December 20, 2014

Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS): Week 16 DraftKings Fantasy Football Values

Fitting in higher-priced studs into your lineups requires finding values to provide some salary-cap relief. With that said, here are some value plays for Week 16 DraftKings contests (sorted by position, then salary):

QB - Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (vs. ATL), $8,300

Perhaps not a value in terms of absolute cost at $8,300, but Brees is my second-ranked quarterback and the fourth-most expensive option this week. So, in other words, if you're looking to pay up at the position, Brees will provide you with some relative value. Based on projected point totals using Vegas odds, no team is projected to score more points this week than the Saints, who also control their destiny if they win their final two games. Over their past nine games, the Falcons have allowed six 300-yard passers and eight quarterbacks to throw for 292-plus yards. Brees seems like a lock for the three-point scoring bonus at 300 passing yards.

QB - Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins (vs. PHI), $6,100

In relief of an injured Colt McCoy, RG3 had his best outing of the season last week as he finished eighth in fantasy points among quarterbacks. Getting the start this week in such a favorable matchup, it's certainly possible that he puts up another top-eight performance in a favorable matchup yet there are 16 other quarterbacks priced higher than Griffin. With RG3 injured in Week 3 when these teams first met this season, Kirk Cousins got the start and lit up the Eagles secondary for 427 yards and three scores. That said, the Eagles secondary has been consistently bad (good to opposing quarterbacks) as they have allowed 11 of them to finish as top-12 fantasy quarterbacks in their 14 games this season.

QB - Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs (at PIT), $5,600

Smith is an even cheaper and safer option at quarterback than RG3 with a lower ceiling, but he's a great option this week for those looking for some salary-cap relief at the position for cash games. Although he averaged 197.3 yards per game through Week 13, Smith has thrown for 293 and 297 yards in the past two weeks, both of which are easily his highest totals of the year. And even though he has yet to throw a touchdown to a wide receiver, Smith has multiple passing touchdowns in three of his past four games. In addition, the Steelers have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.

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RB - Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers (at TB), $7,300

Lacy is another play that may not be cheap in absolute terms, but he's a solid foundation from which to construct your roster. Playing through his hip injury last week, Lacy has now finished as a top-six fantasy running back (PPR scoring) in six of his past seven games. During that seven-game span, Lacy has averaged 23.87 fantasy points per game with a total of 881 yards from scrimmage, 25 receptions and eight touchdowns. Facing the Bucs, who have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, Lacy has both a high floor and a high ceiling this week.

RB - C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos (at CIN), $6,900

Similar to Lacy, Anderson's high floor and ceiling makes him a great play in both cash games and tournaments. Anderson has a total of 117 touches in his past four games and has exceeded 30 touches in three of those games. Anderson has a total of 534 YFS and five touchdowns during that span. Only the Falcons and Raiders have allowed more fantasy points to opposing running backs than the Bengals this season.

RB - Tre Mason, St. Louis Rams (vs. NYG), $4,600

With difficult matchups in back-to-back weeks (Washington and Arizona are in bottom three in terms of FPA to RBs), Mason's outlook gets brighter as he faces a much more generous defense to fantasy running backs. Not only do the Giants allow the ninth-most fantasy points to rurnning backs, they allow the fourth-most on a per-touch basis (0.93). Since Week 9, Mason has averaged nearly 20 touches per game (19.29). A realistic range of DK points for Mason should fall within 15-20 points this week.

RB - Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins (vs. MIN), $4,400

Despite having any huge games this season, Miller still has scored the 12th-most fantasy points among running backs (PPR scoring) this season. In large part, it's due to Miller's consistency. The Dolphins third-year back has finished as a top-19 fantasy running back (or better) in 10 of 14 games this season. With a plus matchup against the Vikes, Miller should once again post a top-20 performance even though he's priced outside of the top-20 running backs.

RB - Shane Vereen, New England Patriots (at NYJ), $3,800

Trying to predict which Patriots running back(s) will get the most touches and production in a given week is a sure-fire way to drive yourself crazy. That said, Vereen is at least worth a roll of the dice in a GPP at his sub-$4,000 salary as Vereen should be more involved in the game plan against a tough run defense (and bad pass defense). The first time the Patriots faced the Jets (granted, that was pre-LeGarrette Blount), Vereen had his best game of the season (11/43 rushing and 5/71/2 receiving). With 28.4 fantasy points (PPR scoring), only two other backs (Matt Forte and Le'Veon Bell) scored more that week.

RB - Steven Jackson, Atlanta Falcons (at NO), $3,600

Although I have S-Jax ranked inside my top-20 fantasy running backs for the week, he's priced as the 38th-most expensive back. And while S-Jax is better in standard-scoring (or half-PPR like FanDuel) leagues, he has scored double-digit fantasy points in five of his past seven games. During that span, he has averaged 16.9 touches per game with 18-plus in five of those games and has scored four touchdowns. In a high-scoring affair against the Saints, who allow the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, Jackson should have no problem reaching and exceeding value this week.

WR - DeSean Jackson, Washington Redskins (vs. PHI), $5,500

Jackson has been a bit of a boom-or-bust fantasy option throughout his career and this season has been no different. To be fair, he has played with three different quarterbacks. D-Jax has finished as the WR50 (or worse) in three of his past four games. That said, I expect a performance from D-Jax closer to the outing (117 yards and a TD) he had the first time he faced his former team. Aside from the revenge factor, no team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing wide receivers than the Eagles.

WR - Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens (at HOU), $4,600

Only the Ravens have allowed more fantasy points to opposing wide receivers than the Texans this season -- and since he can't play his own defense, this is the best possible matchup for Smith. Dealing with a knee injury the past couple of weeks, Smith's production has understandably taken a hit -- two catches for 16 yards on three targets last week and no targets the previous week. That said, Smith isn't listed on the injury report this week, which indicates that his knee issue shouldn't be a problem. Before the injury, Smith had seven touchdowns in his previous seven games.

