Week Three Fantasy Surprises

59bf13dbe865d.imageLast week I was unable to put together my week two fantasy surprises due to complications following the storm, but week two was an interesting one from a fantasy perspective. For whatever reason it seemed many of the highly drafted running backs put up duds last week. Whether it was Jordan Howard and DeMarco Murray getting injured, or Ezekiel Elliott and LeSean McCoy being inefficient with limited touches it made for an odd week. The good news is that we saw last night with the Rams/49ers game is that scoring will pickup, which is never a bad thing for fantasy players.

QB: Jay Cutler vs Jets: While the Dolphins put an emphasis on the ground game last week, Cutler still managed to throw 33 times this past Sunday. DeVante Parker has missed some practice leading up to this contest, but assuming he plays Cutler could make for an intriguing daily fantasy play. While the Dolphins getting out to a lead could limit Cutler’s attempts, the ability to put up numbers should be there. Expect around 240 yards and two touchdowns.

RB: Christian McCaffrey vs Saints: Compared to the preseason hype, McCaffrey has disappointed fantasy players through the first two weeks. To this point he has 30 total touches (9 being receptions) for 129 yards and no touchdowns. The good news is that could change in a big way this week. While the Saints defense showed some flashes in the preseason, they’ve been the same struggling unit we’ve become accustomed to since the regular season started. This very well could be the breakout fans have been waiting for as the Saints are one of the worst in terms of defending pass catching backs. Expect around 100 total yards and a touchdown.

WR: Rashard Higgins vs Colts: Targeted 12 times during his rookie season, Higgins came out of nowhere last week by recording seven catches for 95 yards on 11 targets. While the week two performance could be an anomaly, someone is going to have to emerge in Corey Coleman’s absence, and in deeper leagues Higgins is worth a shot in a favorable matchup. Expect around 70 yards and a touchdown.

TE: Austin Hooper vs Lions: Hooper has only been targeted twice a game so far this season, but the matchup in this one is quite favorable. The Lions struggled covering tight ends all of last year, and it is an area where opponents have had success early in 2017. In a potential shootout, it is worth having exposure to Hooper in daily fantasy tournaments, or in deep fantasy leagues. Expect around 40 yards and a touchdown.

K: Dustin Hopkins vs Raiders: Through two weeks the Redskins haven’t been able to put up points the way they did in 2016. Granted, it can take time to adjust after losing your offensive coordinator, Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. The Raiders defense to this point has exceeded expectations, and it wouldn’t shock me if this game turned into a shootout. For a kicker, all you can ask for is opportunity and a high scoring game would certainly give Hopkins those. Expect around three field goals and two extra points.

DEF: Jaguars vs Ravens: After a stellar week one performance, the Jaguars defense came back down to earth in week two. However a lot of that can be due to the offense stalling, and the Titans offense has the ability to put up points. While Blake Bortles and company could stall in this one, the Ravens offense isn’t as threatening. Like the Jaguars, the Ravens offense is more methodical and has emphasized the run. With arguably the league’s best guard out for the season in Marshal Yanda, yards could be tougher to come by this Sunday. In what figures to be a low scoring contest, the Jaguars defense is worth another shot. Expect around three sacks and an interception.

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Week Three Predictions

636387742186814589-GTY-835655726Week two was an improvement with my predictions, but there is always room to get better. With trends becoming more apparent and we get a better idea of who teams are, things should start to fall into place. With seven undefeated teams remaining and a few of them facing off, it will be interesting to see who is able to  keep their winning streak alive for another Sunday.

Last week: 10-6, Season: 17-14

Last week against the spread: 8-8, Season: 13-18

Game of the weak: Browns vs Colts: Every week Andrew Luck is out, it seems we don’t fully appreciate how much he has been able to mask the Colts deficiencies when he’s in the lineup. The Colts being home underdogs to the Browns is probably the point where we’ve reached rock bottom. Jacoby Brissett showed some promise in his first start with only a few weeks to work with new teammates. With every Colts loss there becomes less incentive to bring Luck back this year, so I personally wouldn’t be stunned if Brissett starts the rest of the season in Indianapolis. Due to the Colts struggles against the ground game though, I’m finding it difficult to believe they’ll pull it out. Browns 21 Colts (+1.5) 17

Game of the week: Falcons vs Lions: As defending NFC champs, the Falcons 2-0 start isn’t surprising many people, but the Lions coming into this one with the same record is. If you were to look at the Lions’ schedule a month ago, chances are you wouldn’t of expected them to finish at least .500 through their first four games. But now after beating the Cardinals and Giants, those teams will probably falter so the dumb “Matthew Stafford can’t beat teams with winning records” arguments go on another year.  Regardless with Matt Ryan and Stafford at the helm, this game has shootout potential and has the chance to come down to the very end. Falcons 27 Lions (+3.5) 24

