Wednesday, October 30, 2013

2013 Week 9 Fantasy Advice

As the calendar turns to November, the football gets more and more intense, yet the week-by-week slate continues to get worse. Somehow Week 9's slate is worse than Week 8's. But you have to take what you can get, so time to analyze Week 9, which hopefully will be made better by the clocks turning back one hour.


Who to Start:

QB Tony Romo (DAL) vs. MIN: Somehow these losses will end up being his fault, even though he's played some of his best football ever. The Vikings defense didn't get a stop last week against the Packers, and Romo has been throwing the ball across the yard despite the losing 3 out of 5. The Vikings can't stop anyone, so Romo should have a big day.

RB Eddie Lacy (GB) vs. CHI MON: Have the Packers finally found that consistent running game? Seems like it. The Bears rush defense has been struggling mightily of late, so Lacy could be a major benefactor of this.

WR Keenan Allen (SD) vs. WSH: Allen was on a serious tear before the Chargers bye week, and the Redskins secondary shouldn't provide much resistance if current form is any indicator. Since this one could end up being a shootout, Allen is a good start.

WR Steve Smith (CAR) vs. ATL: The Falcons secondary has been exposed as having little depth this season due to departures and injuries, and it has shown recently. In the biggest game for the Panthers maybe in 5 years, Steve Smith will need to perform, and he probably will.

TE Jordan Reed (WSH) vs. SD: He's not really a sleeper anymore based on the amount of targets he's now getting. The Chargers defense isn't amazing, so Reed could be a nice spot starter for a week if you need him.

DEF Kansas City vs. BUF: Due to the fact that we have absolutely no clue who is going to start for the Bills at QB, the Chiefs defense should be a must start this week. But their form has dipped, especially last week. That won't matter.

Who to Sit:

QB Tom Brady (NE) vs. PIT: It hurts me to do this, but Brady is now a possible fantasy bench warmer since his numbers have hit the tank this season. The Steelers pass defense has been very good this year despite the record, and that combo doesn't bode well for Brady, who may or may not be injured.

RB Trent Richardson (IND) vs. HOU: I guess the spoiler of "he's not really all that good" was a bit too much for some to handle. He certainly hasn't lived up to the billing of his trade, and the Texans rush defense has been solid all season. This is not a great matchup.

WR Marques Colston (NO) vs. NYJ: He's been nearly invisible on the stat sheet for the last couple of weeks, and going into this game against the Jets who are for some reason better in odd numbered weeks than even ones, this could continue. The Jets defense is also pretty good, for the record.

WR Steve Johnson (BUF) vs. KC: The Chiefs are good at defending the pass, but the real reason why he's here is the QB situation is too much of an unknown to put him in your starting lineup despite the bye weeks.

TE Jared Cook (STL) vs. TEN: He did very well in Week 1, and quite poorly in every other week. Kellen Clemmens hasn't look good at all since he had to take over for Sam Bradford, so the risk in starting him is just too great.

DEF Chicago vs. GB: The injuries have ravaged this unit, and despite the injuries on the other side of the ledger, the Bears defense is a bit of a worry this week at Lambeau, on the grounds of 45 points last time out in Washington.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Terrelle Pryor (OAK) vs. PHI: That run last week against the Steelers was scintillating, and the Eagles defense is quite an entertaining matchup for him now. He could well lead the Raiders to a big win, and .500 this weekend.

WR Denarius Moore (OAK) vs. PHI: On the same wavelength, Moore might be in for a huge game against an Eagles defense that has been shredded against the pass recently, despite them playing a little better away from home.

DEF Indianapolis vs. HOU: Case Keenum isn't the worlds best QB, so the Colts D could end up having a nice day at the office.

Buyer Beware:

QB Matt Ryan (ATL) vs. CAR: It's not that the recent struggles for the Falcons are solely on Ryan, but he's certainly not helped them get out of this ditch. The Panthers defense has been incredibly good the last 3 weeks when they've dominated the Vikings, Rams, and Bucs, and with the Falcons offense struggling too, Ryan could be in for a bad day.