WR - Donte Moncrief, Indianapolis Colts (at DAL), $4,100

A goose egg. I had Moncrief in several GPP lineups last week and was obviously disappointed that he couldn't outscore me. One of the positives of that (when it comes to this week) is that several owners will remember last week's dud and not want to get burned again this week, which will help keep his ownership levels down. Given that T.Y. Hilton (hamstring) could potentially sit this week out, it will open up more snaps and opportunities for Moncrief.

WR - Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs (at PIT), $3,200

Not so long ago, Bowe led the NFL in touchdown receptions (15 in 2010). Of course, one of the most amazing statistics of the 2014 season is the fact that none of the Chiefs receivers have a touchdown reception this year. Perhaps that changes this week (or maybe it doesn't), but Pittsburgh has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers and rank 30th in terms of efficiency. If you're in need of some salary-cap relief in a tournament, Bowe is an interesting punt play.

TE - Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs (at PIT), $4,500

Kelce ended a five-game scoring drought with a touchdown last week against the Raiders, but he has still finished as a top-eight fantasy tight end in three of his past four games. On the season, Kelce has 56 catches for 747 yards and five touchdowns despite not getting as many snaps and targets as fantasy owners would like to see. Kelce should exceed value this week as a mid-priced tight end option.

TE - Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys (vs. IND), $4,000

Witten has finished as a top-seven fantasy tight end in four of his past seven games including last week. (And one of the times he finished outside the top seven TEs was a top-11 performance.) In addition, the Colts have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season. Although he doesn't possess the highest ceiling, Witten should have another productive outing this week.

In addition, check out our site's DraftKings Week 16 Cheat Sheet.

Also, check out my weekly fantasy football rankings:

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December 18, 2014

2014 Fantasy Football Week 16 Start'em, Sit'em

When Washington and Philadelphia met in Week 3, neither of the current starting quarterbacks played in that game.

To be honest, I would have thought you were crazy if you told me then that both RG3 and Mark Sanchez would appear on the "start'em" side of this column for Championship Week. But here we are and both of them are viable options as top-12 fantasy quarterbacks for Week 16.

That said, it's not a universal start recommendation for RG3 or Sanchez (or any player on this list). Ultimately, the decision will come down to the other options on your roster, if applicable.

As my 11th-ranked fantasy quarterback in Week 16, Sanchez is a viable option for those in a 12-team league. That said, if you have Drew Brees and Sanchez as the quarterbacks, you should start Brees, who I have ranked ahead of all quarterbacks not named Aaron Rodgers.

So, in other words, my fantasy football rankings are a better guage of which player I would start out of multiple options.

With this column, however, the goal is to highlight players with favorable (or unfavorable) matchups that I may not otherwise start (or sit) or those that I like (or dislike) more than usual.

Looking ahead to the rest of this week's games, here are some players to consider starting:

QB - Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins (vs. PHI)

Coming on in relief of an injured Colt McCoy, RG3 had his best outing of the season last week as he finished eighth in fantasy points among quarterbacks, an encouraging sign for those considering him this week. It's been a quarterback carousel in the nation's capital and Kirk Cousins made his first start of the season in Week 3 against Philly. In that game, he threw for 427 yards and three touchdowns and finished as the QB2 for the week. In their 14 games this season, the Eagles have allowed 11 of them to finish as a top-12 fantasy quarterback. With such a favorable matchup, I expect RG3 to continue to build positive momentum at the most critical point in the fantasy football season.

QB - Mark Sanchez, Philadelphia Eagles (at WAS)

Based on projected point totals using Vegas odds, only the Saints and Packers are projected to score more points this week than the Eagles (29.50). In addition, no team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season than the Redskins, who have surrendered 10 passing touchdowns over their past three games. Sanchez is coming off back-to-back disappointing performances (10.54 and 6.08 fantasy points, respectively), but the matchup is too good for him to not bounce back this week.

RB - Joique Bell, Detroit Lions (at CHI)

Over the past three games, Bell has finished the week as the RB4, RB3 and RB11, respectively. The first game of that span was against the Bears, who will try to slow him down on a short week. Given that the Bears have benched quarterback Jay Cutler, the line has increased from 7.0 to 9.5 points and there's a good chance that the Lions are playing with the lead for most of this game. Bell has a total of 87 touches over his past four games and I'd expect another heavy workload (and productive outing) from him again in Week 16.

RB - Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins (vs. MIN)

Coming off a disappointing performance against the Patriots, who have been playing much better run defense recently, Miller gets a favorable matchup this week against the Vikings, who have allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. Miller hasn't had many great games, but he's had a lot of good/useful games. Miller has finished as a top-21 fantasy running back in 10 of his 14 games and has the 13th-most fantasy points scored in total among running backs this season.

RB - Steven Jackson, Atlanta Falcons (at NO)

Like Miller, Jackson is coming off a disappointing performance (5.7 fantasy points, RB42) last week. That said, Jackson has finished as a top-22 fantasy running back in five of his previous six games. During that six-game span, S-Jax had a minimum of 18 touches in five of those games. With the Saints allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, Jackson is a great candidate to have a bounce-back week.

RB - Toby Gerhart, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. TEN)

Man, I was so wrong on Gerhart. I was all-in on him being a strong RB2 for 2014, but that obviously did not happen. With an 86/265/1 rushing line heading into Week 16, it may be difficult to trust Gerhart. Given the season-ending injury to Denard Robinson, however, Gerhart should see the largest share of the workload in one of the few games in which the Jags are favored against a team that has allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. Tempering expectations a bit, Gerhart is ranked just inside my top-24 running backs for the week.

