Week Seven Fantasy Surprises

082917-Kittle_TBLast week was a pretty solid one for my fantasy surprises as Alvin Kamara, Will Fuller and Evan Engram¬† all turned in efficient weeks. Despite two teams on bye this week, that number will be much higher in both weeks eight and nine. With that said, if you don’t have a clear replacement in mind, it is never too early to start looking at the wire and seeing if someone with a favorable matchup that week is around to help your team.

QB: Tyrod Taylor vs Buccaneers: Taylor doesn’t have a ton of weapons at his disposal, but he has a nice home matchup against a Buccaneers pass defense that has struggled. Due to the added ability to contribute on the ground, Taylor could make for a nice tournament play in daily fantasy formats. Expect around 250 total yards and two touchdowns.

RB: Joe Mixon vs Steelers: Due to the Bengals offensive line struggles, Mixon despite his immense talent has been unable to get much going. The Steelers have shown they can be vulnerable on the ground and Mixon is also able to catch passes out of the backfield if the Bengals are in comeback mode. He should make for at least a decent flex option this week. Expect around 70 total yards and a touchdown.

WR: Bennie Fowler vs Chargers: If you’re looking for a deep sleeper at wideout this week, Fowler could be your guy. With Emmanuel Sanders set to miss the game, Fowler figures to be next in line to receive targets after Demaryius Thomas. While Thomas could see as many as 15 this game, if Fowler was to see six or seven he could make for a nice value against a vulnerable secondary. Expect around 50 yards and a touchdown.

TE: George Kittle vs Cowboys: In the past few weeks, Kittle has become much more involved in the 49ers passing game seeing 17 targets. Now with his old college quarterback C.J. Beathard at the helm, it wouldn’t be surprising if that continues. There is a chance the 49ers get down early in this one, and in that case the Cowboys will be fine with allowing Beathard to check it down. Kittle could be a frequent recipient of those, so he could be a very nice play in PPR leagues or daily fantasy tournaments. Expcct around 60 yards and a touchdown.

K: Josh Lambo vs Colts: After missing what seems like a dozen kicks the past few years that had fans questioning “is this the one that does it?” Jason Meyers’ performance last week is apparently where the Jaguars draw the line. In his place, the Jaguars sign Lambo who was kicking for the Chargers last season and starts right away with a nice matchup. As we all know, the Jaguar passing attack isn’t likely to put points on the board, so if Leonard Fournette can’t punch one in Lambo should get some chances. You could do worse if streaming the position this week. Expect around two field goals and two extra points.

DEF: Titans vs Browns: This play has nothing to do with the Titans defense, but mainly the Browns offense. Despite putting money into the offensive line, the Browns are either shying away or due to the score moving away from the run. DeShone Kizer is once again the starting quarterback which makes sense as he offers far more upside than Kevin Hogan. Most rookie quarterbacks with limited supporting casts and forced into throwing will also struggle with turnovers the way Kizer has to this point. Assuming that happens again in this one, the Titans defense could be one of the highest scoring options available this week. Expect around three sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery.

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Week Seven Predictions

Patriots Falcons Super Bowl FootballAfter an impressive week five, my predictions took a huge step back in week six. On a week-to-week basis, I can’t think of a season that has been tougher to predict. So far a few teams have impressed, but things get muddied in the middle where you find the teams who are 3-3, 3-2, 2-3 or 2-4. Entering week seven, a whopping 21 teams fit that criteria so the playoff spots across the league are pretty much all wide open at this point. Despite nearing the midway mark, only two teams are on bye this Sunday, so hopefully this full slate of games can clear up what’s currently a foggy picture.

Last week: 5-9, Season: 47-44

Last week against the spread: 5-9, Season: 45-46

Game of the weak: Jets vs Dolphins: Having gone to college in South Florida, I know plenty of Dolphin fans and middle ground is usually lacking when they discuss the team. If they start the year off 3 or 4-1? This is the year they take the division from the Pats. Go down early last week against the Falcons? I’m being sent messages saying this is the worst team in the league. Well, the Dolphins pulled the game out Sunday and now if the Patriots lose, the winner of this Josh McCown/Jay Cutler showdown could be tied for first in the AFC East. Jets 17 Dolphins (-3.5) 23

Game of the week: Falcons vs Patriots: In a rematch of the past Super Bowl, both of these teams have issues they need to address. The Patriots have shown some improvement on defense, but it still hasn’t been the unit we’ve become accustomed to seeing. Meanwhile, the last issue many thought the Falcons would face this year is regarding their passing game, but here we are. Steve Sarkisian is using his running backs far less frequently in the passing game compared to Kyle Shanahan, and appears to be the only guy in the league who can slow down Julio Jones.

