday and expected to be a game-time decision for Sunday, it could open the door for an expanded offensive role for Green in Week 7. Even with Gates back from his four-game suspension to start the season, Green has eight catches for 85 yards and a touchdown in the past two games.

No team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season than the Raiders and that's even after Owen Daniels posted a goose egg against them in Week 5. Before that, they had allowed four consecutive top-four weekly finishes -- Tyler Eifert (TE4, 9/104/2), Crockett Gillmore (TE1, 5/88/2), Barnidge (TE2, 6/105/1) and Bennett (TE1, 11/83/1).

Given his high upside, Green will find his way onto many of my tournament teams in daily fantasy this weekend.

Here are some tight ends to potentially sit in Week 7:

TE - Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles (at CAR)

Ertz has been targeted exactly seven times in back-to-back games. Seven targets per game is a solid number for tight ends as 16 games of seven targets would equal 112 for a season, something only four tight ends did in 2014.

That said, Ertz has only one top-12 weekly finish this season and he's yet to score a touchdown. No tight end has more targets than Ertz (34) and zero touchdowns this season. In fact, it was teammate Brent Celek that has scored two touchdowns in the past three weeks as the offense has started to get on track.

The Panthers have limited opposing tight ends to the 10th-fewest fantasy points this season. So even if Ertz gets another seven targets this week, he should continue to remain on your bench.

TE - Larry Donnell, New York Giants (vs. DAL)

With 38 receiving yards or less in all six games this season, Donnell is a TD-dependent fantasy option. In his first matchup against the Cowboys this season, Donnell had three catches for 21 yards on four targets. With Sean Lee being one of the league's better coverage linebackers, there is limited upside for Donnell this week.

TE - Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers (at KC)

Until Ben Roethlisberger returns from his MCL injury, Miller won't be a fringe TE1 option. Roethlisberger is listed as questionable on the injury report, but Landry Jones is expected to get the start this week. In the two games that Big Ben started and finished, Miller finished as the weekly TE15 and TE7, respectively.

Since then, however, Miller has finished as the weekly TE33 or worse in three of four games. And since Week 1, Miller has been targeted three of fewer times every week. In addition, the Chiefs have allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season. Again, all of that adds up to Miller remaining on your bench.

- More Fantasy Football Start'em, Sit'em for Week 7

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Poll: Will Brandon Marshall reach 100-yard mark in fifth straight game?

Things could not have gone much better for wide receiver Brandon Marshall in his first season with the New York Jets.

So far this season, Marshall has either exceeded 100 yards or scored a touchdown (or both) with a minimum of six receptions and nine targets in every game.

In standard-scoring formats, Marshall has scored at least 12 fantasy points in all five games and currently ranks 10th in total fantasy points among wide receivers despite already having his bye.

Marshall brings a four-game streak of 100-yard games into his Week 7 matchup against the Patriots, who are eight-point favorites this week. In other words, game flow could lead to plenty of opportunities in the passing game for Marshall (and Eric Decker).

The longest 100-yard streak in NFL history was eight games (Calvin Johnson, 2012). Marshall is tied with DeAndre Hopkins for the longest active streak of 100-yard games.

Several elite wide receivers -- A.J. Green, Randall Cobb, Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Alshon Jeffery -- are on bye this week so the position is much thinner than usual.

Despite his consistent level of high production, Marshall has yet to finish any better than WR12 in standard-scoring formats (or WR8 in PPR formats), but I have him ranked fifth among wideouts this week. (In addition, I have Decker ranked inside my top-15 fantasy wide receivers as well.)

Will Marshall extend his career-best streak of 100-yard games to five this week?

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Week 7 Fantasy Football: Quarterbacks Start'em, Sit'em

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

As an example, Blake Bortles is listed below as a "start" for Week 7. And I'd feel very comfortable going into Week 7 with him as my starting quarterback.

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

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

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

With that said, here are some players to potentially start in Week 7:

QB - Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals (vs. BAL)

Ranked second in the NFL in scoring offense (33.8/G) and scoring margin (+14.7/G), game flow has limited Arizona's pass attempts (32.8/G, 22nd in NFL). While Palmer has scored the sixth-most fantasy points among quarterbacks through Week 6, he has actually finished outside the top-10 weekly fantasy quarterbacks in five consecutive games. Even so, Palmer is my top-ranked fantasy quarterback in a week with the top-two scorers (Andy Dalton and Aaron Rodgers) as well as Peyton Manning on bye.

Double-digit quarterbacks have scored more fantasy points than him in five straight weeks, but Palmer has thrown for 300-plus yards and/or multiple touchdowns every game this season. On the year, Palmer is averaging 289.5 passing yards per game with 14 touchdowns to only five interceptions. In a favorable matchup, there is a good chance that Palmer throws for 300-plus yards and multiple scores this week.

The Ravens have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks and their pass defense has surrended 340-plus yards and multiple touchdowns in four of six games this season. Those four quarterbacks were Derek Carr (351 yards, three TDs), Andy Dalton (383 yards, three TDs), Josh McCown (457 yards, two TDs) and Colin Kaepernick (340 yards, two TDs). In addition, no team is projected to score more points than the Cardinals (28.75) this week based on Vegas odds.

QB - Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers (vs. OAK)

With 20-plus fantasy points in three consecutive games, Rivers has thrown for at least 358 yards and two touchdowns in each of those games. Not only does Rivers lead the NFL in passing yards (352.7 per game), but he has two of the seven 400-yard games this year including 503 yards last week against the Packers.

The Raiders have allowed opposing quarterbacks to finish as a weekly top-12 fantasy quarterback in four of five games this season. Oakland has been extremely vulnerable in covering tight ends so Antonio Gates (knee) should be in store for a huge week if he's able to play. Otherwise, Ladarius Green has enormous upside this week.

QB - Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. BUF)

The good times continue to roll for Bortles -- at least, in terms of fantasy production. Bortles has finished as a weekly top-six fantasy quarterback in three consecutive games and is poised to deliver a strong performance across the pond in Week 7.

Bortles threw a season-worst three picks last week, but he also threw for 331 yards and three touchdowns in the process to score 22.94 fantasy points. Over his past three games, he's averaging 310.67 yards per game with eight passing touchdowns. In addition, he's averaged nearly 25 rushing yards per game this season as well.

The Bills have allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season and have allowed a top-12 fantasy quarterback in four of six games.

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

It would be an understatement to say that it's been a disappointing season for Dolphins. Returning from their bye with a new head coach, the Dolphins played inspired football and convincingly beat a bad Titans team. Tannehill threw for 266 yards and two touchdowns in the win and although he hasn't been great, he now has multiple touchdowns in four consecutive games. (Of course, he also has multiple interceptions thrown in three consecutive games as well.)

The Texans have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. Only the Bears (15), Chiefs (14) and Bills (13) have allowed more passing touchdowns this season than the Texans (12). The Dolphins are projected to score the sixth-most points this week based on Vegas odds.

Here are some quarterbacks to potentially sit in Week 7:

QB - Sam Bradford, Philadelphia Eagles (at CAR)

It's been an up-and-down (mostly down) season for Bradford. After back-to-back top-12 weekly performances, Bradford led the Eagles to a win over the Giants in Week 6 but finished as fantasy's QB25 as he threw three interceptions.

Bradford has now thrown multiple interceptions in four games and has thrown as many interceptions (nine) as touchdowns (nine) this season. Meanwhile, the Panthers have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. Not only have they allowed a league-low five passing touchdowns, but they have intercepted opposing quarterbacks eight times, tied for third-most in the league.

QB - Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders (at SD)

Carr had a couple of strong outings earlier in the season (Weeks 2 and 3), but he has thrown for just 196 and 249 yards against the Bears and Broncos, respectively, in his past two games. Even with guys like Rodgers, Dalton and Peyton on bye, Carr is still outside my top-12 fantasy quarterbacks for the week. The Chargers have limited opposing quarterbacks to the 10th-fewest fantasy points this season and only one quarterback has thrown for more than 255 yards against them.

QB - Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings (at DET)

The matchup is favorable, but it's been a disappointing (fantasy) season for the second-year quarterback. Through five games, Bridgewater has thrown more interceptions (four) than touchdowns (three) and is averaging just 204.6 passing yards per game. Only the Panthers have thrown on the ball on a lower percentage of their plays than the Vikings (50.0 percent).

- More Fantasy Football Start'em, Sit'em for Week 7

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Poll: Will Gary Barnidge score in a 5th straight game?

Every season, there are always surprise players in terms of fantasy production; one of those players is Cleveland Browns tight end Gary Barnidge.

Nobody could have projected Barnidge's production; the only tight end with more fantasy points this season than Barnidge is New England's Rob Gronkowski.

Over the past four weeks, Barnidge has finished as a weekly top-three fantasy tight end in all four games.

During that four-game span, Barnidge has a total of 23 receptions for 358 yards and five touchdowns on 35 targets and has scored (at least once) in all four games.

This week, Barnidge and the Browns will face the Rams, who have allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season.

Will Barnidge extend his touchdown streak to five games in his matchup against the Rams this week?

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October 23, 2015

2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Week 7 (Trifone)

Here are my picks against the spread (ATS) for Week 7 of the 2015 NFL season:

St. Louis Rams vs. Cleveland Browns -- Under 42.0 (3 units)

I liked the Rams here at the beginning of the week when the line came out at 3.5, but now that it's been bet up to 6.5, I don't love it. I do, however, like it to be a low-scoring, defensive game. I think this is a good spot for the Rams defense, coming off a bye against a team that went all out against Denver last week. Cleveland fell short of the win and I think they are in for another disappointment this week. I'm not willing to give the points, but I like the under.

New York Jets+8 over New England Patriots (3 units)

The Patriots have been destroying teams, but failed to really beat down the Colts this past weekend, which many expected. The Jets are a better football team than Indy -- especially defensively. With a very good defense and some big weapons on offense, including Chris Ivory, Brandon Marshall, and Eric Decker, I like the Jets to hang with the Patriots and cover the large spread.

Atlanta Falcons -6 over Tennessee Titans (3 units)

This is another spread I liked a lot better early in the week, as the Falcons have been bet heavily the last few days. Still, I'm going to give the points here. Although Marcus Mariota may play, I don't believe they can keep up with the Atlanta offense. A banged-up Julio Jones has had some adequate time to recover coming off playing the Thursday game. Devonta Freeman has been the breakout player of the year which has added another dimension to the offense. I like Atlanta to bounce back from their loss to the Saints and feast on a weak Titans team.

- Note: We will track all of our 2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread here.

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October 22, 2015

Week 7 Fantasy Football: 6 Undervalued Players in PPR Leagues

Week 7 is the first real week where we are going to feel the effects of the bye weeks. To this point, it’s almost felt like there haven’t been any byes even though they started three weeks ago. Outside of New England in Week 4, there haven’t been many teams on bye that are loaded with fantasy studs. The occasional player sure, but nothing to the extent that most fantasy teams were impacted to any real extent.

That all changes this week with Cincinnati, Green Bay, Chicago and Denver all on bye. While each team has a presumed fantasy stud struggling, there are still plenty of regular fantasy starters and early-round draft picks that will be out of commission this week. This puts an emphasis on making the right decisions with your team’s depth in order to escape “byemageddon” with a win.

Looking at Week 6 results, it was a pretty solid week altogether. The total YTD points moved into the positive and while the WR YTD total is still in the negative, it is trending in the right direction and is the only negative position total.

Week 6 Results
QBsRBsWRsTEsTotal
-4.0+21.1+23.8-2.7+38.2
YTD Results
QBsRBsWRsTEsTotal
+19.4+29.3-31.6+13.3+30.4

* Stats are based on players recommended (compared to options listed to start those players over).

Best of the week -- LeGarrette Blount +35.3: Blount received the most touches out of the Patriots backfield last week, converting 16 carries into 93 yards and a TD, while also catching 1 ball for a second TD. Comparatively, Melvin Gordon and Duke Johnson had sub-standard games, to say the least.

Runner up -- John Brown +34.1: Another big game for Brown. Jarvis Landry also had a solid day, but paled in comparison to Brown’s 29-point outing. Willie Snead wasn’t awful, but fell just short of 10 points.

Worst of the week -- Marcus Mariota -18.3: Well, my assumption that Miami wouldn’t be able to turn it around under a new head coach ... that quickly was wrong. It didn’t help that Mariota got hurt and couldn’t finish the game, but even before then, he was struggling against a reinvigorated Dolphins defense. Russell Wilson and Jay Cutler both had solid outings, scoring 21 and 22 points, respectively.

Runner up -- Antonio Andrews -14.2: Again, I was wrong about the Dolphins. Andrews started the game fairly well, but fell off the map as the Titans fell behind early. Neither Ameer Abdullah or Rashad Jennings put together a big game by any means, but they did more than Andrews.

Quarterbacks

Brian Hoyer – Houston Texans
FantasyPros ECR – 15

Hoyer has been effective since taking over the Texans job from Ryan Mallett. Last week he put up 293 yards and 3 TDs, albeit against the Jags. Regardless, he does have DeAndre Hopkins to throw to, who can get open against just about anyone. Miami looked much better on defense last week and are top 10 in FPA to QBs, but they still rank 25th in DVOA against the pass. Hoyer has put up back-to-back big games against teams that ranked 26th and 31st in pass defense DVOA, so I think it sets up well for another sneaky good week.

Consider starting him over:
- Ryan Fitzpatrick – ECR 13. He gets the Pats this week. They will do everything they can to take away Brandon Marshall, which severely impacts Fitzpatrick’s fantasy production.
- Matthew Stafford – ECR 12. I’m a Lions fan and I’m still not buying last week’s performance as a sign of things to come.

Running Backs

Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
FantasyPros ECR – 16

Martin has been on a tear the past two weeks. And I fully understand that he gets a Redskins run defense that has been very good this year, but they have given up big games to RBs the past two weeks and are looking more vulnerable. The game flow should give Martin plenty of opportunities, as neither team has the offense to pull away from their opponent. I like Martin to continue his productive pace as the focal point of this offense.

Consider starting him over:
- Dion Lewis – ECR 9. Lewis is still not fully healthy and Blount is eating into his playing time more and more with his recent production. Also, the Jets are the No. 1 run defense in the league. Additionally, they rank 10th against RBs as receivers, so all in all, it doesn’t setup well for Lewis.
DeMarco Murray – ECR 14. Carolina gives up a good amount of points to RBs, but they rank No. 5 in terms of total rush yards allowed. Additionally, nearly 50 percent of Murray’s points this season are via the pass game – Carolina ranks 10th in DVOA against RBs as receivers.

Rashad Jennings – New York Giants
FantasyPros ECR – 27

Jennings has been limited by the Giants offensive line and the timeshare that is the Giants backfield. It’s not like he is setting the world on fire when he does get his opportunity, but he has been the most effective RB on the team. Additionally, while Shane Vereen was supposed to eat into his work in the passing game, Jennings has still managed around three catches per game, which has boosted his weekly point total an average of seven over the past four weeks. He faces off against a Cowboys defense that gives up the second-most fantasy points to RBs and ranks 29th against RBs as receivers in DVOA. While he will continue to share looks, I think his recent production (4.4 YPC over last three games) will garner him some more looks. I could see 15 carries with a handful of catches, which should be enough to be productive against the Cowboys. Hell, maybe he will even get his first TD since Week 1.

Consider starting him over:
- Jonathan Stewart – ECR 23. Before last week, Stewart had yet to score a TD or crack 70 yards on the ground. As up and down as Philly has been, their run defense has been stout, ranking third in both FPA and DVOA. Expect Stewart to struggle.
Chris Thompson – ECR 25. Thompson draws his value primarily as a receiver out of the backfield. Well, guess who is surprisingly very good against RBs as receivers? You got it, the Bucs, who rank fifth in DVOA.

Wide Receivers

Martavis Bryant – Pittsburgh Steelers
FantasyPros ECR – 25

Bryant picked up where he left off last season, putting up a huge game in his season debut. Expect more of the same this week. Big Ben may be returning (although Landry Jones had zero issue connecting with Bryant) and they get the Chiefs defense, who not only give up the most FPs to WRs, they also rank 29th in DVOA against WR2’s specifically. Bryant should enjoy this one.

Consider starting him over:
- Mike Evans – ECR 19. Evans continues to disappoint and the Bucs continue to focus more on running the ball. Even if they do air it out this week, Evans hasn’t been all that effective and gets a defense that is eighth against WR1’s in DVOA.
- Allen Robinson – ECR 11. Robinson has been impressive over the last three weeks, but expectations need to be tempered this week due to the matchup. The Bills are No. 1 against WR1’s in DVOA, so while they surrender a lot of FPs to WRs, I see a lot of those points going to Allen Hurns and company. Bortles has shown the ability to spread the ball and not force feed any single receiver, with five players having at least 20 targets on the season.

Pierre Garcon – Washington Redskins
FantasyPros ECR – 23

Garcon has been heavily targeted over the past several weeks with DeSean Jackson injured, producing solid numbers for the most part. This week, he gets a chance to break out with a big game. Facing the Bucs, who are 24th in FPA to WRs and dead last in DVOA against WR1’s, Garcon will have ample opportunity to exploit a weak secondary and reach WR1 status this week. If you're debating between him and another player borderline WR2, I suggest Garcon due to his upside.

Consider starting him over:
- Mike Evans – ECR 19. See above.
- Jordan Matthews – ECR 21. After a hot start to the season, Matthews’ production has been trending downwards. That’s bad news against a Panthers ranked third in defensive pass efficiency and eighth in FPA to WRs.

Tight End

Charles Clay – Buffalo Bills
FantasyPros ECR – 7

With all of the injuries in Buffalo, Clay is likely to be a target monster this week. Against the Jags, that’s bound to be a good thing. Jacksonville is 19th in FPA to TEs, but 30th in efficiency. With the potential number of opportunities he could get, Clay could exploit that inefficiency and have a big week.

Consider starting him over:
- Gary Barnidge – ECR 6. Barnidge has been one of the biggest fantasy surprises this season and is the focal point of Josh McCown’s targets. But St. Louis is pretty good against TEs, ranking 9th in FPA and 10th in DVOA. Barnidge is sure to produce given the number of targets, but I would temper expectations this week.

Thanks for reading and good luck in Week 7!

Check out my full Week 7 Fantasy Football PPR Rankings and follow me on twitter @rw11687.

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DFS Roundtable: Favorite DraftKings Play for Week 7

Every week this season, our contributors will give their favorite plays for the week in DraftKings contests.

Q: Who is your favorite DraftKings play for Week 7?

Brendan Donahue - Todd Gurley, RB, St. Louis Rams (vs. CLE), $5,000

If you want the definition of a workhorse running back, take a look at Todd Gurley's past two games. Gurley has averaged 24.5 carries per game for 152.5 yards per game, so I think it's safe to say he's recovered from his injury and you can start him with confidence. He couldn't have a much better matchup this week going against the Browns at home who are giving up a league-high 149.8 yards rushing per game. At just $5,000, I expect him to be highly owned but he is just too good of a value this week to pass up.

Sean Beazley - Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons (at TEN), $9,100

There are a number of extremely chalky plays this week. If you aren't all over players like Antonio Gates, and Todd Gurley this week in your cash game, then you're probably a losing player in DFS. Gates was a lock for me before the salaries were released playing the Raiders who are awful vs TEs. Gates has been targeted 27 times in his first two games of the season. At the price of $5,000 you would be extremely foolish to not target him. Gurley, the other chalk play of the week, also sits at $5,000. Gurley will no doubt get 20-plus carries this week, and it wouldn't shock me to see him get around 30 given how I expect the game to go on Sunday.

My favorite tournament option of the week is Julio Jones. Jones is the perfect pivot off DeAndre Hopkins. I expect Hopkins to be among the highest owned players this week given receny bias. I believe this same bias (Julio's recent struggles), and the fact that Julio Jones costs $500 more than Hopkins will make Jones extremely under-owned. I also believe that Julio's teammate Devanta Freeman will be very popular, which also should keep people off Jones as pairing a RB/WR together is not usually a smart move. The Falcons played the Titans this pre-season and Jones absolutely dominated the Titans secondary. This was without CB Jason McCourty, but let's be honest, nobody can slow down a healthy Julio Jones. There are plenty of cheap options this week so you should have no problem fitting Jones in. You have the Rams D at a ridiculous $2400 vs. the Browns at home, and you could always go double TE for the savings.

Ryan Watterson - Todd Gurley, RB, St. Louis Rams (vs. CLE), $5,000

Gurley won't be this cheap for long, take advantage while you can. Gurley gets a Cleveland team that ranks 28th against RBs by DraftKings standards, and he will be the primary focus of this offense given the lack of other weapons - he had 30 carries last game. Given he is likely to touch the ball as much as anyone else this week, and has one of the best matchups, he is a must-start. Without question, he will be one of the most highly-owned players this week, but you can't afford to fade him in the majority of lineups.

Kevin Hanson - Todd Gurley, RB, St. Louis Rams (vs. CLE), $5,000

Coming off a torn ACL, Gurley sat the first two weeks of the season and was eased into action in Week 3. Since then, however, the talented top-10 pick from Georgia has carried the ball 49 times for 305 yards in his past two games. Now healthy and coming off his team's bye, Gurley is in line for another massive workload and the matchup couldn't be much more favorable.

The Browns have allowed a 100-yard rusher -- Latavius Murray (Week 3), Justin Forsett (Week 5) and Ronnie Hillman (Week 6) -- in three of their past four games. (And in Week 4, Danny Woodhead had 138 yards from scrimmage.) There is no doubt that Gurley will be one of the highest-owned players this week, but he's as safe as it gets with the upside for a monster game.

Dan Yanotchko - John Brown, WR, Arizona Cardinals (vs. BAL), $5,500

This week I am going with John Brown of Arizona, who has one of the best matchups against a very bad Ravens secondary. Brown has had a great start to the season, registering 33 catches for 497 yards and two touchdowns. The Ravens have been very bad on the back end, giving up 286 yards and 27 points per game. The league's highest-scoring offense, going against Baltimore in their second week in a row out west on the road? Yes, please.

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October 21, 2015

2015 Fantasy Football QB Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 7 to 16

While the season is still young, we continue to get a better sense of each team's identity with each passing week.

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

A player's fantasy strength of schedule is far from the most important aspect of his outlook. But if you're debating a pair of players to pick up off the waiver wire (our Week 7 waiver-wire post) and they are otherwise comparable in your view, a more favorable fantasy schedule could potentially break the tie.

Five most favorable SOS for QBs (Weeks 7-16):

1. St. Louis Rams (Nick Foles): 17.94
2. Washington Redskins (Kirk Cousins): 17.84
3. Denver Broncos (Peyton Manning): 17.82
4. New York Jets (Ryan Fitzpatrick): 17.79
5. San Diego Chargers (Philip Rivers): 17.62

Five least favorable SOS for QBs (Weeks 7-16):

28. Green Bay Packers (Aaron Rodgers): 15.88
29. Dallas Cowboys (Matt Cassel, Tony Romo): 15.63
30. Oakland Raiders (Derek Carr): 15.22
31. Chicago Bears (Jay Cutler): 15.10
32. New England Patriots (Tom Brady): 14.56

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

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2015 Fantasy Football RB Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 7 to 16

While the season is still young, we continue to get a better sense of each team's identity with each passing week.

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

A player's fantasy strength of schedule is far from the most important aspect of his outlook. But if you're debating a pair of players to pick up off the waiver wire (our Week 7 waiver-wire post) and they are otherwise comparable in your view, a more favorable fantasy schedule could potentially break the tie.

Five most favorable SOS for RBs (Weeks 7-16):

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Doug Martin, Charles Sims): 20.48
2. Indianapolis Colts (Frank Gore): 20.10
3. Carolina Panthers (Jonathan Stewart): 19.97
4. Kansas City Chiefs (Charcandrick West): 19.95
5. Tennessee Titans (Antonio Andrews, Bishop Sankey): 19.81

Five least favorable SOS for RBs (Weeks 7-16):

28. Detroit Lions (Theo Riddick, Ameer Abdullah): 17.52
29. Houston Texans (Arian Foster): 17.48
30. Cleveland Browns (Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson): 16.81
31. Dallas Cowboys (Christine Michael, Darren McFadden, Joseph Randle): 16.40
32. New England Patriots (Dion Lewis, LeGarrette Blount): 16.12

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

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2015 Fantasy Football WR Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 7 to 16

While the season is still young, we continue to get a better sense of each team's identity with each passing week.

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

A player's fantasy strength of schedule is far from the most important aspect of his outlook. But if you're debating a pair of players to pick up off the waiver wire (our Week 7 waiver-wire post) and they are otherwise comparable in your view, a more favorable fantasy schedule could potentially break the tie.

Five most favorable SOS for WRs (Weeks 7-16):

1. San Diego Chargers (Keenan Allen): 25.59
2. St. Louis Rams (Tavon Austin): 24.95
3. Buffalo Bills (Sammy Watkins, Percy Harvin): 24.90
4. Seattle Seahawks (Doug Baldwin): 24.72
5. Denver Broncos (Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders): 24.69

Five least favorable SOS for WRs (Weeks 7-16):

28. San Francisco 49ers (Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith): 21.55
29. Tennessee Titans (Kendall Wright): 21.24
29. Oakland Raiders (Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree): 21.24
31. Chicago Bears (Alshon Jeffery, Eddie Royal): 21.21
32. Indianapolis Colts (T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief): 21.20

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

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2015 Fantasy Football TE Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 7 to 16

While the season is still young, we continue to get a better sense of each team's identity with each passing week.

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

A player's fantasy strength of schedule is far from the most important aspect of his outlook. But if you're debating a pair of players to pick up off the waiver wire (our Week 7 waiver-wire post) and they are otherwise comparable in your view, a more favorable fantasy schedule could potentially break the tie.

