October 21, 2014

POLL: Will DeMarco Murray rush for 100+ Yards in Week 8?

Not only did Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray close the 2014 season strong, but he's more than picked up from where he left off.

Through seven weeks of the 2014 NFL season, Murray has done something that no other player in the history of the league has done by rushing for 100-plus yards in his first seven games of the season.

(Hall-of-Famer Jim Brown is second with six consecutive 100-yard games to begin a season.)

Murray leads the NFL in rushing (913 yards) by a wide margin — Houston's Arian Foster is second with 615 yards — and is on a record-breaking pace of 427 carries. Murray has yet to have less than 22 carries in any game in this season.

In his last game against Washington, Murray carried the ball 22 times for 96 yards and a score. Washington has allowed just one 100-yard rusher (Foster, Week 1) this season.

Will Murray rush for 100 yards on Monday Night Football? Or will his streak end at seven games?



Fantasy Football Rest-of-Season (ROS) Rankings: Weeks 8 to 16

Earlier today, I updated my rest-of-season (ROS) fantasy football rankings.

The point of these rankings is to tell you who I would rather have for the remainder of the season (through Week 16) and can be used to help with waiver-wire and trade decisions.

Here are our updated ROS quarterback rankings:

1. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
2. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
3. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
4. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
5. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
-> View our full ROS Fantasy Quarterback Rankings

Here are our updated ROS running back rankings:

1. DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys
2. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears
3. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
4. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles
5. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks
-> View our full ROS Fantasy Running Back Rankings

Here are our updated ROS wide receiver rankings:

1. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos
2. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers
3. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
4. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions
5. Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
-> View our full ROS Fantasy Wide Receiver Rankings

Here are our updated ROS tight end rankings:

1. Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos
2. Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints
3. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
4. Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
5. Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers
-> View our full ROS Fantasy Tight End Rankings

I will publish my initial Week 8 fantasy football rankings within the next 24 hours.

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

Here are my Week 8 picks against the spread:

Houston Texans -1.5 over Tennessee Titans (5 units)

The Steelers/Texans game on Monday night was one of the strangest games of the year. The Texans dominated the first half, only to give up 24 points in the last few minutes of the half - mostly on fluke turnovers deep in their own territory. Houston is the much better team here, and I expect their defense to keep the Titans scoring to a minimum.

St. Louis Rams +7 over Kansas City Chiefs (3 units)

At first glance, most people would think that the Chiefs are the better team here. They're coming off an impressive win over San Diego. However, the Rams are coming off a pretty impressive win of their own over the defending Super Bowl Champions. On a neutral field, I think this is actually close to a pick'em game. I'll give the Chiefs the 3-point home field advantage, but I'll take the Rams getting 6.5 here.

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Chicago Bears +6.5 over New England Patriots (4 units)

The Bears could be on their way to totally falling out of the playoff hunt just midway through the season. After the Patriots, the Bears have a bye and then go to Green Bay, so 3-6 through 9 games is very realistic. They need to win this week to get back to .500 going into the bye week.

New England has been all over the map as far as what analysts think of them. After three weeks, I heard commentators say that they had worse offensive talent than any team in the league, including the Jets. Three weeks later, they were Super Bowl contenders. Then a relatively dud game against the Jets on Thursday and they're marginal again. Week to week, it's hard to tell which Patriots team is going to show up. I think they'll probably win this one, but the Bears certainly have a chance, and will likely keep it to a one-score game.

Note: NFL lines are from sportsbook.ag

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

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Reggie Wayne (elbow) may "miss a game or two"

Although Colts receiver Reggie Wayne downplayed the elbow injury that he suffered in Sunday's shutout win, it appears that the injury will keep him out of this week's game, and possibly more.

Per Mike Chappell of ABC 6 in Indianapolis, Wayne's injury, while not serious, "could force him to miss a game or two."

Wayne has 38 receptions for 434 yards and a touchdown in seven games.

On the season, Wayne ranks 36th among wide receivers in fantasy points in standard-scoring formats (27th in PPR). He has finished as a top-25 receiver only once this year.

Meanwhile, teammate T.Y. Hilton has finished as a top-25 option in four consecutive weeks. During that four-week span, Hilton has 90-plus yards in each game and has a total of 31 catches for 525 yards with a touchdown.

If Wayne misses this week's game against the Steelers, Hakeem Nicks would see his role expand, but he has finished outside the top-60 fantasy wide receivers in four consecutive weeks and has just seven catches for 59 yards during that stretch.

The Steelers have allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers through Week 7.



Report: Pierre Thomas (shoulder) to miss the next 2-3 weeks

New Orleans Saints running back Pierre Thomas is going to miss 2-3 weeks with a shoulder injury, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

In six games, Thomas has 30 carries for 133 yards and two touchdowns plus 26 receptions for 204 yards and a touchdown.

Even though Travaris Cadet has cut into passing-game opportunities of Thomas, he has scored the 17th-most fantasy points among running backs in PPR-scoring formats through Week 7.

