Week Seven Fantasy Surprises

gettyimages-1043811966-e1539716315357Last week was a pretty solid one for my fantasy surprises. Jason Myers at kicker had a monster day, Cameron Brate ended up with a touchdown, Andy Dalton had a serviceable day and Phillip Lindsay was productive. My biggest miss was Antonio Callaway, but that was an example of right idea, poor execution as he did see plenty of targets. It’s hard to believe, but depending on format we’re now past or just hitting the halfway point in the fantasy season.

Despite that there’s still plenty of time for a player to change your perception of his fantasy performance. With just 16 games to go from, it could take just a very hot two or three game stretch for a player to drastically exceed their draft value. Just look at the waiver wire adds who end up winning leagues. One example of this was Doug Baldwin in 2015. He was a fantasy asset through the Seahawks’ first ten games, but then things changed. Baldwin went on to score a ridiculous 11 touchdowns over his next five to give him numbers reflecting a true fantasy WR1. A player will do this every year. It could be from the waiver wire, or a player you drafted. Just remember there’s a chance it’s a player you’ll need to thank for your league championship this season.

QB: Baker Mayfield vs Buccaneers: Mayfield’s stats in recent weeks may not look great, but the volume is undeniable. He has 40 plus pass attempts in each of his past three starts, and now faces a Buccaneers defense that has been burned through the air. The Buccaneers fired defensive coordinator Mike Smith, but until proven otherwise, Mayfield makes for a solid streaming option, or cheaper DFS play. Expect around 275 total yards and two touchdowns.

RB: Ito Smith vs Giants: With Devonta Freeman out indefinitely, the Falcons running game will run through Tevin Coleman and Smith. Surprisingly, Smith is the one that’s benefited from the goalline work. The snap count is pretty even among the two, and this game script is favorable enough that Smith could make for a nice flex play. Expect around 60 total yards and a touchdown.

WR: Jermaine Kearse vs Vikings: With Quincy Enunwa and Terrelle Pryor both out, there will be targets for the taking in the Jets passing attack. Robby Anderson can be inconsistent, and Kearse appears to be taking Enunwa’s place in the slot. The Vikings have had trouble against slot wideouts at times this season, and in a game where the Jets could be playing from behind, Kearse could see double digit targets. Expect around 70 yards and a touchdown.

TE: David Njoku vs Buccaneers: Every few years, it seems there’s a young tight end the fantasy football community is just waiting to see breakout. For years it was Jared Cook, then it became Zach Ertz, and now their faith in Eric Ebron is starting to be rewarded. The next guy on that list could be Njoku. His percentage of snaps played is up from last year, and there’s no denying the flashes he’s shown to this point. Now he gets a favorable matchup against a Buccaneer defense that has been burned by opposing tight ends. This could be a chalky DFS play, but it makes a whole lot of sense. Expect around 60 yards and a touchdown.

K: Jason Sanders vs Lions: In a game that has some shootout potential, Sanders could be a sneaky streaming option this week. Remember, Mason Crosby two weeks ago was the right play, the kicks just didn’t go as planned. He’s worth a look if you’re streaming the position through the waiver wire. Expect around three field goals and two extra points.

DEF: Falcons vs Giants: The Falcons have had some major injuries to the defense, but the offenses they’ve faced certainly haven’t helped the cause. This home game against the Giants is sort of an “if not now, when?” game for the defense. Yes, they’ll let up the short passes to Saquon Barkley and Odell Beckham but the pass rush should be able to capitalize on Eli Manning’s struggles here. Expect around four sacks, an interception and fumble recovery.

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Week Seven Predictions

Joe-flacco-2Last week in terms of predictions was another where I did alright straight up, but struggled with the spread. With the halfway point almost here, we’ve obviously seen teams jump ahead of the pack, but that doesn’t mean others can’t get hot. Last year, the Jaguars entered week seven with the same 3-3 record and they went on to win the division title at 10-6. Another example from 2017 is the Panthers leaving week seven as a 4-3 team. They went on to win seven of their next eight and finished as an 11-5 playoff team. This can work in the opposite direction as we all know about the Chiefs rough patch that started this time last year. Essentially, the league’s landscape is always changing and that will be on display in the coming weeks.