WR - Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants (at STL)

At this point in the season, ODB has become a no-brainer must-start, but it's amazing what he has done especially considering the hamstring injury that kept him out of almost all of training camp, the preseason and the first four regular-season games. That said, ODB leads all rookie receivers in receiving yards (972) despite playing only 10 games. Beckham Jr. has a minimum of six catches and 90 yards in seven consecutive games, which ties an NFL record.

WR - Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. GB)

Evans has less than 50 receiving yards in four consecutive games and a total of only 13 catches during that span. That said, four of those 13 receptions have been caught for a touchdown. Evans didn't get his first NFL touchdown until Week 4, but he has a total of 11 touchdowns in his past 10 games played. In a game where the Bucs should be playing most of it from behind, Evans gets a favorable matchup as the Packers allow the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season.

WR - DeSean Jackson, Washington Redskins (vs. PHI)

Jackson has been a bit of a boom-or-bust fantasy option throughout his career and this season has been no different. To be fair, he has played with three different quarterbacks. D-Jax has failed to finish as a top-50 fantasy wide receiver in three of his past four games. That said, I expect a performance from D-Jax closer to the outing (117 yards and a TD) he had the first time he faced his former team. No team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing wide receivers than the Eagles.

WR - DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans (vs. BAL)

Hopkins has really stepped up his performance in his second season as he has 69 receptions for 1,167 yards and six touchdowns through Week 15. The quarterback situation has been less than ideal for the Texans and gets even worse as they move on to their fourth quarterback this week. That said, the matchup against the Ravens, who have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, is too tasty to consider benching Hopkins assuming that he plays this week. (Note: Hopkins is currently dealing with an ankle injury and is listed as a "game-time decision.")

TE - Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs (at PIT)

On the year, Kelce has scored the ninth-most fantasy points among tight ends this season even though he hasn't always seen the number of snaps or targets that fantasy owners would like. In their past five games, the Steelers have allowed four top-10 performances to opposing tight ends. Meanwhile, Kelce has finished as a top-10 fantasy tight end in three of his past four games.

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Here are some players to consider keeping on your fantasy bench(es):

QB - Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers (at SF)

The 49ers have allowed only one 300-yard game this season (Peyton Manning) and have held opposing quarterbacks to just one touchdown or less in nine of 14 games. Not only is the matchup difficult, but Rivers is dealing with a back injury. While the injury won't keep him out of the game, it could limit his effectiveness. In addition, Rivers will be without his most talented receiver (Keenan Allen).

QB - Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers (vs. SD)

While the other quarterback in this game has a tough matchup, Kaepernick's matchup is neutral -- San Diego has surrendered the 17th-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. That said, Kaep has scored less than 15 fantasy points in eight consecutive games for an average of 11.01 during that span. In those eight games, he has thrown six touchdowns (no more than one in any game) and six interceptions. And over the past five games, he has thrown for less than 200 yards four times.

RB - LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots (at NE)

In his four games as a Patriot, Blount has averaged double-digit fantasy points per game. And we've seen how effective he could be with them at the end of last season. If anything, however, this week's game shapes up to be one that features Shane Vereen. In fact, Vereen was the top-scoring fantasy running back in Week 7 when they faced the Jets the first time around. Granted, Blount was a Steeler at the time, but he's hard to count on Blount this week as the Jets allow only 87.5 rushing yards per game and 3.5 yards per carry.

RB - Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. DEN)

As well as Jeremy Hill has run the ball lately, Bernard is clearly the "2" in the team's 1-2 rushing attack. Even though Bernard had 18 touches last week for a total of 104 yards, he finished outside the top-24 fantasy running backs in each of his previous three games. For me, Bernard is more of a flex option against the tough Broncos run defense that has allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to the position this year.

RB - Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers (at SF)

Sitting out of practice in back-to-back days, Mathews could end up missing his second straight game due to an ankle injury. If he plays, however, he should remain on your bench against the 49ers. The 49ers rank eighth in the NFL in rushing defense (101.1 YPG). If he sits, I'd keep both Branden Oliver and Donald Brown on my bench as well.

WR - Percy Harvin, New York Jets (vs. NE)

Over the past four games, Harvin has finished as the week's WR100, WR70, WR9 and WR94. Aside from the 6/124/1 line in Week 14, Harvin has a total of two catches for eight yards on 11 targets in the other three games during that span. Even though Harvin also gets some production out of his rushing attempts, he should be on your bench facing a defense that allows the fifth-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers.

WR - Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers (vs. SD)

The good news is that Crabtree won't face the Seahawks this week. Facing them twice in the past three games, Crabtree has a total of 85 yards over the past three games. That said, Crabtree has finished outside of the top 30 fantasy wide receivers in seven of his past eight games and it's difficult to trust him given the overall struggles of the passing offense.

WR - Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals (vs. SEA)

The good news is that Fitzgerald has 11 receptions on 19 targets in his past two games. The bad news is that he has only 64 yards -- 5.8 per reception and 3.4 per target -- in those two games. Now he and the Cardinals will face the league's best pass defense with Ryan Lindley under center. The 11-3 Cardinals are projected by Vegas to score the fewest points this week and none of Arizona's offensive options are in play.

TE - Larry Donnell, New York Giants (at STL)

Since scoring three touchdowns in Week 4, Donnell has scored a total of only two touchdowns in the past 10 games. Part of that has been the emergence of ODB, who has dominated Eli Manning's targets. Donnell has now finished outside the top-20 fantasy tight ends in four consecutive games with an average of just 2.45 fantasy points per game. Allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to the position, the Rams have allowed only one top-12 performance to opposing tight ends this season.