Cadet has now had six receptions in two of the team's past three games and he has a total of 15 during that stretch even with PT on the field.

This week, the Saints host the Packers and are projected to score the fourth-most points based on Vegas odds.

In his first game back from his hand injury, Mark Ingram (12) led the Saints running backs in touches followed by Thomas (10). Cadet had six touches, all receptions while Khiry Robinson had just three touches and Austin Johnson had two touches.

With Thomas out, Ingram, Robinson and Cadet should all see their touches increase.



2014 Fantasy Football QB Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 8 to 16

Before the season began, we created fantasy football strength of schedule (SOS) pages for each position based on last year's production. Through the season, however, we 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 (Week 8 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 8-16):

1. San Francisco 49ers (Colin Kaepernick): 18.07 average fantasy points allowed among remaining opponents
2. Dallas Cowboys (Tony Romo): 17.80
3. Kansas City Chiefs (Alex Smith): 17.76
4. Buffalo Bills (Kyle Orton): 17.60
5. Minnesota Vikings (Teddy Bridgewater): 17.49

DraftKings $2.2 Millionaire Maker Week 8 Contest: Turn $27 (entry fee) into $1 Million (top prize).

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

32. Chicago Bears (Jay Cutler): 14.92
31. New York Jets (Geno Smith): 15.28
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (Blake Bortles): 15.74
29. Miami Dolphins (Ryan Tannehill): 16.13
28. New England Patriots (Tom Brady): 16.17

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

Full Strength of Schedules:

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2014 Fantasy Football RB Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 8 to 16

Before the season began, we created fantasy football strength of schedule (SOS) pages for each position based on last year's production. Through the season, however, we 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 (Week 8 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 8-16):

1. Carolina Panthers (DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart): 21.46 average fantasy points allowed among remaining opponents
2. Cleveland Browns (Ben Tate, Isaiah Crowell): 20.84
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Doug Martin): 20.22
4. Green Bay Packers (Eddie Lacy): 20.16
5. Baltimore Ravens (Justin Forsett, Bernard Pierce): 19.85

DraftKings $2.2 Millionaire Maker Week 8 Contest: Turn $27 (entry fee) into $1 Million (top prize).

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

32. Oakland Raiders (Darren McFadden): 15.68
31. New York Giants (Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams): 16.35
30. St. Louis Rams (Tre Mason, Zac Stacy): 16.44
29. Arizona Cardinals (Andre Ellington): 16.71
28. Kansas City Chiefs (Jamaal Charles): 16.96

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

Full Strength of Schedules:

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2014 Fantasy Football WR Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 8 to 16

Before the season began, we created fantasy football strength of schedule (SOS) pages for each position based on last year's production. Through the season, however, we 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 (Week 8 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 8-16):

1. Carolina Panthers (Kelvin Benjamin): 25.04 average fantasy points allowed among remaining opponents
2. Seattle Seahawks (Doug Baldwin): 24.57
3. Cincinnati Bengals (A.J. Green, Mohamed Sanu): 24.16
4. Green Bay Packers (Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb): 24.08
5. Tennessee Titans (Kendall Wright, Justin Hunter): 24.00

DraftKings $2.2 Millionaire Maker Week 8 Contest: Turn $27 (entry fee) into $1 Million (top prize).

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

32. New England Patriots (Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell): 19.52
31. Jacksonville Jaguars (Cecil Shorts, Allen Robinson): 20.25
30. Denver Broncos (Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Wes Welker): 20.46
29. Chicago Bears (Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery): 20.75
28. New York Jets (Percy Harvin, Eric Decker): 21.16

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

Full Strength of Schedules:

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2014 Fantasy Football TE Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 8 to 16

Before the season began, we created fantasy football strength of schedule (SOS) pages for each position based on last year's production. Through the season, however, we 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 (Week 8 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 8-16):

1. New York Giants (Larry Donnell): 9.70 average fantasy points allowed among remaining opponents
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (Clay Harbor): 9.51
3. Philadelphia Eagles (Zach Ertz): 9.35
4. Houston Texans (Garrett Graham): 9.14
5. Indianapolis Colts (Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener): 8.97

DraftKings $2.2 Millionaire Maker Week 8 Contest: Turn $27 (entry fee) into $1 Million (top prize).

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

32. Green Bay Packers (Andrew Quarless): 6.58
31. Carolina Panthers (Greg Olsen): 6.60
30. Atlanta Falcons (Levine Toilolo): 7.09
29. Cincinnati Bengals (Jermaine Gresham): 7.23
27 (tie). Chicago Bears (Martellus Bennett): 7.32
27 (tie). San Diego Chargers (Antonio Gates): 7.32

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

Full Strength of Schedules:

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October 20, 2014

2014 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Week 8

It's been an unusual NFL bye-week schedule this season. Like ripping off the Band-Aid, the NFL had six teams on bye in Week 4 (only two teams on bye that week last year) to kick things off.

Since then, we've had just two teams on bye every week. Unlike last year when six teams were on bye in Week 8, only two teams, Giants and 49ers, have their bye in Week 8.

