October 19, 2014

Peyton Manning throws three first-half TDs to break Brett Favre's record

From now on, every time Peyton Manning throws a touchdown, he will break a record — his own.

Entering Sunday Night Football only two passing touchdowns behind Brett Favre's 506, Manning threw three first-half touchdowns against the 49ers.

Emmanuel Sanders and Wes Welker caught the first two touchdowns of the night and Demaryius Thomas caught the record-breaker.

While there's still more than a half left to play in tonight's game, Manning has now thrown multiple touchdowns in all six games this season with three or more in five of those games.

After Peyton and Favre, Dan Marino (420) is third followed by a pair of active quarterbacks — Drew Brees (374) and Tom Brady (372).

DeMarco Murray extends 100-yard streak to seven games

Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray has now done something that no other NFL running back has ever done — rush for 100-plus yards in each of the first seven games of a season.

Entering today's game, Murray was tied with Jim Brown at six 100-yard games to start a season. The only other running backs with at least four 100-yard games to start a season are O.J. Simpson (five) and Emmitt Smith (four).

In today's win over the Giants, Murray carried the ball 28 times for 128 yards and a touchdown and added a catch for four yards.

Through seven games, Murray has 187 carries for 913 yards and seven touchdowns plus 23 receptions for 159 yards.

Although Murray has never played more than 14 games in a season, his full 16-game pace is 2,087 rushing yards — shy of Eric Dickerson's record of 2,105 — and 427 carries, an NFL-record pace. The most games with 100-plus rushing yards in a season in 14 by Barry Sanders (1997).

Dallas will host Washington on Monday Night Football in Week 8 and the Redskins have allowed just one 100-yard rusher this season — Houston's Arian Foster (103 yards on 27 carries) in Week 1.

Murray has yet to rush for 100 yards against Washington, but he had 96 yards on 22 carries against them on December 22nd.

Week 7 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Beazley

Here are my Week 7 picks against the spread:

New Orleans Saints +1 over Detroit Lions (4 units)

I like the Saints coming off a bye week here. Lions superstar Calvin Johnson is out again this week, and I think the Lions will have a hard time keeping up with Drew Brees and the Saints. I think Brees has a big game. The Saints have covered in their last four meetings, and they will make it five this week. Saints 34, Lions 23.

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Chicago Bears -3.5 over Miami Dolphins (5 units)

I really like the Bears at home this week. Miami is just off a heart-breaking home loss to the Bears division-rival Packers last week. I believe that loss sneaks into this game, and the Bears pound the fish at home. Bears big, 38-20.

Atlanta Falcons vs. Baltimore Ravens — Under 50.5 (3 units)

Joe Flacco had 5 TDs last week in just a little bit more than a quarter. The Falcons defense has holes in it as well, but I don't see the Ravens lighting up the scoreboard in two consecutive weeks. I think Justin Tucker has a big five-FG game. Ravens win, 22-20.

Note: NFL lines are from sportsbook.ag

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Week 7 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Yanotchko

Here are my Week 7 picks against the spread:

Arizona Cardinals -4 over Oakland Raiders (4 units)

The Cardinals have been a great surprise this year, starting 4-1 and also being in first place of the vaunted NFC West. The Cards have done it with a stifling defense, and they have even overcome playing different starting quarterbacks this year. I love the Cardinals defense this week, as their rush defense ranks third in the league at 75.8 yards per game and 3.2 yards per carry. I also like the fact that Carson Palmer is back, and he gets to throw against an Oakland secondary that gives up a 70-percent completion rate. I am making this one a four-unit play, and while the Raiders are playing better, it won't be enough.

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San Francisco 49ers +7 over Denver Broncos (4 units)

This game is slated to be the game of the week, and I have a feeling that it won't disappoint. You have Peyton Manning going for Brett Favre's all-time TD record, and of course, you have the classic great offense against great defense confrontation. Peyton will be tested again this week, going against a pass defense that allows a stingy 55.9-percent completion rate, only 207 yards per game with seven interceptions on the year. Also, the Broncos just lost their leading tackler last year in Danny Trevathan, which will allow Frank Gore to keep the chains moving and Manning off of the field. I am going with four units here, as I don't think the Niners will win outright, but I do like them to be within seven at the final gun.