Good Luck in Week 9!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

2013 Week 8 Fantasy Advice

Injuries are starting to play a much larger role in the season, and with QB's and impact players going down hard and fast, it's becoming a challenge to keep up. Thankfully, I'm here to help (yes it sounds pompous but since my fantasy team is 2-5 I have to stroke my ego somewhere).


Who to Start:

QB Matt Stafford (DET) vs. DAL: Sure the Cowboys defense was impressive last week in Philadelphia, but Matt Stafford is no Nick Foles. They've surrendered 14 TD passes so far this season, and that bodes quite well for Stafford.

RB Eddie Lacy (GB) vs. MIN: It looks like the Packers have finally found a consistent running back in Lacy, and with all of the injuries to their wideouts and tight ends, it couldn't come at a better time. The Vikings are not good at stopping the run, so Lacy figures to have a big game Sunday night.

WR Marques Colston (NO) vs. BUF: The Bills secondary has been pretty much a sieve all season, and that doesn't make going up against Drew Brees and the Saints any easier to stomach. He has struggled this season, but he should be able to break that duck against Buffalo.

WR Larry Fitzgerald (ARZ) vs. ATL: He's been in the fantasy mothballs for quite some time due to his QB situation, but he might see some light against the Falcons, whose secondary has been often hit hard this season. Odd to say, he's a good bye week option.

TE Heath Miller (PIT) vs. OAK: As the Steelers work their way back up the standings, Miller is seeing more targets from Ben Roethlisberger. Even though the matchup isn't amazing, Miller could have another good day for owners in PPR leagues.

DEF Cincinnati vs. NYJ: Geno Smith has had an up and down rookie season, and most of the downs this season have happened away from MetLife Stadium. The Bengals have been nigh on unbeatable at home this season, so their D could have a big day.

Who to Sit:

QB Alex Smith (KC) vs. CLE: Despite the fact that Kansas City likely won't have much trouble with the Browns, the Cleveland defense has been solid this season. Smith of course hasn't set the fantasy world on fire, so a bad matchup on paper doesn't figure well for him.

RB Zac Stacy (STL) vs. SEA MON: In the ever turning Rams RB carousel, Stacy seems to be the one in front this week. He figures to see more carries because Kellen Clemens is starting, but the Seahawks defense is just as stout against the run as they are against the pass.

WR Kenbrell Thompkins (NE) vs. MIA: While the Dolphins have been sliding in the standings, it's not been because of their defense. Thompkins hasn't had great fantasy days in either of his last 2 games, and with Amendola and Gronkowski getting healthy, he might figure even less on Sunday against a good Dolphins secondary.

WR Stevie Johnson (BUF) vs. NO: Aside from the obvious QB argument, Johnson's matchup on Sunday is not a favorable one. The Saints defense, especially their secondary, has been much improved this season, and they'll likely feast on Thad Lewis.

TE Brent Celek (PHI) vs. NYG: Oscillating between start and sit every week is the fantasy existence of Brent Celek, it seems. Mike Vick being back might help his case a little, but his success against the Giants recently has been limited. Despite the favorable matchup on paper, it doesn't look good for Celek on Sunday.

DEF Dallas vs. DET: Despite everything you could say about the Cowboys defense, they've been pretty solid from a fantasy perspective this season. But against the Lions and their high-flying offense, that probably won't continue.

3 Super Sleepers:

RB Knowshon Moreno (DEN) vs. WSH: Despite the Broncos not really settling on a consistent #1 running back choice, Moreno has emerged this season. Not only is the matchup favorable against Washington, he seems to be getting the bulk of the goal-line carries. Why is he a sleeper then? The Denver offense is unpredictable in how they'll score every week.

WR Harry Douglas (ATL) vs. ARZ: Without Julio Jones and Roddy White, he stepped up big against the Bucs last week. With White still gimpy, and Steven Jackson's status in question, Douglas again will be the focal point of the Falcons offense.

QB Chad Henne (JAX) vs. SF: I know what you all just said when you first read that name. "HUH?" Yes the Jaguars will likely get blown out. But that means garbage time yards are coming, and there's no one better in the league at grabbing garbage time yards than Chad Henne. Maybe he'll even throw a TD this week...