Ravens 20 Jaguars (+3.5) 13

Saints 21 Panthers (-5.5) 26

Texans 14 Patriots (-13.5) 30

Broncos 24 Bills (+3.5) 16

Steelers 26 Bears (+7.5) 17

Giants 17 Eagles (-6.5) 24

Dolphins 27 Jets (+5.5) 20

Buccaneers 23 Vikings (-1.5) 17

Seahawks 17 Titans (-2.5) 20

Chiefs 26 Chargers (+3.5) 21

Bengals 20 Packers (-9.5) 28

Raiders 26 Redskins (+3.5) 23

Cowboys 20 Cardinals (+3.5) 24

 

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Rams vs 49ers Predictions

Los Angeles Rams v San Francisco 49ers

Photo by: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Tonight’s Thursday night matchup features two young NFC West teams looking to pickup a big early season win. While the Rams offense is much improved from last year, this could be another low scoring Thursday night game. Both of these defenses have the ability to stop the run and get to the quarterback, and with both teams having inconsistent quarterback play, this could become a battle of the running backs.

Jared Goff looks much improved from his rookie season, but there is reason to worry about him in this matchup. The 49ers pass defense has been rather stingy and so far they’ve yet to allow an opponent to throw for over 200 yards. Through the first two weeks, no pass catcher has recorded over 65 yards against the 49ers, so it could be difficult to trust Rams wideouts from a fantasy perspective. Goff these first few weeks has found a nice connection with rookie Cooper Kupp. With the ability to play outside or in the slot, Kupp is a player the Rams figure to give at least a half dozen targets in this one. Sammy Watkins is still getting adjusted with the Ram offense, and has been targeted just seven times to this point. Watkins likely makes for a “boom or bust” fantasy option this week, but it’s only a matter of time before he has a big game. Robert Woods and Gerald Everett aren’t worth fantasy consideration, but their roles are also worth monitoring in the Rams offense tonight.

The heartbeat of the Rams offense this week and the majority of the season should be Todd Gurley. While his yards per carry average isn’t great, Sean McVay has made a distinct effort to get Gurley involved in the passing game. Gurley has responded well recording eight catches for 104 yards and a touchdown in that span. The 49ers defense aside from late in the second half this past Sunday has been pretty stout against the run, but Gurley figuring to get 20 to 25 touches should obviously be in all fantasy lineups.

Through two games, the 49er offense with Brian Hoyer has yet to score a touchdown, but I expect that to change this week. While this is a tough passing attack to trust from a fantasy game standpoint, one player you can count on is Pierre Garcon. While the matchup isn’t ideal, Garcon is averaging eight targets a game and should see another eight to ten targets in this one. Marquise Goodwin is a big play waiting to happen, but through two games he hasn’t connected for one with Hoyer. Having been targeted 12 times so far this season, Goodwin is definitely a player to keep an eye on as the season progresses.

Considering that opponents have had some success running the ball against the Rams, the 49ers best chance will be riding the tandem of Carlos Hyde and Matt Brieda. Through two weeks, Hyde has looked great running the ball averaging a whopping seven yards per carry. On top of that, he has also been much more involved in the passing game as he has already hauled in nine passes. Like Gurley, Hyde figures to see 20 to 25 touches in this one and needs to be in all fantasy lineups. Brieda flashed in the preseason and has received four carries per game thus far, but opened eyes with his performance this past Sunday. Against the Seahawks, Brieda showed burst and the ability to create after contact so it will be interesting to see if Kyle Shanahan gets him more involved from this point on.

This game projects to be a physical one so while the running backs figure to be the starts of the night, it very well could come down to which quarterback can make a few big plays. While I’m not super confident in either of the starters in this game, I haven’t seen enough of Goff to pick him in a division game on the road against an underrated defense. My prediction is Rams 17 49ers (+2.5) 20.

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Week Two Predictions

gettyimages-632414240As far as predictions, week one was tough sledding as I went sub .500 straight up, and had a poor week against the spread. It is one of the tougher weeks of the year to predict, so I’m hoping to get back on track. A trend I saw being discussed in recent days about week one games was the overall offensive struggles. More than usual, it seems there was more sloppy play in the first weekend of games. Two factors in this could be due to the now limited amount of practice time, and fear of injury leading to some players only taking 30 to 40 snaps if that in the preseason. Offensive efficiency should improve league wide, but that is a trend worth monitoring.