Pittsburgh Steelers -3 over Houston Texans (4 units)

This Monday night game will have huge implications in the AFC, as these two middle-of-the-pack teams will look to push themselves into the playoff picture. The Texans have been really bad on defense this year, with of course the exception of J.J. Watt, who is even being talked about as an MVP candidate. The Texans D has been bad in both facets, as they allow 125.7 yards per game on the ground, 4.4 yards per carry average, and also 272 yards against through the air. I love the Steelers skill players this week, Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell will have a huge nights. I love the Steelers at home in front of a fired-up Monday night crowd for four units.

Note: NFL lines are from sportsbook.ag

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Week 7 NFL Picks Against the Spread (ATS): Hanson

Not to pat myself on the back, but it's been an impressive four-week run as I've gone 11-2 versus the spread during that span.

Looking to build upon my recent success, here are my Week 7 picks against the spread:

Buffalo Bills -5.5 over Minnesota Vikings (3 units)

The Vikings have struggled to get much going offensively with 10 or fewer points in four of their past five games. Owning the league's top-ranked run defense, the Bills have allowed just 67.5 yards per game on the ground and a league-low 2.8 yards per carry this season. Along with the Chiefs, they are one of just two teams to not allow a rushing touchdown this season.

While their pass defense isn't as strong as their run defense, their pass rush is one of the best in the league. Only the Lions and Jets (20.0 each) have more sacks than the Bills (19.0) this season. Expected inability to run the ball combined with a ferocious pass rush is usually not a recipe that leads to success for a rookie quarterback.

Over the past three seasons, the Bills are 8-5 ATS as a favorite and 11-6 ATS at home. Meanwhile, the Vikes are only 8-12 ATS in that same span.

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Indianapolis Colts -3.5 over Cincinnati Bengals (3 units)

These two teams appear to be heading in different directions. The Colts have won four straight after starting 0-2 while the Bengals have not won (loss and tie) since starting 3-0.

While the Bengals will be without A.J. Green again, they should be able to run the ball well behind the tandem of Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill. But will they be able to keep up with Andrew Luck and the high-powered Colts offense?

Luck leads the NFL with 1,987 passing yards and 17 touchdowns and the Colts rank first in the league in scoring offense (31.5 PPG) and total offense (444.0 YPG). Over their past two games, the Bengals have surrendered 80 total points.

The Colts are 4-1 ATS this season as favorites and 14-5 ATS as favorites in Luck's three seasons. The Bengals are much better at home ATS as they are a mediocre 9-9 ATS on the road over the past three seasons.

Miami Dolphins +3.5 over Chicago Bears (2 units)

While past results may not guarantee future returns, those betting against Jay Cutler have been met with success. As a home favorite, Cutler's record against the spread is only 11-27. Over the past three seasons, the Bears are just 4-13 ATS at home while the Dolphins are 12-9 ATS on the road.

The Dolphins currently rank eighth in the NFL in pass defense (221.6 YPG allowed) and are even better on a per-attempt basis (6.1 Y/A, third-lowest in NFL).

I think this game stays close and perhaps the half-point comes into play, but I'm going with the favorable trends here.

New York Giants +6.5 over Dallas Cowboys (1 unit)

As a Cowboys fan, I hope I'm wrong (or that I'm right but the Cowboys win by only six or less points), but I worry a little bit about the Cowboys drinking the Kool-Aid and coming out a bit flat. On the other hand, the Eagles embarrassed the Giants 27-0 on primetime last week and I think we see a better performance from the G-Men.

Based on some ATS trends, the Cowboys have covered only six of their past 26 games as a home favorite and are only 2-14 ATS in their past 16 games as a favorite following a win.

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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October 17, 2014

2014 Fantasy Football Week 7 Start'em, Sit'em

Guessing which Patriots running back will be the most productive in any given week is always a 50-50 proposition at best.

Last night, Vereen led the team in both rushing — 11 carries for 43 yards — and receiving — five catches for 71 yards. More importantly, he caught two of Tom Brady's three touchdown passes and finished with a total of 23. 4 fantasy points in standard-scoring formats.

Meanwhile, Brandon Bolden finished with no carries and one reception for four yards. Promoted from the practice squad, Jonas Gray had three carries for 12 yards.

So, what does this mean? Bolden will probably go off for 120 rushing yards and two touchdowns next week while he's on everyone's bench.