Buyer Beware:

WR Steve Smith (CAR) vs. TB THU: Now while the Bucs defense looks good on paper, in practice it's been awful. Steve Smith is on a roll right now. So why is he here? He's never had all that much success against Tampa, and at some point the Bucs have to let Darrelle Revis play man coverage, right?

Good luck in Week 8!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

2013 Week 7 Fantasy Advice

Byes: NO, OAK

Who to Start:

QB Andrew Luck (IND) vs. DEN: While Denver does get Von Miller back for this game and that will help a poor pass defense somewhat, the Broncos are still one of the worst teams in the NFL defending the pass. Andrew Luck should impress this week, despite proving everyone (including me) wrong on Monday night.

RB Eddie Lacy (GB) vs. CLE: Even though the Packers aren't regarded as having a great rushing offense, they might need to with all of the injuries to their receiving corps. The Browns are starting to struggle against the run, so this is a good time to start Lacy.

WR Keenan Allen (SD) vs. JAX: He broke onto the scene for the Chargers on Monday night with his huge game against the Colts, and success should follow against the Jags, whose pass defense has been picked apart by almost everyone this season.

WR Mike Wallace (MIA) vs. BUF: While his start to the season has been a massive disappointment, the Bills secondary has been struggling this season, especially away from home, so this is a good time to put him back in your starting lineups.

TE Martellus Bennett (CHI) vs. WSH: The Redskins defense, as has been publicized often, has been pretty bad this season, and they have struggled to defend opposing tight ends too. So Bennett, who is one of the more underrated tight ends at this point, should have a good day.

DEF Baltimore vs. PIT: In this game that might well set football back a few years, the Ravens and Steelers struggling offenses will go up against each other. The Steelers offense has been pretty awful this year, and going up against the Ravens won't make life much better.

Who to Sit:

QB Sam Bradford (STL) vs. CAR: He's had 2 consecutive good starts in a row against Jacksonville and Houston, but that streak is likely to end against a Carolina defense that is sneaky good and has been putting opposing QB's under pressure all year.

RB Chris Johnson (TEN) vs. SF: At this rate, it might well just be in your best interest to leave Johnson on the bench for every game going forward. He's been pretty poor this year, and the 49ers rush defense is still one of the best in football. It's in your best interest to bench him at this point.

WR Larry Fitzgerald (ARZ) vs. SEA THU: Remember when we thought that Carson Palmer would help get Fitz back to his old form? Well, that hasn't quite happened. Not only is he dealing with a bum hamstring, he's going up against the Seahawks and Richard Sherman. 

WR Dwayne Bowe (KC) vs. HOU: Yes Houston is really bad, but their defense hasn't been the biggest problem. Kansas City is also 26th in the league throwing the ball, so Bowe going up against a strong Texans secondary isn't favorable for him.

TE Joseph Fauria (DET) vs. CIN: He's scored some big TD's in the past few weeks, but with Calvin Johnson getting healthy again, he will see his targets diminish. His success will probably go down as a result.

DEF Indianapolis vs. DEN: They've been better than expected, but it's Denver. Come on guys.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Nick Foles (PHI) vs. DAL: His play has made the decision between him and Mike Vick tough on Chip Kelly. It also helps that the Dallas defense can be had pretty easily in the secondary, and he won't have to face DeMarcus Ware either. 

RB Brandon Jacobs (NYG) vs. MIN MON: Sure, he's dinged up, and Peyton Hillis is now in the fold. But the Vikings are awful against the run, and he sure looked good last Thursday night. 

TE Coby Fleener (IND) vs. DEN: In the place of Dwayne Allen he's been pretty solid all year, if not somewhat inconsistent. The Broncos struggle against everyone defending the pass, so Fleener could have a big game.

Buyer Beware:

QB Matt Ryan (ATL) vs. TB: He'll be without Julio Jones, and be with a less than 100 percent healthy Roddy White against a Tampa defense that still has good personnel despite as a unit being pretty bad. He's a risky play on Sunday.

