Chargers vs Chiefs Predictions

usatsi_10483145.jpgTomorrow’s Thursday night game should be one to remember as the AFC West is on the line. Since their week one meeting, both the Chargers and Chiefs have been red hot,  however  a win for Kansas City at home would clinch the division and lockup a first round bye. On top of that, we’re going to have two high scoring offenses in what should be a shootout that comes down to the end.

With Austin Ekler ruled out, and Melvin Gordon questionable the Chargers might need Philip Rivers more than usual in this one. Though the Chiefs defense has shown some signs of life (and Eric Berry is expected to return), Rivers is worth playing in all fantasy formats. If Gordon doesn’t play, the majority of touches in the Chargers backfield likely go to Justin Jackson. The Chiefs defense does provide a very good matchup for opposing backs, as they’ve struggled against them on the ground and through the air. Jackson would be a safe RB2 play if Gordon can’t go, while Gordon if playing is worth starting in lineups, but has potential to be a boom or bust play.

Keenan Allen comes into this game on quite a roll. He’s made the most of his increase in targets since the Chargers bye and has 100 plus yards and/or a touchdown in his last six games. He should be started without hesitation in all fantasy formats. Both Tyrell and Mike Williams can be big play dependent, but the good news for them is the Chiefs allow their fair share. Tyrell Williams hasn’t cleared 50 yards and/or scored a touchdown since week nine, but this could be a week to bounce back. Mike hasn’t seen targets in volume, so both would be risky fantasy plays. On paper, this a decent matchup for Antonio Gates. Unfortunately with Berry’s return and limited targets he’s a very risky fantasy play.

The good news for football fans is that Patrick Mahomes appears to be matchup proof. No matter who he’s gone up against, he’s been able to put up big numbers, and now he faces a Chargers defense he got for four touchdowns in week one. Obviously if you have Mahomes, you start him with confidence. With Spencer Ware listed as doubtful, Damien Williams should see the majority of the snaps in the Chiefs backfield. This could be a committee approach, but Williams is an intriguing flex play as the Chargers have struggled defending pass catching running backs.

Tyreek Hill played through injury on Sunday, but it didn’t matter as the Ravens couldn’t contain him. Listed as questionable, Hill is still a matchup nightmare and will be a must play fantasy option. The Chargers have been stingy to opposing tight ends, but Travis Kelce is a “start him if you have them” caliber player. Kelce has had struggles against the Chargers of late, but in Ware’s absence he might see a few more targets thrown his way. Sammy Watkins is still out, so there’s no telling what production will come from the other Chiefs pass catchers. Chris Conley has been inconsistent, Demarcus Robinson came out of nowhere last week, and Kelvin Benjamin could debut. It makes for a situation to avoid.

Despite both teams being banged up on this short week, this game should live up to the hype. Both offenses should be able to move the ball and keep this one close. I’m going with the Chiefs in this one however as staying at home on a short week, mixed with Rivers’ struggling historically at Arrowhead could be the difference. My prediction is Chargers 27 Chiefs (-3.5) 34

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Week 14 Fantasy Surprises

8a0a545c-99e3-4470-880a-a87a12d2a70c-USATSI_11216695Last week was volatile for my fantasy surprises as the Seahawks defense had a huge game, but nobody else put together a performance much better than average. For many, the playoffs finally start this week and congratulations to those who made it. There’s no doubt that between the draft, and some savvy waiver wire moves your commitment paid off. As we saw last night, some players will put themselves into the “fantasy football legend” category with performances down the stretch.

No matter how his career plays out, Derrick Henry will now be remembered by many for his performance last night alone. People that will win or lose playoff games at the hands of Henry will be speaking about it for years later. Just goes to show no matter how good your team performs, it all comes down to luck of the draw.

QB: Josh Allen vs Jets: We have no idea what type of quarterback Allen will turn into, but for fantasy purposes his ceiling is very high. In the last two weeks, Allen has four total touchdowns but over 200 yards rushing. Considering what it takes to earn a point for passing yards compared to rushing, that is a huge boost. The Jets defense can’t be as bad as they were last time against the Bills, but Allen’s upside is high against a defense that has been vulnerable of late. Expect around 280 total yards and a touchdown.