To see who I would start based on your team, please consult with my Week 16 rankings:

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Fantasy Football Week 16: Underrated Players in PPR Leagues

Championship Week! At least for most of us. All the hard work pays off and you are guaranteed a top-two finish. In most leagues, that represents a payday.

But there is one common pattern I see in owners come championship time -- a tendency to overthink and overanalyze. Analysis paralysis some might say. Don’t get stuck in that loop. Trust the cadence that got you to this point. Don’t get crafty, don’t get cute, don’t try to pull off the miracle sleeper. If you have to step out of the box, base your decisions on logic and reasoning. There is no reason to stray at this point, just put your best foot forward and hope for the best.

Good luck to everyone playing for a championship this week.

As always, last week’s breakdown is below (see last week's post here). Modest gains to be sure, but I’ll take anything in the black after the previous week’s season-crushing debacle.

Week 15 Results
QBsRBsWRsTEsTotal
+8.7+6.7-3.1-0.4+11.9
YTD Results
QBsRBsWRsTEsTotal
-81.1+204.3-47.0-28.3+47.9
* Stats are based on players recommended (compared to options listed to start those players over). YTD stats are from Week 5 with my first post.

Best of the week -- Kelvin Benjamin +10.9: – Benjamin had a solid game despite Cam Newton missing the game. In some respects, Derek Anderson may actually represent the best passer of the group. No, he isn’t the better player by any stretch; Newton brings a dynamic to the game that is hard to match. But Anderson is more accurate and was throwing some darts on Sunday.

Runner-up -- Eli Manning +8.7: Manning had a very solid day, posting 250 yards and three scores. The vast majority of which went to Odell Beckham Jr. And that ladies and gentleman, is the sole reason I am not playing for a championship in one of my leagues this week. I love ODB, but hated him on Sunday.

Worst of the week -- Steve Smith -14: This Ravens offense, especially the passing game, is hard to figure. They perform well when they are expected to struggle, and they struggle when they should perform well. The Jags represented a great matchup for Smith, and he was not able to capitalize.

Runner-up -- Delanie Walker -.4: Walker had a solid outing by most TE standards, posting 13+ points in a PPR. But Antonio Gates had a big game, leading to the net negative.

Quarterbacks

Alex SmithKansas City Chiefs
FantasyPros ECR – 17

Smith comes off his best outing of the year from a fantasy perspective, dismantling the porous Oakland Raiders. I don’t expect a repeat performance, but the Steelers don’t exactly inspire confidence defending the pass game, ranking 30th in efficiency. Given the Steelers offense should continue to be productive, the Chiefs will need to pass more often than usual. Smith has a good chance to carry over his momentum from last week into another solid outing.

Consider starting him over:
Joe Flacco – ECR 16
RG3 – ECR 13

Kyle OrtonBuffalo Bills
FantasyPros ECR – 22

Orton gets the Raiders defense that just let Alex Smith look like Aaron Rodgers. The Bills are a run-first team, but the Raiders are actually decent against the run. Buffalo is in the thick of a playoff battle and cannot afford to let a team like Oakland hang around and risk an upset. I expect them to take advantage of the weak pass D and try to pull away early.

Consider starting him over:
Colin Kaepernick – ECR 21
Eli Manning – ECR 17

Running Backs

Steven JacksonAtlanta Falcons
FantasyPros ECR – 21

We have all heard the story line, multiple times probably, the NFC South winner is guaranteed to be no better than 8-8, best-case scenario. The Falcons are currently in third place, but control their own destiny and a chance to host a home playoff game if they win out. They have a tough task in New Orleans this week. Both teams struggle on defense, but NO is even worse against the run (ranked 31st in efficiency) than Atlanta. Given the Falcons passing defense woes, their best bet is to hand the ball off and hope to keep Drew Brees off the field. Jackson's usage has been up over the past several weeks, so I would think he is in line for around 20 carries this week.

Consider starting him over:
Latavius Murray – ECR 20
Alfred Morris – ECR 18

Pierre ThomasNew Orleans Saints
FantasyPros ECR – 24

When I said New Orleans had a worse run defense than the Falcons, I didn’t say it was by much. Atlanta is also a bottom feeder against the run, but that’s not why Thomas is here. Thomas has been getting more involved since returning from injury, and is becoming the dominant passing-down back he is known for. Last week, he posted five catches for 83 yards. This week, he gets a Falcons D ranked 27th against RBs as receivers. Seems like a good spot for Thomas to continue his resurgence in the Saints backfield.

Consider starting him over:
Giovani Bernard – ECR 23
Matt Asiata – ECR 22

Wide Receivers

Nate WashingtonTennessee Titans
FantasyPros ECR – 37

This is contingent upon Kendall Wright sitting again this week. If that happens, look for Washington to have a productive outing. Since Justin Hunter’s season ended and Washington regained the starting spot, he has posted no less than eight points in a game, with an average of 13 points per game during that stretch. As the default No. 1 WR last week, he put up six catches for 102 yards. This week, he gets a Jags defense that ranks 32nd against WR1’s in terms of efficiency.

Consider starting him over:
Eric Decker – ECR 36
Andre Johnson – ECR 28 (Seriously, he has Case Keenum or Thad Lewis at QB)

Sammy WatkinsBuffalo Bills
FantasyPros ECR – 24

Watkins had a down week against a good Packers secondary, and in a game where the Bills wanted to run clock as much as possible to escape with the victory – and kudos to the them for a strong performance. Watkins gets a shot at the Raiders defense that made an awful Chiefs receiving corps look good last week. Can you say bounce-back game?