Five most favorable SOS for TEs (Weeks 7-16):

1. Kansas City Chiefs (Travis Kelce): 8.83
2. New York Jets: 8.78
3. Minnesota Vikings (Kyle Rudolph): 8.64
4. Tennessee Titans (Delanie Walker): 8.58
5. Carolina Panthers (Greg Olsen): 8.44

Five least favorable SOS for TEs (Weeks 7-16):

28. Miami Dolphins (Jordan Cameron): 6.76
29. New York Giants (Larry Donnell): 6.73
30. Atlanta Falcons (Jacob Tamme): 6.71
31. Philadelphia Eagles (Zach Ertz, Brent Celek): 6.21
32. Buffalo Bills (Charles Clay): 6.18

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

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October 20, 2015

2015 Fantasy Football: Wide Receiver Waiver-Wire Options Heading Into Week 7

Every week, we examine players that may be available on your league's waiver wire that could help your team in the short- and/or long-term.

For a player to be listed, he must be owned in 50 percent (or less) of Yahoo! leagues. The goal is to provide recommendations of players that have a greater chance of being available on your league's waiver wire.

With that said, here are some waiver-wire options that I like heading into Week 7 (Yahoo! ownership in parenthesis):

[Note: Players listed below are sorted by my preference to add.]

WR - Brandon LaFell, New England Patriots (50 percent)

With LaFell beginning the season on the PUP list, he is eligible to return this week against the Jets. In his first season with the Patriots (2014), LaFell set career highs of 74 receptions, 953 yards, seven touchdowns and 119 targets. Even though he's no better than third in line for targets behind Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman, LaFell should post several WR3 (or better) stat lines over the rest of the season.

WR - Stefon Diggs, Minnesota Vikings (seven percent)

Diggs now has two strong performances in his past two games. Before the bye, Diggs had six catches for 87 yards on 10 targets. Following the bye, Diggs had seven receptions for 129 yards on nine targets. It seems that Diggs has played himself into two-WR sets opposite Mike Wallace even when Charles Johnson is healthy. The Vikings have a couple of favorable matchups coming up against the Lions and Bears in Weeks 7 and 8, respectively.

WR - Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders (46 percent)

On the season, Crabtree has a minimum of four receptions in every game and at least eight targets in four of five games so far. Before his Week 6 bye, Crabtree had scored the 33rd-most fantasy points among wide receivers in standard-scoring formats; 28th-most in PPR formats. Even though he's clearly the team's No. 2 receiver behind Amari Cooper, the Raiders currently rank 12th in the league in pass attempts per game (38.8) after ranking fourth in that category last year. In other words, there is enough volume for the Raiders two have two top-36 fantasy receivers this season.

WR - Marvin Jones, Cincinnati Bengals (35 percent)

With a season-high 12 targets in Week 6, Jones hauled in nine receptions for 95 yards and a score against the Bills. A TD-dependent receiver, Jones has two or less receptions in three of six games this season. But he has also scored in half of the team's games and has a total of 13 touchdowns in his past 22 games.

WR - Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals (32 percent)

Third behind Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown on the targets totem pole, Floyd does have five catches and 50-plus yards in two of his past three games. And not only did he score last week, but he nearly had a second touchdown as well. Just two seasons ago, Floyd had 1,041 yards so the former first-round pick has the talent to produce in one of the league's top offenses.

WR - Rishard Matthews, Miami Dolphins (50 percent)

Before the bye, Matthews had a disappointing 1/16 line on three targets. Excluding that game, Matthews has six receptions and at least 85 yards in each of his other three games since Week 2. Eventually first-round rookie DeVante Parker will carve out a larger role within the offense, but he hasn't been targeted in either of the team's last two games. For now, Matthews remains on the WR3 radar.

WR - Dorial Green-Beckham, Tennessee Titans (15 percent)

With only five targets in his first four games of the season, Green-Beckham scored twice on his three receptions. Blessed with great size (6-5, 237), DGB's biggest contributions to the team's passing attack should come as a red-zone target. Although he didn't score in Week 6, it's a positive that he was targeted six times as he recorded three catches for 57 yards. His role should continue to expand and he has the potential to score eight or so touchdowns this season.

WR - Jamison Crowder, Washington Redskins (11 percent)

It's unclear if DeSean Jackson will return in Week 7, but there's at least a chance that he misses another game before the team's Week 8 bye. Much better in PPR formats, Crowder has at least eight targets in three consecutive games and a total of 25 catches for 237 yards over the past four games.

WR - Eddie Royal, Chicago Bears (36 percent)

Royal had five catches for 49 yards on seven targets last week and he has at least five receptions in three of his past four games played. Finishing as a top-32 receiver in both scoring formats with the Chargers last season, Royal's career-best season (91/980/5) happened when he and Jay Cutler were in Denver. Royal and the Bears have a Week 7 bye.

WR - Cecil Shorts, (nine percent)

After a one-game absence, Shorts caught four passes for 63 yards on six targets. Shorts now has a minimum of four receptions in each of his five games played this season and he's exceeded 50 receiving yards in four of those games. Obviously, DeAndre Hopkins is the clear-cut No. 1 receiver for the Texans, but the team's high volume of pass attempts means that Shorts is worth a look.

WR - Kamar Aiken, Baltimore Ravens (32 percent)

Even though Steve Smith returned to the field in Week 6, Aiken was targeted eight times on Sunday. Over his past three games, Aiken has turned his 24 targets into only 12 receptions, but he has 177 yards and two touchdowns during that span. With Smith back, Aiken's upside is capped going forward.

More Week 7 waiver-wire advice:
- Week 7 QB/TE Waiver-Wire Recommendations
- Week 7 Running Back Waiver-Wire Recommendations

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2015 Fantasy Football: Running Back Waiver-Wire Options Heading Into Week 7

Every week, we examine players that may be available on your league's waiver wire that could help your team in the short- and/or long-term.

For a player to be listed, he must be owned in 50 percent (or less) of Yahoo! leagues. The goal is to provide recommendations of players that have a greater chance of being available on your league's waiver wire.

With that said, here are some waiver-wire options that I like heading into Week 7 (Yahoo! ownership in parenthesis):

[Note: Players listed below are sorted by my preference to add.]

RB - Christine Michael, Dallas Cowboys (39 percent)

Not only did the Cowboys make a quarterback change over the bye week, but Michael appears set for a much larger role in the rushing attack in Week 7 and going forward. In two-plus seasons in the league, Michael has only 54 career rush attempts for 259 yards (4.8 yards per carry), but he possesses rare measurables. In other words, there is enormous upside if he begins to receive significant workloads behind (one of) the league's best offensive line(s).

RB - Charles Sims, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (25 percent)

Before the team's Week 6 bye, Doug Martin finished as a top-five fantasy running back in back-to-back games. Even so, Sims has now scored double-digit fantasy points and finished as a top-24 fantasy running back in three consecutive games. On the season, Sims has averaged 65.6 yards from scrimmage and 2.8 receptions per game.

RB - James Starks, Green Bay Packers (20 percent)

Frustrating to Eddie Lacy owners, Starks turned in a 10/112/1 rushing line in Week 6 while adding a five-yard touchdown reception. Through six games, Starks (74) and Lacy (76) have roughly the same amount of touches and Coach McCarthy has talked about how the Packers will roll with the "hot hand" if one develops. Playing in the Packers high-scoring offense led by Aaron Rodgers, there is of course tons of upside for the backfield's "hot hand" in any given week.

RB - Theo Riddick, Detroit Lions (21 percent)

In Week 6, Riddick had 10 touches for a total of 78 yards and saw more work after another fumble by Ameer Abdullah. Abdullah's ball-security issues should open the door for even more touches for Riddick going forward. Better in PPR formats, no running back has more receptions this season than Riddick (33). Based on his production through Week 6, Riddick is on pace for 88/890/5 receiving.

RB - Robert Turbin, Cleveland Browns (two percent)

In his season debut with the Browns, Turbin carried the ball 10 times for 27 yards. It's certainly possible that Turbin will eventually get a larger share of the workload than Isaiah Crowell, who had 11 carries for 32 yards in Week 6.

More Week 7 waiver-wire advice:
- Week 7 QB/TE Waiver-Wire Recommendations
- Week 7 Wide Receiver Waiver-Wire Recommendations

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October 19, 2015

2015 Fantasy Football: QB/TE Waiver-Wire Options Heading Into Week 7

Every week, we examine players that may be available on your league's waiver wire that could help your team in the short- and/or long-term.

For a player to be listed, he must be owned in 50 percent (or less) of Yahoo! leagues. The goal is to provide recommendations of players that have a greater chance of being available on your league's waiver wire.

With that said, here are some waiver-wire options that I like heading into Week 7 (Yahoo! ownership in parenthesis):

[Note: Players listed below are sorted by my preference to add within their position group.]

QB - Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars (43 percent)

Despite three interceptions thrown, it was another productive fantasy performance for Bortles on Sunday. Throwing for 331 yards and three touchdowns, Bortles has finished as a top-12 fantasy quarterback in four of the past five weeks. During that five-game span, Bortles has 289.4 passing yards and 24.6 rushing yards per game while throwing 12 touchdowns to only five interceptions. This week in London, Bortles and the Jags will face the Bills, who have allowed a top-12 QB finish in four of six games this season.

QB - Josh McCown, Cleveland Browns (17 percent)

Before facing the league's top-ranked pass defense in Week 6, McCown had finished as the weekly QB9, QB4 and QB1, respectively, in his previous three starts. Although he barely completed half of his pass attempts and threw two picks in Week 6, McCown extended his streak of games with two passing touchdowns to four on Sunday. While his next few matchups aren't great either, McCown is a solid bye-week replacement if your starter has a bye coming up.

QB - Brian Hoyer, Houston Texans (six percent)

Opening the season as the starter, Hoyer was also benched in Week 1 as well. Once again installed as the starter, Hoyer has finished as a top-12 fantasy quarterback in three consecutive games. In those three games, Hoyer has a total of seven touchdowns and only one interception. Going into Week 7, no team has more pass attempts than the Texans (278) so the volume should continue to lead to productive fantasy outings.

QB - Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears (36 percent)

Cutler has a Week 7 bye, so if you need him as a bye-week fill-in this week, he's obviously not a recommended add for that purpose. If you're planning ahead, however, Cutler makes for a solid bye-week replacement in Week 8 or later.

Not only is the team's receiving corps getting healthy, but Cutler has three consecutive solid performances. In those three games, he has averaged more than 295 passing yards per game with 41-plus pass attempts in each game and a total of five touchdowns and two interceptions.

QB - Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets (12 percent)

Fitzpatrick is coming off his best game this season, but he has at least two touchdowns in four of his five games this season. His upcoming schedule is favorable with matchups against the Patriots, Raiders, Jaguars, Bills and Texans over the next five weeks, which makes him a solid streaming option.

TE - Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions (18 percent)

After missing the past two games, it's possible that Ebron (knee) returns to the field in Week 7 against the Vikings. The top-10 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Ebron had 15 receptions for 179 yards and two touchdowns in the team's first four games. Given the volume of the team's pass attempts (only Houston has more pass attempts) and his talent, Ebron will be in the low-end TE1/high-end TE2 mix on a weekly basis once he's healthy again.

TE - Benjamin Watson, New Orleans Saints (10 percent)

Before last week, Watson had five or fewer targets and 42 or fewer yards in every game. In Week 6, however, he was targeted 12 times by Drew Brees and finished with a season-best 10/127/1 line. Going forward, Watson remains a TE2 despite his huge outing in Week 6.

TE - Crockett Gillmore, Baltimore Ravens (11 percent)

Returning from a two-game absence, Gillmore had three receptions for 30 yards on six targets. For a team with a relatively weak group of pass-catchers, Gillmore will have more productive games going forward, but he has six or fewer targets in all four of his games played and second-round rookie Maxx Williams will continue to see his role expand as the season progresses.

More Week 7 waiver-wire advice:
- Week 7 Running Back Waiver-Wire Recommendations
- Week 7 Wide Receiver Waiver-Wire Recommendations

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October 18, 2015

2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Week 6 (Hanson)

Despite my record against the spread (one game under .500) this season, our group has had plenty of success picking games versus the spread this season (30-24-1, 55.6 percent) going into this week.

That record is slightly better heading into Sunday's games as John picked the Saints to cover on Thursday Night Football.

With that said, here are my picks against the spread (ATS) for Week 6 of the 2015 NFL season:

Miami Dolphins +2 over Tennessee Titans (3 units)

Compared to expectations heading into the season, perhaps no team has disappointed more than the Dolphins, who fired their head coach before the bye. Without question, the team is much more talented than their record and stats suggest. What is a question is how much will an interim staff be able to turn this team around?

Despite having one of the league's most talented defensive lines lead by high-priced free agent Ndamukong Suh, the Dolphins rank last in the NFL in rush defense and last in sacks. In addition, the Dolphins rank second-to-last in scoring offense (16.3/G) and only 28th in total offense (314.8 yards per game). (At least they're balanced ...)

I'm not sure we see a sustained improvement from the Dolphins, but I do think their effort and intensity should be at its peak this season and that the team finds a way to get a win.

Denver Broncos -4.5 over Cleveland Browns (3 units)

The Broncos are a perfect 5-0 in spite of Peyton Manning's poor quarterback play. It feels weird writing that sentence, but it's true. Denver ranks 30th in the NFL in yards per game (302.6); only Minnesota and St. Louis rank lower. While one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, Manning ranks 28th among qualified passers in Y/A (6.53) and has thrown more interceptions (seven) than touchdowns (six) this season.

As bad as their passing offense has been, their rushing offense has been equally as bad. Only the Lions have averaged fewer yards per rush attempt this season. Prior to the season, C.J. Anderson was thought to be a player that could challenge for the rushing title, but he has averaged less than 2.5 YPC in four of five games. His best game was 11 carries for 43 yards (3.91 YPC).

So, why am I picking the Broncos here? For one, Cleveland's defense has been bad; they are one of only three teams to have allowed 400-plus yards of offense this season. Their rush defense has been especially bad as they allow 5.0 YPC and 149.4 YPG, both of which are second-worst in the NFL. Perhaps we see more from the Broncos offense this week than they've seen previously.

The other reason is Denver's defense. No team has created more takeaways than Denver (14), who also ranks first in total defense (278.0 YPG). No disrespect meant to Gary Barnidge, who has finished as a top-three fantasy TE for three consecutive weeks, but the Browns lack the playmakers on offense to challenge this defense.

I see this game turning out to be somewhere around 21-10, 23-13, etc. with the Broncos putting forth a slightly better offensive showing and continued stingy defensive play.

Arizona Cardinals -4.5 over Pittsburgh Steelers (3 units)

The Cardinals are one of the best teams in the NFL and Carson Palmer has won 17 of his past 20 starts with the team. Of course, those 20 games haven't been consecutive due to injuries. But when healthy, the team (and offense) have looked great.

Playing extremely well this season, Palmer has 13 touchdowns to only three interceptions and Larry Fitzgerald is playing like it's 2011. Fitzgerald entered the week as the top-scoring fantasy wide receiver with 35 catches for 490 yards and six touchdowns through five games.

A blessing in disguise (given two NFL Coach of the Year awards), the firing of Bruce Arians by the Steelers in 2011 has been a positive for him. During Arians' tenure with Arizona, the Cardinals are 13-5-1 as favorites and 5-1-1 as road favorites over the past three seasons. I think Arians gets some revenge against his former team this weekend.

Baltimore Ravens -2 over San Francisco 49ers (3 units)

It's been a disappointing season for the Ravens, who are lucky to have their one win through five weeks. Even with their 1-4 start this year, the Ravens have been particulary good following losses in recent years. In their past 35 games following a loss, they are 27-8 straight up.

Justin Forsett has back-to-back 100-yard games and assuming he's able to play, he should have success on the ground against the 49ers. The Ravens secondary has played poorly allowing Josh McCown to throw for a career-high 457 yards last week, but Colin Kaepernick has struggled with four touchdowns and five interceptions this season.

Given their poor start, it may turn out to be a lost season for the Ravens, but I do expect them to leave the Bay area with their second win of the season.

New England Patriots -10 over Indianapolis Colts (1 unit)

The 10-point spread on the road to AFC runner-ups seems a bit excessive, but no team is more willing to run up the score (in general circumstances) than the Patriots. Against the Colts, there is no chance that the Pats take their foot off the gas should they take a commanding lead.

Of course, Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman should all have productive games, but this could be the game that we see a lot more LeGarrette Blount. In his past two games, both playoff blowouts, Blount has 54 carries for 314 yards and seven touchdowns. SEVEN TDS!

This has the potential to turn into a lopsided affair early, which could lead to more Andrew Luck turnovers. Missing the past two games due to his shoulder injury, Luck was a full participant on Friday, but he has multiple interceptions in five consecutive games going back to last year's postseason.

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2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Week 6 (Yanotchko)

Here are my picks against the spread (ATS) for Week 6 of the 2015 NFL season:

San Diego Chargers +10.5 over Green Bay Packers (3 units units)

I know that Green Bay is the much better team here, but I think that the Chargers will absolutely be within 10 points of them in a game they really need to win. The Packers have been rolling this year at a perfect 5-0, and Aaron Rodgers is of course looking like his perennial MVP self, even while missing Jordy Nelson.

The Chargers come into this game at 2-3, and will need this game to keep pace in the AFC West. The Chargers can exploit the Packers on the ground, as Green Bay gives up 130 yards per game, and 5.0 yards per carry on the ground this year. Also, it appears Packers run-stuffer B.J. Raji is doubtful for the game, and this way the Chargers can try to keep the ball out of Rodgers' hands.

San Diego will probably not win this game, but they have the passing attack to play catchup, and will be in this game to the end, so I will take the double-digit points here.

New England Patriots -10 over Indianapolis Colts (3 units)

What can be said about this game, that hasn't been said already, but just imagine, a rematch of last year's AFC final, and the road team is laying 10 points! They can't make this line high enough, as this is the game that has been circled on the Patriots calendar from Day 1, and they are going into Indy for vengeance.

The Colts just do not matchup up well against New England, as they are 0-4 against the spread, and also they have been outscored 189-73 in those four contests. The Patriots will have the ability to pick apart a weak Colts defense, and of course, we all know Brady will still be throwing late into the fourth quarter.

I don't think this line is high enough, as the Colts just aren't a good team this year; they have offensive line protection problems, and will not be able to cover the Pats receivers.

Philadelphia Eagles -4.5 over New York Giants (3 units)

This is a crucial game for the NFC East, and the winner here will have the advantage with the tiebreaker going forward. The Eagles have started slow, but now they have started to find their stride, and they have had great success against the Giants in recent years. The Eagles have gone 10-3-1 in their last 14 games against the Giants.

Also the Chip Kelly passing offense will be able to easily attack a Giants secondary that gives up a league-worst 304 yards passing per game. Also for this game Odell Beckham is listed as questionable, and we are due for the classic Eli Manning stinker game soon. I love the Eagles at home on a Monday night before their rowdy home crowd, and I will certainly give the points here.

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2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Week 6 (Beazley)

Here are my picks against the spread (ATS) for Week 6 of the 2015 NFL season:

New England Patriots -10 over Indianapolis Colts (2 units)
Patriots at Colts -- Over 55.0 (5 units)

I wrote up Rob Gronkowski earlier this week in our DFS Roundtable post. I love the Patriots this week. Tom Brady and the Patriots have had this game circled on the calendar since the schedule was released this summer. The Patriots have scored six offensive touchdowns in each of their last three meetings with the Colts. You do the math, that's 42 points.

The Colts offense is good enough to score 20-plus points as well especially if this game gets out of hand, which I expect. The Patriots have dominated the Colts on the line of scrimmage racking up 200-plus rushing yards during this three-game span. I think this game is Brady's though. I expect Brady to throw for 5-plus TDs. Patriots, 48-26.

Detroit Lions -3.5 over Chicago Bears (3 units)

Matthew Stafford was benched last week in favor of Dan Orlovsky after a terrible showing vs the Cardinals. Detroit looked tired and sluggish after that heartbreaking B.S. loss to Seattle on MNF. I think with a full week's rest, and the fact that Matthew Stafford historically plays pretty well vs. the Bears, the Lions will get their first win on the season.

If you are playing DFS, I think a Stafford-Megatron stack makes a ton of sense this week in tournaments because Stafford is extremely under-priced. The Bears have squeaked out two wins vs. mediocre defenses the past two weeks. I think Cutler has a few turnovers this week. I'd consider risking more units if the Bears receiving corps turns out to be as depleted as it was last week. Detroit, 27-17.

Denver Broncos -4.5 over Cleveland Browns (3 units)

If you have watched the Broncos this year, you clearly can tell that Peyton Manning's better days are over. He just doesn't have the arm strength he did a few years back. I don't think it will matter in this one because the Broncos defense is so good right now. I like the Broncos DST/K to outscore the Browns in this one. I think C.J. Anderson makes an interesting tournament option in daily as well. Broncos, 23-6.

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October 17, 2015

2015 Fantasy Football: Week 6 Start'em, Sit'em

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

As an example, Andy Dalton is listed below as a "start" for Week 6. And I'd feel very comfortable going into Week 6 with him as my starting quarterback.

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

In other words, if you owned both Aaron Rodgers and Dalton, you should start Rodgers -- and in turn, bench Dalton.

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

With that said, here are some players to potentially start in Week 6:

QB - Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals (at BUF)

Quick question: Which quarterback leads the position in fantasy points scored this season?

Of course, it's Dalton; why else would I ask the question here?! Although Tom Brady has averaged more fantasy points per game, no quarterback has scored more (total) fantasy points through five weeks than Dalton. Perhaps even more impressively, Dalton has finished as a top-11 fantasy quarterback in all five starts this year.

Dalton has three consecutive 300-yard games and has thrown multiple touchdowns in four of five games this season. On the year, he is averaging 303.6 passing yards per game with 13 total touchdowns -- 11 passing and two rushing -- and only two interceptions.

Meanwhile, the Bills have allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. Although they prevented rookie Marcus Mariota from throwing a touchdown last week, they had allowed multiple touchdown passes in each of their first four games.

QB - Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. HOU)

Like Dalton, Bortles is off to a great start. The second-year quarterback has scored the sixth-most fantasy points and has three top-10 performances over the past four weeks. During that four-game span, Bortles has thrown nine touchdowns with just two interceptions while scoring a minimum of 16.38 fantasy points in each game.

One of the more athletic quarterbacks in the league, his rushing numbers help to boost his floor. With 112 rushing yards (8.0 yards per carry) this season, Bortles has rushed for 531 yards in his 19 career starts. Only three quarterbacks have more rushing yards since last season.

In a favorable matchup against the Texans, who have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, Bortles has a good chance to post another top-12 weekly finish.

RB - DeMarco Murray, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. NYG)

It's been a difficult start to the season for last year's rushing champion. The Eagles offense is starting to turn it around, however, and they are projected to score the fourth-most points (27.0) this week based on Vegas odds.

And not only did the Eagles make some changes to their offense last week, but only four running backs had more touches in Week 5 than Murray (27). Murray parlayed those 27 touches into 120 scrimmage yards and a touchdown.

Granted it was with the Cowboys, but Murray rushed for more than 120 yards in both of his matchups against the Giants last season.

RB - Giovani Bernard, Buffalo Bills (at BUF)

For a fourth consecutive week, Bernard had more touches than teammate Jeremy Hill. Bernard turned his 20 touches including five receptions into 101 yards from scrimmage while Hill had just 25 yards on nine touches. On the season, Bernard is averaging 17.2 touches and 94.6 scrimmage yards per game.

The matchup in Week 6 (Bills) is as difficult as Week 5's matchup (Seahawks), but I'd expect Bernard to once again at least lead Hill in touches and production. Bernard is my 17th-ranked fantasy running back for the week.

RB - Charcandrick West, Kansas City Chiefs (at MIN)

With the season-ending injury to Jamaal Charles, West emerges as the team's top fantasy running back and Andy Reid has compared West to Charles in terms of how he plays. I doubt that he gets the goal-line carries, which could limit his upside, but he should get at least 15 touches, if not more, and is a low-end RB2 in my Week 6 rankings.

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

In his last two games against the Colts, both playoff appearances, Blount has 54 carries for 314 yards and seven touchdowns. Yes, SEVEN TDs! Even though I have Dion Lewis ranked higher than Blount, it wouldn't surprise me if Blount finished the week as the top-scoring fantasy running back. He at least has that type of upside based on his past success and usage rate in this matchup.

WR - Brandon Marshall, New York Jets (vs. WAS)

Marshall is an obvious start this week, and every week, but I highlight him here since he's a top-five receiver in my rankings this week. To begin his tenure with the Jets, Marshall has a minimum of 12 fantasy points in all four of his games and carries a three-game streak with 100-plus yards into his Week 6 matchup. With 30/400/3 through four games, Marshall is on pace for 120 catches, 1,600 yards and 12 touchdowns. Averaging 11 targets per game, few receivers are as safe as Marshall, who also possesses a high ceiling in a favorable matchup in Week 6.

WR - Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers (vs. BAL)

After back-to-back disappointing performances, Boldin posted an 8/107/1 line, which was his best game of the season, by far. Often we see players have strong performances against their former teams (a la Andre Johnson in Week 5), but this is a favorable matchup for Boldin. The Ravens have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing receivers this season and they have allowed four 100-yard games to opposing pass-catchers this season.

WR - Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins (at TEN)

Better in PPR formats, Landry is still a start in standard-scoring formats as well. Landry has double-digit targets in all four of his games this season and has a total of 28 catches for 270 yards. In addition, he has 48 rushing yards and a return touchdown.