RB: Justin Jackson vs Bengals: This pick is injury report dependent as it depends on if Melvin Gordon plays. Considering their next game after this would be four days later (with bigger implications), the Chargers would be smart to start their Pro Bowl back Sunday. If that is the case, it opens the door for Jackson as head coach Anthony Lynn expressed some concern about Austin Ekeler “wearing down”.

Even if Ekeler is involved, Jackson would see a decent amount of touches against a defense that has been gashed by the run in recent weeks. This is the type of guy who could swing a playoff matchup in your favor. Expect around 90 total yards and a touchdown.

WR: Larry Fitzgerald vs Lions: To this point, Fitzgerald’s numbers haven’t been a great return on what it took to draft him in fantasy leagues. If you’ve stuck with him though, your patience could be rewarded this week. With Christian Kirk out for the season, that frees up more targets for the future Hall of Famer. On top of that, the Lions have struggled against slot receivers this season. He should be a nice flex or WR3 play across all formats. Expect around 70 yards and a touchdown.

TE: Mark Andrews vs Chiefs: If you didn’t trust a Ravens pass catcher at this time, I’d understand. That being said, Andrews could be a decent play this week. Lamar Jackson hasn’t been afraid to look his way, and the Chiefs have had some struggles against tight ends. If the Chiefs got up early, that would also result in a positive game script for Andrews which would only help. Expect around 50 yards and a touchdown.

K: Chris Boswell vs Raiders: Despite being part of an explosive offense, Boswell hasn’t had the type of fantasy production you’d expect this season. In a game where the Steelers should be able to put up points, Boswell is worth a serious look if he’s available. Expect around two field goals and three extra points.

DST: Giants vs Redskins: I don’t have a ton of trust in the Giants defense, but I do trust them more than Mark Sanchez behind a banged up offensive line. If you stream defenses on a week to week basis, they’re worth serious consideration in season long leagues. For the right price the same can be said for daily fantasy formats. Expect around three sacks and an interception.

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Week 14 Predictions

Khalil+Mack+Seattle+Seahawks+v+Chicago+Bears+J51iNhuo_sylWeek 13 was a solid one for picking straight up, but another struggle against the spread. Hopefully over the next four weeks, I can get that spread record closer to .500 or above. While some teams are clearly out of the playoff race, this week does feature plenty of games with playoff implications. Some are for potential playoff seeding, while others are between teams fighting for their postseason lives. On top of that, for many this is the start of the fantasy football playoffs so that’s even more incentive to pay attention to this exciting slate of games.

Last week: 10-6, Season: 123-69

Last week against the spread: 6-10, Season: 87-105

Game of the weak: Lions vs Cardinals: In a spot where many teams are fighting for their postseason lives, this game fits here for two big reasons. Most importantly, both teams are out of any potential playoff race. Secondly, the two franchises have been hit hard with injuries. While we knew this was a rebuilding year for the Cardinals, it’s fair to question what’s going on with the Lions.

Matt Patricia was brought in to improve a Lions team that had hovered between 7-9 to 9-7 the past few years but they have certainly taken a step back. Injuries haven’t helped, but the offense and defense both have taken steps back this season. Patricia hasn’t been a hit with the local media so far, but moves made this upcoming offseason could be very telling into how his tenure with the franchise unfolds. Lions 17 Cardinals (+2.5) 21

Game of the week: Rams vs Bears: This Sunday night, we have one of the league’s best offenses going against what’s currently the premier defense. On top of that, they’ve both either have won or lead their division, so we can’t ask for much more than that. Jared Goff looked rusty in his first game after the bye, so I’m interested to see how he responds to this test. After missing the past two games, this is also a big test for Mitch Trubisky as well.