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

QB - Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers (at DEN)

Kaepernick is coming off his best outing of the season with a season-high 343 passing yards and three touchdowns and added 37 rushing yards as well. Although he had a disappointing performance the previous week, Kaepernick now has three top-12 performances in his past four games and the sixth-most fantasy points among quarterbacks through Week 6. Kaepernick's dual-threat abilities help raise the floor on his production as he has averaged 7.8 runs for 40.7 yards per game this season.

QB - Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals (at OAK)

Returning from a three-game (four-week) absence, Palmer put up solid numbers (250 yards and two touchdowns) in Week 6. The better news is that there were setbacks with his nerve issue and he should continue to get stronger going forward. Averaging 19.38 fantasy points in his two starts, Palmer is a solid low-end QB1 for Week 7.

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RB - Justin Forsett, Baltimore Ravens (vs. ATL)

While the Falcons allow the most fantasy points to opposing running backs, they have consistently allowed strong running back performances. Through six weeks, the Falcons have allowed four running backs to finish as top-five scorers and seven running backs to finish as top-13 performers. Even though they have allowed only one 100-yard rusher, they have allowed 11 rushing scores to the position this season.

Forsett has yet to have more than 14 carries in a game, but he also has 23 receptions in six games. Leading NFL running backs in yards per carry (6.38), Forsett has rushed for a touchdown in three of six games despite having the frame of a change-of-pace back. Forsett ranks eighth among running backs in fantasy points this season and has another great chance to finish as top-12 running back this week. Based on Vegas odds, only the Packers (28.50) are projected to score more points this week than the Ravens (28.25), who are tied with the Broncos (28.25) for second most.

RB - Ben Tate, Cleveland Browns (at JAX)

Far from durable, Tate returned from his knee injury in Week 5 and the Browns have not shied away from giving him a full workload. In the past two games, Tate has a total of 47 carries for 201 yards and two touchdowns and has finished as the RB17 and RB5 in those games. This week, Tate and the Browns will face the Jaguars, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season.

RB - Branden Oliver, San Diego Chargers (vs. KC)

With Donald Brown (concussion) still not cleared, it appears that Oliver will have another opportunity to be the lead dog in the Chargers backfield. Oliver has 45 carries in his past two games for a total of 215 rushing yards as well as eight receptions for 91 yards and a total of three touchdowns. This week's matchup isn't all that favorable as the Chiefs have allowed the 10th-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs, but then again, he finished as the top-scoring running back in Week 5 against the Jets (sixth-fewest).

RB - Lamar Miller, Miami Dolphins (at CHI)

Miller has been consistently productive this season with three consecutive top-13 finishes and has finished as a top-18 running back in four of five games this season. With Knowshon Moreno (ACL) out for the season, we may (or may not) see more of Miller since he has yet to see more than 15 carries in a game, but he's been productive with his touches. Miller has averaged 5.24 YPC this season and is averaging three catches per game as well.

WR - Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals (at OAK)

The return of Palmer allowed both Floyd and teammate Larry Fitzgerald to catch their first touchdowns of the season last week. Provided Palmer can stay healthy, we should expect consistent and high production from the third-year receiver. In his two games with Palmer under center, Floyd has nine catches for 166 yards and a touchdown.

WR - Mohamed Sanu, Cincinnati Bengals (at IND)

With A.J. Green expected to miss another game (and possibly more), Sanu will be the primary (and secondary) option among the pass-catchers. While we will see a heavy dose of Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill, Sanu, who had 10/120/1 on 14 targets last week, could approach double-digit targets once again. Even with the Bengals having their bye already, Sanu has scored the 13th-most fantasy points among wide receivers this season.

WR - Andre Holmes, Oakland Raiders (vs. ARI)

A massive 20 targets have been directed to Holmes in the Raiders past two games and he has capitalized on the opportunity. In those games, he has racked up 195 yards and three touchdowns as he finished as the WR12 and WR2, respectively. While it may be unrealistic to expect him to put up top-12 numbers for a third game in a row, the Cardinals have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing receivers this season.

WR - Rueben Randle, New York Giants (at DAL)

By controlling the clock with DeMarco Murray and the league's top-ranked rushing offense, the Cowboys have keep their defense (and opposing offenses) off the field. That said, the season-ending injury to Victor Cruz elevates Randle to the top of the team's depth chart at receiver, but Randle has seen No. 1 receiver type of volume with at least nine targets in four consecutive games.

