Week 11 Fantasy Surprises

nfl-new-york-giants-at-san-francisco-49ers-5729684ec7ea8efdLast week’s fantasy surprises had a few bright spots as JuJu Smith-Schuster had a nice performance and Duke Johnson was a big contributor in both the run and passing game. We’ve now reached the time of year which is always a fun one for fantasy owners: finding the player who can single handily swing your league. Players like David Johnson have done this in recent years, and whether it’s a running back that is filling in for an injury, or a wideout who suddenly starts seeing more targets they are the players who end up being huge parts of your late season success.

QB: Jay Cutler vs Buccaneers: This game could be tough to watch, but in recent weeks Cutler has been asked to throw often, and the Buccaneers secondary has been reeling in recent weeks. The weapons are there, so for those daily fantasy players Cutler might be a decent tournament option for those in need of a quarterback. Expect around 250 yards and two touchdowns.

RB: Rex Burkhead vs Raiders: The Patriots backfield is a tricky one for fantasy players, but Burkhead is someone who would qualify as a late season performer who helps you win your league. He’s probably the best all-around back the Patriots have to offer, and due to injuries that cost him most of the year, he might be available in your league. This week he gets a Raider defense that is generous to pass catching backs and isn’t exactly a brick wall against the run either. If Burkhead manages to see 15 or so touches, the return would likely be very promising. Expect around 70 total yards and a touchdown.

WR: Sterling Shepard vs Chiefs: Shepard is yet another player who could come through for fantasy owners in this part of the season. Since returning from injury, Shepard has been targeted frequently and is the primary receiver for the Giants at the moment. Other than the corners lined across from Marcus Peters, receivers have had success against the Chiefs. Assuming Shepard is strategically kept away, a big game could be in store. Expect around 80 yards and a touchdown.

TE: Marcedes Lewis vs Browns: Looks in the Jaguar passing game aren’t a certainty but if Lewis gets them, the matchup is there to take advantage of. The Browns have struggled covering the position all season and if you need to pick an option up off waivers, Lewis is one worth a look. Expect around 40 yards and a touchdown.

K: Brandon McManus vs Bengals: The Broncos have had some moments moving the ball with Brock Osweiler at quarterback, but that hasn’t consistently turned into touchdowns. McManus will likely have at least a few field goal chances which all will be coming at the elevated altitude to boot. Expect around three field goals and two extra points.

DEF: Cardinals vs Texans: The Cardinals defense didn’t let me down a few weeks ago here, so I’ll stick with them as they face off against Tom Savage. Heck, with Blaine Gabbert now starting either defense in this one would be a serviceable waiver wire option. Assuming the Cardinals can generate pressure, they figure to deliver. Expect around three sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery.

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Week 11 Predictions

usa_today_9552602.0Last week went back to being a little more unpredictable as I was serviceable picking straight up, but struggled against the spread. The good news is all this parody could give us an incredible stretch run. In the NFC alone ten of the 16 teams enter this week .500 or better, and in the AFC the final playoff card spot is up for grabs among nearly the entire conference with divisional races still heating up. Fortunately we have plenty of intriguing matchups this week in what should be another exciting weekend of football.

Last week: 9-5, Season: 88-58

Last week against the spread: 5-9, Season: 75-71

Game of the weak: Buccaneers vs Dolphins: Looking back, this matchup would’ve been much more appealing in week one when it was supposed to be played. Now the Buccaneers are coming off a win but have been of  2017’s biggest disappointments, while the Dolphins somehow are both 4-5 and still in the playoff mix. Here’s to hoping that the University of Miami’s turnover chain doesn’t go anywhere as it could get some use in this matchup between Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jay Cutler. Buccaneers 20 Dolphins (-1.5) 23