Good Luck in Week 7!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

2013 Week 6 Fantasy Advice

As the days get shorter and colder, the NFL picture starts to become clearer. Everyone finally has an idea of who is good, who is bad, and what to expect going forward. Surprises still happen of course, but at least now we have somewhat of a clue as to how the games might progress going forward.

Byes: ATL, MIA

Who to Start:

QB Cam Newton (CAR) vs. MIN: No Rodney Harrison, the Panthers shouldn't bench him, and neither should fantasy owners this week. Despite his struggles last week, the Vikings secondary is pretty atrocious, and Newton could exploit that.

RB Alfred Morris (WSH) vs. DAL: He ripped the Cowboys twice in 2012, and with the Cowboys rush defense being pretty unsavory this season, he could certainly do that again Sunday Night. His rib injury doesn't appear to be holding him back, either.

WR Torrey Smith (BAL) vs. GB: He's emerging as one of the better receivers in the league, despite having almost no help around him. The Packers secondary has been torched often, especially on the road, so Smith could have another big time outing.

WR Reggie Wayne (IND) vs. SD MON: He and T.Y Hilton both could be in for monster days against a San Diego secondary that has been beat up pretty badly often this season, even last week against Terrelle Pryor.

TE Julius Thomas (DEN) vs. JAX: Everyone's favorite new waiver wire gem has himself an amazing matchup this week against Jacksonville... not even just for the obvious reasons. The Jaguars cannot defend Tight Ends at all, so he should feast on Sunday.

DEF San Francisco vs. ARZ: Yeah all those concenrs about the 49ers defense have been pretty unfounded, haven't they? They've rebounded quite nicely since the start of the season, and the Cardinals mainly hapless offense is going to pose few problems.

Who to Sit:

QB Matt Stafford (DET) vs. CLE: Even though I don't think the Browns will win this game, I do think their defense will keep them in it, especially their secondary. Matt Stafford is turnover prone, so the Browns defense could prey on that.

RB Chris Johnson (TEN) vs. SEA: He's in a fantasy wasteland by this point, and aside from that flukey TD last Sunday, he was pedestrian at best. The Seahawks are usually stout against the run, especially at home, so this matchup doesn't bode well for Johnson.

WR Dwayne Bowe (KC) vs. OAK: Huh? Aren't the Raiders pretty awful and the Chiefs pretty awesome? Yes, but Bowe has never had much success against the Raiders in his career, and if there's one player they'll try to take out of the game early, it's Bowe.

WR Tavon Austin (STL) vs. HOU: He's been a large disappointment both for Rams fans and in fantasy land, and going up against the Texans stout secondary next won't make for any easier outings.

TE Jermaine Gresham (CIN) vs. BUF: His 2012 success has seemingly gone away quick due to teams being able to take him out of games and Tyler Eifert getting more targets. The Bills are tough against Tight Ends so Gresham could be in for a long day.

DEF New England vs. NO: At some point the injuries have to take their toll, don't they? They probably will against a very good, resurgent New Orleans offense.

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Jay Cutler (CHI) vs. NYG THU: Jay Cutler is turnover prone, but the Giants defense has been a literal sieve this season, and on a short week the home team usually has an advantage. He could have a monster game.

RB Bilal Powell (NYJ) vs. PIT: I'm averse to recommending any of the Jets running backs because each could lose carries to each other quick. But Powell is the steadiest of the 3, and the Steelers rush defense has been pretty bad this season.

DEF Cincinnati vs. BUF: Thad Lewis. Enough said.

Buyer Beware:

QB Colin Kaepernick (SF) vs. ARZ: Yep, he's here again. And there's good reason. The Cardinals defense has been impressive this season, and Kaepernick's numbers have tumbled consistently. Todd Bowles' unit has been better than advertised, so if you have a better option, it might not hurt to slide Kaep down a notch for a week.

