Wednesday, December 6, 2017

2017 Week 14 Fantasy Advice: Playoffs? Don't talk about Playoffs

But alas, we have to, vaguely appropriate headline. The fantasy playoffs are now here for most of us which means everything we invested so heavily in time, toil, cash and potentially embarassing wagers is now on the line. It means everything now which means it's time to agonize over all the decisions that can and will decide seasons. It's serious business.

Start of the Week: QB Alex Smith (KC) vs. OAK

The Chiefs are in total free-fall, and Alex Smith was a large part of that in November. But his game against the Jets should inspire confidence, at least for his fantasy owners, that he's coming back around to his performances in September once again. If he can do it against anyone, it's the Raiders. Their secondary is one of the worst in football, so if there's a time for him to look like the Alex Smith of September, it's now.

Who to Start:

QB Philip Rivers (LAC) vs. WSH: Old reliable Philip Rivers is still putting up big numbers in spite of his growing age and the lack of home fans he plays in front of. Against Washington on Sunday, there is bound to be another good performance against what's left of their secondary.

RB Lamar Miller (HOU) vs. SF: Yes, the 49ers shut down what should have been a sure-fire fantasy started in Jordan Howard last week, but even the Texans with Tom Savage have more offensive rhythm than Chicago does right now. The only people watching this game will fantasy owners of Texans (and a few 49ers) as well as gamblers, but the stakes are always high for someone.

WR Josh Gordon (CLE) vs. GB: In his first football game in three years, he was targeted 11 times and caught four passes. Green Bay's secondary isn't great, and if the first game was any guide, Gordon will get plenty of passes thrown his way on Sunday, meaning his numbers should match his targets.

WR Michael Crabtree (OAK) at KC: Motivated player coming off a suspension against a team that can't defend the pass with their best corner suspended? Sign me up. Crabtree might be the best fantasy play the entire week with this confluence of circumstances on top of Kansas City's defense which has completely cratered.

TE Evan Engram (NYG) vs. DAL: In spite of the circus that is the New York Giants, Evan Engram has become of the best in a bad position in fantasy football. With Geno Smith he managed to rack up some impressive numbers, and against a mediocre Dallas defense, the trend should continue.

DEF New England at MIA MON: You were probably starting them anyway considering their mid-season renaissance, and against Miami the matchup is even more favorable. The Dolphins turn the ball over a ton even in their best games, and this doesn't look to be shaping out as one of their best games.

Sit of the Week: QB Cam Newton (CAR) vs. MIN

This is such a hard decision to make because if you drafted him, you probably invested a lot in him. But if you have a better option, say Derek Carr, Josh McCown or maybe even Brett Hundley, it might be worth sitting him against the stingiest of stingy defenses, Minnesota. They lock down everyone, and Cam has never been the best against the league's best defenses.

Who to Sit:

QB Matt Ryan (ATL) vs. NO THU: I personally didn't think Ryan would have as bad a season fantasy wise as he's had, but he's certainly one of the biggest busts in the fantasy season for sure. New Orleans even with injuries has a very solid defense, and in the biggest game of Atlanta's season, relying on Ryan is a mistake.

RB Ameer Abdullah (DET) at TB: I smell a platoon growing in Detroit, not just featuring Abdullah but also Theo Riddick and newcomer Tion Green, who had a good game last week in Baltimore. Tampa's defense is better at home than on the road, but the platoon effect will doom Abdullah this week.

WR Marqise Lee (JAX) vs. SEA: Jaguars fans nicknamed Lee "Albino Tiger" early in his career because of his penchant not only for injuries, but also to disappear in key moments in games. Even though Seattle's secondary is banged up, it's still Seattle, and it's hard to imagine Lee doing as well as he did against the hapless Colts against Seattle.

WR Jordy Nelson (GB) at CLE: Even against the porous Browns, it's hard to trust Jordy Nelson who can't get targets or yards with Brett Hundley at QB. Hold on for one more week with Nelson, because when a certain #12 returns, the trends will get better, but for this week, Nelson is a sit.

TE Jared Cook (OAK) at KC: He's consistently inconsistent, made more frustrating with a bad performance against the Giants who couldn't defend tight ends. Kansas City can at least defend these players with a little effectiveness, so Cook may be too inconsistent to start in these big games.

DEF Baltimore at PIT: Defense like Philly and Carolina have very ugly matchups even though they've been good fantasy units of late, but the matchup to avoid the most is Baltimore. Though their defense is stellar, they lost Jimmy Smith, and will be going up against an incredibly motivated Steelers team at home. The combination here does not bode well for the Ravens.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Jimmy Garoppolo (SF) at HOU: He wasn't exactly amazing in Chicago last week, but he didn't have to be to win. And watching Houston's defense lose all its steam in recent weeks makes this matchup all the more intriguing. If you need someone because of other matchup issues, Jimmy G may be the guy.

