Jets vs Browns Predictions

Myles+Garrett+New+York+Jets+v+Cleveland+Browns+lJukPopMQuClThis week’s Thursday night matchup features two teams that haven’t had this much early season optimism in quite some time. The Jets think they could finally have their franchise quarterback in Sam Darnold, and while the Browns believe their franchise guy is Baker Mayfield, he’s currently behind Tyrod Taylor. Even without Mayfield starting, the Browns improvements around the roster have them in great shape to be highly competitive this season. This game should be an interesting test for both teams as they’re coming off disappointing losses on top of the short week.

Some were already trying to fit Darnold for a gold jacket after his week one performance. This past week showed that while there’s a lot of positive in his game, the Lions defense might just be that bad. Darnold’s week two blemishes could be due to his pass protection struggling, but things don’t get easier Thursday. The Browns have the ability to apply consistent pressure with their defensive front, and have slowed down both Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees the past two weeks. Even while the volume could be there, Darnold is probably worth avoiding in fantasy formats.

One Jet who has established himself as a reliable fantasy option is Quincy Enunwa. After missing all of last year, Enunwa was sort of a forgotten man, but he has established himself as Darnold’s favorite target. The Browns have let up some big games to opposing wideouts, and with projected volume Enunwa is a solid WR2 in all leagues. Robby Anderson was projected to be the Jets leading receiver entering the year, but right now he might be too big play dependent to use in fantasy leagues. The Jets passing attack has mainly consisted of shorter throws, which doesn’t ideal for his skills. Terrelle Pryor is worth monitoring in this one as he did have an expanded role this past week.

At running back, the Jets have had a pretty even timeshare between Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell so far. Crowell has mainly played on early downs, while Powell brings more of a receiver. The potential is there for Powell to benefit from the Browns pass rush, as it could lead to more checkdowns his way. He’s worth looking at as a flex play in ppr formats.

While the 0-1-1 record doesn’t show it, Taylor has had the Browns in position to win both games. Now he has a home matchup against a defense he’s familiar with from his time in the AFC East. Over the past few years, Taylor at home has been more productive and against a Jets defense with a suspect pass rush, he’s in play for fantasy purposes as a streaming option. Carlos Hyde has been the lead back so far and once again could see 20 or so touches. The Jets defense the first two weeks has been stingy against the run, so Hyde’s fantasy value would be volume driven. Oddly, the Browns haven’t gotten Duke Johnson involved much so far despite signing him to a contract extension. An able runner between the tackles and a mismatch out wide, there should be more of an effort to get him the ball.

Jarvis Landry has continued to run routes primarily in the slot, but has seen his average depth of target rise in Cleveland. The Jets have struggled in slot coverage early on so Landry could be in for a productive night. Rashard Higgins saw an increase in targets and snaps with Josh Gordon out, and it’s worth monitoring his usage in this game. The real winner of Gordon being traded could be rookie Antonio Callaway. While the rookie had an off-field history in college, there’s no denying that the talent is there. He flashed some of it in preseason, and most recently last Sunday hauling in the touchdown to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. Callaway is worth a speculative add in all fantasy leagues where available. While the skills are there, David Njoku hasn’t done much through the first few weeks. The Jets haven’t played a team with a proven pass catching tight end, but until proven otherwise Njoku’s a boom-or-bust fantasy option.

While I think this game should be pretty close, the Browns being at home with a fired up crowd and a strong pass rush could end up being the difference. My predictions is Jets 16 Browns (-3.5) 21.

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Week Two Fantasy Surprises

imagesLast week for the most part was a very successful one for my fantasy surprises. Despite not being needed a ton, Sam Darnold produced value, James White and Cooper Kupp both produced, while the Bengals defense forced turnovers and scored a touchdown. Just one week in, it isn’t surprising if fantasy owners get into panic mode but the worst thing you can do is let that happen. You drafted a player with a high selection for a reason. If he had a rough first game the easiest thing to do is be patient. You can also benefit from this in some instances off the waiver wire. Be observant as some fantasy owners can chase points and cut players with promise for someone who had a promising week one.