Through five games (one he left early due to injury), Jones has 25 catches for 367 yards and zero touchdowns while being targeted just over seven times a game. Last year, Jones was targeted over nine times per game, and in 2015 saw a ridiculous 12.7 a contest. This is arguably the best receiver in the league, and a player who can win at all levels of the field. It doesn’t take a genius to know that even in a 50/50 jump ball situation chances are giving Jones a shot will benefit the team. Falcons 24 Patriots (-3.5) 31

Saints 26 Packers (+6.5) 20

Ravens 14 Vikings (-5.5) 21

Panthers 24 Bears (+3.5) 20

Jaguars 24 Colts (+3.5) 17

Cardinals 23 Rams (-3.5) 27

Buccaneers 17 Bills (-3.5) 24

Titans 27 Browns (+5.5) 21

Cowboys 26 49ers (+6.5) 23

Seahawks 24 Giants (+5.5) 21

Bengals 21 Steelers (-5.5) 30

Broncos 23 Chargers (-1.5) 21

Redskins 20 Eagles (-4.5) 28

 

 

 

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Chiefs vs. Raiders Predictions

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Kansas City ChiefsThis Thursday night matchup features two AFC West rivals who are both looking to get back on the right track. The Chiefs look to right the ship after suffering their first loss this past Sunday, while the Raiders hope to halt their four game losing streak. In a season that started with such great promise, there is a real possibility this serves as a season altering for the Raiders.

No matter what metric you’re going to look at, the Raiders secondary has struggled so far in 2017. Sounds like a great opportunity for Alex Smith to go back to playing the way he had in the first five games of the year. It wouldn’t be surprising if Smith is one of the ten highest scoring quarterbacks of the week.

When Smith throws, the primary target has been tight end Travis Kelce who now faces a banged up linebacker corps which has struggled against the position. As usual, Kelce should be locked into start in all formats. Other than Kelce, you don’t know what you get from Chiefs pass catchers on a weekly basis. The only one from a fantasy standpoint who would be worth starting is Tyreek Hill. Hill’s production is very dependent on big-plays, but against this Raider secondary the potential payoff is too much to ignore. If Albert Wilson remains sidelined, Demarcus Robinson is a player who could see extra throws his way but it likely won’t be enough to suddenly become fantasy relevant.

The Raiders entering this one ranking among the league’s worst in both rushing and receiving yards allowed to running backs through six weeks. Now they have to face Kareem Hunt who has been an all-purpose back and then some to this point. With a concussion holding out Charcandrick West tonight and Hunt seeing just nine rushing attempts on Sunday, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Chiefs make sure to have Hunt involved early and often.

With the arsenal to be one of the league’s more potent offenses entering the year, the Raiders after a hot start have come to a halt. Now playing with fractures in his back, Derek Carr has a better matchup than you’d initially think, but I’d understand why someone would be hesitant to start him in fantasy leagues. Teams have been able to pass on the Chiefs (even with some of it in garbage time), but Carr with his supporting cast struggles is a high-risk high-reward play this week.

As excited as many of us are to have Marshawn Lynch back in our football lives, does it make sense to bring him out of retirement if he isn’t going to get the ball? So far Lynch has had one week where he has received more than 13 touches. Like last week, the Raiders are going up against a defense that has struggled of late against the run. If the score allows, this would be a perfect time for the Raiders to get Lynch going and take pressure off of the injured Carr. While it sounds logical, there is no guarantee that’s what happens so Lynch is probably a running back two or flex option depending on your roster situation.

Through six games, Amari Cooper has just 146 yards and has had a well documented issue with drops to this point. While his season long stats may not show it, there is just too much talent for Cooper to not bounce back at some point. Cooper figures to run the majority of his routes away from Marcus Peters, so it wouldn’t be surprising if this is a spot where he bounce back.¬† Michael Crabtree figures to see more of Peters, but he has clearly been Carr’s most reliable target. He should be at least a third receiver or flex option in all formats this week, as the potential is there to exceed expectations. Despite being third in total targets, Jared Cook isn’t targeted enough near the endzone or racking up the yards (just one game over 50) to count on him for fantasy purposes.