RB Alfred Morris (DAL) at NYG: While he's no Zeke, he's been very serviceable in his absense. Against the Giants, who as documented couldn't stop a high school team right now, he's not a bad option in a RB3/Flex position if you need it.

TE Jack Doyle (IND) at BUF: In a bad position with no depth, you have to go with the guys that got you there, and that means Jack Doyle. He threw up a stinker in Jacksonville last week, but he can't do that in two consecutive weeks, right?

Buyer Beware:

RB Leonard Fournette (JAX) vs. SEA: You're going to start him if you have him, that's obvious. But, his ankle injury is really causing him some issues in the last two weeks. He's rushed for less than 70 yards combined against Arizona and Indy, and take away his TD and he'd have thrown two straight big time duds up. That's been his trend recently, and it's concerning. He's also not faced a defense like Seattle's in over two months, so how he'll perform here, and how his team will perform here, is an open question.

Good luck in Week 14!

Friday, December 1, 2017

Brief thoughts on the World Cup draw

Since I have nowhere else to put these thoughts, and I wanted to write them down, here are some brief mental notes from this morning's World Cup draw and who may end up as favorites, disappointments, or surprises.

Group A: Russia has to be pretty ecstatic with the draw they were handed. They didn't have a full strength squad in the Confederations Cup, but even if they did their life woud have been fairly difficult. With Saudi Arabia and Egypt, they should be able with the home advantage to overcome them, though Egypt with players like Mo Salah and others could be tricky. Uruguay are clear favorites even after underwhelming in their last three major tournaments.

Group B: Spain and Portugal being matched up with each other should provide great fireworks, especially since that game is the third match of the tournament. This game will decide who wins the group and finishes second. Morocco and Iran are great stories in making the tournament, but they don't have much to celebrate with this draw.

Group C: France's assemblage of talent is second to none, in fact, they're the most talented team in the draw. Their group should be of no trouble to them with Peru, Australia and Denmark. The race for second is fascinating as each team has pluses and minuses. Australia has spirit, but no manager, Peru has no World Cup experience and Denmark has Christian Eriksen, but beyond that not much. My Tottenham leanings are biasing me to Denmark, but the race for second here is going to be immensely entertaining.

Group D: The race for second here is also going to be fairly fun. Iceland have the world rooting for them, Croatia have a great collection of talent, especially in midfield, and Nigeria have been able to perform on this stage before. Argentina are obviously favorites, but Croatia are a sneaky team to look out for if they get their act together. Going forward, they are a delightful watch, and that should be enough to get them beyond Iceland and Nigeria.

Group E: Brazil shouldn't have much to fear with their draw, however the race for second here will also be entertaining and between three evenly matched teams. Serbia has more talented than Switzerland and Costa Rica, but both of these teams have the experience and organization required. It's hard to overlook Costa Rica, but something tells me this Serbia team has an ace up their sleeve.

Group F: Germany and Mexico will see each other again, and that doesn't bode well for Mexico at all. Germany are defending champions, and they shouldn't have much to fear here, although Sweden and Mexico could give them a run. Sweden have the organization but no gamebreakers, unless the prodigal Zlatan returns. South Korea are always a difficult team to play against in this tournament setting, but they don't have very much to offer.

Group G: Two great collections of talent with underwhelming managers meet with Belgium and England pitted against each other, and while both should have no issues advancing, their aspirations are set much higher. Tunisia and Panama are wonderful squads to see in the draw, but there presence is as much as they will offer.

Group H: Not much stands out for this group, but top to bottom it is well balanced. Poland have a Lewandowski sized advantage over everyone else, but do not count out quarterfinalists from 2014 Colombia and what they could potentially offer, and Senegal are not a bad side either. In their only other World Cup appearance, they went to the quarterfinals.

If I was forced to make predictions today, the teams that I'd have advancing would be:

Group A: Uruguay, Russia
Group B: Spain, Portugal
Group C: France, Denmark
Group D: Argentina, Croatia
Group E: Brazil, Serbia
Group F: Germany, Mexico
Group G: Belgium, England
Group H: Colombia, Poland

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

2017 Week 13 Fantasy Advice: Mea Culpa

So you may have noticed last week there was no fantasy column (for those of you that even care to click on this blog anymore). That was not some grand editorial statement about the NFL and its problems, it was just me getting lost in the Thanksgiving shuffle. And I paid dearly for the mistake... take a wild guess as to how. Anyway, the past is the past. And because this week is the start of the fantasy football playoffs for some of you, or perhaps the last week of the regular season for the rest, we're going with extra help this week. Extra recommendations as to who to start and sit, and a little more than you normally get here are on the way. Not just because last week I had the brainfart of all brainfarts, but I feel I owe you as December has come and the business end of the fantasy season has too.

