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October 25, 2014

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

Here are my Week 8 picks against the spread:

Cincinnati Bengals +2.5 over Baltimore Ravens (4 units)

The Ravens offense has been clicking lately, but let's not jump to conclusions. The Bengals already beat the Ravens in Baltimore 23-16 early this season. In that game, Joe Flacco might have arguably played the worst half of football in his career. The Ravens are 1-4 ATS in their last five meetings at Cincy. Give me the Bengals to win, 24-20.

Chicago Bears +6 over New England Patriots (5 units)

This is way too many points versus a very talented Bears offense. The Patriots are going to have a very hard time slowing down Matt Forte, who leads the league in receptions this year. I also think Brandon Marshall is targeted early and often, even if Darrelle Revis is on him. And Jay Cutler plays better on the road than at home. I like the Bears to win outright, 31-23.

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

Philadelphia Eagles at Arizona Cardinals — Over 48.5 (3 units)

I love me some Chip Kelly football. The Cardinals defense has been pretty terrible against the pass in recent weeks. I believe Nick Foles and the Eagles offense has a big game. The Eagles D isn't any better either. I think this game will rival the Pack/N.O. game as the high scorer of the week: Philly 38, Arizona 36.

Washington Redskins +10 over Dallas Cowboys (3 units)

Rivalry game, plus the 'Skins are 7-1 ATS vs. Dallas over the past eight games. I don't care who Washington has at QB. I think they can keep this close. DeMarco Murray fails to rush over 100 yards (poll), but the Cowboys win a slugfest. Boys, 18-12.

Note: NFL lines are from sportsbook.ag

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

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Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS): Week 8 DraftKings Fantasy Football Values

As I pointed out in yesterday's must-start post, Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte is worth his high cost.

Not only does Forte lead running backs in receptions (52), he actually leads the NFL in that category and is on pace for 119 receptions. While I don't think he'll finish with 119 catches, Forte has a minimum of five catches every week this season and has double-digit receptions in two of his past three games.

As successful as DeMarco Murray has been running the ball, it's actually Forte — not Murray — that leads running backs in fantasy points in point-per-reception (PPR) formats. [Note: DraftKings uses full PPR scoring.]

One of the reasons I love Forte is he's extremely consistent. Over the past four weeks, he has finished as the RB5, RB2, RB1 and RB1, respectively. And he has a top-three performance in Week 1 as well.

With another favorable matchup against the Patriots this week, Forte is one of the safest high-priced studs that you can insert into your DraftKings lineups.

Due to salary-cap confinements, however, it's not possible to load up only on stud players in DraftKings contests. Some value plays need to be mixed in as well.

Here are some value plays for Week 8 DraftKings contests:

QB - Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (vs. SEA), $6,600

Aside from paying up for Aaron Rodgers ($9,000), Newton is my first choice among the mid-priced options this week. Newton ran the ball just seven times compared to the 17 he had the previous week, but the good news is that he is running the ball again and has 148 rushing yards and a touchdown over the past two games. Given up the 12th-most fantasy points to quarterbacks, the Seahawks have allowed multiple passing touchdowns in five consecutive games. My fifth-ranked quarterback yet to play (started the week as my QB7), there are nine other quarterbacks with a higher salary this weekend.

DraftKings $2.2 Millionaire Maker Week 8 Contest: Turn your $27 entry fee into the $1 million top prize in their Week 8 contest.

RB - Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. IND), $6,300

The only way in which Bell had disappointed fantasy owners is that he didn't score his second touchdown of the season until Week 7. That said, he is still the third-highest scoring running back in PPR formats after Forte and Murray. Bell ranks third in the NFL in rushing yards (599) and carries (117) and second among running backs in receptions (36) and receiving yards (339). Among running backs with at least 50 touches, none have averaged more yards from scrimmage per touch than Bell (6.13). As my third-ranked running back at the seventh-highest cost at the position, Bell gives owners a stud option at a discounted price.

RB - Joique Bell, Detroit Lions (at ATL), $4,800

In order to play Bell, you need to join a contest that starts at 9:30 a.m., which means your options are limited. That said, he's a must-start in games in which you can play him. With Reggie Bush listed as doubtful (i.e., not going to play), Bell will dominate the team's touches with Theo Riddick mixing in some as well. No team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing running backs this season than the Falcons, which have allowed nine top-20 fantasy running backs (PPR) in just seven games.

RB - Mark Ingram, New Orleans Saints (vs. GB), $4,300

Not only is Pierre Thomas out this week, but so is Khiry Robinson. That leaves the bulk of the backfield workload to Ingram, who returned last week from his hand injury, and the next guy on this list. Before sustaining the hand injury, Ingram had three rushing touchdowns in two games. Based on Vegas odds, the Saints are projected to score the third-most points this week in a game with the highest over-under. In other words, there could be a few goal-line opportunities for Ingram as well as a heavy workload.