Game of the week: Rams vs Vikings: Last year, Jared Goff and Case Keenum combined to lead the Rams to a 4-12 record. Now they’re both at the helm for teams that are  7-2 entering this one. The Rams are winning every which way both shutting opponents down and putting up points at will. This Viking defense will be one of the toughest tests for Goff and company to date. Not only can they stop the run and offer a formidable pass defense, but the receiver tandem of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen is one of the league’s best on offense. This game could be a fantastic measuring stick to see where both teams sit at this point of the season. Rams 23 Vikings (-2.5) 24

Lions 23 Bears (+3.5) 20

Redskins 20 Saints (-7.5) 28

Ravens 20 Packers (+2.5) 17

Chiefs 34 Giants (+10.5) 21

Jaguars 26 Browns (+7.5) 13

Cardinals 20 Texans (+1.5) 16

Bills 14 Chargers (-4.5) 21

Bengals 20 Broncos (-2.5) 24

Patriots 34 Raiders (+6.5) 27

Eagles 26 Cowboys (+3.5) 20

Falcons 24 Seahawks 21 (-3.5)

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Titans vs. Steelers Predictions

Titans-steelers-768x458Tonight’s Thursday night matchup is one that could potentially have huge playoff implications in the AFC. With the Steelers sitting 7-2 and the Titans 6-3, there is a chance that the winner of this one could end up with a first round bye in the playoffs. This game is one where offensively the teams have contrasting styles, so it will be interesting to see if the first team to get into a rhythm makes the other adjust.

Marcus Mariota to this point hasn’t put up gaudy numbers and against this Steeler defense who can get to quarterbacks, clean pockets could be tough to come by. The good news for the Titans is the Steeler secondary has had a few injuries of late, so things might be a little easier. In this game, it wouldn’t be surprising if Mariota’s top target is Rishard Matthews. Targeted 14 times since the Titans’ bye, Matthews will run a decent amount of his routes to the side of Coty Sensabaugh who figures to replace Joe Haden. Even if he sees just five or six targets, Matthews could be a decent third receiver option for this week.

Corey Davis has gotten healthier and as a result has seen an increased role in the offense seeing ten targets last week. Depending on the game flow, that volume could be there again, so Davis is another Titan who is in the mix to play as your third fantasy wideout. Delanie Walker isn’t on pace to match the past few years of Pro Bowl level production, but he still has Mariota’s trust. For potential volume, Walker should be started in the majority of leagues but the Steeler defense has had success covering the position.

Over the past handful of games, the Steelers have allowed just over three yards a carry to opposing running backs. The Titans are a run based attack, so the winner of the trenches could decide this game. DeMarco Murray on a per carry basis hasn’t had the same efficiency he did in 2016. Despite that, you can still count on him for at least 16 or so touches a game. In this matchup, Murray probably profiles as a second running back for fantasy owners but he should still be in lineups. Derrick Henry figures to become the Titans’ lead back eventually but for now in fantasy, you have to hope he scores a touchdown to ensure value. He still figures to see ten or so touches in this contest.

For all the fire power at their disposal, the Steeler offense has been underwhelming to this point. We know about their road struggles, but regardless of location they’ve yet to score 30 or more points in a single game. Through the air, Ben Roethlisberger figures to have a favorable matchup as the Titans have struggled to generate a pass rush while fielding a young secondary. Historically a player who performs better at home, Roethlisberger could have a nice return for fantasy players this week.

On the ground we already know that Le’Veon Bell will be heavily involved. The Titans have been tough to run on, but in the passing game have allowed almost 600 yards to opposing backs. Bell is averaging almost 29 touches a week, and with six or seven of those expected through the air he obviously needs to be locked into all lineups.

In the passing game, there isn’t much more you can say about Antonio Brown. He’s having another fantastic year leading the league in receiving yards entering this week, but team wide redzone woes have helped limit his touchdown total. Even if he doesn’t hit paydirt, Brown will be heavily involved and it shouldn’t require reminding to have him in your lineup. JuJu Smith-Schuster has really taken advantage of his expanded role in the Steeler offense and once again should be a hit for fantasy players. Depending on the size of your league, Smith-Schuster could give you better than expected production if he’s your third receiver. A trendy pick by fantasy players to start the year, Martavis Bryant has recorded more than 50 yards just once, and has one touchdown for the year. The big play potential obviously still exists, but he’s an extremely boom or bust option.