Starting in Week 9, however, we will have back-to-back weeks with six teams on bye.

With this week's waiver-wire post (like the ones before it), the goal is to suggest some players that could be useful to fantasy owners from a rest-of-season perspective or as a bye-week fill-in or both.

Aside from the player offering some fantasy value, the only other rule I have is that all players on this list are owned in no more than 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues to give realistic suggestions of players that could be on your waiver wire.

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

QB - Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals (42 percent)

Palmer finished with nearly identical numbers this week (253 passing yards and two touchdowns) as he had last week (250 yards and two touchdowns). With one game to go in Week 7, Palmer ranks as the 11th-highest scoring fantasy quarterback for the week. Palmer and the Cardinals get a favorable matchup next week against the Eagles. Before their shutout against the Giants, the Eagles had allowed a top-12 finish to all five of the quarterbacks they had faced in Weeks 1 to 5 and three of those were top-six finishes.

QB - Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs (41 percent)

Averaging just 211.67 passing yards per game, Smith quietly puts up solid fantasy performances. In his past four games, he has finished as a top-12 fantasy quarterback twice and he enters Monday Night Football as the QB13 for the week. Since the start of last season, only four quarterbacks have more rushing yards than Smith (569) and only only three are current starters — Russell Wilson (866), Colin Kaepernick (784) and Cam Newton (775). Smith's schedule over the next two weeks is fantastic as he faces the Rams and Jets, who are the two friendliest defenses to fantasy quarterbacks through Sunday's games.

Turn $27 (entry) into $1 Million (top prize) in DraftKings' Week 8 Millionaire Maker contest.

QB - Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins (36 percent)

In his first three games of the season, Tannehill finished as the QB20 or worse in all three contests. In his past three games, however, he has finished as the QB11, QB13 and QB4 (with just the MNF game to play), respectively. Tannehill has yet to throw for more than 278 yards in any game this season, but he has multiple touchdown passes in each of the past three games and has averaged 44 rushing yards per game during that stretch.

QB - Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins (30 percent)

Before getting injured in Week 2, things started slowly for Griffin III, but there is obviously plenty of upside for him if things click in Jay Gruden's offense. While Kirk Cousins was benched on Sunday and the turnovers hurt more in real than fantasy football, Cousins had three top-eight outings in his previous five games. It's unclear whether RG3 will be ready for Week 8 and although it seems unlikely that he will play this week, he has yet to be ruled out by Gruden. Either way, he's getting close.

QB - Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (six percent)

Glennon has finished as a top-15 fantasy quarterback — but outside of the top 12 — in his past three games. Glennon has a pair of 300-yard games and has thrown multiple touchdowns in all three of those starts.

QB - Kyle Orton, Buffalo Bills (five percent)

In his three starts, Orton has averaged nearly 300 passing yards per game (296.67) with five touchdowns and three interceptions. While he has finished outside of the top-12 fantasy quarterbacks in all three of those starts, Orton has a favorable matchup against the Jets this week for those that need a bye-week replacement for Week 8.

RB - Tre Mason, St. Louis Rams (16 percent)

Active in only his second NFL game, Mason, the team's third-round pick, led the Rams in rushing with 18 carries for 85 yards and a touchdown against the Seahawks. Although the Seahawks allowed DeMarco Murray to rush for over 100 yards in Week 6 (then again, who hasn't?), it was only the second time that a back rushed for 40-plus yards against Seattle this season. Mason may not get 18 carries per game going forward, but he has been productive with his opportunities as he's averaging 5.34 YPC in two games.

RB - Bryce Brown and Anthony Dixon, Buffalo Bills (six and four percent)

With the injuries to C.J. Spiller (collarbone, likely out for season) and Fred Jackson (groin, expected to miss four weeks), Brown and Dixon will have an expanded opportunity in Buffalo's backfield. Like to Brown himself, it's been a surprise to me that he has been a weekly inactive. With more talent and upside than Dixon, Brown was dubbed "an every-down back" by Jackson and he would be the preferred add if you could add just one of these two backs.

RB - Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns (35 percent)

Second on the depth chart behind an injury-prone running back (Ben Tate) and on a run-heavy team, Crowell should be owned more than he currently is. As long as Tate is healthy and Terrance West is also active, Crowell will likely have some quiet games like Sunday's 18-yard performance on seven carries. That said, he's still averaging 5.0 YPC and has four touchdowns in six games on the season.

RB - Denard Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars (nine percent)

With some added flexibility as a rare WR/RB-eligible player in Yahoo! leagues, Robinson had a massive 22/127/1 line in their first win of the season. It was the first time that a Jaguars running back had more than 42 rushing yards since Toby Gerhart had in Week 1. It was also the first time a Jaguars running back had more than 10 carries since Gerhart's 18 attempts in Week 1.