Consider starting him over:
Vincent Jackson – ECR 21
Kelvin Benjamin – ECR 18

Tight End

Travis KelceKansas City Chiefs
FantasyPros ECR - 5

Kelce has been up and down this season, primarily because of his questionable usage by Andy Reid. Although, this is the same guy who has basically ignored Jamaal Charles on three occasions this season … remind me again why everyone thinks he is such a good coach? Anyhow, Kelce has produced in recent weeks and gets a great matchup against the Steelers, who rank 27th in defensive pass efficiency against TEs. KC is likely going to have to throw to keep up with a strong Pittsburgh offense, in a very important game for both team's playoff hopes.

Consider starting him over:
Martellus Bennett – ECR 4
Greg Olsen – ECR 3

Thanks for reading and good luck in Week 16! Follow me on Twitter @rw11687.

December 17, 2014

2014 NFL Power Rankings: Week 16

Despite missing the first four games of the season, Giants rookie receiver Odell Beckham Jr. continues to put up impressive numbers.

In last week's win over Washington, ODB finished with 12 receptions for 143 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. Beckham now has double-digit receptions and 100-plus yards in back-to-back games as well as in three of his past four games.

Since Nov. 3rd, Beckham has a minimum of six receptions and 90 yards in seven consecutive games.

While Demaryius Thomas had a 6/90 line in seven consecutive games earlier this season, Beckham, Thomas and Isaac Bruce are all tied for the longest such streak in NFL history.

With two weeks to go this season, ODB is a lock, barring injury, to reach the relatively elusive 1,000-yard milestone for rookie receivers. On the season, he has 71 receptions for 972 yards and nine touchdowns plus six rush attempts for 35 yards.

Beckham Jr. won't be the only rookie receiver to eclipse the 1,000-yard milestone, though.

Both Carolina's Kelvin Benjamin and Tampa's Mike Evans are 48 and 52 yards shy of the mark with two games to go. In addition, Buffalo's Sammy Watkins is 150 yards shy of the milestone. Although he is on pace for 971 yards given his current average of 60.7 yards per game, Watkins has had his share of big games earlier this season.

Even if Watkins falls short but the other three do not, 2014 will be the first time that more than two rookie receivers had 1,000-plus yards in a season. The only other time in league history that we saw more than one 1,000-yard rookie receiver was in 1996 when Bill Brooks and Ernest Givins both eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark.

Here are some more NFL notes heading into Week 15:

  • I get the reason behind the line, but the Cardinals, one of only three 11-win teams, are nearly double-digit underdogs (-9.0) at home this week. Bruce Arians has done a remarkable coaching job, but the injuries continue to rack up for the Cardinals. As Ryan Lindley (career 0:7 TD-to-INT ratio) makes his fifth career NFL start, the Cardinals are projected by Vegas to score the fewest points (13.75) this week.

  • Things could not have gone much worse for Johnny Manziel in his debut start (10/18, 80 yards, no TDs and two INTs). That said, the Browns have thrown zero touchdowns and two-plus interceptions in four consecutive games. The last time a team did that was in 1977 (Tampa Bay).

  • Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown has a franchise-record 115 receptions for a league-leading 1,498 yards and a career-high 11 touchdowns. While the overall numbers are impressive, they pale in comparison to his consistency. Brown has a minimum of five catches and 74 yards in all 14 games this season. In the 30 games since the start of last season, Brown has had at least five receptions and 50 yards every single week.

  • Back in 2010, Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe led the NFL with 15 receiving touchdowns. Fast forward to 2014, Bowe and all of his fellow Chiefs wide receivers have zero touchdowns.

  • Deja vu all over again -- the Patriots clinched their sixth consecutive AFC East title and have now won 11 of the past 12 division titles.

  • Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (hand) will be a game-time decision for Sunday's tilt against the Colts even though it appears likely that he'll give it a go. Murray is currently 86 yards from tying Emmitt Smith's single-season franchise record of 1,773 rushing yards set in 1995, which was the last time the Cowboys won the Super Bowl.

  • Heading into Week 16, four teams have better Super Bowl odds than the Cowboys (via Sportsbook.ag): Patriots (5/2), Seahawks (3/1), Packers (5/1) and Broncos (6/1). The Cowboys have 12/1 odds to win the Super Bowl. At 22/1, the Colts have the next lowest odds.

Here are my Week 16 NFL power rankings:

1. Seattle Seahawks - Record: 10-4, Last Update: No. 2
2. New England Patriots - Record: 11-3, Last Update: No. 4
3. Denver Broncos - Record: 11-3, Last Update: No. 3
4. Green Bay Packers - Record: 10-4, Last Update: No. 1
5. Detroit Lions - Record: 10-4, Last Update: No. 8
6. Arizona Cardinals - Record: 11-3, Last Update: No. 6
7. Indianapolis Colts - Record: 10-4, Last Update: No. 5
8. Dallas Cowboys - Record: 10-4, Last Update: No. 9
9. Philadelphia Eagles - Record: 9-5, Last Update: No. 7
10. Cincinnati Bengals - Record: 9-4-1, Last Update: No. 11
11. Baltimore Ravens - Record: 9-5, Last Update: No. 10
12. Pittsburgh Steelers - Record: 9-5, Last Update: No. 12
13. Buffalo Bills - Record: 8-6, Last Update: No. 21
14. Kansas City Chiefs - Record: 8-6, Last Update: No. 16
15. New Orleans Saints - Record: 6-8, Last Update: No. 24
16. San Diego Chargers - Record: 8-6, Last Update: No. 13
17. Miami Dolphins - Record: 7-7, Last Update: No. 14
18. St. Louis Rams - Record: 6-8, Last Update: No. 17
19. Houston Texans - Record: 7-7, Last Update: No. 15
20. Carolina Panthers - Record: 5-8-1, Last Update: No. 23
21. San Francisco 49ers - Record: 7-7, Last Update: No. 18
22. Cleveland Browns - Record: 7-7, Last Update: No. 19
23. Atlanta Falcons - Record: 5-9, Last Update: No. 22
24. Minnesota Vikings - Record: 6-8, Last Update: No. 20
25. New York Giants - Record: 5-9, Last Update: No. 25
26. Chicago Bears - Record: 5-9, Last Update: No. 26
27. New York Jets - Record: 3-11, Last Update: No. 30
28. Washington Redskins - Record: 3-11, Last Update: No. 27
29. Jacksonville Jaguars - Record: 2-12, Last Update: No. 29
30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Record: 2-12, Last Update: No. 28
31. Oakland Raiders - Record: 2-12, Last Update: No. 31
32. Tennessee Titans - Record: 2-12, Last Update: No. 32