QB: Nick Foles vs Buccaneers: Foles and the quarterback he’s facing this week (Ryan Fitzpatrick) are two quarterbacks whose level of play are on drastic ends of the spectrum. When they’re at their best, both show flashes of brilliance. But when that isn’t occurring there are a whole lot of head scratching moments. The matchup for Foles against a Buccaneers pass defense which struggled, could be worth looking into as a contrarian play on DFS sites. Expect around 240 total yards and two touchdowns.

RB: Alfred Morris vs Lions: The Lions defense looked pretty bad in preseason, but somehow they managed to look worse in week one. While things could get better, a short week and travelling out west won’t help. Morris isn’t much of a receiving threat, but the Niners used him at the goal-line last week, and if the 49ers have to burn clock he should see a bigger role. Expecting around 10 to 15 touches with 60 total yards and a touchdown, he could be a nice value.

WR: Quincy Enunwa vs Dolphins: The Dolphins are a better secondary than given credit for, but if Enunwa’s volume last week is an indication, he could become a matchup proof player in ppr leagues. Enunwa had nearly 50 percent of Sam Darnold’s passes thrown his way in week one. While that’s not sustainable, he should be a threat to see double digit targets weekly and has the size to be a redzone threat. Expect around 70 yards and a touchdown.

TE: Benjamin Watson vs Browns: Watson isn’t a sexy pick, but with Delanie Walker and Greg Olsen being out extensively he’s an option available. This week he should see another handful of targets in a favorable matchup that could be high scoring. He’s worth a look in deeper fantasy leagues and some exposure to in DFS. Expect around 50 yards and a touchdown.

K: Brandon McManus vs Raiders: The Raiders defense on many occasions would “bend but not break” by allowing field goals rather than touchdowns. That could work out well for McManus who as a result would see extra opportunities with the altitude working in his favor. Expect around two field goals and three extra points.

DST: Giants vs Cowboys: There are still questions about the Giants defense, but the Cowboys offense looked so bad last week they’re at least worth a look. Travis Fredrick’s unfortunate absence could lead to a better matchup for Damon Harrison to attempt to clog the run game, and the Cowboys are clearly lacking weapons outside. Expect around three sacks, and two turnovers.

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Week Two Predictions

26d4e1d7-e072-4b55-885b-bd9671eb2647-USATSI_10560342.jpgWeek one was solid in terms of predictions as I went above .500 picking straight up and against the spread. A week in now, it feels like we have a grasp of teams, but it’s important not to overreact too quickly. The Saints started off 0-2 last year before being a “Minneapolis Miracle” away from the NFC title game. On the other side of the spectrum, the Broncos started 2-0 and finished the year 5-11. We’re still in the process of sorting things out, and it might be another month or so before things get clearer.

Last week: 9-7

Last week against the spread: 9-7

Game of the weak: Chargers vs Bills: The Chargers have big aspirations this year and it’s Josh Allen’s first career start, but this is the game I’d be least likely to put on this weekend. Not surprisingly, the Chargers are decimated by injuries already, and Joey Bosa’s foot injury has been worse than initially implied. At what point does the team bring in a whole new training staff if they haven’t already? Despite that, the offense should be able to put up points. Chargers 26 Bills (+7.5) 14

Game of the week: Patriots vs Jaguars: Only in the NFL is a conference title rematch not given the primetime slot. Instead, it’s the Giants/Cowboys on national TV once again. This rematch should be interesting given the Patriots offense has plenty of injuries/suspensions working against them at this time. Despite that, we’ve seen Tom Brady overcome this before against ferocious defenses before. In most cases he consistently moves the ball with short completions while generating points and tiring defenders. While the talk of a Rob Gronkowski/Jalen Ramsey matchup is what generates headlines, Blake Bortles is going to determine the outcome. If he manages to match Brady score for score, it bodes much better for the Jaguars’ chances. Patriots 26 Jaguars (+2.5) 20