RB - Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders (47 percent)

Since Week 2, McFadden has averaged 17.0 touches — 13.8 carries and 3.2 receptions — per game. Even though he is averaging just 3.82 yards per carry on the year, he has finished as a top-27 running back (at least a flex option) in four of his past five games. Through Sunday's games, the Browns, Oakland's next opponent, has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

RB - Joseph Randle, Dallas Cowboys (seven percent)

With 100-plus yards for Murray in seven straight games, it's also alarming that he's on a record pace of 424 carries and has never played more than 14 games in a season. Randle should be handcuffed by Murray owners, but is a decent speculative stash given Murray's durability track record. If Murray misses a game or two, Randle will likely share the workload with Lance Dunbar, but I'd expect Randle to get the larger share of touches and the Cowboys have one of the league's best offensive lines.

RB - Jonas Gray, New England Patriots (one percent)

It was Gray — not Brandon Bolden or James White — that was given an opportunity (albeit fairly small) after Shane Vereen last week. Gray had three carries for 12 yards, but there will be chances for larger production in the future. Considering the unpredictability of how Belichick allocates running back touches, however, he will almost always be a dicey fantasy option on a weekly basis.

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WR - Odell Beckham, Jr., New York Giants (50 percent)

Beckham made the most of his four receptions on Sunday as he scored twice and now has three touchdowns in his three NFL games. While I don't expect him to maintain a TD-per-game pace, I would expect his reception and yardage totals to increase from his current averages of 3.3/35.3. A dash of bad news is the Giants have a bye in Week 8 and then a couple of tough matchups against the Colts and Seahawks after the bye.

WR - Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks (22 percent)

With Percy Harvin now a member of the J-E-T-S, Baldwin had his best game of the season, by far, with seven catches for 123 yards and a score on 11 targets. Through Sunday's games, only three receivers have scored more fantasy points than Baldwin. Baldwin certainly won't get 11 targets per game or even in most games, but he's definitely the best option among Seahawks receivers going forward.

WR - Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars (15 percent)

Robinson has appeared on this list many times this year and to show the minuscule extent of my influence, he's still owned in only 15 percent of leagues. That said, Robinson has 50-plus yards in three consecutive games and now in five of his past six games.

WR - Andrew Hawkins, Cleveland Browns (29 percent)

Hawkins had a couple of duds in Weeks 5 and 6 with three catches for 27 yards combined in those two games. Or in Week 5 alone considering he had a goose egg in Week 6. That said, Hawkins had five catches for 112 yards on nine targets this week and now has nine targets or more in five of six games this season. Hawkins has yet to score a touchdown this season and he remains a better option in PPR formats, where he has four top-25 performances this season.

WR - Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers (13 percent)

One week after getting a season-high eight targets, Adams made the most of his sole target this week as he scored a 21-yard touchdown. As the team's third receiver, Adams has at least 7.1 fantasy points in three consecutive games. One of the problems for Green Bay's passing attack is that they have jumped out to huge leads and Rodgers has thrown 28 or fewer pass attempts in four of his past five games. Going forward, there will be closer games and more opportunities for Adams.

TE - Owen Daniels, Baltimore Ravens (49 percent)

Daniels had a season-high six catches and nine targets in Week 7. It will Daniels third week this season finishing as a top-10 fantasy tight end, but he has more than 50 yards in only two games this season. The good news is that the Ravens face the Bengals in Week 8 and no team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season than Cincinnati.

TE - Charles Clay, Miami Dolphins (40 percent)

Battling a knee injury since the preseason, Clay has played in every regular-season game, but things got off to a slow start for him. With 35 yards or less and no touchdowns in his first five games, Clay had 4/58/1 last week and is tied with Daniels for the fourth-most fantasy points at the position this week (obvioulsy excluding tonight's game). Clay and the Dolphins have a fantasy-friendly matchup against the Jaguars this week.

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FREE Week 8 Fantasy Football Contest: Win Our Shirt

Want to win one of our site's t-shirts?

Once again, we have set up a free fantasy football contest and the winner will get one of our t-shirts.

In order to win our free contest, enter our free Week 8 20-team FanDuel league and then let us know you entered by confirming your entry on our contest form below.

If you have don't a FanDuel account yet, sign up here and enter promo code EATDRINK.

Technically, there will be 19 entries (other than mine), but if I happen to score the most points this week, the t-shirt winner will be whichever entry scores the most points.

The deadline to enter is before Sunday's kickoff on October26th, but entry into the contest is done on a first-come, first-served basis so enter now to secure your entry.



October 19, 2014

Peyton Manning throws three first-half TDs to break Brett Favre's record

From now on, every time Peyton Manning throws a touchdown, he will break a record — his own.

Entering Sunday Night Football only two passing touchdowns behind Brett Favre's 506, Manning threw three first-half touchdowns against the 49ers.

Emmanuel Sanders and Wes Welker caught the first two touchdowns of the night and Demaryius Thomas caught the record-breaker.

While there's still more than a half left to play in tonight's game, Manning has now thrown multiple touchdowns in all six games this season with three or more in five of those games.

After Peyton and Favre, Dan Marino (420) is third followed by a pair of active quarterbacks — Drew Brees (374) and Tom Brady (372).



