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November 25, 2014

Updated Fantasy Football WR Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 13 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 13 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 13-16):

1. Dallas Cowboys (Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams): 24.98 average fantasy points allowed among remaining opponents
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (Cecil Shorts, Allen Hurns): 24.71
3. Tennessee Titans (Kendall Wright, Justin Hunter): 24.58
4. New Orleans Saints (Marques Colston, Kenny Stills): 24.53
5. Carolina Panthers (Kelvin Benjamin): 24.28

DraftKings $2.2 Millionaire Maker Week 13 Contest: Turn $27 (entry fee) into $1 Million (top prize).

Five least favorable SOS for WRs (Weeks 13-16):

32. San Francisco 49ers (Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree): 18.79
31. Philadelphia Eagles (Jeremy Maclin, Jordan Matthews): 19.97
30. Denver Broncos (Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders): 20.33
29. Chicago Bears (Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall): 20.40
28. New York Jets (Eric Decker, Percy Harvin): 20.71

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

Full Strength of Schedules:

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Updated Fantasy Football TE Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 13 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 13 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 13-16):

1. Philadelphia Eagles (Zach Ertz): 9.94 average fantasy points allowed among remaining opponents
2. Detroit Lions (Eric Ebron): 9.09
3. Kansas City Chiefs (Travis Kelce): 9.04
4. St. Louis Rams (Jared Cook): 8.98
5. Tennessee Titans (Delanie Walker): 8.93

DraftKings $2.2 Millionaire Maker Week 13 Contest: Turn $27 (entry fee) into $1 Million (top prize).

Five least favorable SOS for TEs (Weeks 13-16):

32. Carolina Panthers (Greg Olsen): 5.76
31. Baltimore Ravens (Owen Daniels): 6.12
30. Oakland Raiders (Mychal Rivera): 6.47
29. Pittsburgh Steelers (Heath Miller): 6.65
28. Green Bay Packers (Andrew Quarless, Richard Rodgers): 6.67

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

Full Strength of Schedules:

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2014 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Week 13

The bye weeks are over and there is just one more week before most leagues begin their postseasons. Now is the time to make your final playoff push and/or solidify your seeding.

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

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

QB - Zach Mettenberger, Tennessee Titans (four percent)

Mettenberger has thrown for 263-plus yards and multiple touchdowns in three of his four career NFL starts including his debut as a starter against the Texans in Week 8. Only the Falcons have allowed more passing yards this season than the Texans, who is this week's opponent. After that, Mettenberger gets favorable matchups against the Giants, Jets and Jaguars during the fantasy playoffs.

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

Far from the most exciting option at quarterback, Smith has yet to have a top-eight performance this season, but he has finished inside the top-15 in six of 11 games including this week. Averaging just 201.3 passing yards per game with five games of sub-200 yards, he threw a season-high 42 pass attempts for 255 yards against the Broncos in Week 2 and faces them again this week. After this week's re-match against the Broncos, Smith has favorable matchups against the Cardinals, Raiders and Steelers through Week 16. In other words, it's possible that he has a couple of top-12 performances down the stretch.

QB - Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings (seven percent)

After throwing no touchdowns in his first three games and exactly one touchdown in the next four, Bridgewater threw for 210 yards and two touchdowns against the Packers in Week 12 and rushed for a career-high 32 yards. Bridgewater has favorable matchups against the Panthers and Jets, respectively, over the next two weeks.

Turn $27 (entry) into $1 Million (top prize) in DraftKings' Week 13 Millionaire Maker contest.

RB - Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders (25 percent)

It's unfortunate that a concussion knocked Murray out of the game after only four carries last week, but he did a full game's worth of damage on those carries with 112 yards and two touchdowns. The good news about the concussion is that he sustained the injury on a Thursday instead of a Sunday, which increases his chances of being ready to go for Week 13. Despite his size (225 pounds), Murray is a freak athlete that ran a sub-4.4 forty at the NFL Scouting Combine in 2013.

RB - Dan Herron, Indianapolis Colts (23 percent)

It was Herron, not Trent Richardson, that got the "start" against the Jaguars in Week 12. Although T-Rich got the touchdown and had one more carry than Herron, Herron had more touches (17 to 13) and more yards from scrimmage (96 to 42) than Richardson. Regardless of who gets the "start" in Week 13 or going forward, it wouldn't be a surprise if Boom Herron is the most productive Colts running back the rest of the way.

RB - LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots (31 percent)

One week after rushing for 201 yards and four touchdowns, Jonas Gray and I were tied with zero rushing yards as Blount carried the ball 12 times for 78 yards and two touchdowns. It's unclear how much Gray oversleeping on Friday and being sent home from practice weighed into his Week 12 goose egg. At least for owners that are a glutton for punishment, Blount is worth an add, but it's always anybody's guess on how Belichick will allocate touches among the team's backs.

RB - Charles Sims, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (32 percent)

Sims had fewer touches last week than Doug Martin, but I still wouldn't be surprised if Sims had more productive games down the stretch than Martin. Then again, Martin, who is averaging just 2.80 yards per carry this season, has set the bar fairly low.

Enter our free Week 13 fantasy football contest and win one of our site's t-shirts.

WR - Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins (20 percent)

Ex-LSU teammate and fellow rookie Odell Beckham, Jr. is getting plenty of attention for making one of the greatest catches you'll ever see, but Landry's more highly-touted former college teammate isn't the only one having a productive rookie campaign. Despite having only one game this season with more than 53 yards, Landry has scored four touchdowns in his past four games and has double-digit targets in two of his past three outings. In addition, Landry and the Dolphins receivers have a couple of favorable matchups coming up against the Jets and Ravens in Weeks 13 and 14, respectively.

WR - Kenny Stills, New Orleans Saints (34 percent)

With Brandin Cooks now out for the season, Stills had eight catches on nine targets for 98 yards on Monday Night Football. Stills has at least 50 yards in four of his past six games and he has a favorable schedule down the stretch. After the Steelers in Week 13, the Saints face the Panthers, Bears, Falcons and Bucs -- all four teams rank in the bottom 10 in passing yards allowed.

WR - Andrew Hawkins, Cleveland Browns (37 percent)

Even with the return of Josh Gordon from suspension, Hawkins had another productive week. Hawkins now has 88-plus yards in four of his past five games. That said, Hawkins had only five targets last week, which was his second-lowest total this season.

WR - Charles Johnson, Minnesota Vikings (one percent)

One of my favorite "sleeper" receivers in dynasty leagues, Johnson possesses a nice blend of size (6-2, 215) and speed (sub-4.4 forty). Finally getting the opportunity for significant snaps, Johnson had three catches for 52 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets in Week 12. Over the past two weeks, he has a total of nine catches on 18 targets. As noted above with Bridgewater, the team has a couple of favorable matchups against the poor pass defenses of the Panthers and Jets.

WR - John Brown, Arizona Cardinals (32 percent)

One of the league's fastest wide receivers, Brown had three catches for 61 yards on Sunday and now has more than 60 yards in three consecutive games and in four of his past five. With Larry Fitzgerald (MCL) possibly set to miss a second game in a row, Brown could have an even better outing against the Falcons than he had last week against the Seahawks.

WR - Kenny Britt, St. Louis Rams (27 percent)

One week after racking up 128 yards and a touchdown, Britt had a more modest 2/37 line on six targets in Week 12. That said, Britt should lead the team's receivers in fantasy production down the stretch and the Rams have a few nice matchups with Oakland, Washington, Arizona and NY Giants through Week 16.

WR - Justin Hunter, Tennessee Titans (40 percent)

Hunter has not had the breakout season that I (or many analysts) had expected. Few players have his combination of height (6-foot-4) and athleticism (4.4 forty and 40-inch vertical), but Hunter has just 27 catches for 480 yards and three touchdowns on 64 targets. If there is a promising sign, he had 10 targets on Sunday and he also had 10 targets in Week 8 against the Texans, this week's opponent. It's possible that he could see double-digit targets again on Sunday and while he may convert less than half of them into receptions, he has plenty of big-play potential.