The Titans rank first in pass defense (167 yards per game allowed), but no team has faced fewer pass attempts (96) than Tennessee. In fact, their 7.9 pass yards allowed per attempt ranks near the bottom of the league. Only New Orleans, San Francisco and Detroit have allowed more than 7.9 Y/A.

And while the Titans are middle of the pack in terms of fantasy points allowed to receivers, no team has allowed more fantasy points per touch to opposing receivers than the Titans (2.64) this season.

WR - Allen Hurns, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. HOU)

With exactly 116 yards and a touchdown in consecutive games, Hurns has finished as a top-five fantasy wide receiver in back-to-back weeks. That said, he has been consistent all season. Not only has he scored in three consecutive games, but he has a minimum of 60 yards in all five games this season. Only Julio Jones and Emmanuel Sanders have as many 60-yard games as Hurns this season (but Jones has played six games already).

Even if he drops to third in line for targets behind Allen Robinson and now Julius Thomas, Hurns is still a top-24 fantasy receiver for Week 6.

TE - Gary Barnidge, Cleveland Browns (vs. DEN)

Last week, I put Barnidge on the "sit'em" side of this post and that was a mistake. In his past three games, Barnidge has 20 catches for 319 yards and three touchdowns with a minimum of 6/75/1 in each of those games.

Not only has Barnidge finished as a top-three fantasy tight end for three consecutive games, only Rob Gronkowski and Tyler Eifert have more fantasy points at the position this season. The matchup isn't great, but if you own Barnidge, he should be in your starting lineup.

TE - Richard Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (vs. SD)

In his past two games, Rodgers has a minimum of five catches and 45 yards each week with a total of 14 targets in those two games. Not only does he have the 12th-most fantasy points on the season, but he has a top-10 matchup this week against the Chargers.

Here are some players to potentially sit in Week 6:

QB - Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (at SEA)

Newton is off to a great start this season; only Brady (25.97/G), Dalton (23.24) and Rodgers (22.41) have scored more fantasy points per game than Newton (21.47) this season. Newton has thrown multiple touchdowns in three consecutive games and he has rushed for 195 yards and two scores in four games this season.

That said, the Seahawks have not allowed a top-20 fantasy quarterback in eight consecutive home games. During that span, they have allowed an average of 141.25 passing yards per game and a total of four passing touchdowns.

Newton was one of those eight starts and he threw for only 171 yards with no touchdowns and one interception last year. In addition, he gained just 24 yards on his 12 rush attempts. As well as he's been playing, there are 12 quarterbacks with a more favorable outlook than Newton this week.

QB - Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (vs. CHI)

Although the Bears have limited opposing quarterbacks to less than 200 passing yards in four of five games and have a top-five pass defense in terms of yards allowed, they have also allowed 11 passing touchdowns this season. Only the Buccaneers and Chiefs have allowed more.

Their low passing YPG numbers are at least partly attributable to the fact that they rank second-to-last in scoring differential (-11.2/G) this season as they also rank second in fewest opponent pass attempts per game (28.2/G).

The matchup is certainly more favorable than the numbers may initially suggest, but it's hard to have a lot of faith in Stafford given his difficult start to the season. Stafford has yet to finish as a top-15 weekly fantasy quarterback and has thrown more interceptions (six) than touchdowns (eight). In fact, he was pulled during his three-interception performance last week although he remains the team's starter going forward.

RB - Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers (at SEA)

Although his workload has declined each week, Stewart is still averaging 16.0 touches per game, but he has yet to finish better than the weekly RB28 this season. Stewart is averaging 60.5 YFS per game and has yet to score a touchdown this season. In a difficult matchup where the Panthers are projected by Vegas to score the fewest points (17.0) this week, it's difficult to trust Stewart especially given that Newton is always a threat to vulture the few goal-line opportunities the team may get.

RB - Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions (vs. CHI)

Abdullah looked great in the preseason and Week 1 and I like his long-term fantasy outlook. While the Lions have faced some talented run defenses over the past four weeks, Abdullah has just 82 rushing yards on 33 carries (2.48 YPC) and just 32.5 YFS/G over that stretch. Given his ball-security and the team's offensive line struggles plus the fact that Joique Bell should be back this week, Abdullah isn't much more than a flex play for me this week.

RB - Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins (at NYJ)

Through five games, Morris has 25, 18, six, 17 and eight carries, respectively. How many will he get in Week 6? Who knows? Morris has averaged just 3.73 YPC this season and the matchup isn't a good one so Alf could need a large workload to be successful this week. The Jets are one of four teams to have allowed just one rushing touchdown this season and are giving up only 3.8 YPC. And only the Panthers are projected to score fewer points this week based on Vegas odds.

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

Crowell has finished as a top-20 fantasy running back in three of his past four games including back-to-back weeks, but he has yet to exceed 15 touches in any game this season as he and Duke Johnson are essentially in a timeshare. With the Broncos holding opponents to just 3.3 YPC (second-lowest in the NFL), the matchup doesn't set up favorably for Crowell, who is outside of my top-24 fantasy running backs for the week.

WR - Torrey Smith, San Francisco 49ers (vs. BAL)

As bad as the Ravens pass defense has been, it's still hard to have confidence in two 49ers receivers finishing as a top-24 fantasy receiver. Smith is a high-upside (but high-risk) fantasy receiver in Week 6 (and every week). In five games this season, Smith has finished as a top-10 receiver once and outside the top-50 receivers in his other four games.

While I'd prefer to keep him on my bench in season-long formats, a Colin Kaepernick-Torrey Smith stack is certainly worth a flier as a tournament gamble in daily fantasy contests this week.

WR - Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins (at NYJ)

Even if DeSean Jackson (questionable) doesn't return this week, Garcon is unlikely to produce WR2-type numbers in Week 6 in a difficult matchup against the Jets. As noted above, the only offense projected to score fewer points is Carolina's and few teams have a secondary as talented as New York's. And even though Garcon has more than 50 yards in four of five games this season, he has finished as a top-30 fantasy wide receiver only once.

WR - Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills (vs. CIN)

In typical diva wide receiver fashion, Watkins has publicly whined about not getting the ball and says that he should get 10-plus targets per game. I agree that Watkins is under-utilized (even if whining publicly is never a good idea), but the team's run-first offense (27.6 pass attempts per game) means Watkins will never get double-digit targets on a consistent basis. Perhaps there is a squeaky-wheel effect this week, but Watkins has been battling a calf injury and the team is potentially looking at a quarterback downgrade with Tyrod Taylor being a game-time call this week as well.

WR - Andre Johnson, Indianapolis Colts (vs. NE)

Johnson finished as the weekly WR1 in Week 5 with six catches for 77 yards and two touchdowns against his former team. Before last week, however, Johnson had a total of seven catches for 51 yards on 20 targets with back-to-back goose eggs. At best, Johnson is the third-best fantasy receiver on his own team behind T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief and I'd like to see some consistent production before trusting last week's performance as being anything more than an exception to the rule.

TE - Owen Daniels, Denver Broncos (at CLE)

Targeted five times against the Raiders, who have allowed the most fantasy points to the position, Daniels had zero receptions for zero yards and zero fantasy points. While he had scored in both of his previous two games, Daniels has just 61 yards (5.08 Y/R) through five games.

TE - Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. ARI)

Until Ben Roethlisberger returns from his knee injury, Miller should remain on your bench. Since Week 1 (8/84 on 11 targets), Miller has 2/15, 2/17, 1/1 and 3/46 in his past four games, respectively. In addition, the Cardinals have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season.

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October 15, 2015

Week 6 Fantasy Football: 8 Undervalued Players in PPR Leagues

Week 5 turned in mixed results, with some big winners and big losers in regards to the players picked in last week’s article.

Wide receivers continue to be extreme highs and extreme lows, and represent the only negative YTD return for each position. Let’s see if we can turn that around and get it moving in a positive direction this week!

Week 5 Results
QBsRBsWRsTEsTotal
0.0-5.9-16.4+23.0+0.7
YTD Results
QBsRBsWRsTEsTotal
-23.4+8.2-55.4+16.0-7.8

* Stats are based on players recommended (compared to options listed to start those players over).

Best of the week -- Tyler Eifert +23: Eifert had a monster game and turned in the second-best TE performance, save Antonio Gates. He scored 2 TDs and made one incredible catch along the way. On the other side of the same game, Jimmy Graham continued to disappoint his owners with a measly 6 points.

Runner up -- John Brown +19.7: See what I mean about extreme highs and lows? My second-best individual pick of the week was a WR, yet the position as a whole still was a negative return. Brown had a great game against the Lions as expected, while Kendall Wright and Amari Cooper both had sub-par performances.

Worst of the week -- Leonard Hankerson -33.3: Hankerson only received four targets after averaging eight per game over the previous three outings. It’s not like Julio Jones was a man on fire and stealing all the looks either. Just one of those odd games where the situation was set up well, but it just didn’t play out. As for the players I suggested starting him over, Brandin Cooks finally had a big game despite the Saints offense struggling for the entire game. Golden Tate was extremely inefficient, but had plenty of opportunities (18 targets!) in a game where the Lions were down big in the first half.

Runner up -- C.J. Spiller -13.8: Sean Payton is losing his status as an offensive genius, at least in my eyes. The Saints offense has largely struggled this season, yet they fail to utilize their most physically gifted weapon with any level of consistency. It’s truly mind-boggling. I figured after Spiller won the previous game for them with a game-breaking 80-yard catch and run, they would realize he should be more involved. Nope. Seems they are content with struggling offensively and watching their defense get lit up. On the flip side, Jeremy Hill did nothing either, but Carlos Hyde’s performance is the primary reason for the negative discrepancy.

Quarterbacks

Marcus MariotaTennessee Titans
FantasyPros ECR – 15

Mariota had his first poor game as a pro last week, putting up only 13 points. I think that has more to do with the Bills defense than anything else, and don’t believe it to be a foreshadow of continued struggles. The one positive from that game was the 47 rushing yards Mariota put up. He has the skill set to run, but we haven’t seen a lot of it so far. Perhaps this is a sign of more to come.

This week, Mariota gets a Miami defense that is second to last in defensive pass efficiency, not to mention in a complete state of flux with the recent coaching changes. Maybe the interim staff helps turn this around, but even if that does occur, it isn’t likely to be in the first game. I think Mariota bounces back in a big way and puts up a big outing.

Consider starting him over:
- Russell Wilson – ECR 10. The Panthers are a top-notch defensive unit, ranking third in fewest FPA to QBs and fourth in efficiency. Given the continued offensive line struggles, I think Wilson turns in a mediocre performance.
- Jay Cutler – ECR 14. The Lions have been awful this season, but they are desperate to get off the winless mark, but the problem hasn’t really been the defense. While they got beat up last week, they have actually held their own fairly well. I think they put up a strong defensive performance and Cutler struggles this week.

Blake BortlesJacksonville Jaguars
FantasyPros ECR – 16

I had a hard time even writing his name. But the matchup is good and we know he will get the volume. Houston is 27th in both defensive pass efficiency and FPA to QBs. Last week, they let a 40-year-old Matt Hasselbeck look good enough to produce some rumblings on whether the Colts should sit Andrew Luck in favor of him (I’m not one of those people, just to be clear). Bortles has been an effective fantasy QB for most games this season, scoring at least 19 points in every game since Week 2, and coming off a 28-point performance last week. He has the opportunity and the playmakers around him to put up a top-eight performance again this week.

Consider starting him over:
- Russell Wilson – ECR 10. See above.
- Jay Cutler – ECR 14. See above.

Running Backs

LeGarrette BlountNew England Patriots
FantasyPros ECR – 23

Blount has averaged over 15 carries in the past two games, and while Dion Lewis is in the mix, he has taken on more of the passing game role since Blount’s return. Anyone remember what Blount did to the Colts the last time they played? 148 yards and 3 TDs in the AFC Championship Game. That also happens to be the game that brought along Deflategate. (I hate myself for even using that term. Can we stop with adding “gate” to the end of every scandal, please?) I don’t think the Patriots are going to be very forgiving in the first matchup with the Colts since then. They will attempt to bury them and Blount will be a big part of that, either in milking the clock during the second half, or with multiple goal line carries in a blowout.

Consider starting him over:
- Melvin Gordon – ECR 22. Four out of five Chargers offensive lineman are hurt in some fashion. And I expect the Chargers to be passing a lot to keep up with the Packers. Gordon has been more involved in the passing game, but Woodhead is still the better option for those scenarios.
- Duke Johnson – ECR 19. Johnson is still in a committee situation with Isaiah Crowell and they face the daunting Broncos defense this week. Not overly optimistic about his situation this week.

Antonio AndrewsTennessee Titans
FantasyPros ECR – 32

Andrews was on here last week as well. While he did very little with his seven carries from a yards perspective, he did get a TD and is the goal-line back as expected. He also caught three of four targets for a solid 45 yards. As I stated last week, Sankey has had more than enough opportunity and it’s clear the Titans don’t trust him anymore. Andrews will continue to be involved and at least has the goal-line duties. His production in the passing game is also a path to increased playing time. Similar to what I said with Mariota, the Dolphins are below average against the run, and I don’t think that changes the first week after firing their head coach and defensive coordinator.

Consider starting him over:
- Ameer Abdullah – ECR 28. This offense is about as bad as it gets right now, and the Bears are ninth in FPA to RBs. Abdullah has had no running room, has had significant ball-security issues, and it’s been rumored that Zach Zenner may be getting more involved. Stay away from this team if you can until they prove otherwise.
- Rashad Jennings – ECR 29. Jennings leads the committee, but has the worst role from a fantasy perspective. Vereen is the passing-down back and Williams is getting the goal-line carries. Tough to be a reliable fantasy player in that situation.

Wide Receivers

John Brown – Arizona Cardinals
FantasyPros ECR – 26

Another repeat from last week, but for good reason. Brown again has a great matchup against the Steelers, who rank 30th in efficiency against WR2’s. There isn’t much more to say, he’s the No. 2 guy in a good offense with a great matchup.

Consider starting him over:
- Jarvis Landry – ECR 19. Landry has a tough matchup against the Titans. Sounds crazy, right? Its true though. They rank second in FPA to WRs and are No. 1 against WR1’s in defensive efficiency.
- Willie Snead – ECR 22. The Thursday games tend to be hard on offenses, and while Snead has been a bright spot, the Saints offense as a whole has struggled. The Falcons are No. 5 and No. 11 against WR1 and WR2’s respectively, so whatever you consider Snead to be on this team, it’s not a great matchup. I like Snead, just not in love with him this week.

Kendall Wright – Tennessee Titans
FantasyPros ECR – 23

Wright has been on and off this season, either putting up a big game or doing next to nothing. I think this is one of the good weeks. He is clearly the No. 1 option in the passing game and has a good rapport with Mariota. The Dolphins rank dead last against WR1’s in efficiency and 25th in FPA to WRs. The matchup is set for him to have a solid outing.

Consider starting him over:
- Jarvis Landry – ECR 19. See above.
- Willie Snead – ECR 22. See above.

Tight End

Jacob TammeAtlanta Falcons
FantasyPros ECR – 17

A gamble, I know, but Matt Ryan showed faith in him last week and was rewarded with a big game. The Saints represent a fantastic matchup, ranking 31st against TEs in efficiency and 28th in FPA. With an ailing Julio Jones, they will need others to make plays as Jones may serve as a bit of a decoy. Tamme is in a good situation to match last week’s output.

Consider starting him over:
-Kyle Rudolph- ECR 15. Kansas City isn’t necessarily strong against TEs defensively, but this looks like a low-scoring game, and it’s hard to trust the Vikings pass game at this point.

Thanks for reading and good luck in Week 6!

Check out my full Week 6 Fantasy Football PPR Rankings and follow me on twitter @rw11687.

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2015 Fantasy Football: Week 6 Fantasy Running Back Rankings

Good news first — Washington did not allow Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman to score three touchdowns.

The bad news (for Washington fans, not his fantasy owners), however, is that Freeman still found the end zone and racked up 197 yards from scrimmage on 34 touches in the process.

In fact, when things went wrong for Freeman on Sunday, his fumble went forward and was recovered in the end zone by Julio Jones for a touchdown.

During his impressive three-game stretch, Freeman 71 carries for 362 yards — 5.10 yards per carry — and seven touchdowns. In addition, Freeman has added 17 receptions for 177 yards.

Freeman's 25.7 fantasy points was a three-game low and he has averaged 31.97 in those games. In those three games, he has finished as the weekly RB1, RB1 and RB2, respectively.

Perhaps he won't finish as a top-two fantasy running back for a fourth consecutive week, but Freeman has a favorable matchup against the Saints in Week 6. The Saints have allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

Here are some more fantasy football notes on running backs:

  • While he may be overshadowed by what Freeman has done, Rams rookie running back Todd Gurley has more rushing yards (305) than any other player in the NFL over the past two weeks. Gurley has not scored a touchdown in his young NFL career, but he has a total of 49 carries and 6.22 yards per carry in those two games. Gurley (and the Rams) are on bye this week along with the Cowboys, Raiders and Buccaneers.

  • One week (technically three days) after making his season debut, Houston's Arian Foster saw a full workload -- 28 touches (19 carries and nine receptions) -- against the Colts on Thursday Night Football. Only Freeman (34) and Gurley (30) had more touches than Foster last week. Although he's averaging less than 2.0 yards per carry, Foster should get things going against the Jags with another massive workload in Week 6.

  • For a fourth consecutive week, Bengals running back Giovani Bernard had more touches than Jeremy Hill. Bernard turned 20 touches including five receptions into 101 yards from scrimmage while Hill had just 25 yards on nine touches. On the season, Bernard is averaging 17.2 touches and 94.6 scrimmage yards per game. The matchup in Week 6 (Bills) is as difficult as Week 5's matchup (Seahawks), but I'd expect Bernard to once again at least lead Hill in touches.

  • After scoring a total of 16.5 fantasy points in his first three games combined, Baltimore's Justin Forsett has scored a minimum of 15 fantasy points in back-to-back games. In those two games, he has racked up 271 rushing yards and a touchdown on 48 carries and added four receptions for 49 yards. Provided Forsett (ankle) is good to go this week, it should be another highly-productive week with a favorable matchup against the 49ers, who have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

  • Once again, it was a disappointing week for fantasy owners of C.J. Anderson. The Broncos running back had 11 carries for just 22 yards. With no more than 12 carries in any game this season, CJA is averaging just 2.57 yards per carry and 4.28 fantasy points per game. It's hard to trust Anderson, but he (and Ronnie Hillman) have their best matchup of the season against the Browns, who have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. Is this the week we see more from the Broncos ground game?

  • Speaking of disappointing running backs, Eagles running back DeMarco Murray had his best game of the season in terms of usage and fantasy production in Week 5. With 27 touches (20 carries and seven receptions), Murray totaled 120 yards from scrimmage and scored a touchdown in Philadelphia's Week 6 win over the Saints. While he may not finish as a top-six fantasy running back again this week, his Week 6 performance should give fantasy owners more confidence this week and going forward.

Below you find my Week 6 Fantasy Football RB Rankings:

1. Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. ARI)
2. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings (vs. KC)
3. Arian Foster, Houston Texans (at JAX)
4. Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons (at NO)
5. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears (at DET)
6. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers (vs. SD)
7. Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints (vs. ATL)
8. Dion Lewis, New England Patriots (at IND)
9. Justin Forsett, Baltimore Ravens (at SF)
10. Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts (vs. NE)
11. Chris Ivory, New York Jets (vs. WAS)
12. DeMarco Murray, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. NYG)
13. T.J. Yeldon, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. HOU)
14. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks (vs. CAR)
15. Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers (vs. BAL)
16. Chris Johnson, Arizona Cardinals (at PIT)
17. Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals (at BUF)
18. Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins (at TEN)
19. Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers (at GB)
20. Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals (at BUF)
21. Charcandrick West, Kansas City Chiefs (at MIN)
22. LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots (at IND)
23. Melvin Gordon, San Diego Chargers (at GB)
24. C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos (at CLE)
25. Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns (vs. DEN)
26. Ronnie Hillman, Denver Broncos (at CLE)
27. Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions (vs. CHI)
28. Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (at PHI)
29. Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals (at PIT)
30. C.J. Spiller, New Orleans Saints (vs. ATL)
31. Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers (at SEA)
32. Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins (at NYJ)
33. Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns (vs. DEN)
34. Ryan Mathews, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. NYG)
35. Karlos Williams, Buffalo Bills (vs. CIN)
36. Antonio Andrews, Tennessee Titans (vs. MIA)
37. Shane Vereen, New York Giants (at PHI)
38. Knile Davis, Kansas City Chiefs (at MIN)
39. Thomas Rawls, Seattle Seahawks (vs. CAR)
40. Matt Jones, Washington Redskins (at NYJ)
41. Darren Sproles, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. NYG)
42. Anthony Dixon, Buffalo Bills (vs. CIN)
43. David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals (at PIT)
44. Tevin Coleman, Atlanta Falcons (at NO)
45. Theo Riddick, Detroit Lions (vs. CHI)
46. Chris Thompson, Washington Redskins (at NYJ)
47. Bishop Sankey, Tennessee Titans (vs. MIA)
48. James Starks, Green Bay Packers (vs. SD)
49. Dan Herron, Buffalo Bills (vs. CIN)
50. Andre Williams, New York Giants (at PHI)

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2015 Fantasy Football: Week 6 Fantasy Quarterback Rankings

As NFL fans ïn this era, we have been spoiled by the Colts-Patriots matchups over the past decade-plus that have also featured two of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time: Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

While Manning is no longer in Indianapolis, the Colts were fortunate enough to have the No. 1 overall pick in the same year that Andrew Luck entered the draft.

The Brady-versus-Luck matchup obviously doesn't have the same history that Brady-vs.-Peyton has, but it still features two of the game's top quarterbacks.

While many expected Luck to be the best (or at least a top-two) fantasy quarterback this season, it's been a disappointing start for him and his fantasy owners.

Not only has he missed the previous two games, but he has thrown more interceptions (seven) than touchdowns (five) in his first three games. And in those games, he has finished as the weekly QB11, QB29 and QB15, respectively.

And while many fantasy owners weren't sure if they would have Brady in the first four games, he is off to arguably the best four-game start of his career.

In those games, he has finished as a top-six weekly fantasy quarterback every week and no quarterback has averaged more fantasy points per game (25.97) than Brady this season.

If you own either of these quarterbacks, you're obviously starting them. The only question surrounds what we will get from Luck (assuming that he returns from his two-game absence).

Here are some more fantasy football notes on quarterbacks:

  • Despite a difficult matchup, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton threw for 331 yards and scored three touchdowns (two passing and one rushing) against the Seahawks in Week 5. Dalton became the first quarterback since Peyton Manning in Week 3 of last season to throw for 300-plus yards against the Seahawks. In addition, it was the fifth consecutive top-12 weekly finish to open the season for Dalton, who has scored the most fantasy points among quarterbacks in 2015. Dalton gets a more favorable matchup this week against the Bills, who have allowed three top-12 weekly finishes this season.

  • From a fantasy perspective, Seattle's Russell Wilson was much better on the road (25.94 fantasy points per game) than he was at home (15.01/G) in 2014. This year, his production has been modest across the board with six passing touchdowns and no rushing scores through five games. While the Panthers haven't faced any elite quarterbacks this season, they have limited opposing quarterbacks to the third-fewest fantasy points this season.

  • Expected to make a sophomore leap, Minnesota's Teddy Bridgewater has posted modest fantasy production in a run-first offense. No team has a larger ratio of yardage from rushing than the Vikings (45.24 percent). Through four games, Bridgewater has thrown just two touchdowns and rushed for another, but no team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season than the Chiefs.

  • The Broncos have opened the season with a perfect 5-0 record, but Peyton has been anything but perfect. With no touchdowns and two interceptions against the Raiders in Week 5, Manning now has more interceptions (seven) than touchdowns (six) this season. If you drafted Manning to be your starter, you've undoubtedly been disappointing by the lack of start-worthy performances from Manning. Aside from one weekly QB12 finish, Peyton has finished outside the top-12 fantasy quarterbacks every other week. In fact, he has finished outside the top-25 weekly fantasy quarterbacks in back-to-back games. His Week 6 matchup is favorable against the Browns, who have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, so perhaps he has his best game of the year this week.

  • The Lions are 0-5 to start the season and at least part of that disappointing start is due to poor quarterback play. As bad as it has been for Stafford, things bottomed out as he was benched in the third quarter on Sunday. Stafford threw for 188 yards with one touchdown and was intercepted three times in Week 5. Not only have the Lions said that Stafford remains the starter, but he has a more favorable matchup against the Bears in Week 6. Only Eli Manning (197) has more pass attempts than Stafford (195) this season, but 26 other quarterbacks have scored more fantasy points than Stafford.

  • The Eagles got off to a slow start on Sunday, but they ended up scoring 39 points as Sam Bradford threw for 333 yards and two touchdowns (and also two interceptions). In back-to-back favorable matchups, Bradford has thrown for 603 yards and five touchdowns. Will the good times continue against the Giants in Week 6? (The Giants have allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.)

  • Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers appears to be human after all. For the first time since December 2012, Rodgers threw an interception at Lambeau Field. In fact, he threw two of them. With a 13:2 TD-to-INT ratio this season, Rodgers has a total of 51 touchdown passes and seven interceptions in 21 games over the past two seasons. Regardless of opponent, Rodgers is an obvious top-two fantasy quarterback on a weekly basis.

  • Buffalo's Tyrod Taylor completed just 10-of-17 pass attempts for 109 yards, but he still finished as a top-10 fantasy quarterback (QB7) in Week 5 due to his dual-threat skill set. Taylor also rushed for 76 yards and a touchdown against the Titans on Sunday. Through five weeks, Taylor now has the fourth-most fantasy points scored. That said, it appears that a knee injury may sideline him for Week 6 (and perhaps more) although he has not been officially ruled out yet.