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

The matchup isn't great in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends, but they have faced the who's who in tight ends (as in who?). Ok, bad joke (like usual), but the best tight end they have faced is Scott Chandler, Clay Harbor or Jace Amaro (take your pick). The others are a tier or two below that level. After this week, the best tight end the Chargers will have faced will clearly be Kelce, who has scored in three consecutive games.

TE - Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts (vs. CIN)

Allen had three catches for 49 yards, a fairly common statistical line for him, on a season-high seven targets last week. The big difference for Allen is that he failed to secure a touchdown for only the second time in six games. The Bengals have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends so far this season so I'd put the odds of Allen scoring this week at greater than 50-50.

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

QB - Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (at DET)

If Jimmy Graham plays on Sunday, then Brees should certainly be in your starting lineup. Graham has put in back-to-back limited practices, but my gut is that he does not play on Sunday. If that is indeed true, Brees will be without his best offensive weapon on the road, where he has historically been much less impressive, and going up against the league's top-ranked defense in terms of scoring, yardage, sacks and pass defense. As you can imagine, they also have allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks as well.

QB - Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys (vs. NYG)

As noted in our DraftKings roundtable post this morning, Sean Beazley expects a huge week from Romo as the Giants focus on stopping Murray. I can see that, to a certain extent. That said, it won't be due to a lack of commitment to the run as Romo is averaging just 31.8 attempts per game this season. Even with multiple touchdown passes in four consecutive games, Romo has finished as a top-15 quarterback only twice this season.

RB - Khiry Robinson, New Orleans Saints (at DET)

With Mark Ingram (hand) set to return from injury, Robinson may or may not lead the team in carries. It's not clear how they will initially allocate work as Ingram is integrated back into the offense with Robinson playing well in his absence, but Ingram will eventually re-emerge as the team's top fantasy back provided he stays healthy. The presence of all three (or four if you count Travaris Cadet) means that I'd prefer to keep all of them on my bench this week against the Lions, who have the league's second-ranked rushing defense.

RB - Zac Stacy, St. Louis Rams (vs. SEA)

Consistency: Averaging 3.9 yards per carry last season, Stacy is averaging 3.9 YPC this season. The problem is that Stacy had 250 carries in just 14 games last season, but he has 12 or less carries in four of five games this season. Not only is the volume not there, Stacy (and the Rams backs) have a difficult matchup this week against the Seahawks, who have allowed just one running back (Murray) to reach 40 rushing yards.

RB - Bishop Sankey, Tennessee Titans (at WAS)

It appears that Shonn Greene will miss another game so Sankey could once again approach 20 touches (had 19 last week). That said, it appears that Sankey will come out at the goal line in favor of Jackie Battle and Washington's run defense is solid. For me, Sankey is just a flex this week.

RB - C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills (vs. MIN)

You know who's not happy with Spiller's production? Well, I guess that's somewhat of a trick question, because who's not, right? Earlier today, offensive coordinator Nate Hackett said that Spiller is trying to "do too much." While Spiller had a season-low six touches last week, he has finished as a top-40 running back only once in his past four games and that was a mediocre RB25 performance. As long as Fred Jackson is healthy and Spiller continues to struggle, he belongs on your bench.

WR - Keenan Allen, San Diego Chargers (vs. KC)

With the exception of a strong 10/135 performance against the Jags in Week 4, Allen has exceeded 40 yards only once in five other games and is averaging just 32.2 yards in those five other games. Although teammates Eddie Royal (WR14) and Malcom Floyd (WR20) are top-20 fantasy wide receivers through Week 6, Allen ranks only 60th in fantasy points this season. We will eventually see better production from Allen, who has yet to score a touchdown, but I have him ranked just outside of my top-30 fantasy receivers for the week.

WR - Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota Vikings (at BUF)

While the potential seems limitless, the production has been limited. Patterson has just two receptions in each of his past three games despite getting a season-high eight targets last week and one carry for two yards. Patterson has finished outside the top 50 receivers for four consecutive games and WR85 or worse in each of his past two games. Like I wrote last week, I'd rather be one week too late on Patterson than several weeks too early.