Start of the Week: QB Philip Rivers (LAC) vs. CLE

He showed on Thanksgiving against the Cowboys that he's still got it, and now that he and his team have found their stride, there isn't much stopping them. Certainly, it won't be the Browns defense that does that, even though their defense has played a little bit better of late.

Who to Start:

QB Kirk Cousins (WSH) at DAL THU: Lost in how lost the Cowboys offense looks without Zeke Elliot is how lost the defense has looked all season, especially now that their main offensive gameplan has gone out the window. Even though Cousins struggled in the first meeting between the two in the slop, this game is indoors, and Cousins has been good against Dallas in the past.

QB Tyrod Taylor (BUF) vs. NE: Why the hell did Sean McDermott bench him, again? No one in the world has any clue, and it would be particularly like the Bills for that Chargers game to cost them a playoff spot. Regardless, the game against the Pats is favorable for Taylor even though New England's defense has rounded into form. If you need a streamer this week, he may be a great option.

RB Jamaal Williams (GB) vs. TB: Even though every single Packers running back is hurt, it's hard to not start the last one left standing this weekend against the Bucs. He'll get plenty of volume in terms of snaps and touches, and the Bucs were gashed last week by Tevin Coleman. In the "Bay of Pigs", expect Williams to sail through with good fantasy numbers.

RB Jordan Howard (CHI) vs. SF: He was on the wrong end of a lopsided score when the Bears got levelled by the Eagles. But don't fear. The 49ers are not the Eagles, and therefore Howard should be able to establish himself on the ground. He has been a bit feast or famine fantasy-wise, but this should be a feast week.

WR Robby Anderson (NYJ) vs. KC: He's come out of nowhere to be an incredibly viable WR2 in most leagues because of his big play ability, but he's also getting plenty of short yardage catches too. Kansas City's defense has fallen off a cliff, so Anderson is a must start this weekend.

WR Cooper Kupp (LAR) at ARZ: Starting him should be pretty obvious at this point, as he's lest matchup dependant than ever, especially after a monster performance against New Orleans. Arizona's defense played well last week, but the Rams offense is another level compared to Blake Bortles.

WR Devin Funchess (CAR) at NO: Who said the Panthers made a bad move in trading Kelvin Benjamin? OK, I did, but that doesn't change the fact that Funchess since that move has been awesome in fantasy land. New Orleans' secondary is ravaged by injury, so Funchess could have another monster outing.

TE Julius Thomas (MIA) vs. DEN: It's not really a "revenge game" at this point in Thomas' career, a few years removed from Denver, but he is playing a lot better of late as Matt Moore has turned to him as a safety blanket. The Broncos have also struggled to defend tight ends this season, so this is a promising matchup for Thomas.

TE Jared Cook (OAK) vs. NYG: The Giants are laughably bad at almost everything, but especially defending opposing tight ends. Cook hasn't done much of late, but this should be the week where that changes.

DEF Tennessee vs. HOU: This defense hasn't been very flashy, but has been incredibly solid of late. That doesn't necessarily bode well in fantasy land, but this week it could against Tom Savage and the turnover happy Texans.

DEF LA Rams at ARZ: Arizona's offense looked remarkably solid last week, but consider the revenge game factor and then some of what has occurred doesn't look so surprising. This week, the Rams defense is a much more formidable test.

Sit of the Week: QB Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) at CIN MON

Ben's performance against the banged up Packers at home left a lot to be desired, and now he has to head out on the road where he does not play well. The Bengals also tend to hold him in check in the Queen City, so he's not someone to risk starting Monday night.

Who to Sit:

QB Matthew Stafford (DET) at BAL: How serious his ankle injury is or not, this is not a good matchup for Stafford and the Lions. Baltimore's defense is seriously underrated even though they haven't beaten anyone good, so Stafford's penchant for making a few mistakes could cost him here.

QB Alex Smith (KC) at NYJ: It's not as if the Jets defense is that amazing to be fair, but Alex Smith has been downright awful the last four weeks, which makes him someone to avoid starting in fantasy everywhere this week. Until he proves that he's back on target, you can't assume that he is.

All Eagles running backs at SEA: Each and every one of them. Running back by committee is a fantasy player's worst nightmare, and the Eagles are firmly in running back by committee territory. So for owners of Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement et al, don't bother.

RB Jerick McKinnon (MIN) at ATL: It seems that Latavius Murray is taking over more of the snaps in the Minnesota backfield of late, which is not a good sign at all. Because of this, even against a less than impressive Atlanta defense, avoid starting McKinnon this week. He's a flex play at best.

WR Emmanuel Sanders (DEN) at MIA: He's had one notable fantasy performance this season and that's it. Considering the Broncos QB situation is a tire fire, it's hard to start any Bronco on offense this week, even against the Dolphins, and Sanders falls into that category.

WR Martavis Bryant (PIT) at CIN MON: He had a wonderful performance against Green Bay, but that was against a weakened defense and without JuJu Smith-Schuster stealing targets from him. The Bengals defense isn't any slouch either, so Bryant may be someone to avoid on Monday.