If the game turns into a shootout, will Trubisky be able to go score for score with the Rams? In a closely contested game, can the Bears count on the young quarterback to not make mistakes? The game could be a nice indicator of what to expect if they have to face the Saints or Rams again come playoff time. Rams 33 Bears (+3.5) 27

Jets 17 Bills (-3.5) 22

Panthers 23 Browns (+1.5) 26

Falcons 27 Packers (-6.5) 24

Ravens 20 Chiefs (-7.5) 28

Patriots 30 Dolphins (+8.5) 21

Saints 34 Buccaneers (+8.5) 26

Giants 24 Redskins (+3.5) 17

Colts 20 Texans (-4.5) 26

Bengals 16 Chargers (-14.5) 34

Broncos 26 49ers (+5.5) 20

Eagles 21 Cowboys (-4.5) 26

Steelers 28 Raiders (+10.5) 20

Vikings 17 Seahawks (-3.5) 21

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Jaguars vs Titans Predictions

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at New York GiantsTomorrow’s Thursday night game has become a tradition of “let’s get them both out of the way” as the Jaguars take on the Titans. After both teams made the playoffs last year, the Jaguars are all but eliminated, while the Titans are one of many teams fighting for the sixth playoff spot in the AFC. If you’re a fan of low scoring “grind it out” games, this could be one for you as there doesn’t figure to be a lot of offensive fireworks in this one.

By making simple throws and not turning the ball over, Cody Kessler gave the Jaguars what they were hoping at quarterback. The problem was it only resulted in six points and it was essentially a bunch of check downs. Kessler isn’t worth considering in any fantasy leagues this week. The only Jaguar player who is worthy of starting in fantasy is Leonard Fournette. Sidelined by a suspension Sunday, Fournette is a lock to see 25 plus touches in this one assuming he’s healthy. Volume and goal line work has him locked in as an RB1. T.J. Yeldon could see touches if he’s playing passing downs, while Carlos Hyde might need a Fournette injury to have a clear role.

Aside from Yeldon, Kessler’s most targeted receiver last Sunday was Dede Westbrook. Five or six targets is probably the ceiling for him or any Jaguar wideout if this game goes the way they’d like, which makes them hard to trust in fantasy leagues. Donte Moncrief is the other receiver likely to see a handful of targets in tomorrow’s game.

Don’t look now, but the Titans passing game appears to have started clicking recently. This could be a result of Marcus Mariota finally being healthy, being comfortable in the new offense or a little bit of both. Over the past two weeks, fantasy owners have been rewarded as he’s been a top ten scoring quarterback in that span. Unfortunately, the Jaguars are still very stingy against the pass so this isn’t a very good spot to use him for fantasy leagues.

The Jaguars from a fantasy perspective have remained solid against opposing running backs as well. Depending on how effective the Jaguar pass rush is, Dion Lewis could see a lot of work in the passing game, but he hasn’t been effective over his last three. He could end up being a decent flex play if you don’t have other options. Derrick Henry you know will get ten or so touches, but his fantasy value can be very touchdown dependent.

Corey Davis has been leading the way for the Titans receivers and the team moving him around more has helped over the past few weeks. The only thing hurting Davis from a fantasy perspective is he doesn’t see a ton of targets (just 11 in the past two weeks where things have clicked). Considering he should see a lot of Jalen Ramsey, Davis makes for a risky WR3 this week. With the Jaguars’ recent struggles against tight ends, Jonnu Smith could make for an interesting play this week. It has been an up and down season production wise, but Smith has a touchdown in three of his last five games, and he caught six passes in one of the games he didn’t haul one in. If you’re desperate at the position, he’s worth a look. Taywan Taylor showed his big play capabilities in his return from injury Sunday, and while he’ll receive some targets, it’s too early to count on him from a fantasy perspective.

While I think this game could play into the Jaguars hands, the biggest question is if they can make enough plays through the air to pull out a win. From what Kessler has shown in his opportunities so far, I’m not sold on him being able to do so. If Mariota and company can avoid turnovers, they should be able to put enough together offensively to squeak out a win. My prediction is Jaguars 10 Titans (-4.5) 17.

