September 21, 2014

Updated Week 3 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings

Clearly the weak link of the Jets defense is its secondary and Jordy Nelson and the Packers exploited it last weekend.

Catching nine of his 16 targets for a career-high 209 yards and a touchdown, Nelson led all wide receivers in fantasy points in Week 2 and teammate Randall Cobb (5/39/2) was third.

Through two games, Nelson has 18 catches on 30 targets for 292 yards, all of which lead the NFL, and a touchdown.

This week's matchup is more favorable than the numbers suggest as the Lions have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season. That said, their secondary is clearly their defense's weak link as well.

Meanwhile, next up for the Jets secondary is Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and the Bears wide receivers.

While it appeared early on Sunday that both Marshall and Jeffery could miss their Sunday Night Football matchup, both played and Marshall had a huge game for owners that gambled and waited.

Marshall had only five catches for 48 yards, but three of those catches were touchdowns and only Jordy scored more fantasy points last week.

One additional positive as they recover from their injuries, the Bears and Jets will play on Monday Night Football in Week 3 giving them an extra day to heal up.

Here are some more notes on wide receivers:

  • Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown left last week's game to be evaluated for a concussion, but he returned to the game. And despite missing a significant portion of the second quarter, he still finished with seven receptions for 90 yards. A model of consistency, Brown has 18 consecutive games with at least five catches and 50 yards. During that 18-game stretch, Brown has 122/1,705/9 receiving line.

  • Rams wide receiver Brian Quick has taken a huge step forward in his third season with 14 catches for 173 yards through two games. Only seven receivers have more receiving yards than Quick, who has finished as a top-25 fantasy receiver in back-to-back weeks even though he has yet to score a touchdown. With a favorable matchup against the Cowboys, Quick is set up to have another productive outing this week.

  • With the NFL and NFLPA reaching agreement on a new drug policy, that means that the Broncos will have slot receiver Wes Welker available for Sunday's game. He's expected to play on Sunday against the Seahawks, but it's unclear how large his role will be after not practicing with the team for several weeks and how effective he'll be given the difficult matchup. Welker was one of the receivers that appeared on the "sit'em" side of my Week 3 Start'em, Sit'em post.

  • Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman continues to remain Tom Brady's most trustworthy receiver and he has six catches and at least 90 yards from scrimmage in both games. The rest of the team's wide receivers have a combined 9/66/0 in the first two weeks.

  • Miami's Mike Wallace has scored double-digit fantasy points in each of his first two games with 7/81/1 and 5/56/1 lines. Wallace and the Dolphins have a great matchup against a banged-up Chiefs defense and exploitable secondary that has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season.

  • Only Nelson has more targets among wide receivers than Ravens receiver Steve Smith Sr. (25). The next highest amount among the team's receivers is only 10 targets to Torrey Smith, who has had a disappointing 4/60/0 start to the season. In fact, Torrey is tied for fourth on the team in targets with Justin Forsett.

  • In addition to Nelson and (Steve) Smith, four other wide receivers have double-digit targets in each of their first two games: Cleveland's Andrew Hawkins, Detroit's Calvin Johnson, Philadelphia's Jeremy Maclin and Indianapolis' T.Y. Hilton.

Here are my Week 3 fantasy football wide receiver rankings:

1. Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions (vs. GB)
2. Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears (at NYJ)
3. Dez Bryant, Dallas Cowboys (vs. STL)
4. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers (at DET)
5. A.J. Green, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. TEN)
6. Demaryius Thomas, Denver Broncos (at SEA)
7. Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears (at NYJ)
8. Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers (at DET)
9. Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers (at CAR)
10. Mike Wallace, Miami Dolphins (vs. KC)
11. Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. WAS)
12. Percy Harvin, Seattle Seahawks (vs. DEN)
13. Julian Edelman, New England Patriots (vs. OAK)
14. Andre Johnson, Houston Texans (at NYG)
15. Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers (at BUF)
16. Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings (at NO)
17. Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints (vs. MIN)
18. Pierre Garcon, Washington (at PHI)
19. Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers (vs. PIT)
20. Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills (vs. SD)
21. Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers (at ARI)
22. Brandin Cooks, New Orleans Saints (vs. MIN)
23. Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis Colts (at JAX)
24. Emmanuel Sanders, Denver Broncos (at SEA)
25. Brian Quick, St. Louis Rams (vs. DAL)
26. Victor Cruz, New York Giants (vs. HOU)
27. Steve Smith Sr., Baltimore Ravens (at CLE)
28. Golden Tate, Detroit Lions (vs. GB)
29. Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals (vs. SF)
30. DeSean Jackson, Washington (at PHI)
31. T.Y. Hilton, Indianapolis Colts (at JAX)
32. Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals (vs. SF)
33. Eric Decker, New York Jets (vs. CHI)
34. James Jones, Oakland Raiders (at NE)
35. Terrance Williams, Dallas Cowboys (vs. STL)
36. Justin Hunter, Tennessee Titans (at CIN)
37. Allen Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. IND)
38. Rueben Randle, New York Giants (vs. HOU)
39. Andrew Hawkins, Cleveland Browns (vs. BAL)
40. Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers (at ARI)
41. Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans (at CIN)
42. Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens (at CLE)
43. Greg Jennings, Minnesota Vikings (at NO)
44. Markus Wheaton, Pittsburgh Steelers (at CAR)
45. Wes Welker, Denver Broncos (at SEA)
46. DeAndre Hopkins, Houston Texans (at NYG)
47. Mohamed Sanu, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. TEN)
48. Cecil Shorts, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. IND)
49. Hakeem Nicks, Indianapolis Colts (at JAX)
50. Dwayne Bowe, Kansas City Chiefs (at MIA)
51. Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks (vs. DEN)
52. Miles Austin, Cleveland Browns (vs. BAL)
53. Aaron Dobson, New England Patriots (vs. OAK)
54. Allen Hurns, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. IND)
55. Rod Streater, Oakland Raiders (at NE)
56. Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders (at NE)
57. Jermaine Kearse, Seattle Seahawks (vs. DEN)
58. Kenny Stills, New Orleans Saints (vs. MIN)
59. Jerricho Cotchery, Carolina Panthers (vs. PIT)
60. Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers (at DET)

* Note: Both Falcons and Buccaneers wide receivers have been removed from these rankings.

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Updated Week 3 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings

Perhaps deserving of his injury-prone tag, Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray played a career-high 14 games last season, but he has been extremely productive when he's been on the field.

Over his past 16 games, Murray has 1,406 rushing yards — 5.25 yards per carry — and 57 catches for 381 yards with a total of 12 touchdowns.

A top-five fantasy running back in each of the first two weeks of this season, no running back has more rushing yards (285) or fantasy points (39.6) than Murray through two weeks.

Since Week 10 of last season, Murray has eight consecutive games with double-digit fantasy points including 20-plus points in half of those outings.

The probability of that streak continuing another week is extremely high as the St. Louis Rams have allowed 171.0 rushing yards per game, third-most in the NFL, and back-to-back 100-yard rushers (although one of those was a wide receiver).

Murray's two best games of his career have come against the Rams — 25/253/1 in 2011 and 26/175/1 in 2013.

Here are some more running back notes:

  • As the team's workhorse back, Houston's Arian Foster has a league-high 55 carries and only Murray has more rushing yards than Foster (241). On pace for 440 carries, the Texans are expected to cut back his carries some, but Foster is a high-end RB1 every week he's active. That said, the Giants run defense has been excellent so far this season as they have allowed only 3.45 YPC, sixth-best in the NFL.

  • On the other side of the field in this game, Giants running back Rashad Jennings gets a favorable matchup against the Texans after two tough matchups — Lions and Cardinals. While the Lions and Cardinals have allowed the fewest YPC in the NFL, no team has allowed more YPC than the Texans (5.8).

  • The Vikings have indefinitely suspended Adrian Peterson, which means that Matt Asiata (and/or Jerick McKinnon) could be in store for another solid performance. (Or three solid performances.) The Vikings next three matchups are against the Saints, Falcons and Packers, who have allowed the seventh-most, most and fifth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

  • Through two weeks, an Eagles running back ranks second in fantasy points. But it's not that one. Darren Sproles has finished as the RB11 and RB1 in his first two weeks. That said, LeSean McCoy has still been productive (RB20 and RB10) even though he is averaging just 3.73 YPC. Going forward, I'd still expect McCoy to be a top-three fantasy running back and Sproles to be a lower-end RB2 or flex in standard-scoring formats.