WR DeVante Parker (MIA) vs. DEN: He was pegged to be a breakout fantasy star this season, and that hasn't quite panned out the way that everyone hoped. Against a still stout Denver secondary, and with Matt Moore as the signal caller, there's not a lot of hope here for fantasy owners.

TE Cameron Brate (TB) at GB: He's losing targets to OJ Howard rapidly, and his snaps are decreasing as well. This is not a good combination, especially with a bad matchup against Green Bay on the cards.

TE Tyler Kroft (CIN) vs. PIT MON: As a matchup starter, Kroft has been a really valuable fantasy asset of late, but that has been very matchup dependant. And Pittsburgh's defense, well it's not a good matchup for opposing tight ends.

DEF Buffalo vs. NE: You'd know better at this point to start any defense against Tom Brady and company, but you may be tempted after what Buffalo did last week. You shouldn't be.

DEF Carolina at NO: Playing the Jets and the Saints are entirely different propositions from a fantasy perspective, and that is certainly the case when considering the Panthers defense. It's not as if they're a terrible option, but they're not a great one either.

4 Super Sleepers:

QB Brett Hundley (GB) vs. TB: You know what, he played a lot better last Sunday in Pittsburgh than many of us expected him too. That's a good sign going against the porous Tampa Bay defense, which has been way worse than expected. If you need a streamer and are desperate, Hundley isn't a terrible option.

RB Orleans Darkwa (NYG) at OAK: We're plumbing the depths at this point, but with Geno Smith at QB, Giants running backs suddenly become an OK fantasy option. It's not exactly something I entirely recommend, but it's not a terrible option if you're desperate either.

WR Corey Davis (TEN) vs. HOU: Tennessee's offense has been brutal from a fantasy perspective this season outside of the running backs, but perhaps this is the week they find their feet again. Houston's defense has been very poor of late, so it may be high time for Mariota et al to kick it into gear.

TE Vernon Davis (WSH) at DAL THU: Without Jordan Reed, Kirk Cousins has been turning to Vernon Davis more often, and that's a positive sign heading into the Thursday night game in Dallas. Not exactly the best option, but in a pinch, Davis could give you just what you need.

Buyer Beware:

QB Derek Carr (OAK) vs. NYG: Against the hapless Giants, you should be starting every Raider, right? Well not necessarily. The Giants defense has been fairly OK against Kansas City and Washington of late, so it's not exactly a crazy strong matchup for the Raiders and Carr in spite of what you may think.

Good luck in Week 13, and sorry for the brain cramp last week!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

2017 Week 11 Fantasy Advice: Celebrity Brain Crash

The NFL season in which the actual football has taken a back seat is chugging along as we get closer and closer to the fantasy playoffs, and as the bye weeks mercifully end and it doesn't seem like as many injuries to big name players can derail your season (since many of them are already out), is progress going to be made for fantasy happiness? And if you're wondering why the title of this piece is "Celebrity Brain Crash", I just got through watching an episode of The Grand Tour and the title makes as much sense here as it did in that show.

Byes: CAR, NYJ, IND, SF

Start of the Week: QB Alex Smith (KC) at NYG

Alex Smith is an underrated fantasy QB against almost everyone, but against the Giants who, sorry to all Giants fans, have quit, especially on defense, Smith could be in for a huge game on Sunday afternoon.

Who to Start:

QB Drew Brees (NO) vs. WSH: As the Saints are officially a ground and pound team now, you may be wondering why he's a great fantasy starter this week. For one, Washington's defense has been torched by pretty much everyone this season through the air, and it stands to reason that they'll try to sell out and stop the run to force Drew Brees to beat them, which he will then likely do.

RB Jordan Howard (CHI) vs. DET: He's certainly not been the fantasy option many of us expected him to be, and he's been held to single digit points in most everywhere the past few weeks. However, if the Lions gave up a big fantasy day to Isaiah Crowell of the Browns, Howard at least has a shot here.

WR Jarvis Landry (MIA) vs. TB: He's been a solid PPR option all season for his owners in spite of the Dolphins QB malaise, and it seems every now and again he and DeVante Parker pop off for a big game or two. That could come this week against the Bucs and their far worse than expected defense.

WR Sterling Shepard (NYG) vs. KC: Despite the Giants being garbage, Eli Manning has to throw it to someone, and Shepard has been the guy of late. Kansas City's secondary is not as impressive as you might think, and also consider the garbage time potential here: it could be immense!

TE Vernon Davis (WSH) at NO: Amazingly, Davis still has it. Even against brutal matchups on paper, he's chipped in big games against both Seattle and Minnesota. The Saints matchup is similar, but once is accident, twice is a trend, three times...?