TE - Garrett Graham, Houston Texans (15 percent)

Graham has mostly been irrelevant this season, but he had a season-high seven targets on Sunday that he converted into four receptions for 41 yards, which ties a season high. If his involvement in the offense continues to expand, he has some TE-friendly matchups against the Titans, Jaguars and Colts over the next three weeks.

TE - Tim Wright, New England Patriots (16 percent)

The bad news is that Wright has two yards (or less) in six games this season. The good news is that Wright has caught touchdowns in five games this season including two of those games with two yards or less.

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November 21, 2014

2014 Fantasy Football Week 12 Start'em, Sit'em

Raiders second-year running back Latavius Murray had just four carries (like the previous week), but he was doing damage to the Chiefs run defense before leaving the game with a concussion.

Despite getting only four carries, Murray racked up 112 yards and scored two touchdowns for a total of 23.2 fantasy points -- or 5.8 fantasy points per carry. Those were the first two rushing touchdowns allowed by the Chiefs defense this season.

His total (23.2 points) would have been a top-five finish for a running back in each of the first 11 weeks of the season.

Assuming he is cleared from his concussion in time for Week 13, Murray should see a much larger workload and will be a must-start against the Rams.

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

QB - Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears (vs. TB)

Cutler has too many turnovers (12 interceptions and five lost fumbles) this season, but that hasn't kept him from being a productive fantasy quarterback. While there has been some week-to-week inconsistency, Cutler has finished as a top-10 fantasy quarterback in six of 10 weeks this season and currently ranks eighth in fantasy points at the position. The Bucs have allowed 266.1 passing yards per game, third-worst in the NFL, and 20 passing touchdowns (only three teams have allowed more). Cutler is a top-six option for me this week.

QB - Josh McCown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at CHI)

The other starter in this game (and for the Bears last year) has the potential to finish as a top-12 fantasy quarterback this week as well. In fact, McCown has now finished as a top-five fantasy quarterback in back-to-back weeks since taking over as the team's starter again. McCown has thrown for a minimum of 288 yards and two scores in each of the past two games and the Bears have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.

Turn $27 (entry fee) into $1 Million (top prize) in DraftKings' Week 12 Millionaire Maker contest.

RB - Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (vs. DAL)

While DeMarco Murray has a great matchup against the Giants, Jennings is a solid RB1 for this week as well. Returning last week from a Week 5 knee injury, Jennings had 22 touches against the 49ers. Although he totaled only 67 yards from scrimmage, the 49ers are one of the league's stingiest defenses to running backs. This week's matchup is more favorable as the Cowboys allow 4.85 rushing yards to opposing running backs. Only the Giants (5.03) and Chiefs (5.00 through Week 11) allow a higher YPC to RBs. Since he can't play his own team and the Chiefs have already played this week, there isn't a better possible matchup for him this weekend on a YPC-allowed basis.

RB - Trent Richardson, Indianapolis Colts (vs. JAX)

With his strong start to the 2014 season, the loss of Ahmad Bradshaw is a devastating blow to the Colts offense. Bradshaw was averaging 4.72 YPC, 3.8 receptions per game and had a total of eight touchdowns in 10 games. Now the Colts will rely even more on a generally inefficient Richardson, who was already averaging more than 15 touches per game. In a game where the Colts are favored by two touchdowns, however, T-Rich should get a high volume of work with the potential for a few goal-line opportunities.

RB - Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns (at ATL)

By waiving Ben Tate, who was signed in free agency to be the bellcow back, it further (or more clearly) opens more consistent opportunities for the team's two rookie running backs. While Crowell's grip on the top spot on the depth chart is not a lock, he led the team in carries last week and is the most talented back on the roster in my view. Either way, I would expect double-digit carries for both Crowell and Terrance West this week and they have a favorable matchup against the Falcons, who have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs.

WR - Sammy Watkins, Cleveland Browns (vs. NYJ)

It's crazy that Buffalo has had as much snow as most cities get the entire winter BEFORE Thanksgiving. And while it's unfortunate that the Bills won't be able to play in front their home fans, the move out of the elements to a controlled environment (dome) in Detroit could actually benefit Watkins. Watkins has had back-to-back quiet outings (4/27 and 3/32), but he had a monster 3/157/1 line the prior game, which was the first time he faced the Jets.

WR - Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns (at ATL)

Last year, Gordon was suspended for the first two games of the season and ended up leading the NFL in receiving. With a much longer suspension this year, that obviously won't happen again, but Gordon has the skill set that puts him back into the WR1 (top 12) conservation beginning with his first game back. There are a few concerns (not necessarily being in "football shape" and the expectation that he'll play about half of the offensive snaps), but he has dominant physical tools and the team has one of the weakest receiving corps if you exclude him. While better days should be ahead compared to this week, he's still a low-end WR1 or high-end WR2 for this week.

[Related: The Browns selected a WR with one of their two first-round picks in my 2015 NFL Mock Draft.]

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

It's been a phenomenal three-game run for Evans as he has posted a 7/100/1 (or better) line in each game. Last week, he had more than 200 yards and two scores. Over the past three weeks, no receiver has more fantasy points than Evans in total or on a per-game basis and he has become a must-start option the rest of the way.

WR - Odell Beckham, New York Giants (vs. DAL)

With the exception of Week 6, Beckham has finished as a top-24 fantasy wide receiver in five of his six NFL games. And although he hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 7, when he scored two touchdowns against this week's opponent, ODB has 21 catches for 357 yards on 33 targets over the past three weeks.

TE - Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts (vs. JAX)

Not only did Dwayne Allen leave last week's game early with an ankle injury, but he has already been ruled out for Week 12 against the Jaguars. That should create more opportunities for Fleener, who finished last week with seven catches for 144 yards, both of which were season highs. The Colts feature the tight end position heavily as no position group has caught a larger share of Andrew Luck's touchdown passes this season. The Jags have allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season and Fleener had 4/49/1 against them in his first matchup with a healthy Allen.

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

Although he lost two fumbles in the first game against the Cowboys, Donnell also finished with seven receptions for a career-high 90 yards in Week 7. In his past four games going back to the Cowboys game, Donnell has a minimum of six targets in each game and he has scored in two of the past three weeks. The Cowboys have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season.

Enter our FREE Week 12 fantasy football contest and win one of our site's t-shirts.

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

QB - Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (at NE)

Drafted as a top-six fantasy quarterback in virtually all leagues, Stafford has been a disappointment as he currently ranks 14th among quarterbacks in fantasy points. In the past six weeks, Stafford has finished outside the top-12 fantasy quarterbacks four times and was barely inside the top 12 the other two games (QB12 in Week 8 and QB9 in Week 10). In a relatively difficult matchup, Stafford is just outside my top 12 at No. 13.

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

In the first six weeks of the season, Rivers finished as a top-10 fantasy quarterback five times and he was a top-six quarterback four times. Since then, however, Rivers has finished outside the top 12 in four consecutive starts. During that four-game stretch, Rivers has averaged 197 passing yards per game and has posted a mediocre 6:6 TD-to-INT ratio during that span.

RB - Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills (vs. NYJ)

After sitting out last week's game, Jackson will return to the field on Monday, but he's probably better off remaining on your bench. The Jets rank fourth in the league in run defense (83.2 YPG) and only the Lions and Broncos are giving up fewer YPC. In addition, the Jets have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

RB - Jonas Gray, New England Patriots (vs. DET)

What Gray did in Week 11 was amazing! Not only did he rush for 201 yards, but he scored four touchdowns and finished as the week's highest-scoring fantasy running back. Fast forward one week, Gray has a brutal matchup against the Lions, who lead the NFL in rush defense (68.8 YPG). Other factors are also working against Gray this week as the Patriots have brought back running back LeGarrette Blount and Gray overslept and was sent home after showing up late for practice on Friday.

RB - Chris Ivory, New York Jets (at BUF)

Ivory had four consecutive top-24 outings to start the season, but things have been much less consistent since then. In the past six games, Ivory has finished as the RB45, RB58, RB8, RB9, RB50 and RB35. Coincidentally, the RB9 was his first matchup against the Bills, but it's unlikely that he scores two touchdowns like he did in the first matchup. In that game, he carried the ball 13 times for just 43 yards.