RB - Travaris Cadet, New Orleans Saints (vs. GB), $3,000

As noted above, injuries in the backfield and expectations of a shootout should lead to solid fantasy production from Cadet, who is priced at the position-minimum salary. Even with Thomas healthy, Cadet had been stealing a significant role in the team's passing attack. Over the past three games, he has six receptions twice and a total of 15 catches. I could easily see Cadet finishing with six catches for 50 yards and adding another 20 or so rushing yards.

WR - Golden Tate, Detroit Lions (at ATL), $6,500

Like with Bell, Tate can only be used in select contests with a 9:30 a.m. start time, but he's worth getting into your lineup if you can. With the expectation that Calvin Johnson sits ahead of Detroit's Week 9 bye, Tate is line for another monster game. Over his past four games, Tate has 32/448/2 on 44 targets and at least 116 yards in three of those games.

WR - Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals (vs. PHI), $4,900

In his first three games, Floyd had a pair of 100-yard games and he has scored in back-to-back weeks, but Floyd has yet to have a top-20 finish in PPR scoring. That could change this week. The Eagles have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points (PPR scoring) to opposing wide receivers this season. Priced lower than 23 other wide receivers, Floyd is my 14th-ranked wideout.

WR - Julian Edelman, New England Patriots (vs. CHI), $4,600

Always better in PPR formats (like DraftKings) than standard-scoring formats, Edelman is the 31st-most expensive wideout this week, but he is my 18th-ranked wide receiver. Edelman has four top-20 finishes in seven games, but unfortunately he has finished as the WR45 or worse in three of the past four weeks. That said, Edelman has had at least seven targets every week and has averaged 9.29 targets and 6.29 catches per game this season.

WR - DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans (at TEN), $4,200

Bouncing back from his Week 6 dud (2.2 fantasy points), Hopkins had six catches for 108 yards in Week 7. Hopkins now has 100-plus yards or a touchdown in five of seven games this season. At $4,200, there are 41 receivers priced higher than Hopkins, but it's unlikely that 41 of them outscore him.

WR - Justin Hunter, Tennessee Titans (vs. HOU), $3,100

At only $100 above the position-minimum salary, Hunter is a high-upside guy that can deliver a bang for the buck. Or 20 cents on the dollar. As his two one-catch games over the past four weeks illustrate, his floor is low especially considering rookie Zach Mettenberger will be making his first NFL start. That said, Hunter and Mettenberger displayed good chemistry in the preseason and Mettenberger has the strong arm to attack the Texans vertically. I'll roll the dice with Hunter in a few lineups this weekend.

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TE - Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers (vs. SEA), $5,500

While he doesn't receive the attention of other top tight ends, Olsen is actually the top-scoring tight end in PPR formats this season. (He's second behind only Julius Thomas in standard-scoring formats.) Olsen has finished with at least five catches and 60 yards in six of seven games and has scored a total of five touchdowns. Not only has he finished as a top-10 fantasy tight end in six of seven weeks, but he has finished as a top-four performer five times. This week's matchup is nothing to fear and it can actually be exploited as the Seahawks are giving up the third-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. My top-ranked PPR tight end this week, Olsen is only the third-most expensive.

TE - Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins (at DAL), $4,000

One of the most physically-gifted (and injury-plagued) tight ends in the league, Reed is healthy again and gets a favorable matchup this week. Over the past two games, Reed has 13 catches for 136 yards on 17 targets. Aside from the Bengals, no team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing tight ends than the Cowboys.

TE - Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles (at ARI), $3,200

Playing only 61 of 149 snaps in the team's two most-recent games, Ertz has barely played more than 40 percent of the team's offensive snaps over the past two weeks. Ertz played 64.48 percent of the offensive snaps in Weeks 1 to 4. That said, Ertz is a talented receiver, priced only $200 above the position minimum and the Cardinals present a matchup with the possibility to exploit. After allowing the most fantasy points to tight ends last year, Arizona is currently allowing the sixth-most this season.

In addition, check out our site's DraftKings Week 8 Cheat Sheet.

Also, check out my weekly fantasy football rankings:

Keep track of our site's updates: (1) follow us on Twitter, (2) LIKE us on Facebook and/or (3) add us to your Google+ circle

October 24, 2014

2014 Fantasy Football Week 8 Start'em, Sit'em

We are roughly halfway through the 2014 NFL season — it always goes by way too fast, doesn't it? — and there are always surprises along the way.

As an example, both Ahmad Bradshaw and Justin Forsett rank inside the top-eight fantasy running backs through Week 7 and they are well ahead of LeSean McCoy (RB26). In fact, Bradshaw (92.8) has scored more fantasy points than McCoy (53.6) and Zac Stacy (37.5) combined.

While Bradshaw is listed below in this week's Start'em, Sit'em column, which players you should insert into your starting lineup depends on your roster and league's scoring settings.

In other words, if you own Eddie Lacy, McCoy and Bradshaw and can only start two running backs, I would start Lacy and McCoy even though Bradshaw is listed below as a "start." While he's ranked as a solid second running back, I have both Lacy and McCoy ranked a few spots higher.