Last week: 9-6, Season: 55-38

Last week against the spread: 6-9, Season: 40-53

Game of the weak: Bills vs Colts: The Bills have been one of the biggest enigmas of this entire season. Not only have they pulled out games nobody gave them a chance in, but their handling of the quarterback position has been baffling. Josh Allen is clearly seen as the quarterback of the future, but Nathan Peterman is named the starter (likely due to a run of tough defenses early on). Peterman struggles, meaning Allen ends up being thrown into the fire game one, gets hurt this past Sunday and Peterman throws what ends up being a game deciding pick six. Now in Allen’s absence, the Bills will be starting Derek Anderson who signed less than two weeks ago.

Not to be lost in the shuffle, there were reports that starting Peterman could result in head coach Sean McDermott lose the locker room. My biggest question is, with all the Panthers ties in the Bill front office why didn’t they sign Anderson months ago? They’d know his temperament having been around him in Carolina, and Anderson having been in the league for a decade plus, would know his role and help out Allen’s development. How this plays out over the next few weeks could an interesting plot to follow. Bills 17 Colts (-7.5) 24

Game of the week: Saints vs Ravens: There were a few options I could have gone with here, but I’m opting for this matchup between one of the league’s most potent offenses against one of its more imposing defenses. Drew Brees easily passed his last test against a highly ranked defense in the Redskins two weeks ago, but going on the road could make things tougher. The Ravens offense and Joe Flacco have shown more signs of live than in recent years, but they might not have the firepower to keep up if this turned into a shootout. If the Ravens do pull out a win here, it wouldn’t be surprising if some start considering them one of if not the team to beat in the AFC. Saints 24 Ravens (-2.5) 21

Lions 23 Dolphins (+3.5) 24

Texans 17 Jaguars (-5.5) 21

Titans 20 Chargers (-6.5) 28

Patriots 30 Bears (+3.5) 24

Vikings 26 Jets (+3.5) 20

Panthers 21 Eagles (-4.5) 27

Browns 23 Buccaneers (-3.5) 28

Rams 31 49ers (+9.5) 20

Cowboys 21 Redskins (-1.5) 17

Bengals 27 Chiefs (-6.5) 33

Giants 23 Falcons (-5.5) 30

 

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Broncos vs. Cardinals Predictions

david-johnson-100416-usnews-getty-ftr_5pxjbytwpikl1ob2u09q9pu2tTomorrow’s Thursday night matchup is between two teams who were among the league’s elite just a few years ago, but have had setbacks in recent years. The Broncos started off this year hot, winning their first two but have now lost four in a row. Against them are the Cardinals who knew this was more of a rebuilding year, but would still like to be better than their 1-5 record. In a game between two of the league’s lower scoring offenses, this one could be the rare “defensive struggle” in 2018.

Case Keenum has had ups and downs in his Bronco tenure so far, and things might not get easier in this one. His offensive line has been hit hard by injuries and now they face a defense that is top five in sacks with Chandler Jones leading the way. This matchup does bode well for Emmanuel Sanders who even in the preseason emerged as Keenum’s favorite target. The Cardinals have struggled against slot receivers, and Sanders’ projected volume makes him a safe WR2 in all fantasy formats. Demaryius Thomas has been involved as well, but figures to see more of Patrick Peterson in this game. Thomas is a risky WR3 for fantasy this week. Courtland Sutton has earned a role in the passing game as a rookie, but he makes for more of a stash for fantasy players.

The Cardinals (in part to playing from behind) have allowed 10 rushing touchdowns and 36 rush attempts. This would bode well for the Broncos if you knew who was getting the ball. Phillip Lindsay is probably the safest option for fantasy players, as you know he’ll at least get some touches in the run game and through the air. He’s best served as a flex play. Royce Freeman would be the best bet if the Broncos were in kill the clock mode, but he has seen less than ten touches in four of six games this season. The ceiling is high for Freeman in fantasy this week, but with the floor established, I’d understand if you’re hesitant to play him.

The Cardinals offense has seen a boost with Josh Rosen at the helm in recent weeks. While Rosen has shown flashes of his promise, the biggest key could be that David Johnson’s once again received a full workload. While the Cardinal offensive line is shaky, Johnson will be going up against a Bronco defense that has allowed a 200 plus yard rusher in each of the last two weeks. Johnson may not reach those heights, but everything is in place for him to have what would be his best game of the 2018 season.