Good Luck in Week 6!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Capital Clubs with Capital Controversies

The debate about the use of the name "Washington Redskins" rages with NFL fans, politicians, and activist groups all wanting to have their voices heard. It's an issue that touches deep with many in this country and has become a flashpoint for the issue of Native American nicknames for professional, college, and even high school sports teams. But this type of debate is not exclusive to just the US, or the NFL. Over in England, fans of the club Tottenham Hotspur are now under fire for the use of the word "yid" to describe their fanbase, due to the words' negative and anti-Semitic origins. It has become the flashpoint debate of a larger one surrounding racism, homophobia, and antisemitism in football grounds. While these debates and controversies might seem disparate and irrelevant to each other, they've never been compared and analyzed together in a sports context to possibly find a solution that's mutually beneficial. While I don't personally feel qualified to talk about the issues on a religious and race level, on a sports level there is a discourse to be had about why these debates have been intensifying, despite existing on their own without public incident for long periods of time. Can comparisons be drawn, and can there be a solution in the gray area of both seemingly distant controversies?

First, some context is needed as to how the individual stories have progressed. The Redskins were originally named the Braves when they were based in Boston, and their first owner George Preston Marshall simply wanted to have some of Boston's baseball success carry over to his football team. They started playing at Braves Field with the same name as their baseball brethren, who weren't named after any Native Americans at all. They were named after street operatives of the early 20th century New York City political machine Tammany Hall, as the owners were NYC businessman whose money was made off of the machine. When the football team moved crosstown to Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox, Marshall combined the name of the Red Sox and Braves to form "Redskins", because he couldn't keep the Braves name at a rival park. So there was no racial intent in this name; just an easy way to change names to make money. If there was any racial intent, at the time it was (unfortunately) socially acceptable, so it went unnoticed. The name carried with the franchise when they later moved to Washington, and has stuck since.

The name "yid" has origins in the roots of Jewish culture, and comes essentially from the same root word that "Jew" comes from. In later context, the word in Yiddish meant as something akin to "chap" or "mate", with no explicit religious emphasis. One could say that the religious context was implied because the only people speaking Yiddish were Jews, but that's besides the point. Post World War II, the word was used by Jewish authors to illustrate either Antisemitism, or jokes Jews made among themselves. In a Tottenham context, in the early days of the club, a number of Jewish immigrants could easily get tickets to go from East to North London, where the club is located, and in order to better assimilate, they went to matches and became supporters as Jews in other parts of London did with clubs like Arsenal and Chelsea. The word was originally used as an insult from supporters of other clubs based on the religion of some fans, but gradually the word became accepted and used as a badge of pride by Spurs supporters, without the religious context. 

So to sum up those 2 paragraphs of exposition: The names, despite possible racist and antisemitic origins, have become badges of pride for the respective fanbases. They remain steadfast in their support of using the names in light of the controversies the respective sports as a whole are beginning to come to grips with, and in a sports context, they believe the words are not insulting. Are you beginning to see how the situations hit similar plot beats?

Sure there are differences, such as the fact that the Redskins name is an official nickname of the Washington team and "yid" is more a colloquial term, as well as the issue with Native American nicknames has been more logo based than name based, but they are similar enough that comparing them yields interesting conclusions. 

As a Tottenham supporter myself, I don't personally use the word "yid", because I've never found it appealing to say, when there are other chants that Spurs supporters use that I like more. However, I can fully understand why other Spurs fans use it, and use it as a term of endearment for themselves and players alike due to its roots in club history. I can also understand why many, including some Jewish Spurs supporters, would want the word to not be used even in a positive context, because of the antisemitic connotations.

Likewise, as someone who currently goes to school outside of Washington D.C., I can understand why some fans of the Washington Redskins would be angered by others trying to force a team name change, when they mean no racism. And I can also fully understand why activist groups, politicians, and Native Americans would want the name removed because of the racist connotations and history of other name changes. 

But ask yourself this:

So when Redskins fans collectively sing "Hail to the Redskins" after the team scores a touchdown, are they all racists for saying the name? In a similar vein, are all Tottenham supporters who chant "yid" or "yiddo" to players after they score all anti-Semites? Certainly not, because to many of these people, the names have absolutely no context in racism or antisemitism, since they've never been taught that the name has another meaning, for better or for worse. In a non-sports context, calling a Native American a "Redskin" and a Jew a "yid" would be grounds for prosecution for a hate crime, but in a sports context the words have completely different meanings, and no one is usually prosecuted for it (until recently in England). Since the English language has no official governing body, words can have their meanings changed and warped without warning, so what might have been considered offensive in the past can gain an entirely new meaning, and in a new era of political correctness and sensitivity to hate speech, the old contexts can be brought back up. 