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Week 13 Fantasy Surprises

Josh+Reynolds+New+Orleans+Saints+v+Los+Angeles+meK831V22o1lAside from Gus Edwards, it wasn’t a great one for my fantasy surprises last week. Fortunately this is a chance to bounce back. For those who have playoff games that span two weeks, this is the last week of the regular season. We’ve reached an interesting point in the NFL calendar as now three to four week injuries could lead to a team just putting a player on injured reserve. This has already happened to some notable players this week, so that’s an interesting development to monitor in coming weeks.

QB: Case Keenum vs Bengals: With no teams on bye, Keenum is more of deep league streaming option or cheap DFS play. Despite that, the matchup is a very favorable one. The Bengals pass defense has really struggled this year, and in a game they need to keep playoff hopes alive, Keenum will need to come up big. Expect around 260 yard and two touchdowns.

RB: Josh Adams vs Redskins: Despite a strong start, the Redskins defense has been vulnerable of late against the run. Adams is now the lead back for the Eagles, and if he sees 15 plus touches figures to pay dividends for fantasy players this week. Expect around 80 total yards and a touchdown.

WR: Josh Reynolds vs Lions: With Cooper Kupp out for the year, Reynolds will become a key cog of the Rams’ offense down the stretch. This week, he gets to go against a Lions secondary that has looked dreadful at times this season. Assuming he sees six to eight targets, he could be in for a big day. Expect around 70 yards and a touchdown.

TE: Cameron Brate vs Panthers: Surprisingly, no team has allowed more touchdowns to opposing tight ends than the Panthers with nine. At a weak position, Brate should continue to benefit from O.J. Howard’s absence and reward fantasy owners in the process. Expect around 60 yards and a touchdown.

K: Josh Lambo vs Colts: If your kicker is your most consistent offensive player, the season might not have gone as planned offensively. That has been the case in Jacksonville with Leonard Fournette missing extensive time and now suspended this week. Due to the Jaguars’ inability to score touchdowns, Lambo has double digit scoring potential through field goals this week. Expect around three field goals and an extra point.

DST: Seahawks vs 49ers: The Seahawks defense hasn’t been a great fantasy performer of late, but could bounce back on Sunday. After an impressive first start, Nick Mullens has struggled the past two weeks (which could be impacted by a banged up supporting cast). In a game where the Seahawks could get up early, they could force a few turnovers in this one. Expect around three sacks, an interception and fumble recovery.

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Week 13 Predictions

jujuLast week was a strong week for picking straight up, but a subpar one against the spread. Hopefully the spread picks can get back on track for this full slate of games. The stretch run is finally here, which means the playoff races are highly contested. Unless there are some drastic changes, we have a good idea of what teams will win their respective divisions. The wildcard teams are where it really gets interesting. If the Chargers keep this up, we basically have five AFC teams fighting for one playoff spot. In the NFC, both wildcard spots are up for grabs, and the NFC East race will be fun down the stretch. Even if your team isn’t in contention, there should be a lot of fun football to pay attention to.

Last week: 12-3, Season: 113-63

Last week against the spread: 6-9, Season: 81-95

Game of the weak: Jets vs Titans: Can the real Tennessee Titans please stand-up? After impressive wins in Dallas and against the Patriots, the Titans have been outscored 72-27 in two key division matchups. The division is likely out of reach, but a win here is necessary if the 5-6 Titans hope to keep up in the wildcard push. Coming into this one, the Jets have lost five in a row and sit 3-8. If he’s healthy to start, getting Sam Darnold reps should be the priority for the remainder of 2018. Jets 14 Titans (-7.5) 24

Game of the week: Chargers vs Steelers: A matchup between two of the AFC’s top teams, this one is a very interesting test for the Chargers. A win here, and they’ll establish themselves as legit contenders in the minds of many. So far Philip Rivers and company have taken advantage of their schedule, with their most impressive win being a road victory in Seattle. Due to some fluky turnovers and Ben Roethlisberger’s baffling late game interception, the Steelers are coming in off a tough loss. How they respond to the adversity will be an interesting development Sunday night. Chargers 31 Steelers (-3.5) 35