Last week: 7-8

Last week against the spread: 5-10

Game of the weak: Cardinals vs Colts: Are we sure the Cardinals are as safe a bet to bounce back as we thought a week ago? Even before David Johnson went down with an injury that would keep him out an extended period, Carson Palmer in week one had his share of struggles and was facing pressure constantly thanks to the offensive line. The good news for the Cardinals is they now get a Colts team who will be having newly acquired Jacoby Brissett take over for Scott Tolzien at quarterback. While I feel Brissett could develop into a solid option eventually, the Colts knew Andrew Luck needed his shoulder procedure done. Bringing in a higher quality backup should of been a free agency priority rather than facing this situation which due to a lack of system familiarity could be unfair to Brissett. Cardinals 26 Colts (+7.5) 17

Game of the week: Packers vs Falcons: Not only is this an NFC title game rematch, but by now you probably know this is the Falcons’ first regular season appearance in their new stadium which by all accounts looks awesome. On top of that, this matchup has two premier quarterbacks in Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan facing off and can’t forget that Julio Jones has saved some of his best performances for the Packers up to this point. While we knew losing Kyle Shanahan would be a big blow for the Falcons, I’m interested to see how Steve Sarkisian calls the shots in this one as the offense didn’t seem fully up to the high bar set in 2016. Packers 27 Falcons (-3.5) 23

Browns 14 Ravens (-8.5) 24

Eagles 17 Chiefs (-5.5) 23

Patriots 33 Saints (+6.5) 24

Titans 16 Jaguars (+1.5) 20

Vikings 20 Steelers (-6.5) 27

Bills 14 Panthers (-7.5) 23

Bears 16 Buccaneers (-7.5) 24

Jets 14 Raiders (-13.5) 28

Dolphins 20 Chargers (-4.5) 24

Redskins 21 Rams (-2.5) 24

Cowboys 20 Broncos (+2.5) 21

49ers 13 Seahawks (-13.5) 30

Lions 17 Giants (-3.5) 21

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Texans vs Bengals Predictions

rawImageTonight’s Thursday night games features two teams coming off week one performances they’d like to forget. Having combined to score seven points this past Sunday, the good news for fans is it can’t get any worse this week. Despite that, both of these teams came into 2017 with playoff aspirations so this should be a hard fought contest as neither one would want to start in an 0-2 hole.

We all assumed it would happen sooner rather than later, but Deshaun Watson will be making his first NFL start as the Texans quarterback tonight. Watson played the entire second half against the Jaguars, and gave the team a spark initially, but he struggled completing a little over 50% of his passes. Granted, the offensive line did him no favors and likewise the injuries to the receiving corps. For that reason, DeAndre Hopkins should be targeted early and often in this one. Watson certainly looked for his number one wideout early last week, and 15 to 16 targets isn’t out of the question. The Texans outside of Hopkins are bleak at wideout. Jaelen Strong returns from suspension, but all their tight ends suffered concussions and will not be playing this week. Other than Hopkins, none can be trusted from a fantasy standpoint.

Lamar Miller was the lead back this week and could see additional work to take pressure off Watson. Without Vontaze Burfict, the Bengals had trouble stopping the ground game in week one, so assuming Miller sees 20 to 25 touches, he could be in for a nice game. D’Onta Foreman could be in line for some extra touches as well, but his role is too uncertain to assume anything this week.

Like the Texans, the Bengals offense has plenty of questions and had poor offensive line play in week one. Andy Dalton had five turnovers this past Sunday, but that speaks more to a strong Ravens defense than his ability. The Texans pass defense wasn’t tested much last Sunday, but Dalton should not surprisingly look for A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert often. While Green is a lock for 10 or so targets a week, Eifert was only thrown to once last Sunday. Don’t be surprised if Dalton tries making up for that tonight. Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd should also see targets, but not enough to warrant fantasy attention.

With the Texans showing some vulnerability on the ground against the Jaguars and Brian Cushing now suspended, it is a shame the Bengals’ running back situation isn’t more established. In week one, Giovani Bernard saw the most playing time but that could be due to his ability as a receiver in a game they trailed. Joe Mixon had 11 touches, but then it was Jeremy Hill who started the game and ended up playing the least. If you drafted Mixon, you probably selected him too high to sit, but the others are probably best left as flex options or on your bench.

As both teams struggle up front offensively, this game projects to be a low scoring affair. Despite that, it will be intriguing to watch how Watson fares in his first start and it is always fun seeing Green and Hopkins doing their thing. My prediction is Texans 16 Bengals (-4.5) 21.

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Week One Fantasy Surprises

broncos-49ers-02.jpgEvery week there is a player at every position in fantasy football that manages to surprise with their output in a given week. Sometimes it is a player who can be found on waivers, others it is one who just might exceed the expectations you had. These articles won’t feature players like David Johnson or Antonio Brown, but hopefully it is one that could at times provide a player or two who helps with your lineup in a year long or DFS format.