When throwing the ball, Rosen has appeared to have established a rapport with fellow rookie Christian Kirk. Playing on the outside, Kirk has a more favorable matchup than Larry Fitzgerald does in this game. The Broncos’ boundary corners have had trouble staying healthy this year, and Bradley Roby has had some early season struggles. If you need a wideout due to bye weeks, Kirk could make for a sneaky WR3 play. Fitzgerald draws Chris Harris in this one, and even without the tough matchup it’s tough to trust Fitzgerald from a fantasy perspective. That’s more due to his lingering hamstring injury as we’ve seen him perform with inconsistent quarterback play. Ricky Seals-Jones offers some fantasy upside at what’s a weak position in 2018. He offers big play ability, and the Broncos have struggled defending opposing tight ends to this point. If you’re picking and choosing tight ends off the waiver wire, he’s worth a look.

In a game that should be lower scoring, I am giving the edge to the Cardinals here. With a game script that figures for David Johnson to see 20 plus touches, and the personnel to pressure Keenum, those ingredients should play huge rolls as they go for their second win. My prediction is Broncos 17 Cardinals (+1.5) 21.

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Week Six Fantasy Surprises

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas CowboysLast week was a pretty solid one for my fantasy surprises. Despite the four turnovers, Blake Bortles was one of the top fantasy QB’s last week. Jordy Nelson ended up with a touchdown and Aaron Jones was productive until the Packers mysteriously stopped giving him touches. This point of the year is an interesting one for fantasy owners, as we’ve now seen enough of a sample where you can question if it’s time to cut bait with your high draft picks.

One of many examples to look at would be someone like Larry Fitzgerald. In a PPR league, taking him made tons of sense. Odds are you were getting 100 catches, 1,000 plus yards and a half dozen touchdowns in the third or fourth round. Now, Fitzgerald is likely going to be gutting it out playing through injury all year and the Cardinals’ passing game is inconsistent. Do you flat out drop him for a waiver wire add? It honestly depends on the league. In an active 12 team league that starts three wideouts, you probably keep Fitzgerald. He won’t return the draft value, but serves as a bench option you could potentially count on. However in a ten team league that starts two wideouts and a flex, it’s much easier to cut bait

QB: Andy Dalton vs Steelers: Dalton’s production shouldn’t be a huge surprise at this point, but with so many productive QB’s, he’s still available in many leagues. That’s good news to any fantasy owners who have Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford that need a streaming option. In a game with shootout potential against a shaky defense, Dalton isn’t the sexy pick, but he projects as a nice fantasy play for the week. Expect around 270 yards and two touchdowns.

RB: Phillip Lindsay vs Rams: In what’s scheduled to be a game with snow in Denver, both teams could go to the run more than usual. While Lindsay and fellow rookie Royce Freeman have been an odd timeshare so far, I give Lindsay the edge this week. Not only does Lindsay offer big play running ability against a vulnerable Rams run defense, he is the better pass catching option. If the Broncos are in comeback mode, Lindsay will likely see more snaps and give a boost in PPR formats. Expect around 90 total yards and a touchdown.

WR: Antonio Callaway vs Chargers: Callaway is a risky roll of the dice fantasy option, but if you need a cheaper play in DFS, he’s one that can pay off in a big way. With Rashard Higgins sidelined the next few weeks, there are targets to go around for Browns pass catchers. As we’ve seen, Callaway has big play ability and faces a Charger defense that has been surprisingly vulnerable to opposing receivers. Expect around 60 yards and a touchdown.

TE: Cameron Brate vs Falcons: Even though the ability is there, Brate hasn’t been used a whole lot within the Buccaneers offense so far. Because of that, he’s available in a good chunk of leagues and will help players this week and the rest of the way. I’m confident in that because of the return of Jameis Winston.

Winston has had more success throwing to tight ends than wideouts the past few years, and Brate should be good for around five targets a game, and scored a combined 14 touchdowns the past two years. This week in particular, Brate has a matchup against a Falcons defense which has struggled mightily against the pass and opposing tight ends in general. He should be chalky in DFS games, but there’s a good chance he’s worth it. Expect around 70 yards and a touchdown.

K: Jason Myers vs Colts: As we saw last week with Mason Crosby, you can pick the right fantasy kicker but the result might not go as planned. Myers is erratic, but he has what figures to be a nice matchup in this game even against what’s been an improved Colts defense. If you stream kickers, he’s an option worth considering who should be available. Expect around two field goals and two extra points.