When the issues of Native American nicknames in American sports are put up to the microscope, the Redskins name is not the only one left. The Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves (see above), the Florida State Seminoles (despite Seminole nation blessing), the Illinois Fighting Illini, and many many others are still around, but the battle is being waged on a larger scale dealing solely with the Redskins name, as is the current flashpoint. Are all these other names going to go away if the Redskins name does? Likewise, the antisemitism in football grounds doesn't stop with Tottenham fans saying "yid" as a positive term. It comes from groups of other supporters making hissing noises and making jokes about the Holocaust when their team plays Spurs, and there are documented instances of that. Can that be eradicated if Spurs fans stop chanting "yid"? 

The activists calling for the elimination of these 2 words have good intentions for sure, but are fighting a battle that goes much deeper only on a surface level. Racist sports team nicknames don't stop with the Redskins, but since that is the most public name of the ones left with the NFL's popularity, that is the battle being fought. With Tottenham, and football in general, antisemitism doesn't stop at the elimination of the word "yid", since some fans of other clubs will still chant antisemitic things towards Tottenham supporters because of the club's history and origins. Fighting an issue that has a lot of gray areas in a black-and-white context, along with fighting an issue with deep roots on a superficial level will not change anything or address what the real issues are here (just ask the North Dakota Fighting Sioux). Finally, looking at each name individually puts the situation in a vacuum, which doesn't help in finding a solution to the real problem at all; it's more like putting a band-aid on a broken leg. 

Are we eventually going to see the elimination of the words "Redskin" and "yid" from a sports context? Yes, since public pressure is eventually going to become too suffocating. Will the eliminating of those 2 words change anything in terms of the major underlying issues with the 2 words' existence at all? Probably not. Not every Redskin fan is a racist against Native Americans, as not all Tottenham fans who call themselves "yids" are antisemites. But trying to sweep everything all out at once on both sides of the pond really doesn't address why we are having these debates at all, and the words' eradication only scratches the surface on a much larger underlying problem that no one has yet been willing to even attempt to tackle effectively.

I'm not racist, nor antisemitic. I just want to tackle the deeper issues, not just flashpoints based on narratives. Good natured Redskins and Spurs supporters would want nothing less than that. But as long as other Native American names and logos still exist, and some fans of other clubs chant jokes about the Holocaust towards Spurs fans, then eliminating the two words has changed nothing, except inciting anger. Good natured intent only goes so far, especially when casting the affected parties as the instigators when they might not be. 

We all want to eliminate racism and antisemitism from sports, but eliminating 2 specific words can't do that, no matter the fight. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

2013 Week 5 Fantasy Advice

In 2010 we saw Tuesday Night Football. In 2012 we saw Wednesday Night Football. There was a Friday game in 2009 too. And so in 2013, we now have Monday Morning football with the Chargers-Raiders game getting moved to the third shift Sunday night. If any of you stay up for that game and you're not a fan of either team, you are a stronger person than I am.


Who to Start:

QB Eli Manning (NYG) vs. PHI: Sure he turns the ball over a ton, but this week he's playing the Eagles, who are a sieve defensively. Even Alex Smith had a good day against them. If there's any game for Eli Manning to bounce back with, it has to be this one.

RB DeMarco Murray (DAL) vs. DEN: I guess one of the advantages in having a record pace setting offense is that your defensive struggles do get hidden, and the Broncos have certainly had some. Now while Denver might be #1 against the run, it's because they're blowing teams out so fast. Expect a heavy dose of Murray for the Cowboys if they want to win.

WR DeSean Jackson (PHI) vs. NYG: This game is pretty much going to be an old west shootout, so Jackson figures to be in the picture to reap some rewards from that. Despite his recent struggles against the Giants (Miracle in the Meadowlands part deux aside), he should be in for a big game Sunday.