DEF LA Chargers vs. BUF: Not only does this Chargers defense get to face a rookie in Nathan Peterman making his first start, on the road, the defense hasn't been why the team has lost this year. They rush the passer well, force turnovers and last week kept Leonard Fournette in check. This is a great matchup this week.

Sit of the Week: WR Jordy Nelson (GB) vs. BAL

He was my "Buyer Beware" last week, and many places had him as a must sit. I wasn't willing to go that far considering his draft position and ability to overcome tough matchups in the past. But now, until proven otherwise, you can't play Nelson with Brett Hundley at QB, even though he's improved recently. Baltimore's defense is also fairly stout.

Who to Sit:

QB Matt Ryan (ATL) at SEA MON: Seattle's defense is dinged up, but it's still the Seahawks at home, and with Matt Ryan's numbers this year underwhelming massively, starting him this week is a big risk, even though with Freeman's injury, he may be relied on more.

RB Lamar Miller (HOU) vs. ARZ: When teams know your QB situation is a mess, they sell out to stotp the run at all costs. Miller has faced that the last two weeks without DeShaun Watson running the offense. It'll happen this week against Arizona, who have a stout defense against the run.

WR Sammy Watkins (LAR) at MIN: Watkins has finally awaken from his fantasy slumber! But he may unfortunately slip back to earlier form this week against Xavier Rhodes and that ferocious Vikings defense. In his other road game against a defense like Minnesota, in Jacksonville, he was invisible.

WR Kelvin Benjamin (BUF) at LAC: Benjamin can't be trusted now that the QB switch in Buffalo has occurred. Until proven otherwise, and against a very solid Chargers defense, it's not a good time to be an owner of Kelvin Benjamin.

TE Coby Fleener (NO) vs. WSH: Fleener has a fantasic matchup on paper this week, but there is one problem: he's not a good blocker, and the Saints are a run first offense. Thanks to Michael Fabiano of NFL Media for this nugget: he's played in only 27% of offensive snaps for New Orleans in the last four games. Avoid.

DEF Dallas vs. PHI: No Sean Lee, and facing Carson Wentz equals a bad combination for the Cowboys defense this week in both reality and for fantasy owners. They weren't exactly bad last week, but from fantasy perspective "not bad" from defenses isn't quite good enough at this time of year.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Jay Cutler (MIA) vs. TB: It's hard to start Cutler at all, but with a favorable matchup this week, it might be worth the risk. The Bucs defense played well last week against Josh McCown, but has struggled mightily against just about everyone else.

WR Larry Fitzgerald (ARZ) at HOU: He's here and not in the "start" portion of the piece because of the QB uncertainty, but even with that, the Texans defense is a mess, and Fitz should easily pounce on that.

DEF Atlanta at SEA MON: On paper, facing Russell Wilson and the Seahawks at home is not a good matchup. So why have the Falcons defense here? Well, the Seahawks can't run the ball, their offensive line is a mess, and the Falcons defense has to be feeling confident after that show they put on against the Cowboys. There is a chance this is a sneaky good play in spite of the odds this week.

Buyer Beware:

QB Jared Goff (LAR) at MIN: It's impossible to not love the way Goff and the Rams offense has evolved this season, but they haven't been at their best against the best defensives such as Seattle's and Jacksonville's. Minnesota's defense is up there, so starting Goff with that in mind is a risk.

Good luck in Week 11!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

2017 Week 10 Fantasy Advice: Halfway Done

As we are now beyond the halfway point of the NFL season, and well beyond the halfway point of the fantasy season, you may be wondering to yourself how we got here. Through numerous injuries to critical fantasy players, a generally mediocre standard of play and jumping through fantasy hula hoops, we're here now. We're still dealing with the last few bye weeks, but more notably the injuries and the bad play, but don't worry now, it's kinda almost done... sort of.

Byes: PHI, OAK, KC, BAL

Start of the Week: RB Jordan Howard (CHI) vs. GB

You probably drafted him very highly, and have been conflicted with mixed feelings on him all year. It's been week-to-week with Howard, but this week is looking up against a Packers team that has been defensively quite weak away from home. The Bears offense is centered on Howard and what he can do, but this may be the week he finally gets back into form.

Who to Start:

QB Matthew Stafford (DET) vs. CLE: "Anyone against the Browns" becomes the name of the game here, as Stafford, who hasn't really lit it up all year, might finally find the ways and means to do so against the horrific Browns defense who pretty much can't do anything right.

RB Carlos Hyde (SF) vs. NYG: He was on point for players in a PPR league last week, having his best game of the season. The Giants can't do anything right at this point other than showing up at the stadium on time, meaning Hyde might put together back-to-back dynamic performances.

WR Adam Thielen (MIN) at WSH: With injuries elsewhere on the offense, Thielen has stepped up to become a true PPR machine. But even in standard leagues, his game at Washington is favorable. Slot receivers do fairly well against DC, and it stands to reason form holds again here.