WR - Wes Welker, Denver Broncos (vs. SF)

While I expect Welker to finish with more than last week's one reception and one target, he's fourth on the list of options in the team's passing offense after Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. In the two previous games, Welker had 6/60 and 7/58 on nine targets in each game, but even that production kept Welker out of the top-40 receivers in both weeks.

TE - Heath Miller, Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. HOU)

Going into the season, I expected Miller to be a low-upside but consistently productive (borderline top-12) fantasy tight end. That hasn't been the case. In six games, Miller had one great game (10/85/1, TE3), but he has finished as the TE15 or worse in all five of his other games this season. In fact, half of his performances ranked him as the TE30 or worse. Considering the Texans allow the 10th-fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends, Miller should remain on fantasy owners' benches.

To see who I would start based on your team, please consult with my Week 7 rankings:

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Daily Fantasy Football Roundtable: Week 7 DraftKings Must-Starts

For a third week in a row, DraftKings will give away $1 Million in their Millionaire Maker contest.

With that said, our contributors are once again tackling the $1 Million question of which play is an absolute must-start in your Week 7 DraftKings lineups:

Brendan DonahueBen Tate, RB, Cleveland Browns (at JAX), $5,300

Back from injury, Tate has assumed the lead role back in a big way. In his past two games he has 22 and 25 carries, respectively, and goes against the 30th-ranked rush defense in the league this week. I expect the Browns to feed Tate and he should easily see 20-plus carries again this week against a defense that has given up 31+ fantasy points (PPR) per game to RBs, the second-most fantasy points allowed in PPR formats.

[Note: DraftKings uses full PPR scoring with three-point bonuses at 300 passing yards, 100 rushing yards and 100 receiving yards as well.]

Sean BeazleyTony Romo, QB, Dallas Cowboys (vs. NYG), $7,200

Romo has been the forgotten man this year with the success of DeMarco Murray. Romo is the 11th-priced QB this week at a nice salary of $7,200. Romo has thrown 31 career TD passes vs. the Giants, which is by far the most he has thrown against anyone. I believe the Giants will try to load up the box to stop the run, and Romo will have a big day throwing the ball. I could easily see a 350/3 game this week.

Ryan WattersonLarry Donnell, TE, New York Giants (at DAL), $3,500

Donnell has come back to earth the past two weeks, making his price tag really attractive at $3,500. Dallas has given up the second-most points to tight ends this season and with Victor Cruz out for the season, Donnell should get an uptick in targets. He has a legit chance to finish top-three at the position this week and is tied for 17th in price.

Dan YanotchkoEddie Lacy, Green Bay Packers (vs. CAR), $4,700

I love the matchup of Lacy going against a Carolina run defense that gives up 170 yards from scrimmage per game to opposing running backs and more than 30 fantasy points per game to running backs. The Packers have certainly been giving him the rock, as he has not had under 12 touches per game this year. I love the lopsided matchup, and look for Lacy to rack up his second 100-yard rushing game.

Kevin Hanson — Ben Tate, Cleveland Browns (at JAX), $5,300

Even if he won't catch many (or even any) passes, Tate is assured of significant volume of work in addition to the strong likelihood for a few goal-line opportunities in such a favorable matchup. In his past two games, Tate has 47 carries for 201 yards and two touchdowns. A reasonable projection is 100 rushing yards and a touchdown, which would be 19 fantasy points in DraftKings scoring counting the three-point bonus for 100 yards. No team has more rushing touchdowns than the Browns (eight in five games) and it wouldn't be a surprise if he scored two of them like last week.

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More Week 7 content:

Good luck in Week 7!

October 16, 2014

2014 NFL Power Rankings: Week 7

Here are my Week 7 NFL power rankings:

1. Denver Broncos - Record: 4-1, Last Update: No. 2

Now only three touchdowns away from breaking Brett Favre's all-time passing touchdowns record (508), Peyton Manning has thrown multiple touchdowns in all five games and three-plus in four of five games this season. Of the 15 touchdowns than Manning has thrown this year, tight end Julius Thomas has caught nine of them with at least one in each game. In the history of the NFL, only Calvin Johnson has as many receiving touchdowns threw the first five games of a season (2011).

