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January 27, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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January 20, 2017

Fantasy Football Rankings: Conference Championship Fantasy TE Rankings

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

Here are our Conference Championship fantasy tight end rankings:

1. Jared Cook, Green Bay Packers

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

2. Martellus Bennett, New England Patriots

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

3. Ladarius Green, Pittsburgh Steelers

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

4. Jesse James, Pittsburgh Steelers

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

5. Levine Toilolo, Atlanta Falcons

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

6. Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons

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

7. Richard Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

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

Conference Championship Round Fantasy Football Rankings:

Conference Championship Round DFS Cheat Sheets:

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January 19, 2017

Fantasy Football Rankings: Conference Championship Fantasy WR Rankings

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

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

1. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers

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

2. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons

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

3. Julian Edelman, New England Patriots

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

4. Ty Montgomery, Green Bay Packers

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

5. Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers

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

6. Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers

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

7. Taylor Gabriel, Atlanta Falcons

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

8. Mohamed Sanu, Atlanta Falcons

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

9. Eli Rogers, Pittsburgh Steelers

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

10. Chris Hogan, New England Patriots

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

11. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers

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

12. Malcolm Mitchell, New England Patriots

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

13. Geronimo Allison, Green Bay Packers

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

Here are the best of the rest:

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

Conference Championship Round Fantasy Football Rankings:

Conference Championship Round DFS Cheat Sheets:

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Fantasy Football Rankings: Conference Championship Fantasy RB Rankings

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

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

1. Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers

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

2. Devonta Freeman, Atlanta Falcons

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

3. Tevin Coleman, Atlanta Falcons

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

4. Dion Lewis, New England Patriots

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

5. LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots

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

6. Aaron Ripkowski, Green Bay Packers

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

7. James White, New England Patriots

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

8. Christine Michael, Green Bay Packers

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

Conference Championship Round Fantasy Football Rankings:

Conference Championship Round DFS Cheat Sheets:

Also, check out my 2017 NFL Mock Draft.

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January 18, 2017

Fantasy Football Rankings: Conference Championship Fantasy QB Rankings

And then there were four.

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

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

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

1. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

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

2. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers

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

3. Tom Brady, New England Patriots

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

4. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers

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

Conference Championship Round Fantasy Football Rankings:

Conference Championship Round DFS Cheat Sheets:

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January 15, 2017

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

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

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

GREEN BAY PACKERS

Quarterbacks

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

Running Backs

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

Wide Receivers

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

Tight Ends

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

DALLAS COWBOYS

Quarterbacks

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

Running Backs

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

Wide Receivers

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

Tight Ends

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

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January 13, 2017

Divisional Round Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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January 01, 2017

Week 17 NFL Picks Against the Spread (Beazley)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Houston Texans +4 over Tennessee Titans (5 Units)

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

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Week 17 NFL Picks Against the Spread (Hanson)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Week 17 NFL Picks Against the Spread (Trifone)

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

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

Chicago Bears +6.5 over Minnesota Vikings (5 Units)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Denver Broncos -1.5 over Oakland Raiders (4 Units)

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

- Note: All of our NFL picks against the spread will be centralized here.

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