  • What will Patriots coach Bill Belichick do? Who knows? One week after Shane Vereen led the Patriots backfield in fantasy points (13.1) to Stevan Ridley's 2.8 fantasy points, the roles were reversed in Week 2: Ridley (16.1) and Vereen (4.0). Against the Vikings, Ridley had 25 carries for 101 yards and a touchdown and Vereen had only seven touches. With a top-three matchup against the Raiders, it'd be great for fantasy owners to have more clarity. As two-TD favorites against the Raiders, it would make sense for Ridley to get the most work again, but it's anyone's guess with Belichick.

  • While it shouldn't come as a shock to most, Colts running back Ahmad Bradshaw has been more productive than Trent Richardson through two weeks. That said, T-Rich looked good on Monday Night Football despite his two fumbles. Bradshaw has 181 yards from scrimmage on 26 touches (including 10 catches) and two touchdowns while Richardson has 27 carries for 99 yards (3.67 YPC) and five catches for 47 yards. The duo has a favorable matchup this week against the Jaguars, who have allowed the second-most fantasy points to running backs this season.

  • Jaguars running back Toby Gerhart has had a slow start to the season. Through two games, he has 50 rushing yards on 25 carries and 48 of those 50 yards have come after contact according to PFF.

Here are my Week 3 fantasy football running back rankings:

1. DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys (vs. STL)
2. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. WAS)
3. Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Seahawks (vs. DEN)
4. Arian Foster, Houston Texans (at NYG)
5. Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. TEN)
6. Le'Veon Bell, Pittsburgh Steelers (at CAR)
7. Alfred Morris, Washington (at PHI)
8. Eddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers (at DET)
9. Matt Forte, Chicago Bears (at NYJ)
10. Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (vs. HOU)
11. Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams (vs. DAL)
12. Joique Bell, Detroit Lions (vs. GB)
13. Montee Ball, Denver Broncos (at SEA)
14. Knile Davis, Kansas City Chiefs (at MIA)
15. Andre Ellington, Arizona Cardinals (vs. SF)
16. Stevan Ridley, New England Patriots (vs. OAK)
17. C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills (vs. SD)
18. Khiry Robinson, New Orleans Saints (vs. MIN)
19. Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins (vs. KC)
20. Ahmad Bradshaw, Indianapolis Colts (at JAX)
21. Bernard Pierce, Baltimore Ravens (at CLE)
22. Reggie Bush, Detroit Lions (vs. GB)
23. Terrance West, Cleveland Browns (vs. BAL)
24. Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints (vs. MIN)
25. Shane Vereen, New England Patriots (vs. OAK)
26. Darren Sproles, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. WAS)
27. Donald Brown, San Diego Chargers (at BUF)
28. Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. TEN)
29. Trent Richardson, Indianapolis Colts (at JAX)
30. Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers (at ARI)
31. Jamaal Charles, , Kansas City Chiefs (at MIA)
32. Fred Jackson, Buffalo Bills (vs. SD)
33. Chris Johnson, New York Jets (vs. CHI)
34. Matt Asiata, Minnesota Vikings (at NO)
35. Chris Ivory, New York Jets (vs. CHI)
36. Toby Gerhart, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. IND)
37. Danny Woodhead, San Diego Chargers (at BUF)
38. Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns (vs. BAL)
39. Justin Forsett, Baltimore Ravens (at CLE)
40. DeAngelo Williams, Carolina Panthers (vs. PIT)
41. Jonathan Stewart, Carolina Panthers (vs. PIT)
42. Darren McFadden, Oakland Raiders (at NE)
43. Maurice Jones-Drew, Oakland Raiders (at NE)
44. Carlos Hyde, San Francisco 49ers (at ARI)
45. Jerick McKinnon, Minnesota Vikings (at NO)
46. Benny Cunningham, St. Louis Rams (vs. DAL)
47. Shonn Greene, Tennessee Titans (at CIN)
48. Damien Williams, Miami Dolphins (vs. KC)
49. Roy Helu, Washington (at PHI)
50. Mike Tolbert, Carolina Panthers (vs. PIT)
51. Andre Williams, New York Giants (vs. HOU)
52. Lance Dunbar, Dallas Cowboys (vs. STL)
53. Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots (vs. OAK)
54. C.J. Anderson, Denver Broncos (at SEA)
55. Stepfan Taylor, Arizona Cardinals (vs. SF)
56. LeGarrette Blount, Pittsburgh Steelers (at CAR)
57. Bilal Powell, New York Jets (vs. CHI)
58. Robert Turbin, Seattle Seahawks (vs. DEN)
59. Dexter McCluster, Tennessee Titans (at CIN)
60. Alfred Blue, Houston Texans (at NYG)

* Note: Both Falcons and Buccaneers running backs have been removed from these rankings.

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September 20, 2014

Week 3 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Beazley

Here are my Week 3 picks against the spread:

Denver Broncos +4.5 over Seattle Seahawks (5 units)

Peyton Manning has had this game circled on his calendar as soon as they lost the Super Bowl. I think this game will not disappoint. I think San Diego exposed the Seahawks defense a little this past week, and I like Peyton to do the same this week. Not only, do I like the Broncos to cover, but I like them for the outright win. Peyton has a monster day in the toughest stadium in the league. Broncos, 31-23.

Jacksonville Jaguars +7.5 over Indianapolis Colts (3 Units)

Both teams are off to an 0-2 start. 0-3 would pretty much end any playoff possibility realistically even in a pretty weak AFC South division. The Colts defense has been shredded the past two weeks. The Jaguars don't have the talent that Denver & Philly has, but the NFL is a crazy game. Colts escape, 26-24.

Dallas Cowboys -1.5 over St. Louis Rams (3 units)

Dallas looked pretty good last week on the road at Tennessee. They were able to run the ball at will against a pretty decent Tennessee front-seven. DeMarco Murray will be the focal point of the offense again on Sunday. I think Dallas has too many weapons on offense, and I think defensively they keep the Rams in check. Dallas, 27-17.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns — Over 41.5 (5 units)

This game has the lowest total of the week, but I actually think it could be the highest-scoring game of the week. Call it one of those hunch type of games. I think Joe Flacco airs it out deep a couple times to Torrey Smith for long TD scores, and the Brian Hoyer-led Browns move the ball at will against an average Ravens defense. Cleveland wins in a shootout, 34-30.

Note: NFL lines are from sportsbook.ag

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Week 3 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Yanotchko

Here are my Week 3 picks against the spread:

Dallas Cowboys -1.5 over St. Louis Rams (4 units)

The Rams have had a very tough start to the season, but they seemed to have righted the ship in Tampa last week. The Cowboys struggled at home in Week 1, but put on quite the convincing performance last week at Tennessee. Behind that massive and expensive offensive line, the Cowboys and DeMarco Murray have put up 285 yards on the ground. I love this matchup, as the Rams have one of the worst rush defenses in the league, as they give up 171 yards per game, and 5.0 yards per carry.

I also like that Dallas has a great trend going against the Rams, as they are 3-1 against the spread in their last four. I am making this one a four-unit play, as I think the Rams have too many holes.

Indianapolis Colts -7 over Jacksonville Jaguars (3 units)

The Colts have had a tough start going 0-2, but then again, they had to play against two teams that made the playoffs last year in Philly and Denver. The Jags have seemed to regressed, as they have been blown out by both the Eagles and the Redskins so far this year. The Colts have dominated the Jags as of late, as they have outscored them 95-23 in their last 3 meetings. The Colts also always play well in Northern Florida, as they are 5-2 against the number in their last seven when visiting Jacksonville.

I love the Colts passing attack going against a 24th-ranked passing defense that gives up 267 yards per game. I think there is just too much offensive firepower for the Jags to hang tough. I will make this one a three-unit play.

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Carolina Panthers -3.5 over Pittsburgh Steelers (3 units)

The Steelers are coming off a nice mini bye, but they lost pretty handily to the Ravens last Thursday night to start 1-1. The Panthers have been one of the surprise teams out of the gate this year starting 2-0, and having to do it without Cam Newton at 100 percent. The Panthers have been a perfect 2-0 against the spread this year so far while the Steelers are 0-2 ATS.

The Steelers are starting to show their age on the defensive side of the ball, and they now yield 174 yards per game and 5.0 yards per carry to opposing runners. I like the Panthers at home this week, with a stifling defense, and a great ball-control rushing offense. I also love the matchup of Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen going against a weak Pittsburgh D. I like this one enough to be a three-unit play.