DeMarco Murray extends 100-yard streak to seven games

Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray has now done something that no other NFL running back has ever done — rush for 100-plus yards in each of the first seven games of a season.

Entering today's game, Murray was tied with Jim Brown at six 100-yard games to start a season. The only other running backs with at least four 100-yard games to start a season are O.J. Simpson (five) and Emmitt Smith (four).

In today's win over the Giants, Murray carried the ball 28 times for 128 yards and a touchdown and added a catch for four yards.

Through seven games, Murray has 187 carries for 913 yards and seven touchdowns plus 23 receptions for 159 yards.

Although Murray has never played more than 14 games in a season, his full 16-game pace is 2,087 rushing yards — shy of Eric Dickerson's record of 2,105 — and 427 carries, an NFL-record pace. The most games with 100-plus rushing yards in a season in 14 by Barry Sanders (1997).

Dallas will host Washington on Monday Night Football in Week 8 and the Redskins have allowed just one 100-yard rusher this season — Houston's Arian Foster (103 yards on 27 carries) in Week 1.

Murray has yet to rush for 100 yards against Washington, but he had 96 yards on 22 carries against them on December 22nd.



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

Here are my Week 7 picks against the spread:

New Orleans Saints +1 over Detroit Lions (4 units)

I like the Saints coming off a bye week here. Lions superstar Calvin Johnson is out again this week, and I think the Lions will have a hard time keeping up with Drew Brees and the Saints. I think Brees has a big game. The Saints have covered in their last four meetings, and they will make it five this week. Saints 34, Lions 23.

DraftKings $2.2 Millionaire Maker Week 7 Contest: Turn your $27 entry fee into the $1 million top prize in their Week 7 contest.

Chicago Bears -3.5 over Miami Dolphins (5 units)

I really like the Bears at home this week. Miami is just off a heart-breaking home loss to the Bears division-rival Packers last week. I believe that loss sneaks into this game, and the Bears pound the fish at home. Bears big, 38-20.

Atlanta Falcons vs. Baltimore Ravens — Under 50.5 (3 units)

Joe Flacco had 5 TDs last week in just a little bit more than a quarter. The Falcons defense has holes in it as well, but I don't see the Ravens lighting up the scoreboard in two consecutive weeks. I think Justin Tucker has a big five-FG game. Ravens win, 22-20.

Note: NFL lines are from sportsbook.ag

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

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Week 7 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Yanotchko

Here are my Week 7 picks against the spread:

Arizona Cardinals -4 over Oakland Raiders (4 units)

The Cardinals have been a great surprise this year, starting 4-1 and also being in first place of the vaunted NFC West. The Cards have done it with a stifling defense, and they have even overcome playing different starting quarterbacks this year. I love the Cardinals defense this week, as their rush defense ranks third in the league at 75.8 yards per game and 3.2 yards per carry. I also like the fact that Carson Palmer is back, and he gets to throw against an Oakland secondary that gives up a 70-percent completion rate. I am making this one a four-unit play, and while the Raiders are playing better, it won't be enough.

DraftKings $2.2 Millionaire Maker Week 7 Contest: Turn your $27 entry fee into the $1 million top prize in their Week 7 contest.

San Francisco 49ers +7 over Denver Broncos (4 units)

This game is slated to be the game of the week, and I have a feeling that it won't disappoint. You have Peyton Manning going for Brett Favre's all-time TD record, and of course, you have the classic great offense against great defense confrontation. Peyton will be tested again this week, going against a pass defense that allows a stingy 55.9-percent completion rate, only 207 yards per game with seven interceptions on the year. Also, the Broncos just lost their leading tackler last year in Danny Trevathan, which will allow Frank Gore to keep the chains moving and Manning off of the field. I am going with four units here, as I don't think the Niners will win outright, but I do like them to be within seven at the final gun.

Pittsburgh Steelers -3 over Houston Texans (4 units)

This Monday night game will have huge implications in the AFC, as these two middle-of-the-pack teams will look to push themselves into the playoff picture. The Texans have been really bad on defense this year, with of course the exception of J.J. Watt, who is even being talked about as an MVP candidate. The Texans D has been bad in both facets, as they allow 125.7 yards per game on the ground, 4.4 yards per carry average, and also 272 yards against through the air. I love the Steelers skill players this week, Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell will have a huge nights. I love the Steelers at home in front of a fired-up Monday night crowd for four units.

Note: NFL lines are from sportsbook.ag

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

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

Not to pat myself on the back, but it's been an impressive four-week run as I've gone 11-2 versus the spread during that span.

Looking to build upon my recent success, here are my Week 7 picks against the spread:

Buffalo Bills -5.5 over Minnesota Vikings (3 units)

The Vikings have struggled to get much going offensively with 10 or fewer points in four of their past five games. Owning the league's top-ranked run defense, the Bills have allowed just 67.5 yards per game on the ground and a league-low 2.8 yards per carry this season. Along with the Chiefs, they are one of just two teams to not allow a rushing touchdown this season.