WR - Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints (vs. BAL)

It's been a hugely disappointing season for Colston, who has just one touchdown on the season. In addition, Colston has finished as a top-30 wide receiver only once (Week 7, WR19). The Ravens have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers and Brandin Cooks (thumb) was placed on season-ending Injured Reserve, but it's difficult to trust Colston as anything more than a flex option this week.

WR - Pierre Garcon, Washington Redskins (at SF)

Garcon has had plenty of bad games this year, but he had his worst outing last week with one catch for six yards on two targets. Garcon has finished as a WR35 (or worse) in eight of 10 games this season and he has finished outside the top 50 in each of his past three games.

WR - Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals (at SEA)

Dealing with a Grade 2 MCL sprain, Fitzgerald missed all practices this week, but he is listed as questionable for Week 12. If he does play, Fitz should remain on your bench given the injury and difficult matchup. The Seahawks defense hasn't been as stingy as they have been over the past couple of years, but they once again allow the fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. In fact, the Seahawks have only allowed five top-24 finishes to wide receivers this season.

WR - Terrance Williams, Dallas Cowboys (at NYG)

Williams has six touchdowns on the season and he scored in five of the team's first seven games. That's the good news. The bad news is that Williams has two or less receptions in seven of 10 games this season. In fact, Williams scored a touchdown in the first matchup against the Giants, but that 18-yard reception was his only catch and he still finished outside the top-30 wide receivers that week. Williams' odds of finishing with a productive week are pretty slim unless he scores a touchdown.

TE - Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers (vs. WAS)

Vernon Davis is like the Adam Dunn of the NFL. He's either going to hit a home run (score a touchdown or two) or strike out. And Davis has been in a deep slump as he is averaging just 2.0 receptions for 18.9 yards since Week 2 with no touchdowns. He has yet to exceed four catches or 44 yards in any game this season. (The only place I might consider starting him is in a tournament like the Millionaire Maker, where he could pay off his $3,000 (position-minimum) salary several times if he scores a couple of touchdowns.)

TE - Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals (at HOU)

Even though he had just two catches for 13 yards, Gresham is coming off his best fantasy performance as both of his receptions went for scores. Of course, one of those has received plenty of attention due to the long-time Saints fan that snatched the football intended for a Bengals fan. That said, the Texans have allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season. In addition, Gresham has finished with 36 yards or less in four consecutive games (A.J. Green returned three games ago).

To see who I would start based on your team, please consult with my Week 12 rankings:

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2015 NFL Mock Draft - Week 12 Update

The draft order for my 2015 NFL mock draft is based on the inverse order of my 2014 NFL power rankings.

The final 12 picks of the mock draft, however, contain six playoff teams from each conference including a division winner from each division as well as two wild card teams.

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

1. Oakland Raiders (Draft History): Leonard Williams, DL, USC

When you lose 16 consecutive games (until last night's win over Kansas City), it's fair to say that there are plenty of holes to fill and the Raiders could go in a number of directions with the first overall pick including trading back with a quarterback-needy team. Drawing plenty of favorable pro comparisons, Williams reminds NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah of ex-Raider (and ex-Patriot) Richard Seymour as he described Williams as "[t]all, long, athletic, explosive hands and versatile." Others have compared Williams to J.J. Watt and Gerald McCoy. Either way, he has the potential to become a dominant defensive lineman at the next level.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars (Draft History): Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska

After ranking last in the league in sacks in both 2012 and 2013, the Jags have been much better at getting after the quarterback this year with 28 sacks, seventh most through Week 11. An explosive and fluid athlete, Gregory had 16.5 sacks in his 22 games over the past two seasons.

3. New York Jets (Draft History): Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Completing 55.9 percent of his pass attempts with a 19:31 TD-to-INT ratio in his first two seasons, the odds of Geno Smith being under center for the Jets' 2015 season opener are slim to none. With exceptional dual-threat abilities, Mariota has posted a career TD-to-INT ratio of 92:12 with 1,991 rushing yards and 22 rushing touchdowns. If there's a knock, an unnamed scout wonders (to SI) if Mariota is "too nice."

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

The most polarizing draft-eligible prospect, Winston has been associated with far too many head-scratching and troubling issues off the field. On the field, however, Winston has all of the physical tools to be a successful franchise quarterback and he has engineered several game-winning drives for the Seminoles, who are defending national champions with a combined 24-0 record over the past two seasons.

5. Tennessee Titans (Draft History): Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri

An explosive athlete, Ray has 13.0 sacks through the first 10 games of the season. While 15 different Titans have recorded a sack this season, none have more than 4.0 this season and Ray can be a difference-making rusher off the edge. Ray made Bruce Feldman's annual preseason freak list as he was timed at 4.44 in the forty with a vertical jump exceeding 40 inches.

6. Washington Redskins (Draft History): Landon Collins, S, Alabama

Only three teams have allowed more passing touchdowns than Washington (20) and no team has fewer interceptions (three). With the versatility to play in coverage and especially support the run, Collins is likely to be the first defensive back selected next April.

7. Carolina Panthers (Draft History): Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M

Using last year's first-round pick on Kelvin Benjamin, the Panthers gave Cam Newton a bonafide weapon on the outside, but surprisingly they didn't select an offensive tackle at any point in the draft after losing Jordan Gross to retirement. Starting left tackle Byron Bell has graded out as the 74th of 76 offensive tackles this season, according to PFF.

8. Atlanta Falcons (Draft History): Shawn Oakman, DE, Baylor

Through Week 11, only the Raiders (10) had recorded fewer sacks than the Falcons (13). Last year, only the Jaguars (31) and Bears (31) had fewer sacks than the Falcons (32). Despite his size (6-9, 280), Oakman possesses rare athleticism and an explosive first step and is a step in the right direction towards improving the team's anemic pass rush.

9. New York Giants (Draft History): Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

Once a high school quarterback, Scherff may be best at guard, but he's arguably the best the run-blocking tackle in this year's draft class. Gil Brandt tweeted prior to the season that Scherff had No. 1 overall potential and the guy has freakish strength.

10. Chicago Bears (Draft History): Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington

A versatile athlete, Thompson has played running back and defensive back in addition to linebacker. Thompson is a bit undersized (225 pounds) for a linebacker, but he is an outstanding athlete that also possesses good coverage skills.

11. Minnesota Vikings (Draft History): Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

It's been a disappointing season for second-year receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, who has just 28 receptions on 59 targets for 332 yards and a touchdown through 10 games. An outstanding route runner, Cooper may not be the biggest (6-1, 202) or fastest receiver, but he's been the most productive with a national-leading 1,303 yards.

12. St. Louis Rams (Draft History): Trae Waynes, CB, Michigan State

With excellent height (6-1) for a corner, Waynes has a good chance to be the first corner off the board, especially after Marcus Peters was kicked off the Washington Huskies football team. The Rams have allowed a league-worst 68.6 completion percentage this season.

13. Cleveland Browns -- via Buffalo (Draft History): Andrus Peat, OT, Stanford

With long arms and excellent athleticism, Peat has started at left tackle in each of the past two seasons at Stanford. Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz will be a free agent after the 2015 season, but they could also play Peat at right tackle and move Schwartz inside next season.

14. Houston Texans (Draft History): Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon

Through Week 11, only the Falcons have allowed more passing yards per game than the Texans (278.1 YPG). In addition, Kareem Jackson is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2014 season.

15. San Diego Chargers (Draft History): Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson

Only five teams have recorded fewer sacks this season than the Chargers (17.0) and as long as Peyton Manning is in the division, you can never have too many explosive pass-rushers like Beasley.

16. Baltimore Ravens (Draft History): Dante Fowler, DE, Florida

Having already declared his intention to enter the 2015 NFL Draft, Fowler has a high motor, good athleticism and is one of the most versatile defensive players in next year's draft.

-> Continue to picks 17-32

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

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November 20, 2014

Fantasy Football Week 12: Underrated Players in PPR Leagues

Week 11 was not pretty, as injuries and poor performances widely struck the players I recommended. I am sure the same hurt many owners in a critical week. These are always tough weeks to swallow, but you have to just keep on moving forward and leave it all behind you. With two weeks left in most regular seasons, now is the time to buckle down and try to make the best decisions you can -- then pray for the best.