-> Also, check out our weekly 2014-15 NBA Power Rankings

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December 16, 2014

2014 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Week 16

With Championship Week now upon us, your league's title is now within your sights.

For my waiver-wire posts, I have a self-imposed rule of only including players with Yahoo! ownership of 50 percent or less. The goal is to give you suggestions of players that (1) can help your fantasy squad and (2) are widely available in leagues.

With that said, here are some players to consider adding to your fantasy roster(s) (Yahoo! ownership in parenthesis):

QB - Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins (31 percent)

For those willing to accept high risk for the potential of high reward, RG3 is an intriguing quarterback play this week. In relief on Sunday, RG3 finished with 236 passing yards and a touchdown plus five rush attempts for 46 yards (and a near touchdown). Griffin is slated to get the start against the Eagles, who have allowed a top-12 fantasy quarterback in 11 of 14 games this season. In fact, the first time they faced Washington, they allowed Kirk Cousins to throw for 427 yards and three touchdowns as Cousins scored the second-most fantasy points among QBs that week.

QB - Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs (37 percent)

The team's wideouts still have zero touchdowns, but Smith threw two touchdowns on Sunday and now has multiple touchdown passes in three of his past four games. In addition, Smith has exceeded 290 passing yards in back-to-back games, his two highest totals of the season. Smith's rushing production is down from last year, but his 240 rushing yards ranks eighth at the position this season. Meanwhile, Smith gets a favorable matchup this week against the Steelers, who have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.

QB - Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings (nine percent)

This week's matchup against the Dolphins isn't favorable, but Bridgewater now has back-to-back 300-yard passing games against the Jets and Lions. If your league's postseason extends into Week 17, however, the Vikings face the Bears in the final week of the season. Only the Redskins have allowed more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this year.

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RB - Joseph Randle, Dallas Cowboys (12 percent)

DeMarco Murray has delivered huge returns to fantasy owners that used their first-round pick on him. Many fantasy owners have advanced to this point of the season in large part to Murray. Unfortunately for those same owners, the timing of Murray's hand injury couldn't be worse. Although he has not yet been ruled out, there is a fairly strong chance that Murray will miss this week's game due to the injury. That would open the door for Randle, who would likely lead the team in touches in Week 16 behind one of the best offensive lines in the league. If Randle is owned, Lance Dunbar deserves a look as well as he would get the change-of-pace opportunities.

RB - Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers (35 percent)

Leaving Sunday's game with back and ankle injuries, the talented rookie ran the ball well when he was on the field as he carried the ball six times for 55 yards against the Seahawks. With Frank Gore suffering a concussion, Hyde could be in store for an expanded role if Gore isn't cleared from his concussion for Week 16. If both Hyde and Gore can't go in Week 16, that would open the door for Alfonso Smith against the Chargers.

RB - Matt Asiata, Minnesota Vikings (38 percent)

Not only does Asiata have double-digit carries in three consecutive games, but he has at least three receptions in six consecutive games. Although he has averaged just 2.84 yards per carry over his past eight games, Asiata has a total of 58 touches over his past three games. After two difficult matchups (Jets and Lions), Asiata closes out the season with more favorable matchups against the Dolphins and Bears.

RB - Toby Gerhart, Jacksonville Jaguars (33 percent)

Gerhart has been an enormous disappointment this season, but he has a chance for a little bit of redemption for fantasy owners this week. Given how much he has struggled (265 rushing yards, 3.08 YPC), however, it's hard to have a ton of faith in Gerhart this week. That said, he had a team-high 13 carries last week and gets a matchup against one of the league's worst run defenses (Titans) this week. The Titans have allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

RB - Kerwynn Williams, Arizona Cardinals (18 percent)

It's a brutal two-game slate to close the season as the Cardinals face the Seahawks and 49ers, two of the league's stingiest run defenses. That said, Williams has been productive over the past two games with Andre Ellington being placed on Injured Reserve. Williams has 34 carries for 175 yards in those two games and is worth a look for RB-needy owners.

WR - Jarvis Landry, Miami Dolphins (45 percent)

With the 32nd-most fantasy points among wide receivers in PPR formats, Landry has a minimum of five receptions to go along with 50 yards and/or a touchdown in seven consecutive games. In that seven-game span, Landry has finished as a top-36 fantasy wide receiver in PPR scoring every week. Over that stretch, he has averaged 6.57 catches on 8.57 targets per game including double-digit targets in four of his past six games.

WR - Charles Johnson, Minnesota Vikings (32 percent)

One of my favorite sleepers since he entered the league last year, the Vikings are Johnson's third team as he is finally getting an opportunity to showcase his abilities. Last year was wiped out due to injury, but I expected him to have a significant role early in the season with Cleveland given their woes at receiver. In his past five games with the Vikings, however, he has a total of 20 receptions for 355 yards and two touchdowns. That five-game pace extrapolated over a 16-game season would be equivalent to a stat line of 64/1,136/6.