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 - Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins (at JAX)

Tannehill got off to a slower start than I had expected, but he's been very productive over his past three games. Averaging 21.05 fantasy points per game during that stretch, Tannehill has finished as the QB11, QB13 and QB4 in his past three games. Not only does he have a minimum of 244 passing yards and two touchdowns in those games, he's added a total of 132 rushing yards as well.

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

Palmer has been solid in his three starts this season as he thrown for at least 250 yards and two touchdowns in each of his starts. Prior to the Eagles bye and shutout against the Giants, they had allowed five consecutive top-12 finishes to opposing quarterbacks. In those games, they allowed multiple touchdowns each week and a total of 13. On the season, the Eagles have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing QBs.

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

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

With Reggie Bush listed as doubtful for Sunday's game in London, Bell will have this incredibly favorable matchup mostly to himself. No team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing running backs than the Falcons. In seven games, the Falcons have allowed seven running backs to finish the week as a top-13 running back and they have surrendered 12 rushing touchdowns to RBs. Over the past two games, Bell has 20 touches and a touchdown in each game and it's likely that streak extends to three games this weekend.

RB - Ahmad Bradshaw, Indianapolis Colts (at PIT)

While the pace is not sustainable, Bradshaw has scored seven touchdowns including six receiving scores in seven games this season. To put that into perspective, only three other running backs — Jamaal Charles, Danny Woodhead and Darren Sproles — have had that many receiving touchdowns in an entire season since 2005. That said, Bradshaw has scored the fifth-most fantasy points among running backs through Week 7 and he has finished as an RB1 (top-12 RB) in four of seven games. Although he may not score his eighth touchdown of the season, Bradshaw has become a weekly start as long as he's healthy.

RB - Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders (at CLE)

Over the past five games, McFadden has averaged 17.0 touches per game (13.8 carries and 3.2 catches per contest). During that five-game span, he has finished as a top-27 (or better) running back in four games. In other words, he's producing at an RB2/flex level in the majority of his games. This week, the Raiders will face the Browns, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to the position.

RB - Jerick McKinnon, Minnesota Vikings (at TB)

The bad news is that McKinnon and yours truly are tied with zero NFL touchdowns. More than likely, McKinnon will break that tie some day — and perhaps it's this week. Either way, McKinnon has a pair of 100-yard rushing games over the past four weeks including last week against the Bills' vaunted run defense. An extremely explosive athlete, McKinnon has a great matchup this week as the Bucs have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

[Related: McKinnon made his way on to our must-start list for Week 8 DraftKings contests.]

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

Going into Week 8, Tate has 48 catches for 649 yards and two touchdowns on 65 targets. Antonio Brown (50) and Julio Jones (49) are the only wide receivers with more receptions than Tate, who currently ranks ninth among wideouts in fantasy points in standard-scoring formats. With Calvin Johnson either playing a decoy role or inactive, Tate has racked up a line of 32/448/2 on 44 targets over the past four games. If Megatron sits again this week, Tate is a top-three option for me at wide receiver.

WR - Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills (at NYJ)

Excluding a three-target game in Week 6 spent on Revis Island, Watkins has eight-plus targets in his other five games since Week 2. Last week, he had a season-high 14 targets and finished with a 9/122/2 line. The WR15 through Week 7, Watkins has a favorable matchup against the Jets, who have allowed four 100-yard receivers including a 209-yard game to Jordy Nelson.

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

Although Floyd had a pair of 100-yard games in the three games before the bye and he has scored a touchdown in back-to-back games, he has finished as a top-20 wide receiver only once this season. With Palmer back under center, it wouldn't surprise me if Floyd has his best game of the year against the Eagles, who have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this year.

WR - T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts (at PIT)

Hilton has only one touchdown this season, but he has five-plus catches in all seven games this season and has nine-plus targets in all but one game. Over the past four games, he has been particularly productive with at least 90 yards in each game and has racked up a line of 31/525/1 during that stretch. With Reggie Wayne already ruled out for Week 8, Hilton should have another highly productive outing.

TE - Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins (at DAL)

One of the most physically-gifted (and injury-plagued) tight ends in the league, Reed is healthy again and gets a favorable matchup this week. Over the past two games, Reed has 13 catches for 136 yards on 17 targets. Aside from the Bengals, no team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing tight ends than the Cowboys.

TE - Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts (at PIT)

On the season, Andrew Luck has thrown 19 touchdowns and the largest share has gone to tight ends (nine). While Coby Fleener also has three touchdowns, Allen has caught a touchdown in five of seven games this season. In those games, he has finished as a top-seven fantasy tight end or better. The Steelers have allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season.

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

QB - Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (vs. DET)

With an offensive line that has lost four starters to season-ending injuries, Ryan is going to get pressured early and often facing one of the league's top defensive lines. Technically, this week's game is considered a "home" game, but Ryan has struggled away from the Georgia Dome. In his four games outside of Georgia this year, Ryan has finished as the QB27, QB14, QB19 and QB23, respectively. Considering the Lions have allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, this could turn out to be a really long day for Ryan and Falcons.