DST: Packers vs 49ers: I don’t trust the Packers defense quite yet, but for this matchup they’re worth a strong look as a streamer. Even with C.J. Beathard at the helm, things can get interesting with Kyle Shanahan calling the plays. Despite that, the Packers need a bounce back win, and in front of a pumped up crowd in primetime I like their chances. Expect around four sacks and an interception.

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Week Six Predictions

899423022.jpg.0Last week was a rough one for my predictions as I barely was above .500 straight up, and was one game below .500 against the spread. That can speak to the idea of parody on any given Sunday. After three straight wins, nobody was picking against a Bills team that was shutout just the week before. Yet, The Bills pulled out the win. Heck, the Bills also had one of the greatest regular season upsets ever (based off point spreads) beating the Vikings in their building earlier this year. With 26 teams having two or more wins at the start of the week, that just means more teams could be “in the hunt” down the line. We’ve seen what a sign of hope can do for franchises, and the league is very good at promoting that as well.

Last week: 8-7, Season: 46-32

Last week against the spread: 7-8, Season: 34-44

Game of the weak: Seahawks vs Raiders: It’s our first London game of the year, and unlike the past few years it’s being played with the normal 1 PM slate of games. I personally enjoyed the morning start, as it allowed for a full day of football, and if you’re team loses it gets the bitter taste out of your mouth earlier. Unfortunately for fans in London, Russell Wilson hasn’t been at full strength, so we’ve seen less of his extending the play magic than usual. The fun part of this is that we’ll get to see Marshawn Lynch’s first game against the Seahawks, along with any ensuing viral videos of Marshawn out and about in London. Seahawks 26 Raiders (+3.5) 20

Game of the week: Chiefs vs Patriots: Now at the part of the season where NBC can “flex” Sunday night games, get ready to see a lot of the Chiefs and Rams. The Chiefs will have two straight Sunday night games starting this week and for good reason. They passed their biggest test to date with flying colors last Sunday against the Jaguars. Patrick Mahomes had his first turnovers of the year, so we got to see how he responds after some in game adversity. The defense which looked shaky prior, also stepped up.

Now they go into Foxboro to face a Patriots offense which has kicked it into high gear the past few weeks. The return of Julian Edelman and the threat of Josh Gordon’s deep speed really figure to open things up for Tom Brady and the entire passing attack. It’s also been noted that young quarterbacks on the road have struggled facing Bill Belichick teams. If any coach can out scheme him, Andy Reid (as we saw week one last year) is one of those guys. Between the likely offensive fireworks and chess matches at every snap, this game is a must watch. Chiefs 30 Patriots (-3.5) 35

Buccaneers 27 Falcons (-3.5) 30

Steelers 24 Bengals (-2.5) 26

Chargers 20 Browns (+1.5) 24

Bears 24 Dolphins (+3.5) 17

Cardinals 14 Vikings (-10.5) 23

Colts 23 Jets (-2.5) 20

Panthers 24 Redskins (-1.5) 21

Bills 17 Texans (-8.5) 26

Rams 27 Broncos (+7.5) 21

Ravens 20 Titans (+3.5) 16

Jaguars 24 Cowboys (+3.5) 14

49ers 13 Packers (-9.5) 28

 

 

 

 

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Eagles vs Giants Predictions

gettyimages-853182446Tomorrow’s Thursday night game features two divisional rivals in what’s shaping up to be a wide-open NFC East. The Eagles have had to deal with injuries and a Super Bowl hangover so far, and are 2-3 after losing two straight. While last Sunday was a heartbreaking loss, the Giants to this point are 1-4 but can get right back in the divisional hunt if they pull out a win at home.

Carson Wentz will be making his fourth start of the season and gets a Giants defense that has made improvements from last year, but still has allowed nearly 26 points per game. With Jay Ajayi now gone for the season, Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement will be asked to fill the void on a short week. Both are able pass catchers, so this could also lead to increase in pass attempts for Wentz. Wentz figures to be a low-end QB1 for fantasy, while both Smallwood and Clement make for interesting flex plays as the Giants have had troubles against the run and pass catching backs.