Colts 17 Redskins (-5.5) 23

Vikings 23 Packers (-1.5) 21

Panthers 21 Falcons (-5.5) 26

Dolphins 21 Jets (-3.5) 17

Texans 20 Titans (+2.5) 23

Eagles 24 Buccaneers (+3.5) 20

Chiefs 27 Steelers (-5.5) 31

Browns 21 Saints (-8.5) 28

Cardinals 14 Rams (-12.5) 27

Lions 20 49ers (-5.5) 28

Raiders 16 Broncos (-5.5) 23

Giants 24 Cowboys (-3.5) 17

Seahawks 17 Bears (-3.5) 20

 

 

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Ravens vs Bengals Predictions

usa_today_10273182.0.jpgThis week’s Thursday night matchup is for early sole possession of first place in the AFC North. After both missing the playoffs in 2017, the Ravens and Bengals both got their seasons started on a high note. The Bengals won on the road in a game down to the wire, but the Ravens overcame sloppy conditions and completely dominated the Bills in their home opener. While much maligned, Andy Dalton is a significant upgrade to Nathan Peterman, so it will be interesting to see how the talented Ravens defense responds to the test.

After a strong finish to 2017 and a solid preseason, Joe Flacco didn’t disappoint in the Ravens season opener. With a revamped receiving corps, the threat of Lamar Jackson behind him and in a contract year, there are plenty of incentives for Flacco to keep the performance level up. The Bengals allowed 319 passing yards last week, but most of the damage was done underneath as Andrew Luck had 53 pass attempts. In the passing game, that could bode well for the pass catching back Javorius Allen and tight end Nick Boyle.

With Vontaze Burfict out, the Bengals struggled defending tight ends last week so Boyle could make for an interesting option in deep fantasy leagues. 16 of Flacco’s week one throws went to his trio of new receivers: Michael Crabtree, John Brown and Willie Snead. For fantasy purposes, Brown might be the best play as he’s certain to have some volume, and is the big play threat of the bunch. Crabtree could very well lead the team in targets, but for fantasy players his production of late has been touchdown dependent. If facing off primarily against William Jackson‘s coverage, Crabtree is worth keeping on the bench this week. Snead should see some targets from the slot, but is more of a wait and see option for fantasy games.

Due to the game getting out of hand early, Alex Collins had limited attempts in week one, but should see his normal volume on Thursday. The Ravens offensive line is an improvement from the Colts line the Bengals saw last week, so don’t let that yards per carry numbers scare you. With the normal 15 to 18 touches, Collins should be a solid RB2 in fantasy leagues.

Dalton was efficient this past week at the helm for the Bengals, but the real offensive star of the game was Joe Mixon. One of my predicted breakout running backs in 2018, Mixon showed he could handle every-down back usage, and racked up yards on the ground and through the air. While the Ravens defense is a tougher test, Mixon’s projected volume should keep him locked in all fantasy lineups. Giovani Bernard expected to play a role in the Bengals backfield, but if Mixon keeps this up Bernard becomes more of a roster stash.

While the Ravens secondary more than held their own with Jimmy Smith suspended last Sunday, the Bengals receiving corps is of a vastly different caliber to that of the Bills. One of the league’s premier receivers, volume will certainly work in A.J. Green‘s favor as he’s certain to see at minimum seven or eight targets. He should obviously be started in all fantasy formats. The rest of the Bengals wideouts are questionable to use from a fantasy perspective, but will have an impact in the game.

Despite the ability to play at a very high level, the Bengals have been cautious with Tyler Eifert to try and keep him healthy. Eifert should see some targets, but it could be awhile before he’s playing more than half the team’s snaps. It’s only a matter of time before John Ross is rattling off big plays, but it’s too tough to count on currently. Tyler Boyd should see a handful of targets, however looking at the matchup it’ best to seek other alternatives.

With both teams having plenty of defensive talent, I could see this being a grind it out game that comes down to the very end. The Bengals made a point of improving their offensive line this offseason, but the right side is still vulnerable. With the talent to attack that weakness, and what seems to be an improved passing game, I’m going with the Ravens in this one. My prediction is Ravens 21 Bengals (+0.5) 17.