Rams 31 Lions (+10.5) 17

Colts 26 Jaguars (+4.5) 20

Ravens 23 Falcons (-1.5) 21

Broncos 27 Bengals (+4.5) 16

Cardinals 20 Packers (-14.5) 35

Bills 14 Dolphins (-5.5) 21

Bears 24 Giants (+4.5) 17

Panthers 30 Buccaneers (+3.5) 26

Browns 23 Texans (-6.5) 28

Chiefs 38 Raiders (+15.5) 16

Vikings 21 Patriots (-5.5) 30

49ers 13 Seahawks (-10.5) 26

Redskins 20 Eagles (-6.5) 27



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Saints vs Cowboys Predictions

bmartin_star-blog_can-cowboys-pull-off-another-upset-against-saints-like-in-2009Tonight’s Thursday night game has the potential to be one of the better ones this season. Both teams are coming into this one hot, and a win for the Cowboys here would be huge to show they’re for real in an NFC East race that will go to the wire. There only problem is the Saints come into this one winners of ten straight and have shown no mercy in the process. For a chance at an upset, the Cowboys will need to absolutely dominate time of possession with Ezekiel Elliott  and some designed runs for Dak Prescott, with the defense being able to force a turnover or two.

To this point, there isn’t much that hasn’t been said about Drew Brees. At this point he’d be my vote for league MVP as both a possibly record breaking season and team performance back the claim. The Cowboys have talented cornerbacks on the perimeter, but that plays well into the Saints attacking the middle of the field. Start Brees with your usual confidence in fantasy leagues.

In Sean Lee’s absence, the Cowboys have been more vulnerable against the pass. This could greatly benefit Alvin Kamara. Usually good for 15 or so total touches, Kamara due to game flow wasn’t active in the passing game last Thursday. but his ability in space should give him an expanded role in this one. Mark Ingram could be a tricky call for fantasy owners this week. The Cowboys also have a stout run defense, but of late he’s seen a nice workload with the Saints jumping out to early leads. Knowing Ingram has a role, I’d be comfortable using him as an RB2, but he might need a touchdown to salvage the week.

Michael Thomas runs routes primarily on the outside, but Brees looks to him often when he’s playing in the slot. That bodes well for him this week where the Cowboys have been vulnerable in coverage. As always, he should be locked in as a WR1 for your fantasy team. Tre’Quan Smith is scheduled to return to action, but with most of his damage done on the outside, this could be a tough week to trust him (especially coming off an injury). Those are the only two Saints pass catchers that generate fantasy appeal this week, which speaks to how many pieces are in place and how well Brees distributes the ball.

With the Saints ability to put up points quickly,  Prescott may need to shoulder more of the offense than usual. The biggest obstacle there is that he could once again be without left tackle Tyron Smith who is dealing with neck stingers. Due to his added value as a runner, Prescott makes for a nice streaming matchup this week. One thing that’s certain is that Elliott will see plenty of touches in this one. With five games to go, Elliott already has set a career high in receptions and you know the run volume is there. Even against a stout Saints run defense, Elliott is fully locked in as an RB1 this week.

Since being traded to the Cowboys, Amari Cooper has looked like the talent so many thought he was capable of being. He has won both vertically and with very precise route running in that span. Despite Marshon Lattimore’s presence, the Saints have still allowed some big games to opposing wideouts. Considering he’s a safe bet for seven to ten targets, Cooper should be active in all fantasy leagues. Outside of Cooper and Elliott, who else is catching passes for the Cowboys fluctuates greatly on a weekly basis. Players like Michael Gallup, Cole Beasley and Allen Hurns might be called upon, but this late in the fantasy season it’s not worth trying to figure out.

Ultimately, this game comes down to how well the Cowboys can run against the Saints, and if the Cowboys defense forces stops. If they can execute both, the Cowboys have a legitimate chance to pull this game off. Having two things like that work in your favor against Brees and company could be a lot to ask, so the Saints are still my pick here. My prediction is Saints 31 Cowboys (+7.5) 23.

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