  • Missing Week 3, Saints quarterback Drew Brees has now posted back-to-back games with at least 335 passing yards and multiple touchdowns. In fact, Brees has 335-plus yards in three of four games this season and this week's matchup against the Falcons should be one of the highest-scoring matchups of the week. Despite being underdogs, the Saints are projected to score the fifth-most fantasy points this week based on Vegas odds.

Below you find my Week 6 Fantasy Football QB Rankings:

1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots (at IND)
2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (vs. SD)
3. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals (at PIT)
4. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts (vs. NE)
5. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (at NO)
6. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals (at BUF)
7. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (vs. ATL)
8. Eli Manning, New York Giants (at PHI)
9. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers (at GB)
10. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos (at CLE)
11. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (vs. CAR)
12. Sam Bradford, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. NYG)
13. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (at SEA)
14. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans (vs. MIA)
15. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins (at TEN)
16. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens (at SF)
17. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers (vs. BAL)
18. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears (at DET)
19. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. HOU)
20. Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings (vs. KC)
21. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (vs. CHI)
22. Josh McCown, Cleveland Browns (vs. DEN)
23. Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets (vs. WAS)
24. Brian Hoyer, Houston Texans (at JAX)
25. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs (at MIN)

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October 14, 2015

DFS Roundtable: Favorite DraftKings Play for Week 6

Every week this season, our contributors will give their favorite plays for the week in DraftKings contests.

Q: Who is your favorite DraftKings play for Week 6?

Sean Beazley - Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots (at IND), $7,600

Last week for me was pretty rough especially with Jamaal Charles in all my cash lineups, and heavily used in the majority of my GPP lineups. This week, I'm going nearly all-in again and I'm going with Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski. I was completely wrong on Gronk last week, and paired with Charles you can get how awesome my Week 5 was.

Gronk is the most expensive TE on the board again at $7,600 but still is much cheaper than some of the elite WRs on the site. The Patriots sit as nearly double-digit fanvorites on Sunday, and the total is at 55.5. This is by far the biggest total of the week. This is the biggest FU game of the season for Tom Brady and the Pats since this is where Deflategate started. There is a concern that the Patriots take to the ground vs. the Colts since they racked up over 400 yards versus them last year in two meetings, but I think this is all about Brady.

I'll be trying to squeeze Brady in as my QB in my cash lineups as well, but for $400 savings you can get Aaron Rodgers, who has just a high as floor this week as Brady does in my opinion. The Patriots have scored six offensive touchdowns in each of their last three games vs. the Colts. I don't see any reason why they can't do that again on Sunday. I'm calling for a 30+ point week for Gronkowski, and the best part of it is the game is on Sunday Night. If you do not have a piece of this offense in your cash game this week, you will most likely lose.

Bonus GPP Stack - Colin Kaepernick/Anquan Boldin ($9,300 combined): The Ravens secondary has been god awful this season. They have made Derek Carr, Andy Dalton, and Josh McCown all look like Hall-of-Fame QBs. Playing this stack will definitely allow you to get a piece of all the top totals games (NE/IND, SD/GB, PHI/NYG) this week.

Brendan Donahue - Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears (at DET), $7,100

If you want someone who is guaranteed touches on a weekly basis, then Forte is your guy. He's averaged 20 carries and four receptions per game through the first five weeks. The only week he didn't have a reception was when Cutler was out so with him back, expect Forte to continue to get his targets in the passing game against a weak Detroit defense who will be out with Deandre Levy this week, so I expect him to finish as a top-three RB this week.

Ryan Watterson - Charcandrick West, RB, Kansas City Chiefs (), $4,000

With Jamaal Charles done for the season, West will be first in line to take the lead role for the rest of the season. He has the speed to be a game-breaker and with the increased opportunities, West has the chance to return significant value for his $4,000 salary.

Kevin Hanson - Willie Snead, WR, New Orleans Saints (vs. NO), $3,300

Leading the team with 381 receiving yards, Snead has emerged as the team's most reliable receiver through the first five weeks of the season and he's on pace for 1,219 yards for the season. With 89 and 141 yards in his past two games, respectively, Snead now has at least five catches in three consecutive games. Even though the Saints are underdogs, they are still projected to score the fifth-most points this week based on Vegas odds. In what should be a high-scoring game, Snead has a solid floor with plenty of upside and his $3,300 price tag (60th-highest WR salary) offers owners plenty of salary-cap relief to afford higher-priced studs in other spots.

Dan Yanotchko - Anquan Boldin, WR, San Francisco 49ers (vs. BAL), $4,300

This week, I really like Anquan Boldin of the 49ers, as he has a great matchup, and awesome price point at $4,300. Boldin had a great week against a bad Giants secondary, as he had eight catches for 108 yards and a TD. This week he gets another bad secondary in the Ravens, who have given up 288 yards passing per game, and their defense allows 27.4 points per game.

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October 13, 2015

2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Week 6 (Trifone)

Here are my picks against the spread (ATS) for Week 6 of the 2015 NFL season:

New Orleans Saints +3.5 over Atlanta Falcons (4 units)

The Saints are not a great football team, and they're coming off their worst defeat of the season to the Philadelphia Eagles. Now they're on a short week hosting their undefeated division rival, the Falcons.

Everything seems to point toward Atlanta, but the Falcons are pretty banged up themselves. Julio Jones did not have his usual impact last week, and barring a random fumble recovery for a touchdown, had a pretty quiet game. Atlanta's defense is also vulnerable, and with less than a full week to get healthier, I like the Saints to knock off one of the remaining undefeated teams. Look for Big Willie Snead to have another big game as the Saints win a close one at home.

Miami Dolphins +2.5 over Tennessee Titans (4 units)

I can't believe I'm picking Miami here, as they have underachieved in literally every game so far this season. They just fired their head coach and are looking to turn things around and salvage the season. I think that starts here.

As bad as they've been, they have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball, and I think professional pride is going to kick in for them at some point. Other than the Patriots, Bengals, and Broncos, no one else in the AFC has separated themselves as a playoff lock. A win here and Miami is still somehow in that discussion.

Tennessee was exciting early behind Marcus Mariota, but his rookie regression will likely continue, and the team around him is overmatched by the Dolphins, assuming they come to play. I think they finally will. Miami wins on the road.

Denver Broncos -5 over Cleveland Browns (3 units)

The Browns had a huge division win on the road last Sunday over the once mighty Ravens, but I see a letdown game in their future. Denver's offense is still not really clicking after five weeks, but Von Miller and the defense have kept the Broncos undefeated. Peyton Manning will keep tinkering and he's too smart not to figure out a way to score some points. The offense did not score a touchdown at Oakland last week, so I expect 2-3 scores this week. The Browns are likely to get shutdown, even with DeMarcus Ware on the sidelines for this one. I like the Broncos to win this one easily and cover the five on the road.

- Note: We will track all of our 2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread here.

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2015 Fantasy Football QB Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 6 to 16

While the season is still young, we continue to get a better sense of each team's identity with each passing week.

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

A player's fantasy strength of schedule is far from the most important aspect of his outlook. But if you're debating a pair of players to pick up off the waiver wire (our Week 6 waiver-wire post) and they are otherwise comparable in your view, a more favorable fantasy schedule could potentially break the tie.

Five most favorable SOS for QBs (Weeks 6-16):

1. St. Louis Rams (Nick Foles): 17.56
2. San Diego Chargers (Philip Rivers): 17.35
3. Denver Broncos (Peyton Manning): 17.30
4. Baltimore Ravens (Joe Flacco): 17.27
5. New York Jets (Ryan Fitzpatrick): 17.17

Five least favorable SOS for QBs (Weeks 6-16):

28. Dallas Cowboys (Tony Romo, Matt Cassel): 15.46
29. Green Bay Packers (Aaron Rodgers): 15.10
30. New England Patriots (Tom Brady): 15.04
31. Oakland Raiders (Derek Carr): 14.97
32. Chicago Bears (Jay Cutler): 14.80

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

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2015 Fantasy Football RB Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 6 to 16

While the season is still young, we continue to get a better sense of each team's identity with each passing week.

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

A player's fantasy strength of schedule is far from the most important aspect of his outlook. But if you're debating a pair of players to pick up off the waiver wire (our Week 6 waiver-wire post) and they are otherwise comparable in your view, a more favorable fantasy schedule could potentially break the tie.

Five most favorable SOS for RBs (Weeks 6-16):

1. Tennessee Titans (Antonio Andrews, Bishop Sankey): 20.59
2. Green Bay Packers (Eddie Lacy): 20.27
T3. Seattle Seahawks (Marshawn Lynch, Thomas Rawls): 20.22
T3. Indianapolis Colts (Frank Gore): 20.22
5. Atlanta Falcons (Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman): 20.05

Five least favorable SOS for RBs (Weeks 6-16):

28. Houston Texans (Arian Foster): 17.67
29. Arizona Cardinals (Chris Johnson, Andre Ellington): 17.56
30. Cleveland Browns (Duke Johnson, Isaiah Crowell): 17.26
31. New England Patriots (Dion Lewis, LeGarrette Blount): 16.35
32. Dallas Cowboys (Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden): 16.13

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

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2015 Fantasy Football WR Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 6 to 16

While the season is still young, we continue to get a better sense of each team's identity with each passing week.

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

A player's fantasy strength of schedule is far from the most important aspect of his outlook. But if you're debating a pair of players to pick up off the waiver wire (our Week 6 waiver-wire post) and they are otherwise comparable in your view, a more favorable fantasy schedule could potentially break the tie.

Five most favorable SOS for WRs (Weeks 6-16):

1. San Diego Chargers (Keenan Allen): 24.64
2. Buffalo Bills (Sammy Watkins, Percy Harvin): 24.04
3. Seattle Seahawks (Doug Baldwin): 23.93
4. Denver Broncos (Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders): 23.66
5. Pittsburgh Steelers (Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant): 23.59

Five least favorable SOS for WRs (Weeks 6-16):

28. Chicago Bears (Alshon Jeffery, Eddie Royal): 21.35
29. Tennessee Titans (Kendall Wright): 20.93
30. Green Bay Packers (Randall Cobb, James Jones, Davante Adams): 20.76
31. Oakland Raiders (Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree): 20.56
32. Indianapolis Colts (T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, Andre Johnson): 20.08

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

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2015 Fantasy Football TE Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 6 to 16

While the season is still young, we continue to get a better sense of each team's identity with each passing week.

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

A player's fantasy strength of schedule is far from the most important aspect of his outlook. But if you're debating a pair of players to pick up off the waiver wire (our Week 6 waiver-wire post) and they are otherwise comparable in your view, a more favorable fantasy schedule could potentially break the tie.

Five most favorable SOS for TEs (Weeks 6-16):

1. Kansas City Chiefs (Travis Kelce): 9.32
2. Denver Broncos (Owen Daniels): 8.85
3. New York Jets: 8.78
4. Cincinnati Bengals (Tyler Eifert): 8.40
T5. San Diego Chargers (Antonio Gates, Ladarius Green): 8.39
T5. Baltimore Ravens (Crockett Gillmore): 8.39

Five least favorable SOS for TEs (Weeks 6-16):

28. Seattle Seahawks (Jimmy Graham): 6.50
29. Atlanta Falcons (Jacob Tamme): 6.29
30. St. Louis Rams (Jared Cook): 6.27
31. New York Giants (Larry Donnell): 6.26
32. Cleveland Browns (Gary Barnidge): 5.83

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

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2015 Fantasy Football: WR Waiver-Wire Options Heading Into Week 6

Every week, we examine players that may be available on your league's waiver wire that could help your team in the short- and/or long-term.

For a player to be listed, he must be owned in 50 percent (or less) of Yahoo! leagues. The goal is to provide recommendations of players that have a greater chance of being available on your league's waiver wire.

With that said, here are some wide receiver waiver-wire options that I like heading into Week 6 (Yahoo! ownership in parenthesis):

[Note: Players listed below are sorted by my preference to add.]

WR - Willie Snead, New Orleans Saints (44 percent)

Building plenty of trust from quarterback Drew Brees, Snead continues to be a productive option in the team's passing game and he set a career high with 141 yards on six receptions against the Eagles. Snead now has a minimum of four catches in four consecutive games. With 22 catches for 381 yards and a touchdown on the season, Snead is on pace for 70 catches for 1,219 yards.

WR - Kamar Aiken, Baltimore Ravens (24 percent)

With a 4/78 line against the Browns, Aiken now has more than 75 receiving yards in three of his past four games. Even if Steve Smith (back) returns in Week 6, Aiken will have some value as the team's No. 2 receiver, but he'll be in the WR3 mix if Smith misses another game.

WR - Dorial Green-Beckham, Tennessee Titans (24 percent)

Surprisingly, Green-Beckham wasn't targeted in the team's one-point loss to the Bills on Sunday, but the massive (6-5, 237) rookie receiver had two touchdowns in his three receptions in the two games before the bye. The team's GM recently said that DGB is a "difficult matchup" and should play "more and more." If you have space on your bench, DGB is an ideal stash. It wouldn't surprise me if he finished with the season with eight or so touchdowns.

WR - Cecil Shorts, Houston Texans (seven percent)

Shorts (shoulder) sat out Week 5, but there is at least a chance that he returns in Week 6 against Jacksonville. Before last week's game, Shorts had six receptions in three consecutive games and a total of 22 catches for 236 yards and a touchdown on the season. Clearly, DeAndre Hopkins is the alpha dog in the team's passing attack, but Houston has a league-high 242 pass attempts (48.4/G), which should continue to lead to some productive games for the team's No. 2 wideout.

WR - Ty Montgomery, Green Bay Packers (10 percent)

Montgomery had his best game as a pro with four catches for 59 yards and a touchdown against the Rams on Sunday. For as long as Davante Adams (ankle) is sidelined, Montgomery will remain as Green Bay's WR3, which gives him some weekly upside with Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball. Once Adams is healthy, however, he'll have little re-draft value as the team's WR4.

WR - Marquess Wilson, Chicago Bears (seven percent)

With both Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal sidelined, Wilson finished Week 5 with six catches for 85 yards and a touchdown. It was his second consecutive game with six catches and 80-plus yards. If both Jeffery and Royal return in Week 6, Wilson would be the team's fifth option in the passing attack behind both receivers, Matt Forte and Martellus Bennett so his upside is a bit limited once all of the team's pass-catchers are healthy.

WR - Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals (35 percent)

With the exception of Week 4 (five catches for 59 yards), Floyd has one (or zero) receptions in every game this season including one catch for 15 yards in Week 5. In one of the league's better passing attacks, Floyd is clearly no better than the third-best option behind Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown, but he has a 1,000-yard season (2013) under his belt and is at least worth a stash based on talent and past production.

WR - Jamison Crowder, Washington Redskins (five percent)

Washington was without DeSean Jackson and Jordan Reed in Week 5, but Crowder now has a minimum of six catches in three consecutive games. During that span, he has 21 catches for 197 yards.

WR - Marvin Jones, Cincinnati Bengals (36 percent)

Jones has two or less receptions in three of five games so his fantasy value is largely depends on whether he scores in a given week. Over the past 21 games, Jones has a total of 12 touchdowns.

More waiver-wire advice heading into Week 6:
- Week 6 QB/TE Waiver-Wire Recommendations
- Week 6 Running Back Waiver-Wire Recommendations

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2015 Fantasy Football: RB Waiver-Wire Options Heading Into Week 6

Every week, we examine players that may be available on your league's waiver wire that could help your team in the short- and/or long-term.

For a player to be listed, he must be owned in 50 percent (or less) of Yahoo! leagues. The goal is to provide recommendations of players that have a greater chance of being available on your league's waiver wire.

With that said, here are some running back waiver-wire options that I like heading into Week 6 (Yahoo! ownership in parenthesis):

[Note: Players listed below are sorted by my preference to add.]

RB - Charcandrick West, Kansas City Chiefs (12 percent)

The loss of Jamaal Charles (ACL) to a season-ending injury is obviously a devastating blow to fantasy owners that used a top-five selection on him this summer. With the injury, however, it opens up an opportunity for a running back widely available on waiver wires around the country.

In games that Charles had missed in previous seasons, Knile Davis saw massive workloads in Charles' absence, but West has emerged as the second back on the depth chart over the past couple of games. West (36 scrimmage yards on eight touches) outgained Davis (two yards on two carries) in Week 5 and he figures to get first shot at the largest share of the workload going forward. Both running backs are worth an add, however.

RB - Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns (49 percent)

Johnson had nine carries for just 22 yards (2.4 yards per carry) on Sunday, but he added six catches for 55 yards as well. Better in PPR formats, Johnson now has a minimum of six receptions in three consecutive games and a total of 21 catches over that three-game stretch. Johnson's overal workload -- a minimum of 15 touches in back-to-back games and at least 10 touches in four consecutive games -- puts him in the flex conversation on a weekly basis. Over the past four games, Johnson (54 touches) and Isaiah Crowell (55 touches) have been in a timeshare and it wouldn't surprise me if Johnson eventually emerges with the larger share of the workload as the season progresses.

RB - Ryan Mathews, Philadelphia Eagles (50 percent)

Mathews finished with eight carries for 73 yards and a touchdown and added three catches for 23 yards on Sunday against the Saints. It was his second productive game in three weeks, but he was out-touched 27-11 by DeMarco Murray this week. Mathews would obviously have a lot more value if Murray were to miss more time (like in Week 3), but he should approach flex-level production in many weeks as the team's No. 2 back.

RB - Thomas Rawls, Seattle Seahawks (48 percent)

With Marshawn Lynch sidelined again, Rawls rushed for a career-high 169 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries against the Bengals on Sunday. It was his second 100-yard game in three weeks. Beast Mode is expected back in Week 6, but Rawls should be owned at least as a handcuff to Lynch. And if Lynch misses any future games, Rawls would at least be an RB2 in those games.

RB - Charles Sims, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (19 percent)

Sims is clearly the team's No. 2 back behind Doug Martin, but he is averaging a little more than 10 touches per game -- 51 touches through five games. With 136 yards from scrimmage on 16 touches including four receptions in Week 5, Sims now has double-digit fantasy points in three consecutive games and multiple receptions in all five games this season.

RB - Matt Jones, Washington Redskins (46 percent)

Jones left Sunday's game with a toe sprain, but he's considered "day to day." Jones gained just 20 yards on 11 carries against the Falcons, but he now has double-digit carries in three of his past four games and is averaging 4.1 YPC on the season. Washington is one of five teams with 150-plus carries through five weeks and it's at least possible that Jones leads the backfield in touches for the rest of the way.

RB - Darren McFadden, Dallas Cowboys (35 percent)

Before Week 4, McFadden had a total of three receptions for 40 yards. In Week 5, McFadden had nine catches for 62 yards on 10 targets. With Lance Dunbar out for the season, McFadden will assume (has assumed) Dunbar's pass-catching role out of the backfield, which makes him a better pickup in PPR formats.

RB - Antonio Andrews, Tennessee Titans (11 percent)

Gaining just nine yards on his seven carries, Andrews did score the team's only touchdown and added 45 receiving yards on three catches coming out of the team's bye. It was the second consecutive game that Andrews led the team's backfield in production and while he offers some value to fantasy owners, he has a fairly low ceiling.

RB - Javorius Allen, Baltimore Ravens (one percent)

Justin Forsett has 120-plus rushing yards and more than 20 carries in back-to-back games and although he wasn't able to play in overtime (ankle), there appears to be a good chance that he plays in Week 6. If Forsett is unable to go in Week 6, however, Allen could provide fantasy owners with some value against the 49ers.

More waiver-wire advice heading into Week 6:
- Week 6 QB/TE Waiver-Wire Recommendations
- Week 6 Wide Receiver Waiver-Wire Recommendations

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2015 Fantasy Football: QB/TE Waiver-Wire Options Heading Into Week 6

Every week, we examine players that may be available on your league's waiver wire that could help your team in the short- and/or long-term.

For a player to be listed, he must be owned in 50 percent (or less) of Yahoo! leagues. The goal is to provide recommendations of players that have a greater chance of being available on your league's waiver wire.

With that said, here are some waiver-wire options that I like heading into Week 6 (Yahoo! ownership in parenthesis):

[Note: Players listed below are sorted by my preference to add within their position group.]

Quarterbacks

QB - Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars (25 percent)

Bortles has scored at least 16 fantasy points in four consecutive games and has finished as a top-10 weekly fantasy quarterback in three of those four games. During that span, he has averaged 279.0 passing yards with nine touchdown passes and only two interceptions. The Jags will often find themselves playing in catch-up mode and Bortles has a nice trio of weapons with Julius Thomas returning to join Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns.

There is some concern with Bortles' shoulder, however, as he was diagnosed with a sprained AC joint, but he played through the injury in Week 5 and it seems that he'll be ready to play this week. Bortles has a pair of favorable matchups against the Texans and Bills in Weeks 6 and 7, respectively, before his Week 8 bye.

QB - Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears (32 percent)

Without Alshon Jeffery since Week 1 and Eddie Royal last week, the Bears passing attack should only get better once their top-two wideouts are healthy. That said, Cutler finished as a top-12 fantasy quarterback in back-to-back weeks. Cutler has at least 250 passing yards and two touchdowns in each of those games and he has a favorable matchup against the Lions in Week 6 as well.

QB - Josh McCown, Cleveland Browns (seven percent)

Not only does McCown have 300-plus yards and at least two touchdowns in three consecutive games, but he threw for a franchise-record 457 yards against the Ravens on Sunday. During that stretch, McCown has finished as the QB9, QB4 and QB1, respectively. It's going to be difficult to finish as a top-10 fantasy QB this week as the Broncos have allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing QBs, but he's a solid add to fill a future bye week or to use as a streamer.

QB - Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings (44 percent)

Although many (including myself) expected big improvements from Bridgewater in year two, it's been a slow start -- at least, from a fantasy perspective. In Minnesota's run-heavy offense, Bridgewater is averaging just 193.5 passing yards per game and has only two passing scores (with one rushing score) through four games.

While he has finished as the QB18 or worse in every game, he has several favorable matchups coming out of his bye. Four of his next five games are against the Chiefs, Lions, Bears and Raiders, all four of whom rank in the top half in terms of most fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks.

QB - Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets (11 percent)

Fitzgerald has finished as the weekly QB20-QB22 in each of his first four games, but he has some appeal as a streamer or bye-week replacement over the next month or so. The Amish Rifle faces Washington, New England, Oakland, Jacksonville, Buffalo and Houston in his next six games, all of which are plus matchups.

Tight Ends

TE - Gary Barnidge, Cleveland Browns (52 percent)

When I initially put this list together, Barnidge was owned in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues and his ownership level continues to creep upward, but I've left him on this list in case he's available in your league.

Making one of the most spectacular catches we've seen this season, Barnidge turned a matchup against the stingiest defense to opposing tight ends into eight receptions for 139 yards, both of which were season highs, and a touchdown. Barnidge now has a minimum of six catches, 75 yards and a touchdown in three consecutive games and has finished as a weekly top-three fantasy tight end in each of those games. On the year, he has a total of 24 receptions for 374 yards and three touchdowns. If he maintained his current pace, he'd finish the season with 77/1,197/10.

TE - Richard Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (46 percent)

Playing in an Aaron Rodgers-led offense is obviously a huge positive for any pass-catcher and Rodgers now has at least five receptions in back-to-back games. Given the injuries to the team's receiving corps, Rodgers should continue to be involved enough to approach at least high-end TE2 fantasy numbers in any given week.

TE - Derek Carrier, Washington Redskins (three percent)

Jordan Reed was highly productive in his first four games (24/278/1), but he missed Week 5 with a concussion and he has a concerning concussion history dating back to his days as a Florida Gator. It's uncertain if he'll be cleared in time to play in Week 6, but Carrier was productive in his absence with a touchdown and 27 yards in Week 5. If Reed misses another game, Carrier is at least worth consideration as a streaming option against the Jets in Week 6.

More waiver-wire advice heading into Week 6:
- Week 6 Running Back Waiver-Wire Recommendations
- Week 6 Wide Receiver Waiver-Wire Recommendations

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October 11, 2015

Report: Chiefs fear Jamaal Charles tore his ACL

It's rare that good news follows a non-contact injury and the "immediate fear" from the Chiefs is that Jamaal Charles has a torn ACL, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

With the second-most fantasy points among running backs behind Atlanta's Devonta Freeman, Charles was off to a great start with 59 rush attempts for 306 yards, 20 receptions for 151 yards and five touchdowns through the first four games of the season. Before exiting with the injury today, Charles had 12 carries for 58 yards and one reception for 26 yards.

Assuming that the MRI confirms initial fears, Charles would miss the rest of the 2015 season.

Based on the team's usage over the past couple of weeks, Charcandrick West appears to be ahead of Knile Davis for the largest share of work. That said, both backs should see a significant amount of touches and De'Anthony Thomas will be involved as well.

In today's game, West had seven carries for 31 yards and one reception for five yards; Davis had two carries for two yards.

Owned in just four percent of Yahoo! leagues, West should be the top waiver priority going into Week 6.

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2015 NFL Power Rankings: Week 5

Here are my Week 5 NFL Power Rankings:

1. New England Patriots (Record: 3-0; Last: 1)Over the past 15 seasons, the Patriots are 11-4 in their game following the bye but are just 2-2 in their past four games coming off the bye. No team is a bigger favorite than the Patriots (-9.5) this week.

2. Green Bay Packers (Record: 4-0; Last: 2)Aaron Rodgers has thrown 574 pass attempts at home since his last interception. Over that 19-game span counting the playoffs, Rodgers has thrown 48 touchdowns.