While their pass defense isn't as strong as their run defense, their pass rush is one of the best in the league. Only the Lions and Jets (20.0 each) have more sacks than the Bills (19.0) this season. Expected inability to run the ball combined with a ferocious pass rush is usually not a recipe that leads to success for a rookie quarterback.

Over the past three seasons, the Bills are 8-5 ATS as a favorite and 11-6 ATS at home. Meanwhile, the Vikes are only 8-12 ATS in that same span.

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Indianapolis Colts -3.5 over Cincinnati Bengals (3 units)

These two teams appear to be heading in different directions. The Colts have won four straight after starting 0-2 while the Bengals have not won (loss and tie) since starting 3-0.

While the Bengals will be without A.J. Green again, they should be able to run the ball well behind the tandem of Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill. But will they be able to keep up with Andrew Luck and the high-powered Colts offense?

Luck leads the NFL with 1,987 passing yards and 17 touchdowns and the Colts rank first in the league in scoring offense (31.5 PPG) and total offense (444.0 YPG). Over their past two games, the Bengals have surrendered 80 total points.

The Colts are 4-1 ATS this season as favorites and 14-5 ATS as favorites in Luck's three seasons. The Bengals are much better at home ATS as they are a mediocre 9-9 ATS on the road over the past three seasons.

Miami Dolphins +3.5 over Chicago Bears (2 units)

While past results may not guarantee future returns, those betting against Jay Cutler have been met with success. As a home favorite, Cutler's record against the spread is only 11-27. Over the past three seasons, the Bears are just 4-13 ATS at home while the Dolphins are 12-9 ATS on the road.

The Dolphins currently rank eighth in the NFL in pass defense (221.6 YPG allowed) and are even better on a per-attempt basis (6.1 Y/A, third-lowest in NFL).

I think this game stays close and perhaps the half-point comes into play, but I'm going with the favorable trends here.

New York Giants +6.5 over Dallas Cowboys (1 unit)

As a Cowboys fan, I hope I'm wrong (or that I'm right but the Cowboys win by only six or less points), but I worry a little bit about the Cowboys drinking the Kool-Aid and coming out a bit flat. On the other hand, the Eagles embarrassed the Giants 27-0 on primetime last week and I think we see a better performance from the G-Men.

Based on some ATS trends, the Cowboys have covered only six of their past 26 games as a home favorite and are only 2-14 ATS in their past 16 games as a favorite following a win.

Note: NFL lines are from sportsbook.ag

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

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October 17, 2014

2014 Fantasy Football Week 7 Start'em, Sit'em

Guessing which Patriots running back will be the most productive in any given week is always a 50-50 proposition at best.

Last night, Vereen led the team in both rushing — 11 carries for 43 yards — and receiving — five catches for 71 yards. More importantly, he caught two of Tom Brady's three touchdown passes and finished with a total of 23. 4 fantasy points in standard-scoring formats.

Meanwhile, Brandon Bolden finished with no carries and one reception for four yards. Promoted from the practice squad, Jonas Gray had three carries for 12 yards.

So, what does this mean? Bolden will probably go off for 120 rushing yards and two touchdowns next week while he's on everyone's bench.

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

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

Kaepernick is coming off his best outing of the season with a season-high 343 passing yards and three touchdowns and added 37 rushing yards as well. Although he had a disappointing performance the previous week, Kaepernick now has three top-12 performances in his past four games and the sixth-most fantasy points among quarterbacks through Week 6. Kaepernick's dual-threat abilities help raise the floor on his production as he has averaged 7.8 runs for 40.7 yards per game this season.

QB - Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals (at OAK)

Returning from a three-game (four-week) absence, Palmer put up solid numbers (250 yards and two touchdowns) in Week 6. The better news is that there were setbacks with his nerve issue and he should continue to get stronger going forward. Averaging 19.38 fantasy points in his two starts, Palmer is a solid low-end QB1 for Week 7.

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RB - Justin Forsett, Baltimore Ravens (vs. ATL)

While the Falcons allow the most fantasy points to opposing running backs, they have consistently allowed strong running back performances. Through six weeks, the Falcons have allowed four running backs to finish as top-five scorers and seven running backs to finish as top-13 performers. Even though they have allowed only one 100-yard rusher, they have allowed 11 rushing scores to the position this season.

Forsett has yet to have more than 14 carries in a game, but he also has 23 receptions in six games. Leading NFL running backs in yards per carry (6.38), Forsett has rushed for a touchdown in three of six games despite having the frame of a change-of-pace back. Forsett ranks eighth among running backs in fantasy points this season and has another great chance to finish as top-12 running back this week. Based on Vegas odds, only the Packers (28.50) are projected to score more points this week than the Ravens (28.25), who are tied with the Broncos (28.25) for second most.