2. San Diego Chargers - Record: 5-1, Last Update: No. 3

Following up last year's bounce-back season, Philip Rivers is having an even better year this season — 117.6 passer rating, 8.8 yards per attempt and 69.3 completion percentage, all of which lead the NFL, and a 15:2 TD-to-INT ratio. Yet despite injuries and Rivers' success, the Chargers remain committed to the run. They rank last in the league in yards per carry (2.9) yet third in the league in rush attempts (190).

3. Dallas Cowboys - Record: 5-1, Last Update: No. 8

Anytime there is a list of two running backs and the other is Jim Brown, you know it's a good list to be on. While there is some obvious concern about the volume of work and his past durability, DeMarco Murray now has six consecutive 100-yard rushing games to start the season. The team's commitment to the run really masks some of their other issues by keeping their defense off the field and fresh.

4. Philadelphia Eagles - Record: 5-1, Last Update: No. 7

In his first five games, LeSean McCoy averaged less than four yards per carry in all of them. In Week 6, however, McCoy gained 149 yards on 22 carries for an average of 6.77 YPC. Not only did McCoy come up big, but their defense pitched a 27-0 shutout against division rivals to hit their bye week on a high.

5. San Francisco 49ers - Record: 4-2, Last Update: No. 6

Even though they are missing several key contributors on the defensive side of the ball, the 49ers rank second in the NFL in total defense and rank fifth against the run and second against the pass. They will have their toughest test of the season as they face the high-powered Broncos offense on the road in Week 7.

6. Green Bay Packers - Record: 4-2, Last Update: No. 5

Although he's averaging just 236.5 passing yards per game, which would be a career low as a starter, Aaron Rodgers has now thrown 14 touchdowns with no interceptions in his past five games. On the season, nobody has thrown a higher percentage of touchdown passes than Rodgers, who has connected for a touchdown on 7.9 percent of his pass attempts.

7. Seattle Seahawks - Record: 3-2, Last Update: No. 1

The Cowboys came into Seattle's house and pushed them around, something that nobody expected including me. That said, you could easily argue that the Seahawks should have been pushed down this far in this week's power rankings. Based on current Vegas odds, the Seahawks are still the favorites among all NFC teams to win the Super Bowl and only the Broncos have lower odds to win it all.

8. Indianapolis Colts - Record: 4-2, Last Update: No. 9

With a (regular-season) career-high 223 yards and a touchdown against the Texans last week, Colts receiver T.Y. Hilton continues to create trouble for Houston's secondary. In five career games against the Texans, Hilton has 31 catches for 611 yards and six touchdowns. In fact, his touchdown ended a 13-game regular-season drought without a touchdown. (His previous touchdown was against the Texans when he scored three times.)

9. Arizona Cardinals - Record: 4-1, Last Update: No. 10

Although they sit atop the NFC West in the standings, they are the third NFC West team in these rankings. With the return of Carson Palmer on Sunday, both Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald caught their first touchdowns of the season last week.

10. New England Patriots - Record: 4-2, Last Update: No. 11

What a difference with Tom Brady and the offense over the past couple of weeks! After four consecutive games with 249 passing yards (or less) and only one touchdown, Brady has thrown for 653 yards and six touchdowns in his past two games combined. Unfortunately, they lost Stevan Ridley, their leading rusher, and Jerod Mayo, the "Tom Brady of the defense," to season-ending injuries last week.

11. Baltimore Ravens - Record: 4-2, Last Update: No. 12

Throwing five touchdowns in all, Joe Flacco threw four first-quarter touchdowns against the Bucs in Week 6. Once again, Steve Smith went over 100 yards and he now has three touchdowns of 56 yards or more. His longest reception last year was 44 yards.

12. Detroit Lions - Record: 4-2, Last Update: No. 14

One of the biggest surprises this year has been how well the Lions defense has played. Through six games, they rank first in the NFL in scoring defense (13.7 PPG), total defense (270.7 YPG) and sacks (20.0). In addition, they rank first in pass defense (197.2 YPG) and second in run defense (73.5 YPG).

13. Cincinnati Bengals - Record: 3-1-1, Last Update: No. 4

The Bengals had the league's top-ranked scoring defense after their first three wins, but they have now allowed 80 points in their past two games to the Patriots and Panthers. Unfortunately, it will difficult for the Bengals to get back on track defensively as they face Andrew Luck and the Colts, who own the league's top-ranked offense.