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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Updated Week 3 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings

Here are my Week 3 fantasy football quarterback rankings:

1. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (vs. MIN)

There's no place like home: Brees averaged 9.12 Y/A at home vs. 6.86 Y/A on the road with 27:3 TD-to-INT ratio at home vs. 12:9 TD-to-INT ratio on the road in 2013. With two games on the road and two finishes outside the top 12 fantasy quarterbacks, Brees should bounce back with a big performance at home.

2. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (vs. GB)

After finishing as QB2 in Week 1 (346 pass yards, two pass TDs and one rush TD), Stafford finished outside the top 12, but he has a friendly matchup this week against the Packers. Only three teams have allowed a pair of top-10 fantasy quarterbacks through two weeks and the Packers are one of them.

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3. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (at DET)

Against an exploitable Jets secondary, Rodgers threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns in Week 2 and he has a similar type of matchup this week. In other words, Detroit's defensive strength is their defensive line and their weakness is their secondary. In his past three games over the previous two seasons against the Lions, however, Rodgers' numbers have been modest: 683 passing yards, three TDs and one INT with 43 rushing yards and a score.

4. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears (at NYJ)

Cutler has back-to-back top-10 weeks including a four-TD and QB2 performance on Sunday Night Football. Cutler has a great opportunity for another huge week against a Jets secondary that just gave up a league-high 28.64 fantasy points to Rodgers in Week 2.

[Related: DraftKings values post - FanDuel values post]

5. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts (at JAX)

Facing the Jaguars, who have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to fantasy QBs, Luck & the Colts should get their first win of the season. If there's any concern for Luck, it's that the Colts establish an early lead on the Jags, who have been outscored 75-10 in the past six quarters, and we see a lot of the run game. Through two games, however, no quarterback has more fantasy points than Luck (22.79 per game).

6. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. WAS)

The only quarterback in the leauge with a pair of 300-yard games to start the season, Foles and the Eagles have struggled with their starts. That said, they have finished strong with a pair of second-half double-digit comebacks to improve to 2-0. Foles in the first half of games: 25/45, 7.24 Y/A, zero TDs and two INTs. Foles in the second half of games: 23/37, 8.84 Y/A, three TDs and no INTs.

7. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos (at SEA)

Manning has yet to throw for more than 269 yards in a game, but he has thrown three touchdowns with no interceptions and finished as a top-four fantasy quarterback each week. That said, the Seahawks have held nine of their past 11 regular-season opponents to less than 200 passing yards and we've seen how well their defense played against the Broncos in the Super Bowl.

8. Tom Brady, New England Patriots (vs. OAK)

Far from "terrific," Brady has finished outside the top-25 fantasy QBs in Weeks 1 and 2. The challenge for Brady to put up QB1 (top-12) numbers this week could be that the Patriots are favored by slightly more than two touchdowns, which could lead to many more rush attempts than pass attempts. One good thing from a fantasy perspective is that Belichick and the Patriots rarely take the foot of the accelator in blowouts.

9. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (vs. PIT)

In his first three NFL seasons, Newton has finished as a top-five fantasy quarterback or better each season. In his 2014 debut in Week 2, Newton finished as the QB5 with 281 yards and a touchdown, a two-point conversion and 19 rushing yards.

10. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (vs. DEN)

Generally underrated by most in fantasy football, Wilson is one of four QBs that have finished as a top-10 fantasy quarterback in both of the season's first two weeks despite throwing for just 191 and 202 yards, respectively. An efficient passer with the dual threat as a runner, Wilson has a four-to-none TD-to-INT ratio so far this season.

Based on data from PFR, only five QBs have more games with multiple passing TDs since Wilson entered the league in 2012. And only two QBs have more rushing yards than Wilson since 2012.

11. Geno Smith, New York Jets (vs. CHI)

As I noted in my fantasy football waiver-wire column, Smith has averaged more than eight fantasy points per game from his rushing stats alone over his past six games. During that span, he has rushed 48 times for 250 yards and four touchdowns.

12. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers (at ARI)

Coming off a dud four-turnover performance, Kaepernick will face the Cardinals for the fourth time in his career. Through his first three matchups, he has had success — 279.33 Y/G and 6:1 TD-to-INT ratio.

13. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys (vs. STL)

The Rams have held both of the starting quarterbacks they have faced to under 180 passing yards, but those quarterbacks weren't exactly elite: Matt Cassel and Josh McCown. That said, Romo has yet to finish as a QB2 in 12-team, two-QB leagues as the QB29 and QB25 in Weeks 1 and 2, respectively. That's about to change, but I still have ranked outside my top 12 and he appeared on the "sit'em" side of my Week 3 Start'em, Sit'em column.

14. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers (at BUF)

After a modest start (QB25) against the Cardinals, it would be foolish to expect a huge week from Rivers against the league's best secondary in Week 2. With 284 yards and three touchdowns against the Seahawks, however, Rivers finished as a top-three QB in Week 2. Rivers has a middle-of-the-road matchup this week against the Bills so maybe he'll score the most fantasy points this week.

15. Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs (at MIA)

While he lacks a strong arm and playmakers at receiver, two positives with Smith are that he doesn't generally turn the ball over (Week 1 aside) and his mobility (509 rushing yards in 17 games in Kansas City).

16. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins (vs. KC)

Off to a slow start (209.5 Y/G and 5.17 Y/A), Tannehill has averaged just 14.83 fantasy points per game, but he gets a favorable matchup against against the Chiefs this week. Dealing with multiple defensive (and offensive) injuries, the Chiefs have allowed two top-six fantasy quarterbacks to begin the season.

17. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. TEN)

Dalton and the Bengals continue to lose pass-catchers to injury: Marvin Jones before the season, Tyler Eifert in Week 1 and A.J. Green in Week 2. Green (toe) is expected to play in Week 3, however. Dalton threw only 23 passes in Week 2 and I'd expect a heavy dose of Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill against the Titans this week.

18. Kirk Cousins, Washington (at PHI)

With Cousins taking over for an injured RG3, he looked impressive against the Jags on Sunday. After all, he threw a 20-yard touchdown pass on his first throw of the game. The Eagles have allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks so far this season so we could see another solid performance for Cousins.

19. Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens (at CLE)

About to face the third of three AFC North rivals to start the season, Flacco has finished as QB15 in both Weeks 1 and 2 to the Bengals and Steelers, respectively. In 12 career games against the Browns, Flacco has averaged 208.17 yards per game and thrown 15 touchdowns to only six interceptions.

20. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (at CAR)

Coming off a dud performance (217 yards, no TDs and one pick), it won't get any easier for Big Ben this week against the Panthers.

21. E.J. Manuel, Buffalo Bills (vs. SD)

I'm certainly not suggesting that Manuel should be started, but only three teams have allowed two top-10 fantasy performances to opposing quarterbacks and the Chargers are one of those teams.

22. Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders (at NE)

While they haven't faced elite quarterbacks, the Patriots have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks so far this season. And while Carr has played reasonably well in his first two NFL games, he isn't elite -- at least, not yet. That said, there is potential for some garbage-time production here as the Raiders are more than two-touchdown underdogs.

23. Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans (at CIN)

After a top-six performance to open the season, fantasy owners were salivating over the expected slam-dunk matchup against the Cowboys in Week 2. Instead Locker was 18/34 for 234 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Against one of the league's top defenses, Locker should stay on your bench this week.

24. Matt Cassel, Minnesota Vikings (at NO)

No team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks through two games, but it's hard to trust Cassel with Adrian Peterson out indefinitely. Cassel was fantasy's QB32 last week with four picks as the crowd began chanting for Teddy Bridgewater.

25. Eli Manning, New York Giants (vs. HOU)

The Giants passing offense continues to struggle, but they looked better, much better, in Week 2 than they did in Week 1. Manning completed two-thirds of his pass attempts, but he threw another two interceptions giving him a 3:4 TD-to-INT ratio through two weeks and 31 interceptions over his past 18 games.

26. Chad Henne, Jacksonville Jaguars (vs. IND)

The Jags continue to stick with Henne at quarterback even though rookie Blake Bortles would give the offense a better opportunity to score points. Then again, if Henne keeps getting hit as often as last week (sacked 10 times), the team may not have any choice but to make a change.

27. Austin Davis, St. Louis Rams (vs. DAL)

At this point, it appears that Davis will start over Shaun Hill. Either way, Davis and/or Hill should be on your bench despite the favorable matchup against the Cowboys.

28. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Houston Texans (at NYG)

Among quarterbacks that have started (and finished) two games this season, none have fewer pass attempts than Fitzpatrick (41). While he has yet to throw an interception, he's averaging just 172.5 yards per game and remains a low-end QB2 at best.

29. Drew Stanton, Arizona Cardinals (vs. SF)

Stanton will get another start with Carson Palmer sidelined and shouldn't be near anyone's starting lineup.

30. Brian Hoyer, Cleveland Browns (vs. BAL)

Through two games, Hoyer nearly led the Browns to a come-from behind win over the Steelers in Week 1 and led them to a win over the Saints in Week 2. From a fantasy perspective, though, Hoyer has averaged just 217 yards per game with two total touchdowns and has finished outside the top 20 QBs each week.

* Note: Both Matt Ryan and Josh McCown have been removed from our rankings.

More of our Week 3 rankings:

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Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS): Week 3 FanDuel Fantasy Football Values

After posting some value picks for DraftKings contests yesterday, I've turned my attention to FanDuel this morning.

In some cases, there will be overlap between the two lists, but since each site sets their salaries independently and FanDuel uses half-PPR scoring (vs. full PPR for DraftKings), there are some players that I prefer only in one of the sites.

For the most part, the players that I put on these lists are values in absolute terms, but that's not always the case as you'll notice with the first few players listed. Ultimately, I'm looking for players that are priced lower than my rankings from the high to the low end of the salary spectrum.

Here are some value plays for Week 3:

QB - Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (vs. MIN), $9,100

Most of the values on this list represent guys that are cheap compared to their expected output and in absolute terms as I noted above. As the fourth-most expensive fantasy quarterback this week, Brees is not cheap in absolute terms, but he's my QB1 this week and therefore a relative value.

After beginning the season with an 0-2 record on the road, the Saints head home to host the Vikings, who are double-digit 'dogs. With their backs against the proverbial wall and a loss to the Browns fresh in their minds, it should be full throttle for all four quarters and the Saints are one of two teams projected by Vegas to score 30-plus points this week. In eight home games last season, Brees completed 72.2 percent of his pass attempts (61.8% on road) at 9.12 yards per attempt (6.86 Y/A on road) with a 27:3 TD-to-INT ratio (12:9 on road).

QB - Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears (at NYJ), $8,100

Cutler appeared on my list of DraftKings values, but he's priced at a bigger discount in FanDuel leagues as 11th-most expensive signal-caller. (He's my QB4 for the week.) With parts of his first two performances to dislike (two interceptions in Week 1 and less than 200 passing yards in Week 2), Cutler has still finished as a top-10 quarterback in both weeks to begin the season and scored the second-most fantasy points among QBs in Week 2 behind Aaron Rodgers. This week, Cutler faces the same secondary that allowed Rodgers to score more fantasy points than any quarterback.

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RB - DeMarco Murray, Dallas Cowboys (at STL), $8,700

Like with Brees (and Cutler) for that matter, Murray isn't a cheap option but the one player that is in all of my FanDuel and DraftKings lineups this week. Unlike in DraftKings where he is tied for the highest salary at running back, Murray is tied for fifth at running back this week at FanDuel.

Over his past 16 games, Murray has 1,787 yards from scrimmage, 57 receptions and 12 touchdowns. The Rams have allowed 171.0 rushing yards per game, third-most in the NFL, and back-to-back 100-yard rushers (although one of those was a wide receiver) this season. Even better, Murray's two best games of his career have come against the Rams — 25/253/1 in 2011 and 26/175/1 in 2013.

RB - Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (vs. HOU), $6,400

Jennings has had two difficult matchups to open the season against the Lions and Cardinals, who rank second and third in the NFL in rushing defense so far. (The Cardinals led the NFL in rush defense last year and the Lions ranked sixth.) Despite the difficult matchups and general sluggishness overall of the Giants new offense, Jennings has been relatively productive. Through two games, Jennings has 205 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown with 10 receptions. This week, he faces the Texans, who have allowed a league-most 5.8 yards per carry. I have Jennings projected to be a top-10 running back this week yet there are 25 running backs with a lower salary in FanDuel contests.

RB - Jeremy Hill, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. TEN), $4,900

Hill likely won't be on any of my teams because of my insistence on keeping Murray in all of my lineups and I like the next guy on this list more at a slightly lower salary, but Hill offers value to those looking to go with two sub-$5,000 running backs this week. With A.J. Green sidelined for almost all of last week's game, Giovani Bernard and Hill combined for 42 carries and seven receptions. Green will play this week, but it wouldn't be a surprise if Hill still got 15 touches in the team's run-heavy attack against a Titans defense that has allowed 143.5 rushing yards per game and 4.8 yards per carry. A powerful downhill runner, Hill is averaging 4.89 YPC through two games.

RB - Khiry Robinson, New Orleans Saints (vs. MIN), $4,700

More talented than his early-season role in team's three-headed rushing attack, Robinson is set to see his usage increase significantly. With Mark Ingram (hand) out for a month, Robinson should see a heavy dose of early-down work and get most of the goal-line opportunities. Considering the fact that Ingram currently leads the NFL in rushing touchdowns and that the Saints are favored by double digits, there could be plenty of opportunities for Robinson to score a touchdown (or two) this week. Priced at $4,700, Robinson's salary is set at only $200 above the position minimum and 60 running backs have a higher salary this week. Sixty?!

WR - Brandon Marshall, Chicago Bears (at NYJ), $8,200

There's a lot to like about a matchup versus a Jets secondary that allows the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers and allowed Jordy Nelson to go over 200 yards and Randall Cobb to score a pair of touchdowns last week. While you can't count on three fourth-quarter touchdowns every week, Marshall played at less than 100 percent last week and he gets an extra deal to heal as the Bears play on Monday Night Football. Through two games, Marshall has 13/119/4. Marshall is my No. 2-ranked receiver for this week, but five other receivers have a higher cost.

WR - Marques Colston, New Orleans Saints (vs. MIN), $5,600

Coming off his goose egg, Colston should be targeted frequently and I see a bounce-back game from him. There are 40 wide receivers priced higher than Colston, who had five catches for 110 yards in the opener. Most of my FanDuel leagues this week include Colston with Brees, Murray, Khiry and Megatron plus others.

WR - Brian Quick, St. Louis Rams (vs. DAL), $5,200

After a relatively slow start to his career (29/458/4 through two seasons), Quick has taken a big step forward in his third season with 7/99 and 7/74 lines in the first two games on nine targets in each game. Quick ranks eighth among wide receivers in yards and is tied for third at the position in receptions through two games. Facing one of the league's worst defenses, Quick is set up for another productive outing.

WR - Golden Tate, Detroit Lions (vs. GB), $5,000

While Calvin Johnson should go off against the Packers if history is any indication (32/606/3 in past four matchups), Tate is a nice value at $5,000 (54 wide receivers have a higher salary in FanDuel contests). In his two games, Tate has stat lines of 6/93 and 5/57. While that may not be spectacular, you should get at least 5/50 from him with upside for more as the Lions are projected by Vegas to score the fourth-most points this week.

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TE - Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. WAS), $5,800

Many expected a breakout season from Ertz and he has broken out, sort of. Ertz has been really productive with his opportunities, but I'm actually surprised that he has only 11 targets. He's tied with four other tight ends for the 17th-most targets. That said, Ertz has averaged 23.3 yards per reception and ranks fifth in receiving yards (163) among tight ends. Six of his seven receptions have been for 20-plus yards and only Julio Jones has more catches of 20-plus yards. As the 11th-most expensive tight end, Ertz is fifth in my rankings.

TE - Jared Cook, St. Louis Rams (vs. DAL), $5,200

The obvious concern with Cook is his boom-or-bust track record, but this matchup has boom written all over it. This season, the Cowboys have allowed 4/44/2 to Vernon Davis and 10/142/1 to Delanie Walker, both of whom finished as top-three TEs each week. There are 15 tight ends that are more expensive than Cook this week, but he has the upside to finish as a top-three option for the week.

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Week 3 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Trifone

Here are my Week 3 picks against the spread:

San Diego Chargers +2.5 over Buffalo Bills (5 units)

The Bills surprised me with an impressive win over Miami, but I think Week 3 they will lose their first game. The Chargers are looking more and more like the Super Bowl contending team that they were a few years ago. Philip Rivers has been great, and I like them to win this one on the road.