As a whole, I think the key to this game will be if the Titan offense will be able to establish the running game. If they can while also limiting Roethlisberger, Bell and Brown from seeing the field, it drastically changes things. I’m not confident enough that the Titans can do it or win when they’re needed to drop back for 40 plus pass attempts. My prediction is Titans 20 Steelers (-7.5) 26

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Week Ten Fantasy Surprises

usa_today_10320836.0Last week was one of the better performances overall from my fantasy surprises. Jacoby Brissett turned in a big day, Mohamed Sanu found the end zone, the Cardinals defense took care of business and both Kenyan Drake and Vernon Davis were heavily involved in their offenses. Entering week ten, the bye weeks are almost through which means the fantasy playoffs are rapidly approaching. At this point, the best advice I could give is stick with your stars, be open to trades (but don’t just do one for the heck of it), and if you can capitalize on an opponents weakness and pick someone up just so they can’t, it is worth the roster spot.

 QB: Ryan Fitzpatrick vs Jets: If you’re in a ten or 12 team league there would be no reason to start Fitzpatrick, but for his price he could be a very nice option for daily fantasy players. Even without Mike Evans, the Buccaneers will be throwing it 30 plus times, and Fitzpatrick has shown he can run too. The Jets pass defense can be vulnerable, so lineups with Fitzpatrick could do some damage this weekend. Expect around 270 total yards and two touchdowns.

RB: Duke Johnson vs Lions: If you’re in a PPR league, chances are you’re well aware of how productive Johnson can be. While Isaiah Crowell has struggled for the most part anyway, Johnson has had flashes as a runner and is certainly capable of producing as a receiver. The Lions have been stout against the run, and combined with a possibility of garbage time, there is a chance Johnson sees double digit targets in this one. Expect around 80 total yards and a touchdown.

WR: JuJu Smith-Schuster vs Colts: Between the endzone celebrations on the field and the wholesome tweets off of it, Smith-Schuster has quickly become a fan favorite across the league. This week in a great matchup, he could continue to add to his legion of fans with a big performance. Whoever is starting opposite Antonio Brown figures to see favorable coverage, and even if Smith-Schuster sees a handful of targets, he could be in for a big day. Expect around 60 yards and a touchdown.

TE: Tyler Kroft vs Titans: Thanks to Tyler Eifert’s injury and the Bengals not giving Andy Dalton enough time to read the whole field, Kroft has emerged as someone with a viable role in the offense. Over the past six games Kroft has seen 28 targets and has scored three touchdowns, which at a position without much depth is pretty serviceable. Teams have also been able to throw on the Titans with some success, so figuring Kroft sees five to six targets the numbers should be there. Expect around 50 yards and a touchdown.

K: Mike Nugent vs Falcons: You can never go wrong with kickers in a game that has shootout potential. That is what Nugent has working for him in this one as the opportunities should be there. In a lot of leagues, he is available on waivers so don’t hesitate to pick him up if you need another option. Expect around two field goals and three extra points.

DEF: Bears vs Packers: The Bears defense is a pretty underrated unit as a whole, but still prior to the Aaron Rodgers injury you wouldn’t consider starting them against the Packers. However now they are fair game as while Brett Hundley could be a good NFL quarterback in the future, he has struggled in his first few chances to play in the regular season. The Bears tendency to control the clock with the run on offense should work in their favor too, so this play could have a high floor as well. Expect around three sacks and an interception.