14. Cleveland Browns - Record: 3-2, Last Update: No. 20

The Browns have one of the league's top rushing attacks — 146.4 yards per game, third-best in NFL — and rank seventh in the NFL in first downs per game (22.2). Along with Aaron Rodgers, Brian Hoyer is the only quarterback to have started all of his team's games and throw just one interception. That said, the Browns have the seventh-worst time of possession (28:12) in the NFL largely due to their 29th-ranked defense (409.2 YPG allowed).

15. Carolina Panthers - Record: 3-2-1, Last Update: No. 16

Not only did Cam Newton throw for a season-high 284 yards and sling it 46 times, which ties a career high, he ran the ball a career-high 17 times for 107 yards and a touchdown. It was his second 100-yard rushing game of his career.

16. Houston Texans - Record: 3-3, Last Update: No. 15

In five games this season, Arian Foster has four games with 20-plus carries and 100-plus rushing yards. Although he has missed one game, if he plays the remaining 10 games on their schedule and maintains his current pace, Foster will finish with just shy of 2,000 yards from scrimmage (1,932 pace).

-> Continue to Teams 17-32

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October 15, 2014

Fantasy Football Week 7: Underrated Players in PPR Leagues

As Week 7 is upon us, it’s time to review my Week 6 picks — and I will admit this week was not great. There were a number of issues, but the primary source of my struggles rests with the Carolina Panthers.

An offense that had struggled to come to life suddenly blew up against one of the best defenses in the league. Cam Newton had been mediocre thus far – even after his Week 6 explosion he ranks 12th in QB fantasy points. And with all of the running back injuries, I assumed a stout defense would hone in on Kelvin Benjamin and force this team to go to subpar ancillary weapons. Well, that clearly was not the case as Newton finally showed his running prowess and the Panthers exploded for 37 points.

These things happen in fantasy football – sometimes logic doesn’t prevail, you just have to move on to next week.

Performance Breakdown:

Week 6 Results
YTD Results

* Stats are based on players recommended (compared to options listed to start those players over) and based on point-per-reception (PPR) scoring.

Best of the week: Jordan Reed – Reed returned from an injury and put up a very solid 17.2 points, outscoring the opposition by a combined 22.2 points.

Runner-up: Joe Flacco – I didn’t expect five TDs but Flacco’s outing didn’t sway the +/- much due to Tom Brady’s dominate outing against a solid Bills D. Flacco netted a positive 15.3 points combined.

Worst of the week: Roddy White – Two high-flying offenses, two poor pass defenses, and a dome game where the Falcons shine. Well, the Falcons/Bears game didn’t turn into the shootout many of us had expected. The Bears defense rolled the Falcons offense to much surprise and White lost me a total of 22 points.

Runner-up: Keenan Allen – I will admit that I wasn’t sold on this pick given Allen’s struggles this season, but the matchup was right and I figured he would take this opportunity to get on track. We are at the point where Allen gets benched until he proves otherwise. He has had four straight strong matchups, only to perform in one of them. This pick cost me a total of 21.4 points.

Editor's note: DraftKings is running another Millionaire Maker contest for Week 7: Turn $27 (entry) into $1 Million (top prize).

Looking ahead, here are some underrated options for Week 7:


Russell WilsonSeattle Seahawks
FantasyPros ECR – 9

Coming off a tough (and surprising) loss to the Cowboys, the ‘Hawks are going to be motivated ... and a motivated Seattle team against a bottom eater is going to equal a massacre. I expect Seattle to right the ship this week and in a big way. Wilson should be a large part of that, given the Rams struggles against the pass. St. Louis ranks second to last in pass defense efficiency and Wilson has a good history against them. I believe Wilson will finish as a top-five QB this week.

Consider starting him over:

Carson PalmerArizona Cardinals
FantasyPros ECR – 15

Palmer looked good in his return from injury last week and reports have been positive that he continues to improve. The Raiders rank 29th in pass defense efficiency but have a very respectable rank of 17th-fewest fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. However, a lot of that has to do with opponents using a run-oriented offense in the second half with a big lead. The Raiders offense showed some signs of life against a stout Chargers defense last week, so perhaps the Cardinal offense will need to stay aggressive longer than expected. I like Palmer's chances of putting up low-end QB1 numbers this week.