Before we move on to Week 12, let’s review the misery of last week's results.

Week 11 Results
QBsRBsWRsTEsTotal
-16.8+11.4-16.0-11.1-32.5
YTD Results
QBsRBsWRsTEsTotal
-28.4+150.9-63.9+31.2+89.8
* Recommended players vs. alternatives
* YTD stats as of Week 5 (my first post)

Best of the week -- Mark Ingram +11.0: Ingram largely struggled on the ground against an underwhelming Bengals run defense, but made up for it by catching all seven of his targets. When Pierre Thomas returns, Ingram will have to pick up the production via the ground game to hold high value, as he will not be catching that many balls out of the backfield.

Runner-up -- Matt Ryan +7.9: Ryan was not overly impressive against a porous Panthers secondary, but put up a respectable 17.8 points on the week. RG3 and Matthew Stafford both struggled in real life, but RG3 actually put together a solid fantasy day. Stafford on the other hand did not. On a completely non-fantasy related side note, this Lions offense is struggling, and the injury excuses are no longer valid with Calvin Johnson back. The O-line is beat up, but a good game plan can help mitigate that issue. There is no way a team with that much offensive talent should be as mediocre as they are (offensively, that is). Joe Lombardi comes from the Sean Peyton coaching tree, but this is a good example that the system isn’t effective without someone who knows how to call plays on game day.

Worst of the week -- Alex Smith -24.7: Ugh. Not much to say other than just a poor call on my part. Dude totaled five points in a game where they scored 24 and beat the Seahawks.

Runner-up -- DeSean Jackson -22: Jackson was a disappointment against what was a fantastic matchup. He was clearly impacted by RG3’s poor decision-making and inaccurate throws. But this +/- has far less to do with Jackson than it does Alshon Jeffery. To be fair, Jackson did outscore Golden Tate, who was my 2nd player to start him over. But the story was Jeffery, who put up an astonishing 30.5 points. He dismantled what had been a very good Vikings secondary to this point in the season. It’s never shocking to see a player of his talent in this offense go off. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t mildly surprised given how poor the Bears had been playing.

Let’s get this train back on track and pointed in the right direction in Week 12.

Quarterbacks

Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens
FantasyPros ECR: 16

Flacco has appeared multiple times in this article, with mixed success. Believe it or not, I am not a Ravens fan in any way, but he keeps coming up as an underrated option in my model, so I keep plugging him in. His opponent this week is the Saints, who are reeling right now. I mean, they just gave up 220 and 3 TDs to Andy Dalton. They are also coming off of back-to-back home losses, which is about as common as Bill Belichik smiling at a press conference. Surprisingly, they are tied for the lead in the NFC South (technically behind because of the tie-breaker) and are desperate for a win this week to right the ship. As a result, I think this game will be a tight one, but it’s not going to be the defense that gives them a chance to win. New Orleans ranks 28th in overall defensive efficiency. If they want to win, they will need to score points, and I think they will do just that. In order to keep pace, Flacco will be forced to throw a lot. Given the inadequacies in the Saints secondary (NO ranks 26th in defensive pass efficiency and FPA to QBs), he should have the opportunity to post mid-tier QB1 numbers this week.

Consider starting him over:
Russell Wilson: ECR 11
Ryan Tannehill: ECR 13

Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns
FantasyPros ECR: 20

Hoyer is always a risk for a dud, but he has been a surprisingly effective fantasy QB in recent weeks. Over the past five weeks, Hoyer ranks 14th amongst all QBs in FPPG. It’s no coincidence that his uptick in production coincides with the loss of center Alex Mack, who was a key cog in the Browns effective run game. Since that point, Cleveland has struggled to run the ball consistently and has been forced to pass the ball more. But the reason he is on this week’s list is two-fold. First, the Browns get Josh Gordon back this week. I can’t even explain how big of an upgrade he is over any other receiver on the roster, this kid is obviously a stud and gives this offense a huge boost. Second, Hoyer gets one of the best receivers in the game back against one of the worst pass defenses in the league. Atlanta ranks dead last in pass defense efficiency and gives up the 10th-most fantasy points to QBs.

Additionally, this game will be played in the Georgia Dome, where the Falcons offense traditionally plays much better. The Browns may have to throw a lot to keep up with the Falcons in a game that is critical to both team’s playoff chances. I like Hoyer’s chances of significantly outplaying his current ranking.

Consider starting him over:
Andy Dalton: ECR 17
Eli Manning: ECR 18

Running Backs

Justin Forsett, Baltimore Ravens
FantasyPros ECR: 12

Similar to the logic behind Flacco, Forsett will be a big part of what I think is going to be a high-scoring game. Forsett is handling the majority of the backfield work and doesn’t look to relinquish that role anytime soon, coming off one of his better performances this season in Week 10 (Ravens were on bye in Week 11). New Orleans struggles against the run, ranking 28th in efficiency. Additionally, they rank 30th against RBs as receivers, and Forsett is the Ravens passing-down back as well. He should get at least 12-15 carries, but I would expect a handful of receptions as well. Regardless if this is a high-scoring game or somehow turns into a grind it out affair, Forsett will be involved from the get go and has a matchup that he can exploit.

Consider starting him over:
LeSean McCoy: ECR 8
Andre Ellington: ECR 7

Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins
FantasyPros ECR: 21

Miller has a tough matchup against the Broncos this week, as they are a top-10 run defense by most measures. However, the Dolphins are one of the best run offenses in the league and utilize Miller in a variety of ways. The Dolphins don’t have the firepower to get into a shootout with the Broncos, so I expect them to lean on the run game and play ball control. Miller looked healthy last week and should be good to go for a full workload in Week 12. As a bonus, Miller is a solid receiver out of the backfield and has caught at least one pass in every game this season. However, he has caught at least two in every game that he was healthy and finished. Denver is vulnerable against RBs as receivers and that may actually represent the Dolphins best passing matchup considering the Broncos excel against defending WRs and TEs.

Consider starting him over:
Frank Gore: ECR 20
Joique Bell: ECR 19

Wide Receivers

Malcolm Floyd, San Diego Chargers
FantasyPros ECR: 49

If I did a pick of the week, or ranked my picks in order of confidence, this one would be right at the top. Floyd continues to be undervalued in the fantasy world and I don’t understand why. He may not be a high upside or exciting player, but you would be hard pressed to find someone with a more consistent floor. He has scored a minimum of eight points in every game he has played and averages 11.3 PPG. Again, not mind-blowing numbers by any means, but a guaranteed 8-12 points from your WR3 every week isn’t bad. However, as I mentioned last week, he still has some big-game ability in him. He has hit 14-plus points in three games this season including 14.4 last week. This week, Floyd gets a great matchup against the Rams, who rank dead last in pass efficiency against WR2’s. They have given up consecutive big games to Emmanuel Sanders (in three quarters), Larry Fitzgerald, and Anquan Boldin. Floyd should be next on that list. For this pick, I am loading up on players to start him over.

Consider starting him over:
Pierre Garcon: ECR 47
Allen Hurns: ECR 41
Mohamed Sanu: ECR 33
Cecil Shorts: ECR 29
Eric Decker: ECR 35
Doug Baldwin: ECR 48

Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants
FantasyPros ECR: 15

ODB has been essentially matchup-proof since breaking onto the scene in Week 5. In two straight difficult matchups, ODB has put up over 15 points in each. This week, Beckham gets a much easier ride against the Cowboys. As impressive as the Cowboys have been on defense given their lack of talent, they have their deficiencies as well. Dallas struggles against WR2’s, ranking 31st in defensive pass efficiency against that position. Expect ODB to put up big numbers in what is nothing more than a “pride” game for the reeling Giants.