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Week Ten Predictions

happy-defense-lions-at-saints-2017-0dd413852a568ecbWeek nine was another solid one for my predictions and hopefully these last few performances against the spread aren’t a case of me peaking before the postseason. Entering week ten, 19 of the league’s 32 teams had a winning percentage of .500 or better meaning every single game has even more meaning this point on. These final two months of the season figure to be a lot of fun, so buckle in and get in for a wild ride.

Last week: 8-5, Season: 79-53

Last week against the spread: 9-4, Season: 70-62

Game of the weak: Giants vs 49ers: We knew the 49ers would be taking their lumps this season, but the Giants being this bad is still hard to believe. As I’ve mentioned before though, this could be a blessing in disguise for the franchise as now they have an excuse to look for the heir apparent to Eli Manning.

The 49ers traded for Jimmy Garoppolo hoping he is their eventual franchise quarterback, but now the mystery is when he will play this season if at all. Garoppolo as a competitor I’m sure hopes to play, but considering the 49ers injuries on the offensive line and to the receiving corps financially he could be better off sitting the year as the thought of what he could be drives the market. Giants 23 49ers (+2.5) 20

Game of the week: Saints vs Bills: If you were to tell me in August you thought this game would have a lot of playoff implications, I would be left scratching my head, but here we are. The Saints continue to surprise and get it done on the defensive side of the ball. This doesn’t seem like a fluke either, the group has a lot of young talent and could be even better as players like Marshon Lattimore really come into their own. Between the defense and a running game with Alvin Kamara, this also means less is being asked of Drew Brees. Entering this year, Brees had thrown an average of 39.9 times per game in his time with the Saints. So far in 2017 that number is down to 34.4.

This Saints defense will prove to be an interesting test for Tyrod Taylor who has been fantastic in terms of taking care of the ball so far this season. His offensive line didn’t do him any favors last week against the Jets, so how they respond on more than a week of prep will be a deciding factor in this one. Saints 23 Bills (+3.5) 21

Jets 23 Buccaneers (+2.5) 17

Bengals 20 Titans (-4.5) 26

Packers 16 Bears (-5.5) 21

Chargers 17 Jaguars (-3.5) 24

Vikings 17 Redskins (+1.5) 20

Browns 14 Lions (-12.5) 27

Steelers 28 Colts (+10.5) 20

Texans 16 Rams (-11.5) 28

Cowboys 26 Falcons (-3.5) 23

Patriots 27 Broncos (+7.5) 17

Dolphins 20 Panthers (-9.5) 24

 

 

 

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Seahawks vs. Cardinals Predictions

d0d3a1cf20468323400f6a7067009813Projected as contenders entering the 2017 season, both of these NFC West teams need this one badly to keep playoff hopes alive in what is a deep conference. This game could be a very close one as I’m expecting the Cardinals to try and chew up as much clock as possible to limit Russell Wilson’s time on the field.

Wilson has still had issues being protected up front against his offensive line, but he has a favorable matchup tonight. Besides Patrick Peterson, opponents have had success throwing against the Cardinals and due to stout play against the run opponents are usually throwing frequently. With Eddie Lacy out, Thomas Rawls should get the majority of running game touches in Seattle’s latest round of RB musical chairs. Considering the Cardinals ability to stop the run, unless you feel the volume is there, I wouldn’t view Rawls as more than a flex play this week. J.D. McKissic also should see touches, but the volume hasn’t been there to trust him.

Despite the threat of Peterson, Doug Baldwin still projects as a safe play and should be locked in all lineups. Baldwin runs the majority of his routes from the inside or slot, which would allow him to get away from being shadowed by the All Pro corner. Jimmy Graham on a yards per catch basis isn’t as dynamic as he was with the Saints, but having caught 18 passes and four touchdowns in the past four weeks, he is a high floor option at a weak position and Wilson figures to be throwing often. Picking between Tyler Lockett and Paul Richardson is a crapshoot, as both have shown to be big play threats but there is no telling who will be targeted more. They’re boom or bust options as a third fantasy receiver this week, but regardless of if you start or sit them, remember hindsight is 20/20.