3. Cincinnati Bengals (Record: 4-0; Last: 4)Bengals QB Andy Dalton has a difficult Week 5 matchup against the Seahawks, but he currently leads the NFL in yards per attempt (10.2) and has posted a 9-to-1 TD-to-INT ratio through four weeks. His lowest passer rating in those four games was 115.9 in Week 1.

4. Denver Broncos (Record: 4-0; Last: 5)The Broncos are now 24-2 at home since 2012 including 10 consecutive wins. In addition, they will take a 13-game road winning streak against AFC West opponents into Oakland on Sunday.

5. Arizona Cardinals (Record: 3-1; Last: 3)Through four games, Larry Fitzgerald has a 30/432/5 stat line with a minimum of six catches and 87 yards in every game. Fitzgerald had just three 6/87 games in all of 2014.
6. Seattle Seahawks (Record: 2-2; Last: 6)With Kam Chancellor on the field, the Seahawks have not allowed a touchdown during the regular season for 18 consecutive quarters.

7. Atlanta Falcons (Record: 4-0; Last: 7)Not only did Devonta Freeman rush for three scores in Week 3, but he did so again in Week 4 against the Texans. Freeman became the first player since LaDainian Tomlinson (2006) to rush for three scores in back-to-back games.

8. Carolina Panthers (Record: 4-0; Last: 8)Obviously, you can only play the teams on your schedule, but the Panthers opponents through TNF in Week 5 have a combined 4-13 record. Their next four opponents all won double-digit games last season -- Seahawks, Eagles, Colts and Packers.

9. Buffalo Bills (Record: 2-2; Last: 9)The Bills rank last in the NFL in penalties -- 11.8 penalties and 107.0 penalty yards per game -- this season.

10. New York Jets (Record: 3-1; Last: 10)Brandon Marshall exceeded the 100-yard mark for his third consecutive game; the longest streak by a Jet since 1988 (Al Toon). Through four games, Marshall has 30 catches for 400 yards and three touchdowns, which equates to a 16-game pace of 120/1,600/12.

11. Minnesota Vikings (Record: 2-2; Last: 12)No team has a larger share of their offensive yardage come from rushing than the Vikings (45.24 percent) and no team is averaging more yards per carry than the Vikings (4.9 YPC).

12. Pittsburgh Steelers (Record: 2-2; Last: 13)The Ravens had a streak of 29 consecutive games without allowing a 100-yard rusher, but Le'Veon Bell broke the streak on Thursday Night Football. With Ben Roethlisberger still sidelined, the Steelers should give Bell another large (or larger) workload on Monday Night Football.

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2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Week 5 (Beazley)

Here are my picks against the spread (ATS) for Week 4 of the 2015 NFL season:

New England Patriots -9.5 over Dallas Cowboys (3 units)

The Patriots are one of my favorite plays this week. Dallas has been hit with the injury bug pretty hard this year, but do get some good news that Sean Lee is expected to play. If Lee were to be sidelined, this would be what I call a mortgage payment type bet, but I'll be more conservative with him likely in the lineup. There is no doubt he is the anchor to the Cowboys defense.

Tom Brady and the Patriots will be in F.U. mode all season, so I have little concern about a back-door cover. I expect the Patriots to score on more than 50 percent of their possessions and it wouldn't shock me to see Brady have upwards of six touchdown passes. If you are playing DFS, I think this sets up nicely as a Rob Gronkowski week. If you are not paying up for Gronk, I think you will be a good 15 points behind as I don't think any TE will come close to his numbers today. Julian Edelman is also always in play, and I think this is a Dion Lewis game as well. Patriots 46, Cowboys 23.

Chicago Bears +9 over Kansas City Chiefs (3 units)

I know the Bears have struggled this season, but this line is definitely the head-scratcher of the week. Chicago battled last week and beat a very sneaky Oakland team, and I think they have a very good shot on the road in Arrowhead this week. I would like Chicago a little more if their receiving corps was healthy, but I still think they can keep it close. Matt Forte is a very under-the-radar play in DFS with everyone on Le'Veon Bell and Jamaal Charles. I think he finds the endzone twice today. This game will be close and it will be decided in the 4th quarter: Kansas City 24, Chicago 21.

Saints at Eagles -- Over 49.5 (3 units)

I think Sam Bradford and the Eagles finally figured out their offensive problems this past week in the loss vs. Washington. Bradford stretched the field and connected on two long touchdown passes which is something we didn't see in Weeks 1-3. The Saints defense is arguably one of the worst in the NFL. I think the Eagles will have little trouble moving the ball this week.

There is no secret that the Eagles like to play up in pace, so this game screams high scoring to me. The Saints are still above average offensively themselves and should be able to score at least three touchdowns as well. I'm all over Willie Snead on DraftKings today at minimum price which probably means it will be a Brandin Cooks week! Eagles 34, Saints 27.

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October 10, 2015

2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Week 5 (Hanson)

Here are my picks against the spread (ATS) for Week 5 of the 2015 NFL season:

Baltimore Ravens -6.5 over Cleveland Browns (4 units)

After their first-ever 0-3 start (as Ravens), Baltimore got a much-needed victory over their hated division rivals in Week 4. This week, they will host another division rival against whom the series has been lopsided. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is 13-1 straight up in his career against the Browns with an 8-5-1 record versus the spread in those games.

With Steve Smith and Crockett Gillmore sidelined, there is some concern with Kamar Aiken as the team's No. 1 receiver. But I expect a big game from Justin Forsett as Cleveland ranks 31st in the NFL in rush defense (141.5 yards per game, 4.8 yards per carry).

Not only have the Ravens historically dominated at home (48-12 straight up in their past 60 games), but John Harbaugh has had a lot of success with extra rest. In games with more than seven days rest, Harbaugh has won 14 of 16 games straight up with a 10-5-1 ATS record.

Jacksonville Jaguars +3 over Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3 units)

In a matchup between the highest-selected quarterbacks of the past two drafts, the biggest reason that I like the Jags has to do with the ground game. Led by rookie T.J. Yeldon, the Jags will want to establish the run early as he entered the week ranked third in carries. And in their win and overtime loss, Yeldon was an even bigger part of the game plan -- 26.0 touches per game. Meanwhile, the Bucs have allowed the third-most rushing yards per game (136.8) this season.

On the other hand, the Jags run defense has been stout. They currently rank fourth in the NFL in rush defense (83.0 Y/G) and have allowed just 3.1 yards per carry, which is tied for best in the NFL. Doug Martin ran the ball well last week (20 carries for 106 yards), but the Bucs offensive line has its share of issues.

The other concern with the Bucs is their volume of turnovers (10, T-2nd in NFL). Meanwhile, the Jags have turned the ball over only four times. Assuming the Jags win the turnover battle and get their running game off the ground, I expect them to leave Tampa with a win. And if they do, it would mark the 12th consecutive home loss for the Buccaneers.

Washington Redskins +7 over Atlanta Falcons (2 units)

The Falcons are off to a great start. Sort of. They are 4-0 and that's really the only stat that matters. But aside from last week's dominating win over the Texans, they haven't dominated their opponents. In fact, they became the first NFL team to trail in three consecutive fourth quarters and begin the season with a 3-0 record.

DeSean Jackson and Jordan Reed have both been ruled out already, but Washington leads the NFL in rushing offense (558 yards on 126 carries) and I expect them to rely on their three backs (Alfred Morris, Matt Jones and Chris Thompson) to control the clock as much as possible. In addition, only Arizona has a better net yardage differential than Washington this season.

As a Cowboys fan, I'm rooting for the Falcons to get the win on Sunday, but I think Washington will keep the game close enough to cover.

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2015 Fantasy Football: Week 5 Start'em, Sit'em

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

As an example, Sam Bradford is listed below as a "start" for Week 5. And I'd feel very comfortable going into Week 5 with him as my starting quarterback.

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

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

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

With that said, here are some players to potentially start in Week 5:

QB - Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans (vs. BUF)

Even though he has only 25 rushing yards through three games, the dual-threat rookie signal-caller ranks seventh among quarterbacks in fantasy points scored per game. Mariota has thrown multiple touchdown passes in all three games to start his career and is averaging 277.67 passing yards with 2.67 touchdowns per game. Only three teams have allowed more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than the Bills this season.

QB - Sam Bradford, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. NO)

After three disappointing fantasy performances, Bradford had his best outing of the season -- 270 yards and three touchdowns -- and finished second to only Philip Rivers in fantasy points scored in Week 4. The Saints give Bradford a great opportunity to build some momentum as they have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. In fact, they have allowed a top-three weekly finish in both of their road games -- Carson Palmer (QB2, 307 yards and three TDs) and Cam Newton (QB3, 315 yards and two TDs). Only the Pats, Packers and Falcons are projected to score more points this week based on Vegas odds.

RB - Todd Gurley, St. Louis Rams (at GB)

Gurley followed up a disappointing NFL debut -- six carries for nine yards -- with a monster (second-half) performance in Week 4. Gurley racked up 146 yards (7.7 YPC) on 19 carries and added two receptions for 15 yards. There are concerns about the team's offensive line, but Gurley is one of the most talented backs to enter the league in a few years and was drafted to be the team's workhorse, once healthy. In addition, running the ball successfully will be one of the ways in which the Rams can limit Aaron Rodgers' possessions so I expect Gurley to once again get in the neighborhood of 20 carries in Week 5.

RB - T.J. Yeldon, (at TB)

Going into Week 5, only Matt Forte (84) and Adrian Peterson (75) had more carries than Yeldon (70). With 10 receptions, Yeldon has averaged exactly 20.0 touches per game, but that average is even higher in close games. Yeldon has a total of 52 touches in their win and overtime loss. Considering this game has a three-point spread, Yeldon is in store for another large workload and the Bucs have allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

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

While I have Dion Lewis ranked higher, Blount has a solid chance to perform as a top-24 fantasy running back this week as well. Much of Blount's 19 touches (and three touchdowns) came in garbage time in Week 3, but the Patriots are nearly double-digit favorites over the Cowboys this week. In addition, the Cowboys have allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

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

Like with the Patriots, the Bengals could have a pair top-24 fantasy running backs in Week 5 even though the Seahawks have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. So far this season, both Jeremy Hill (RB13) and Bernard (RB15) rank among the top-15 fantasy running backs in standard scoring. Not only does Bernard have 13-plus touches in all four games this season, but he has been given more touches than Jeremy Hill in three consecutive games. In those games, Bernard has 52 touches; Hill has 32. Assuming there are no more two-fumble games, Hill will eventually get the larger share again. For now, however, Bernard remains a solid RB2 despite the less-than-favorable matchup.

WR - Julian Edelman, New England Patriots (at DAL)

Before their Week 4 bye, Edelman had parlayed 42 targets into 30 catches for 279 yards for two scores and added two carries for 21 yards. In other words, he is averaging 14 targets, 10 receptions and 100 yards from scrimmage per game this season. Edelman is a WR1 in both standard- and PPR-scoring formats this week.

WR - Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals (at DET)

I was high on Fitzgerald in the preseason and often quoted his 16-game average in games Carson Palmer and Fitzgerald had played together: 83/1,045/9. Even so, Fitzgerald has vastly exceeded my expectations with 30/432/5 through four weeks. (Only Julio Jones has scored more fantasy points than Fitzgerald.) I'm not sure that we see any more 100-yard, two-TD games from Fitzgerald, but he has at least six catches and 87 yards in all four games and he'll continue to be a must-start as long as he and Palmer remain healthy.

WR - Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars (at TB)

Over the past three weeks, Robinson has a minimum of nine targets in each game and has averaged 11.0 per contest. Although he has converted only 14 of those 33 targets into receptions, he has a minimum of 68 yards in each of his past three games. His volume of targets provides a solid floor while his league-high 22.0 yards per reception offers plenty of upside. Plus, only four teams have allowed more receiving touchdowns to wide receivers than the Bucs (six).

WR - Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans (vs. BUF)

Before his bye, Wright had a 7/95/1 line on a season-high 12 targets. It was the second time in three games that Wright had finished with at least 16 fantasy points and inside the top-12 weekly receivers. While it's difficult to run the ball on the Bills, teams have had plenty of success through the air. Only the Chiefs and Ravens have allowed more fantasy points to opposing receivers than the Bills, who have allowed a top-18 fantasy receiver in all four games.

TE - Owen Daniels, Denver Broncos (vs. OAK)

Although Daniels has scored in back-to-back games, his production has been relatively modest -- 12 catches for 61 yards and two touchdowns over four games. That said, no team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season than the Raiders. In fact, they have allowed a top-four weekly finish at the position in in every game this season -- Tyler Eifert (TE4, 9/104/2), Crockett Gillmore (TE1, 5/88/2), Gary Barnidge (TE2, 6/105/1) and Martellus Bennett (TE1, 11/83/1). If there's a week that Daniels has a huge game, this is the week. (Or Week 14 for this second matchup with the Raiders.)

TE - Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills (vs. TEN)

Through four games, Clay has the fourth-most fantasy points among tight ends and he has finished as a top-11 weekly fantasy tight end in three consecutive games. Based on his 21/255/2 stat line, he's on pace to finish the year with 84 catches for 1,020 yards and eight touchowns. In addition, Clay has a favorable matchup this week as the Titans have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season.

Here are some players to potentially sit in Week 5:

QB - Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. SEA)

Through four weeks, only Tom Brady (26.19) and Aaron Rodgers (24.13) have averaged more fantasy points per game than Dalton (22.30). In addition, Dalton has finished as a top-11 fantasy quarterback in all four games this season. Even though their defense is even better at home, the Seahawks have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. With Bradford and Mariota having favorable matchups this week, I have Dalton ranked just outside my top-12 fantasy quarterbacks this week.

QB - Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (vs. ARI)

Speaking of the Seahawks pass defense, Stafford threw for 203 yards and no touchdowns against the Seahawks last week as he finished as fantasy's QB29 in Week 4. While that was Stafford's worst finish on the year, he has yet to finish as a top-15 fantasy QB in any week. The Lions rank in the top-five in pass attempts (163), but they rank 32nd (i.e., last) in yards per attempt (6.2). Meanwhile, the Cardinals have allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.

RB - C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos (at OAK)

Before the season, I would have thought you were crazy if you suggested that I'd list a healthy Anderson as a "sit" in a Week 5 matchup against the Raiders. That said, CJA has yet to get more than 12 carries in any game and he's been terribly unproductive (2.72 YPC) with the carries he has been given. Meanwhile, Anderson is essentially in a timeshare with Ronnie Hillman, who has averaged more than 10 touches per game, and given that Hillman has been better, not by much but still better, it's possible that CJA gets fewer touches than Hillman this week. In addition, the Raiders run defense has been solid -- only 3.8 YPC allowed this season. Hopefully Anderson will turn his season around, but I'd rather be one week late than several weeks early.

RB - Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins (at ATL)

The good news is that Alf has at least 19 touches in three of four games including the team's Week 4 win. The bad news is that he has finished as the weekly RB27, RB68 and RB35 over the past three weeks, respectively. Not only is Matt Jones a threat to steal touches, but so is Chris Thompson, who has 18 touches over the past two games. Given that the Falcons are big favorites, I could certainly envision a scenario where Morris is off the field in favor of Thompson and Jones, both better pass-catching backs, if Washington finds themselves in catch-up mode early. Therefore, I have Morris ranked as a flex (RB25) this week.

RB - Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns (at BAL)

The Ravens allowed the first 100-yard rusher (Le'Veon Bell) in a couple of seasons last week, but their rush defense remains one of the best in the league. Through Week 4, they have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs. Over the past three weeks, Duke Johnson (39 touches) and Crowell (40 touches) have been in a timeshare and I expect Johnson, the better pass-catching back, to score more fantasy points than Crowell this week.

WR - Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints (at PHI)

With the team's offseason changes, I expected big things from the diminutive second-year receiver. Instead, it's been nothing but mediocrity. Cooks has yet to score a touchdown, get more than eight targets in a game or finish as a weekly top-36 receiver. In his four games, he has finished as the WR46, WR53, WR39 and WR77, respectively. Based on his skill set, I eventually expect better production from Cooks (and I have him ranked just outside my top-24 receivers this week), but he's a flex for me this week on team's that start two receivers.

WR - Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders (vs. DEN)

Off to a better start than I had expected, Crabtree has 23 catches for 264 yards on 39 targets through four games. In the right matchup, Crabtree could become a start, but this is certainly not the right matchup. I nearly listed Crabtree's teammate, Amari Cooper, here. But Cooper is just inside my top-24 fantasy receivers (WR23) for the week. The Broncos arguably have the league's best secondary and defense -- no team has allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing wide receivers and they have allowed only one touchdown to a wide receiver this season.

WR - Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills (at TEN)

Watkins is listed as questionable for Sunday's game. If he plays, it's unclear how effective he'll be and he seems to be wondering the same thing. "Mentally and physically I feel like I can go out there and play," said Watkins (via BuffaloBills.com). "It’s just about how long can I play? ... it’s more serious when ... you’re grinding it out for 30 or 40 plays and staying on the field." If active on Sunday, he should remain on your bench.

TE - Gary Barnidge, Cleveland Browns (at BAL)

It feels a little weird listing Barnidge on the "sit'em" side as he has spent the majority of his career as an obvious sit. Over the past two weeks, however, Barnidge has finished as a top-three fantasy tight end -- 6/105/1 (Week 3) and 6/75/1 (Week 4). And going into Week 5, half of our four rankers have Barnidge listed as a top-12 fantasy tight end. (In our consensus tight end rankings, I'm the lowest (TE17) on Barnidge.) Through four games, the Ravens have allowed just 0.78 fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends, by far the fewest in the NFL.

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2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Week 5 (Yanotchko)

Here are my picks against the spread (ATS) for Week 5 of the 2015 NFL season:

Jacksonville Jaguars +3 over Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3 units)

The Jaguars have been playing spirited football this year, and it is starting to show that there is light at the end of the tunnel after their long rebuilding project. The Bucs, however, seem to be still mired in the middle of the rebuilding process. I like the Jaguars on the road this week, as they will be able to stop Tampa's rushing attack, as they only allow 83 yards rushing per game, and 3.1 yards per carry.

Also, Tampa has been playing pretty bad football, as they have been blown out in two of their first four games and are also 0-2 against the AFC South this year. I am going to just take the points here, as Jacksonville has the defense to keep the game close, and the ability to finally win a road game.

New England Patriots -9.5 over Dallas Cowboys (4 units)

Normally I do not like giving massive points to the home team, but of course after seeing Greg Hardy's comments about Tom Brady, I think we know the rout will be on. The Cowboys have definitely not had great luck to start the season, as they have lost Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and now Lance Dunbar to serious injuries, but they will get back two great defensive players from suspension in Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain.

The Dallas defense will certainly need these guys, as they have only managed a measly six sacks in four games. This game will still be the Tom Brady aerial show, and he will absolutely shred a pass defense that gives up 256 yards per game. The Patriots off a bye, and having to play Tom Brady on an extra shot of haterade? Good luck Big D, but keep your popcorn with you , and head to a movie in the second half as it's going to be a blowout.

Buffalo Bills -1 over Tennessee Titans (3 units)

The Bills come limping into Tennessee needing a win badly, and I think a win over the Titans will be just what Rex Ryan needs to keep on saying how great he and his team are. The Bills defense has underperformed, as they were much better at getting up field and rushing the quarterback last year, but they have struggled to create pressure.

One thing the Bills have done really well this year is stop the run, as they only allow 78.5 yards per game rushing, and 3.9 yards per carry. I think that this will be enough to carry the day, as they will make Marcus Mariota one dimensional, and he is not good enough yet to take full advantage of a bad Buffalo secondary. I am going to lay the points here, as what fun would a losing Rex Ryan team be?

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October 08, 2015

2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Week 5 (Trifone)

Here are my picks against the spread (ATS) for Week 5 of the 2015 NFL season:

Philadelphia Eagles -5.5 over New Orleans Saints (5 units)

My favorite play of the week is the Eagles to cover against the Saints. Although Philadelphia lost to Washington last week, they finally started clicking a bit offensively. Sam Bradford started airing it out, and I think they're primed to put up a lot of points this week against a bad New Orleans defense. I will have a lot of Sam Bradford and Jordan Matthews in my daily fantasy GPP lineups. I think Philly wins big this week. Give the points.

New England Patriots -9.5 over Dallas Cowboys (3 units)

I was leaning Patriots in this game anyway, and then Greg Hardy opened his mouth to give Tom Brady even more motivation to run the score up in this one. New England has already been in step-on-your-throat mode, as they've just been destroying teams without taking their foot off the gas. It's reminiscent of 2007 when they had one of, if not the best, offenses in NFL history.

The Cowboys defense is actually not too bad, but even if Sean Lee is able to play, they're still no match for Brady and the Pats. The Dallas offense just doesn't stand a chance of putting up the amount of points they're going to need to hang around in this one. It's a big spread, but I'm comfortable giving the points.

Washington Redskins +7.5 over Atlanta Falcons (3 units)

Don't look now, but the Redskins have a decent football team. Coming off a big division win over the Eagles, Washington will look to carry that momentum into Atlanta. The Falcons are playing great, but in my opinion, they are over-achieving a bit. I'm not expecting another three-touchdown game from Devonta Freeman, and while Julio Jones will be tough to slow down, I like the Redskins to keep this one close.

Finishing that last drive to win the game was big for Kirk Cousins and the entire team's confidence. They probably should have beaten Miami in Week One and would be sporting a 3-1 record if they did. I like them to stay within a touchdown here and slow Atlanta down.

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Week 5 Fantasy Football: 8 Undervalued Players in PPR Leagues

Week 4 sucked. Every week has its ups and downs, especially when you play in multiple leagues – you’re bound to lose a few every week unless the stars align – but usually the good outweighs the bad, or at least there is some good to keep the morale up. Last week had next to nothing for me. My teams struggled across the board, my advice in this column was poor, and my DFS results were less than mediocre. All in all, a pretty terrible week.

But guess what? That’s gonna happen. Everyone is going to have weeks like that. No matter how good or bad a fantasy owner is, the ups and downs happen to everyone. We have to remember, fantasy sports is very much a gamble. I liken it to the stock market or poker. You can be as educated and skillful as possible, but ultimately we are at the mercy of something we have zero control over. The best we can do is make decisions based on reason and logic, while taking the right amount of calculated risks, and hope for the best. In the long run, the better players will come out on top.

I have won at least one championship every year for the past decade, and have always come out profitable to varying degrees. And in every single one of those seasons, I had at least one horrible week. Probably closer to two if I am being honest. That is not intended to be a “brag” by any means, I am simply using my own experiences to illustrate the point. No matter how bad one week can be, keep your head up. Don’t let it impact your decisions, or cause you to lose interest and be less diligent in your weekly preparation. If anything, use it as motivation to buckle down.

Now on to the results from last week.

Week 4 Results
QBsRBsWRsTEsTotal
-0.8+2.8-40.10.0-38.1
YTD Results
QBsRBsWRsTEsTotal
+23.4+14.1-39.0-7.0-8.5

* Stats are based on players recommended (compared to options listed to start those players over).

Best of the week -- Chris Johnson + 19.1: Johnson had a solid, if unspectacular, outing last week. I expected a bit more from him, but he did outperform his ECR and outscored both Lamar Miller and Matt Jones by a good margin.

Runner up -- Michael Crabtree +1.8: Similar to Johnson, Crabtree didn’t wow anyone but put up a good day and outperformed his ECR. This number would actually have been much better if it weren’t for a strong outing from Pierre Garcon. Mike Evans was a dud, which helped counter Garcon’s output and put this pick in the black.

Worst of the week -- Percy Harvin -38: My goal by season's end is to have all positive numbers in the YTD results section. I think a positive overall +/- would be pretty good considering I am picking “underdogs” each week. But if that is going to happen, I can’t have results like this. Harvin (and really, the Bills as a whole) was a total disappointment last week. The offense posted 10 points, after averaging 33 per game previously. Compounding the problem were the aforementioned Garcon, and a back from the dead Vincent Jackson, who had more receptions and yards in Week 4 than the first three games combined.

Runner up -- DeMarco Murray -16.3: Think Murray regrets leaving Dallas? The Eagles are not utilizing Murray very well. He is not a timeshare back, he gets better with the more carries he receives. Thought Chip Kelley would figure that out; I was wrong.

Quarterbacks

Alex SmithKansas City Chiefs
FantasyPros ECR – 14

Smith is the 12th-overall QB in fantasy so far this season, and had it not been for a poor Week 2 performance, he would likely be somewhere between 6 and 10. I know, we can’t just ignore that performance, but consider that is was against Denver and on a Thursday night. That’s a tough combination. In every other game, Smith has scored at least 21.8 points, and they weren’t exactly cupcake defenses either. The fact is, the Chiefs defense hasn’t been very good this year. The offense has had to open up more to stay in games. And while the Bears don’t represent a high-powered offense, Jay Cutler is back and reports say Alshon Jeffery should return as well.

I expect the current trend to continue, with Smith having to throw more often than we are accustomed to seeing. Against a Bears defense that gives up the eighth-most points to QBs and ranks 29th in pass efficiency, Smith should have no trouble putting up points.

Consider starting him over:
- Marcus Mariota – ECR 13. I love Mariota and have been extremely impressed with how he has started his career. While the Bills have been a bit up and down so far this season, the talent is there defensively. Coming off a bad loss, I expect them to turn it up a notch. And while the Bills give up the fifth-most points to QBs, their pass efficiency rating is actually No. 7 in the league. Typically, that indicates the fantasy points allowed are going to trend downwards, which I think starts this week.
- Russell Wilson – ECR 10. The Seahawks offensive line has been a sieve and Wilson has been under siege quite a bit this season. He has the scrambling ability to mitigate those issues, but he isn’t getting time to stand in the pocket and deliver the ball downfield. The Bengals are sixth in the league in sacks and have an all-around good defense. While the Seahawks typically travel well, I think a cross-country trip on a short week, against a good team, is a tough task. Wilson may struggle a bit as a result.