WR - Harry Douglas, Atlanta Falcons (26 percent)

With Julio Jones (hip) sidelined in Week 15, Douglas stepped up for fantasy owners with 10 catches for 131 yards on 14 targets. When Roddy White sat out Week 13, Douglas had nine catches for 116 yards on 12 targets. If Jones is unable to go again this week, Douglas has demonstrated the ability to rise to the occassion when given a more prominent role in the offense. In addition, the Falcons have two favorable matchups against the Saints and Panthers to close the season.

WR - Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars (41 percent)

Shorts has only one touchdown (Week 3) and more than five catches only twice this season. The good news, however, is that Shorts has double-digit targets in back-to-back games and a favorable matchup against the Titans this week. Three of their six 100-yard games allowed to wide receivers have come in the past three weeks to DeAndre Hopkins (238, Week 13), Odell Beckham, Jr. (130, Week 14) and Eric Decker (100, Week 15). I don't know if Shorts (or any Jags' receiver) extends that streak, but Shorts should have a productive outing this week.

WR - Stedman Bailey, St. Louis Rams (14 percent)

Bailey now has five-plus receptions and 74-plus yards in three of his past four games. In those three productive outings, he has finished as a top-25 fantasy wide receiver.

WR - Marquess Wilson, Chicago Bears (29 percent)

Wilson scored his first NFL touchdown last night, but he has three or less receptions and under 20 yards in all five games this season. From a talent perspective, I like Wilson and he has more value in dynasty formats, but it's hard to trust the Bears, their offensive line and Jay Cutler even as Wilson has moved into the team's No. 2 role for the rest of this season. In Week 16, the Bears face the Lions, who rank fifth in the league in sacks (39) and lead the league in scoring defense (17.0 PPG).

WR - Nate Washington, Tennessee Titans (five percent)

Given the injuries to the team's receiving corps, Washington had a big game (six catches for 102 yards on 10 targets) in Week 15. If Kendall Wright (hand) is forced to miss a third game in a row, Washington should see a high volume of targets once again.

TE - Jared Cook, St. Louis Rams (31 percent)

Cook tends to be inconsistent, but he has two plus matchups against the Giants and Seahawks to close the season. Both teams rank in the top 13 of most fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends. In his past six games, Cook has finished as a top-three fantasy tight end twice and outside the top-20 fantasy tight ends the other four times. Feelin' lucky?

TE - Mychal Rivera, Oakland Raiders (26 percent)

Rivera has had seven receptions in back-to-back games and now has six-plus receptions in five of his past eight games. During that eight-game span, Rivera has averaged 8.0 targets per game including a season-high 12 of them last week. That said, this week's matchup against the Bills, who have allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends, is horrible.

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December 15, 2014

DeMarco Murray to have surgery on broken hand, not yet ruled out for Week 16

Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray has a broken bone in his hand and will have surgery on Monday, per team COO Stephen Jones.

While Murray has not been ruled for Sunday's home game against the Colts, it seems unlikely that he'll be able to play.

“Obviously, DeMarco Murray has a broken bone in his hand. At the same time, he hasn’t been ruled out,” said Jones on 105.3 The Fan. “It’s not something that if it responds well after surgery today, that he can’t come back and play this weekend. It’s probably a tough expectation to think that he can, but we’ll see.”

With the same injury and surgery back in 1999, Emmitt Smith missed one game so the injury shouldn't keep Murray out long term, but it couldn't come at a worse time for fantasy owners.

If Murray is unable to go this week, it would be Joseph Randle as the primary ball-carrier with Lance Dunbar mixed in as a change-of-pace back.

Randle is owned in just seven percent of Yahoo! leagues and will likely be the most-added player in Championship Week. In addition, Randle is priced at a position-minimum $3,000 salary in DraftKings contests and just $4,900 on FanDuel ($400 above the position-minimum salary).

Murray has 351 carries for a league-high 1,687 yards and 11 touchdowns plus 54 receptions for 395 yards, all of which are career highs.

December 14, 2014

Week 15 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Hanson

Here are my Week 15 picks against the spread:

New England Patriots -9 over Miami Dolphins (3 units)

Kicking off the season with a loss to the Dolphins, the first four weeks did not go well as most had expected for the Patriots and Tom Brady. Since Week 5, however, they have been a much different team. During that nine-game span, Brady has thrown 26 touchdowns to only five interceptions and has averaged 307.7 yards per game. Scoring more than 20 points in all nine of those games, the Patriots have averaged 35.7 per game over that stretch.

The Dolphins have one of the league's top-ranked pass defenses, but they have been much more generous on the ground (22nd in NFL). Especially with the addition of LeGarrette Blount, the Patriots have the ability to control the game through their rushing attack. The Dolphins have allowed a total of 661 rushing yards over their past three games.

Not only has Ryan Tannehill thrown only one touchdown pass over the past two weeks despite great matchups, but he completed only 56.3 percent of his attempts for a season-low 178 yards in the first matchup against the Patriots this season. With Darrelle Revis returning to his elite form as a shutdown corner, points could come at a premium for the Dolphins, who have scored just 29 points over the past two weeks.

It's tough for road teams in Foxboro as the Patriots have won 43 of their past 46 regular-season home games and road teams have covered only nine of their past 31 games there. No way I'm betting against Brady, Belichick and the Pats at home in December.

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New York Jets -3.5 over Tennessee Titans (3 units)

The Jets are bad; the Titans are worse.

Although the Jets have been prone to turning the ball over, I would expect another run-heavy approach from the Jets with their 1-2 punch of Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson. (In turn, that limits the potential for interceptions from Geno Smith.) Those two backs both have at least 32 carries in the past two games. Fortunately for the Jets, the Titans rank last in the league in rushing defense (141.5 yards per game) and have allowed 14 rushing touchdowns.