Drew Stanton was serviceable in his first start replacing Carson Palmer, but if Sunday was any indication the offense will fully rely on Adrian Peterson. After 39 total touches less than a week ago, Peterson figures to see a workload in the 20’s at least. The only problem is yards will be tougher to come by against the Seahawk interior. Based off volume alone, Peterson has to be started in all fantasy formats.

Like Baldwin in the Seahawks offense, Larry Fitzgerald tends to run many of his routes on the inside, keeping him away from the likes of Richard Sherman. Stanton might not be consistent getting the ball to the future hall of famer, but as evident by the nine targets last week, the effort will be made. Receivers such as John Brown, Jaron Brown and J.J. Nelson could have an impact for the Cardinals in this one, but in an offense that will rely on the run and has a inconsistent quarterback they can be avoided for fantasy purposes.

While these two teams tend to play each other pretty tough, the biggest question for me will be how long the Cardinals offense can stay on the field. If Wilson is able to get going early, that is an uphill battle for a Cardinal offense that isn’t wanting Stanton throwing 35 to 40 times. So with that I’ll be taking the Seahawks as they hope to keep pace with the Rams in the division race. My prediction is Seahawks 24 Cardinals (+6.5) 16.

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Week Nine Fantasy Surprises

kenyan-drake-fb14a7ef6a045064Last week was hit or miss for my fantasy surprises as Andy Dalton had a solid performance and the Bengals defense came up big but there were some duds mixed in as well. This is another week where six teams are on bye and it could be a tough one to fill voids as potent offenses such as the Patriots and Steelers will be resting this weekend. This week more than ever in part due to some injuries it seems there is more uncertainty than ever in regards to some of the daily fantasy leagues, so if you’re playing those proceed with caution unless there is a lineup you’re very optimistic about.

QB: Jacoby Brissett vs Texans: I initially liked Brissett here because of the chance the Colts would be playing from behind, leading to a large volume of passes. Regardless though, Brissett has a favorable matchup in this one and if you’re really in a pinch you could do worse at the position. If you’re in a 12 team league and stream quarterbacks, he should be available and could produce a solid game. Expect around 260 total yards and a touchdown.

RB: Kenyan Drake vs Raiders: We don’t know how the Dolphin backfield will shakeup with Jay Ajayi being traded, but on a week with numerous backs out Drake is worth a shot. The Raiders defense has struggled against opposing running backs and if he sees 15 to 20 touches, Drake could easily give those who play him a nice return. Expect around 80 total yards and a touchdown.

WR: Mohamed Sanu vs Panthers: On a per game basis so far in 2017, Sanu is seeing just one less target than Julio Jones and also has one more touchdown. Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian seems to be a big fan of Sanu so if the Panthers do sell out to defend Jones in part to his success against them, Sanu could be in for a double digit target day. Expect around 70 yards and a touchdown.

TE: Vernon Davis vs Seahawks: While I’m not in love with the matchup, Davis not Jordan Reed has been more of the vertical threat at tight end for the Redskins of late. Even though only three to four targets are likely, he’s worth a dart throw in a game where the Redskins could be playing from behind and six teams are on bye. Expect around 50 yards and a touchdown.

K: Phil Dawson vs 49ers: While I don’t trust the Cardinal offense, I do think they’ll be able to move the ball enough to get Dawson some field goal opportunities. While his play would require faith in Drew Stanton, it is one I think could pay off in daily fantasy tournaments. Expect around two extra points and three field goals.

DEF: Cardinals vs 49ers: Compared to previous years, the Cardinal defense has been disappointing, but this could be a game where they turn it around. They’re fresh off a bye week and get to face C.J. Beathard who the 49ers clearly don’t see as a long term answer after their recent moves, and Pierre Garcon has since been ruled out for the year. If they can’t get it going this week, the Cardinals defense probably won’t have any fantasy relevance for the rest of 2017. Expect around three sacks and an interception.

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