WR Robby Anderson (NYJ) at TB: Yep, a Jets wideout is a good fantasy play this week. Who would have ever imagined that in August? Anderson has been playing the best of all Jets receivers of late, and his game in Tampa against the poorer than expected Bucs defense is very favorable.

TE Hunter Henry (LAC) at JAX: The Jaguars have the league's most fearsome pass defense, which means they'd also shut down tight ends too, right? Not quite. Tyler Kroft had a decent game last week even with only a few targets, and Henry could perform similarly on Sunday.

DEF LA Rams vs. HOU: Tom Savage ain't DeShaun Watson, that's for sure.

Sit of the Week: RB Ameer Abdullah (DET) vs. CLE

For everything the Browns do wrong, they are very good at stopping the run, and that has been true all season. Abdullah could have had a huge game Monday night against Green Bay, but fumble-itis wrecked those chances, and he could still be in the doghouse come Sunday. Matchup and form do not favor the Lions RB here.

Who to Sit:

QB Kirk Cousins (WSH) vs. MIN: Despite his heroics last week against Seattle, he and the Washington offense still struggled mightily down almost all of their bullets. Minnesota's defense may be even better, meaning Cousins is pretty much a must sit this week.

RB Aaron Jones (GB) at CHI: The dreaded split backfield has appeared in Green Bay, with Jones and Montgomery exchanging touches with no good way to know who will get more week-to-week. The Bears aren't very good, but their defense has been strong at home It's hard to recommend Jones or Montgomery this week.

WR Kelvin Benjamin (BUF) vs. NO: He will make his Bills debut against the Saints, which means he'll be Tyrod Taylor's number one target. That's good. However, in his five career games against New Orleans, he's averaged 38 yards per game and only reeled in one TD. And that was against a historically bad Saints defense.

WR Will Fuller (HOU) at LAR: It was a fun few weeks when DeShaun Watson was the QB for the Texans for the NFL world and for Will Fuller. But with Tom Savage, let's just say no one is enjoying life nearly as much. And the Rams defense is infinitely better than that of the Colts, so Fuller's fortunes are going downhill, fast.

TE Julius Thomas (MIA) at CAR MON: Don't go fantasy chasing, my friends. Thomas had a great game against the Raiders, but his performance in the prior four games combined didn't match what he did against the Raiders, so expecting a repeat of that performance let's just say is unlikely.

DEF Denver vs. NE: Is the shine off the Broncos defense? Perhaps. They have too much to do now to carry that incredibly poor offense, and that doesn't bode well against the Patriots Sunday night. It's hard to sit them, but it may be high time to consider it.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Eli Manning (NYG) at SF: I know, I know. But we're talking strictly matchups here, and let's be honest, the 49ers are not very good at playing football. You'd have to be really digging deep to start Eli here, but it's not the worst option out there this week.

RB Derrick Henry (TEN) vs. CIN: With DeMarco Murray nursing a knee injury, Henry becomes more viable as a fantasy option. The Bengals rush defense didn't do a great job stopping backups against the Jaguars last week, so Henry could be in for a big day on Sunday as well.

WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT) at IND: As he celebrates finally getting his driver's license, he should show it on the field by potentially putting in a great performance against the Colts. He's clearly the second WR on the Steeler depth chart now, and that's positive for him against the Colts who aren't really the greatest at playing defense.

Buyer Beware:

WR Jordy Nelson (GB) at CHI: You can't really sit him at this point because of the draft capital you invested, but with Brett Hundley moving the offense along at a snail's pace, there's not much else left to say. The Bears defense is also stingy at home, and this is not a good combination.

Good luck in Week 10!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

2017 Week 9 Fantasy Advice: Halfway done already?

Halfway through an NFL season of brutal injuries, some intriguing trades and more than a few surprises and your fantasy team probably doesn't look all that much like what it did when you drafted it in the summer. That's not surprising, but it does offer questions about the rest of this season, and time is running out to make meaningful changes to your roster and make the decisions that will push your team over the top. So what happens now as the calendar turns to November?

Byes: PIT, MIN, CHI, CLE, NE, LAC

Start of the Week: Lamar Miller (HOU) vs. IND

Seattle's rushing defense is good enough to stop just about everybody in the league from being successful, but the same can't be said for the Colts defense. Miller, who has feasted on the Colts in his career, likely will do the same against a defense that gave up a big game to Joe Mixon last week.

Who to Start:

QB Drew Brees (NO) vs. TB: His fantasy numbers haven't exactly lit up your screens like you'd expect Drew Brees to do in the last couple of games, but against the Bucs defense which is nowhere near where anyone expected it to be, that could change, and probably will change.

RB Aaron Jones (GB) vs. DET MON: In the ever changing environment of Green Bay's offense without Aaron Rodgers, another Aaron, Aaron Jones, impressed against the Saints two weeks ago. The Lions aren't exactly a stout rush defense, so the fear of him splitting touches with Ty Montgomery isn't exactly too worrisome.