RB - Doug Martin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. MIN)

Martin has yet to exceed 45 rushing yards in any of his four games this season and he's averaging just 2.90 yards per carry. While the matchup is favorable, Martin is nothing more than a flex option for me this week.

RB - Bishop Sankey, Tennessee Titans (vs. HOU)

With Shonn Greene sidelined for two weeks, Sankey has 34 carries for 117 yards (3.44 YPC) and one catch for seven yards. While the volume is good, the modest production isn't and there's a good chance that Sankey comes out when (or if) the Titans get near the goal line. Like Martin, Sankey is a flex option for me this week.

RB - Steven Jackson, Atlanta Falcons (vs. DET)

While he averaged 14.4 touches per game in the first five games of the season, Jackson has just 15 touches combined over the past two weeks and has finished outside the top-50 fantasy running backs each week. The Lions have allowed just 3.21 YPC to running backs and the eighth-fewest fantasy points to the position this season.

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

As I noted in our NFL power rankings, nobody could have expected that the Seahawks would have traded Harvin in between back-to-back losses. While the Seahawks are a run-first team, Harvin is still a head case and it'll be interesting to see his impact on a locker room that has had its share of dysfunction. While Harvin will get return opportunities, his offensive snaps will be limited as he gets familiar with the offense in the middle of the season.

WR - Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings (at TB)

Patterson scored his first receiving touchdown (he also had a rushing score in Week 1) of the season last week. That said, he still finished outside the top 36 fantasy receivers on his 2/9/1 stat line. That's not a typo — he had just nine yards. Patterson has exactly two receptions in four consecutive games and his receiving yards in those games are 38, eight, 15 and nine, respectively. Since Week 2, Patterson has three carries, but (to recycle my McKinnon joke) I have more rushing yards than he does during that span: zero to minus two. Patterson has a great matchup this week, but do you trust that he capitalize on it?

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

Wright has seen a high volume of targets with eight-plus in four of his past five games. He's had a couple of productive outings, but I have a hunch that Justin Hunter and the strong-armed rookie Zach Mettenberger show off the positive chemistry they displayed in the preseason. If you're in a 12-team league, I have Wright ranked as a WR3, but I have Hunter ranked a few spots higher this week.

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

Miller has just one game with a top-12 finish and he has finished as the TE30 (or worse) in four of seven games this year. Over his past three games, Miller has just eight targets, six catches and 78 yards.

To see who I would start based on your team, please consult with my Week 8 rankings:

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Daily Fantasy Football Roundtable: Week 8 DraftKings Must-Starts

Each Friday, our contributors tackle the $1 Million question (DraftKings' Millionaire Maker contest) and give their one must-start player that they like in DraftKings contests.

Here are our Week 8 DraftKings must-starts:

Brendan DonahueJeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles ($5,500)

Coming off a bye, Maclin and the Eagles travel to Arizona who have given up the third-most fantasy points to opposing receivers this year. If you take out the Giants game where the Eagles dominated and didn't need to throw the ball in the 2nd half, Maclin has been targeted at least 10 times in every game. In what should be a shootout, I expect at least 10 targets for Maclin again and a great chance of producing well above his $5,500 price tag.

Sean BeazleyJerick McKinnon, RB, Minnesota Vikings ($4,900)

One player I love this week is Vikings RB Jerrick McKinnon ($4,900). McKinnon is my sixth-ranked RB this week. McKinnon had a 19/103 line last week and should continue to get the bulk of the carries for Minnesota. He faces the Bucs, who rank 25th vs. the run this year and allow a league-worst 34 points per game. I think McKinnon could break out this week in a big way.

Ryan Watterson — Jerick McKinnon, RB, Minnesota Vikings ($4,900)

McKinnon gets a top matchup against the lowly Bucs this week. Tampa has given up the fourth-most fantasy points to RBs this season. McKinnon has solidified himself as the lead back in Minnesota and has become the focal point of this offense. At $4,900, it will be hard to find a better value than McKinnon.

Dan YanotchkoShane Vereen, RB, New England Patriots ($6,200)

I am targeting Shane Vereen of the Patriots this week, as he is made especially for the Draft Kings full-point PPR format. Since losing Stevan Ridley for the year, Vereen is now the workhorse for the Pats and had an impressive stat line against one of the best rush defenses in the Jets. Vereen last week ran for 43 yards, but he had five receptions on eight targets for 71 yards and two touchdowns. I like the matchup of Vereen coming out of the backfield against the Bears, who allow 21.8 fantasy points per game to opposing RBs in PPR formats.

Kevin HansonMatt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears ($8,800)

Without a doubt, finding underpriced values is imperative, but starting high-priced studs that actually produce like studs is important as well. In other words, if you spend the money, you better get production and that's exactly what Forte has delivered. The top-scoring fantasy running back in PPR formats (DeMarco Murray is second), Forte leads running backs in catches (52), but he also leads the entire NFL. (Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown is second with 50 and Forte is on pace for 119 catches.) In PPR formats, Forte has finished the past four weeks as the RB5, RB2, RB1, RB1 — and he had an RB3 performance in Week 1 as well. The Pats have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs in PPR formats and Forte is about as safe as it gets and worth the salary.