Consider starting him over:

Running Backs

Reggie BushDetroit Lions
FantasyPros ECR – 21

There are slim pickings this week at the RB position as many of the top RBs have solid matchups and the ECR aligns pretty well with my rankings. However, Reggie Bush seems to be underrated this week. Reports say that Bush could have started last week but the Lions were playing it safe with him, so he is expected to be 100% this week. Going against his former team, Bush will look to have a big impact, and don’t think that will be lost on Joe Lombardi – another former Saint. New Orleans is downright bad against the run, especially against RBs catching the ball out of the backfield. With Calvin Johnson likely to miss another game, and the Lions passing game struggles without him, look for Bush to be a focal point of the passing offense.

Consider starting him over:

Jeremy HillCincinnati Bengals
FantasyPros ECR – 31

Hill continues to be involved in the offense and while he plays a complementary role to Giovani Bernard, he has been productive with his limited touches. Hill faces a Colts team that ranks 31st in run defense efficiency and has allowed the ninth-most points to RBs. The Bengals figure to be without A.J. Green again and this offense doesn’t have the firepower to match the Colts if he is out. I expect the Bengals to lean on the run game, taking advantage of the Colts defensive weakness and keeping the ball out of Andrew Luck's hands. In the event this game does turn into a high-scoring affair, Hill can be a threat as a receiver. Bernard is the primary passing back, but Hill’s seven catches the past two weeks suggest he may be carving out a more diverse role in this offense, especially with Green on the sidelines.

Consider starting him over:

Wide Receivers

Cecil ShortsJacksonville Jaguars
FantasyPros ECR - 33

Shorts returned from injury in a big way last week posting 10 catches for 103 yards on a massive 16 targets. This wasn’t a case of the Jags being in comeback mode early either, as they were in a tight game against the Titans throughout. Shorts has always had the talent, he just can’t stay healthy. This week against the Browns represents a great matchup, as they are dead last against WR1’s this season. The Jags are always a candidate to get down early and be forced to throw a lot, but even in cases where they stay competitive Shorts can produce, as evidenced last week.

Consider starting him over:

Michael FloydArizona Cardinals
FantasyPros ECR – 19

Floyd falls into the same line of thinking as Carson Palmer. Oakland has been solid against the pass from the fantasy points against perspective, but their efficiency stats show they are ripe for regression. Floyd is the top downfield threat in a vertically-oriented offense. His struggles to this point in the season were related to Drew Stanton’s inability to throw deep with any level of consistency. With Palmer back and regaining his arm strength, Floyd is a candidate to be a top-flight fantasy WR2 from this point forward. This Raiders defense is ranked 27th in efficiency against opponents WR1’s and make no mistake, Floyd is the Cardinals top WR at this point in Larry Fitzgerald’s career. I like Floyd’s chances to flirt with WR1 numbers this week.

Consider starting him over:

Brandon LaFellNew England Patriots
FantasyPros ECR – 43

Reports for the past few weeks have stated that LaFell is gaining a lot of trust from Brady. He has compiled 26 targets over the past four games and came out in a big way last week. A matchup against a weak Jets secondary shouldn’t slow him down. The Jets give up the 11th-most fantasy points to WR’s, but the kicker here is the distribution of those points. Outside of two big games from Demaryius Thomas and Jordy Nelson, the majority of production has come from the opponents WR2. The Jets rank 29th against WR2’s and a respectable 18th against WR1's. Brady isn’t the type of QB to force feed anyone, he will take what is given to him. With Edelman the WR1 on this team, LaFell could find himself open early and often.

Consider starting him over:

Tight Ends

Jermaine GreshamCincinnati Bengals
FantasyPros ECR - 21

Green looks as though he will sit out again this week. And while I expect the Bengals to rely on the ground game, they still need to throw the ball. With Mohamed Sanu operating as the No. 1 WR, he figures to see a lot of Vontae Davis. With no one else of note to throw the ball, Gresham will be the guy by default. He has never lived up to his NFL draft status, but he does have some pass catching chops. Coming off a game where he secured six of seven targets and facing an Indy D that ranks last against the TE position in efficiency, I think Gresham is a very sneaky start this week.

Consider starting him over:

Thanks for reading and good luck in Week 7! Follow me on Twitter @rw11687.