WR Jordy Nelson (GB) vs. DET: Speaking of a shootout, this Packers vs. Lions game will likely be one too. He has great career numbers against the Lions, and they can be exploited in the secondary. Plus, there's the whole "Detroit hasn't won in Green Bay since 1991" thing too.

TE Jared Cook (STL) vs. JAX: After his Week 1 outburst, he's been relatively quiet since. That should change against the Jags, who of their many problems have some serious issues defending Tight Ends. Cook should get back on track on Sunday.

DEF Carolina vs. ARZ: Carolina's front 7 is criminally underrated, and as the Cards trade away offensive lineman, the matchup gets even tastier. The turnover prone QB plus sketchy offensive line is always a good formula for a fantasy defense.

Who to Sit:

QB Joe Flacco (BAL) vs. MIA: Despite his offensive line getting help with Eugene Monroe coming in, Flacco's 5 INT's against a patchwork Bills secondary have to be a red flag. The Dolphins secondary was exposed by Drew Brees, but then again everyone's is. They should rebound, which hurts Flacco.

RB Chris Johnson (TEN) vs. KC: He's really struggled this season, and going up against the very, very solid Chiefs defense probably won't help matters. He might see more carries because of Ryan Fitzpatrick starting, but the yards aren't going to come easy.

WR Mike Wallace (MIA) vs. BAL: Time to sound the bust alarm? Not yet, but he's been nearly invisible for the first 4 games. After the Ravens got torched in Week 1, they've been much better since then. This is a risky play.

WR Steve Johnson (BUF) vs. CLE THU: He had negative fantasy points in some leagues last week, and going up against Joe Haden won't change his fortunes all that much. Cleveland has been pretty stout defensively at home, and with the primetime buzz it won't help Stevie Johnson's case any.

TE Zach Miller (SEA) vs. IND: 2 TD's on 2 catches isn't a recipe for success 2 weeks later, and that's what happened to Zach Miller. The Colts D is pretty stout against Tight Ends, so starting him is another risky play.

DEF Dallas vs. DEN: Who are they playing?

3 Super Sleepers:

QB Terrelle Pryor (OAK) vs. SD: If he's healthy, he could be an interesting bye week play (if you actually need it). The Chargers secondary is banged up and has been torched already this season, so it's quite conceivable that it happens again.

TE Coby Fleener (IND) vs. SEA: A sleeper against the Seahawks? Yep, and it's because Fleener has really stepped up in Dwayne Allen's absence. The Seahawks have had some trouble defending Tight Ends away from Seattle, so he could be an interesting play.

DEF St. Louis vs. JAX: Blaine Gabbert. Need I say more?

Buyer Beware:

QB Colin Kaepernick (SF) vs. HOU: The problems for the Texans have been on offense, not defense. With that, and the problems Kaepernick has been having at points this season, this matchup is a possibly tricky one.

Good Luck in Week 5!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

2013-14 NHL Season Predictions

So a new... full... season is now upon us, meaning it is time to make some predictions. 4 new divisions with some silly names, an interesting playoff format, and a lot of player movement to digest. So with all of these changes, will the Blackhawks become the first team since the Wings in '97-'98 to repeat as Stanley Cup Champion? Check out below to find out:

Patrick Plus (nee Metropolitan) Division:

1. Pittsburgh
2. New York Rangers
3. Philadelphia
4. Washington
5. New York Islanders
6. Columbus
7. Carolina
8. New Jersey

Thoughts: The Penguins are still the class of the division even with the swelling of 3 teams... the Rangers should be much better with Alain Vigneault coming in to open up the Rangers system, which will help players like Rick Nash and Brad Richards... the Flyers could go either way this season, but their scoring prowess should see them into the playoffs... the Capitals are a fascinating squad with some issues but if Alex Ovechkin plays as he can then they will succeed... the Isles and Jackets aren't quite there yet but will provide some good challenges... and the Devils and Canes will struggle as the building process either continues or begins anew.

