Week Five Predictions

usatsi_9812651.jpgIn a rough first quarter of the season to predict, last week was a nice change as I was above .500 both straight up and against the spread. With only one matchup this week featuring winning teams, it seems we’re almost at a point the league has been hoping for which is plenty of parody. Even the stronger teams through the first quarter of the season all have at least one major flaw, so it will be really interesting to see what teams can overcome them during the 2017 season.

Last week: 9-7, Season: 32-31

Last week against the spread: 10-6, Season: 30-33

Game of the weak: Chargers vs Giants: This matchup features two teams who many (myself included) thought would be playoff bound this season. Instead, both teams enter this one 0-4. While both have lost multiple games that came down to the very end, another interesting thing they share is starting older quarterbacks. With Philip Rivers and Eli Manning both on the back nine of their respective careers, a rough year could be a blessing in disguise to allow the franchises to select their eventual heir apparent. This is the NFL though, and teams aren’t going to tank so it will be interesting to see how both franchises respond to the early season adversity. Chargers 21 Giants (-3.5) 24

Game of the week: Packers vs Cowboys: In a game that is pretty much the league’s wet dream, you have everything you could want in this one. A playoff rematch, “star power”, fantasy football implications, and most importantly two teams who figure to be in the thick of things in the NFC. The one thing I’m interested to see this week is how much Dez Bryant is involved, and how he performs. To this point, he hasn’t been very efficient and has been the subject of plenty of Twitter backlash. However, he’s had a daunting slate of opposing corners to start the year. This is the first week Bryant has a pretty favorable matchup opposing him, so it will be intriguing to see if the Cowboys take advantage. Packers 28 Cowboys (-2.5) 24

Bills 23 Bengals (-3.5) 20

Jets 20 Browns (-0.5) 17

Panthers 17 Lions (-2.5) 23

49ers 21 Colts (-1.5) 24

Titans 16 Dolphins (+3.5) 21

Cardinals 20 Eagles (-6.5) 27

Jaguars 17 Steelers (-8.5) 26

Seahawks 24 Rams (-1.5) 21

Ravens 23 Raiders (-2.5) 17

Chiefs 26 Texans (+1.5) 21

Vikings 24 Bears (+3.5) 17

 

 

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Patriots vs Buccaneers Predictions

mike-evans-1400Tonight’s Thursday night game has all the makings of a high scoring affair. Not only do the Patriots and Buccaneers have plenty of fire power offensively, but both teams have struggled defensively in the early part of 2017. Much has been made about the Patriot defensive struggles as we’re in the era of the hot take and people are discussing writing them off. By now, you’d think we’d realize that if any team has earned the benefit of the doubt that they could bounce back over the past 15 years, it would be the Patriots. By the end of the year, things should be smoother on that side of the ball. This should be a closely contested battle and very well could come down to which quarterback has the ball last.

The last quarterback you would want to see in those situations would be Tom Brady. Despite losing Julian Edelman, Brady looks as sharp as ever and now goes up against a secondary that has been carved up by Case Keenum and Eli Manning in the past two weeks. With the Buccaneer defense performing well against the run, it wouldn’t be surprising if Brady threw it 40 plus times tonight.

While he’s banged up entering this one, Rob Gronkowski going up against a Buccaneer linebacker corps with issues of their own could have a big performance even if he has limited snap count. Unless the inactive list later tonight says otherwise, he remains a must play in all fantasy formats. Chris Hogan has turned it on the past few weeks and also seems to have earned Brady’s trust in the redzone. With a floor of six to eight targets, Hogan is also worth starting in all formats. Brandin Cooks has seen less targets than Hogan, but remains a big play waiting to happen. With Cooks expected to run the majority of his routes on the side of Vernon Hargreaves, it could be one of those games where Cooks puts up monster numbers. With the way the Buccaneers have struggled covering the slot to this point, Danny Amendola is also a receiver who is worth a look in PPR or deeper leagues.

At running back, the Patriots remain as uncertain as ever. Mike Gillislee has received the bulk of the carries, but for fantasy formats can be very touchdown dependent. James White and Dion Lewis have both been involved in the ground game as well. White is the safer fantasy play of the three for this game, as his usage as a pass catcher has been more stabilized.

For the Buccaneers, things usually come down to how Jameis Winston performs on a week-to-week basis. Possibly the best example of a “gunslinger” in the current NFL, Winston will throw a handful beautiful passes every game, but is also capable of throwing a few that can leave fans scratching their head. Going against a Patriots defense which opposing quarterbacks have seen plenty of success against, he looks to be in a very fantasy friendly spot this week. The same goes for his pass catchers.