-> Turn $27 into $1 Million in this week's Millionaire Maker contest

More Week 8 content:

Good luck in Week 8!

October 23, 2014

2014 NFL Power Rankings: Week 8

Here are my Week 8 NFL power rankings:

1. Denver Broncos - Record: 5-1, Last Update: No. 1

Conditions are positive for Peyton Manning to build upon his NFL-record 510 passing touchdowns on Thursday Night Football against the Chargers. As tweeted by ESPN's Field Yates, the Broncos rank first in the NFL in red-zone efficiency while the Chargers rank last in the NFL in red-zone defense.

2. Dallas Cowboys - Record: 6-1, Last Update: No. 3

Once again, DeMarco Murray rushed for 100-plus yards and he's now the sole owner of the NFL record for most 100-yard games to start a season. In five career games against Washington, Murray has yet to rush for 100 yards, but he had 96 yards against them last December. Will he go over 100 for an eighth straight week?

-> Poll: Murray's Week 8 rushing yardage?

3. Indianapolis Colts - Record: 5-2, Last Update: No. 8

Going into the season, it wouldn't be a shock to many to say that Ahmad Bradshaw would be more productive than Trent Richardson this year. That said, Bradshaw has scored seven touchdowns including six receiving scores in seven games and ranks fifth among all running backs in fantasy points through Week 7.

4. Philadelphia Eagles - Record: 5-1, Last Update: No. 4

Last season, Nick Foles threw only two interceptions all year against 27 touchdowns. In his past three games, he has a 4:5 TD-to-INT ratio. Through six games this season, he has a total of 10 turnovers — seven interceptions and three lost fumbles. That puts him on pace to turn the ball over 27 times this season.

5. Green Bay Packers - Record: 5-2, Last Update: No. 6

If there is anyone that is not heeding Aaron Rodgers advice to "relax," it's opposing defenses. Since Week 2, Rodgers has thrown three-plus touchdowns in five of six games and has a 17:0 TD-to-INT ratio during that span. The team's top two receivers, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, have caught touchdowns in four consecutive games.

6. Arizona Cardinals - Record: 5-1, Last Update: No. 9

Even with some key injuries to their defensive line, the Cardinals once again rank first in the NFL in rush defense. Meanwhile, the pass defense ranks second to last in the NFL. Based on PFF pass-coverage grades, Patrick Peterson (-4.3) ranks 85th of 106 cornerbacks.

7. San Diego Chargers - Record: 5-2, Last Update: No. 2

Through seven games, Keenan Allen has 34 receptions, which is tied for 17th at the position, but he has yet to catch his first touchdown of the season. No receiver has more receptions than Allen without a touchdown. Next is diminutive slot receiver Andrew Hawkins (29 catches, no TDs).

8. New England Patriots - Record: 5-2, Last Update: No. 10

The good times continue to roll for Tom Brady and the Patriots offense. Over the past three games, Brady has nine touchdowns and no interceptions. And for the disgruntled fantasy owners that were growing impatient, he now has three consecutive top-seven performances.

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

9. Baltimore Ravens - Record: 5-2, Last Update: No. 11

Through seven games, quarterback Joe Flacco (1,854 yards) ranks eighth in the NFL in passing yards and is on pace for a career-high 4,238 yards and 32 touchdowns. Here's an interesting stat: 105 of Flacco's 156 completions, or 67-plus percent, have gone to players that weren't on the team last season.

10. Detroit Lions - Record: 5-2, Last Update: No. 12

Not only has Golden Tate played well with Calvin Johnson sidelined (or used as a decoy), but he has been dominant. In his past four games, Tate has a minimum of seven catches per game and a stat line of 32/448/2 on 44 targets. In three of those four games, Tate has at least 116 yards.

11. San Francisco 49ers - Record: 4-3, Last Update: No. 5

No team wants a 25-point loss heading into their bye (or at any point of the season), but the 49ers will face teams with a losing record in five of their first six games after the bye. The one team that doesn't have a losing record is Seattle (3-3) and they face them on a short week in San Francisco.

12. Seattle Seahawks - Record: 3-3, Last Update: No. 7

Back in August, if someone told you that the Seahawks would lose to the Cowboys at home and then to the Rams and their third-string quarterback the following week, you would have thought (s)he was crazy. What if (s)he also told you that they would trade Percy Harvin for a conditional draft pick in between those games?

13. Miami Dolphins - Record: 3-3, Last Update: No. 21

Although Mike Wallace is averaging a career-low 11.97 yards per reception and only has one game with more than five receptions, he's been consistently finding the end zone. 60 Minutes has scored in five of six games this season and has already tied his touchdown total from 2013.