With the Raiders having their season to play for, this should end up being a highly contested game that has the potential to be a shootout. At the end of the day though, I figure the Chiefs will just have too much offensively for the Raiders to handle. My prediction is Chiefs 26 Raiders (+3.5) 23.

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Week Six Fantasy Surprises

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Minnesota VikingsLast week was a pretty solid one for my fantasy surprises as Harrison Butker came up in a big way while both Duke Johnson and the Ravens defenses both had impressive performances. One thing I’ve noticed early on this fantasy football season is that the running back position does not seem nearly as predictable as it has in past years. Historically if you draft a back in one or both of the first two rounds, that player will be leading you in total points scored. Just look at any preseason ranking list of the top ten backs or so and you’ll see how this year is odd.

ESPN’s list for instance made a ton of sense at the time, but of course that’s part of the game. David Johnson got hurt, Le’Veon Bell is doing his thing, the Ezekiel Elliott suspension figures to be starting soon, LeSean McCoy and Jay Ajayi have both struggled and are without touchdowns, etc. Todd Gurley has done very well this season while both Devonta Freeman and Melvin Gordon are on pace for nice fantasy years, but it just seems the position was more of a crapshoot than usual. What will be interesting to see is if this also leads to more parody in the fantasy football world as well.

QB: Jacoby Brissett vs Titans: While I highlighted it as my “game of the weak”, this one does have the potential to be high scoring. Brissett likely isn’t a player getting much fantasy consideration outside of deep leagues, but the chance is there for a solid performance. The Titans have struggled defending the pass, Brissett has a premier wideout in T.Y. Hilton and at times has shown that he can do some damage running the ball. If you’re looking for a spot starter in a deep league or a value daily fantasy play, Brissett could be the guy. Expect around 250 total yards and two touchdowns.

RB: Alvin Kamara vs Lions: After going the way many people thought it would, the Saints pulled on the Adrian Peterson experiment. One beneficiary of this figures to be Kamara, who also has more to add in the passing game than Mark Ingram (who has improved in that regard). The Lions have had some struggles against pass catching backs, so Kamara could be in for a pretty nice performance in a game with shootout potential. Expect around 80 total yards and a touchdown.

WR: Will Fuller vs Browns: Fuller isn’t going to keep scoring two touchdowns a week, but the makings of a very nice performance this Sunday are there. With DeAndre Hopkins expected to see plenty of Jason McCourty, Fuller figures to be covered by Jamar Taylor who has struggled to this point. With his big play potential, all it takes is one chance to make starting Fuller worth your while. He’s worth a look in all daily fantasy formats and as a third receiver or flex option in year long leagues. Expect around 60 yards and a touchdown.

TE: Evan Engram vs Broncos: Normally I wouldn’t recommend any pass catcher against the Broncos, but Engram has the chance for a big night. With the Giants wideouts being so short handed, Engram could have the chance to lineup wide as he used to in college and there is upside for double digit targets. At a position as week as tight end, that’s worth taking a flier on for both now and the rest of the year. Expect around 50 yards and a touchdown.

K: Dustin Hopkins vs 49ers: Even in games where the 49ers have kept it close or a low scoring contest, they’ve still allowed opponents to get drives going. As a result, that can lead to a decent amount of field goals. For that reason, Hopkins could make for an interesting play. Regardless if Kirk Cousins and the offense score touchdowns or stall in field goal range, opportunities should be there. Expect around two field goals and three extra points.

DEF: Falcons vs Dolphins: While the Falcons defense should be refreshed coming off the bye, this pick is as much about the lack of faith I have in the Dolphins. Despite working with Adam Gase previously, Jay Cutler looks much like a quarterback who decided to retire earlier this year. With DeVante Parker’s status up in the air, that doesn’t help things either. Cutler has always been inconsistent for better or worse, but even if he does have a big game know starting the Falcons defense made plenty of sense at the time. Expect around four sacks and an interception.

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Week Six Predictions

usa_today_10271859.0In terms of predictions, last week was by far my best of the season to date. As the league sorts itself out, hopefully the positive results will continue. So far we have seen plenty of balance in terms of competitiveness around the league. Entering this week 17 teams sat at either 2-3 or 3-2. Heck, the entire AFC South sat at those records and in the AFC East every team has at least two wins. With margins so slim, games this time of year are what really could make the difference in an early vacation or playing in the postseason. Just don’t be surprised if you’re in a situation of debating how things would’ve unfolded for your favorite team had they won a specific game in October.