Sam BradfordPhiladelphia Eagles
FantasyPros ECR – 12

Bradford showed his potential in this offense last week, throwing for 270 yards and 3 TDs. It’s hard to know what to expect from him after just one good week, but against a Saints defense that is terrible against the pass (second-most fantasy points to QBs; dead last in pass efficiency), I believe we will see another big performance. My projections have him at the 11th QB this week, but with an upside of top four. He’s worth the risk. If he can’t perform well in this matchup, it’s safe to say the Eagles season (and most likely Chip Kelly’s NFL career) are in serious jeopardy.

Consider starting him over:
- Tyrod Taylor – ECR 11. I’m back and forth on this guy. I bet against him two weeks ago, then suggested him last week, and now back to betting against him. I just don’t have him figured out I guess. I will say that without Sammy Watkins, LeSean McCoy, and potentially Karlos Williams, it’s hard to see how he can perform. Plus, this Titans defense isn’t a pushover. They currently rank sixth in overall team defense efficiency. I don’t think it’s a fluke either, given Ray Horton and Dick Lebeau are two of the best defensive minds in the league.

Running Backs

Antonio AndrewsTennessee Titans
FantasyPros ECR – 41

Andrews is a second-year undrafted free agent from Western Kentucky who didn’t play the first few games due to an injury. In the Titans last game, Andrews had 12 carries for 49 yards and a TD, while adding on a reception for 12 yards. At 5’10” and 225 pounds, Andrews is a power back that can pick up the tough yards. The Titans clearly don’t trust Bishop Sankey, and forgive me for not getting on the Dexter McCluster train, he is who he is at this point in his career. That gives Andrews the potential for more opportunity, especially at the goal line given his stature. I think this backfield will remain a committee for the forseeable future, but I like Andrews to lead the way this week. The Bills haven’t given up many points to RBs, but they rank 28th in run efficiency, so I would expect the run game to be effective if they stick to it.

Consider starting him over:
- C.J. Anderson – ECR 30. It was announced this week that Hillman and Anderson are essentially co-starters in Denver and will be splitting carries. That’s a death sentence for a back whose only current value was tied to opportunities. Anderson has been as big of a bust as you can find this year and there is nothing to suggest that trend will reverse. And not that Denver needs much resistance in the run game to falter, but the Raiders run defense has actually been good, ranking ninth in efficiency.
- Isaiah Crowell – ECR 36. Duke Johnson will only get more and more involved, taking carries from Crowell in the process. The Ravens had a few extra days to prepare and let’s face it, the Ravens are going to focus on shutting down the run. They aren’t scared of Josh McCown beating them.
- David Johnson – ECR 38. With Ellington set to return this week and Chris Johnson earning a larger role. It seems the rookie is going to see a reduction in playing time. It’s not due to talent, but Arians has been rough on Johnson at times and doesn’t seem to trust him enough at this point to give him work over either of the other two backs.

C.J. SpillerNew Orleans Saints

FantasyPros ECR – 22

Call it a hunch (or common sense), but I expect the Saints to give Spiller more touches this week. After returning from injury, Spiller was surprisingly underutilized in the first few games. Last week, there was talk of a concerted effort to get Spiller involved. That was mildly true, as he had four catches and two carries through regulation. However, he took a screen pass 80 yards for a TD in OT to clinch the Saints a win. Given the lack of production the receiving corps has provided to this point, wouldn’t it be wise to get Spiller in a Sproles type role to add a consistent receiving threat to the mix? I think Sean Payton realizes this and is going to incorporate him heavily into the game plan.

Consider starting him over:
- Jeremy Hill – ECR 20. Hill is essentially a TD-dependent option at this point. Gio Bernard is getting more touches and has been significantly more productive. Hill just happens to be the goal-line back, which makes him very hit or miss on a weekly basis. With Chancellor back, the Seahawks run defense is scary again. I think Bernard has a better chance of success by getting into open space, which will phase Hill out of the game plan early on. Perhaps he does get a TD, but those are so hard to predict, especially against this type of run defense.
- Carlos Hyde – ECR 17. Hyde hasn’t done much since Week 1, and I’m not sure why that would change this week. The Giants are actually the No. 1 run defense from an efficiency perspective, and the Niners pass game doesn’t exactly help open up run lanes.

Wide Receivers

John BrownArizona Cardinals
FantasyPros ECR – 26

Brown is the clear No. 2 WR in the high-powered Cardinals offense. He has scored at least nine points in every game this year, and put up a 7/75/0 line last week against a vaunted Rams defense. This week the Cardinals get the Detroit Lions. While their offense has been atrocious, the defense has been making strides. However, they struggle mightily against No. 2 WR’s – ranking 30th in efficiency against that position. Darius Slay will likely be covering Larry Fitzgerald most of the day, leaving John Brown against an aging Rashean Mathis. I see at least eight targets going Brown’s way, and the potential to break a deep one.

Consider starting him over:
- Kendall Wright – ECR 23. Wright is clearly the top dog in Tennessee, becoming the favorite target of Mariota early this season. The problem this week is Stephon Gilmore. The Bills rank No. 1 in efficiency against WR1’s largely due to his coverage skills. Mariota is not a gunslinger willing to throw into tight spots. He is a very smart QB that prides himself of not turning the ball over. With Gilmore blanketing Wright, I see Mariota looking elsewhere most of the day.
- Amari Cooper – ECR 19. Cooper is a stud, but it’s hard to see a rookie WR doing much against the top CB tandem in the league, regardless of who covers him. The Broncos are 4-0 solely due to their defense. We can no longer expect shootouts or garbage time production from their opponents trying to play catchup. This offense is focused on producing enough points to win, and allowing the defense to carry the torch.

Leonard HankersonAtlanta Falcons
FantasyPros ECR – 29

Hankerson has clearly surpassed Roddy White as the No. 2 WR on this team. Last week he had the most targets on the team and put up a line of 6/103/1 against Houston. This week, the Falcons get the Redskins, who rank 29th in efficiency against WR2’s. Against WR1’s, they actually do quite well, ranking eighth. If last week is any indication, Ryan is beginning to trust Hankerson and will get him the ball when the defense is focused on limiting Julio Jones. While I expect Julio to bounce back from a rough game last week, I think Hankerson will see a lot of targets again as he primarily sees 1-on-1 coverage.

Consider starting him over:
- Golden Tate – ECR 27. Can’t trust anyone on the Lions offense at this point, especially against a stout Cardinals secondary.
- Brandin Cooks – ECR 25. Cooks is the No. 1 target in this offense, but he primarily runs underneath routes and doesn’t gain a lot of yardage per target. He is good for somewhere around 5/50 each game, give or take a few, but lacks the big play upside. His longest gain on the season was 30 yards in Week 1. Since then, his longest gain in each game has steadily decreased. He is a safe play in PPR due to his catches, but he won’t break long gains and isn’t a red-zone threat. Hankerson has more upside.

Rueben RandleNew York Giants
FantasyPros ECR – 33

Randle has been more involved the past two weeks and gets a Niners defense that has struggled mightily on the road, giving up an average of 45 points in their two road games this season. They rank dead last in efficiency against WR2’s, and in the two aforementioned games, the WR2’s averaged 13.5 points. With Randle getting more involved, a struggling run game, and OBJ getting a lot of defensive attention, Randle has a chance to post a big game.

Consider starting him over:
- Golden Tate – ECR 27. See above.
- Terrance Williams – ECR 32. While Williams is the de facto No. 1 WR, he still has Weeden throwing him the ball. And the Cowboys host the Patriots, who are coming off a bye week. Those are some tough variables to overcome.

Tight Ends

Tyler EifertCincinnati Bengals
FantasyPros ECR – 7

After an explosive start to the season, Eifert has slowed the past two weeks. He will be up and down given the number of weapons the Bengals have, but I think this is an “up” week for him. For as good as Seattle has been defensively over the past few seasons, they have always struggled against TEs. This year is no different, as they give up the ninth-most fantasy points to TEs, and rank 30th in efficiency against the position. Eifert should get a lot of looks over the middle this week.

Consider starting him over:
- Jimmy Graham – ECR 6. On the contrary, the Bengals are quite good against TEs. They give up 10 PPG to TEs, which is 12th-best in the league. They also rank ninth in efficiency. Graham has been inconsistent this season and will likely continue to be. I don’t see this being one of his better games.

Thanks for reading and good luck in Week 5!

Check out my full Week 5 Fantasy Football PPR Rankings and follow me on twitter @rw11687.

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2015 Fantasy Football: Week 5 Fantasy Running Back Rankings

The good news is that Texans running back Arian Foster made his season debut last week although he was much less productive than fantasy owners would have liked.

After missing the first three games of the season, Foster carried the ball eight times for just 10 yards and added three catches for 25 yards and he lost a fumble. The Texans planned on limiting his touches in his return, but it was easy to adhere to that plan given the blowout nature of the game.

Despite the limited touches and production, the good news is that Foster has returned to the field already, which means that the Texans should give him a much larger workload even though the turnaround is short -- Sunday to Thursday Night Football.

Last season, Foster finished with the fifth-most fantasy points despite missing three games last year as well. Foster rushed for 1,246 yards, added 38 catches for 327 yards and scored 13 total touchdowns and no team ran the ball more than the Texans (551 attempts).

Only DeMarco Murray (81.3 percent) finished as a top-12 weekly running back in a higher percentage of games than Foster (10 of 13 games, 76.9 percent).

The Colts have allowed the 12th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season and Foster has had a ton of success against the Colts.

In one of the eight games against the Colts he left early (no carries), but he carried the ball 160 times for 960 yards (6.0 YPC) and eight touchdowns plus 23 catches for 165 yards in the other seven games. So that's 160.7 yards from scrimmage and 1.14 touchdowns per game against his AFC South rival.

Despite the short week and modest workload and production on Sunday, Foster enters Week 5 as a strong RB1 play.

Here are some more fantasy football notes on running backs:

  • To quote Yogi Berra, it was déjà vu all over again for Falcons running back Devonta Freeman. Becoming the first player since LaDainian Tomlinson (2006), Freeman has scored three rushing touchdowns (and has finished as fantasy's top-scoring running back) in back-to-back games. In those two games, Freeman has 54 touches for 342 yards and the six touchdowns. No team has allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing running backs than the Redskins, who have allowed only one running back (Lamar Miller, 53 yards) to exceed 36 rushing yards this season.

  • Things went much better for Rams rookie running back Todd Gurley in his second NFL game. After gaining just nine yards on six carries against the Steelers, Gurley rushed for 146 yards on 19 carries against the Cardinals and added two receptions for 15 yards. Meanwhile, the other Rams running backs carried the ball four times for minus one yard. From this point forward, Gurley should approach 20 or touches on a weekly basis.

  • For a third consecutive week, Cincinnati's Jeremy Hill ranked second on the team in carries behind Giovani Bernard. That said, Hill made the most of the nine carries he got this week by scoring a touchdown on one-third of them. Eventually Hill should once again move into the team's featured-back role, but the team has two difficult matchups -- Seattle and Buffalo -- prior to their Week 7 bye.

  • Kansas City's Jamaal Charles trails only Freeman in terms of fantasy points scored, but he's been remarkably consistent with at least 14.5 fantasy points each week. That consistency has led to a top-14 weekly finish in every game so far this season with three top-seven finishes. Nearly double-digit favorites, the Chiefs will feed Charles early and often against the 24th-ranked Bears rush defense.

  • Jacksonville Jaguars rookie T.J. Yeldon still hasn't scored a touchdown, but he recorded the first 100-yard game of his career last week against the Colts. With 80 touches through four games, only four running backs have more than Yeldon. And in Jacksonville's close games (win over Miami and OT loss to Indy), Yeldon has averaged 26.0 touches per game. Assuming the a close game against the Bucs, who have allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, Yeldon should see another monster workload.

  • Through two games, Pittsburgh's Le'Veon Bell has averaged 27.5 touches per game and should see a similar workload on Monday night. Parlaying his 55 touches into 282 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns, Bell has finished as a top-10 fantasy running back in back-to-back games. Only the Falcons have allowed more fantasy points to opposing running backs than the Chargers.

  • Through four weeks, no running back has more receptions than Mark Ingram (22), who has 407 total yards and two touchdowns. Even though he has finished as the RB13 to RB18 each week, Ingram has scored the seventh-most fantasy points on the season. The Eagles have allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points per game this season.

Below you find my Week 5 Fantasy Football RB Rankings:

1. Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers (at SD)
2. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. CHI)
3. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers (vs. STL)
4. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears (at KC)
5. Arian Foster, Houston Texans (vs. IND)
6. Justin Forsett, Baltimore Ravens (vs. CLE)
7. Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints (at PHI)
8. Todd Gurley, St. Louis Rams (at GB)
9. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks (at CIN)
10. Devonta Freeman, Washington Redskins (vs. WAS)
11. Joseph Randle, Dallas Cowboys (vs. NE)
12. Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts (at HOU)
13. T.J. Yeldon, Jacksonville Jaguars (at TB)
14. Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers (at NYG)
15. Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders (vs. DEN)
16. Dion Lewis, New England Patriots (at DAL)
17. Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. SEA)
18. Karlos Williams, Buffalo Bills (at TEN)
19. Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. SEA)
20. Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. JAX)
21. Chris Johnson, Arizona Cardinals (at DET)
22. DeMarco Murray, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. NO)
23. Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers (vs. PIT)
24. LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots (vs. DAL)
25. Melvin Gordon, San Diego Chargers (vs. PIT)
26. Ronnie Hillman, Denver Broncos (at OAK)
27. Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins (at ATL)
28. C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos (at OAK)
29. Ameer Abdullah, Detroit Lions (vs. ARI)
30. C.J. Spiller, New Orleans Saints (at PHI)
31. Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns (at BAL)
32. Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (vs. SF)
33. Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals (at DET)
34. Matt Jones, Washington Redskins (at ATL)
35. Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns (at BAL)
36. Thomas Rawls, Seattle Seahawks (at CIN)
37. Darren Sproles, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. NO)
38. Ryan Mathews, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. NO)
39. Anthony Dixon, Buffalo Bills (at TEN)
40. Darren McFadden, Dallas Cowboys (vs. NE)
41. Antonio Andrews, Tennessee Titans (vs. BUF)
42. Charles Sims, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. JAX)
43. Dan Herron, Buffalo Bills (at TEN)
44. David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals (at DET)
45. Shane Vereen, New York Giants (vs. SF)
46. Chris Thompson, Washington Redskins (at ATL)
47. Bishop Sankey, Tennessee Titans (vs. BUF)
48. Lorenzo Taliaferro, Baltimore Ravens (vs. CLE)
49. Reggie Bush, San Francisco 49ers (at NYG)
50. Tevin Coleman, Atlanta Falcons (at WAS)

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October 07, 2015

DFS Roundtable: Favorite DraftKings Play for Week 5

Every week this season, our contributors will give their favorite plays for the week in DraftKings contests.

Q: Who is your favorite DraftKings play for Week 5?

Sean Beazley - Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. CHI), $7,800

I rarely have 100-percent exposure to a player, and there is good reason not to in tournaments, but this week I absolutely love Jamaal Charles and he will be the centerpiece in the majority of my lineups. The Chiefs are heavy favorites at home vs. the Bears so Charles should have plenty of opportunity to get into the endzone. Charles ($7,800) comes in at a bargain -- $700 cheaper than Le'Veon Bell.

Both RBs are in great situations this week, but the savings you get from Charles allows you a little more cap relief to roster some of the other studs this week. I'm trying to find combinations to get three studs into a lineup together. Rob Gronkowski will surely be my No. 2 stud, and I'm trying to find a way to get Julio Jones in the lineup as well, but it is very difficult with no clear-cut chalk value play like Karlos Williams was last week. One value play I'm considering is Saints WR Willie Snead. I think the Saints-Eagles game could be the highest-scoring game of the week.

Brendan Donahue - Jeremy Maclin, WR, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. CHI), $6,000

Maclin has been a target machine in the first four weeks with at least seven targets each week including a season-high 13 targets last week. He's turning those targets into great fantasy stat lines, particularly the last two weeks, with 19 catches for 289 yards and a touchdown. He has a plus matchup this week vs. a Bears secondary that has allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers so far this year. Listed as the 17th-highest WR salary this week, he has plenty of potential to finish as a top-5 WR at a discounted price.

Ryan Watterson - Le'Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers (at SD), $8,500
Rueben Randle, WR, New York Giants (vs. SF), $4,400

I'm going with two players this week. First off, while it's important to identify low-cost value players, value isn't just about cost. The point of finding low-cost players is to spend it elsewhere. This week, my high-spend player will be Le'veon Bell in a lot of leagues. He is always a workhorse, but with Michael Vick under center, he figures to be even more involved (he had 29 touches last week). Vick will be more acclimated with the offense this week, but I would expect another conservative gameplan, putting Bell in a position to get a lot of checkdown passes as well. Against a Chargers defense giving up the second-most points to RBs by Draft Kings scoring, he should explode for another huge week.

My low-cost play this week is Rueben Randle. This is a risk/reward play, so probably a better tourney option. Randle has been more productive the last two weeks and will continue to see targets as the only legitimate option opposite Odell Beckham. The Giants take on the Niners, who actually looked decent (defensively, that is) last week holding the Packers offense in check. But that was at home, where they have given up an average of 18.5 points per game. The road is a different story, where they have allowed an average of 45 points per game. And guess where this game is being played? I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Randle post something like a 7/115/1 line this week. He could also go 3/35/0, but thats why it's a risk/reward.

Kevin Hanson - Owen Daniels, TE, Denver Broncos (at OAK), $2,700

My debate here was between St. Louis rookie running back Todd Gurley and Daniels. I'll have ton of exposure to both, but I'll likely have more of Daniels. With DraftKings, there is the ability to play two tight ends (with a flex spot) so playing Daniels doesn't mean you can't play Rob Gronkowski. Although Daniels has scored in back-to-back games, his production has been relatively modest -- 12 catches for 61 yards and two touchdowns over four games.

That said, no team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season than the Raiders. In addition, they have allowed a top-two weekly finish at the position in PPR scoring (DraftKings uses full PPR) in every game this season -- Tyler Eifert (TE2), Crockett Gillmore (TE1), Gary Barnidge (TE2) and Martellus Bennett (TE1). If there's a week that Daniels has a huge game, this is the week. (Or Week 14 for this second matchup with the Raiders.)

Dan Yanotchko - Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers (at NYG), $5,200

I'm going with another tournament play this week, and while I say this rarely, I like Colin Kaepernick this week. He has a great matchup this week against the Giants, who have allowed 316 yards per game an 68-percent completion rate to opposing quarterbacks. Kaepernick does have big game potential as he threw for 335 yards against Pittsburgh, and he has not rushed for less than 40 yards in a game this year as well.

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2015 Fantasy Football: Week 5 Fantasy Quarterback Rankings

Instead of missing the first four games due to league suspension, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is returning from a bye in Week 4.

And with extra motivation to stick it to the league (and all of his opponents), Brady has played as well as ever through the first three weeks of the season. In those games, Brady has averaged 370.67 passing yards and three touchdowns per game with no interceptions thrown.

Of course, his pace will slow, but that's a record-setting pace of 5,931 yards to go along with a 48:0 TD-to-INT ratio over 16 games.

With a minimum of 22.72 fantasy points in all three games, Brady is averaging a league-high 26.19 fantasy points per game. Just as impressive, Brady has finished as a top-six fantasy quarterback in all three games this season.

For what it's worth, the Cowboys have allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. That said, Brady is my top-ranked fantasy quarterback for the week.

Here are some more fantasy football notes on quarterbacks:

  • Philadelphia's Sam Bradford entered Week 4 with three disappointing performances (QB19, QB30 and QB26, respectively) and more interceptions (four) than touchdowns (three) to begin the year. In those games, he averaged just 9.94 fantasy points per outing. From a fantasy perspective, things were much better for Bradford in Week 4 as he threw for 270 yards and three scores. With a matchup against the Saints, who allow the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, Bradford has an opportunity to build some momentum with strong back-to-back fantasy outings.

  • Through one-quarter season, Denver's Peyton Manning has had two solid outings and two single-digit duds. Even so, he has only one weekly top-12 finish and that was exactly that, a QB12 finish. Manning is averaging an un-Peyton-like 242.0 passing yards per game with six touchdowns and five interceptions. Since becoming a Bronco, Manning has four 300-yard games and four three-TD games in six matchups against the Raiders. Perhaps this will be his first top-10 finish of the season, but my expectations for much more than that are tempered by his mediocre start (QB22).

  • Giants quarterback Eli Manning is off to a better start than his brother. Although he threw his first interception of the season on Sunday, Eli has now thrown multiple touchdowns in three consecutive games with seven of them during that span. Eli has back-to-back top-10 finishes and now has the 11th-most fantasy points through four weeks.

  • Sitting out on Sunday, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck has thrown multiple interceptions in five consecutive games including the last season's playoffs. No quarterback has more turnovers since the start of the 2014 season and Luck has thrown more interceptions (seven) than touchdowns (five) so far this season. Although he has thrown for less than 200 yards in four of six matchups against the Texans, his Week 5 opponent, Luck has a career 14:3 TD-to-INT ratio in those six games.

  • It was another strong outing for Cincinnati's Andy Dalton. With the team rushing for four touchdowns, Dalton threw only one touchdown, but he racked up 321 passing yards on 17-of-24 passing for his second consecutive 300-yard game. On the year, Dalton has thrown nine touchdowns to only one interception. Can he keep the positive momentum going with the Legion of Boom coming to town?

  • For the first time this season, Arizona's Carson Palmer did not throw multiple touchdowns, but he threw for a season-high 352 yards against the Rams on Sunday. So far this season, only Aaron Rodgers, Andy Dalton and Cam Newton have scored more fantasy points. (Brady also has more on a per-game basis.) Meanwhile, the Lions have allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks so far this season.

  • San Diego's Philip Rivers is coming off his best fantasy performance -- 358 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Through four games, Rivers is averaging 312.25 passing yards per game with eight touchdowns and four interceptions. After allowing 623 yards and six touchdowns in Weeks 1 and 2, the Steelers secondary has held opposing quarterbacks to under 200 yards in back-to-back games and only one passing score in those two games.

  • Tennessee rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota ranks seventh in fantasy points per game going into Week 5. In fact, he became only the third quarterback in the modern era to begin his career with multiple touchdown passes in each of his first three NFL games. With an 8:2 TD-to-INT ratio, Mariota has only five rush attempts for 25 yards so far, but his dual-threat abilities give him lots of upside in any given week. This week, Mariota will face the Bills, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.

  • Oakland's Derek Carr had a disappointing outing (QB23) against the Bears -- 196 yards, two scores and one pick. While he has a pair of top-eight weekly finishes this season, Carr faces the league's stingiest pass defense in terms of fantasy points allowed this week. Carr will be better left on your bench this week.

Below you find my Week 5 Fantasy Football QB Rankings:

1. Tom Brady, New England Patriots (at DAL)
2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (vs. STL)
3. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (vs. WAS)
4. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts (at HOU)
5. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (at PHI)
6. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals (at DET)
7. Eli Manning, New York Giants (vs. SF)
8. Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills (at TEN)
9. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos (at OAK)
10. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers (vs. PIT)
11. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (at CIN)
12. Sam Bradford, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. NO)
13. Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans (vs. BUF)
14. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears (at KC)
15. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. SEA)
16. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. CHI)
17. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens (vs. CLE)
18. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars (at TB)
19. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (vs. ARI)
20. Josh McCown, Cleveland Browns (at BAL)
21. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders (vs. DEN)
22. Michael Vick, Pittsburgh Steelers (at SD)
23. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers (at NYG)
24. Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins (at ATL)
25. Nick Foles, St. Louis Rams (at GB)

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October 06, 2015

2015 Fantasy Football QB Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 5 to 16

While the season is still young, we are starting to get a better sense of each team's identity.

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

A player's fantasy strength of schedule is far from the most important aspect of his outlook. But if you're debating a pair of players to pick up off the waiver wire (our Week 5 waiver-wire post) and they are otherwise comparable in your view, a more favorable fantasy schedule could potentially break the tie.

Five most favorable SOS for QBs (Weeks 5-16):

1. Denver Broncos (Peyton Manning): 18.37
2. San Diego Chargers (Philip Rivers): 17.72
2. New York Jets (Ryan Fitzpatrick): 17.72
4. Detroit Lions (Matthew Stafford): 17.33
5. Philadelphia Eagles (Sam Bradford): 17.14

Five least favorable SOS for QBs (Weeks 5-16):

32. Oakland Raiders (Derek Carr): 14.47
31. Green Bay Packers (Aaron Rodgers): 14.98
30. New England Patriots (Tom Brady): 15.20
29. Chicago Bears (Jay Cutler): 15.56
28. Cleveland Browns (Josh McCown, Johnny Manziel): 15.90

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

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2015 Fantasy Football RB Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 5 to 16

While the season is still young, we are starting to get a better sense of each team's identity.

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

A player's fantasy strength of schedule is far from the most important aspect of his outlook. But if you're debating a pair of players to pick up off the waiver wire (our Week 5 waiver-wire post) and they are otherwise comparable in your view, a more favorable fantasy schedule could potentially break the tie.