Not surprisingly, Zach Ertz has been Wentz’s top option, having ten plus targets thrown his way in the last three games. That should carry over to this game as well, making Ertz a must play at a shallow fantasy position. Alshon Jeffery also returned from injury a few weeks ago, and has seen a high volume of targets since. While he should see a lot of Janoris Jenkins, Jeffery makes for a solid WR2 in fantasy leagues as the volume should be there. So far this year, the Giants have been stingy in covering the slot, but Nelson Agholor does most of his damage there. Agholor should still see some targets, but doesn’t have the makings of a great fantasy play this week.

The Giants offense on the surface looks like a Ferrari, but through five weeks has run like a Ford Focus. There were encouraging signs this past Sunday, so hopefully that’s something they can build off for this short week. The most encouraging sign was that Eli Manning threw more vertically than he had prior to that point. Manning doing that also opens running lanes for Saquon Barkley who has been every bit as advertised through five weeks. Even against a stout defensive line, Barkley’s versatility means he’s a no brainer for all fantasy lineups.

Odell Beckham proved that the “squeaky wheel gets the grease” this past Sunday. After some public comments about the team and Manning, Beckham had one of his typical dominant performances. The Eagles cornerback play has been shaky so far, so things are in place for “OBJ” to have another big performance tomorrow night. Sterling Shepard could also benefit from the secondary and is worth a starting spot in all PPR formats. There’s also a chance Evan Engram returns from injury for this game. Engram has missed the past two weeks, but with the potential to see more than a handful of targets he’d be worth starting in fantasy if he gives it a go.

This game has shootout potential, but I ultimately think it will be determined within the trenches. The struggles of the Giants offensive line are well documented, and they face a very talented Eagles defensive front seven. That edge for the Eagles, along with them in what could be a “must win” game is what helped sway my decision. My prediction is Eagles 26 Giants (+3.5) 21.

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Week Five Fantasy Surprises

downloadLast week was a very hit and miss one for my fantasy surprises. Baker Mayfield produced very well for his cost/a streaming play, John Brown came up big, Eric Ebron hauled in a touchdown and Ka’imi Fairbairn ended up in the shootout I thought had the potential to happen. On the other side, Chris Carson didn’t even end up playing, and the Buccaneers defense ended up being one of my worst calls I could think of. The good news is I can makeup for that call this week, so hopefully I can get back on track.

QB: Blake Bortles vs Chiefs: Sometimes a players perception is altered by how they perform in fantasy or vice versa. Some due to volume aren’t as good as their fantasy stats suggest, but Bortles is the opposite. He’s still inconsistent, but the past few years he’s been a top 12 fantasy option at quarterback. Because of his actual performance, in ten team formats he can be found on waivers quite often. This week Bortles might need to pass early and often, so the projected game script makes him an enticing option. Expect around 300 total yards and two touchdowns.

RB: Aaron Jones vs Lions: The Packers top receivers have all been banged up throughout the week, so there’s a chance they run the ball more than usual Sunday. It also doesn’t hurt that the Lions struggle defending it. While Jamaal Williams has been involved offensively, Jones has drastically outproduced him when given the touches. He’s worth consideration in DFS tournaments this week. Expect around 70 total yards and a touchdown.

WR: Jordy Nelson vs Chargers: I don’t trust Nelson as much as other WR3 options, but you can’t argue with the results. Each of the last two weeks, Nelson has had eight targets and a touchdown. On top of that, the Chargers secondary as a whole has underachieved these first four weeks. In a potential shootout, having some exposure to Nelson could payoff in a big way. Expect around 60 yards and a touchdown.

TE: C.J. Uzomah vs Dolphins: With all the injuries at the position, tight end has become an absolute crapshoot from a fantasy perspective outside of a handful of options. With Tyler Eifert out for the year, Uzomah should see a handful of targets in a potentially high scoring matchup. All it takes is one for him to be worth the start. Expect around 40 yards and a touchdown.

K: Cairo Santos vs Seahawks: If you haven’t noticed by now, the Rams can put up points on anyone. Because of this, their kicker is going to have fantasy value regardless of who it is. With Greg Zuerlein still injured, Santos was called on to replace Sam Ficken. This week and until Zuerlein’s return, Santos is worth plugging into lineups. Expect around two field goals and three extra points.

DST: Cowboys vs Texans: Deshaun Watson and the Texans offensive weapons could scare some off in this spot, but the Cowboys defense has upside. The Cowboy offense when clicking dominates time of possession, and the Texans have made no effort to improve the offensive line. If there’s one thing the Cowboys have shown they can do defensively, it’s get pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Expect around four sacks and a fumble recovery.

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