Consider starting him over:
Roddy White: ECR 14
Jeremy Maclin: ECR 12

Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers
FantasyPros ECR: 27

Boldin is another guy who has been on this list a few times recently, and he has yet to disappoint. SF is struggling on offense, but Boldin has been their most consistent weapon and put up big numbers when the matchup is right. Well, this week the matchup is right. The Redskins are a mess in many phases, but perhaps their greatest weakness is in their pass defense. Washington ranks 29th in overall defensive pass efficiency, and specific to Boldin, 28th against WR2’s. Additionally, Washington is actually quite good against the run, ranking 11th in efficiency. As the Niners already struggle to run the ball, I expect Colin Kaepernick to air it out more than usual against this porous secondary.

Consider starting him over:
Andre Johnson: ECR 19
Vincent Jackson: ECR 25

Tight End

Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
FantasyPros ECR - 24

Ertz’s inconsistency and maddening lack of usage are well-documented. He simply isn’t utilized as he should be given his talents. But a lot of that was exacerbated when Mark Sanchez replaced Nick Foles, as Ertz was only targeted twice in Weeks 9 and 10, Sanchez’s first two games. Last week, albeit in comeback mode, Ertz saw seven targets and caught four for 55 yards. Given that Sanchez was unexpectedly thrust into the starter's role, perhaps Ertz was forgotten due to lack of familiarity with him. Sanchez was working with the 2nd team and rarely (if ever) saw a snap with Ertz. Jordan Mathews emergence could be explained the same way, as he had more familiarity with Sanchez than any other player in the starting lineup.

Off an encouraging seven targets last week, I think Sanchez is getting more comfortable with the starting receiving options and we could see Ertz’s utilization increase. Given the Titans struggles against the TE position, ranking 25th in defensive pass efficiency, I think Ertz will surprise some people this week. If he is on your bench, the frustration with him may only continue.

Consider starting him over:
Vernon Davis: ECR 22
Jordan Reed: ECR 17

Thanks for reading and good luck in Week 12! Follow me on Twitter @rw11687.

November 19, 2014

2014 NFL Power Rankings: Week 12

Here are my Week 12 NFL power rankings:

1. New England Patriots - Record: 8-2, Last Update: No. 1

Initially credited with only 199 rushing yards (a stat correction added two yards to make it 201), Jonas Gray scored his first four rushing touchdowns of the season on Sunday Night Football. Gray's four rushing scores were more than the team's combined total of three from Weeks 1 to 10.

2. Arizona Cardinals - Record: 9-1, Last Update: No. 3

As every week passes, it continues to baffle me why Bruce Arians did not get an opportunity to become an NFL head coach sooner in his career. Excluding his stint as interim head coach in Indianapolis, one of the most impressive coaching seasons ever given the circumstancese, Arians is 19-7 (.731) in his first 26 games as Arizona's coach.

3. Green Bay Packers - Record: 7-3, Last Update: No. 4

The Packers have scored 50-plus points in back-to-back games, something that has happened only three times since 1970. Not only is Aaron Rodgers and the offense playing great, but the Packers defense and special teams have scored four touchdowns over the past two weeks.

4. Denver Broncos - Record: 7-3, Last Update: No. 2

Going into last week, the Broncos had scored 20-plus points and Peyton Manning had thrown multiple touchdowns in every game this season. That streak ended as the Rams held the Broncos to only seven points (and one Peyton touchdown). On a(nother) negative note, Manning has now thrown multiple interceptions in three consecutive games.

[Related poll: Will Demaryius Thomas extend streak of 100-yard games to eight this week?]

5. Dallas Cowboys - Record: 7-3, Last Update: No. 8

Although the Cowboys had the week off, it was a good week. Not only did Tony Romo get an opportunity to get some more rest and rehab, but all three of the other NFC East teams were in action and lost.

6. Kansas City Chiefs - Record: 7-3, Last Update: No. 10

Running back Jamaal Charles carried the ball 20 times for 159 yards and two touchdowns in Week 11 against the Seahawks. Charles has now scored in six consecutive games as they face the 0-10 Raiders on Thursday night.

7. Pittsburgh Steelers - Record: 7-4, Last Update: No. 12

With 33 carries for 204 yards and a touchdown, Le'Veon Bell became the fourth Steelers running back to reach the 200-yard milestone in a game. Through 11 games, Bell has 1,435 yards from scrimmage, which puts him on pace for 2,087 YFS this season.

8. Detroit Lions - Record: 7-3, Last Update: No. 5

The Lions still rank first in the NFL in total and scoring defense through Week 11. The last time that the Lions finished in the top 10 in either scoring or total defense for a full season was 1997 (10th in scoring, 14th in total defense).

9. Philadelphia Eagles - Record: 7-3, Last Update: No. 6

The Eagles have had so much success scoring non-offensive touchdowns this season, but they gave up three non-offensive scores (plus four offensive scores) in Week 11 to the Packers.

10. Indianapolis Colts - Record: 6-4, Last Update: No. 7

Both Ahmad Bradshaw and Dwayne Allen left Sunday's games with injuries. While it's unfortunate that Bradshaw will miss the remainder of the season, Allen suffered a less serious ankle injury and is considered "day to day" (aren't we all?). If Allen misses Week 12, the Colts will be without the recipients of nearly half (13) of Andrew Luck's 28 touchdown passes this season.

11. Seattle Seahawks - Record: 6-4, Last Update: No. 9

Not only did Marshawn Lynch not go to the locker at halftime, but he didn't speak to the media after the game and got fined $50,000 (plus lost another $50,000 fine in escrow). Here's how his press conference went on Wednesday:

12. San Francisco 49ers - Record: 6-4, Last Update: No. 11

Benching himself during the game, Ahmad Brooks said that he "did not quit on the team; [he] did not take [himself] out of the game." In a week that saw a handful of complainers shown the door, coach Jim Harbaugh says they "need" Brooks to win a championship.

13. Miami Dolphins - Record: 6-4, Last Update: No. 13

The Dolphins rank second in the NFL in total defense (302.5 YPG allowed), but they have allowed a league-low 255.3 YPG over their past three games. Although the Broncos scored only seven points in Week 11, the Dolphins defense will be put to the test in Week 12 against the high-powered Broncos offense.

14. Cincinnati Bengals - Record: 6-3-1, Last Update: No. 16

While it appears that Giovani Bernard will return in Week 12, Jeremy Hill had his second 150-yard rushing day in the past three weeks filling in for Bernard. Over those three weeks, he rushed 63 times for 361 yards and two touchdowns and added three catches for 28 yards.

15. Cleveland Browns - Record: 6-4, Last Update: No. 14

The Browns get a skill-position player back from suspension (Josh Gordon) and got rid of another (Ben Tate). The return of Gordon, who led the NFL in receiving last year, obviously gives the passing game a huge (and much-needed) boost.

16. Baltimore Ravens - Record: 6-4, Last Update: No. 15

The Ravens rank fifth in the NFL in rushing defense (84.5 YPG allowed) and are middle of the pack in terms of most 20-yard runs allowed (five). That said, nobody has allowed a shorter long run than the Ravens (26 yards) this season.

-> Continue to Teams 17-32

Also, check out our fantasy football rankings:

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November 18, 2014

Fantasy Football Rest-of-Season (ROS) Rankings: Weeks 12 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. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
2. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
3. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
4. Tom Brady, New England Patriots
5. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
-> View our full ROS Fantasy Quarterback Rankings

Here are our updated ROS running back rankings:

1. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears
2. DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys
3. Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
4. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks
5. Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers
-> View our full ROS Fantasy Running Back Rankings

Here are our updated ROS wide receiver rankings:

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

Here are our updated ROS tight end rankings:

1. Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
2. Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints
3. Julius Thomas, Denver Broncos
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 12 fantasy football rankings within the next 24 hours.

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Updated Fantasy Football QB Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 12 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 12 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 12-16):

1. Dallas Cowboys (Tony Romo): 21.40 average fantasy points allowed among remaining opponents
2. Detroit Lions (Matthew Stafford): 20.09
3. Tennessee Titans (Zach Mettenberger): 19.75
4. New Orleans Saints (Drew Brees): 19.55
5. Washington Redskins (RG3): 19.33

DraftKings $2.2 Millionaire Maker Week 12 Contest: Turn $27 (entry fee) into $1 Million (top prize).