Five most favorable SOS for RBs (Weeks 5-16):

1. Green Bay Packers (Eddie Lacy): 20.00
2. Indianapolis Colts (Frank Gore): 19.93
3. Seattle Seahawks (Marshawn Lynch, Thomas Rawls): 19.81
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Doug Martin, Charles Sims): 19.74
5. Baltimore Ravens (Justin Forsett): 19.41

Five least favorable SOS for RBs (Weeks 5-16):

32. Dallas Cowboys (Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden): 15.96
31. Cleveland Browns (Isaiah Crowell, Duke Johnson): 16.68
30. Houston Texans (Arian Foster): 17.04
29. San Diego Chargers (Melvin Gordon, Danny Woodhead): 17.07
28. New England Patriots (Dion Lewis, LeGarrette Blount): 17.12

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

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2015 Fantasy Football WR Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 5 to 16

While the season is still young, we are starting to get a better sense of each team's identity.

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

A player's fantasy strength of schedule is far from the most important aspect of his outlook. But if you're debating a pair of players to pick up off the waiver wire (our Week 5 waiver-wire post) and they are otherwise comparable in your view, a more favorable fantasy schedule could potentially break the tie.

Five most favorable SOS for WRs (Weeks 5-16):

1. San Diego Chargers (Keenan Allen, Stevie Johnson): 25.24
2. Buffalo Bills (Sammy Watkins, Percy Harvin): 24.76
3. Denver Broncos (Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders): 24.63
4. Cleveland Browns (Travis Benjamin): 24.56
5. Houston Texans (DeAndre Hopkins): 24.39

Five least favorable SOS for WRs (Weeks 5-16):

32. Green Bay Packers (Randall Cobb, James Jones, Davante Adams): 20.17
31. Oakland Raiders (Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree): 20.42
30. Indianapolis Colts (T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief): 20.89
29. Tennessee Titans (Kendall Wright): 21.28
28. Carolina Panthers (Ted Ginn): 21.56

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

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2015 Fantasy Football TE Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 5 to 16

While the season is still young, we are starting to get a better sense of each team's identity.

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

A player's fantasy strength of schedule is far from the most important aspect of his outlook. But if you're debating a pair of players to pick up off the waiver wire (our Week 5 waiver-wire post) and they are otherwise comparable in your view, a more favorable fantasy schedule could potentially break the tie.

Five most favorable SOS for TEs (Weeks 5-16):

1. Denver Broncos (Owen Daniels): 9.61
2. New York Jets: 9.51
3. Kansas City Chiefs (Travis Kelce): 8.78
4. Tennessee Titans (Delanie Walker): 8.48
5. San Diego Chargers (Antonio Gates, Ladarius Green): 8.46

Five least favorable SOS for TEs (Weeks 5-16):

32. Cleveland Browns (Gary Barnidge): 5.46
31. Seattle Seahawks (Jimmy Graham): 6.09
30. St. Louis Rams (Jared Cook): 6.34
29. New York Giants (Larry Donnell): 6.47
28. Buffalo Bills (Charles Clay): 6.54

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

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October 05, 2015

2015 Fantasy Football: Some Waiver-Wire Options Heading Into Week 5

Every week, we examine players that may be available on your league's waiver wire that could help your team in the short- and/or long-term.

For a player to be listed, he must be owned in 50 percent (or less) of Yahoo! leagues. The goal is to provide recommendations of players that have a greater chance of being available on your league's waiver wire.

With that said, here are some waiver-wire options that I like heading into Week 5 (Yahoo! ownership in parenthesis):

[Note: Players listed below are sorted by my preference to add within their position group.]

QB - Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears (owned in 25 percent of Yahoo! leagues)

After missing a game-plus of action, Cutler returned to the field on Sunday and posted solid fantasy numbers -- 28-of-43 passing, 281 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Given his favorable matchup in Week 5 against the Chiefs, Cutler could be a viable streaming option, especially if Alshon Jeffery is able to return this week. Through four games, the Chiefs have allowed opposing quarterbacks to throw for an average of 311.0 yards and 2.75 touchdowns per game.

QB - Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs (25 percent)

Not only is Cutler a potential streaming option in this game, but so is Smith. Fantasy owners shouldn't expect a repeat of 45 pass attempts and 386 yards from Smith, but he has been generally productive this season. Despite any limitations to his game, Smith has three top-12 weekly finishes in four games this season and gets a favorable Week 5 matchup against a bad Bears defense.

RB - Duke Johnson, Cleveland Browns (31 percent)

Surprisingly not targeted as a receiver in either of the team's first two games, Johnson has a total of 15 receptions in his past two games including 9/85/1 receiving in Week 4. With double-digit touches in three consecutive games, Johnson (39 touches) has essentially been in an even timeshare with Isaiah Crowell (40 touches) over that three-game stretch. Going forward, Johnson could regularly see in the neighborhood of 12 to 15 weekly touches and it wouldn't surprise me if he scored more fantasy points than Crowell over the rest of season.

RB - Ronnie Hillman, Denver Broncos (34 percent)

The disappointment for C.J. Anderson fantasy owners continues as CJA was outperformed once again by Hillman. Taking his first carry to the house for a 72-yard touchdown, Hillman finished with 11 carries for 103 yards and the touchdown. Both backs had exactly 11 carries in Week 4 and it's possible that Hillman receives a larger workload in Week 5 (and beyond).

RB - Thomas Rawls, Seattle Seahawks (49 percent)

Not only did Rawls rush for 104 yards in Week 3, but he got the start in place of an inactive Marshawn Lynch in Week 4. It's unclear how long Lynch will be out or if he'll return in Week 5. Especially for Lynch owners, Rawls should be owned as his handcuff, but it's possible that Beast Mode misses a few games.

RB - Christine Michael, Dallas Cowboys (nine percent)

Active for the first time since being acquired by the Cowboys, Michael lost one yard on his only carry on Sunday night. At least initially, he should get more short-yardage and valuable goal-line opportunities going forward. Based on his talent, however, his role should expand and he's talented enough to warrant a stash on your bench if you have the space.

RB - Antonio Andrews, Tennessee Titans (nine percent)

Andrews led the Titans in rushing Week 3 with 12 carries for 49 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Bishop Sankey had just five carries for 10 yards. The Titans had a Week 4 bye, but it's possible that Andrews continues to get the largest share of the workload in the Titans backfield in Week 5 and beyond.

RB - David Johnson, Arizona Cardinals (44 percent)

While Andre Ellington will soon return, perhaps in Week 5, and Chris Johnson has dominated the touches with Ellington out, (David) Johnson has been highly productive on a per-touch basis. Even though he has only 24 touches on the season, he has scored double-digit fantasy points in three of four games this season. Johnson has averaged 5.67 YPC and 15.22 Y/R with four touchdowns -- one rushing, two receiving and one return. Coach Bruce Arians said after Sunday's game, "[Johnson] dropped a touchdown pass pass, he fumbled a ball, and he played like a rookie today," which won't help his workload in the short term but he's a solid stash based on talent.

WR - Nelson Agholor, Philadelphia Eagles (49 percent)

Agholor entered Sunday's game with only four receptions and 36 yards and he nearly tripled his yardage total today with three catches for 67 yards. Even though he lost a fumble on the play immediately following his 45-yard reception, the arrow points up for the first-round rookie receiver. Agholor should eventually parlay his significant playing time into much more production than we've seen up to this point and the Eagles have a favorable Week 5 matchup against the Saints.

WR - Eddie Royal, Chicago Bears (39 percent)

There was plenty of optimism for Royal's fantasy outlook heading into 2015 as he finished as the WR31 in 2014; his best finish since his rookie season (WR19) when he was playing with Cutler in Denver. Royal had just 11 catches for 66 yards entering Week 4, but he finished with seven catches for 54 yards and a score on 10 targets against the Raiders. Once both Cutler and Jeffery are healthy, Royal should more consistently post WR3-type numbers. Royal and the Bears receivers have a great matchup against the Chiefs in Week 5.

WR - Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals (34 percent)

A first-round pick out of Notre Dame a few seasons ago, Floyd had a 1,000-yard campaign in his second NFL season in 2013. Last year was a disappointing season for Floyd and much of the offense in general due to the injuries at quarterback. A hand injury limited his snaps in the first couple of games, but he had his best game (five catches for 59 yards) in Week 4 and he should be more involved in the passing attack going forward.

WR - Allen Hurns, Jacksonville Jaguars (19 percent)

Hurns is coming off his best game of the season (11/116/1), but he now has at least 60 yards in all four games this season. Through four games, Hurns has amassed 22 catches for 314 yards and two scores, which puts him on pace for a line of 88/1,256/8. Jacksonville still ranks near the bottom of the league in offense, but Hurns should continue to draw more favorable matchups with Allen Robinson on the other side. In addition, the Jags will often find themselves in catch-up mode.

WR - Dorial Green-Beckham, Tennessee Titans (18 percent)

Green-Beckham possesses rare size at receiver and the Titans are using DGB's size where it matters most (red zone). While he only has five targets and three receptions, two of his three catches have gone for touchdowns. The talented rookie had to sit out all of last season after transferring from Mizzou, but he was the nation's top high school recruit entering college. With his role likely to expand as the season progresses, DGB could approach eight or so touchdowns this season.

WR - Leonard Hankerson, Atlanta Falcons (19 percent)

While Julio Jones is clearly the team's top receiver, Hankerson has moved into the team's No. 2 receiver role as he has outproduced Roddy White for three consecutive weeks. Hankerson had his best game of the season -- six catches for 103 yards and a score -- and now has 15 receptions for 225 yards and two touchdowns over the past three weeks. At a minimum, I'd prefer Hankerson over White going forward.

WR - Tavon Austin, St. Louis Rams (17 percent)

Austin had his best game of the season with six catches for 96 yards and two touchdowns plus two rushes for 20 yards. Fantasy owners should know not to expect those types of games from Austin on a weekly basis, but the Rams appear focused on involving him more than they have in his first two seasons.

WR - Willie Snead, New Orleans Saints (four percent)

For those in deep(er) leagues, Snead is worth a look. Snead has a minimum of 44 receiving yards in all four games this season and a total of 16 catches for 240 yards and a touchdown through Week 4. That puts him on pace for 960 yards. The Saints have a solid schedule coming up against the Eagles, Falcons, Colts, Giants, Titans and Redskins before their Week 11 bye.

TE - Gary Barnidge, Cleveland Browns (eight percent)

Barnidge followed up a career game with another strong performance -- six catches for 75 yards and a touchdown. For folks in deeper leagues, Barnidge is worth consideration although 6/75/1 lines won't become the norm, but he has 16 targets in the past two games.

TE - Richard Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (16 percent)

Finding the end zone for the second time in three games, Rodgers set season highs with five catches for 45 yards and a score on Sunday in San Francisco. The volume isn't necessarily high for Rodgers, but the second-year tight end could continue to see a bump in targets if receiver Davante Adams misses more time.

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October 04, 2015

Devonta Freeman rushes for 3 TDs (again)

Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman became just the eighth player in NFL history to do it.

After rushing for three touchdowns against the Dallas Cowboys last week, Freeman rushed for another three touchdowns today against the Houston Texans.

Not only did LaDainian Tomlinson do it twice, he did it three times. During a three-game streak in November of 2006, LT rushed 60 times for 381 yards and 10 touchdowns (and added 12/148/1 receiving).

The other players with back-to-back three-TD games are Priest Holmes (twice), Marshall Faulk, Stephen Davis, Terry Allen, Joe Morris and Jim Taylor.

Freeman only carried the ball 14 times, which he turned into 68 yards and the three scores, but he added five catches for 81 yards.

With a 42-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter, the Falcons didn't need to overwork Freeman. Instead Terron Ward led the team in both rush attempts (19) and rushing yards (72) and he scored the team's fourth rushing touchdown of the game.

Over his past two games, Freeman has a total of 209 rushing yards, 4.75 yards per carry and six touchdowns plus 10 receptions for 133 yards.

When Tevin Coleman (ribs) returns, Freeman should continue to get the largest share of the workload given how productive he has been. Atlanta will host the Washington Redskins, who have not allowed a back to rush for more than 53 yards (Lamar Miller, Week 1) this season.

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Brandon Marshall extends 100-yard streak to three games

Going into this morning's game in London, New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall had scored a touchdown in three consecutive games.

While he didn't find the end zone this week, he did extend his streak of 100-yard games to three with seven catches for 128 yards even though the Jets got a career game from running back Chris Ivory.

Only two Jets players have a longer streak of 100-yard games and all three streaks occurred in the 1960s. Don Maynard has a five- and four-game streak of 100-plus yards while George Sauer also has a four-game streak.

The last Jet to record 100-plus yards in three straight games is Al Toon, who last did so in 1988.

Through one-quarter of the season, Marshall has 30 receptions for 400 yards and three touchdowns, which puts him on a 16-game pace of 120/1,600/12.

Marshall and the Jets have a Week 5 bye.

Following the bye, the Jets will host Washington in Week 6. Heading into this week, Marshall, Eric Decker and the Jets receivers had a top-five favorable fantasy strength of schedule.

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Chris Ivory rushes for career-high 166 yards

Despite being active last week, it was a goose egg (no snaps) for New York Jets running back Chris Ivory last week as he watched from the sidelines.

Today at Wembley Stadium in London, Ivory got a heavy workload and made the Miami Dolphins pay.

Carrying the ball 29 times, Ivory rushed for a career-high 166 yards and a touchdown. Ivory now has nine career 100-yard games and his previous career high was 158 yards that he gained in 2010 as a member of the New Orleans Saints.

Since 2000, only two Jets running backs -- Thomas Jones (210 yards) and Curtis Martin (three times -- 203, 196 and 174) -- have rushed for more yards than Ivory's 166 today.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins have now allowed three 100-yard rushers this season -- Alfred Morris (Week 1), Karlos Williams (Week 3) and now Ivory (Week 4).

On the season, Ivory has 63 carries for 314 yards and three touchdowns plus three catches for 12 yards.

Ivory and the Jets have a Week 5 bye. Following the bye, the Jets will host Washington in Week 6.

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Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 25 Fantasy Quarterbacks

Many of the quarterbacks drafted to be fantasy starters have been disappointments so far this season.

Both Tony Romo and Ben Roethlisberger face multi-week absences due to injuries, but other top-tier quarterbacks have struggled with performance. The trio of Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are averaging less than 15.0 fantasy points per game and all rank outside the top-15 fantasy scorers at the position. In addition, Brees missed Week 3 due to a bruised rotator cuff, but it's likely that he returns to the field this week.

One quarterback that has not disappointed fantasy owners is Tom Brady, who currently leads the NFL with 1,112 passing yards and has a 9:0 TD-to-INT ratio through three games. With the NFL's bye weeks beginning this week, however, Brady is one of two quarterbacks with a Week 4 bye.

Since entering the NFL in 2011, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has had his fair share of bad games. As an example, Dalton (19) has more multi-interception games than all quarterbacks not named Philip Rivers (20).

That said, few quarterbacks are off to a better start than Dalton this season.

Not only has Dalton limited his turnovers (only one interception through three games), but only Aaron Rodgers and Brady have scored more fantasy points than he has. In addition, the trio of Rodgers, Brady and Dalton are the only three quarterbacks to have started the season with three consecutive weekly top-12 fantasy finishes this season.

Dalton has thrown for 866 yards with eight touchdowns and has thrown multiple touchdowns in all three games. In addition, he has rushed for another 21 yards and a score.

This week, the Bengals face the Chiefs, who have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.

Here are some more fantasy football notes on quarterbacks:

  • Still unowned in 30 percent of Yahoo! leagues, Buffalo's Tyrod Taylor has thrown three touchdowns in back-to-back games and has finished as the QB6 and QB4, respectively, in those two games. The Giants have allowed three consecutive 300-yard passers to begin the season and no team has allowed more passing yards than the Giants (1,007).

  • No team has scored more points this season than the Cardinals, who have outscored their opponents by a massive 77 points through three games. With such lopsided victories, Carson Palmer is averaging less than 30 pass attempts per game this season, but he has made the most of his 88 pass attempts by averaging 9.1 Y/A with nine touchdowns and just two interceptions. This week's matchup could be more difficult, however, as the Rams have limited opposing quarterbacks to the fourth-fewest fantasy points this season.

  • Oakland's Derek Carr left Week 1 early with an injury, but he has posted strong back-to-back performances. With 300-plus yards and multiple touchdowns in back-to-back games, Carr has finished as a top-eight fantasy quarterback in each of his past two games. Through Week 3, the Bears have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.

  • As noted above, Andrew Luck is off to a disappointing start. Drafted as a top-two fantasy quarterback, 20 signal-callers have scored more fantasy points and Luck has thrown more interceptions (five) than touchdowns (seven). Going back to last season, no quarterback has more turnovers than Luck, who has thrown multiple interceptions in five consecutive games counting the playoffs. In six games against the Jaguars, Luck has averaged 283.7 YPG with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions. The Jags have allowed 350-plus yards and two touchdowns to Ryan Tannehill and Brady in back-to-back weeks. At the moment, however, it's unclear whether Luck (shoulder) will be able to play this week.

  • San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick had a game to forget last Sunday. Throwing for only 67 yards (to his teammates), Kaepernick threw four interceptions including a pair of pick-sixes in the first quarter. Counting the playoffs, Kaepernick has started three games against the Packers, his Week 4 opponent. In those three games, he has 902 passing yards with six touchdowns plus 301 rushing yards and two more scores in three career starts against the Packers.

  • Philadelphia's Sam Bradford has had three disappointing games to start the season -- QB19, QB30 and QB26 -- and is averaging just 226.0 YPG with more interceptions (four) than touchdowns (three). If there's an opportunity for Bradford and the passing offense to break out, it's this week against the Redskins.

Below you find my Week 4 Fantasy Football QB Rankings:

1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (at SF)
2. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (vs. DET)
3. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts (vs. JAX)
4. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals (vs. STL)
5. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (at TB)
6. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (vs. HOU)
7. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. KC)
8. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos (vs. MIN)
9. Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills (vs. NYG)
10. Eli Manning, New York Giants (at BUF)
11. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders (at CHI)
12. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers (vs. CLE)
13. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers (vs. GB)
14. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (vs. DAL)
15. Sam Bradford, Philadelphia Eagles (at WAS)
16. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins (vs. NYJ)
17. Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets (at MIA)
18. Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars (at IND)
19. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs (at CIN)
20. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (at SEA)
21. Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings (at DEN)
22. Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins (vs. PHI)
23. Ryan Mallett, Houston Texans (at ATL)
24. Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. CAR)
25. Brandon Weeden, Dallas Cowboys (at NO)

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2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Week 4 (Hanson)

While Andrew Luck and Colts let me down, last week was otherwise a bounce-back week as three of my four picks covered. I'll look to continue to momentum this week.

With that said, here are my picks against the spread (ATS) for Week 4 of the 2015 NFL season:

Houston Texans +6.5 over Atlanta Falcons (3 units)

With another come-from-behind fourth-quarter win last week, the Falcons have become the first team in NFL history to trail their first three games in the fourth quarter and start the season with a 3-0 record. Ultimately, they got the win (again), but they haven't been doing it in dominating fashion. Well, Julio Jones has been dominant -- 34 catches for 440 yards and four TDs -- this season and Devonta Freeman had a monster game -- 30 carries for 141 yards and three TDs plus 52 receiving yards -- on Sunday, but again the Falcons haven't been blowing teams out.

On the other side of the ball, the Texans offense could get a huge boost if we see the season debut from Arian Foster. Foster is listed as a game-time decision, but his return would help keep the high-flying Falcons offense off the field. While Alfred Blue had a big game last week, Foster is a difference-maker and no team ran the ball more often than the Texans in 2014.

I'm not sure that the Texans will pull off the outright upset, but I do think they keep this game close; close enough to cover the six points.

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

So far this season, the Panthers have allowed only 16.0 points per game, second-best in the NFL behind the Jets (13.7/G). In addition, they are allowing a league-low 5.4 yards per pass attempt and have more intercepted passes (four) than passing touchdowns allowed (two). Their run defense has been nearly as good -- 75.7 yards per game, fourth-lowest in the NFL.

Part of that success can be attributed to the opposition and weak offenses (and bad quarterbacks) -- Jaguars (Blake Bortles), Texans (Ryan Mallett) and Saints (Luke McCown). Given that the Bucs rank in the bottom-seven in both total and scoring offense, however, it could be a long day for rookie Jameis Winston. Especially at this point of his career, Winston may struggle with a few costly mistakes (turnovers) that are difficult to overcome.

Historically, picking on the Bucs has proven to be a successful strategy. In their past 30 games as a home underdog, the Bucs have covered only seven times.

San Diego Chargers -7 over Cleveland Browns (2 units)

The Chargers are 1-2 to start the season, but they rank in the top-five in yardage differential (+77.0/G) despite their losing record. I expect to see a lot of Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead this week against a terrible Browns run defense. Not only did they rank last in the NFL in run defense in 2014, no team has allowed more rushing yards (158.3/G, 4.9 YPC) than the Browns so far this season.

For the Browns, they don't have anyone that scares you on offense. Aside from the speedy Travis Benjamin from Belle Glade, their two leading receivers are Gary Barnidge (who had a great game against the Raiders, but what tight end doesn't it?) and Brian Hartline.

I worry about the injuries to the Chargers offensive line, but I can see this game being a 24-13 type of game with the Chargers getting the win and cover.

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2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Week 4 (Beazley)

Here are my picks against the spread (ATS) for Week 4 of the 2015 NFL season:

New York Giants +5 over Buffalo Bills (3 units)

The Giants are very sneaky in this one on the road. I think Odell Beckham will have a very good game, and if you are playing DFS, he is a great pivot off of Julio Jones, who should be one of the top WRs owned this week.

The Bills will be without both LeSean McCoy and Sammy Watkins. I think the loss of these two playmakers will hurt QB Tyrod Taylor. Taylor has been great so far this year, but I'm not sold on the Bills WR corps led by Percy Harvin and Robert Woods. Watkins hasn't impressed this year in the stat category, but he has drawn the opposition's best CB. Karlos Williams will be the highest-owned DFS target this weekend and I think he makes it four straight games with a TD.

I actually think this game will be decided in the final few seconds. Bills 23 Giants 20

Cincinnati Bengals -4 over Kansas City Chiefs (4 units)

This line seems very off to me. The Bengals have been playing great football while the Chiefs have had a tough time the first three weeks of the season. Andy Dalton has been playing great football, and the return of TE Tyler Eifert to the passing game from last year's injury has given them a huge boost. I think Dalton beats this secondary even with Sean Smith coming back this week. Dalton is a pretty safe DFS cash QB option. I wouldn't put too much stock into Alex Smith's second-half numbers vs. the Packers on Monday Night. It was pretty much all garbage time and I'm off all Kansas City weapons in DFS this week outside of Jamaal Charles. Bengals win big at home, 31-17.

St. Louis Rams +7 over Arizona Cardinals (5 units)

The Cardinals have been on a tear this season. Carson Palmer is arguably the NFC MVP so far this season, but I have a very bad feeling for Palmer and the Cardinals this week. I think the St. Louis pass rush gets to Palmer and he is the next QB to sustain an injury this week. Without Palmer, this team is much different as we saw last year. If Palmer plays the whole game, and odds are that he will, then I still believe the Rams will cover. Division-rivalry games are always close when it's two good teams playing. I'm not as high on the Rams as I was last season, but I think they are good enough to win this one outright. I hope you aren't playing the Cardinals in your survivor pool! Rams 26, Cardinals 24.

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October 03, 2015

2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Week 4 (Yanotchko)

Here are my picks against the spread (ATS) for Week 4 of the 2015 NFL season:

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

The Panthers have started out solid this year, and they have been doing it with great defense and steady quarterback play from Cam Newton.

I love the Panthers this week for what they do well, which is stop the run as they only allow 3.3 yards per carry and 75.7 yards per game. On the other hand, Tampa is very weak against the run as they yield 138 yards per game and 4.0 yards per carry as well.

The Panthers also have history on their side as they have gone 3-1 against the number in their last four games against the Buccaneers. Even though Tampa is at home this week, I still love the Panthers defense blunting the Bucs rushing attack, and they will certainly be able to confuse Jameis Winston, so I will be laying the points here.

New York Giants +5 over Buffalo Bills (2 units)
Bills vs. Giants -- Over 45.5 (2 units)

This game on paper seems to favor the Bills quite a bit, but once you look at the numbers a bit more I feel the scales tip in the Giants favor. We all know that the Bills love to ground and pound, but they will face a tough challenge in a Giants rush defense that gives up 3.4 yards per carry and 74.7 yards per game, which ranks second in the NFL. Another thing is that, yes, the Bills are also stout against the run, but they have one of the worst pass defenses in the league that gives up 327 yards per game to opposing quarterbacks.

While I think the Bills really do have the advantage at home, five points is just way too much for garbage time, and I can certainly see the big play to Odell Beckham for the back-door cover happening here. Both secondaries also give up tons of yards, so that is why the over is easily in play here.

Arizona Cardinals -7 over St. Louis Rams (2 units)

This is also another game that speaks to blow out city with the way that Arizona's offense has been clicking, and also the Rams futility on the road being in play. I do love the Cardinals this week, because again they excel at stopping the run by only giving up 88.7 yards per game and 3.5 yards per carry.

The Rams do have an amazing front-seven, but they are still weak against the run, as they give up 122.7 yards per game and 4.0 yards per carry. Also, history once again favors the Cardinals, as they are 4-0 against the Rams with the number, and 6-2 at home against the spread vs. the Rams in their last eight. I just don't think Nick Foles can hang with the explosive Cardinals offense on the road, and so I am willing to give the 7 in this divisional game.

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2015 Fantasy Football: Start'em, Sit'em for Week 4

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

As an example, Andy Dalton is listed below as a "start" for Week 4. And I'd feel very comfortable going into Week 4 with him as my starting quarterback.