Indianapolis Colts -7 over Jacksonville Jaguars (4 units)

The Colts have had a bad start to the year, but going to Jacksonville is just what the doctor ordered. The Jags have been a complete mess and have been outscored 75-10 in the last six quarters. The Colts will be desperate for a win, and it doesn't appear Jacksonville has the talent to stop them.

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San Francisco 49ers -3 over Arizona Cardinals (3 units)

If Carson Palmer were starting, I'd probably stay away from this game. Although Drew Stanton looked pretty good Week 2, the Niners are a horse of a different color (than the Giants). I like Colin Kaepernick to have a bounce-back week, and the Cardinals offense to struggle so I'll give the three on the road.

New England Patriots vs. Oakland Raiders — Under 46.5 (3 units)

The Patriots defense shouldn't have much trouble with a pretty weak Oakland offense. I see this as a 30-6 kind of game. Although the Patriots will likely put up points, I'm skeptical of Oakland putting too many up. Even a 30-14 game goes under, so I'll take it with some confidence.

Note: NFL lines are from sportsbook.ag

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September 19, 2014

Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS): Week 3 DraftKings Fantasy Football Values

With auction fantasy football drafts, one of the benefits (compared to the more common serpentine style of draft) is that roster composition possibilities are virtually endless.

No sane drafter goes into a snake draft expecting to land LeSean McCoy and Matt Forte with his first two picks. In an auction draft, that's possible. It will cost you a lot of money and you'll have to compensate elsewhere, but you can make it happen (by bidding more than your leaguemates for each running back).

Daily fantasy sports (DFS) is similar.

If you want the two best running backs or two or three best wide receivers, you can have them. You'll just have to compensate by finding values elsewhere to stay under the league's salary cap.

In this post, I identify players that offer more value than their salaries in Week 3 DraftKings fantasy football leagues. Although not always exclusively, the attempt is usually to find values that are cheap in both absolute and relative costs.

Here are some value plays for Week 3:

QB - Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears (at NYJ), $8,100

Even though Cutler has thrown multiple interceptions in Week 1 and for less than 200 yards in Week 2, he has finished as a top-10 fantasy quarterback in both weeks including a QB2 finish last week. The guy that finished Week 2 as the top-scoring fantasy quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, faced Cutler's opponent for this week. While it's difficult to run on the Jets, they have an inexperienced and hobbled secondary that Cutler should be able to carve up for a big performance. The seventh-most expensive quarterback this week, Cutler is my fourth-ranked quarterback in Week 3.

QB - Geno Smith, New York Jets (vs. CHI), $6,100

If you're looking for a cheaper option as a potential starter, Geno is priced as the 25th-most expensive quarerback this week despite being ranked as my QB12 for the week. Smith finished among the top-10 fantasy QBs last week and could have had a better performance had a fourth-down 37-yard touchdown pass not get wiped out by an unintended timeout.

Tied for a position-high six rushing scores last season, Smith has scored 8.17 fantasy points per game from his rushing stats alone over his past six games. During that stretch, he has rushed for 250 yards and four touchdowns on 48 carries. That means that Smith can throw for 176 yards, one touchdown and one interception (like last week) and still finish as a top-10 option (like last week).

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RB - Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (vs. HOU), $5,200

So far, every one of DraftKings lineups has DeMarco Murray, a must-start in my view this week. He's certainly not cheap as no running back has a higher price, but he leads the NFL in rushing and fantasy points and his two best games have come against the Rams with 25/253/1 and 26/175/1 rushing lines. That said, Jennings is one of my favorite cheap(er) options to pair with Murray this week.

Jennings has had two difficult matchups to open the season against the Lions and Cardinals, who rank second and third in the NFL in rushing defense so far. (And that's not just a result of having faced Jennings. Arizona led the NFL in rush defense last year and Detroit ranked sixth.) Despite the difficult matchups and general sluggishness of the Giants offense, Jennings has been relatively productive, especially in PPR-scoring formats, which is what DraftKings uses. With 205 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown plus 10 receptions, Jennings is the RB11 through the first two weeks of the season. This week, he faces the Texans, who have allowed a league-high 5.8 yards per carry.

RB - Ahmad Bradshaw, Indianapolis Colts (at JAX), $4,800

Not only does Bradshaw have five receptions in each of the past two games, he has 181 YFS and two touchdowns and he's the RB6 in PPR formats so far this season. Based on DraftKings salaries, there are 29 running backs that have a higher salary than Bradshaw this week. The Jags have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

RB - Khiry Robinson, New Orleans Saints (vs. MIN), $3,900

More talented than his early-season role in a three-headed rushing attack, Robinson is set to see his usage increase significantly. With Mark Ingram (hand) out for a month, Robinson should see a heavy dose of early-down work and get most of the goal-line opportunities. Considering the fact that Ingram currently leads the NFL in rushing touchdowns and that the Saints are favored by double digits, there could be plenty of opportunities for Robinson to score a touchdown (or two) this week. On a related note, I like Pierre Thomas ($4,900) as well this week, but I'd prefer to save $1,000 with Khiry.

RB - Donald Brown, San Diego Chargers (at BUF), $3,500

Everybody has a price, I guess. I'm not a fan of the matchup as the Bills have shored up a run defense that was one of the league's worst and I put Brown on the "sit'em" side of my weekly Start'em, Sit'em for Week 3. With the volume of work I expect him to receive with Ryan Mathews out, I have him ranked as a "flex" option in leagues where there are no salaries attached to owner's start/sit decisions. With 46 running backs more expensive than Brown, however, his price is low enough that he is undervalued.

RB - Isaiah Crowell, Cleveland Browns (vs. BAL), $3,000

You can't get any lower than Crowell — when it comes to salaries, that is. Priced at the contest minimum for running backs, Crowell does not have a favorable matchup against the Ravens and he's second on the depth chart behind Terrance West with Ben Tate (knee) out for at least another week. That said, he has plenty of talent and he has rushed for 86 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries (5.38 YPC) through his first two games.

WR - Mike Wallace, Miami Dolphins (vs. KC), $5,800

Even though downfield chemistry has been lacking between Wallace and Ryan Tannehill, 60 Minutes is off to an excellent start this season with 7/81/1 (WR10 in PPR formats) and 5/56/1 (WR14) in Weeks 1 and 2, respectively. Wallace gets a favorable matchup this week against the Chiefs, who have the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing receivers in PPR leagues. Wallace is the 16th-most expensive wide receiver this week.

WR - Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina Panthers (vs. PIT), $4,800

To say Benjamin's Week 2 was a disappointment is an understatement. With multiple drops, Benjamin finished with two catches for 46 yards on eight targets after 6/92/1 on eight targets in his debut. While Greg Olsen has more targets, Benjamin leads the team's receiver corps in targets (16) and has the size (6-5, 240, 35-inch arms) to flourish in the red zone. I expect Benjamin to have a bounce-back game and there are 35 receivers with a higher price than Benjamin.

WR - Steve Smith Sr., Baltimore Ravens (at CLE), $4,500

While I don't believe he's the most talented Smith among the team's receivers, he's the one that's dominating the targets and the better option in fantasy for now. The only receiver that is averaging more targets per game than Smith (12.5) is Green Bay's Jordy Nelson (15.0).

WR - Justin Hunter, Tennessee Titans (at CIN), $3,600

Clearly a roll-of-the-dice type option after last week's dud by the entire offense not named Delanie in their dream matchup against the Cowboys. Blessed with rare physical tools (6-foot-4, 4.4 forty, 40-inch vertical), Hunter will likely have a couple of 6/125/2 or so type games in him this season. I'm not saying it's this week against a talented Bengals defense, but he's $600 cheaper than his Week 2 salary and unlikely to be widely owned this week after last week.

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TE - Jared Cook, St. Louis Rams (vs. DAL), $3,400

In the lineups that I don't have Jimmy Graham, I have Cook. The obvious concern with Cook is his boom-or-bust track record, but this matchup has boom written all over it. This season, the Cowboys have allowed 4/44/2 to Vernon Davis and 10/142/1 to Delanie Walker.

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2014 Fantasy Football Week 3 Start'em, Sit'em

Hopefully your Week 3 matchups began with a lot of Falcons on your roster and Buccaneers on your opponent's roster.