Five least favorable SOS for QBs (Weeks 12-16):

32. New York Jets (Michael Vick): 16.30
31. Denver Broncos (Peyton Manning): 16.62
30. Chicago Bears (Jay Cutler): 16.70
29. Seattle Seahawks (Russell Wilson): 16.90
28. New England Patriots (Tom Brady): 16.94

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

Full Strength of Schedules:

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Updated Fantasy Football RB Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 12 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 12 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 12-16):

1. Cleveland Browns (Isaiah Crowell, Terrance West): 23.12 average fantasy points allowed among remaining opponents
2. Dallas Cowboys (DeMarco Murray): 22.83
3. Carolina Panthers (DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart): 22.54
4. Pittsburgh Steelers (Le'Veon Bell): 22.30
5. Green Bay Packers (Eddie Lacy): 22.22

DraftKings $2.2 Millionaire Maker Week 12 Contest: Turn $27 (entry fee) into $1 Million (top prize).

Five least favorable SOS for RBs (Weeks 12-16):

32. Oakland Raiders (Darren McFadden, Latavius Murray): 15.82
31. Seattle Seahawks (Marshawn Lynch): 16.35
30. San Diego Chargers (Ryan Mathews, Branden Oliver): 16.84
29. Miami Dolphins (Lamar Miller): 17.97
28. New England Patriots (Shane Vereen, Jonas Gray): 18.27

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

Full Strength of Schedules:

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Updated Fantasy Football WR Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 12 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 12 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 12-16):

1. Carolina Panthers (Kelvin Benjamin): 27.42 average fantasy points allowed among remaining opponents
2. Cincinnati Bengals (A.J. Green, Mohamed Sanu): 27.22
3. Seattle Seahawks (Doug Baldwin): 27.10
4. Dallas Cowboys (Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams): 26.85
5. Tennessee Titans (Kendall Wright, Justin Hunter): 26.83

DraftKings $2.2 Millionaire Maker Week 12 Contest: Turn $27 (entry fee) into $1 Million (top prize).

Five least favorable SOS for WRs (Weeks 12-16):

32. Philadelphia Eagles (Jeremy Maclin, Jordan Matthews): 21.27
31. Denver Broncos (Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders): 22.46
30. San Francisco 49ers (Anquan Boldin, Michael Crabtree): 22.47
29. New York Jets (Percy Harvin, Eric Decker): 22.87
28. New England Patriots (Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell): 23.32

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

Full Strength of Schedules:

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Updated Fantasy Football TE Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 12 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 12 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 12-16):

1. Detroit Lions (Eric Ebron): 10.56 average fantasy points allowed among remaining opponents
2. Philadelphia Eagles (Zach Ertz, Brent Celek): 10.48
3. Kansas City Chiefs (Travis Kelce): 9.85
4. Dallas Cowboys (Jason Witten): 9.79
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Austin Seferian-Jenkins): 9.56

DraftKings $2.2 Millionaire Maker Week 12 Contest: Turn $27 (entry fee) into $1 Million (top prize).

Five least favorable SOS for TEs (Weeks 12-16):

32. Carolina Panthers (Greg Olsen): 6.55
31. Baltimore Ravens (Owen Daniels): 6.67
30. Green Bay Packers (Andrew Quarless, Richard Rodgers): 7.49
29. Denver Broncos (Julius Thomas): 7.57
28. New York Jets (Jace Amaro): 7.72

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

Full Strength of Schedules:

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2014 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Week 12

One of the guys that appeared on last week's waiver-wire list was St. Louis Rams running back Tre Mason.

Despite a difficult matchup on paper last week, Mason carried the ball 29 times for 113 yards, both of which were career highs, as he finished the week as a top-12 fantasy running back.

Mason now has at least 18 touches in four of his past five games and is certainly worth an add if he's available in your league.

As of this morning, Mason was owned in 51 percent of Yahoo! leagues and therefore won't be listed below due to my own self-imposed restrictions. But again, if he's available in your league, he should be added.

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

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

QB - Josh McCown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (21 percent)

Finishing as a top-five fantasy quarterback in back-to-back weeks, McCown has thrown for at least 288 yards and two touchdowns since becoming the team's starter again in Week 10. If you're looking to stream a quarterback in Week 12, McCown faces the Bears and his former team has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.

QB - Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns (14 percent)

Hoyer threw a massive 50 pass attempts in Week 11 and although he completed only 20 of them, he finished with 330 yards, a touchdown and an interception. It's safe to say that Hoyer likely won't have any more 50-attempt games this season and the Browns would like to be a run-first team every week, the good great news is that Hoyer gets Josh Gordon back from suspension this week. Without Gordon (and most often without Jordan Cameron), the Browns have fielded one of the league's weakest group of pass-catchers.

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

A relatively low-upside option for fantasy owners, Smith's rushing abilities usually helps to raise the floor of his fantasy production. (That said, Smith has zero, 25 and minus one rushing yard(s) in his past three games.) Smith has a favorable schedule with Oakland twice, Denver, Arizona and Pittsburgh over his next five games. Except for Arizona, who has allowed the fourth-most passing yards this season, the other four rank in the top-half of the league in most passing touchdowns allowed.

Turn $27 (entry) into $1 Million (top prize) in DraftKings' Week 12 Millionaire Maker contest.

RB - Jonas Gray, New England Patriots (23 percent)

With Vegas assigning the Patriots-Colts game Week 11's highest over-under, we expected there to be plenty of offense on Sunday Night Football. Nobody could have expected Gray to rush for a yard shy of 200 and four scores, however. Given the inconsistent manner in which the Patriots dole out touches to their running backs, you shouldn't expect that type of workhorse role on a weekly basis, but Gray now has double-digit carries in three consecutive games. And as the weather gets colder in the northeast, the Patriots could continue to lean more heavily on Gray and the ground game.

RB - Charles Sims, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (29 percent)

In his second game since being activated from IR, Sims led the team's backs in touches by a significant margin (16 to five for Bobby Rainey) in Week 11. As noted in the past, Sims is a versatile back that drew some Matt Forte comparisons in the pre-draft process and he should continue to lead the team's backs in touches even once Doug Martin returns. In re-draft formats, however, he's more of a flex option going forward.

RB - Bryce Brown, Buffalo Bills (23 percent)

While Fred Jackson missed last week's Thursday Night Football matchup and is expected to return in Week 12, Brown has a total of 13 receptions on 17 targets for 122 yards in his past two games. Finishing as a top-24 back in standard formats both weeks, Brown has obviously been even better in PPR formats (RB17 and RB13, respectively). Even with F-Jax back in Week 12+, Brown should at least be a flex option in PPR formats going forward.

RB - Latavius Murray, Oakland Raiders (two percent)

Given the team's 0-10 start, it's head-scratching why the Raiders have waited so long to give Murray some touches. That said, Murray gained 43 yards on four carries and added 16 yards on three receptions on Sunday. Murray (6-3, 225) is an athletic freak (4.38 forty, 22 reps at 225 at the combine in 2013). Hopefully, his involvement in the offense will continue to expand down the stretch.

RB - Juwan Thompson, Denver Broncos (three percent)

With the injuries in the team's backfield, Thompson once again will be second on the depth chart (this time behind C.J. Anderson). At one point, Thompson was ahead of Anderson on the depth chart so Anderson doesn't necessarily have a stranglehold on the top spot with Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball out. Playing in such a high-powered offense, Thompson should at least be added in deep leagues.

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WR - Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars (44 percent)

In his past five games, Shorts has been targeted at least seven times each game and has a pair of 100-yard games over that span. With the season-ending injury to rookie Allen Robinson, the likelihood that Shorts gets more targets thrown his way is high. That said, Shorts himself often deals with a variety of ailments so hopefully he can stay healthy.

WR - Kenny Stills, New Orleans Saints (15 percent)

One of the league's fastest deep threats, Stills can be inconsistent, but he has at least 50 yards and/or a touchdown in four of his past five games. During that span, he is averaging 4.2/58.0/0.4. With the thumb injury to Brandin Cooks expected to sideline him for two to four weeks, Stills should see his targets rise.