14. Kansas City Chiefs - Record: 3-3, Last Update: No. 19

After getting his bell rung on a touchdown, Jamaal Charles grabbed some headlines with his comments made about that play. When he is healthy, few, if any, players are as important to their respective offenses as Charles is to Kansas City's offense. And on Sunday, he broke the franchise's rushing record.

15. Pittsburgh Steelers - Record: 4-3, Last Update: No. 23

Helped by Houston's turnovers, the Steelers became the first team to score 21 points in the final two minutes of a half since the Texans did the same in 2012.

16. Houston Texans - Record: 3-4, Last Update: No. 16

While DeMarco Murray generates tons of buzz about his strong start, another running back that plays in Texas is off to a great start as well. Texans running back Arian Foster now has gone over 100 rushing yards in five of his six games played. (The one exception was just six yards on eight carries in Week 4.)

-> Continue to Teams 17-32

Also, check out our fantasy football rankings:

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Fantasy Football Week 8: Underrated Players in PPR Leagues

Welcome to Week 8's version of underrated PPR players. As always, let's take a look at last week's picks and the year to date total +/-.

Performance Breakdown

Week 7 Results
QBsRBsWRsTEsTotal
+34.6-23.0-28.9+20.2+2.9
YTD Results
QBsRBsWRsTEsTotal
+43.9+70.9-81.9+38.8+71.7

* Stats are based on players recommended (compared to options listed to start those players over). YTD stats are from Week 5 with my first post.

Best of the week: Russell Wilson – Wilson was the No. 1 QB in fantasy last week, scoring a monster 40.3 points, depending on your scoring system. He outscored Drew Brees and Cam Newton by a total of 35.8 points.

Runner-up: Jermaine Gresham – Gresham had one of the more interesting stat lines you will see – 10 catches on 12 targets for 48 yards. That’s an astonishingly poor 4.8 YPC. However, I picked him because I thought he would get the opportunities, which he did. His 14.8 points ranked 8th in a PPR last week, scoring a total of 20.2 points more than the competition.

Worst of the week: Cecil Shorts – Typically, a four-point performance from Shorts means he left the game with an injury. It is rare to see Shorts lead the team in targets and produce next to nothing, but such is life. The real reason for the large negative value was Roddy White, who ironically was the “worst of the week” just seven days ago. Coming off a terrible game at home against a weak secondary, he of course goes off on the road against a tough secondary. Fantasy football is a fickle mistress. Shorts netted me a total of -37.2 points.

Runner-up: Reggie Bush – Bush claimed to be near 100% going into the game, but he tweaked his injury early in the game and looked far from healthy even before that point. He was extremely disappointing against his former team and lost a total of 18.4 points.

Now, on to this week's picks ...

Quarterbacks

Alex Smith – Kansas City Chiefs
FantasyPros ECR – 17

The Chiefs travel to St. Louis to take on a Rams team that ranks last in the league in defensive efficiency against the pass, and just gave up 40 points to the aforementioned Russell Wilson. Smith is no Wilson, but he can be a productive fantasy QB in the right matchup and is always a threat to gain some yards on the ground to buoy his numbers. Smith would be a good streaming option this week for QB-needy teams.

Consider starting him over:
- Matt Ryan – ECR 15
- Joe Flacco – ECR 16

Cam Newton – Carolina Panthers
FantasyPros ECR – 13

Newton is finally starting to get his mobility back, posting back-to-back weeks of solid rushing numbers. While he did struggle through the air last week, Green Bay is unexpectedly in the upper echelon of passing defenses. The script flips a little this week. Seattle isn’t the same defense they were last season, they are vulnerable in the passing game due to a number of injuries to their No. 2 and No. 3 CBs. Ranking 22nd in defensive passing efficiency, Seattle doesn’t represent the terrifying matchup they used to. With Newton starting to get things going and Seattle in a slump, I think Newton posts solid QB1 numbers this week.

Consider starting him over:
- Jay Cutler – ECR 11
- Nick Foles – ECR 9

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Running Backs

Mark Ingram – New Orleans Saints
FantasyPros ECR – 21

Ingram was wholly unimpressive in his return from injury last week, posting a 1.6 YPC over 10 totes. However, I believe that had a lot to do with getting re-acclimated to live game action and facing the best run defense in the league. I expected the Saints to ease him back in, but believed he would eventually earn the lead back role after he looked to have finally realized his potential early in the season. Well, Pierre Thomas’ injury may accelerate that timeline. While Thomas was the primary passing down back, he still managed more than a handful of carries each week. He leaves a lot of touches on the table. Ingram is by the far the most well-rounded back left in the Saints backfield and is perfectly capable of handling more passing-down work in addition to his ground game. Travaris Cadet and Khiry Robinson will be involved, but I think Ingram gets the majority of the touches this week.

The Saints play a must-win game against the Packers this week. While New Orleans will never be a run-first team under Payton, his game plans do typically focus on exposing a defense's weakness. This is usually the reason Saints players can be so inconsistent in fantasy each week. Well, if Payton stays true to that mold, the Saints will have a greater focus on the run game as the Packers D ranks in the bottom third on the ground. In addition, the Saints offensive line is one of the best in terms of run blocking, while the Packers D-line is below average. Given how poorly the Saints D has been, and in a must-win situation, their best option is to exploit the Packers defensive weakness while simultaneously limiting Aaron Rodgers' possessions.