 

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Week One Fantasy Surprises

merlin_143236575_21f7c489-3d4f-4e40-a20f-88b1efc35234-articleLargeEvery week in fantasy there is a player that was initially on your bench, or a low priced DFS option that can swing the entire course of the outcome. The goal of this series which I’ve done for a few years now, is to hopefully hit on a few a week. The high fantasy draft picks such as Todd Gurley or Antonio Brown won’t be mentioned here, and mainly focuses on guys who are fringe starters/bench players on year long teams. Some of the aforementioned players could be values in DFS games for the particular week as well.

QB: Sam Darnold vs. Lions: In a season long league, playing Darnold probably doesn’t make sense. However, for small daily fantasy slates (think ones for the Sunday/Monday night games) he could be a very nice value. The lower cost for Darnold can help offset the cost of a high-end player and this matchup could be a positive one. The Lions defense with new head coach Matt Patricia has raised more questions than answers at this time. That the Lions also lack pass rushers also helps Darnold’s cause in a game that could be higher scoring than expected. Expect around 240 total yards and two touchdowns.

RB: James White vs. Texans: The Patriots backfield can always create fantasy chaos, but as a cumulative whole there is a lot of production/fantasy points for the taking. White could be a primary beneficiary in their week one matchup. With Julian Edelman suspended, and Dion Lewis leaving this offseason, White should have a sizable role while Sony Michel is worked into the offense. In a game with shootout potential, White makes for a very good second running back or flex play in PPR leagues or DFS contests. Expect around 100 total yards and a touchdown.

WR: Cooper Kupp vs. Raiders: The Raiders defense should finish better collectively than they did in 2017, but their secondary still has question marks. Kupp as a rookie established himself as one of Jared Goff’s favorite targets and has a nice matchup this week in the slot. He’s worth consideration as a third receiver or flex play in all leagues. Expect around 70 yards and a touchdown.

TE: David Njoku vs. Steelers: The main reason I have Njoku here, is because I’ve seen some fantasy writers say to not play him this week. Granted, going off the 2017 Steelers defensive stats sitting him might make sense. The impact of Ryan Shazier to the defense and Njoku being in line to see a significant rise in snaps might not have been accounted for.  If national writers are saying that, Njoku makes for a nice contrarian play in daily fantasy leagues. Expect around 60 yards and a touchdown.

K: Caleb Sturgis vs. Chiefs: Some daily fantasy contests have removed the kicker, but in season long leagues the position can be a crapshoot that happens to decide your game. Sturgis won the training camp battle for the Chargers and his first game is one where he could have plenty of opportunities. If you stream different kickers weekly, Sturgis makes for a solid option. Expect around two field goals and three extra points.

DST: Bengals vs. Colts: For daily fantasy formats, the Ravens defense will obviously be the chalk pick. If you wanted to go in a different direction, the Bengals are worth a serious look. While Andrew Luck is returning, the Colts offensive line still has some holes. With a deep collection of pass rushing talent, the Bengals aren’t the easiest matchup for what will be Luck’s first start in over a year. The schedule could make it tough, but the talent is there for them to emerge as one of the top defenses in season long formats as well. Expect around four sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery.

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Week One Predictions

cutAfter a long wait, week one is finally here. Thanks to a full slate of games and intrigue/hope surrounding teams, this can be one of the better weeks of the year for fans. Of course, that same intrigue and uncertainty can just make it harder to make predictions. With teams not flashing anything during preseason, and even more players resting than usual, there’s no telling how ready some teams will be. That being said, it’s time to get to the predictions in what should be a fun slate of games.

Last season: 167-89

Last season against the spread: 126-130

Game of the weak: Titans vs Dolphins: Every game at this point has an interesting story line or some intrigue, so this section was hard to pick. Basically it came down to which game would I personally be least likely to watch. While I’m interested in how Ryan Tannehill looks in his first start after sitting out a year, this game gets the short of the stick. With that said, the Titans offense will look quite different from last year so from a “fun to watch” standpoint, they could work their way up the list. Titans 24 Dolphins (+1.5) 20