For the rest of this week's games, here are some players to consider inserting into your fantasy lineup(s):

QB - Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears (at NYJ)

Cutler has not played nearly as well as I had expected this season yet he has back-to-back top-10 performances including last week's QB2 finish boosted by his three fourth-quarter touchdowns to Brandon Marshall last Sunday night. While it's difficult to run on the Jets, who lead the NFL in rush defense, their secondary is exploitable and have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. Compared to other experts tracked by FantasyPros, I'm higher than most on Cutler this week (QB4 vs. his QB8 ECR).

QB - Geno Smith, New York Jets (vs. CHI)

If you're looking for a deeper option as a potential starter, Geno is just inside my top-12 fantasy quarterbacks this week. One of the great things about Smith is his rushing production. Tied for a position-high six rushing scores as a rookie, Smith has scored 8.17 fantasy points per game from his rushing stats alone over his past six games. During that stretch, he has rushed for 250 yards and four touchdowns on 48 carries. That's the equivalent of a 16-game pace of 667 rushing yards and 10.67 rushing touchdowns.

RB - Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (vs. HOU)

Likely a slam-dunk starter for most fantasy teams, Jennings was drafted as someone that would be a low-end RB2 based on his ADP or potentially as a flex option for teams that started RB/RB/RB in their drafts. Beginning the season with difficult matchups in back-to-back weeks against the Lions and Cardinals, respectively, Jennings has put up respectable numbers and especially so in PPR formats. Jennings has 205 yards from scrimmage, eight receptions and a touchdown through two games and a more favorable matchup this week. No team has allowed more yards per carry than the Texans (5.8) this season and I have Jennings ranked higher than some big-name backs with difficult matchups (e.g., Eddie Lacy, Matt Forte, etc.).

RB - Joique Bell, Detroit Lions (vs. GB)

In both games this season, Bell has more touches and snaps played than backfield mate Reggie Bush. Against a tough Panthers run defense last week, Bell had only 10 carries for 36 yards, but he added six catches for 61 yards on 11 targets. In a game with the highest over/under (53.0 points), there should be plenty of opportunities for Bell to score fantasy points. The Packers have allowed 176.5 rushing yards per game and four rushing touchdowns, both of which are the second-most in the NFL.

RB - Khiry Robinson, New Orleans Saints (vs. MIN)

Not only have the Saints lost back-to-back games to start the season, but they have lost Mark Ingram for the next month with a broken hand. With as many carries as Robinson and Pierre Thomas combined through two weeks, Ingram has averaged nearly 6.0 yards per carry with a league-high three rushing touchdowns. With Ingram out, Robinson should lead the team in carries and get most of the goal-line opportunities with the Saints being double-digit favorites this week.

RB - Ahmad Bradshaw, Indianapolis Colts (at JAX)

With five receptions in each of the team's first two games, Bradshaw has 10 receptions and a total of 181 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns this season. Even though Trent Richardson had 22 touches last week and solid production (95 YFS), I prefer Bradshaw over T-Rich this week again. The Jags have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season and Bradshaw is a solid RB2 in standard and PPR formats this week.

WR - Mike Wallace, Miami Dolphins (vs. KC)

Wallace and Ryan Tannehill have struggled to connect on deep throws, but Wallace has 12 catches for 137 yards and two scores on 19 targets through two games. Through two weeks, the Chiefs have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers and Wallace has an excellent chance of scoring double-digit fantasy points for a third game in a row.

WR - Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. WAS)

One of a handful of receivers with double-digit targets in each of the season's first two weeks, Maclin has only eight catches for 142 yards and two touchdowns. With a favorable matchup against Washington, however, I expect Nick Foles and Maclin to connect more frequently than they have thus far and Maclin is my 13th-ranked fantasy wide receiver this week.

WR - Sammy Watkins, Buffalo Bills (vs. SD)

We should expect inconsistency from rookie receivers, especially for ones with inconsistent quarterbacks, but Watkins was fed the ball with 11 of the team's 25 targets and he put up monster numbers in Week 2: 8/117/1. Going against a Chargers defense that has allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers so far this season, Watkins should be able to put up WR2 numbers on an expected high volume of targets this week.

WR - Brian Quick, St. Louis Rams (vs. DAL)

Technically, Quick is outside my top-24 receivers for this week, but he's definitely worth starting as a WR3/flex option in fantasy leagues this week as my WR27. In each of the first two weeks, Quick has finished as a top-25 fantasy receiver with seven catches on nine targets and at least 74 yards in each game. With such a favorable matchup against the Cowboys, it wouldn't be a shock if he finished as a WR2 (or better) this week.

TE - Jared Cook, St. Louis Rams (vs. DAL)

A boom-or-bust player throughout his career, Cook has finished as TE17 in each of the first two weeks with 4/56 and 4/46 receiving lines so far. If there's a week where he is set up for a "boom" performance, this is it against the Cowboys, who have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. The Cowboys allowed 4/44/2 to Vernon Davis in Week 1 and 10/142/1 to Delanie Walker in Week 2.

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

QB - Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys (at STL)

It's not necessarily a difficult matchup for Romo, but it's hard to have confidence in him after two disappointing performances as the QB29 and QB25, respectively. While I think Romo has his best game yet this season, I have him ranked as my QB14 and would actually prefer someone like Geno (QB12) this week. I expect the Cowboys to try to control the clock (they actually lead the NFL in time of possession) with DeMarco Murray, who leads the NFL in rushing and has a combined 51/428/2 rushing line in his two career games vs. St. Louis.

RB - Frank Gore, San Francisco 49ers (at ARI)

After two favorable matchups against the Cowboys and Bears, Gore has carried the ball for a total of 29 times for 129 yards and a touchdown. Aside from the touchdown last week, Gore's modest 64.5 YPG average will be tougher to get this week. Through two weeks, the Cardinals have allowed just 66.5 rushing YPG and 2.6 YPC after allowing a league-low 84.4 YPG and only 3.7 YPC last year. That said, he had mixed results against the Cardinals last year: (good) 25/101/0 at home and (bad) 13/14/0 on the road.

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

The Jaguars offense (and defense, for that matter) and Gerhart have struggled so far. Through two games, Gerhart has 25 carries for just 50 yards and 48 of those yards have come after contact, according to PFF. Not surprisingly, the Jaguars have the lowest grade for run blocking through two weeks. Gerhart suffered an ankle injury in Week 1 and although he returned to that game and played in Week 2, that could be part of the issue as well, but I'd like to see a more productive outing from Gerhart before I'm putting him back into my starting lineup.

RB - Donald Brown, San Diego Chargers (at BUF)

With Ryan Mathews (knee) sidelined for the next month, Brown will become the team's primary early-down running back even though Danny Woodhead's role should increase some as well. Brown will have some very favorable matchups over the next month, but this week's matchup is not great against an improved Bills run defense and I have Brown ranked just outside my top 24 as a flex option. Buffalo currently ranks fifth in run defense (83.0 YPG allowed) and they have allowed the ninth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs.

WR - Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans (at CIN)

In his breakout sophomore campaign, Wright had the third-most games (13) with at least five catches and 50 yards last season. Only Antonio Brown (16) and Demaryius Thomas (14) had more such games. With just nine catches for 77 yards and a touchdown through two weeks, Wright is off to a disappointing start.

Considering the targets have been fairly evenly split among the team's top three receivers — Justin Hunter (14), Nate Washington (12) and Wright (12) — and all of them trail Delanie Walker (19), it's hard to trust any of the team's receivers this week. In addition, the Bengals have the top grade from PFF in pass coverage so far this season.

WR - Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens (at CLE)

It's unclear whether Joe Haden will shadow (Torrey) Smith as Steve Smith has been targeted so heavily in Gary Kubiak's offense. Regardless of whether or not Haden shadows Torrey, he has only four catches for 60 yards through two games including a 1/10 line on three targets last week. While I believe Torrey is the most talented Smith on the roster, the target distribution between the Smiths — Steve (24) and Torrey (11) — is too concerning to have the confidence to start Torrey this week.

WR - Wes Welker, Denver Broncos (at SEA)

With an agreement on a new drug policy, Welker is eligible to return this week, but it's unclear how heavily he'll be involved in the game plan after missing time due to concussion and suspension. In addition, the matchup is clearly not favorable against the league's best secondary. In addition, Welker's return has a little of a negative impact on Emmanuel Sanders, but I have Sanders ranked higher than Welker.

TE - Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys (at STL)

Witten is second on the team behind only Dez Bryant in targets, but he has just 46 yards and no touchdowns through two weeks. Last year, no team allowed fewer fantasy points to opposing tight ends than the Rams so I'd prefer to keep him on my bench this week. That said, he had a solid game in a 31-7 rout over the Rams last year with 5/67 on six targets.