Last week: 10-4, Season: 42-35

Last week against the spread: 10-4, Season: 40-37

Game of the weak: Colts vs Titans: When this game was chosen for Monday Night Football, there was an assumption we would be seeing a showdown between Andrew Luck and Marcus Mariota. Now we’re locked into Jacoby Brissett (who has actually fared very well given the circumstances), and at the time of writing a 50/50 shot of Matt Cassel starting for the Titans. Since filling in for Mariota, Cassel has completed less than 60 percent of his passes while averaging less than four yards per pass attempt. If that’s the case, the Titans will really need their ground game to step up in a game which is shaping to be a must win for a team who was a trendy pick to contend in the AFC. Colts 20 Titans (-6.5) 21

Game of the week: Rams vs Jaguars: Eagles/Panthers would’ve been my choice, but having played last night that’s obviously out of the question. Instead, I’ll feature some teams who have surprised early on. While there is still a lot to improve, Jared Goff looks much more comfortable in his second NFL season. Now after getting the “Legion in Boom” in the Seahawks, he faces what I call “The Jaxson 5” in the Jaguar secondary. Considering the Jaguars by comparison have struggled against the run, Todd Gurley figures to be heavily involved.

The outcome of the Jaguars games basically depends on if they can control the tempo. In their three wins, they’ve been able to run with Leonard Fournette and by building leads have forced their opponents to throw frequently. In the Jaguars losses, they’ve either gotten behind early or strayed away from the run. Essentially, if Blake Bortles is throwing 30 plus times the odds of a Jaguar win is drastically lowered. Considering they’ve been up and down with their performances, a home win here would be a huge statement by the Jaguars. Rams 17 Jaguars (-2.5) 21

Dolphins 16 Falcons (-12.5) 26

Packers 26 Vikings (+3.5) 23

Lions 24 Saints (-4.5) 27

Patriots 31 Jets (+9.5) 16

49ers 17 Redskins (-10.5) 26

Bears 13 Ravens (-6.5) 21

Browns 17 Texans (-9.5) 27

Buccaneers 24 Cardinals (+1.5) 21

Steelers 23 Chiefs (-4.5) 28

Chargers 21 Raiders (-3.5) 23

Giants 13 Broncos (-12.5) 26

 

 

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Eagles vs. Panthers Predictions

102515_newton-touchdown_1200Tonight’s Thursday night matchup is between two teams who are tied for the best record in the NFC. While that may of seemed far fetched a few months ago, both teams have enough offensive firepower and strong front seven’s defensively where playoff runs wouldn’t be far fetched. Now on a short week, it’s time to see who can bring it.

Like last year, Carson Wentz has gotten off to a hot start. Unfortunately for him, the Panthers defense has been stout against the pass as only Tom Brady has attacked them with much success. A big factor to watch in this one is that Wentz will be without his starting right tackle in Lane Johnson who on a short week, wouldn’t be able to make it back from the concussion protocol. Wentz performed much better as a rookie when Johnson was there to protect him, so it will be interesting to see how he responds.

While the Panthers have been stingy against tight ends to this point, Zach Ertz so far has been matchup proof from a fantasy standpoint so far. So far, Ertz has seen more than nine targets a game and is well on pace for the breakout season that many have hoped for. The Panthers athletic linebackers could present some interesting challenges, but Ertz’s volume should make him worth starting in fantasy formats. After a string of tough matchups, Alshon Jeffery has an easier one this week. Considering that Jeffery should be good for at least six to eight targets and the Eagles could be reliant on the pass in this one, Jeffery is certainly worth a start. Torrey Smith still has big play ability and Nelson Agholor has emerged as a deep threat. However, both are too inconsistent to rely on from a fantasy perspective.

Considering Wendell Smallwood hasn’t practiced since he got injured a few weeks ago, it’s unlikely he plays tonight. That should mean LeGarrette Blount leads the backfield in touches. Due to the threat of playing from behind and the Panthers ability to stop the run, Blount is a risky back this week as he could be touchdown dependent. Corey Clement and Kenjon Barner also figure to see snaps at running back tonight.

After a start that had some worrying about if he could recover from his surgically repaired shoulder, Cam Newton has been on a tear these past few weeks. While the Eagles tremendous front seven has led to great results against the run, the secondary has had their share of struggles. It wouldn’t be surprising if Newton has another big night for the national audience.