WR - Andrew Hawkins, Cleveland Browns (34 percent)

Just outside the top-30 fantasy wide receivers in scoring this year, Hawkins has been a solid fantasy wide receiver especially in PPR formats. In the nine games he has played, Baby Hawk has had eight-plus targets in eight of those games. In his past four games, he has finished as a top-17 fantasy wide receiver three times. With Gordon returning in Week 12, however, Hawkins should see his high volume of targets decline some.

WR - John Brown, Arizona Cardinals (30 percent)

One of my favorite fantasy sleepers in the summer, Brown is an ultra-quick wideout playing the T.Y. Hilton role within Bruce Arians offense. Brown has been targeted nine-plus times in three of his past four games and he has at least five catches for 69 yards in those three games.

WR - Malcom Floyd, San Diego Chargers (37 percent)

Through Week 11, Floyd ranks 27th in fantasy scoring among wide receivers this season. Although Floyd has only one game with five receptions, he has a minimum of five fantasy points in eight consecutive games. During that span, he has at least 50 receiving yards or a touchdown (or both) in every game.

WR - Kenny Britt, St. Louis Rams (15 percent)

Britt saw seven targets, which tied a season high, on Sunday and turned them into four catches for a season-high 128 yards and a touchdown. With the injury to Brian Quick, I'm a bit surprised that Britt's targets have not increased by much, but he has scored in two of his past three games and is worth consideration in his role as the team's top (healthy) receiver.

TE - Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts (42 percent)

Given the ankle injuries to Dwayne Allen and Ahmad Bradshaw, Fleener has the potential for his role to expand further. Even with both players healthy, Fleener has scored the 11th-most fantasy points among tight ends through Week 11. Of Andrew Luck's 28 pass touchdowns, no position group has been the recipient of more touchdown passes than tight ends (12). Depending on how much time Allen misses, if any, Fleener could see his red-zone targets increase quite a bit.

TE - Mychal Rivera, Oakland Raiders (41 percent)

Rivera had just three catches for 40 yards on five targets in Week 11, but the Raiders tight end has a total of 24 catches for 225 yards and three touchdowns over his past four games. In the previous three weeks, Rivera finished as a top-10 fantasy tight end although he finished as the TE15 in Week 11. As long as he continues to see plenty of targets, however, Rivera will have the opportunity to flirt with top-12 production on a weekly basis.

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November 15, 2014

2014 Fantasy Football Week 11 Start'em, Sit'em

With the fantasy playoffs on the horizon, start-sit decisions take on a larger importance as owners fight for a playoff berth or (hopefully) look to lock up a first-round bye.

In my weekly start'em, sit'em column, I will highlight some players that you should start (or not), but the ultimate decisions come down to your specific roster composition and league settings. As an example, the first player listed as a start is RG3 and I have him ranked inside my top-10 fantasy quarterbacks. But if you also have Tom Brady, I would start Brady and RG3 would be a "sit."

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

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

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

With a game and a bye under his belt since his injury, RG3 will have an opportunity to step up his production with a more favorable matchup as he continues to shake off the rust. The Bucs have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. With a favorable matchup, a talented group of pass-catchers and rushing upside, RG3 is a top-10 fantasy quarterback for me in Week 11.

QB - Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia Eagles (at GB)

In his first start since his days with the Jets, Sanchez threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns and finished as a top-four fantasy quarterback in Week 10 with 21.18 fantasy points. Sanchez has a less favorable matchup this week than he had against the Panthers, but the Eagles will need to keep pace with the Packers high-flying offense this week.

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RB - Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals (at NO)

It was a disappointing week for Hill and the entire Bengals offense last week, but Hill is in line for a significant workload with Giovani Bernard ruled out for this weekend's game. In his two starts with Bernard out, Hill has carried the ball 36 times for 209 yards (5.81 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. The Saints have allowed the 12th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

RB - Alfred Blue, Houston Texans (at CLE)

With Arian Foster expected to sit out this week's game, Blue should see the bulk of the workload. While the Browns rank middle of the pack in terms of fantasy points allowed to running backs, only the Giants have allowed more YPC than the Browns (4.7) this season. And if you're in a bind with DeMarco Murray or other running backs on bye, Blue is owned in only 30 percent of Yahoo! leauges as of Saturday morning.

RB - Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers (at NYG)

Gore's workload has been inconsistent this season as he has nine, 14 and 23 carries over the past three weeks, respectively. If he gets another heavy workload, however, the matchup is ripe for exploitation. The Giants have allowed the second-most points to RBs and are giving up a league-worst 5.0 YPC and 13 rushing scores.

RB - Steven Jackson, Atlanta Falcons (at CAR)

The 18 and 16 carries the Falcons have given to Jackson over his past two games represent his two largest totals of the season. With a difficult matchup (Lions) and favorable one (Bucs), S-Jax has gained 141 yards on those 34 carries and scored two touchdowns while adding two catches for 14 yards. Jackson gets another favorable matchup as the Panthers have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to RBs.

WR - Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers (at NYG)

Boldin isn't typically a player that fantasy owners get excited about starting, but he now has at least six catches and 50 yards in four consecutive games. In three of those four games, Boldin has finished with 90-plus yards and a touchdown, which means he also has three top-13 finishes during that span. If I can start any 49ers receiver, the easy answer for me is Boldin.

WR - Golden Tate, Detroit Lions (at ARI)

As Calvin Johnson made his return to the field, it seemed to be a virtual certainly that Tate's targets and role within the offense would revert to a secondary role. Instead, Tate finished with a season-high 11 receptions for 109 yards on 13 targets. Tate now has five 100-yard games and five games with double-digit targets over his past six games. Even with Megatron back in the lineup, Tate should remain a high-end WR2 going forward.

WR - Odell Beckham, Jr., New York Giants (vs. SF)

In five career games, Beckham has finished as a top-20 fantasy wide receiver four times. Although he had just 10 catches for 106 yards in his first three games, he also scored three touchdowns during that stretch. In his past two games, OBJ has not scored, but he has racked up 15 catches for 264 yards on 20 targets. As he continues to gain the trust of Eli Manning, Beckham is a solid WR2 for this week.

WR - Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints (vs. CIN)

As I noted in last week's Start'em side of this column, Cooks is targeted more at home than he is on the road and the Saints get another home game this week. The ultra-quick rookie is averaging 9.0 targets per game at home versus 5.2 on the road. In his four home games, Cooks has a minimum of five catches and 56 yards in each game and is averaging 7.0/78.5/0.5 in the dome with back-to-back top-12 finishes.

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

Regardless of which quarterback is under center, Evans continues to put up impressive stat lines. With more than 50 yards and seven-plus targets in six consecutive games, Evans has been even better in his past two games with a combined stat line of 14/249/3. In fact, the six-foot-five rookie has now scored in four of his past five games.

TE - Mychal Rivera, Oakland Raiders (at SD)

Over his past three games, Rivera has a minimum of six receptions and eight targets in each game. During that span, he has a total of 21 receptions for 185 yards and three touchdowns and has finished the week as the TE9, TE2 and TE4, respectively. The Chargers allow the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends, but Rivera is getting enough targets that he should once again finish as a top-10 fantasy tight end this week.

TE - Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. SEA)

Even though he has finished outside the top-20 fantasy tight ends in three of his past four games, Kelce has scored the ninth-most fantasy points among tight ends through Week 10. With fewer snaps and targets than his owners would like, it's possible that Anthony Fasano sits this weekend and Andy Reid has talked up Kelce and the likelihood of a greater involvement in the offense. Kelce is the next-best option in the offense after Jamaal Charles and he gets a fantasy-friendly matchup against the Seahawks, who have surrendered the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends this year.

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

QB - Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears (vs. MIN)

More inconsistent in "real" football than fantasy football this year, Cutler has his two worst fantasy performances in the past three weeks. In the first six weeks of the season, he finished as a top-10 fantasy quarterback four times and no worse than the QB16 during that span. Since then, however, he has finished as the QB26, QB9 and QB22 in three relatively difficult matchups. He'll look to get back on track this week against the Vikings, but Minnesota has allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.