To see who I would start based on your team, please consult with my Week 3 rankings:

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September 18, 2014

Beazley's Four DraftKings Plays for Week 3

Here are some DraftKings plays for Week 3:

RB - Pierre Thomas, New Orleans Saints (vs. MIN), $4,900

Thomas always seems like the forgotten man when it comes to fantasy leagues. The Saints lost RB Mark Ingram this past week with a broken hand, which leaves Thomas and Khiry Robinson as the main options. I think Thomas is going to see the bulk of the carries this week, plus DraftKings scoring is a full point per reception. I think the Saints run away in this one. Thomas 18/90/1 rushing and 6/50 receiving line for Thomas.

WR - Alshon Jeffery, Chicago Bears (at NYJ), $6,400

The Jets may have one of the fiercest front seven's in the NFL, but their secondary is very suspect. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers just shredded the Jets defense last week. I believe the Bears can do the same this week. Jeffrey has been dealing with a hamstring injury, but he is near 100 percent now. I think the Jets pay more attention to Brandon Marshall on Monday, and Jeffrey is the benefactor. Jeffrey finds the endzone twice: 7/140/2.

WR - Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens (at CLE), $4,500

Smith is an absolute steal at this price. Smith was only targeted three times in last week's outing vs. the Steelers, but I think the Ravens try to get their big time WR back into the fold this week. Only Denver allows more yards in the air in the AFC than the Browns. I think Smith has a solid 6/110/1 line this Sunday.

WR - Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings (at NO), $6,100

I think the Saints/Vikings game could be one of the highest-scoring games of the weekend. I expect the Vikings to try and find ways to get Patterson the ball as he is their best play maker on offense now. The Saints allow a league-worst 324 yards a game in the air. Patterson could find the endzone multiple times, plus he is a threat in the ground game.

Find some leagues here.

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Good luck in Week 3!



September 17, 2014

2014 Fantasy Football Rankings: Week 3 Quarterbacks

Here are my Week 3 fantasy football quarterback rankings:

1. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (vs. MIN)

There's no place like home: Brees averaged 9.12 Y/A at home vs. 6.86 Y/A on the road with 27:3 TD-to-INT ratio at home vs. 12:9 TD-to-INT ratio on the road in 2013. With two games on the road and two finishes outside the top 12 fantasy quarterbacks, Brees will bounce back with a big performance at home.

2. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions (vs. GB)

After finishing as QB2 in Week 1 (346 pass yards, two pass TDs and one rush TD), Stafford finished outside the top 12, but he has a friendly matchup this week against the Packers. Only three teams have allowed a pair of top-10 fantasy quarterbacks through two weeks and the Packers are one of them.

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3. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers (at DET)

Against an exploitable Jets secondary, Rodgers threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns in Week 2 and he has a similar type of matchup this week. In other words, Detroit's defensive strength is their defensive line and their weakness is their secondary. In his past three games over the previous two seasons against the Lions, however, Rodgers' numbers have been modest: 683 passing yards, three TDs and one INT with 43 rushing yards and a score.

4. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts (at JAX)

Facing the Jaguars, who have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to fantasy QBs, Luck & the Colts should get their first win of the season. If there's any concern for Luck, it's that the Colts establish an early lead on the Jags, who have been outscored 75-10 in the past six quarters, and we see a lot of the run game. Through two games, however, no quarterback has more fantasy points than Luck (22.79 per game).

5. Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears (at NYJ)

Cutler has back-to-back top-10 weeks including a four-TD and QB2 performance on Sunday Night Football. Cutler has a great opportunity for another huge week against a Jets secondary that just gave up a league-high 28.64 fantasy points to Rodgers in Week 2.

6. Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos (at SEA)

Manning has yet to throw for more than 269 yards in a game, but he has thrown three touchdowns with no interceptions and finished as a top-four fantasy quarterback each week. That said, the Seahawks have held nine of their past 11 regular-season opponents to less than 200 passing yards and we've seen how well their defense played against the Broncos in the Super Bowl.

7. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (vs. TB)

Ryan has historically been much better in the Georgia Dome than on the road. Here are his 2013 home splits: 72.6 completion percentage (62.4% on road), 7.29 yards per attempt (6.59) and 13:3 TD-to-INT ratio (13:14). So far in 2014, it's been more of the same: 448 yards, three TDs and no INTs for 31.42 fantasy points at home; 231 yards, one TD and three INTs for 10.04 fantasy points on road.

8. Nick Foles, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. WAS)

The only quarterback in the leauge with a pair of 300-yard games to start the season, Foles and the Eagles have struggled with their starts. That said, they have finished strong with a pair of second-half double-digit comebacks to improve to 2-0. Foles in the first half of games: 25/45, 7.24 Y/A, zero TDs and two INTs. Foles in the second half of games: 23/37, 8.84 Y/A, three TDs and no INTs.

9. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (vs. PIT)

In his first three NFL seasons, Newton has finished as a top-five fantasy quarterback or better each season. In his 2014 debut in Week 2, Newton finished as the QB5 with 281 yards and a touchdown, a two-point conversion and 19 rushing yards.

10. Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks (vs. DEN)

Generally underrated by most in fantasy football, Wilson is one of four QBs that have finished as a top-10 fantasy quarterback in both of the season's first two weeks despite throwing for just 191 and 202 yards, respectively. An efficient passer with the dual threat as a runner, Wilson has a four-to-none TD-to-INT ratio so far this season.

Based on data from PFR, only five QBs have more games with multiple passing TDs since Wilson entered the league in 2012. And only two QBs have more rushing yards than Wilson since 2012.

11. Tom Brady, New England Patriots (vs. OAK)

Far from "terrific," Brady has finished outside the top-25 fantasy QBs in Weeks 1 and 2. The challenge for Brady to put up QB1 (top-12) numbers this week is that the Patriots are favored by slightly more than two touchdowns, which could lead to many more rush attempts than pass attempts. One good thing from a fantasy perspective is that Belichick and the Patriots rarely take the foot of the accelator in blowouts.

12. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers (at BUF)

After a modest start (QB25) against the Cardinals, it would be foolish to expect a huge week from Rivers against the league's best secondary in Week 2. With 284 yards and three touchdowns against the Seahawks, however, Rivers finished as a top-three QB in Week 2. Rivers has a middle-of-the-road matchup this week against the Bills so maybe he'll score the most fantasy points this week.

13. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys (vs. STL)

The Rams have held both of the starting quarterbacks they have faced to under 180 passing yards, but those quarterbacks weren't exactly elite: Matt Cassel and Josh McCown. That said, Romo has yet to finish as a QB2 in 12-team, two-QB leagues as the QB29 and QB25 in Weeks 1 and 2, respectively. That's about to change.

14. Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers (at ARI)

Coming off a dud four-turnover performance, Kaepernick will face the Cardinals for the fourth time in his career. Through his first three matchups, he has had success — 279.33 Y/G and 6:1 TD-to-INT ratio.

15. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals (vs. TEN)

Dalton and the Bengals continue to lose pass-catchers to injury: Marvin Jones before the season, Tyler Eifert in Week 1 and A.J. Green in Week 2. Green may play in Week 3, but with their Week 4 bye, it would make sense that they sit him and play it safe. Dalton threw only 23 passes in Week 2 and I'd expect a heavy dose of Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill against the Titans this week.

16. Kirk Cousins, Washington (at PHI)

With Cousins taking over for an injured RG3, he looked impressive against the Jags on Sunday. After all, he threw a 20-yard touchdown pass on his first throw of the game. The Eagles have allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks so far this season so we could see another solid performance for Cousins.

17. Geno Smith, New York Jets (vs. CHI)

As I noted in my fantasy football waiver-wire column, Smith has averaged more than eight fantasy points per game from his rushing stats alone over his past six games. During that span, he has rushed 48 times for 250 yards and four touchdowns.

18. Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins (vs. KC)

Off to a slow start (209.5 Y/G and 5.17 Y/A), Tannehill has averaged just 14.83 fantasy points per game, but he gets a favorable matchup against against the Chiefs this week. Dealing with multiple defensive (and offensive) injuries, the Chiefs have allowed two top-six fantasy quarterbacks to begin the season.

19. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (at CAR)

Coming off a dud performance (217 yards, no TDs and one pick), it won't get any easier for Big Ben this week against the Panthers.