Consider starting him over:
- Darren McFadden – ECR 20
- Shane Vereen – ECR 15

Ahmad Bradshaw – Indianapolis Colts
FantasyPros ECR – 14

If Trent Richardson ends up playing his typical role, consider this null and void. I like Bradshaw this week regardless of if T-Rich plays, but his current ranking is in line with his usual role. What excites me about Bradshaw this week is the opportunity to handle a full workload for the first time this season. Extrapolate his stats across more touches and you have the production of a high end RB1. Did I mention that the Steelers are nothing more than a middling run defense that can be exposed, especially behind the Colts top 10 run blocking o-line?

Consider starting him over:
- LeSean McCoy – ECR 9
- Giovani Bernard – ECR 12

Wide Receivers

Terrance Williams – Dallas Cowboys
FantasyPros ECR - 32

There isn’t a whole to say here other than the Cowboys are playing the Redskins this week. The same Redskins who rank 20th in pass efficiency, 22nd in fantasy points allowed, and have given up at least 27 points in all but three games this season.

Consider starting him over:
- Marques Colston – ECR 28
- Pierre Garcon – ECR 22
- Keenan Allen – ECR 29

James Jones – Oakland Raiders
FantasyPros ECR – 39

Jones has had at least five targets in every game since Week 2, and has had at least 7.3 points in every game this season. Those numbers don’t blow anyone away, but there is something to be said for consistency. What’s interesting is that production has come against four of the best pass defenses in the league. With a great matchup on deck against the Browns, who rank 29th against WR1's, Jones is a good candidate to have a very solid game, likely something in the 13-16 point range. Not bad for a WR3.

Consider starting him over:
- Brandin Cooks – ECR 34
- Torrey Smith – ECR 38

Tight Ends

Dwayne Allen – Indianapolis Colts
FantasyPros ECR - 8

Allen is one of my favorite picks this week. The Steelers are one of the worst defenses against TEs – 24th in FPA and 29th in efficiency. Luck spreads the ball around and takes advantage of the defense’s weakness. Allen has been very involved in the offense in all but Week 2 and I don’t see any reason that doesn’t continue. I think Allen is a top-6 TE this week.

Consider starting him over:
- Jordan Cameron – ECR 8
- Antonio Gates – ECR 6

Thanks for reading and good luck in Week 8! Follow me on Twitter @rw11687.

October 21, 2014

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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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

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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

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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

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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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October 19, 2014

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.

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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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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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October 16, 2014

2014 NFL Power Rankings: Week 7

Here are my Week 7 NFL power rankings:

1. Denver Broncos - Record: 4-1, Last Update: No. 2

Now only three touchdowns away from breaking Brett Favre's all-time passing touchdowns record (508), Peyton Manning has thrown multiple touchdowns in all five games and three-plus in four of five games this season. Of the 15 touchdowns than Manning has thrown this year, tight end Julius Thomas has caught nine of them with at least one in each game. In the history of the NFL, only Calvin Johnson has as many receiving touchdowns threw the first five games of a season (2011).

2. San Diego Chargers - Record: 5-1, Last Update: No. 3

Following up last year's bounce-back season, Philip Rivers is having an even better year this season — 117.6 passer rating, 8.8 yards per attempt and 69.3 completion percentage, all of which lead the NFL, and a 15:2 TD-to-INT ratio. Yet despite injuries and Rivers' success, the Chargers remain committed to the run. They rank last in the league in yards per carry (2.9) yet third in the league in rush attempts (190).

3. Dallas Cowboys - Record: 5-1, Last Update: No. 8

Anytime there is a list of two running backs and the other is Jim Brown, you know it's a good list to be on. While there is some obvious concern about the volume of work and his past durability, DeMarco Murray now has six consecutive 100-yard rushing games to start the season. The team's commitment to the run really masks some of their other issues by keeping their defense off the field and fresh.

4. Philadelphia Eagles - Record: 5-1, Last Update: No. 7

In his first five games, LeSean McCoy averaged less than four yards per carry in all of them. In Week 6, however, McCoy gained 149 yards on 22 carries for an average of 6.77 YPC. Not only did McCoy come up big, but their defense pitched a 27-0 shutout against division rivals to hit their bye week on a high.

5. San Francisco 49ers - Record: 4-2, Last Update: No. 6

Even though they are missing several key contributors on the defensive side of the ball, the 49ers rank second in the NFL in total defense and rank fifth against the run and second against the pass. They will have their toughest test of the season as they face the high-powered Broncos offense on the road in Week 7.

6. Green Bay Packers - Record: 4-2, Last Update: No. 5

Although he's averaging just 236.5 passing yards per game, which would be a career low as a starter, Aaron Rodgers has now thrown 14 touchdowns with no interceptions in his past five games. On the season, nobody has thrown a higher percentage of touchdown passes than Rodgers, who has connected for a touchdown on 7.9 percent of his pass attempts.