The real beneficiary of Newton’s hot streak the past two weeks has been Devin Funchess. In that span, Funchess has hauled in 14 passes with three going for touchdowns. Considering the volume that has been there and the woes the Eagles have had in coverage, Funchess has the makings of a high floor and high upside fantasy option. Kelvin Benjamin hasn’t been targeted as Funchess of late, but should also be starting in various fantasy lineups. Ed Dickson had a monster game this past Sunday, but while some targets should be there, that line was likely an anomaly.

Jonathan Stewart is still seeing the majority of the touches in the Panther backfield, but the efficiency hasn’t been there. Due to the volume he is probably best served as a flex play. Christian McCaffrey has the potential to make a huge impact on a weekly basis, but so far it hasn’t happened yet. To this point, McCaffrey has seen more than 15 touches in just one game and due to his contributions as a receiver, is currently a better fit for PPR leagues.

While I do expect this one to start off as a defensive struggle, the absence of Johnson at tackle and not knowing how Wentz will respond is a deciding factor in predicting this one. This game could be a huge step in Wentz’s development as going on the road and beating a tough Panthers defense is no easy task. Despite that, things are in place for Newton to continue his recent surge so my prediction is Eagles 17 Panthers (-3.5) 23.

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Week Five Fantasy Surprises

Cleveland Browns v Tennessee TitansLast week was the best of this young season in terms of my fantasy surprises. Deshaun Watson had a monster performance, Tyrell Williams fully utilized his big play ability, Austin Seferian-Jenkins was a solid contributor, and the Steelers defense came up big. This is the first week of the season to feature our regularly scheduled bye weeks. For year long fantasy players, this could put them in a tough spot as they don’t want to release a core player for a one week option. If that is your dilemma, try and find a player who you at least think could give you similar value over the remaining weeks. While your fourth or fifth receiver that you release might not start every week, try to at least find someone who you’d feel comfortable using similarly in spot start situations.

QB: Carson Palmer vs Eagles: I’m actually a fan of both quarterbacks this week in the Carson Bowl, but Palmer gets the edge due to the lack of ground game and the struggles at cornerback for the Eagles. Since David Johnson went down, Palmer has attempted 45 passes per game and hasn’t had less than 325 yards. While the Eagles will be able to pressure Palmer, the chance of the Cardinals playing from behind could lead to even more pass attempts. Expect around 330 yards and two touchdowns.

RB: Duke Johnson vs Jets: Even when their games are close, it seems Hue Jackson hasn’t been a huge fan of running the ball in 2017. Through four games, Browns running backs have combined for just 60 rushing attempts. While Johnson does have two rushing touchdowns on his ten attempts, that isn’t where his value lies. In points per reception leagues, Johnson has been a gem leading the Browns in receptions and receiving yards. This week, Johnson has another favorable matchup and assuming he sees some targets in both the pass and running game, could pay off in a big way. Expect around 90 total yards and a touchdown.

WR: Jaron Brown vs Eagles: Over the past two weeks, Larry Fitzgerald not surprisingly has led the Cardinals with 22 targets in the passing game. Not far behind is Brown with 18. In the past three weeks, Brown has had either 70 plus yards or a touchdown so a decent floor seems to be establishing. Despite that, he is still a cheap option on some of the daily fantasy sites in a matchup that should be favorable. Expect around 70 yards and a touchdown.

TE: Jesse James vs Jaguars: Few teams can match what the Jaguars have at cornerback, so while Antonio Brown should remain in all fantasy lineups (and Martavis Bryant in most leagues), they might not have huge performances. Here is where James comes in. The Jaguars have had struggles defending tight ends, so at a shallow position a player who could catch a handful of balls and a touchdown is worth a shot. Expect around 50 yards and a touchdown.

K: Harrison Butker vs Texans: Butker made the game clinching field goal for the Chiefs this past Monday night, and again has another chance on a national stage. In a game taking place in a dome that could end up being high scoring, he’s worth a look if your primary kicker is on bye this week. Expect around two field goals and three extra points.

DEF: Ravens vs Raiders: If you were to tell me I would’ve recommended a defense going up against this Raiders team just a month ago, I’d probably think you were crazy. Now with EJ Manuel replacing an injured Derek Carr and Amari Cooper in a funk, the move makes a lot of sense. Both these teams will probably rely on the ground game to take pressure off their quarterbacks. However, I don’t currently have enough faith in Manuel to sit a defense that might have him throwing 30 plus times. Expect around three sacks and an interception.

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