QB - Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (vs. ATL)

If you watched the Monday night game, you've undoubtedly said to yourself, probably multiple times, that the Panthers would be better off with Derek Anderson over Cam. If that doesn't tell you that Cam should be on your bench, I'm not sure what does. Newton looked to be much less than 100 percent as he seemed to even struggle standing up after team huddles. Lacking the mobility that has long made him a stud fantasy quarterback, it's hard to get excited about his Week 11 outlook.

RB - Montee Ball, Denver Broncos (at STL)

One of the bigger disappointments in fantasy football, Ball struggled (6.85 fantasy points per game) before missing the past five games with a groin injury. The good news is that Ball will return to the field this week and the likely multiple-week absence of Ronnie Hillman helps to open the door for Ball to get a significant role again. That said, C.J. Anderson racked up 163 yards from scrimmage on 17 touches last week. At least in his first game back, I'd prefer to keep Ball on the bench to see how the team's "hot hand" approach works itself out.

RB - Tre Mason, St. Louis Rams (vs. DEN)

The good news is that Mason has 18-plus touches in three of his past four games. The bad news is that the Rams could be playing much of this game with a large deficit as double-digit underdogs. In addition, the Broncos are tied with the Seahawks and Lions at holding opponents to a league-low 3.2 YPC this season. With the difficult matchup, Mason is more of a flex option than a solid RB2 for me this week.

RB - Bobby Rainey, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at WAS)

Rainey disappointed fantasy owners with a favorable matchup against the Falcons as he finished with only 10 touches and a total of 56 YFS. As the season progresses, I expect Charles Sims, who also had 10 touches in his NFL debut last week, to see a larger share of the workload in this committee. In addition, Washington is holding opposing running backs to the 11th-fewest fantasy points this season.

RB - Ben Tate, Cleveland Browns (vs. HOU)

Last week was a good week for all of Cleveland's running backs as the trio of Tate, Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell all scored touchdowns, had double-digit carries and finished as top-17 fantasy running backs. For a second consecutive week, however, West led the team in carries and Tate has exactly 10 carries in each of his past two games. Last but not least, Tate is averaging only 1.94 YPC (99 yards on 51 carries) in his past four games. Tate will rely on scoring a touchdown to be an RB2 this week.

WR - Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks (at KC)

Baldwin blew up for a 7/123/1 line on 11 targets in the game immediately following the Percy Harvin trade, but he has averaged 43.3 yards per game in his last three games. In Seattle's run-heavy scheme, it's difficult to trust Baldwin (or any Seahawks receiver) as more than a flex option.

WR - Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints (vs. CIN)

In his first seven NFL seasons, Colston averaged 8.29 touchdowns per season and then set a career low with five scores last year. This season, Colston has only one touchdown and he hasn't scored in six consecutive games. Not only does he have just one game with more than five receptions this season, Colston has averaged 3.0/40.3/0.0 on 4.0 targets per game over his past three. Colston is currently the fourth option, at best, behind Jimmy Graham, Mark Ingram and Cooks.

WR - Wes Welker, Denver Broncos (at STL)

Like Colston, Welker was drafted to be a low-end WR2, but he has been a huge disappointment. In the seven games that he has played, Welker has finished as the WR50 or worse five times. Like Colston, Welker has just one touchdown this season and is averaging just 20.0 YPG over his past three outings.

WR - Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals (vs. DET)

Another preseason-WR2 disappointment, Floyd had just one catch for 11 yards last week. Since going over the 100-yard mark twice in the team's first three games, Floyd has no more than 47 yards in any game and has just 47 total yards in his past three games combined. With Carson Palmer out for the year, Floyd may not even deserve a spot on your bench in re-draft leagues despite his talent.

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

If I told you before the season that Rivera would be the best Bay Area fantasy tight end, you probably would have laughed at me. But Davis continues to underwhelm. Averaging 2.4/24.1/0.3 on the season, Davis hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 1. And that was the last week that he finished inside the top-20 fantasy tight ends. Given his talent and past success in the red zone, it wouldn't surprise me if he had two touchdowns this week, but it also wouldn't surprise me if he was held to just two catches for 15 yards.

TE - Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles (at GB)

Count me among those that expected a breakout for the second-year tight end, but Ertz has seen his role decrease within the offense as the season has progressed. After totaling 163 yards in his first two games, Ertz has less than 50 yards in seven consecutive games and only one catch in back-to-back outings.

To see who I would start based on your team, please consult with my Week 11 rankings:

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Week 11 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Yanotchko

Here are my Week 11 picks against the spread:

San Francisco 49ers -4.5 over New York Giants (5 units)

I guess I have the Giants figured out all wrong, and I have certainly had the 49ers pegged all wrong as well. Last week, I thought this is the type of game that Tom Coughlin of the Giants excels at, and would have his team ready to play against Seattle, and of course Marshawn Lynch happened. The 49ers, upset the Saints in the Superdome, and now will pick up another win on the road in Giants Stadium. I love the matchup of the San Francisco defense that only allows 91.2 yards per game and 3.2 yards per carry on the ground, and also limits opposing passing offenses to 215 yards per game and a 58.5 completion percentage. I love the Niners defense's ability to suffocate the Giants offense, and expect huge days from Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde. I am going with a strong 5-unit play on this game.

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Detroit Lions pick'em over Arizona Cardinals (4 units)

I hate seeing things like Carson Palmer going down for the season with a torn ACL, as I really would love for him to get the chance to compete for a championship once in his career. That being said, I still think that the Cardinals are a true playoff team with Drew Stanton, but I think this week the Lions will get the better of them. The Lions believe it or not have been amazing on defense, as they have stuffed opposing teams rushing attacks by only giving up 71.3 yards per game and 3.2 yards per carry. Also, the Lions have been great against opposing passers as well this year by only giving up 212 yards through the air and collecting 26 sacks on the way. I still remember what Jeremy Maclin did to Patrick Peterson two weeks ago, and just what do you think Calvin Johnson will have in store for the Cards this week? I am going for 4 units on this one, as the Lions will grab pole position for NFC home-field advantage.

New England Patriots +2.5 over Indianapolis Colts (5 units)
Colts vs. Patriots -- Over 58.5 (4 units)

Yes, I am a huge Patriots homer, and I will still subscribe to the theory of anytime the Patriots are getting points under Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, I will gladly take them. Both of these teams have been an offensive juggernauts this year, with the Colts leading the league in scoring, and the Patriots not far behind at 3rd overall. I think this is the type of game where Belichick will go to the Pittsburgh film, and attack a Colts secondary that gives up 264 yards per game, and this is the game that Rob Gronkowski will continue his recent stat run. This is also a revamped Pats secondary that has matchup ability in Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, who can take away the big play ability of T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne. I am taking five units on the Patriots getting points, and also this will hit the over as well, so take four units on that.

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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Previous 15 Entries

Daily Fantasy Football Roundtable: Week 11 DraftKings Must-Starts Nov 14, 2014
Fantasy Football Week 11: Underrated Players in PPR Leagues Nov 13, 2014
Fantasy Football Rest-of-Season (ROS) Rankings: Weeks 11 to 16 Nov 11, 2014
Updated Fantasy Football QB Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 11 to 16 Nov 11, 2014
Updated Fantasy Football RB Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 11 to 16 Nov 11, 2014
Updated Fantasy Football WR Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 11 to 16 Nov 11, 2014
Updated Fantasy Football TE Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 11 to 16 Nov 11, 2014
2014 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Week 11 Nov 10, 2014
FREE Week 10 Fantasy Football Contest: Win One of Our T-Shirts Nov 9, 2014
Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS): Week 10 DraftKings Fantasy Football Values Nov 8, 2014
Daily Fantasy Football Roundtable: Week 10 DraftKings Must-Starts Nov 7, 2014
2014 NFL Power Rankings: Week 10 Nov 6, 2014
2014 Fantasy Football Week 10 Start'em, Sit'em Nov 6, 2014
Fantasy Football Week 10: Underrated Players in PPR Leagues Nov 6, 2014
Fantasy Football Rest-of-Season (ROS) Rankings: Weeks 10 to 16 Nov 4, 2014