7. Seattle Seahawks - Record: 3-2, Last Update: No. 1

The Cowboys came into Seattle's house and pushed them around, something that nobody expected including me. That said, you could easily argue that the Seahawks should have been pushed down this far in this week's power rankings. Based on current Vegas odds, the Seahawks are still the favorites among all NFC teams to win the Super Bowl and only the Broncos have lower odds to win it all.

8. Indianapolis Colts - Record: 4-2, Last Update: No. 9

With a (regular-season) career-high 223 yards and a touchdown against the Texans last week, Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton continues to create trouble for Houston's secondary. In five career games against the Texans, Hilton has 31 catches for 611 yards and six touchdowns. In fact, his touchdown ended a 13-game regular-season drought without a touchdown. (His previous touchdown was against the Texans when he scored three times.)

9. Arizona Cardinals - Record: 4-1, Last Update: No. 10

Although they sit atop the NFC West in the standings, they are the third NFC West team in these rankings. With the return of Carson Palmer on Sunday, both Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald caught their first touchdowns of the season last week.

10. New England Patriots - Record: 4-2, Last Update: No. 11

What a difference with Tom Brady and the offense over the past couple of weeks! After four consecutive games with 249 passing yards (or less) and only one touchdown, Brady has thrown for 653 yards and six touchdowns in his past two games combined. Unfortunately, they lost Stevan Ridley, their leading rusher, and Jerod Mayo, the "Tom Brady of the defense," to season-ending injuries last week.

11. Baltimore Ravens - Record: 4-2, Last Update: No. 12

Throwing five touchdowns in all, Joe Flacco threw four first-quarter touchdowns against the Bucs in Week 6. Once again, Steve Smith went over 100 yards and he now has three touchdowns of 56 yards or more. His longest reception last year was 44 yards.

12. Detroit Lions - Record: 4-2, Last Update: No. 14

One of the biggest surprises this year has been how well the Lions defense has played. Through six games, they rank first in the NFL in scoring defense (13.7 PPG), total defense (270.7 YPG) and sacks (20.0). In addition, they rank first in pass defense (197.2 YPG) and second in run defense (73.5 YPG).

13. Cincinnati Bengals - Record: 3-1-1, Last Update: No. 4

The Bengals had the league's top-ranked scoring defense after their first three wins, but they have now allowed 80 points in their past two games to the Patriots and Panthers. Unfortunately, it will difficult for the Bengals to get back on track defensively as they face Andrew Luck and the Colts, who own the league's top-ranked offense.

14. Cleveland Browns - Record: 3-2, Last Update: No. 20

The Browns have one of the league's top rushing attacks — 146.4 yards per game, third-best in NFL — and rank seventh in the NFL in first downs per game (22.2). Along with Aaron Rodgers, Brian Hoyer is the only quarterback to have started all of his team's games and throw just one interception. That said, the Browns have the seventh-worst time of possession (28:12) in the NFL largely due to their 29th-ranked defense (409.2 YPG allowed).

15. Carolina Panthers - Record: 3-2-1, Last Update: No. 16

Not only did Cam Newton throw for a season-high 284 yards and sling it 46 times, which ties a career high, he ran the ball a career-high 17 times for 107 yards and a touchdown. It was his second 100-yard rushing game of his career.

16. Houston Texans - Record: 3-3, Last Update: No. 15

In five games this season, Arian Foster has four games with 20-plus carries and 100-plus rushing yards. Although he has missed one game, if he plays the remaining 10 games on their schedule and maintains his current pace, Foster will finish with just shy of 2,000 yards from scrimmage (1,932 pace).

-> Continue to Teams 17-32

Also, check out our fantasy football rankings:

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Previous 15 Entries

Fantasy Football Week 7: Underrated Players in PPR Leagues Oct 15, 2014
Fantasy Football Rest-of-Season (ROS) Rankings: Weeks 7 to 16 Oct 14, 2014
2014 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Week 7 Oct 14, 2014
2014 Fantasy Football QB Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 7 to 16 Oct 14, 2014
2014 Fantasy Football RB Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 7 to 16 Oct 14, 2014
2014 Fantasy Football WR Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 7 to 16 Oct 14, 2014
2014 Fantasy Football TE Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 7 to 16 Oct 14, 2014
Week 6 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Hanson Oct 12, 2014
2014 Fantasy Football Week 6 Start'em, Sit'em Oct 11, 2014
Fantasy Football Week 6: Underrated Players in PPR Leagues Oct 8, 2014
2014 Fantasy Football QB Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 6 to 16 Oct 7, 2014
2014 Fantasy Football RB Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 6 to 16 Oct 7, 2014
2014 Fantasy Football WR Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 6 to 16 Oct 7, 2014
2014 Fantasy Football TE Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 6 to 16 Oct 7, 2014
2014 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Week 6 Oct 7, 2014