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

In other words, if you owned both Aaron Rodgers and Dalton, you should start Rodgers -- and in turn, bench Dalton.

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

With that said, here are some players to potentially start in Week 4:

QB - Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. KC)

Off to a great start, Dalton has finished as the weekly QB9, QB11 and QB2 in his first three games, respectively, and thrown multiple touchdowns in each of those games. On the year, he has averaged 288.67 yards per game with eight passing touchdowns (plus one rushing score) and only one interception. No team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than the Chiefs, who have allowed a total of eight passing scores to Peyton Manning and Rodgers in their last two games.

QB - Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders (at CHI)

Although he was seventh in the NFL in pass attempts (599) as a rookie, Carr reached the 300-yard milestone in only one game. In his second season, Carr already has two 300-yard games and currently ranks 12th among quarterbacks in fantasy points scored. In a favorable matchup against the Bears, who allow the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, Carr could post a third consecutive top-12 finish in Week 4.

RB - Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders (at CHI)

Few running backs are positioned better in terms of projected workload and favorable matchup than Murray. Murray has a minimum of 18 touches in all three games this season including 26 carries for 139 yards and a score last week against the Browns. The Bears are currently allowing 4.7 yards per carry, sixth-most in the NFL. With back-to-back top-eight weekly finishes and the fifth-most fantasy points on the year, Murray enters the weekend as a top-three running back for me.

RB - Frank Gore, Indianapolis Colts (vs. JAX)

Against the Bills and Jets, Gore finished as the RB50 or worse in both games, but Gore would have had a much better finish against the Jets had he not coughed up the ball near the goal line. Last week, he carried the ball 14 times for 86 yards and two scores against the Titans. With Andrew Luck (shoulder) status in question this week, Gore should see a significant workload against the Jaguars and have another productive outing this week.

RB - T.J. Yeldon, Jacksonville Jaguars (at IND)

If the Jags can keep this game close, Yeldon should see a significant workload as well. In the team's win in Week 2, Yeldon carried the ball 25 times for 70 yards. The Jags are averaging only 16.3 points per game, tied for third-worst in the NFL, but the Colts have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points this season. The offensive game plan should center around featuring Yeldon early and often.

RB - Karlos Williams, Buffalo Bills (vs. NYG)

In a secondary role (in terms of volume, not production) to LeSean McCoy, Williams has been highly productive on a per-touch basis (7.8 YPC) so far this season. The only player to rush for a touchdown in all three games this season, Williams should be in line for a significant workload with McCoy ruled out for Week 4. Despite his limited touches, Williams enters the week as a top-10 fantasy scorer among running backs and has a massive 1.47 fantasy points per touch this season.

- Related: Williams was my favorite DraftKings play in our Week 4 DFS Roundtable

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

Not only does Fitzgerald have at least eight targets, six receptions and 87 yards in all three games, but he's been downright dominant in each of his past two games. In Weeks 2 and 3 combined, Fitzgerald has 17 catches for 246 yards and five touchdowns. FIVE TDs! While he may not exceed 100 yards with multiple touchdowns for a third straight game, only Julio Jones has scored more fantasy points than Fitzgerald through Week 3.

WR - Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders (at CHI)

Cooper has back-to-back games with at least seven catches, 11 targets and 109 yards. Through three weeks, only six receivers have more yards than Cooper and two of those have already played on Thursday night. Cooper is set up for another big week as the Bears have surrendered the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing receivers. If he extends his 100-yard game streak to three games, he would be the first Raiders receiver to do so since Tim Brown in 1999.

WR - James Jones, Green Bay Packers (at SF)

With Davante Adams expected to miss Week 4, Jones is the team's clear No. 2 receiver this week although he has been the second-most productive Packers wideout behind Randall Cobb. Through three games, Jones has 12/219/4 as Aaron Rodgers continues to carve up opposing secondaries. No team is projected to score more points than the Packers this week and the 49ers have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing receivers. Given his touchdown rate as a Packer, few receivers have as high of a ceiling as Jones.

WR - Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders (at CHI)

Is there some kind of law that prevents me from listing four Raiders as starts? I feel like there should be, but even so, Cooper isn't the only viable starting fantasy receiver on the Raiders. With a huge Week 2 performance sandwiched by a pair of modest outings, Crabtree has a total of 18/184/1 through three games. While the game lines are a bit inconsistent (5/37, 9/111/1 and 4/36), he is seeing a steady stream of targets (eight-plus in all three games). I have Crabtree ranked as a low-end WR2 this week.

TE - Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears (vs. OAK)

Even if Jimmy Clausen starts for the Bears, Bennett is a top-two fantasy tight end for the week. Not only have the Raiders allowed the most fantasy points to tight ends, but they are allowing opposing tight ends to post career games week in and week out. The Raiders have allowed three consecutive top-four fantasy finishes to tight ends -- Tyler Eifert (9/104/2, TE4), Crockett Gillmore (5/88/2, TE1) and Gary Barnidge (6/105/1, TE2).

TE - Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills (vs. NYG)

Clay has scored a touchdown and has been the recipient of at least six targets in back-to-back games. In addition, he has finished as a top-11 fantasy tight end in both of those games. With the Giants allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends and Sammy Watkins sidelined, Clay could post another top-12 finish in Week 4.

Here are some players to potentially sit in Week 4:

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

Tannehill has multiple touchdowns in back-to-back games, but he also threw three interceptions last Sunday as well. Finishing as the QB18 or worse of two of three games, Tannehill has his most difficult matchup of the week in the first London game of the season. Only the Broncos have allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than the Jets.

QB - Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (at SEA)

Only Joe Flacco (159) and Tom Brady (133) have as many pass attempts as Stafford (128) so far this season, but Stafford is averaging just 6.36 Y/A and has thrown as many interceptions (five) as touchdowns (five). In each of the team's first three games, Stafford has finished outside the top-15 fantasy quarterbacks for the week. Going on the road to Seattle certainly doesn't bode well for fantasy owners' hopes of a top-12 finish as no team is projected by Vegas to score fewer points than the Lions in Week 4.

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

Once again, it's a modest amount of touches for Miller. Miller is averaging just 10.0 carries and 13.0 touches per game to begin the season. The good news is that Miller isn't listed on the injury report. That said, it's difficult to trust Miller with the coaching staff limiting his touches in a less-than-ideal matchup against the Jets. The Jets have limited opponents to 3.6 yards per carry, seventh-fewest in the NFL.

RB - Alfred Morris, Washington Redskins (vs. PHI)

After dominating the team's touches in Week 1, Morris has ranked second on the team in touches in back-to-back games behind rookie Matt Jones. Jones has lost a fumble in each of those games, so perhaps the larger share of the workload shifts back to Morris this week, but ball-security issues aside, Jones has been much more productive. The rookie is averaging 5.37 YPC (30 carries for 161 yards) compared to only 3.25 YPC (24 carries for 78 yards) for Morris.

RB - Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (at BUF)

Going into the 2015 season, the biggest concern with Jennings was his durability as he averaged 17.9 touches per game in his first season with the Giants. This year, that average has dropped to 12.67 per game as the trio of Jennings (38 touches), Shane Vereen (27) and Andre Williams (26) form a three-headed committee backfield. In a difficult matchup against the Bills, Jennings should remain on your bench.

WR - Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars (at IND)

After a disappointing one-catch performance in Week 1, Robinson has 10 catches for 243 yards and two touchdowns in his past two games. Only 22 years old, Robinson was one of my favorite breakout players going into the season, but he faces a tough matchup in Week 4. Assuming that he draws Vontae Davis in shadow coverage, we could see modest production from the young Jags receiver and he's ranked outside my top-24 fantasy receivers for the week.

WR - Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. CAR)

With Mike Evans sitting Week 1 out, V-Jax was targeted 11 times. In the past two games, however, he has only nine targets total. Through three games, he has just nine catches for 145 yards and a touchdown. Against the stingy Panthers pass defense, which has allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing receivers, this may not be the week that V-Jax gets his first top-30 finish of the season.

WR - Golden Tate, Detroit Lions (at SEA)

Facing one of the league's top secondaries, it's unlikely that we see a big outing from Detroit's passing attack. Tate does have at least seven targets in each game as Stafford ranks third in the NFL in pass attempts, as noted above, but Tate has finished as the WR74, WR44 and WR52, respectively, in his three games this season. There may be a revenge factor facing his former team, but it's unlikely that he has a big game this week without a touchdown. And as noted above, no team is projected to score fewer points than Detroit.

WR - Mike Wallace, Minnesota Vikings (at DEN)

In their opening-week loss, Teddy Bridgewater threw the ball 32 times. In their past two games, both wins, Bridgewater has averaged 21 pass attempts per game. Given the potentially low volume as the team uses AP as their workhorse, there is little reason to be excited about any of the Vikings receivers. There is even less excitement in a week where they face the defense that has allowed the fewest fantasy points to the position.

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

The Bills secondary allowed Gronk to haul in seven catches for 113 yards and a touchdown in Week 2, but they have limited all other tight ends they have faced (Jordan Cameron, Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener, etc.) to 23 yards or less this season. Meanwhile, Donnell has 21, 28 and 32 receiving yards in his three games this season. In fact, ever since Odell Beckham made his NFL debut, Donnell has a 15-game line of 48/468/3 (compared to 25/236/4 in the four games ODB missed last year).

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Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS): Week 4 Values for FanDuel Contests

In a salary-cap format like FanDuel, the key to long-term profitability is finding players that are undervalued compared to their salaries.

Most of the players that I've listed in this post will be values in both absolute and relative terms, but the focus is on relative values. In other words, the players listed may not carry bargain-bin price tags, but my ranking for all players on this list is more favorable than their corresponding FanDuel price tag.

With that said, here are some of my favorite value plays for Week 4:

QB - Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (vs. DET), $8,200

It's been a slower-than-expected start for Wilson, fantasy's QB10 through three weeks. And in those three games, Wilson has finished no better than QB9. That said, Wilson enters Week 4 as my QB2 behind only Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers yet five quarterbacks have a higher cost than Wilson this week. Through three weeks, the Lions are allowing opposing passers to complete 78.2 percent of their pass attempts for 8.7 Y/A, both of which rank in the bottom-three in the NFL.

QB - Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. KC), $7,600

Off to a great start, Dalton has finished as the weekly QB9, QB11 and QB2 in his first three games, respectively, and thrown multiple touchdowns in each game. On the year, he has averaged 288.67 yards per game with eight touchdowns and only one interception and has a rushing score. No team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than the Chiefs, who have allowed eight passing scores to Peyton Manning and Rodgers over their past two games.

QB - Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders (at CHI), $7,000

Although he was seventh in the NFL in pass attempts (599) as a rookie, Carr reached the 300-yard milestone in only one game. In his second season, Carr already has two 300-yard games and he currently ranks 12th among quarterbacks in fantasy points scored. In a favorable matchup against the Bears, who allow the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, Carr is a nice value with 16 quarterbacks priced higher in Week 4.

RB - Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders (at CHI), $7,500

Regardless of price, few running backs are in a better position in terms of projected workload and favorable matchup than Murray. Murray has a minimum of 18 touches in all three games this season including 26 carries for 139 yards and a score last week against the Browns. Priced by FanDuel as the RB10, Murray has back-to-back top-eight weekly finishes and is a top-three back for me regardless of price.

RB - Melvin Gordon, San Diego Chargers (vs. CLE), $6,800

Yet to score his first NFL touchdown, Gordon currently ranks 13th in the NFL in rushing yards (190) with at least 14 carries in each game this season. After ranking last in the NFL in rush defense in 2014, the Browns are giving up a league-high 158.3 rushing yards per game at a rate of 4.9 yards per carry. Favored by a touchdown, the Chargers should play much of this game with a lead allowing Gordon to get a healthy workload. Week 4 sets up nicely for MG3 to have a breakout game.

RB - T.J. Yeldon, Jacksonville Jaguars (at IND), $6,400

It's unclear whether Andrew Luck (shoulder) will play and while he isn't off to a great start, his absence would help keep this game close. Meanwhile, the Jags should give Yeldon a massive workload if they can keep this game close. In their lone win on the year, Yeldon had 28 touches -- 25 carries and three receptions. In addition, the Colts have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

RB - Karlos Williams, Buffalo Bills (vs. NYG), $6,300

In a secondary role (in terms of volume, not production) to LeSean McCoy, Williams has been highly productive on a per-touch basis (7.8 YPC) so far this season. The only player to rush for a touchdown in all three games this season, Williams should be in line for a significant workload with McCoy already ruled out for Week 4. Inside my top-10 rankings, Williams is priced as Week 4's RB32 offering fantasy owners plenty of upside and value.

- Related: Williams was my favorite DraftKings play in our Week 4 DFS Roundtable

WR - Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals (vs. STL), ($7,400)

Not only does Fitzgerald have at least eight targets, six receptions and 87 yards in all three games, but he's been downright dominant in each of his past two games. In Week 2 and 3 combined, Fitzgerald has 17 catches for 246 yards and five touchdowns. FIVE TDs! While he may not exceed 100 yards and score multiple touchdowns for a third straight game, Fitzgerald has an extremely high floor and ceiling even though 14 receivers carry a higher Week 4 price tag.

WR - Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders (at CHI), $7,200

Cooper has back-to-back games with at least seven catches, 11 targets and 109 yards. Through three weeks, only six receivers have more yards than Cooper and two of those have already played on Thursday night. Set up for another big week as the Bears have surrendered the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing receivers, Cooper owns a modest cost (WR18) this week.

WR - Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles (at WAS), $7,000

While Matthews and the Eagles offense are off to a worse-than-expected start, Matthews has 22 catches and 30 targets through three games and a minimum of six catches in each of those games. The strength of Washington's defense is slowing down the run and I'd expect Philadelphia to try to exploit a relatively weak secondary. Matthews is my 11th-ranked receiver this week compared to his FanDuel cost of WR19.

WR - James Jones, Green Bay Packers (at SF), $6,000

With Davante Adams all but ruled out, Jones is the team's clear No. 2 receiver this week although he has been the second-most productive Packers wideout behind Randall Cobb. Through three games, Jones has 12/219/4 as Rodgers continues to carve up opposing secondaries. No team is projected to score more points than the Packers this week and the 49ers have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing receivers. Given his touchdown rate as a Packer, few receivers have as high of a ceiling as Jones.

WR - John Brown, Arizona Cardinals (vs. STL), $5,800

While I had Fitzgerald ranked higher than Brown in my preseason rankings, I expected Brown to take a step forward in 2015. So far, that hasn't happened with Fitzgerald's strong performances and the team blowing their opponents out (+77 differential through three games). Assuming a closer game this week, the Cardinals could throw it more often, setting up the speedy second-year wideout for a nice outing.

WR - Michael Crabtree, Oakland Raiders (at CHI), $5,800

With a huge Week 2 performance sandwiched by a pair of modest outings, Crabtree has a total of 18/184/1 through three games. While the game lines are a bit inconsistent (5/37, 9/111/1 and 4/36), he is seeing a steady stream of targets (eight-plus in all three games). While rookie Amari Cooper is clearly the better option, Crabtree offers nice value as a much cheaper option in this favorable matchup.

TE - Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears (vs. OAK), $5,500

Even if Jimmy Clausen starts for the Bears, Bennett is the obvious choice on FanDuel this week. With eight tight ends carrying a higher cost, Bennett is a top-two option for the week. The Raiders have allowed three consecutive tight ends post a top-four fantasy finish -- Tyler Eifert (9/104/2, TE4), Crockett Gillmore (5/88/2, TE1) and Gary Barnidge (6/105/1, TE2).

- Week 4 DFS FanDuel Cheat Sheet

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October 01, 2015

2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Week 4 (Trifone)

Here are my picks against the spread (ATS) for Week 4 of the 2015 NFL season:

Jacksonville Jaguars +8.5 over Indianapolis Colts (4 units)

It appears that Andrew Luck is dealing with a shoulder injury. It won't keep him out of the game, but it contributes to explaining why the Colts offense has been thoroughly unimpressive. They did pick up their first win of the season in a tight game against the Titans last week, but they still struggled on both sides of the ball.

Jacksonville is a bad team, but in a division game against what looks like a marginal team, I think this is too many points. I particularly liked it at the beginning of the week, at 9.5 or 10 depending on the site, but I still like it at 8.5.

New York Giants +5.5 over Buffalo Bills (4 units)

The Giants are a couple moronic plays away from being 3-0, and if that was the case, this spread would probably be in the range of Buffalo giving a point or two. Instead, the Giants are getting 5.5 in a game between what I feel are comparable teams.

Buffalo has a great defense, but they did get shredded badly by New England. The Giants offense has not looked as good as it should in my opinion thus far, but Eli Manning has not been turning the ball over. If he can continue that trend, I think this will be a close game, and I'm happy to take the points here.

Kansas City Chiefs +4.5 over Cincinnati Bengals (3 units)

The Bengals are off to a great start behind some amazing offensive production from Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. The Chiefs started out looking quite impressive but are coming off a beating at the hands of Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Still, Rodgers makes most teams look bad.

The Chief offense starting putting things together a little more in the second half, but it's their defense and pass rush as to why I like them to at least keep this one close. Kansas City needs it more to stay in the hunt, and I think they will rise to the occasion. I like them to win outright in Cincy, so I'll definitely grab the 4.5.

- Note: We will track all of our 2015 NFL Picks Against the Spread here.

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2015 Fantasy Football: 6 Undervalued PPR Options for Week 4

As Week 4 is upon us, things are starting to take shape and we can begin to have more faith that the results from the first three weeks may hold some water. Of course, there is a lot of time left and without question things will change. But it would be wise to begin taking caution on struggling studs and going with a wait-and-see approach, or believing in late rounders that have been producing as regular starters.

As always, it’s about maximizing your weekly lineup; don’t let preconceived notions alter that goal when there is enough relevant information to work with.

Week 3 was a solid week overall, with positive results for all positions except tight end, which only had a minimal loss.

Week 3 Results
QBsRBsWRsTEsTotal
+12.5+6.2+43.7-2.4+60.0
YTD Results
QBsRBsWRsTEsTotal
+24.2+11.3+1.1-7.0+29.6

* Stats are based on players recommended (compared to options listed to start those players over).

Best of the week -- Larry Fitzgerald +42.2: Pretty crazy when scoring 34 points doesn’t even crack the top-five WRs for the week. Regardless, Fitz had a huge game while Jordan Matthews was underwhelming. Calvin Johnson turned in a decent stat line, but still nearly 20 points less than Fitz.

Runner up -- Andy Dalton +10.1: Dalton put up a great outing, finishing as the No. 2 QB on the week. Drew Brees didn’t end up playing, so his outing doesn’t count towards the totals, which left only Tyrod Taylor. Taylor had a nice showing in his own right, but Dalton outscored him by 10 points.

Worst of the week -- Eric Ebron -2.4 : Ebron was the only player from my Week 3 picks that had a negative score. Even then, he probably should have outscored Witten, as he dropped about a 30-yard pass that was very catchable. Regardless, Witten put up a decent showing and finished one spot above Ebron in the TE standings.

Quarterbacks

Tyrod Taylor – Buffalo Bills
FantasyPros ECR – 9

It’s time to start believing in Taylor as a legit fantasy QB. The funny thing is he hasn’t been solely dependent on his running ability for production. He has been performing well as a passer and that makes him a true dual-threat QB. The Giants haven’t been great against QBs this year, ranking 11th in most FPPG. Their defensive pass efficiency is in a similar range, so it tells the same story. To be honest, it's somewhat surprising given their solid CBs, but the numbers don’t lie. I like Taylor to continue his breakout with another top-five performance.

Consider starting him over:
- Carson Palmer – ECR 6. I know – it seems crazy given how ridiculous Palmer has been to start the season. But consider this – the Steelers are no slouch offensively and they were struggling mightily against the Rams defense well before Big Ben went down with the injury. I am not suggesting Palmer is going to struggle, but I would expect something closer to the back end of QB1 production this week.
- Matt Ryan – ECR 5. Ryan has been solid this season, not spectacular. It helps having Julio Jones. Regardless, he hasn’t seen a defense like the Texans so far this season. They haven’t been the dominant defense some thought they would be, but they still are far more talented than any of the defense the Falcons have faced this year. If Ryan is the No. 8 QB against lesser defenses than Houston, I don’t have a ton of confidence he will improve on that this week.

Running Backs
DeMarco MurrayPhiladelphia Eagles
FantasyPros ECR – 39

This is all dependent on whether or not he will play this weekend. He practiced towards the end of last week and didn’t play, so the fact he is practicing this week makes me think he was inactivated for precautionary reasons. If he doesn’t look to be a full go on Sunday, then sit him accordingly. But if he does play and is expected to jump into a full workload, he is worth a shot. A complete disappointment to this point, most of that has not been his fault. The offensive line gave him almost no room to run and he was hit in the backfield often. Let’s not forget this guy is still very talented. The Eagles started to put together a run game last week against a stout Jets defense, so perhaps things are starting to turn for this offense. I am not expecting high-end RB1 numbers by any means, but would be very surprised if he didn’t outproduce his current ECR.

Consider starting him over:
- Lamar Miller – ECR 27. Miller (and the Dolphins as a whole) have been one of the biggest disappointments this year. He has yet to crack 10 points in any week and faces a Jets defense that is No. 1 against the run in efficiency.
- Doug Martin – ECR 34. Martin currently ranks as the 47th RB in total fantasy points. So much for his return to glory. Charles Sims is getting more involved as the passing down back, and considering how bad this team is, they will likely be behind on the scoreboard early in most games.

Chris JohnsonArizona Cardinals
FantasyPros ECR – 33

I would be surprised if Andre Ellington were to play this week, reports say that he is 50/50 at best and is still clearly limited by his PCL injury. The Cardinals would be wise to get him closer to 100%, but if he does play, then please ignore this recommendation. Operating under the assumption he sits, I like Chris Johnson this week. Last week against the Niners, he showed flashes of his old self. I was down on him a few weeks ago, but it appears he may still have something left in the tank and perhaps he just needed to adapt given his late signing with the Cardinals. As good as the Rams have been against the pass, they are actually not that great against the run. The have surrendered the seventh-most fantasy points to RBs so far this season. Given the strong passing game the Cardinals boast, that should leave some open lanes for Johnson to exploit.

Consider starting him over:
- Matt Jones – ECR 26. Given all of the talk over the last week about how Morris is still the lead dog and the attempts to explain away his low usage last Thursday, I expect a heavy dose of Morris this week. Not to mention, Philly is no slouch against the run, ranking eighth in efficiency and FPPG allowed to RBs.
- Lamar Miller – ECR 16. See above.

Wide Receivers
Steve SmithBaltimore Ravens
FantasyPros ECR – 12

This may seem like a reaction to last week’s performance, and I guess in some ways it is. But this has more to do with the matchup. The Ravens are desperate and get a game against the rival Steelers, who rank 29th in efficiency against WR1’s. Joe Flacco really has no one else to throw to on a consistent basis, so Smith will be peppered with targets and I wouldn’t expect much resistance from the Steelers secondary. Given their struggles in finishing close games this year, I would expect them to keep their foot on the gas all game to get as much of a lead as possible to avoid another fourth-quarter letdown.

Consider starting him over:
- Emmanuel Sanders – ECR 9. The Broncos are 3-0 in spite of their offense, which really only had one good half of football against the Chiefs in Week 2. Other than that, they look nothing like last year’s offense. Minnesota has looked good defensively this season, ranking 12th against the pass in efficiency. Given the Broncos are essentially one-dimensional right now, they will be easier to defend and Sanders will fall short of his ECR.

Michael CrabtreeOakland Raiders
FantasyPros ECR – 25

It’s been a long time since anyone has been able to say this with any level of sincerity – I love the Raiders offense this week. They have looked good in the past two weeks and have the talent to continue to do so. This week, they get the Bears defense, who are about as bad as it gets defensively by almost any metric. While Amari Cooper and Latavius Murray will get their production, Crabtree is also in line for a big week, as the Bears rank 30th in efficiency against WR2’s.

Consider starting him over:
- Pierre Garcon – ECR 24. You could make the argument that the Eagles give up the fourth-most FPPG to WRs, and that’s legitimate. I would say that is likely misleading given their top-10 in efficiency against the pass. I think it has a lot to do with the fact they couldn’t move the ball at all in the first two weeks, giving a lot of possessions (while wearing down their defense) to their opponents. Again, their offense got something going last week and I think that will continue. As a result, I think Garcon will underwhelm this week.
- Mike Evans – ECR 18. Panthers rank No. 7 against WR1’s. Jameis Winston is still throwing the ball. Maybe Evans has a big week, he certainly has the talent, but I am willing to take the risk given the other variables outside of his control.

Percy HarvinBuffalo Bills
FantasyPros ECR – 32

I would consider him regardless this week, but especially if Sammy Watkins sits this week. Harvin continues to be highly involved in the offense (leads the Bills in targets) and has shown a good rapport with Tyrod Taylor. The Giants aren’t great against the pass as mentioned previously, giving Harvin an opportunity to do some damage with his expected increase in targets if Watkins is a no go.

Consider starting him over:
- Pierre Garcon – ECR 24. See above.
- Vincent Jackson – ECR 31. For many of the same reasons I described about Mike Evans. Only Jackson isn’t targeted nearly as often and appears to be losing a step at age 32.

Tight End

Sorry folks – no real sleeper tight ends I see this week, at least no enough to recommend them. I will say I think Jason Witten has a solid game against the Saints, but I can’t recommend sitting anyone ranked ahead of him. If you’re desperate, Gary Barnridge would be a flier. Hard to recommend him based on one good outing, but if you’re out of options, plug him in and pray.

Thanks for reading and good luck in Week 4!

Check out my full Week 4 Fantasy Football PPR Rankings and follow me on twitter @rw11687.

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