RB - Ben Tate, Cleveland Browns (at JAX)

Far from durable, Tate returned from his knee injury in Week 5 and the Browns have not shied away from giving him a full workload. In the past two games, Tate has a total of 47 carries for 201 yards and two touchdowns and has finished as the RB17 and RB5 in those games. This week, Tate and the Browns will face the Jaguars, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

RB - Branden Oliver, San Diego Chargers (vs. KC)

With Donald Brown (concussion) still not cleared, it appears that Oliver will have another opportunity to be the lead dog in the Chargers backfield. Oliver has 45 carries in his past two games for a total of 215 rushing yards as well as eight receptions for 91 yards and a total of three touchdowns. This week's matchup isn't all that favorable as the Chiefs have allowed the 10th-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs, but then again, he finished as the top-scoring running back in Week 5 against the Jets (sixth-fewest).

RB - Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins (at CHI)

Miller has been consistently productive this season with three consecutive top-13 finishes and has finished as a top-18 running back in four of five games this season. With Knowshon Moreno (ACL) out for the season, we may (or may not) see more of Miller since he has yet to see more than 15 carries in a game, but he's been productive with his touches. Miller has averaged 5.24 YPC this season and is averaging three catches per game as well.

WR - Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals (at OAK)

The return of Palmer allowed both Floyd and teammate Larry Fitzgerald to catch their first touchdowns of the season last week. Provided Palmer can stay healthy, we should expect consistent and high production from the third-year receiver. In his two games with Palmer under center, Floyd has nine catches for 166 yards and a touchdown.

WR - Mohamed Sanu, Cincinnati Bengals (at IND)

With A.J. Green expected to miss another game (and possibly more), Sanu will be the primary (and secondary) option among the pass-catchers. While we will see a heavy dose of Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill, Sanu, who had 10/120/1 on 14 targets last week, could approach double-digit targets once again. Even with the Bengals having their bye already, Sanu has scored the 13th-most fantasy points among wide receivers this season.

WR - Andre Holmes, Oakland Raiders (vs. ARI)

A massive 20 targets have been directed to Holmes in the Raiders past two games and he has capitalized on the opportunity. In those games, he has racked up 195 yards and three touchdowns as he finished as the WR12 and WR2, respectively. While it may be unrealistic to expect him to put up top-12 numbers for a third game in a row, the Cardinals have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing receivers this season.

WR - Rueben Randle, New York Giants (at DAL)

By controlling the clock with DeMarco Murray and the league's top-ranked rushing offense, the Cowboys have keep their defense (and opposing offenses) off the field. That said, the season-ending injury to Victor Cruz elevates Randle to the top of the team's depth chart at receiver, but Randle has seen No. 1 receiver type of volume with at least nine targets in four consecutive games.

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

The matchup isn't great in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends, but they have faced the who's who in tight ends (as in who?). Ok, bad joke (like usual), but the best tight end they have faced is Scott Chandler, Clay Harbor or Jace Amaro (take your pick). The others are a tier or two below that level. After this week, the best tight end the Chargers will have faced will clearly be Kelce, who has scored in three consecutive games.

TE - Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts (vs. CIN)

Allen had three catches for 49 yards, a fairly common statistical line for him, on a season-high seven targets last week. The big difference for Allen is that he failed to secure a touchdown for only the second time in six games. The Bengals have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends so far this season so I'd put the odds of Allen scoring this week at greater than 50-50.

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

QB - Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (at DET)

If Jimmy Graham plays on Sunday, then Brees should certainly be in your starting lineup. Graham has put in back-to-back limited practices, but my gut is that he does not play on Sunday. If that is indeed true, Brees will be without his best offensive weapon on the road, where he has historically been much less impressive, and going up against the league's top-ranked defense in terms of scoring, yardage, sacks and pass defense. As you can imagine, they also have allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks as well.

QB - Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys (vs. NYG)

As noted in our DraftKings roundtable post this morning, Sean Beazley expects a huge week from Romo as the Giants focus on stopping Murray. I can see that, to a certain extent. That said, it won't be due to a lack of commitment to the run as Romo is averaging just 31.8 attempts per game this season. Even with multiple touchdown passes in four consecutive games, Romo has finished as a top-15 quarterback only twice this season.

RB - Khiry Robinson, New Orleans Saints (at DET)

With Mark Ingram (hand) set to return from injury, Robinson may or may not lead the team in carries. It's not clear how they will initially allocate work as Ingram is integrated back into the offense with Robinson playing well in his absence, but Ingram will eventually re-emerge as the team's top fantasy back provided he stays healthy. The presence of all three (or four if you count Travaris Cadet) means that I'd prefer to keep all of them on my bench this week against the Lions, who have the league's second-ranked rushing defense.

RB - Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams (vs. SEA)

Consistency: Averaging 3.9 yards per carry last season, Stacy is averaging 3.9 YPC this season. The problem is that Stacy had 250 carries in just 14 games last season, but he has 12 or less carries in four of five games this season. Not only is the volume not there, Stacy (and the Rams backs) have a difficult matchup this week against the Seahawks, who have allowed just one running back (Murray) to reach 40 rushing yards.