Game of the week: 49ers vs Vikings: Falcons/Eagles would have been the pick here, but this matchup has plenty of intrigue for what will be a crowded NFC playoff picture. Now having a full offseason with the 49ers, how will Jimmy Garoppolo perform against the fearsome Vikings defense? Kyle Shanahan has come up with plans to attack premier defense before, so with months to prepare what he dials up will be a lot of fun. Of course the Vikings made their own quarterback move signing Kirk Cousins in what seems to be an upgrade. With Dalvin Cook also returning to the Viking offense, how much of the load Cousins is asked to carry offensively will be an interesting development. 49ers 17 Vikings (-6.5) 24

Steelers 27 Browns (+4.5) 23

Bills 13 Ravens (-7.5) 21

Buccaneers 20 Saints (-9.5) 31

Bengals 26 Colts (-3.5) 21

Jaguars 26 Giants (+3.5) 17

Texans 21 Patriots (-6.5) 28

Chiefs 20 Chargers (-3.5) 27

Redskins 21 Cardinals (+0.5) 23

Cowboys 20 Panthers (-3.5) 24

Seahawks 16 Broncos (-3.5) 21

Bears 23 Packers (-7.5) 31

Jets 21 Lions (-6.5) 27

Rams 26 Raiders (+5.5) 20

 

 

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Falcons vs. Eagles Predictions

ca92ede90712b4ca0914e20191def7f4-originalThe NFL season begins in Philadelphia in what will surely be a night Eagles fans never forget. After the unveiling of the franchises first Super Bowl banner, they’ll have a rematch of their divisional round playoff game against the Falcons. With Carson Wentz still not cleared for contact, Nick Foles will start this game. Foles struggled this preseason, but was also playing without some of his primary weapons.

In this game, the Eagles figure to be best off relying heavily on Jay Ajayi and the running game. The Falcons have great team speed defensively, but have struggled against the run over the past few years. With Jason Peters back and healthy at left tackle, the Eagles have arguably the best line in the entire league. Running with Ajayi in this one would be the way to show it. Corey Clement and Darren Sproles also figure to get touches, but are risky fantasy plays until there’s a better idea of how much they’ll be used.

With Alshon Jeffery still recovering from offseason surgery, Zach Ertz has a clearer path to being Foles’ top target. Ertz was his most targeted option in games played last season and should obviously be locked into all fantasy lineups. In Jeffery’s absence, Nelson Agholor figures to see more targets after a successful season playing in the slot. Going against Brian Poole, Agholor on paper should have a favorable matchup there as well. Dallas Goedert and Mike Wallace should also see a few targets in this game, but aren’t worth using for fantasy purposes this week.

The Falcons can answer a lot of questions right away in this game. Much of it involving the play calling of offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. The Eagles defense somehow got deeper this offseason, so it certainly provides an interesting test. Despite the touchdown decline, Matt Ryan still played very well in 2017. The Eagles did very well limiting the Falcon passing attack in the January playoff game, but Ryan is still worth considering as a fantasy starter this week.

Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman have a tough matchup against the run defense, but the Eagles will be without some key pieces in Nigel Bradham and Timmy Jernigan. Freeman figures to see at least 15 touches or so, making him, a safe start as an RB2 this week. Coleman should see around 10 touches, but his performance is a little more volatile which would make him worth considering as a flex play only. It has been mentioned that Sarkisian will try to find ways to get both running backs the ball in space, so that’s a trend which will be worth monitoring.

There’s not much that can be said about Julio Jones from a fantasy football perspective. If he’s on your roster, you’re going to play him. Even if he doesn’t score a touchdown, Jones has the chance to do plenty of damage against either Jalen Mills or Ronald Darby. Mohamed Sanu figures to be the Falcons second receiver over Calvin Ridley, but both are risky fantasy options this upcoming week. Sanu should see some targets, but he’s not typically a threat for huge yardage numbers which in fantasy makes him touchdown dependent. Ridley will see snaps this game, but his role in the passing game is uncertain at this point.  He should be held speculatively on fantasy rosters.

I’m expecting this matchup featuring two of the league’s better rosters to come down to the very end. Even though the Eagles have the emotional home crowd on their side, the key injuries they have on both sides of the ball make them tough to pick. My prediction is Falcons 24 Eagles (-2.5) 20.

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