Mike Evans is obviously a must start every week, and as Winston’s top target that will certainly remain the case in this one. DeSean Jackson to this point hasn’t displayed the chemistry we’d hope to of seen with Winston , but Jackson’s performance has always been a little hit or miss. On a national stage with everyone watching, my guess is Jackson will bounce back in a big way tonight. Another receiver to watch is Adam Humphries. To this point, he has seen as many targets as Jackson, and with Eric Rowe expected to be out, Humphries will have a nice matchup int he slot. With the chance of seeing six to eight targets, Humphries could be an intriguing play in deep fantasy leagues. Both Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard have had roles in the passing game so far, but Brate is the more reliable option for fantasy purposes. Howard spends a much higher percentage of his snaps as a blocker, and Brate has shown over the past few years what he can do as a receiver. Brate could serve as a difference maker in the passing game tonight.

The Buccaneers running game is a tough one to predict this week. Doug Martin returns from suspension, but on a short week  there is no guarantee of how he will be used. What is certain is that opposing backs have had success running  and catching the ball so far against the Patriots. While Martin could be in line for double digit touches, don’t be stunned if Jacquizz Rodgers is the primary back in this one. Both backs have pass catching ability, so if you’re in a bind due to the bye weeks, the potential is there for a decent return.

Given that I think this one will come down to the wire, this to me comes down to which quarterback I trust most in crunch time. While I’m high on Winston, the possibility of a throw or two during the game which could put the Buccaneers defense in a tough spot is hard to ignore. For that reason, my prediction is Patriots 35 Buccaneers (+5.5) 31.

 

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Week Four Fantasy Surprises

USATSI_10217717-810x540Last week was a very hit or miss one for my fantasy surprises. While the Jaguars defense and Christian McCaffrey’s receiving ability contributed to his big day, the other matchups failed to capitalize. Which brings to an interesting thing I’ve noticed on social media these past few weeks. By now we know venting about a fantasy loss or performance is frustrating, but it seems more and more common that people are taking their frustration out to the players themselves. The players are only playing within their game plan and if one does struggle, they will surely be more disappointed in their performance considering it’s their livelihood than a fantasy player would be. Here’s to a great week, and no longer taking it out on actual players if they don’t perform up to their virtual standards.

QB:  Deshaun Watson vs Titans: Watson in many leagues is still a free agent and could be an intriguing option if you stream your quarterbacks. For fantasy purposes, opposing signal callers have had success against the Titans, and Watson also gives you an added potential dimension with his running ability. Another plus for Watson is that Will Fuller figures to make his season debut, which in turn should open things up for DeAndre Hopkins. Expect around 240 passing yards, 30 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

RB: Chris Carson vs Colts: While the Seahawk offensive line is a giant question mark, there aren’t a whole lot of backs who seem to offer potential volume and a plus matchup like Carson does this week. The Colts defense as a whole has struggled to this point, and on Sunday night where an early Seattle lead could lead to even more running, Carson makes for a very nice play. Expect around 90 total yards and a touchdown.

WR: Tyrell Williams vs Eagles: Williams hasn’t seen the same volume he saw last year in part to Keenan Allen being healthy (for now). In a game with shootout potential, he’s worth looking into as a tournament option for daily fantasy leagues. The Eagles’ secondary struggled this past Sunday allowing multiple big time fantasy outputs from opposing receivers. All it takes is a big play for Williams to be worth the roster spot, so make sure to give him consideration. Expect around 60 yards and a touchdown.

TE: Austin Seferian-Jenkins vs Jaguars: In what should be a low scoring game, any pass catchers from this matchup could be risky. However, Seferian Jenkins could be worth a shot in deeper leagues. In his season debut last week, he hauled in five balls and many were saying he was one of the most impressive performers for the Jets in OTA’s. With the potential for garbage time, Seferian-Jenkins is a name worth monitoring on waiver wires. Expect around 50 yards and a touchdown.

K: Cody Parkey vs Saints: If you banked on Parkey due to his matchup last week, you were probably disappointed. However, there are few defenses that can allow a rebound like the Saints. Under the assumption Parkey gets opportunities this game, he should pay off for fantasy owners. Expect around two field goals and two extra points.

DEF: Steelers vs Ravens: I went against the Ravens offense last week, and I’m going back to the well for more in week four. As you’ll probably hear a few dozen times this weekend, there is “no love lost between these two teams”. There was also no passing attack to speak of for the Ravens last week either. Considering that the Ravens are banged up on the offensive line and Joe Flacco still seems to be impacted by the injury that kept him out this preseason, I would have confidence in the Steeler defense this week. Expect around four sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery.

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Week Four Predictions

nfl-oakland-raiders-at-denver-broncos-c2d83a4ca6f12549Last week was one of the toughest ones to predict in recent memory, as there were plenty of upsets which nobody saw coming. Even if you expected the Jaguars to defeat the Ravens, was a beat down of that magnitude expected? How about the Jets beating the Dolphins convincingly, or the Bears winning in overtime over the Steelers? But as we all know by now, “that’s why they play the game” and we ended up having a weekend full of dramatic finishes. Let’s hope we can all do it again this Sunday.