RB - Bishop Sankey, Tennessee Titans (at WAS)

It appears that Shonn Greene will miss another game so Sankey could once again approach 20 touches (had 19 last week). That said, it appears that Sankey will come out at the goal line in favor of Jackie Battle and Washington's run defense is solid. For me, Sankey is just a flex this week.

RB - C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills (vs. MIN)

You know who's not happy with Spiller's production? Well, I guess that's somewhat of a trick question, because who's not, right? Earlier today, offensive coordinator Nate Hackett said that Spiller is trying to "do too much." While Spiller had a season-low six touches last week, he has finished as a top-40 running back only once in his past four games and that was a mediocre RB25 performance. As long as Fred Jackson is healthy and Spiller continues to struggle, he belongs on your bench.

WR - Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers (vs. KC)

With the exception of a strong 10/135 performance against the Jags in Week 4, Allen has exceeded 40 yards only once in five other games and is averaging just 32.2 yards in those five other games. Although teammates Eddie Royal (WR14) and Malcom Floyd (WR20) are top-20 fantasy wide receivers through Week 6, Allen ranks only 60th in fantasy points this season. We will eventually see better production from Allen, who has yet to score a touchdown, but I have him ranked just outside of my top-30 fantasy receivers for the week.

WR - Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings (at BUF)

While the potential seems limitless, the production has been limited. Patterson has just two receptions in each of his past three games despite getting a season-high eight targets last week and one carry for two yards. Patterson has finished outside the top 50 receivers for four consecutive games and WR85 or worse in each of his past two games. Like I wrote last week, I'd rather be one week too late on Patterson than several weeks too early.

WR - Wes Welker, Denver Broncos (vs. SF)

While I expect Welker to finish with more than last week's one reception and one target, he's fourth on the list of options in the team's passing offense after Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. In the two previous games, Welker had 6/60 and 7/58 on nine targets in each game, but even that production kept Welker out of the top-40 receivers in both weeks.

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

Going into the season, I expected Miller to be a low-upside but consistently productive (borderline top-12) fantasy tight end. That hasn't been the case. In six games, Miller had one great game (10/85/1, TE3), but he has finished as the TE15 or worse in all five of his other games this season. In fact, half of his performances ranked him as the TE30 or worse. Considering the Texans allow the 10th-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends, Miller should remain on fantasy owners' benches.

To see who I would start based on your team, please consult with my Week 7 rankings:

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Daily Fantasy Football Roundtable: Week 7 DraftKings Must-Starts

For a third week in a row, DraftKings will give away $1 Million in their Millionaire Maker contest.

With that said, our contributors are once again tackling the $1 Million question of which play is an absolute must-start in your Week 7 DraftKings lineups:

Brendan DonahueBen Tate, RB, Cleveland Browns (at JAX), $5,300

Back from injury, Tate has assumed the lead role back in a big way. In his past two games he has 22 and 25 carries, respectively, and goes against the 30th-ranked rush defense in the league this week. I expect the Browns to feed Tate and he should easily see 20-plus carries again this week against a defense that has given up 31+ fantasy points (PPR) per game to RBs, the second-most fantasy points allowed in PPR formats.

[Note: DraftKings uses full PPR scoring with three-point bonuses at 300 passing yards, 100 rushing yards and 100 receiving yards as well.]

Sean BeazleyTony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys (vs. NYG), $7,200

Romo has been the forgotten man this year with the success of DeMarco Murray. Romo is the 11th-priced QB this week at a nice salary of $7,200. Romo has thrown 31 career TD passes vs. the Giants, which is by far the most he has thrown against anyone. I believe the Giants will try to load up the box to stop the run, and Romo will have a big day throwing the ball. I could easily see a 350/3 game this week.

Ryan WattersonLarry Donnell, TE, New York Giants (at DAL), $3,500

Donnell has come back to earth the past two weeks, making his price tag really attractive at $3,500. Dallas has given up the second-most points to tight ends this season and with Victor Cruz out for the season, Donnell should get an uptick in targets. He has a legit chance to finish top-three at the position this week and is tied for 17th in price.

Dan YanotchkoEddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers (vs. CAR), $4,700

I love the matchup of Lacy going against a Carolina run defense that gives up 170 yards from scrimmage per game to opposing running backs and more than 30 fantasy points per game to running backs. The Packers have certainly been giving him the rock, as he has not had under 12 touches per game this year. I love the lopsided matchup, and look for Lacy to rack up his second 100-yard rushing game.

Kevin Hanson — Ben Tate, Cleveland Browns (at JAX), $5,300

Even if he won't catch many (or even any) passes, Tate is assured of significant volume of work in addition to the strong likelihood for a few goal-line opportunities in such a favorable matchup. In his past two games, Tate has 47 carries for 201 yards and two touchdowns. A reasonable projection is 100 rushing yards and a touchdown, which would be 19 fantasy points in DraftKings scoring counting the three-point bonus for 100 yards. No team has more rushing touchdowns than the Browns (eight in five games) and it wouldn't be a surprise if he scored two of them like last week.

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More Week 7 content:

Good luck in Week 7!


















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