Flortheast (thanks Sarah Connors) (nee Atlantic) Division:

1. Boston
2. Detroit
3. Ottawa
4. Montreal
5. Tampa Bay
6. Florida
7. Toronto
8. Buffalo

Thoughts: The Bruins re-tooling should help them get back to the Final, especially with an underrated player like Loui Eriksson coming in... the Wings have some interesting pieces that they've added and last season proved you can't ever rule them out of anything... the Senators are in flux but might be better with Bobby Ryan in tow... the Habs are still a playoff team but they aren't quite ready to compete with the big guns yet... the Lightning will still be the Lightning, which means they'll score plenty but give up plenty... the Panthers are not going to be that bad, especially with their slew of new additions of late... the Leafs are going to find out what "regression to the mean" means... and the Sabres are starting over from scratch.

Conference III (Thanks J.R. Lind) (nee Central) Division:

1. Chicago
2. St. Louis
3. Minnesota
4. Nashville
5. Dallas
6. Winnipeg
7. Colorado

Thoughts: The Cup Champs are almost unchanged from last year, meaning they're still the team to beat... the Blues are a hot cup pick for some, but they're gonna have to find consistent scoring to get there... the Wild's mix of young and veteran talent will get them into the playoffs, but going further is questionable... the Predators will have to find someone to score in order to make the playoffs, but their D and goaltending is typically stout... Dallas and Winnipeg are building towards something good, but it will take some time to get there... and Colorado is a young team that probably has one more top of the lottery season in them before they improve.

Pacific (nee Pacific... I don't have a clever name for this one) Division:

1. Los Angeles
2. San Jose
3. Phoenix
4. Vancouver
5. Anaheim
6. Edmonton
7. Calgary

Thoughts: The Kings and Sharks will duke it out again for the division title, and both could likely win it, although I think LA has a little more defense... the Coyotes are once again going to surprise with players like Mike Ribiero and possible Norris winner Oliver Ekman-Larsson... the Canucks will still make the playoffs yet the style will grate the players fast... The Ducks will be another team that suffers regression to the mean... Edmonton has a few more face-punchers than talented centers which is head-scratching... and the long road back to the top for the Flames will begin from the very bottom.

Playoffs (Remember that the better wild card in each conference plays the lesser division winner and the lesser wild card plays the better division winner... for the sake of clarity they'll be all intra-divisional):

Eastern Conference:

Pittsburgh vs. Washington (WC2)
New York vs. Philadelphia
Boston vs. Montreal (WC1)
Detroit vs. Ottawa

Western Conference:

Chicago vs. Nashville (WC2)
St Louis vs. Minnesota
Los Angeles vs. Vancouver (WC1)
San Jose vs. Phoenix


Penguins over Capitals in 5
Rangers over Flyers in 6
Bruins over Canadiens in 5
Red Wings over Senators in 7

Pens over Rangers in 6
Wings over Bruins in 6

Wings over Pens in 7

Blackhawks over Predators in 5
Blues over Wild in 5
Kings over Canucks in 5
Sharks over Coyotes in 6

Blues over Hawks in 6
Kings over Sharks in 5

Kings over Blues in 5

2013 Stanley Cup Final: Kings over Red Wings in 6

Award Predictions:

President's Trophy: Pittsburgh
Hart: Sidney Crosby
Art Ross: Alex Ovechkin
Rocket Richard: Steven Stamkos
Vezina: Antti Niemi
Norris: Alex Pietrangelo
Calder: Filip Forsberg
Selke: Jonathan Toews
Jack Adams: Dave Tippett

So there they are. Feel free to tell me I'm wrong, because I likely am.

2013 MLB Playoff Predictions

Since my regular season predictions went so well, it's time to see if my MLB Playoff Predictions can do any better. Since they probably won't... sorry in advance.

AL Wild Card Game: Rays over Indians
NL Wild Card Game: Pirates over Reds

ALDS: Tigers over A's in 4
            Red Sox over Rays in 4

NLDS: Cardinals over Pirates in 4
            Dodgers over Braves in 5

ALCS: Tigers over Red Sox in 6
            Cardinals over Dodgers in 7

2013 World Series: Tigers over Cardinals in 6

Sorry in advance to the Tigers and Cardinals.