Last week: 6-10, Season: 23-24

Last week against the spread: 6-10. Season: 19-28

Game of the weak: Bengals vs Browns: Entering week four, there are five teams without a win and this battle of Ohio is the only game with two facing off. Despite the records, this game could actually be pretty interesting. The Bengals had by far their best performance of the year this past week, and the Browns have been able to hang in a few games. Don’t be stunned if this somehow became one of the more entertaining games of the weekend. Bengals 26 Browns (+3.5) 21

Game of the week: Raiders vs Broncos: After both of these teams had impressive wins in the first two weeks, neither played up to their ability this past Sunday. Derek Carr and the Raider offense failed to get anything going, which only helped expose some flaws within the defense. After an impressive week two, Trevor Siemian failed to generate much for the Broncos in Buffalo. There will be matchups he can take advantage of in this one, so it will be interesting to see how both young quarterbacks respond in this one. Raiders 20 Broncos (-3.5) 24

Saints 26 Dolphins (+3.5) 21

Bills 17 Falcons (-8.5) 26

Rams 24 Cowboys (-6.5) 27

Lions 21 Vikings (-2.5) 24

Panthers 20 Patriots (-9.5) 31

Jaguars 23 Jets (+3.5) 16

Steelers 24 Ravens (+3.5) 17

Titans 26 Texans (+1.5) 21

49ers 20 Cardinals (-7.5) 26

Eagles 27 Chargers (-1.5) 24

Giants 24 Buccaneers (-3.5) 20

Colts 16 Seahawks (-13.5) 30

Redskins 21 Chiefs (-7.5) 27

 

 

 

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Bears vs Packers Predictions

NFL: Chicago Bears at Green Bay PackersTonight’s Thursday night game is another installment of the longest running rivalry in the NFL. Both teams are coming off overtime victories at home, and look to build off the wins on a short week. While it may not be the shootout that Rams/49ers ended up being last Thursday, this could be a pretty fun NFC North showdown.

Mike Glennon once again gets the call for the Bears at quarterback and has been unspectacular through three starts. Granted, the Bears receiving corps is banged up from what it was supposed to be but Glennon has been dinking and dunking through the first three weeks. For that reason, the Bears like this past Sunday figure to go run heavy. Jordan Howard projects to see the most touches, but if the Packers get up early, odds are the volume will decrease. Still, the Packers run defense has been vulnerable the past two weeks so he should be in all fantasy lineups. Tarik Cohen has continued to get more involved in the Bear offense and he’s actually the player Glennon has targeted the most through three weeks. With big play ability and contributions as a pass catcher, Cohen is extremely valuable in PPR leagues, and at the least should be a flex option in standard ones.

Bears wideouts were targeted four (yes, four) times last Sunday. From a fantasy perspective, you’ll want to avoid this group as a whole but the Packers secondary has had some trouble, so between Kendall Wright, Deonte Thompson and Markus Wheaton, it wouldn’t surprise me if one put together a solid performance. Zach Miller is a player Glennon has looked to frequently and could see a decent amount of targets as well. The Packers have fared well against tight ends to this point though, so Miller for fantasy purposes can probably be left alone.

At this point, we’re running out of ways to say how great Aaron Rodgers is.  We’re lucky to get to watch him and he’s the type of player younger fans will even be telling their future grandchildren about at some point. Even with recent offensive line injuries leading to more Rodgers sacks of late, there is no reason to be concerned. So far, number one receivers have feasted against the Bears, so the potential for a huge night is there for Jordy Nelson. Slated to be targeted regardless, you can safely lock Nelson in all fantasy lineups. Before he missed last Sunday’s game, Randall Cobb was leading the Packers in targets. He is worth looking at in all league’s especially in PPR formats. Davante Adams is a little too touchdown dependent for my liking when it comes to fantasy football, but the potential is always there for a big game.

To this point, the Packers running game begins and ends with Ty Montgomery. The Bears defense has actually been stingy against the run despite matchups against the likes of Devonta Freeman and Le’Veon Bell, so it could be tough sledding. However, a positive game script would lead to more touches for Montgomery, and his obvious value as a receiver obviously means he should be good to go for fantasy owners.

A lot of this game is going to come down to who is able to control the tempo. If the Bears are able to get their combination of Howard and Cohen going, it not only jump starts the offense, but keeps Rodgers of the field. However, that would require Glennon on occasion to step up and make some big throws, and I’m not confident enough in him to think he could go score for score with the Packers. My prediction is Bears 20 Packers (-7.5) 30 

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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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