QB: Brian Hoyer vs Panthers: In a year long league, Hoyer isn’t someone to consider unless you’re starting two quarterbacks, but he might be worth a flier in DFS if you aren’t wanting to pay up for the position. We’ve seen Kyle Shanahan’s offenses in action and they all have had the ability to put up points. Against a young Panther secondary, Hoyer might have the chance to do that. There is also the chance the 49ers would be playing from behind, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he turns in a nice fantasy day. Expect around 250 passing yards and two touchdowns.

RB: Danny Woodhead vs Bengals: Woodhead hasn’t been able to stay on the field much in recent years, but when he has the production is there. Now he goes to a Ravens team that doesn’t have a firm running back situation, and his pass catching could help him emerge as Joe Flacco’s safety valve. Did I mention the Bengals allowed over five catches a game to running backs last season and Vontaze Burfict will be out? In a PPR league, Woodhead should give you nice value even if it is on 15 or so total touches. Expect around 75 total yards and a touchdown.

WR: Kendall Wright vs Falcons: While this isn’t a slam dunk option, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Wright lead the Bears in receiving this year. In a game which might require them to pass often, Wright could see double digit targets which would reward anyone who uses him as a third receiver or flex option in deeper leagues. Expect around 70 yards and a touchdown.

TE: Charles Clay vs Jets: With Sammy Watkins traded and Robert Woods leaving in free agency, someone in the Bills receiving corps will need to step up. While that very well could be someone like rookie Zay Jones, Clay has a favorable matchup in this one. If you’re someone who likes streaming tight ends on a week-to-week basis, Clay is one who could pay off. Expect around 60 yards and a touchdown.

K: Kai Forbath vs Saints: While the Saints defense looked improved this preseason, the potential for a kicker in a dome where the opportunity where his team could put up points often is tough to pass up. Forbath would serve as a solid streaming option in fantasy leagues, and could have a nice impact for the Vikings and your team. Expect around two field goals and two extra points.

DST: Falcons vs Bears: While I mentioned Wright earlier, there are some question marks regarding the Bears offense mainly how Mike Glennon will respond as the starting quarterback. This early in the year, targeting unknowns at quarterback play or those who we know aren’t good is usually a pretty sound strategy. The Bears and Glennon could make this plan backfire, but for this week the Falcons defense could make a solid streaming option.

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Week One Predictions

Aaron+Rodgers+Green+Bay+Packers+v+Seattle+PvnqfrpZu1AlThe first weekend of the regular season is finally upon us, as I usually write this time of year, week one is usually difficult to predict. With teams reluctant to show schemes in the preseason, you’re not sure what they’ll be coming out with to start the year. While football is obviously a nice distraction, also take the time to think of those who could or have been impacted by the storms in recent weeks. The players are human beings too,  and some of them with families in impacted areas are sure to be playing with heavy hearts this weekend. With that, here are my week one predictions, in what’s hopefully a fun slate of games.

Last season: 159-97

Last season against the spread: 127-129

Game of the weak: Bills vs Jets: Due to the unexpected result in the Patriots game last night, this is suddenly a game where the winner has sole possession of first in the AFC East. The question is if either team will want it. I’ve mentioned some NFL teams embracing NBA style roster management to position themselves for the future, and no two teams have done it quite like these squads. Unfortunately, someone will have to win this one and I feel more confident taking Tyrod Taylor and LeSean McCoy than the Jets offense. Bills 23 Jets (+8.5) 16

Game of the week: Seahawks vs Packers: While the “NFC East National TV game of the week” of Giants/Cowboys is certainly intriguing, I’m going with a matchup that could be an NFC title game preview. While the Seahawks bring back old faces on defense, I’m interested to see how Russell Wilson (who was hurt most of 2016) looks against a Packers secondary who had its share of struggles and injuries last year. Aaron Rodgers against that feared Seahawks defense should be fun to watch as well, but the winner of this one could be determined by who establishes the run. Seahawks 24 Packers (-3.5) 27

Eagles 20 Redskins (+1.5) 24

Cardinals 26 Lions (+1.5) 23

Falcons 27 Bears (+7.5) 17

Raiders 24 Titans (-2.5) 28

Jaguars 13 Texans (-5.5) 21

Steelers 28 Browns (+8.5) 20

Ravens 17 Bengals (-3.5) 21

Colts 16 Rams (-3.5) 21

Panthers 24 49ers (+5.5) 21

Giants 23 Cowboys (-3.5) 20

Saints 21 Vikings (-3.5) 26

Chargers 20 Broncos (-3.5) 16

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