WR Dez Bryant (DAL) vs. KC: He couldn't get out of Josh Norman's shadow last week, which was salso somewhat weather induced, but this week he should get out of that shadow against the Chiefs. The Cowboys may need to rely on the arm of Dak Prescott without Ezekiel Elliot, and Bryant should feature prominently against a weak Chiefs secondary.

WR Devin Funchess (CAR) vs. ATL: Cam Newton will have throw to someone after Kelvin Benjamin was dealt to Buffalo, and Funchess seems to be that target. Atlanta's secondary has been really underwhelming this season, and if you need a bye week option, Funchess could be a really good one. He may even be on the waiver wire in some leagues.

TE Jack Doyle (IND) at HOU: He's a really good fantasy matchup, what can I say? In a position where there is little depth, starting Doyle is almost a must, especially in six team bye weeks. Houston's defense is weak and was torched by Jimmy Graham last week, so Doyle could have another positive game.

DEF LA Rams at NYG: The Rams have one of the better fantasy defenses and real defenses, so even travelling cross-country, they're a must start against the Giants who can't put any together on offense with or without most of their receivers.

Sit of the Week: RB Marshawn Lynch (OAK) at MIA

Here's another player who I said certainly wasn't worth it in fantasy, and he's been really poor in his last few games, missing almost the entire game against KC included. Miami's defense has been fairly stout against the run, Thursday against the Ravens excluded, so Lynch is someone to avoid this week.

Who to Sit:

QB Marcus Mariota (TEN) vs. BAL: Though he should be more healed from his hamstring injury than he was against Indianapolis or Cleveland, this matchup against the Ravens defense is not favorable at all. They've been stout against opposing QB's all season, which means healthy or not, Mariota is a big risk this weekend.

RB Alex Collints (BAL) at TEN: He had a great outing last Thursday against Miami, but starting him doesn't make a ton of sense against the Titans. They're stout at home defensively, and the Ravens backfield is heavily rotated, and keep in mind, Danny Woodhead could be returning soon.

WR T.Y Hilton (IND) at HOU: He's posted basically all of his fantasy points in home games against the 49ers and Browns, who, if I remember correctly, have a combined zero wins. Even though the Texans defense is not very good, it's hard to trust Hilton until he consistently proves that he can get back to old form again.

WR Pierre Garcon (SF) vs. ARZ: It was a rough day for him against the Eagles, and things may not get much better against the Cardinals and Patrick Peterson. And there's no Jimmy G throwing to him, at least not yet.

TE Martellus Bennett (GB) vs. DET MON: He says this will be his last NFL season, and unfortunately for people who put fantasy stock in him, he's playing like it. It's been a rough season for him, with or without Aaron Rodgers, and that doesn't bode well even against the Lions.

DEF Denver at PHI: The Broncos defense is still dominant and dynamic, however with the pressure their offense puts them under, it makes for long days at the office, and that probably continues against the reloaded Eagles offense.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Jared Goff (LAR) at NYG: The Giants defense, especially in the secondary, is nothing to sneeze at. But at some point with the lack of offense they have, they'll break down, and that will allow Goff to find some success. He's not the best option this week, but he does have a good chance to succeed.

RB Kenyan Drake (MIA) vs. OAK: Who will get the ball in the backfield with Jay Ajayi now in Philadelphia? That seems to be Drake, and while he might be best as a flex play this week, he has a promising matchup against Oakland to potentially exploit. He could be a decent stash and grab, since the Dolphins will need someone to run the ball.

WR Will Fuller (HOU) vs. IND: Not exactly a volume receiver, but he does put up huge numbers each and every week it seems, and that's hard to ignore and avoid. The Colts really can't do much right now in terms of defense, so Fuller, who has exploded onto the scene when DeShaun Watson took over, is another decent play this week.

Buyer Beware:

QB Derek Carr (OAK) at MIA: He put up bigger stat lines than you would have thought in the last couple of games, but it hasn't really changed his fantasy viability, which is to say there isn't much. He's not really a good matchup play even in a week when there are six byes.

Good luck in Week 9!


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

2017 Wee 8 Fantasy Advice: the Columns that keep content on this blog

Fantasy football maybe this year more than ever has just been a slog. So many injuries to key players, and not many superstar surprises emerging have combined for this to just be a brutal year. And now we're in the worst part of said brutal year: the six team bye weeks. You'll be stretched thinner than ever, and seasons can be made or broken at this time of year too. Being prepared is key, and in these weeks of all weeks, you can be really caught off guard.

Byes: LAR, JAX, TEN, NYG, ARZ, GB

Start of the Week: WR Doug Baldwin (SEA) vs. HOU

Seattle's offense has been so dicey fantasy, that normally reliable options such as Baldwin fell on hard times to start the season. But he's start to emerge from that fog after a series of good games, and the matchup against Houston is very promising. The Texans defense is thin and not very good in the secondary, which makes Baldwin highly appealing.