20. E.J. Manuel, Buffalo Bills (vs. SD)

I'm certainly not suggesting that Manuel should be started, but only four teams have allowed two top-10 fantasy performances to opposing quarterbacks and the Chargers are one of those teams.

More of my Week 3 rankings:

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Vikings deactivate Adrian Peterson, out indefinitely

After acting swiftly and appropriately last Friday to deactivate Adrian Peterson for Week 2's game, the Minnesota Vikings decided to reinstate him on Monday calling it a "matter of due process."

With the pressure from public outrage and loss of sponsorships increasing, it was speculated that the Vikings could reverse course and they have. The Vikings have placed Peterson on the exempt/commissioner's permission list.

As Peterson sat out last week, Matt Asiata got the start and finished as the RB14 in standard-scoring formats and RB10 in PPR formats with 84 yards from scrimmage, five receptions and a touchdown.

Rookie running back Jerick McKinnon has much more athleticism than Asiata and his role should expand as the season progresses although Asiata (47) played twice as many snaps as McKinnon (23) last week.

Asiata and McKinnon are currently owned in 42 and 10 percent of Yahoo! leagues, respectively.

The Saints have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, but the Vikings have better matchups in Weeks 4 (Falcons, most fantasy points to RBs) and Week 5 (fifth-most).



September 16, 2014

2014 Fantasy Football TE Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 3 to 16

Before the season began, we created fantasy football strength of schedule (SOS) pages for each position based on last year's production. From this point going forward, however, we will make weekly updates of our strength of schedule for the remaining games based on what their upcoming opponents have done so far this season.

A player's fantasy strength of schedule is far from the most important aspect of his outlook. But if you're debating a pair of players to pick up off the waiver wire and they are otherwise comparable in your view, a more favorable fantasy schedule could potentially break the tie.

Five most favorable SOS for TEs (Weeks 3-16):

1. Houston Texans (Garrett Graham): 146.15
2. New York Giants (Larry Donnell): 136.55
3. Cincinnati Bengals (Jermaine Gresham): 134.50
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (Marcedes Lewis): 130.70
5. Arizona Cardinals (John Carlson): 127.65

Five least favorable SOS for TEs (Weeks 3-16):

32. Detroit Lions (Eric Ebron, Brandon Pettigrew, Joseph Fauria): 83.10
31. Minnesota Vikings (Kyle Rudolph): 85.45
30. Green Bay Packers (Andrew Quarless, Richard Rodgers): 87.45
29. Buffalo Bills (Scott Chandler): 89.70
28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Brandon Myers, Austin Seferian-Jenkins): 89.95

* Note: Totals above are the average fantasy football points allowed based on their remaining opponents.

Full Strength of Schedules:

Enter our free Week 3 fantasy football contest to win one of our site's t-shirts.

Keep track of our site's updates: (1) follow us on Twitter, (2) LIKE us on Facebook and/or (3) add us to your Google+ circle.



2014 Fantasy Football WR Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 3 to 16

Before the season began, we created fantasy football strength of schedule (SOS) pages for each position based on last year's production. From this point going forward, however, we will make weekly updates of our strength of schedule for the remaining games based on what their upcoming opponents have done so far this season.

A player's fantasy strength of schedule is far from the most important aspect of his outlook. But if you're debating a pair of players to pick up off the waiver wire and they are otherwise comparable in your view, a more favorable fantasy schedule could potentially break the tie.

Five most favorable SOS for WRs (Weeks 3-16):

1. Denver Broncos (Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Wes Welker): 285.70
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton): 284.90
3. New England Patriots (Julian Edelman): 283.95
4. Carolina Panthers (Kelvin Benjamin): 276.95
5. Tennessee Titans (Kendall Wright, Justin Hunter): 276.65

Five least favorable SOS for WRs (Weeks 3-16):

32. New York Jets (Eric Decker): 227.85
31. Cincinnati Bengals (A.J. Green): 237.00
30. Jacksonville Jaguars (Cecil Shorts, Allen Hurns): 241.85
29. Green Bay Packers (Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb): 242.90
28. Philadelphia Eagles (Jeremy Maclin): 244.55

* Note: Totals above are the average fantasy football points allowed based on their remaining opponents.

Full Strength of Schedules:

Enter our free Week 3 fantasy football contest to win one of our site's t-shirts.

Keep track of our site's updates: (1) follow us on Twitter, (2) LIKE us on Facebook and/or (3) add us to your Google+ circle.



2014 Fantasy Football RB Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 3 to 16

Before the season began, we created fantasy football strength of schedule (SOS) pages for each position based on last year's production. From this point going forward, however, we will make weekly updates of our strength of schedule for the remaining games based on what their upcoming opponents have done so far this season.

A player's fantasy strength of schedule is far from the most important aspect of his outlook. But if you're debating a pair of players to pick up off the waiver wire and they are otherwise comparable in your view, a more favorable fantasy schedule could potentially break the tie.

Five most favorable SOS for RBs (Weeks 3-16):

1. Baltimore Ravens (Bernard Pierce, Justin Forsett): 289.75
2. Cincinnati Bengals (Giovani Bernard, Jeremy Hill): 282.50
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Doug Martin, Bobby Rainey): 280.15
4. Carolina Panthers (DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart): 274.60
5. Cleveland Browns (Ben Tate, Terrance West, Isaiah Crowell): 266.35

Five least favorable SOS for RBs (Weeks 3-16):

32. Philadelphia Eagles (LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles): 194.50
31. Seattle Seahawks (Marshawn Lynch): 200.15
30. St. Louis Rams (Zac Stacy, Benny Cunningham): 206.20
29. Denver Broncos (Montee Ball): 213.35
28. Washington Redskins (Alfred Morris): 214.75

* Note: Totals above are the average fantasy football points allowed based on their remaining opponents.

Full Strength of Schedules:

Enter our free Week 3 fantasy football contest to win one of our site's t-shirts.

Keep track of our site's updates: (1) follow us on Twitter, (2) LIKE us on Facebook and/or (3) add us to your Google+ circle.



2014 Fantasy Football QB Strength of Schedule (SOS): Weeks 3 to 16

While the season is still young, we are starting to get a better sense of each team's identity.

Before the season began, we created fantasy football strength of schedule (SOS) pages for each position based on last year's production. From this point going forward, however, we will make weekly updates of our strength of schedule for the remaining games based on what their upcoming opponents have done so far this season.

A player's fantasy strength of schedule is far from the most important aspect of his outlook. But if you're debating a pair of players to pick up off the waiver wire and they are otherwise comparable in your view, a more favorable fantasy schedule could potentially break the tie.

Five most favorable SOS for QBs (Weeks 3-16):

1. San Francisco 49ers (Colin Kaepernick): 225.35
2. New England Patriots (Tom Brady): 222.09
3. Dallas Cowboys (Tony Romo): 219.92
4. Oakland Raiders (Derek Carr): 218.70
5. St. Louis Rams (Shaun Hill, Austin Davis): 216.52

Five least favorable SOS for QBs (Weeks 3-16):

32. Green Bay Packers (Aaron Rodgers): 178.15
31. New York Jets (Geno Smith): 181.82
30. Indianapolis Colts (Andrew Luck): 181.99
29. New Orleans Saints (Drew Brees): 182.18
28. Cleveland Browns (Brian Hoyer, Johnny Manziel): 185.71

* Note: Totals above are the average fantasy football points allowed based on their remaining opponents.

Full Strength of Schedules:

Enter our free Week 3 fantasy football contest to win one of our site's t-shirts.

Keep track of our site's updates: (1) follow us on Twitter, (2) LIKE us on Facebook and/or (3) add us to your Google+ circle.



Free Week 3 Fantasy Football Contest: Win one of our t-shirts

Starting this week and for the remainder of the season, we are going to run at least one free fantasy football contest each week to give away one of our site's t-shirts (retail value: $6,947 ... give or take $6,940).

In order to win our site's t-shirt this week, enter our free Week 3 20-team FanDuel league and then let us know you entered by confirming your entry on our contest form below

If you have don't a FanDuel account yet, sign up here and enter promo code EATDRINK. If you make a deposit, FanDuel will give you a 100-percent deposit bonus up to $200.

Technically, there will be 19 entries (other than mine), but if I happen to score the most points this week (I know, unlikely, right?), the t-shirt winner will be whichever entry scores the second-most points.

Entry into the league is first come, first serve, of course, but if the league happens to fill up early, we may set up a second contest. (Only one total entry into our week's contests per person, however.)

-> Visit our fantasy football contests page for other contests


















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