With the inconsistent, inaccurate and injury-prone Jake Locker back under center, I'm not sure that the Titans will be able to exploit the Jets' defensive weakness (secondary). In addition, Justin Hunter was placed on season-ending injured reserve and Kendall Wright is dealing with a hand injury. Against the Giants last week, the Titans offense was shutout (as their only points came off a pick-six of Eli Manning).

This game has the makings of an ugly 17-9 type of game, but the Jets get a win for Rex Ryan and CJ1K in his homecoming.

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys -- Over 55.5 (3 units)

Both of these teams rank in the bottom 11 in total defense as the Cowboys and Eagles allow 365.0 and 371.9 yards per game, respectively. From DeMarco Murray to LeSean McCoy and Dez Bryant to Jeremy Maclin, there are plenty of talented offensive skill players in this game so it's not a huge surprise that this game his the week's highest over/under.

No team runs more offensive plays per game than the Eagles (70.9), who also allow the third-most opponent plays per game (69.7). The Eagles offense had no problems on Thanksgiving, but I expect the Cowboys offense to put together a better showing this week. After all, Tony Romo typically gets his first practice in on Thursdays so a short week, even at home, played a role in the offense's struggles. With extra rest and time to prepare, Romo should be able to take advantage of a less-than-mediocre secondary.

I see this game turning out to be a 34-31, 38-35 type of game.

Note: NFL lines are from sportsbook.ag

-> All of our 2014 NFL Weekly Picks Against the Spread will be tracked here.

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Week 15 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Yanotchko

Here are my Week 15 picks against the spread:

Atlanta Falcons +3 over Pittsburgh Steelers (4 units)

The Falcons have been a strange team this year, as they were filled with so much promise, but they will finish no better than .500 this year, yet still may host a home playoff game. The Steelers have also been quite the strange team this year, winning all of the tough games, but they have embarrassing losses to the Saints, Jets and Buccaneers as well. I think this will be yet another game that Pittsburgh should win easily, but in the end will stumble on the road. I really like the matchup of Matt Ryan, even without the possiblity of Julio Jones playing, going against a Pittsburgh passing defense that gives up 248 yards per game, 26 touchdowns, and they only have 8 interceptions on the year. The Falcons are certainly a different team at home in the Georgia Dome, and they need this game desperately for their playoff hopes. When in doubt, take the small 'dog at home with four units.

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Jacksonville Jaguars +14 over Baltimore Ravens (3 units)

The Ravens have placed themselves in the thick of the AFC playoff hunt, and I know most people are thinking Jacksonville, at home equals a layup win. The Jaguars have been fairly frisky this year, and even though the overall numbers don't show it, they have been playing decent defense. The Ravens are a team that can stop the run, as they have the best run defense in the league, and they shut down the Dolphins last week, even with Haloti Ngata out. The one thing that the Ravens do worse than any other team in the league, though, is defend the pass. The Ravens allow 267 yards per game, 67% opposing QB competion percentage, and 21 touchdowns on the year. I really don't think that Jacksonville will win this one outright, but I do like the aerial weapons Blake Bortles has, and this one yet again screams for a junk TD cover in garbage time. I am going to take the points here, but I am still only going with three units on this game.

Philadelphia Eagles -3.5 over Dallas Cowboys (4 units)

This is the game for the NFC East, and of course it should be the best matchup of the weekend. The Eagles did a number on the Cowboys this Thanksgiving, as they beat them 33-10 in Dallas, and will look to put a stranglehold on the division at home. I think that this game will feature quite a bit of offense, as I look for the Eagles to exploit a Cowboys defense that gives up 252 yards passing per game. Also, the Eagles were finally able to use their feature back LeSean McCoy during the Thanksgiving Day game, as he gashed the Cowboys for 159 yards rushing and a TD. The one hidden matchup that I really like, and what I think will make the difference in the end, is the Eagles pass rush, which has collected 44 sacks on the year so far. This is the type of team that matches up well against Dallas, as Tony Romo does not do so well against the blitz, and also after he's been hit in the pocket. I just think the Eagles have the personnel matchup against Dallas, and their number, and I will lay the points along with four units.

Note: NFL lines are from sportsbook.ag

-> All of our 2014 NFL Weekly Picks Against the Spread will be tracked here.

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December 13, 2014

Week 15 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Beazley

Here are my Week 15 picks against the spread:

Washington Redskins +7 over New York Giants (3 units)

Rivalry game between two bad football teams. Don't let the Tennessee game fool you. The Giants aren't very good. I love the Skins on the road in this one, and can actually see the outright win. The underdog has covered in seven of the last eight, which is a trend I like to continue. Skins win ugly, 23-20.

Detroit Lions -7.5 over Minnesota Vikings (3 units)

I just can't see Minnesota moving the ball consistently against this very good Lions defense. Minnesota is going to need D/ST TDs this week if they want any shot of covering this line. Detroit is in the thick of things for the division and I think they come out strong on Sunday. The Lions won their last two games at home with a score of 34-17, so it is appropriate that I go with a three-peat. Lions, 34-17.

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Chicago Bears vs. New Orleans Saints -- Over 54.5 (3 units)

It doesn't get any better if you are a DFS player on Monday. There is plenty of offensive power in this week's third-highest total. I actually think this game should be the highest total of the week. I absolute love a ton of players from this game. Let's start with Jimmy Graham. Graham has been awful the past two weeks, but the Bears are turrrible defending the TE. I think we may have a big three-TD type of night from Graham on MNF. My favorite play period of the week is Matt Forte. I believe this game will be a shootout and that benefits Forte in full PPR formats like on DraftKings and you would be smart to stack this game if you can. Saints win big, 45-41.

Note: NFL lines are from sportsbook.ag

-> All of our 2014 NFL Weekly Picks Against the Spread will be tracked here.

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