Who to Start:

QB Cam Newton (CAR) at TB: It's really hard to peg Cam as a fantasy QB. Some weeks, like against the Pats, he's gangbusters. And then last week against Chicago, he's very poor. Tampa's defense is nowhere near where anyone expected it would be, so this offers up an opportunity in a thin week for some success.

RB Jordan Howard (CHI) at NO: He hasn't met his lofty expectations this year, and plenty of that has to do with the tire fire that has been the Bears offense, but teams are starting to learn how to defend Howard as well. He still gets his touches though, and that is key against a Saints defense that while it's getting better, still gave up a big day to Aaron Jones last week.

WR Keenan Allen (LAC) at NE: Where has he gone in recent weeks? His slide in the fantasy realm is concerning, but there is promise against New England this week. While their defense looked much better against Atlanta, for this column until further notice, it's still twice is a trend, not once, so to speak.

WR Adam Thielen (MIN) vs. CLE LONDON: Without Stefon Diggs, Thielen has really been the focal point of Minnesota's offense. He's not scoring touchdowns, but with the targets he's getting, he's reeling in plenty of catches and yards. The Browns are such a good matchup for everyone, that it's hard to not start Thielen even in a thin week.

TE Jason Witten (DAL) at WSH: He finally popped up after a few weeks in fantasy hibernation, and with a favorable matchup in Washington on hand, his fantasy good spell may just continue into another week. Tight End has been such a dicey proposition in fantasy land this year, this may just be a solid option.

DEF Minnesota vs. CLE LONDON: While they didn't rack up points against the Ravens last week, it's the Browns. If they don't light it up this week, when will they?

Sit of the Week: QB Matthew Stafford (DET) vs. PIT

Stafford has been inconsistent this year, and next, he gets to face the stiffening Steelers defense that has been locking down just about all opposing QB's in their way. Stafford is a dicey play even in a thin week like this one.

Who to Sit:

QB Josh McCown (NYJ) vs. ATL: So you may be thinking to yourself: Josh McCown, a good fantasy QB? Yep, he's actually been one of the bigger surprises this season, especially late. This Atlanta defense isn't the unit it used to be, but it's still pretty impressive, so if you need a flyer this week, there may be better ones available.

RB Lamar Miller (HOU) at SEA: Miller has been decent this season in running and catching for Houston, but no matchup for opposing running backs is ever favorable against the Seahawks. Plus, D'Onta Foreman is starting to emerge as a legit handcuff too. 

WR Terrelle Pryor (WSH) vs. DAL: I don't want to say I told you so, but before the season, I was telling everyone who would listen that Pryor was a very risky high draft pick for many reasons, the least of which was that I wasn't sold on him as a wideout yet. And lo and behold, he's been quite bad this season, which means even against a bad Dallas secondary, it's hard to recommend starting him over Josh Doctson and Jamison Crowder. 

WR DeSean Jackson (TB) vs. CAR: He's been hit or miss this season for the Bucs, which isn't what many of us expected to see. Carolina's secondary hasn't been the reason why they're losing of late, so Jackson, who struggled a touch in Buffalo last Sunday, could struggle again here.

TE Jack Doyle (IND) at CIN: As the only player on the Colts who is really fantasy viable anymore week to week, it's hard to bench him in a thin week at a thin position. Yet, the Bengals have given up one TD to tight ends in six games, so Doyle may have to face more trouble this week.

DEF Denver at KC MON: Denver's defense is not the reason why the Broncos are struggling, but at Kansas City on a Monday night does not bode well for the Broncos, especially if their offense continues to struggle as it has been the last few weeks.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Case Keenum (MIN) vs. CLE LONDON: Yep, another random fantasy option like him who could be great in a six team bye week. As stated elsewhere in this piece, and everywhere else in the world, the Browns are terrible at football, so if you need a one week flyer, he's a fantastic option.

RB Christian McCaffrey (CAR) at TB: I'll admit, I loved McCaffrey coming out as a fantasy option this year because of his ability to catch the ball from the backfield and add something different to this running game. But, it hasn't panned out that way, not even close to that. However, if he can't succeed against this Tampa defense on Sunday, he may be banished to flex play only for the rest of the way.

WR Mohamed Sanu (ATL) at NYJ: He, like all Falcons, was quiet last week in in Foxborough against the Pats, but he could see a decent uptick this week against the Jets, who gave up big chunks of yards and fantasy points to Matt Moore last week.

Buyer Beware:

WR Demaryius Thomas (DEN) at KC MON: The matchup on paper is favorable here for one of the highest drafted wideouts in fantasy land this year, but with the way the Broncos offense is sputtering, and the game on the whole that they are facing, I'm very skeptical of Thomas this week in spite of the week, and matchup.

Good luck in Week 8!